To Pew or Not to Pew

To pew or not to pew, that is the question.

This is the most pivotal question that American churches are facing today, seriously, we lose members over issues like this! But the greater question is this: Why are the pews in the front empty?  
 
District Superintendent, Fred Vanderwerf, visited us recently, pointing to the declining numbers in our pews all across our denominations, even in our own church.  Then, he noted the empty pews– in the front.   No one wants to sit there, not even church goers of 50 years!  We clamor for the back pew taking up the ‘best seats in the church’ and mark our pew as our own.
 
Ever wonder why Jesus never built a building for his ministry?  I’m wondering if it had anything to do with pews? 
 
Pews give permission to sit, stay put and become passive participants in what was designed  to be an active church body, each person contributing their energy, voice, and gifts to the worship service and mission outside the wall of the building.  Yet, we come early to get the back seats where we can be invisible, quiet, and withhold our singing voice except for a concert in the cities or shower back home.
 
Let me ask this:

Would Jesus’ disciples take the back pews or grab one in the very front?

While Jesus was teaching, they grabbed the front seats, close to their teacher   Yet, when engaging a newcomer, they would find them in the back and bring them to Jesus.  While the disciples hungered for Jesus and huddled close to him, they found those in the back and brought them forward–to meet Jesus and be saved.

 
The back pews are for the unsure, the newcomers, and those who are checking out Jesus.  It is safe in the back for beginners to find their home place.  Why would we steal that from them?
 
It is radical hospitality for the church to save the best seats in the house for the guests-the ones in the back third of the church. It is there where we greet our guests, strike up a conversation and ultimately bring them to Jesus through friendship.
 
It is radical discipleship to be engaged in the service, move right up to the front and be part of the worship and not an observer.  Sing with your whole heart, mind and soul to God. 
 
 OK, so this is where some say, “Pastor, you don’t want to me to sing!” 
 
Actually, it’s not what I want, but what God wants.  God wants us to be a whole disciple, from our head to our toes and everywhere in between, even our voice and our seat up front.  
 
Let me ask this: How long has it been since you found Jesus in your life?  And, how many years have you been sitting in the back with one foot out the door? It’s ok, you are not alone on this one.  But, if not now, when will  you ready to stand with Jesus? 
 
Be radical. Sit up front (all the way) and save the best seats for the guests; and then participate with your whole heart and voice. Remember, it’s a pew, not a cross.   If moving pews is uncomfortable, just look up at the cross.  Radical hospitality hung on a real cross (not a pew) saved you and me from ourselves and the sins of the world. The best seats  are ready just beneath that cross-up front.  
 
Pastor Terri


Heroes Wanted

I’m mad at the world and I want to fix it with a clever meme, but can’t find one Carrie Fisher just died. The original Princess Leia is gone; her death was breaking news on FOX, CNN and the Washington Post.  Carrie Fisher succumbed to an unexpected and way too early heart attack taking a Star Wars heroine along with her because no one can play Princess Leia like Carrie Fisher; her inner spunk captured in Leia. 
 
princess-leia

Yet, she died an un-heroic death leaving fans stunned and heart-broken, more so because she was Princess Leia than Carrie Fisher, which is an even greater tragedy.  Princess Leia fought evil, stood up to injustice, and put her life on the line to save entire planets.  The cause was greater than herself.  Carrie Fisher, however,  struggled to overcome personal brokenness, like troubled relationships, substance abuse, mental illness and a Hollywood that exploits the beautiful only to dump them when they outlive their youthfulness.  Princess Leia fought the dark side in the universe while Carrie Fisher fought the darkness within.  Both fought to save the innocent, including the homeless and the hungry. Both were heroes in their own courageous ways.

Ironically, children dying in Aleppo took a back seat to our hero’s death.  Children shooting children in Minneapolis never broke the headlines. And, refugee families begging for a camp to take them were too depressing even for the news.

What did make the headlines?  Political leaders fought to gain control of bathrooms.  Britney Spears really didn’t die.  Amazon sold more televisions this year than the height of Mount Everest.  Meanwhile, Christmas Day saw some churches closed for lack of interest while most were poorly attended, giving the dark side a burst of energy.  Yet, US citizens pressed on and slammed one another in malls across America trying to grab the best after-Christmas sale.  Score another for the dark side.

