Authenticity, Compassion and Courage…these have been our touchstones on our Lenten journey this year. They have been revealed to us in the life of Jesus as we have explored his encounters with his disciples and with Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well, and Lazarus. They will take on even deeper meaning as we ponder again his last days, his death, and his resurrection.
Authenticity, Compassion and Courage. They have been portrayed by our youth and a few adults in their Fireside Room artwork and experienced in profound, transformative ways by our Haiti Work Team. They have been reflected upon in your daily Lenten devotionals and prayed and sung in every worship experience across these 40 days of Lent.
Authenticity, Compassion and Courage. They have been experienced in very personal ways in times of illness and of grief. They appear in the daily acts of witness and persistence that keep each one of us moving forward through challenging situations of all kinds, needed now more than ever.
“No coward soul is mine,” wrote the poet Emily Bronte,
“No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere
I see Heaven’s glories shine
And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear”
May we all be lifted up to new life in this Lent/Easter time, faith shining equal to Heaven’s glories, souls marked by Authenticity, Compassion and Courage.
by Tricia Lindley, Director of Children & Youth Ministry
As we begin our journey through Lent, twelve of our youth are also making their way through Confirmation Class, a time to explore what it truly means to be a Christian, a United Methodist, and a child of God. Together we ask the question, “What do I believe?” We continue the journey beyond Easter and at the end of our class in early June, we will celebrate with a banquet of family, mentors and friends. Those youth who make this journey and then choose to be confirmed go through the Confirmation ceremony in worship the following day.
When we ask together in community, when we dare to question what we think we know, we become stronger in the seeking and we find deeper meaning in the faith we find along the journey. As we explore and learn, listen and discover together, we see how God calls to each of us and how we each answer that call.
May each of us in Confirmation Class – and each of us in this community show up with courage, compassion, and authenticity as we seek Jesus in the depths of our hearts and in the daily moments of our lives. In the questions and moments this Lenten season, might we listen for the new life in Christ that is born through the journey.
At our January meeting, each member of our Church Council shared a First UMC highlight from 2016 and a dream/hope for 2017. As you might expect, the portrait of a strong, vibrant, faithful, healthy, missional community emerged. From different moments and differing examples, here are some common themes:
• The life-giving and life-sustaining relationships in this community of faith that include all ages, endure over time, yet are still evident to people walking through the door for the first time. “We save more lives than we know,” one observed.
• An ever-deepening faith and spirituality, finding expression in our Advent/Lenten devotionals, in all our various opportunities for worship, in ministries with children, youth, and families, in thrilling moments when music brings us to tears,
• Faithful community interaction through the Haiti Work Team, the Youth Service Project, Community Meals, the Thanksgiving Meal–when we move beyond ‘giving to’ or ‘providing for’ into new relationships with neighbors near and far that change our minds and our hearts,
• Growing desire to reach out, share our story, and invite people into this life together of faithfulness, service, joy, and love which maybe they never imagined church could be. “I’m talking to people about church much more than I ever have,” one shared.
What an exciting and wonderful year 2017 promises to be!
A new year begins. It’s time to make resolutions—which, in church language, are really promises we make to God and ourselves, a time to renew our covenant with God. What kind of person do we want to be? How do we want to live out, or live into, our faith this year? Where do we feel God’s call on our lives? How might we more deeply love God and love neighbor? What does the creation need of us this year? What gift might we offer to the world? Who will we become?
John Glenn, the beloved American astronaut who died in December at the age of 95, once said: “My view is that to sit back and let fate play its hand out and never try to influence it at all is not the way [humankind] was meant to operate.”
Happy New Year, one and all! Let’s covenant to grow, to do, to dare, to become….the whole person God has created us to be, to the glory of God and for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
From the widest possible scope of all the universes and stars of creation, the love of God finds its focus in the most intimate and personal beam of light that shone over the manger in Bethlehem. From the magnificent bewilderment of stars to the one single star shining bright in the face of the Christ Child, God comes to earth. And in the light of that star we see the Light of the World, our Redeemer and Savior. That’s the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s the Good News that can fill us each with light.
I invite you into worship to praise God and let the Christ be born anew in you–on Christmas Eve at 4pm and 11pm, Christmas Day at 10am, and New Year’s Day at 10am and 5pm.
May all the blessings of God’s gift of Life and Light be yours.
Rev. Patricia Farris