Pastor Skitch: Be kind to yourself

“Here’s the thing I keep saying to people, and the thing I think we need to hear most in this time: Be kind to yourself.

That’s what our leader, Amanda said to us all as we signed off from our every-so-often campus ministry call.

Be kind to yourself.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the stories of Jesus, and the letters of the early Church, we find many places where people are learning what it means to love God, and to love their neighbor. From prophets crying out to love those on the margins, to the Apostle Paul writing a theological treatise about what the love of God looks like in Jesus, we see account after account of loving God and our neighbor.

But what about loving ourselves?

When Jesus is asked what commandment is the greatest, the Gospel of Mark says he responds with, “‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Love your neighbor as yourself.

We often focus on the front half, don’t we? We try to love the neighbor near, and the neighbor far. We try to love the neighbor we like, and the neighbor we don’t. We try to love our neighbor by transforming systems that hurt our neighbor. We don’t always get it right, but we try our best. But what about loving ourselves?

How can we try our best to love ourselves?

I think that’s what Amanda was getting at it. In asking our group to be kind to ourselves, she was reminding us that not only are we called to give grace to others but we are called to receive grace for ourselves, too.

What ways can you love yourself in terms of your spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being?  This week I’m going to look myself in the mirror each day and say out loud, “Be kind to yourself.” I want to hear the words spoken to me, from me. I want to accept the grace that God has been extending to me, and I want to rest in it. Who cares if someone thinks I’m wacky. I need to hear it.

Let us be kind to ourselves, accepting God’s grace, and seeking to be healthier in body, mind, and spirit. Maybe you’ll want to join my practice, too.

Be Kind To Yourself,

Pastor Skitch

(This was published in Happenings, the weekly newsletter, on May 15, 2020)

One day at @PrincetonUMC: #SocialMediaSunday

In many churches around the world September 25, 2016, is “Social Media Sunday,”  the day set aside to use digital devices intentionally to share their life of faith with the world. In that spirit, here are some of today’s videos and pictures taken at Princeton United Methodist Church.

In worship, the Ensemble (Charles Hayes, Harran Williams, Michael Andrew Cabus, Eileen Francisco-Cabus) sang Charles Hayes’ God’s Hands.

Cindy Gordon, in the Children’s Time, illustrated how Jeremiah challenged God’s people to take risks. Machaela Irving read the scripture, and  Rev. Jana Purkis-Brash preached on the Jeremiah selection of this week’s lectionary (Jeremiah 32:1-3a; 6-15) in a sermon entitled “Step Out in Faith.”

The Chancel Choir, directed by Hyosang Park, sang Michael Burkhardt’s The Lord is Beautiful 

Andrew Hayes doubled as Ensemble musician and  SS teacher, with Anita Tong, for middle schoolers

Meanwhile, in Sunday School, The toddlers experience Christ’s love with delight-filled play, and they also practice the habit of simple prayer, with Mae Potts and Marie Griffiths.

4th and 5th graders met with Barbara Sageser, Janis McCarty, and Lorie Roth

First to third graders, led by Yvonne Macdonald and Sharon Distase, helped praise God with a cheerleading chant. 

Skitch Matson, in the Youth Room, had teens working in small groups on the concept of Sabbath, as in Exodus 16. 

One of the two adult classes, Contemporary Issues, met in the library to discuss Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers by Kwame Anthony Appiah.

The Heart of Our Faith class met in Fellowship Hall, where Rev. Don Brash led a discussion on Persevering Hope. 

After church, the Handbell Choir practiced. From noon to 1:30, church doors were open, and the Tiffany Task Force gave a half dozen families (from Iceland to Venezuela) the stained glass window tour.

That evening, the youth choir practiced for their anthem next week, followed by dinner and fellowship.

PUMC didn’t call attention to Social Media Sunday this year, but we are trying to use every media possible to welcome visitors and help each other grow as Christ’s disciples. We  believe that with more than 1 million new social mobile users added each day, we need to use new tools to be where people are. If you would like to help — taking videos and photos, using media like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and more, email the Comm Team, Smart phones at the ready!






Sermon: Telling Our Stories

Our lives are ‘storied’ together as people who will be remembered, and who will act by faith, said  Erik “Skitch” Matson in his August 14, 2016 sermon ‘The Stories We Tell.” it was based on a lectionary reading, Hebrews 11:20-12:2.

“By faith” was the often repeated catch phrase in this passage, which recounts story after story — from the Exodus to Jericho and the sufferings of the prophets.

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith,” says Hebrews. 

“Narrative is the scaffolding of experience,” said Matson. Let’s use Jesus as the lens, the eyeglass, with which we interpret our stories.”


Erik ‘Skitch’ Matson on ‘Stories We Tell’

SkitchMatsonErik ‘Skitch’ Matson — our new youth pastor — will be in the pulpit on Sunday, August 14, to preach, based on Hebrews 11:29-12:2. His topic is “The Stories We Tell” so here is his biographical story, in his own words:

“Prior to coming to Princeton Seminary, I spent 5 years working with youth in San Diego, CA, and am grateful to lead in this role again. I was born and raised in northern California but headed south to Point Loma Nazarene University for a B.S. in Physics. It was during this time that God pulled my heart towards ministry, and I haven’t looked back since. I enjoy listening to and playing music, exploring the great outdoors, playing sports, and reading a good book. I also enjoy being around young adults, which fits nicely into the second part of my two-point charge as the Director of the Methodist college ministry at Princeton University, the Wesley Foundation.”