Pastor’s Prose

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To view 2020 year’s prose, click here
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To view 2018 year’s prose, click here
To view 2017 year’s prose, click here

June 24-29

Dear Vista Grande –

Great contemplative teacher Thomas Keating is quoted as saying “God’s first language is silence. Everything else is a poor translation.” In worship on Sunday, we spent time with the story of Elijah (a revered-but-complicated figure in the Hebrew Bible). He is a prophet who is “zealous for the Lord”, battling for the hearts and minds of the Israelite people against the prophets of Baal. Somewhere, though, amidst all the fighting and miraculous signs, he lost his connection with God in favor of valuing his own zealousness. This left him tired, burned out, and disconnected from his people, his purpose, and the Divine in his life.

In the wilderness, God restored him through deep nourishment (not once, but twice!) and then, in 1 Kings 19, we get a story that includes earthquakes and fire and galeforce winds…but the Divine is not found in any of those. Instead, the Divine is found in the ‘sound of sheer silence’. It is in the silence that God speaks to Elijah and guides him toward his next move – to crown a new king and begin the restoration of the faithfulness of the Israelite monarchy.

It’s no secret that the world is full of clamor and noise. Turn on any TV channel between now and November and you’ll hear a lot of noise calling us to zealotry. There are people to be afraid of, enemies to be vanquished, ways of life to be protected. It’s not only our attention that’s being vied for – it’s our energy, anger, and fear, too. Quiet is hard to come by. And when you’re looking for peace AND quiet?! Almost impossible! Our Quaker siblings take the art of listening for God in the silence very seriously. Those who practice ‘unprogrammed meetings’ spend time together in a posture of listening – sometimes for the entire duration of a service! Participants only speak when the Spirit moves them to and they practice discernment to be able to tell the difference between the Spirit’s voice and the voice of their own ego who wants to break the silence.

Throughout the ages, contemplatives have known this truth: Quiet leaves a space through which God can move and the Spirit can speak. So we might want to leave room for a little more of it in our lives!

If you are interested in leaving a little more room for silence, the spiritual practice of Centering Prayer might be helpful. This practice has four guidelines and can help give a little time and space for God to move and speak.

  1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within you. This can be something simple like: Jesus, peace, love, faith, joy, hope, etc. A shorter word is usually helpful but you can pick whatever word you want.
  2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent and action within. My favorite description of this is “place the word on the altar of your heart”.
  3. When engaged with your thoughts (including body sensation, feelings, images, and reflections) return ever-so-gently to the sacred word. Instead of something you repeat over and over such as a mantra, your sacred word is a tether back to the silence.
  4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple moments to integrate.

If you are interested in more information on contemplative prayer, check out or Contemplative Outreach. They even have a Centering Prayer app to help make your practice easier! Let me know if you have questions or want to talk more about contemplative practices!

May we find a little bit of silence and whole lot of God as a community this week. Stay tuned for more prayer resources as we live into our star word for this year!

Pastor Mallory

Jun 17-22

Dear fellow travelers,

On Sunday, in worship, we spent some time talking about Jesus’s experience in the wilderness facing the satan (pronounced suh-tahn, a translation of which could be ‘the obstruction’ or ‘the roadblock’ – not the red guy with pointy horns and a pitchfork!). Sometimes, a character in literature is a symbol of something and it’s easier to put two or more ideas in conversation if they are separate into different beings. Such is the case with the satan. It is the symbol of all the things that ‘get in the way’ and shift our focus from the small, everyday actions it takes to be the kind of people we wish to be.

Having internal obstacles that get in the way of who we want to be isn’t shameful…it’s just the human condition! That fact helps me reckon with the idea of ‘sin’, which literally translates to ‘missing the mark’ like an archer with a target. Sometimes, we just make mistakes. The beauty of grace is that we get the chance to try again.

I pretty often about the space between our impulse and taking action. That’s where the opportunity to choose our most aligned self lives – in the fraction of a second or the deliberate taking of a breath before we do or say something that doesn’t get us closer to being the type of people we want to be. It’s a wilderness place, filled with magic and mystery and possibility. We get the chance to see our fears and jealousies and strivings for what they are and, once we do, we get the chance to make a different choice just like Jesus did in the desert. Do we choose power or selfishness or unnecessary risk? Or do we have the chance to check in with God and our own intuition and align our actions with our ethics?

Because our Star Word for the year is “prayer”, I want to offer a prayer practice called Welcoming Prayer that can help us recognize this small space and expand it just a little bit so we are able to leave room for the Divine to work in and through us. This is just a little teaser so if you want more information, check out The Center for Contemplative Outreach.

There are three movements to this prayer, which makes it sound deceptively simple but it is a profound and transformative practice if undertaken with intention and consistency.

  1. Feel and sink into what you are experiencing this moment in your body.
  2. “WELCOME” what you are experiencing this moment in your body as an opportunity to consent to the Divine Indwelling.
  3. Let go by saying “I let go of my desire for security, affection, control and embrace this moment as it is.”

