Pastor Steve’s Blog Nov 4, 2018 One of the events mainline churches celebrate every year is All Saints Day or All Saints Sunday. We have a tradition in the United Methodist Church of celebrating those saints who have died over the past year since the last All Saints Day or All Saints Sunday. It is also a time to recall the previous loss of a loved one no matter when they passed from this life unto eternal life. All Saints Day or All Saints Sunday is a gift that has been handed down to us from our forefathers in the church. It gives us permission to reconnect once again in a spiritual and affirming way with our loved ones and recall the precious memories they imparted to us along the way, particularly in matters of the faith. I read an online article this week at UMC.org by Joe Iovino entitled: “All Saints Day: A holy day John Wesley loved.” Let me share some of it with you. “John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, enjoyed and celebrated All Saints Day. In a journal entry from November 1, 1767, Wesley calls it ‘a festival I truly love.’ On that same day in 1788, he writes, ‘I always find this a comfortable day.’ The following year he calls it ‘a day that I peculiarly love….’ From the early days of Christianity, there is a sense that the Church consists of not only all living believers, but also all who have gone before us. For example, in Hebrews 12 the author encourages Christians to remember that a ‘great cloud of witnesses’ surrounds us encouraging us, cheering us on…. Charles Wesley, John’s brother, picks up on this theme in his hymn that appears in our United Methodist hymnal as ‘Come, Let Us Join our Friends Above, #709. In the first verse, he offers a wonderful image of the Church through the ages: ‘Let saints on earth unite to sing, with those to glory gone for all the servants of our King in earth and heaven, are one.’”
November 4, 2018
November 18, 2018
Pastor Steve’s Blog November 18, 2018 As Thanksgiving nears Cindy and I want to take this opportunity to give thanks to God for the consistent witness St Paul United Methodist Church has been to the Arlington community for decades. And when I say “consistent witness” I mean you, the people, who have been a part of this church and make St Paul what it is…a warm, accepting and loving congregation. And I might add enjoys a good humorous story. I was reading the meditation for Thanksgiving in “The Upper Room” and thought I would share it with you since I found it spoke to my heart and provided me some perspective and wisdom. The Scripture is I Chronicles 16:34: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” The meditation was written by Lisa Braxton of Massachusetts. She writes: “When I saw the email, I braced myself. For nearly a year, I’d sent sample chapters to different publishers, praying that one of them would give me a contract for my novel. But so far I’d gotten only rejections---dozens of them---and this email proved to be another one. A few days later, the publisher of an inspirational anthology accepted an essay I’d written, but I didn’t enjoy the good news. When a friend congratulated me, my response was to complain that the novel had not been accepted. I later realized how ungrateful I was being. I was focusing on what I didn’t have, rather than on God’s blessings. Paul tells us, ‘Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Ephesians 5:20 CEB). God had answered my prayer—just not in the way I’d hoped. My essay would be read by hundreds of subscribers of the anthology. For that I am thankful. Sometimes we can become so focused on one particular disappointment that we don’t see the many blessings we receive every day. By being grateful for God’s blessings even in the face of disappointment, we are able to invite peace and joy into our lives and open our hearts to the many more blessings God has in store for us. Prayer: Dear God, give us grateful hearts so we may appreciate the work you do in our lives. Amen.”
November 11, 2018
Pastor Steve’s Blog Nov 11, 2018 Well, it’s official. I am now a veteran after 22 years in the Navy and this is my first Veteran’s Day as a veteran. I must say that it has been and is an adjustment after being on active duty for over two decades. For those veterans who read this blog, I want to personally thank you for your sacrifice on behalf of this great country. Having served, I know the sacrifices you had to make. Your service is greatly appreciated. We are a better country because of you. I know I speak for the entire congregation when I say: “Happy Veteran’s Day!” Let me lift up this Scripture, Micah 4:3 “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks.” I read a story this week by Chaplain Norman Nygaard when he was serving at the end of WWI. He writes: “I was in France about eight kilometers behind the front lines when WWI stopped. My brother and I took a walk out in the countryside in the Argonne Forest. We came upon a bonfire about two miles out of town, there being no further need for a blackout. The boys around the fire were singing hymns. The chaplain led in prayer, and then gave a short message telling the soldiers what peace could mean. We left that scene of peace and good fellowship with “Blest Be the Tie that Binds” ringing in our ears.” This Veteran’s Day pray for peace and remember those serving at the tip of the spear defending our rights and liberties.
October 28th 2018
Pastor Steve’s Blog Oct 28, 2018 It is Sunday afternoon, the football game is over and the JAGS have lost again. Other than mentioning that it is certainly more fun to win than to lose, I want to press on to another couple of points. I want to thank the Staff Parish committee and you, the church, for my new white robe I received this morning as part of Pastor Appreciation month. As you saw in church today, it is a bit long in length and also a bit long in the sleeves, so I will see about getting it tailored. Thank you again for your thoughtfulness and your grace shown to Cindy and me. The other point is this. You know the saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Well, that’s me when it comes to putting on a number of pounds, above 15, since I retired from the Navy. For 22 years I kept my weight within 5-10 pounds of my height and weight standards and always made weight every 6 months at weigh-in besides passing my physical fitness test. Now that I have retired, I haven’t faithfully gone to the gym, I am enjoying way too many cookies, cake and scoops of ice cream, but somehow I am expecting to not gain weight. Only one problem. I am gaining weight. I am living out the definition of insanity. Somehow my mind has convinced me that I can eat these sweets every day, but expect different results. I am going to have to do something different if I want to see something different. But what a bummer. I like eating cookies, cake and ice cream and my body tells me it’s ok if I don’t go to the gym. But that will not get the job done and will not get me back on track to take my weight off and be healthier. I have to make different choices and then reinforce those choices as I live out those choices daily to create change. And as we all know, change can be difficult. But with God’s help…all things are possible! As I sit here, the Holy Spirit is telling me that this same point applies to the church. Many United Methodist churches today want to keep doing the same things, in the same ways as they have always done but somehow, and in some magical way, get different results. The days of “opening the doors and they will come” have come…and gone. I wish it weren’t so. Admittedly, that model of church growth and ministry is so much easier. If we want to be relevant today as an Arlington community church, then we have to be willing to embrace new models and methods of outreach and ministry to reach the lost for Christ. We have to be in relationship with our community. When it comes to St Paul, I wonder just how much change we are willing to consider, embrace and implement. Remember, with God, all things are possible…and this goes for churches, too!