Celebrate a Great Nation .. and more.

It is 239 times that the United States has celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the forging of a national experiment that has been a blessing to so many people. The US is not the only country celebrating this summer, nor is it the only country that God has blessed with the abundance of freedom and hope that America experiences. On July 1, Canada hoisted flags and sang with pride, O Canada, just as US citizens wave Old Glory and feel the lump in their throats singing O say can you see … On July 14, our friends in France remember the cost paid on Bastille Day as they followed the US in refashioning their country. Allons enfants de la Patrie (Arise children of the Fatherland) is their song of national pride. Switzerland is a flag waving nation with a white cross emblazoned on a background of red and each August 1, celebrates the foundation of the Swiss Confederacy in 1291. The English translation of a piece of the first verse of the Swiss Hymn is Pray to God, to Him surrender for you feel and understand that he dwelleth in this land. As the fireworks burst in the night sky over American soil in cities around country, let Americans sing with hearts filled with thanksgiving. And at the same time, let us be aware that there are other nations and peoples who God loves and wants us to lift to his heart. In Christ, all are one.


January 2, 2015. As each new year begins, there is in many of us a sense of expectancy, of hope. The epistle lectionary reading for New Years Day is from Revelation 21:1-6a. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth … See the home of God is among mortals, He will dwell with them … He will wipe every tear from their eyes.” New Years Day is a good day to put things in the past that have gnawed at our souls. If there are resolutions, let them be a resolve to live more fully, more graciously in forgiveness. This is the way of the Master, who looks upon us and sees us as we can be, encouraging the potential to come forth. Where there is a temptation to linger in our former greatness, let us take upon ourselves the commitment to forget those things which are behind and reach forward to what lies ahead. (Philippians 3:13) There are new areas into which we can grow. A new year stretches out before us. Let us embrace it in hope as we rest in the embrace of our Creator who is aggressively at his work to make all things new.

Tick Tock

January 4, 2014. A new year! When I contemplate the passing of time, I consider that time is our human invention. We tend to be clock watchers, not only in New Year’s Eve when the ball in Times Square is about to drop. Kids watch the clock for the school day to end. So do teachers. Eagles and Saints fans will do some heavy duty time keeping this evening as the teams battle it out for a berth in the Championships at the Link. And tomorrow morning, parents will be trying to hurry their kids to get to church on time. The tick of the clock can be a really dark sound. But change the scene to the spiritual realm and the clock falls off the wall. It’s a completely different perspective. With the Lord, 1000 years is as a day. There is freedom in the light of eternity to cast off the restraints and be truly present in the event where we find ourselves. To enjoy being together and playing with family and friends, to get lost in the glory of worship, to take pleasure in a spirited conversation, these are touchstones of eternity. We have all felt the rush of being out of time. And in God’s Kingdom economy, it seems there is the call for busy people to stop and restfully be in the moment. While locked in this earthly realm, we cannot ditch the clock. Yet the discipline of truly being present where we are, can give us glimpses of eternity. Contemplate that after the game as we worship in the morning.

An Interior Abundance

November 28, 2013. I had one of those moments this week when I was aware of a shift within my soul. As Thanksgiving was approaching, I began to hear what I always hear in this week. Along with wishes for a “Happy Thanksgiving,” came the pause as people reflected on those blessings for which they are thankful. That’s good. It does our hearts good to give thanks. As the Apostle Paul is wrapping up his first letter to the Thessalonians, he gives several succinct directives that grow the character of a Christ follower. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks. (5:16-18) Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Yet something that has been growing in me for years has come to fruit. I have chosen to have a thankful heart everyday, not just on the fourth Thursday of November. Such a choice creates space within me for a well of interior abundance. It helps me to be more generous. The riches are not so much that of the outward stash that can be swept away in a tsunami, but of the eternal nature, those riches that Jesus describes as being stored in the eternal kingdom. I think of the people and the experiences I have had that can never be taken. And I realize again and again how very rich I am because of what God has been doing in my innermost being. So I am grateful and I join those who are practicing gratefulness on a more consistent basis. And one of those things that I never take for granted and am constantly thankful for is this wonderful church, that abundantly blesses me, for the generosity I experience. I am grateful for the blessing that keeps growing because, together, we have chosen to follow the generous one who willingly served us in a most unusual way. He surrendered his life in hope that we would receive his life. No need for a special Thanksgiving day to give thanks for that. That’s 24/7/365. And just in case you did not hear me say it … Happy Thanksgiving.

