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
March 24, 2019
Pastor Steve’s Blog March 24, 2019 Let me share another thought from our Lenten Devotional “40 Days with Jesus: Celebrating His Presence” by Sarah Young. She wrote this devotional as if Jesus is speaking to you personally. “SEEK MY FACE, and you will find all that you have longed for. The deepest yearnings of your heart are for intimacy with Me. I know, because I designed you to desire Me. Do not feel guilty about taking time to be still in My presence. You are simply responding to the tugs of divinity within you. I made you in My image, and I hid heaven in your heart. Your yearning for Me is a form of homesickness: longing for your true home in heaven. Do not be afraid to be different from other people. The path I have called you to travel is exquisitely right for you. The more closely you follow My leading, the more fully I can develop your gifts. To follow Me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your desire to please other people. However, your closeness to Me will bless others by enabling you to shine brightly in this dark world. As the deer pants for the streams of water; so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 42:1-2. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. Psalm 34:5. For Reflection: Philippians 2:15”
March 17, 2019
Pastor Steve’s Blog March 17, 2019 A Thought from our Lenten Devotional “40 Days with Jesus: Celebrating His Presence” by Sarah Young. The author wrote this devotional as if Jesus was speaking to you personally. “Thankfulness opens the door to My presence. Though I am always with you, I have gone to great measures to preserve your freedom of choice. I have place a door between you and Me, and I have empowered you to open or close that door. There are many ways to open it, but a grateful attitude is one of the most effective. Thankfulness is built on a substructure of trust. When thankful words stick in your throat, you need to check up on your foundation of trust. When thankfulness flows freely form your heart and lips, let your gratitude draw you closer to Me. I want you to learn the art of giving thanks in all circumstances. See how many times you can thank me daily; this will awaken your awareness to a multitude of blessings. It will also cushion the impact of trials when they come against you. Practice My Presence by practicing the discipline of thankfulness. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18”
March 10, 2019
Pastor Steve’s Blog March 10, 2019 I hope you were able to join us at our Ash Wednesday service on March 6. It was a great service in which we all had the opportunity to worship God and prepare our hearts for the penitential season of Lent by receiving ashes on our foreheads in the shape of a cross. This ritual was introduced by Pope Gregory I, who was Bishop of Rome from 590-604 A.D. It was enacted as a universal practice in all of western Christendom by the Synod of Benevento in 1091 A.D. As I said on Wednesday night, Ash Wednesday is not for the faint of heart. The season of Lent is a time for serious self-examination and soul-searching, for both individuals and our church, about our sins and our temporal existence on this earth. As we engage in this season of Lent, we must remember that it is a season we pass through. It is not a season in which we take up residence. It is a season we pass through in order to be properly prepared for the season of Easter and the Resurrection. The rejoicing of Easter and the Resurrection is all the greater because we have seen our mortality and recognized and repented of our sins during Lent. So please take full advantage of Lent, but do stop and set up camp in it. For God and the church never meant for us to permanently take up residence, thinking only of our mortality and sin. Lent reveals the “bad news,” but the “Good News” is because of Jesus and his death on the cross, we get to pass through Lent and move on to Easter. Glory be to God. Amen.