May our summer be blessed with joy and renewal. I share this prayer with you to ask for God’s blessing on all the summer may bring:
Creator of all, thank You for summer!
Thank You for the warmth of the sun
and the increased daylight.
Thank You for the beauty I see all around me
and for the opportunity to be outside and enjoy Your creation.
Thank You for the increased time I have to be with my friends and family,
and for the more casual pace of the summer season.
Draw me closer to You this summer.
Teach me how I can pray
no matter where I am or what I am doing.
Warm my soul with the awareness of Your presence
and light my path with Your Word and Counsel.
As I enjoy Your creation, create in me
a pure heart and a hunger and a thirst for You.
Eastertide. The word itself sounds old-fashioned, doesn’t it? If you prefer, you can refer to this 50-day season simply as “the season of Easter.” The point is, no matter what we call it—if we remember to call it anything—is that the early church knew that the full impact of Easter could hardly be experienced in one 24-hour period. They gave us 50 days, from now through Pentecost on June 4 when we will receive our new Confirmation class and celebrate the sacraments of baptism and communion.
Eastertide is a season that offers some time and space for us to grow spiritually. As our confirmands continue to learn, pray and prepare, so, too, we all are called to live deep into the power and joy that is the Resurrection. There is so much contained in that three word Easter proclamation: “Christ is Risen!” In our baptism, we affirm that we are all “incorporated into Christ’s mighty acts of salvation.” In prayer, ask God to reveal to you what this Good News means—for your personal life as a disciple of our Risen Lord and also for your witness in the world as part of Christ’s body, the church.
Joy! Peace! Mercy! Righteousness! Courage! LIFE! Gifts of God for the people of God.
Eastertide blessings to one and all.
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!