The invitation is to “start practicing the Welcoming Prayer with the little things in life — small, everyday frustrations like sitting in traffic or waiting in line at the grocery store. Practicing with the small things prepares us for the bigger upsets.”

A verbal prayer to accompany the practice: Oh God, grant me the grace to live in the space between impulse and action. Amen.

Let me know how your practice goes – let’s talk about it!

Pastor Mallory

Jun 10-15

Dear Vista Grande –

Thank you to everyone who came out to march in the Pride parade yesterday – we had a great turnout and it was a ton of fun! The celebration of the holiness of the lives of queer people is an important act of solidarity, especially when lawmakers are rallying their constituents to intimidate and harass this part of our community. In the face of terror, marginalized people have always used joy as a mode of resistance. This weekend was no exception. Check out some of the photos of our church family in the Pride parade!

Members of the Rocky Mountain Conference are gathering signatures in support of our queer kin, in light of the recent call to burn pride flags. If you feel compelled to sign, more information is below.

May we continue to stand with, celebrate, and learn from our queer kin – not only during Pride month but well beyond.

Pastor Mallory

June 3-8

Dear Vista Grande –

We have started Encounters, the sermon series that will take us through most of the summer, beginning with Encounters at the Table, an exploration of the meaning and purpose behind the sacrament of communion.

Sometimes, we encounter the Spirit in places that aren’t necessarily ‘church’ or religious. This week, I want to share one of my favorite songs with you which describes what can happen when we set a table for all who need a seat. When I think of what Jesus was hoping to build and what he entrusted to the disciples and eventually to us, I think of this song by The Highwomen entitled Crowded Table. May it be a companion to you this week as you think about the profound practice of feeding one another which is so central to our faith tradition.

Next week, remember that worship is at 9am so we can march in the Pride Parade! More information to come! We’ll be exploring the topic of Encountering the Spirit and Each Other!

Pastor Mallory

May 27 – June 1

Dear Vista Grande –

Phew, we’ve made it! Together, we’ve been on an epic journey that took us from Lent and our shadow-selves through Easter and the scary possibility of new life and all the way through Ascension, and Pentecost where we receive the gift of creativity, energy, and vision for what comes next!

So what comes next, you wonder? I’m glad you asked! Welcome to Ordinary Time! Ordinary Time is the long stretch between Pentecost and the beginning of Advent (which usually falls the Sunday after Thanksgiving). Even though it’s ‘ordinary’, it’s far from boring! This is usually when most of the agricultural passages from the Bible show up, prompting us to have our internal world come into rhythm with the created world around us.

This last Sunday, we spent some time thinking about how Jesus used his external surroundings, such as the ravens and the fields of lilies, to teach people how to look and consider what the created world has to teach about the Kin-dom of God. In that vein, we’ll be spending the next several weeks in a sermon series called “Encounters”, where we’ll encounter scripture, the earth, and each other in different ways throughout the summer, exploring what each has to teach us about the Kin-dom.

I mentioned in my sermon that Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets. She, like Jesus, often asks us to slow down and notice which is often a gateway to wonder. This week, maybe go back and read Luke 12: 22-34. Compare and contrast this passage with Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese, copied below. Let me know what you discover.

Pastor Mallory

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

May 20-25

Dear Vista Grande,

It’s the day after Pentecost, the holy day where we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church which we have inherited. The Holy Spirit, alternately known through the metaphors of wind and flame, energized the disciples and galvanized them to take what they were experiencing out into the streets.

During my sermon, I read this quotation from Barbara Brown Taylor, an Episcopalian public theologian: “There is some very fine teaching available on the Holy Spirit; and I hope none of you is satisfied with it. I hope none of you rests until you have felt the Holy Spirit blow through your own life, rearranging things, opening things up and maybe even setting your own head on fire. There is nothing you can do to make it happen, as far as I know, except to pray ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ every chance you get. If you don’t want anything to change in your life, then for heaven’s sake, don’t pray that, but if you are the type of person who likes to stand out on the porch when there is a storm moving through so you can feel the power that is pushing the trees around, then you are probably a good candidate for the Holy Spirit prayer.”

I love how she talks about the difference between teaching and experiencing – that is how I understand the Holy Spirit, too. There is plenty of thinking and head knowledge about God but experience is another door through which we can enter into relationship with this wild and life giving spirit. In a similar way, art can touch something deep within us that is difficult to reach any other way.

Below is a poem from writer Andrea Skevington, which I found particularly moving – may it deepen your experience of these Pentecost days.

