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The Pastor’s Page™

Rev. Brian Eastman was called to serve as the pastor of Beaver UCC in August of 2008. Brian received his Master of Divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School (Newton, MA). He has worked as a seminarian at Second Church of Newton UCC (Newton, MA) and as a chaplaincy intern at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital (Boston, MA). While at seminary, Brian also co-founded the Andover Newton Men’s Fellowship, worked in Theology and the Arts, traveled to China to study World Christianity, and was inducted into the Jonathan Edwards Society of Andover Newton. Prior to his calling to ministry, Brian received a Bachelor of Science degree from Guilford College (Greensboro, NC) in Physics. After college, Brian worked in Information Technology, working for academic institutions, large corporations, and dot-com startups. Other areas of ministry and theology that interest Brian are Science and Religion, Theology and the Arts, World Christianity, and serving the greater community through ecumenical work between churches. Pastor Brian currently lives in Dayton with his wife Amelia.

A visit from Pastor Brian

If you would like Pastor Brian to visit with you, or if you know someone that would enjoy a visit for any reason, please contact Pastor Brian. You may email Pastor Brian or call Pastor Brian at (937) 469-1383 at any time.

Pastor’s Office Hours

Tuesday: 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Wednesday: 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Thursday: 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

The Pastor’s Peace™

Inspirational thoughts from Pastor Brian for your reflection and consideration, published monthly during the year, available in our printed Beaver Church Chatter newsletter and on our web site.

2022

  • January

    It is a new year again, as it is every year in January. Of course, when we choose to start the new year is a bit arbitrary. In China, for instance, they have a traditional new year that coincides with a lunar calendar that usually puts the new year sometime in February. Ancient cultures also used to mark the beginning of a new year by the Summer or Winter Solstice. However, in modern times in the US we tend to mark it as January 1st. It is interesting, though, that different people have chosen different times, because there does seem to be a “new” energy that is associated with whatever time we perceive the new year to be. Often, we will use the beginning of a new year as a time to establish new habits, such as the millions of new gym memberships that will be purchased this month. We also use this time as a moment to cast away the old, saying that past bad experiences will be left behind in the prior year to be replaced by something better this year. An example of this would be something most of us are wishing for, and that would be for 2022 to be a much better year for Covid than 2020 or 2021. Things that are cyclical, such as health care deductibles and taxes, also reset anew suggesting again, a new period. Even I am having something very new done in the first few days of 2022, a new hip! God willing. Newness, however, need not be something that is relegated to a once-a-year event in January. Every day is a day that can be new and bring wanted change. This is something that we acknowledge in our Christian faith. Christ has the power to create new and powerful change in our life each and every moment of every day. If we faithfully follow Christ and look for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, not only can we create newness in our life, but newness in the life of others. I’m not sure what your plans are for 2022, perhaps you have a change in mind or a great hope for a better future. Whatever it is that you yearn for, I will pray that you achieve it with God’s blessings and help from others. Together may we enter this new year as a people of faith, each walking into the newness that Christ sets forth before us.

    Peace, Blessing, and Happy New Year!
    Pastor Brian

  • February

    Well, I’m back at church, for a little while at least. My first hip replacement has gone relatively well. I have done a great number of exercises and a great deal of physical therapy and have graduated from a walker to a cane, and can now even walk a little unassisted. They say that I will be mostly healed 6 weeks after the surgery, which will be just in time to have my other hip done. At least the second time I will have a better idea of what to expect. The first go around, however, I had what one might call unrealistic expectations. I had heard many things from different people, most of which were positive about the procedure that I had done. Things that were told to me were so positive in fact, that I was a bit unprepared for the pain and work that I would have to do to recover. So, for anyone else thinking about getting an anterior hip replacement, it is a wonderful surgery that works well, but there will be several weeks of sometimes difficult recovery that you should be prepared for.