Pastor Frank

Here comes Hurricane Sandy! October 27, 2012. The storm clouds gather. So where is the good news? I have been meditating on Isaiah 43:1-2. “But now says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you O Israel, Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire. you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.” The weather forecasters are telling us to prepare for another time of testing. We can gather in the gallons of water, gas up the generator, make extra ice and lay in some nonperishables. But the first place I want to turn is to the one who speaks words of assurance to me. He’s the one who spoke to the waves, “Peace, be still.” And the tempest subsided. The biggest tempest is often internal. Let us quiet ourselves and hear Jesus’ gentle yet powerful words of calm.


Pastor Frank Reeder

A Journey of Salamat

August 1, 2012. The halfway mark of summer already! For me, it has been unforgettable, a journey of thanks or as my Filipino friends say it, Salamat. Traveling to remote parts of the globe has been the exception to the rule for me. Yes, Kathy and I have boarded a plane for Europe many times. Being East Coast Americans, that jaunt is pretty simple. And it places us in a western culture. However, traveling to Asia is a dream I had tucked away in the “probably would not happen” file. There are many culturally rich destinations like Japan, China, Thailand, and Myanmar. I did travel by Koreanair and touch down at Incheon International Airport near Seoul for a few hours, but that can hardly count as a visit to the storied nation of South Korea. This journey took me to the archipelago of the Philippines, the site of historic ties forged by American Baptists with the people of the Western Visayas Islands (central area of the Philippines). For eight days, I was a part of a seven member team from New Jersey, including our former Pastor Lee Spitzer, that worked among the good people of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches. The process of describing my experiences and feelings continues to unfold as I have been writing a reflection of the journey. Perhaps the greatest impression my heart has discerned to this point is the importance of maintaining the root system of a ministry. I know of churches and associations that easily cut themselves away from their roots. It rips and tears at the fiber of their being and leaves them naked and impoverished. The danger of any root relationship, if left unurtured, is the drift to another place, where the core of their being is denied. The success of this mission, where we shared the good news of Jesus Christ with a host of students, was the nurturing of the root system. Central Philippine University was founded in 1905 by American Baptist missionaries led by native New Yorker, Dr. William O. Valentine. It was not, nor has it ever been about domination but rather partnership as the love of Jesus Christ is expressed. It always leads to life. Repeatedly, we heard from the University Chaplains and administration, that we were from the same root system. Regardless of language or shade of skin, we were clearly among our own family. Where love is active, there will be offspring. The word from Utod (brother) Chaplain Francis Neil Jalando-on that comes to us is the making of 1,376 decisions, many of them first time commitments to Christ from first year students. My beloved sisters and brothers of Seaview, your love for these students was mediated through me as you blessed this mission. Salamat gid (Thank you very much).

Palangga (Love),
Pastor Frank

A Truly Great Nation

July 4, 2012. Happy Independence Day for all of us who are blessed to be citizens of a great nation. I realize that most who will receive this newsletter are US citizens. Strains of John Phillips Souza’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” fill the air and many hearts. For all the problems we have experienced, there is an abundance for which to thank our Lord in the United States. One of the characteristics that has marked this nation is our love for other people epitomized by the modern missionary movement.

I was moved by the quote from Pablo Cassels that was sent to my mailbox this morning: The love of one’s country is a splendid thing, but why should love stop at the border? Let us be reminded on this Independence Day that the true beauty of the United States is not in what we do for ourselves, but what we do for those in need around the world that truly makes us great.