Pastor Mallory


How would it feel, then, to live
in that God-shaken house?
To feel the wind,
like the very breath of life,
like the stirring of the
deep before time,
gusting through these small
daily rooms, clattering and pressing
against doors and shutters,
not to be contained?
How would it feel to look up, eyes
dried by wind-force,
and see fire falling, flames bright
and crackling, and resting with
heat that does not burn on each
wondrous head?
To be blown open
with wild reckless joy
as words tumble out into
the clear singing light?
It would feel like this,
it feels like this,
and it is still only morning.

May 13-18

Dear Vista Grande –

We are nearing the end of Eastertide, which is rounded off by two holy days – Ascension, which we observed on Sunday, and Pentecost, which is coming up next week.

Jesus’s ascension left the disciples with a tall order and not a lot of know-how. They were tasked with continuing to build the Kin-dom of God and spreading the good news that all people are worthy. What a powerful and subversive message to inherit but, my goodness, what a daunting task! I especially feel for them because they had no roadmap for this new terrain and their Teacher and Mentor had just absconded for the skies!

Luckily, beginning with the disciples, faithful dreamers throughout history have documented their flashes of insight, ponderings, struggles, questions, and innovations. So much ink has been spilled attempting to answer the question: “What does it mean to follow The Way of Jesus?” This question has been answered hundreds of thousands of ways – it has caused wars and resulted in persecution. It has healed relationships and made peace possible. Not all of the answers are created equal and some have been used to wreak incredible violence across our good creation. And still, we who call ourselves Christian return to this central question again and again.

One of the values that keeps members of the United Church of Christ centered in our understanding of our faith is a deep value of the question itself. We recognize that answering this question faithfully as individuals, as a church, and as a denomination may look different depending on context and may shift and change over time. However, we are committed to relationship with one another which means, thankfully, we will never have to figure it out by ourselves and we will never lack for good conversation partners.

We heard from several covenantal partners that decided to go on a ‘mystery date with a theologian’ about a month ago and reported back on Sunday. There were lots of questions, themes, resonances, and disagreements across the reports. My earnest prayer is that the conversation doesn’t stop here but we instead engage not only the writers but also each other as we discern what the next chapter of Vista Grande’s story will hold.

Each of you bears incredible wisdom and we have not been left unresourced by all the faithful people who left their trail notes as they traveled The Way. May we discover and value this about each other in the days ahead.

Pastor Mallory

May 6-11

Dear Vista Grande –

We are nearing the end of our journey through Eastertide, the time of the church year where we get to really dig into what it means to live as the “Easter People” we are called to be. This week, we spent some time with my favorite disciple, Peter (with a cameo by runner-up, Thomas!). In the story captured in John 21, we see Peter and the disciples return to what they knew how to do – fishing. But, as the saying goes, ‘you can’t go home again’ and their tools and skills didn’t quite work for them the way they were hoping.

As we travel through the Easter Season, we can’t ignore that the wandering and wondering and pain of Lent happened. In fact, we’re explicitly not supposed to forget. Peter’s three denials are deliberately echoed in the story I think of as his redemption. I can only imagine the guilt and shame Peter carried for his failings. Afterall, he talked the biggest game, using words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ to describe his devotion to Jesus and The Way. Yet, despite his best efforts, he chose his security and comfort above his dedication to his Teacher. What feelings do you think came up for him when Jesus took him aside for a private chat there on the beach?

Shame is a powerful barrier to relationship. If we carry shame, we think of ourselves as unworthy – like we only amount to the sum total of our mistakes and only add up to our worst moments. When our shame is met with the blame and retribution of other people, our worst fears are confirmed. They think of us just as we think of ourselves.

This story in John 21 is an antidote to toxic shame. When Jesus saw Peter, his invitation was for Peter to come and be fed – an act of care for Peter which shows that Jesus was invested in his wellness and life. It was only after he was fed and nourished that Jesus took Peter aside. And instead of rebuking him (and we definitely have scriptural evidence of Jesus rebuking people!), Jesus gently asked Peter to reaffirm his love and commitment to caring for the people around him and all those in need. Despite what Peter may have thought was required of him or the story he told about himself, Jesus invited Peter in love to participate in love and acts of care.

Maybe you are carrying something you are ashamed of – a belief that doesn’t feel aligned with who you know yourself to be or an action you’ve taken that violates your core values. It is definitely easy to slip into toxic shame. However, the gentle invitation is to turn back toward relationship with God and one another. You are offered love and understanding and then tasked with offering that love and understanding back to your fellows. It is in this way that we disrupt the cycle of violent shame that keeps us separated from God and each other.

If you are carrying shame, please trust you can put it down. We mean it when we say ‘no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey’ – that means YOU. Just as you are. Right now. In this moment. Come and eat. Come and be nourished. There is care, love, and acceptance waiting for you.

Pastor Mallory

Apr 22-27

Greetings, Beloveds –

As we continue through the Easter season, we get to encounter just what it means to foster the new life that has been made possible. As I have written about before, Easter is not an end point but an inflection point. It’s less a victory and more a chance for us to ask the question “Okay, so now what do we do?”