    This is the thing about expectations. We can expect that something will take place or go a certain way, and when it does not, it can be disappointing and set us back. I often make a joke that if you expect the worst all the time, then you will often be pleasantly surprised. Although perhaps true, this is not a very realistic approach to life. Instead, we try to set reasonable expectations, and deal with the outcomes that come our way. Because of my unrealistic expectations of an easy recovery, I was in fact disappointed and struggled mentally and emotionally with the process, especially as I got into the second week. I focused on prayer, and took great comfort in all the people praying for me, and wishing me well. This was honestly the most helpful tool for me getting through the most difficult part of my recovery.

    We never truly know the impact we can have on others, both positively and negatively. For me getting texts and cards and knowing that people cared and were praying for me, was truly an amazing benefit to me. It makes me think of all the times we do similar things for others, just simply letting them know we care for them. It has always struck me that Christianity, from the very beginning, has been a religion of community and not individuals. The word “Church” in Greek for instance means a people called together, not a building. Even the very existence of God is that of a being in relationship, through the Trinity. It should therefore be no surprise that community and care from others can have a profound impact on all of us. Even though we are a bit more physically separated because of Covid, I know that we still have a strong fellowship in Christ at Beaver Church. It is something I have always been grateful for, and in particular have given great thanks for it and all of you over these past few weeks.

    Peace and Blessings,
    Pastor Brian

  • March

    Well, I am writing this month’s Pastor’s Peace from my bed. I think that is a first for me as my obvious preference for doing such work would be from my desk. In this case, however, I have no choice. I am essentially on bed rest for a week due to complications from my second hip replacement. The surgery itself went fine, but several days after my entire leg decided to swell up like the Good Year blimp, causing a great deal of muscle pain and spasms. I’ll just say that it was not one of the better times of my life. After an ER visit it was determined, thankfully, that it was not a blood clot or something else life threatening, rather just my body deciding to react much differently this second time around. The doctor prescribed Valium in addition to my regular pain killers to help with spasms, and I am supposed to lie down as much as I can with my leg elevated while wearing a compression stocking. So, if this Pastor’s Peace makes no sense, that’s just the painkillers and Valium talking.

    My first go around with my other hip replacement went rather well, and although I did need some help during the first week or so, I was relatively independent and with my walker could slowly make my way to most of what I needed to do. This time, however, independence is in short supply. I have been dependent on my wife, mother, doctors, nurses, mother-in-law, step-father, niece, nephew, church members, and many others just to name a few. I have trouble getting around and doing even basic things. My wife even has to help me put on and take off this darn compression stocking every day, which I’m pretty sure falls in the “for worse” category of those vows we took. For someone such as myself who likes to do things for myself and is big on selfreliance, this current situation is humbling and a bit difficult, to say the least. Of course, I am not the only one to feel this way. Many of us depend on others especially as we age or go through various difficulties in our lives. I am actually going to go a step further and say that all of us, no matter our age or ability, depend on others. Complete selfreliance is a myth. No person is an island and all of us rely on others to some extent, whether we realize it or not.

    In fact, this idea is central to our faith as Christians as well. Christianity in not a religion of the single. Although each of us does have a personal relationship with God, we are called together as a faith to be many brought together. Even the existence of God in the form of the Trinity speaks to the relational aspect of the divine and what we are called to do as disciples. Paul talks about this very idea when he speaks as the church, with all its many members, being the body of Christ when brought together. Sometimes we might be tempted to see receiving help from others as a weakness. In reality, though, it is a strength.

    All of us together can achieve so much more then we can apart. Joined together we can better show the world Christ’s love and compassion more so than we can on our own. So, if you find yourself in need of help from others, do not be ashamed or disappointed, but rather know that this is the way that God has created us to be, in community loving each other as we love God. My recent surgery has reminded me of all of this, and hopefully it will continue to remind me of it in the days ahead.