I Will Always Love You

It is a sad day (February 18, 2012) for many across the nation and especially here in New Jersey, as a shining star is laid to rest. Whitney Houston grew up in New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. There she learned to sing a hymn many of us know, “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah.” Some of the words from that chestnut of a hymn are “I am weak, but Thou art mighty. Hold me with Thy powerful hand.” Ms. Houston referred to the hymn several times in interviews. We trust with her family and friends that those hands now literally hold Whitney Houston. The last verse sings, “When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside. Bear me through the swelling current. Land me safe on Canaan’s side.”

Many would be critical of the superstar. My heart finds no place for that. She was groomed for stardom from early childhood. The pressures of fame in this culture are nearly unbearable. The money and bling does not take away the quiet need for finding a home “whence the healing stream doth flow.” It is a sad day, because one who was bright among us, a Baptist child from New Jersey, was overwhelmed by the current.

It is also a glad day. As we finish the song, even “death of death and hell’s destruction” is stripped of power when God guides a child home. The hymn concludes, “Songs of praises, I will ever give to Thee.” On the glad side of this day, we can only imagine we hear the angelic voice sing out a song more crystal clear than any this fallen creation has heard. Imagine Whitney Houston gazing into her Savior’s eyes as she sings with a heavenly chorus, “I will always love you.” It is the hope of all who know and trust the saving power of God in Christ.

Pastor Frank

A Blessing of Reckless Abandon

With the dawn of another celebration of the coming of the Prince of Peace, I find myself so richly blessed to be serving in this place and at this time. We are not a church that is large in numbers. We are, however, a church that is growing in relationship with God and each other. Our vision team has been at work and are about ready to present a new mission statement for consideration. The heart of that statement is the call to be a blessing to the world around us and to bless the world with reckless abandon. When God sent his Son into the world, that was exactly what was going on. To be sure, God was not being reckless. But that is how it might appear to other people. It was an extreme measure and very costly. And it was just the right place and right time. God knew exactly what to do. That is still the way God works. As we approach the mystery of God becoming one of us once again, we reaffirm that Jesus’ coming was a bold move that continues to make a way into our lives. The only thing that keeps him away is our refusal to trust the Holy Spirit. Open your heart afresh and open it wide. And the King of glory will come in.

Merry Christmas in God’s amazing love,
Pastor Frank

The Sacrament of Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is a bit of a curiosity for me. I am thoughtful about it’s attractive power. It’s not a Christian holiday, it’s a national one. Yet it is filled with theological goodness as we reflect on the many instances of our blessedness. There are the common blessings of a sunny day, the crackle of a fire, a conversation with a friend, a warm casserole of mac and cheese, a game of dominoes after a sumptuous meal. Yet each of these blessings can easily become sacramental, a means by which God touches us with grace and we become more aware of our blessedness. It is transformed into a special blessing. Many people in the United States have a tradition of where they will share a meal on this day. Others will search someone out to share the blessing, a good friend or a stranger, a waitress at the counter of the local diner, with whom to partake in the grace of God’s provision.

Church historian and liturgist Alexnder Schmemann writes in For the Life of the World (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1970), “A meal is still a rite–the last ‘natural sacrament’ of family and friendship, of life that is more than ‘eating’ and ‘drinking.’ To eat is still something more than to maintain bodily functions. People may not understand what that ‘something more’ is, but they nonetheless desire to celebrate it. They are still hungry and thirsty for sacramental life.”

As we gather at tables today (or on another day if that is your experience) we revel in the grace of the blessings God bestows, not out of obligation, but rather because of God’s aggressively active desire for his beloved creation. God simply wants to bless us and hopes we will take notice so we will complete the circle of blessing.

I have taken notice. My life abounds with the goodness of the Lord. As I sit here on this Thanksgiving morning and look into the treasure trove of my heart, I am thankful for each of you who have been the source of many blessings that the Lord has shared. I am deeply grateful that God led me to Seaview and to you. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Pastor Frank