This week, we got the chance to re-encounter the story of Thomas. Thomas is a character who gets a tough rap in the Bible – we know very little of him other than the word that usually gets appended to his name…Doubting. We have been trained through the usual exegesis of that story to look down on him as somehow being less than because he doesn’t have all the answers and wants some more information. The text even moralizes a little bit, saying ‘blessed are those who do not see and yet believe’.

I have been in activist, organizing, and social justice circles and have noticed there is a similar toxic orthodoxy which asserts that everyone needs to have the ‘right belief’ in order to claim their spot within the movement for social change. If you don’t know the right jargon or have all the ‘correct opinions’, you quickly realize that you have to shape up and fly right or risk losing your place in the community. Like Thomas, if you have questions or take a little while to catch on, you are labeled a ‘doubter’ and looked down upon. Lots of us are familiar with that dynamic from our experiences with past church communities.

The reason I chose the UCC as my faith home, however, is our commitment to covenant relationship. Part of our constitution stipulates that it is leadership’s job to provide resources and opportunities for learning so that we all have the chance to grow and develop in relationship. None of us are here to pass judgment on each other but instead offer education, honest discussion, and room for questions, uncertainty and, yes, even doubt.

I want to name that we have been invited into some new situations as a church which may cause consternation, discomfort, and frustration which many of us have not known how to address or discuss with one another. Please know that I am here to walk with you through it – your experience and discomfort matters to me. Though I am human and not always perfect, my goal is always to meet you with compassion and understanding – your questions and doubts are welcome. In fact, they are an important part of the process!

May we lean into the covenants we have made with one another – our Just Peace covenant, especially, which empowers us to have difficult conversations with one another and hold each other, all people, and all creation with care and respect. When we practice the same vulnerability and authenticity we strive for in Joys and Concerns and turn toward each other with our discomfort and questions, I firmly believe we can do anything.

Pastor Mallory

Apr 1-6

Dear people of Vista Grande –

We have been doing difficult work through the season of Lent, paying attention to the things we might rather not see about ourselves – our human propensity to hurt each other. To let our pride get in the way. To push each other away. To think that we’re better than others. We learned the cost of betrayal, the weight of grief and uncertainty. We traveled with our shadow trusting that somehow, some way new life would come even if we couldn’t see how.

So now it’s the Tuesday after Easter and we’re not sure we can trust the good news of resurrection with our whole weight. I imagine the disciples gathered in the upper room – they received the news from Mary Magdalene and the other women but they haven’t seen Jesus with their own eyes yet. I imagine their shock and maybe their disbelief. I imagine the practical among them asking a simple question:

“Okay. So….now what?”

Maybe you can relate? If Lent has been a season of self-reflection and discovery for you, maybe you have some new insights into what makes you tick and what keeps you disconnected from God and one another. So…what are we supposed to do now?

Don’t worry if that answer isn’t clear in this moment. Yes, we have been gifted news of the possibility of new life. But, according to some of the gospel accounts, it takes Jesus some time to appear to his disciples and followers. It takes some time for them to see him for themself, for the possibility of resurrection to become more tangible and direct.

Right now, maybe what you have is the news that it’s possible. And for right now, that can be enough. We are an Easter people – what that means is that we keep our eyes peeled for and our souls attuned toward new life so we don’t miss it when it comes. It’s okay if this is a tender time. It’s okay if you’re only catching glimmers. It’s okay if you don’t quite know what to do with it yet. We have another 50 day season of Easter to start figuring it out.

We’ll travel toward it together, dear ones.

In great love,
Pastor Mallory

Mar 25-30

Holy Week blessings, dear ones –

With Palm Sunday and what is usually known as the ‘triumphal entry’, we have begun to walk with Jesus on his long trek toward the cross. I came across this prayer/poem this week from the authors of enfleshed and wanted to share it with you. May it be a blessing to you as it has been to me.

Pastor Mallory

Palm Sunday Prayerpoem

We cry to the Spirit of Christ,
who takes on flesh
and moves among us.

Save us!!
From the idols of unity
that keep the weight of our collective problems
on the backs of the suffering and oppressed.

Save us!!
From toxic understandings of gender
that confine
that destroy
that encourage violence
against self and other.

Save us!!
From colorblindness that hides
the destruction of white supremacy.
From white fragility
that keeps away honesty and change.
From performance politics
that prioritize perception over action.
From the limits of identity politics and representation
that oversimplify paths to freedom.

Save us!!
From corporations who make a profit
through advertisements and campaigns
that project social concerns
all while evading their taxes
and destroying our planet.

Save us!!
From an impossible pace
not meant for survival
only for production.

Save us!!
From the violence done in the name of the law through:
Police brutality
The war on drugs
Deportations and violence at the border
Abuse of incarcerated trans women
Stop and frisk
The criminalization of sex work
And all that drives a morality
shaped by dominance and control

Save us!!
From easy answers.
From individualism.
From liberal theologies that perpetuate the status quo.
From binary thinking.
From #notallmen #notallwhitepeople #notallchrisitians
From our desire to hold onto unjust power.
From our fear of claiming righteous power.