    Peace and Blessings,
    Pastor Brian

  • April

    Well, I made sure to check the numbers again from the Ohio Health Department before I started writing this Pastor’s Peace, but it looks like the Covid infection rates have remained low for both Montgomery County and Greene County. In addition, I heard that Miami Valley Hospital had its first day in 2 years with no Covid patients. All of this is great news, especially because it means that there will be fewer deaths and fewer people that become ill with this horrible disease. As we have seen before, however, it does not mean that the pandemic is over, and we must continue to keep an eye out for new variants, increased infection rates, and remember many of the safety practices we have learned over the last two years. It does mean that for now the consistory has decided to start rolling back some of the safety restrictions put in place, and it will continue to do so over the next several months, assuming infection rates stay low. The Coronavirus that has caused so many deaths, will never go away completely, but I pray that perhaps this time it will continue to decline as many past viruses have such as the 1918 flu, such that it is no longer a pandemic and as dangerous as it has been. Only time will tell.

    As I stated, the consistory did decide to roll back some of the safety restrictions, based upon guidance from the CDC and the general results we had from the church-wide survey that was conducted. Starting towards the end of March we made masks optional for church activities, and for April there will be several changes as well. This will include a bit more singing during the service, regular communion, although the individual cup packets will still be available, and coffee and doughnuts downstairs after service. The consistory will continue to monitor infection rates and guidance from the CDC and Ohio Department of Health. If rates increase due to another variant, we might have to put some protections in place again, but if rates continue to be low and even decrease further, then we will likely add some more changes in May. The ultimate goal is of course to hold services and activities as we did before the pandemic, but doing so in a way that continues to keep congregation members safe.

    As we begin to loosen restrictions there will be different views from different church members about what is being done and whether it is too much or too little. This was the case when we put restrictions in place in the beginning. The survey did show that although the majority of church members supported the decisions that the consistory had made, there were those that felt the church was being too strict, or that the church was being too lax in its protection measures. This was always going to be the case. As I told the consistory members several times, this is the sort of issue that no matter what is decided, certain people in the church will not be happy.

    Also, with 10 consistory members representing differing viewpoints in the church, it is not surprising that the consistory would choose a middle path, trying to balance safety and our usual traditions. The consistory has also paid close attention to the Ohio Department of Health, and the CDC, because even though some do not agree with these institutions, they are in theory supposed to be neutral organizations that base their findings on expertise and science. It is a heavy weight to make decisions that could possibly be life or death for others, and I believe the consistory has prayerfully and diligently done their best job at this. So, for those that have greatly disagreed with decisions that were made earlier, or decisions that will be made in the future, I ask that you please have patience. It is an incredibly difficult task, and ultimately all of us want the same thing, to be able to worship Christ together as a congregation in fullness and safety. Our path there will not be the one everyone would have picked, but even if the church is on a different path than you now, I would invite you to please join us again when our paths meet again, at the destination we are all yearning for.

    Peace and Blessings,
    Pastor Brian

  • May

    Recently, I have felt like the start to one of the many Jimmy Buffett songs I listen to on a regular basis. It goes, “Hey, have you noticed that the world has changed, that the news is all bad; well, I think it's time for a song about that.” Of course, Mr. Buffett’s song involves drinking beverages because of the difficulties of the world around us, but the song written about the times shortly after the 2008 financial crisis, does remind me a bit of today. We are again in the midst of many challenges as a nation and as a world. It does again seem like the news is all bad. From the ongoing issues with Covid, to the war in Ukraine, not to mention inflation, it seems like the future is not one that will be bright. Now, as your pastor, I will not recommend drinking certain beverages like Mr. Buffett did, but I also won’t blame you for feeling like you need to. These are difficult times, and hope can be a challenging thing to hold onto.

    Of course, this is not the first time things have been this way; it is not even the first time things have been this way while I’ve been the pastor of Beaver UCC. As pointed out in my song comparison, the 2008 Great Recession was disastrous for many, and although we are still dealing with Covid, it was far worse in 2020, and even though we have a beautiful sanctuary today, our church was not that long ago damaged by a tornado and closed for many months. We have been through many difficult times over the last number of years, not to mention the inevitable losses of people whom we loved deeply that are no longer with us. Yet, we prevail. We are still here and still worshiping God, and still following the Good News of Christ in our life. This perseverance reminds me of one of my favorite scripture passages, Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Indeed, we have been through much, but Christ has always been and will always be with us.

