We’re Not Dead!


Church Family,

Perhaps many of us will recognize the reference in the title from Monty Python. “Bring out your dead!” “I’m not dead!” We’ve heard a lot about death, dying, the need to do more and do better lately and I sense a feeling of exhaustion and overwhelm from the church-at-large. This is understandable! Not only do many of us wear multiple hats as volunteers within our church walls, but we also wear many hats outside of our life together. We do a lot individually. We do a lot together.

It’s easy to see the size of our congregation on a Sunday morning and label us as “dying.” I disagree wholeheartedly! That’s too easy of a label. We’re not dead! In the last “Pastor’s Pen” I wrote I talked about the New Year’s Party that my friends and I had. I mentioned the lanterns we sent into the sky. Part of the idea behind this was the “law of attraction,” which when simply put is the concept that whatever you are putting out into the universe is what you will receive. My friends and I put out (literally) into the universe our intentions on how we were going to live in 2019. If UBC keeps focusing on death then we will die. We are literally willing our death into existence. Good news: We’re not dead!

What if we change our mindset to one of growth? We are, in fact, in a place from which we can grow. We are in a place of unlimited possibilities to help us further the mission of our church, to help our neighbors, to seek justice, and to love ourselves, our church, our community, and our world. I’m not trying to deny or ignore the sticky situation we’ve been in and will continue to be in as we work through our internal conflict, but what if we approach our future from a mindset of growth instead of death? 

Below are some lyrics that are from a musical adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The musical was a spectacular failure to the tune of $25 million. However, there is some rather lovely music amidst a poorly constructed drama. Particularly, I love these words for when things get tough for the guys in Middle Earth: 

Out of death, life.
Out of night, day.
Glory from sorrow.
Out of grief, joy.
Out of storm comes strength for tomorrow.
Out of dust, gold.
Out of fire, air.
Comfort forsaken.
Out of rage, calm.
Out of loss find glory awaken.

Out of this past year, we emerge from trials with a fresh new vision, or perhaps clarity on an old vision. There is renewed life in our future together. There is healing and growth. There is love. Let’s put that out into the universe. Let’s will that into existence. We’re not dead!


Jonathan Castillo
Minister of Music & Outreach

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