Save us!!
From churches that do violence
and from churches who do not disrupt
violence against us.

Save us!!
From our struggle to believe
we have what we need
to manifest Christ in our lives
and create a different way of living together.

You free us from traps of guilt.
You show us the way of liberation
that welcomes all who desire justice and healing.
Your grace leads us in learning and unlearning.
You manifest both softly and fiercely.
Your Love is a catalyst that opens possibilities
we cannot yet imagine.
Turn us towards each other.
Our salvation is collective.

Mar 11-16

Dear ones,

This Lenten season, we have been spending time companioning our ‘shadow emotions’ – those parts of ourselves which are difficult to come into relationship with but have much to teach us. This week, we are spending time with grief. The story our culture tells is that grief is a ‘one and done’ experience, settled within the first few days or weeks after the death of a loved one, the transition of a relationship, or any other kind of loss. In reality, grief is an ever-unfolding experience which shifts and changes and, even years later, can catch you unawares and bring new dimensions to the sorrow.

I offer this poem from Jan Richardson to accompany you this week. May you be gentle with yourself as you touch your deep pain. May we be gentle with each other when we come to realize there is not one of us who hasn’t been touched by grief in some way.

Pastor Mallory

Blessing for Falling into a New Layer of Grief

You thought
you had hit
every layer possible,
that you had found
the far limit
of your sorrow,
of your grief.

Now the world falls
from beneath your feet
all over again,
as if the wound
were opening
for the first time,
only now with
an ache you recognize
as ancient.

Here is the time
for kindness—
your own, to yourself—
as you fall
and fall,
as you land hard
in this layer
that lies deeper than
you ever imagined
you could go.

Think of it as
a secret room—
this space
that has opened
before you,
that has opened
inside you,
though it may look
sharp in every corner
and sinister
no matter where
you turn.

Think of it as
a hidden chamber
in your heart
where you can stay
as long as you need,
where you will
find provision
you never wanted
but on which
your life will now

I want to tell you
there is treasure
even here—
that the sharp lines
that so match your scars
will lead
to solace;
that this space
that feels so foreign
will become for you
a shelter.

So let yourself fall.
It will not be
the last time,
but do not let this be
cause for fear.

These are the rooms
around which your
new home will grow—
the home of your heart,
the home of your life
that welcomes you
with such completeness,
opening and
opening and
opening itself to you,
no part of you
turned away.

—Jan Richardson

Feb 26 – Mar 2

Dear People of Vista Grande –

As we continue through our Lenten journey together, we are meeting our shadow emotions and asking them what they have to teach us about living a life of faith together in community. Yesterday, we were honored to welcome Rev. James Fouther, our regional Generosity Officer from the national setting of the United Church of Christ, who spoke to us about anger.

Anger is a funny thing – it can sneak up on us when we least expect it. Sometimes, we are acting out of anger and aren’t even aware of it (though those around us might be!). If we know what our anger looks like, it can be something we try really hard not to express. Afterall, good spiritual people don’t show anger, right? We’re always kind and patient and….well…that’s not always the case, is it?

Thankfully, Rev. Fouther helped normalize our anger and even found positives in it. Anger is a clarifying force that moves us to act. It’s good start-up energy, especially if we direct it toward the powers and principalities that keep harming us and our kin. Rev. Fouther mentioned a TedTalk which might be instructive for us, entitled Anger is Your Ally: A Mindful Approach to Anger.

This week, I invite you to get in touch with your anger. Do you know what it feels like for you? How do you know when you’re good and mad? Can you ask your anger what it has to teach you? What does it need you to know?

May we embrace our anger as sacred and may it move us to action for a more just and flourishing world.

Pastor Mallory

Feb 19-24

Dear Vista Grande –

You are probably familiar with the story of the rich young man – he shows up in three out of four of the gospel accounts we have and the crux is always the same. We hear that Jesus asks him to give up his wealth and he, who actively sought Jesus out, goes away sad because he didn’t know how to do that. That’s where we get the camel and the needle and, for some of us, a sense of hopelessness.

There are several beautiful nuggets tucked away in that story as told by the writer of Mark, though. First, we read that Jesus looked at this young man, full of pride and accomplishment masking a deep hunger for connection…Jesus looked at him and loved him. And then, right alongside the impossibility of fitting a pack animal through a sewing implement, we get one of the most famous statements of our faith: “With God, all things are possible.”

I am thinking of the concept of “giving things up for Lent”. Jesus invites the rich young man to lay down the things that are separating him from God and from his fellow people. On the other side, Jesus promises abundant life – a life greater and more full than the one we had before. Fundamentally, that’s what Lent is about – it’s a time set aside to lay things down so there is room for more life and love abundant. It isn’t about suffering – it’s about taking an honest look at what limits our connection to the Divine and each other, trusting that God will meet us and transform us beyond what we thought was possible, making room for the Easter joy which is to come.