    I do not know what tomorrow will bring, and to be honest I am a bit fearful at times, but I know that no matter what it is, I will not face it alone. I will have Christ in my life both spiritually, and physically, in that the Body of Christ is the church, and I know that no matter the difficulty, our church family will be there for support.

    Ultimately the Buffett song “A Lot to Drink About”, is not about drinking, despite the song title and many of the lyrics. The word that comes up several times in the song is “We’ve”, as in we are all in this together one way or another. We all share common problems, and we can all come together to help each other in these problems. Let us never forget that our greatest strength in any situation is each other. I pray that the months and years ahead signal better times, but whatever the future brings, I know I will not face it alone.

    Peace and Blessings,
    Pastor Brian

  • June

    People often ask me if I believe that prayer works. It is a curious question, because my first response would be to try to understand what the person means by “works”. If they mean that every time we pray for something to happen, it does, then no, I don’t think prayer really works like that. I could pray for a hamburger to suddenly appear in front of me within the next 5 minutes, but I honestly would not expect that to happen unless I got up and made it for myself. Do I believe that God acts in the world, and that sometimes prayer might influence that? Yes, I do believe that, but as to how and when such things happen, I cannot say. For me the most direct action of prayer is to focus us on an issue or a person. Through that focus perhaps we can invoke God’s actions, but at the very least we can encourage our own actions towards the issue and help change the outcome as much as it is within our power. I do believe that God works in the world, but I also believe that God works through us.

    As I write this, I have to be honest and say that I have spent the last few days in mourning and frustration. Just two weeks ago I preached about the tragedy of the shooting in Buffalo, and less than two weeks later we are all dealing with the grief of the murdering of two teachers and nineteen children in the school shooting in Texas. What does one say in the face of such a thing? We are often at a loss for words, and so as an attempt to let those in grief know that we support them, we will say something like “You are in my thoughts and prayers”. I certainly understand the sentiment behind that, and have said things similar myself, but unfortunately the frequency of these tragic events and the almost expected identical responses have made such sayings cliché. The definition of being “cliché” is to be a phrase or opinion that is so overused that is loses any sense of original thought or conviction. That is the issue with such words-- we have used them so often because there have been so many similar tragedies, and the words lack genuineness, regardless of the intent behind them.

    Do I still pray when such events happen: have I been praying lately? Yes, I have, and will continue to do so, but my prayers have changed. Instead of simply praying for comfort and peace for those who have experienced loss, I pray for action and change. I focus more on that aspect of prayer I spoke of earlier, the ability that prayer has to encourage us to understand and address the issue. I could spend a great deal of time discussing all of my opinions regarding violence in our society, and what I think are the solutions. I might be right and I might be wrong, and some of you might agree and some would likely disagree. Instead, I will mention three major areas that are always brought up after such events: increased security, mental health treatment, and gun control. I’m sure each and every one of you has some opinion about which of these would be most effective, perhaps all of them would, and perhaps something else entirely would help stem this tide of violence. I won’t tell you what to believe; you need to answer that for yourself, and we need to answer that as a country that seems almost unique in such casualties.

    What I will tell you, however, is that if we continue to do nothing of substance, as we mostly have in the last many years, then nothing of substance will change. So yes, I believe in prayer, and yes, I have prayed for the grieving parents of children taken way too soon, but I also pray that we have the will, as a people united, to do something about it.

    Peace and Blessings,
    Pastor Brian

  • July

    It has been a difficult number of months; really, it has been a difficult number of years. From shootings, to tornadoes, to pandemics, to wars and challenges, to long-held beliefs and rights in our country, it has been a very challenging time for many. For me, I feel that one of the things that all of these events have in common is a feeling that we don’t have control over them. Yes, we can vote for representatives that will hopefully address some of these issues and others we feel strongly about, but many times it feels as if we are just subject to the world around us without any immediate way to change things. Such a feeling can lead to feelings of despair or anger, and can certainly rob us of joy and comfort. I myself am exhausted, and every time I read the news, it seems like there is just one more monumental issue or tragedy to face.

    I could say that every time period experiences its difficulties. If we look at history, time periods such as the Civil War and the fight to end slavery, or the Great Depression, or WWII, were all periods of great challenges. If we look back even further, we have examples such as the Dark Ages or even the struggles that existed for many in the time of Christ. This may all be true, but that does not mean that anything we are experiencing now is any less difficult. There are also many that are experiencing personal hardships in addition to the larger issues we all face. Sometimes we might be tempted to give up, stop caring and not work towards a better future. I’m sure that people during Christ’s time, and even some of Christ’s followers, felt that way, especially after his death on the cross. Our faith teaches us, however, that hope even when difficult to hold onto is valuable and a guide in the darkest of times.

    So how do we hold onto hope when we feel so powerless? The answer is to work towards affecting the world in the ways we do have control and influence over. Yes, there are many things we can’t personally solve, but much of Christ’s ministry and the work of the Disciples were small acts where only one or two people were helped. This is ultimately how the world changes; it is the actions of people that at first only affect small pockets of our world, but over time they add up to change the world on a large scale. The Disciples did not build the Church the day after Christ’s resurrection. It was done person by person, year over year, until the Good News had spread to every corner of the known world. So, I would encourage all of us to help the world by doing an action no matter how small that you have some agency over. In July Beaver Church will be putting together disaster recovery kits, and we will be volunteering for the Hope Ride that Tom Raul’s participates in. Will this end suffering from natural disasters or end cancer? No, it will not, not right away at least, but it will help even if just a little, and every great journey is made up of many small steps along the way.

    Peace and Blessings,
    Pastor Brian

  • August

    As many of you know, my wife became infected with Covid recently, and as I write this she is thankfully recovering well. Unfortunately, this is just one example showing that the numbers are increasing again, and it is estimated that the real number of infections is much higher due to home tests that don’t report to the state. As some of you might have read, Wright-Patterson AFB has required masking again on base, and several other institutions and businesses have started to reevaluate their safety measures. Greene County is currently in the High category per the CDC, and rates are increasing. At that level the CDC recommends that everyone wear masks indoors.

    With this information the consistory met to discuss what changes would be made to our worship and fellowship given these higher numbers. The consistory decided to change the following things starting the first Sunday in August. We will be asking people attending service to please wear masks again. I know that everyone is tired of this, but there is a reason that WPAFB has made this decision as well, and that is that the numbers are really up. Those actively presenting the worship such as the pastor and lay reader can remove their masks while speaking, so that people can better hear and understand them. We will also be singing fewer verses of our hymns, have the offering plates in the center aisle again, and we will be using communion kits for communion every month. For fellowship, we will continue with coffee and doughnuts, but we will be moving it to the outdoor shelter again.

    I know that no one is looking forward to these changes; I certainly am not. But the consistory is charged with protecting the congregation, and it takes that call seriously. I know that there are always risks to life, even risks anytime we get into a car, and we are thus willing to accept a certain amount of risk in our activities. However, when that risk is substantial and clearly present, then things must be done to mitigate it. When the CDC threat level decreases to medium, we will likely move back to what we were doing before, and God willing when things decrease more than that, we can perhaps go back to the way things were before Covid ever happened. Until that time, I would ask for people to please be patient, and, together with God and each other’s support, we can continue forward to brighter days.

    Peace and Blessings,
    Pastor Brian

  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

The Pastor's Peace Archive™

Read Pastor Brian's thoughts from past years.

The Pastor’s Sermon™

Listen to Pastor Brian's sermons, when available, recorded during Morning Worship and other special worship services.

The Pastor's Sermon Archive™

Listen to Pastor Brian’s sermons from past years.

The Pastor's Peace™ and The Pastor's Sermon™ are ©2022 by The Beaver United Church of Christ and Pastor Brian Eastman. If you wish to copy or reproduce any content from the Beaver United Church of Christ web site, please contact Pastor Brian Eastman.