Thank you all so much for your brave willingness to lean into what is difficult. I am astounded by all of you each and every day.

Pastor Mallory

Feb 12-17

Dear Vista Grande –

It’s no secret that I love Peter. He’s so…human. He’s impulsive and joyful and angry and takes risks and tries his best and falls flat…he gives me hope that, even with all of my messy inconsistencies and all the things I don’t do perfectly, I still get to be a follower of Christ. Our text for the week was Mark 8, where Peter takes it on himself to tell Jesus off and, permitting ourselves a little bit of imagination with the text (all it says is “rebuked him”), educate him about ‘how things work around here’. He’s trying to reign Jesus in – saying something akin to “Hey, man, if you keep saying stuff like that, you’re going to get us all killed!” And Jesus says, essentially, “get out of my way – I have work to do.”

I imagine that Peter had witnessed his own fair share of violence by the Roman Empire and exclusion by the religious elites who held power in his community. I imagine he looked at the systems around him and said “This is just how it is…step out of line and you get killed. It’s hopeless. Nothing is going to ever change.” And I get it…the system looks big and scary. How will anything ever shift? I’m put in mind of this quotation, originally taken from Twitter: “We seldom admit the seductive comfort of hopelessness. It saves us from ambiguity. It has an answer for every question: “There’s just no point.” Hope, on the other hand, is messy. If it might all work out, then we have things to do.” When Jesus says to Peter “Get out of my way.”, what he’s saying is “I’ve got things to do.” It reminds me of the song Joy in Resistance by The Resistance Revival Chorus, a group founded by Black women to provide music for the movement for racial justice.

“What the world needs now
is joy (faith, love, hope) in resistance
We will fight the good fight
With or without your assistance

Move out of the way
If you can’t support the mission
What the world needs now
Is joy (faith, love, hope) in resistance”

At its founding, our church has been dedicated to being a pocket of hope where we practice what the world might look like if it operated on logics of mutual care and support and power with instead of greed, extraction, and power over. Sure, we have our Peter moments, where we slide into hopelessness and think we can’t make a change. And yet, I am astounded every time this church chooses love of neighbor over love of our own comfort. It’s that effort and commitment that’s going to change the world.

Thank you for being who you are.

Pastor Mallory

Feb 5-10

Beloved of God,

We are continuing our sojourn with Jesus through the Gospel of Mark and witnessing the stories of his healings among the people he came in contact with. This week, we spent time with two unnamed women – the daughter of Jairus (a man of stature) who was at death’s door and the woman with an incurable gynecological condition which caused her to bleed, rendering her ritually impure and therefore unable to participate in the rest of society.

In both cases, the situation was deemed hopeless. Both Jairus and the hemorrhaging woman were out of options and unable to make anything else happen under their own power – this led Jairus to humble himself enough to go to his knees in front of Jesus and it led the woman to risk it all for a touch of his cloak. In both cases, it is faith which led these people to do something unexpected and what Jesus highlighted as most important.

I was privileged to attend a virtual workshop facilitated by Rev. Dr. Barbara Holmes, an incredible Black mystic, on the topic of Crisis Contemplation – those experiences both individual and communal which strip away all our tools, abilities, and sense of self and for which there is no reasonable expectation of human help. She contends that it is in these situations we become free enough to do something unexpected and God meets us there.

As we prepare for Racial Justice Sunday next week, I want to share an example of this type of holy, unexpected, and embodied resistance and healing Rev. Dr. Holmes shared with us. The Northwest Tap Connection, a social justice-oriented dance company produced this incredible video; out of the depths of their communal hopelessness came a particular and powerful example of making space in the world where there was none before. As you watch, I encourage you to pay attention to what stirs within you. Are you moved to tears? Do you feel the Spirit? Do you want to dance or clap along? Something else? What does your body have to teach you in this moment? How have you been impacted?

Dear ones, may we be attuned to those painful places of hopelessness and desperation and may we allow them to turn us toward the God who does not leave us or forsake us.

Pastor Mallory

Jan 29 – Feb 3

Dear Vista Grande –

On Sunday, we used the story of the man overtaken with ‘unclean spirits’ in Mark 5 to explore the spiritual task of vulnerability. We see the man’s reticence to receive the type of healing presence Jesus has to offer him – “What have you to do with me, Jesus” translates to “go away! leave me with my pain!” In Jesus, we see a model of welcome that is not afraid of big and difficult emotions and is patient enough to persist through the fear and anger and see the beloved one through to the possibility of healing and wholeness.

As followers of the Way of Jesus, we look to him as a model and a guide for our behavior. Who or what is calling us to be present to pain? This might be internal – our own grief, rage, fear, and woundedness. It may be external – bearing witness to these intense emotional states within one another. Either way, we are invited to call these painful experiences by their name and get to know them so we might experience the miracle of freedom and healing.

I know this is tough work – it’s uncomfortable to bear witness to our own pain, much less the pain of others! And here I am suggesting that we do both! Don’t worry, though – you aren’t expected to get it perfect. We will be practicing these skills together as a community, trusting in the process of healing this story points us toward.

In the recovery rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, we have a phrase: Progress, not perfection. We won’t be perfect – that’s a given. But we are invited to keep trying to live according to our stated values, which we find in the person and teachings of Jesus.

Every week, we extend a welcome to everyone – no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here. That means you. All of you. Even the parts of yourself you’re not a huge fan of. Even the things that hurt. There is not one part of you that is out of the reach of God’s love and the care of our community of faith.

Let’s keep reminding each other of that. Let’s keep calling each other back home.

Pastor Mallory

New Announcements:

Interested in helping shape worship life at Vista Grande? Join us for the inaugural meeting of the Worship Arts Team on Thursday, February 1st at 6:30 on Zoom. We are looking for musicians, visual artists, design-minded folks, people with a way with words, and more! Come and be a part of the team!

Ash Wednesday: Hybrid services will be offered at 2:30 and 5:30.

Lenten Journey Partners: As part of deepening our commitment to building community, Vista Grande is offering an opportunity to consciously connect with each other on a one-on-one basis through the season of Lent. If you are interested in being part of a Journey Partnership, please fill out the survey at this link or let Pastor Mallory know via email at

Congregational Survey: The Pastoral Relations Committee has prepared a congregational survey to gather your opinions on how we are doing as a church and in relationship with our pastor. Please take a few minutes to fill out this form – it’s completely anonymous so please answer as honestly as you can. This information will help us chart a course for our future and we want you to be a part of it! For the Survey link contact

Jan 22-27

Hello, Vista Grande!

Yesterday, you were joined by Rev. Jordan Farrell, the pastor of Beth-el Mennonite Church and I guest preached in his pulpit. This is an annual tradition among a clergy cluster group called the Neighborhood Faith Leaders as a way of observing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been a project of the World Council of Churches for well over 100 years and is a time where we practice humility and learn about our shared Christian faith from our siblings.

While Congregationalists and Mennonites come from different theological backgrounds and got to our peace and justice stances by a different path, the truth of the matter is that our dreams, goals, and theological convictions are similar. Our similarities life-giving, in that they can help us feel less alone – hey! We have another church actively working to support the most vulnerable in our community! And they’re less than a mile away! But our differences can also be life-giving. Our Mennonite siblings have a longstanding tradition of peacemaking which can inform us as we discern what faithfulness means in our current context, as we are charged to do in the UCC Constitution. In fact, the Fear Not curriculum which has been a significant part of adult faith formation this fall and winter came from the Mennonite Central Committee and is deeply rooted in their faith tradition.

I hope you found the pulpit swap informative and, if it was a little uncomfortable or unfamiliar, my prayer is that you are able to ask questions of that discomfort – where is the witness of our Mennonite siblings asking us to grow? What, if any, core values of mine were challenged in the way their faith was presented to me?

Above all, may we trust that we are not alone in the building up of the Kin-dom of God. There are faithful people engaged in the labor of co-creation with God and with us. And some of them happen to be right in our backyard! Both Jordan and I are hoping that this will be the beginning of a new and important relationship in the life of both of our churches and we hope you do as well.

Don’t worry, though! I’ll be back in the pulpit next week and eager to see all of you and share in our life together.

Blessings, dear ones.
Together – all of us,
Pastor Mallory

Jan 15-20

Beautiful people of Vista Grande –

As I write this, Colorado Springs is experiencing near-record low temperatures; it is -4 with a windchill making it feel like -12. It is certainly the coldest stretch of winter I’ve experienced in recent memory and this streak is stretching on well beyond Colorado’s tried and true adage: if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes and it will change.

You may be aware that VGCC has opened our building for the last week, welcoming in at least 60 people per night in order to keep them safe, warm, and fed during this deep and killing freeze.

While I know many of you are supportive of this endeavor, I think it’s important that you understand the impact you are having. When I say you are saving lives by saying yes, I mean it. Sometimes, though, it’s important to hear it from someone other than just me. Below is an email written by someone who has stayed in our church over the last few days. I read it aloud yesterday in worship but wanted to share it more broadly.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your willingness to move from observation to participation in alleviating suffering. I am beyond blessed to be part of this incredible community.

Pastor Mallory

Letter from Andie, a guest in the church:

Dear Rev. Mallory,

My name is Andie, and I am a traveling artist and christian iconographer. For the past year, I have been undertaking a mission to bicycle across the country to witness firsthand and testify with my painting the beauty of God’s Creation.

Due to a series of events God saw fit to put me thru, I found myself without shelter in the midst of winter in Colorado Springs, over a thousand miles away from my home and family. This is how I found myself sleeping under a painting of St. Francis on the floor of your church with my homeless brothers and sisters. And I just wanted to thank you and your congregation for putting the teachings of our Savior and Liberator into practice and showing the love of Christ to your community, and to me personally.

As an artist, I care deeply about my fellow humans, and as an iconographer I take seriously the responsibility of living a Christian life. St Francis himself was a huge inspiration for me to sell most of my belongings and travel the country relying on the charity and grace of others while doing what God called me to do. It’s for that reason that I also wanted to share with you a brief hagiography of the names of the people you saved from freezing to death on the streets.

Miss Rita (who is quite the character), Izzie, Joker, Shy, Jesse, Cartman, Marcus, Larisa, Bobby Blue, Richard, Crystal, Cheryl, and dozens of others. These are all real life human beings whose lives your congegration has touched. I have sat with them, listened to their stories, saw their faces, and now as an artist it is my job to reify the beauty that God has created. I hope that this email does just that for you at least in some small way, because this is beauty God created thru Vista Grande UCC.

Please accept my gratitude for all that your church has done, and know that when yall meet together truly Christ is in your midst.

With thanks,

Jan 8-13

Epiphany Greetings, dear ones –

The 12th day of Christmas, known as Epiphany, is the holy day in the liturgical calendar where we celebrate the arrival of the Wise Ones from afar who followed the star and the guidance of intuition and dream which led them to the humble home of Mary, Joseph, and little toddler Jesus.

Every Epiphany, we have a practice of picking Star Words to guide us through our year. If you weren’t able to join us on Sunday and would like a star word, I’m happy to get one to you. Reach out to me directly at and we will coordinate. You can have one generated randomly at this link. I encourage you to make your own star, put the word on it, and display it somewhere you will see it throughout the coming year.

In this season which celebrates the gifts and guidance of intuition and dream, modern day mystic Jan Richardson offers us this blessing. May it illuminate our individual paths as we travel them together.

Where the Map Begins
This is not
any map you know.
Forget longitude.
Forget latitude.
Do not think
of distances
or of plotting
the most direct route.
Astrolabe, sextant, compass:
these will not help you here.
This is the map
that begins with a star.
This is the chart
that starts with fire,
with blazing,
with an ancient light
that has outlasted
generations, empires,
cultures, wars.
Look starward once,
then look away.
Close your eyes
and see how the map
begins to blossom
behind your lids,
how it constellates,
its lines stretching out
from where you stand.
You cannot see it all,
cannot divine the way
it will turn and spiral,
cannot perceive how
the road you walk
will lead you finally inside,
through the labyrinth
of your own heart
and belly
and lungs.
But step out
and you will know
what the wise who traveled
this path before you
the treasure in this map
is buried not at journey’s end
but at its beginning.
Onward, beloveds. Together.

Pastor Mallory

Jan 1-6

Happy New Year, Vista Grande!

I love this time of year – Advent, the season just before Christmas, marks the beginning of the new church year and then we culturally mark the solar return today on January first. I kind of like that we Christians who observe Advent get the chance to have our new year a few weeks early and that we spend the first several weeks meditating on values which are central to our faith: hope, peace, joy, and love. Then we get the chance to start again alongside the secular calendar but we also have a leg up – January 1st is nestled right in the middle of the 12 days of Christmas, where we are still celebrating the imminence of the God who makes Godself known in our midst through those very same values.

Every year, on or around December 31st, public theologian Nadia Bolz-Weber posts her yearly reminder: “May you remember that there is no resolution that, if kept, will make you more worthy of love.” This simple statement feels important, especially because Lent, the time of solemn preparation for Easter, will be on us quicker than we’d like to think (don’t look now, but it’s only about 6 weeks away!)

What we do at Vista Grande all boils down to Belovedness. That truth is especially highlighted in the Christmas story, where we celebrate the incarnation of God not as the finished product of the radical teacher in whose footsteps we follow but instead as a tiny baby who is just learning to swallow and can’t yet raise their own head. Before Jesus teaches us about any doing or building or rabble-rousing, he teaches about the vulnerability of receiving care and being dependent on one another. He teaches us about what Belovedness entitles us to.

Belovedness entitles us to care, consideration, and community, especially in times of deep pain. Many of us are going through some of the most difficult things life has to throw at us – health issues, grief, job stress, family strains, and more are just the things which have been named in joys and concerns. If you feel like one of the walking wounded, like your load is too heavy to carry, like you’re not able to put one foot in front of the next, please know that your faith community is here to remind you of your Belovedness, witness you in your grief, and help alleviate the pain as we are able.

May the Christchild teach us the kind of vulnerability which has us reach toward one another, rooted in our sacred worth and intrinsic Belovedness. May this central lesson of Christmas attend us not only through the twelve days but all the year long.

Pastor Mallory