People!  What happened?   When did we stop playing for the good guys, more explicitly—the Good Guy, Jesus, the Hero of the Light? When did we forget that the smallest of these was worth the whole cause?  When did the ‘poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ represent mall shoppers crushing each other?  And, why were churches even asked if they would be open on Sunday for Christmas and New Year’s Day?  People—it’s Sunday, the Sabbath!  God doesn’t take holidays!

We loved Princess Leia. She was the rich fighting for the poor; defending truth, justice, and light for the lost and displaced, not only in this world, but for all facing the same injustice—anywhere. Still, we don’t get it!   Princess Leia is a story. The Prince of Peace is real.  Jesus the Christ came to fight the dark forces with a sword of light and charged us to do the same. Yet, we know more about Princess Leia than the Prince of Peace!

People, it’s time to crawl out of the movie theaters and into the churches, pick up your lightsaber and fight the real forces of darkness!  It’s time to learn the ways of Jesus, meet in churches across America to strengthen our collective resolve to fight evil, and stop our world from blowing itself up faster than any ‘death star.’ The immigrants, refugees and children of our world cannot wait for a story tale Princess to save them!  You are it!  Be a hero and be courageous.  Follow the teachings of Jesus; pitting love of neighbor against evil and GO!

May the Light of Christ go with you.

Peace,

Pastor Terri 



Christmas Wish

nativity-picture

Look at the kids and you never find a Scrooge among them.
 

 Kids love Christmas: the colors, lights, cookies, traditions and, of course, the gifts!

Ask them what they like about Christmas and it is the feeling that Christmas leaves in their heart.

They are excited! They anticipate  joy!  They believe in Christmas!

 

So why do adults lose Christmas?

We think Christmas is only for children.

Our Christmas wishes grow with things that cannot be bought in a store.

 

 We want our family around us,

Laugh with our friends and

Make all of the bad things go away.
 

This is why there is always a gift under the tree for us:

 A piece of heaven wrapped in Jesus.

 

Jesus connects us to the divine with a step into eternity,

Transforms our weary souls into a better version of ourselves,

Life has meaning, purpose, and direction.

 

Jesus forgives the secrets that still hurt,

Heals broken relationships from a life time ago,

And gives us courage to make the decisions we must make.

 

Jesus transforms us into a better sister, brother, mother, father, or grandparent.

We become better neighbors, friends, and strangers.

We see the world through Jesus’ eyes.

 

We give because our hearts will not let us stop.

That is when Christmas finds us.

We see the possibilities.

 

Hope, Love, Joy and Peace,

 

When heaven connects with our heart.

 

Merry Christmas,

Pastor Terri 



King Solomon’s Prayer

After King Solomon dedicated the first temple of Israel that housed the Ark of the Covenant, he turned to his people and offered this prayer:
 
1 Kings 8:22-61 (CEB)crown-1

Solomon stood before the Lord’s altar in front of the entire Israelite assembly and, spreading out his hands toward the sky, he said:

Lord God of Israel, there’s no god like you in heaven above or on earth below. You keep the covenant and show loyalty to your servants who walk before you with all their heart. This is the covenant you kept with your servant David, my father, which you promised him. Today, you have fulfilled what you promised. So now, Lord, Israel’s God, keep what you promised my father David, your servant, when you said to him, “You will never fail to have a successor sitting on Israel’s throne as long as your descendants carefully walk before me just as you walked before me.” So now, God of Israel, may your promise to your servant David, my father, come true.

But how could God possibly live on earth? If heaven, even the highest heaven, can’t contain you, how can this temple that I’ve built contain you? Lord my God, listen to your servant’s prayer and request, and hear the cry and prayer that your servant prays to you today.Constantly watch over this temple, the place about which you said, “My name will be there,” and listen to the prayer that your servant is praying toward this place. Listen to the request of your servant and your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Listen from your heavenly dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive!

If someone wrongs another and must make a solemn pledge asserting innocence before your altar in this temple, then listen from heaven, act, and decide which of your servants is right. Condemn the guilty party, repaying them for their conduct, but justify the innocent person, repaying them for their righteousness.

If your people Israel are defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, but then they change their hearts and lives, give thanks to your name, and ask for mercy before you at this temple,then listen from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel. Return them to the land you gave their ancestors.

When the sky holds back its rain because Israel has sinned against you, but they then pray toward this place, give thanks to your name, and turn away from their sin because you have punished them for it,then listen from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the best way for them to follow, and send rain on your land that you gave to your people as an inheritance.

Whenever there is a famine or plague in the land; or whenever there is blight, mildew, locust, or grasshopper; or whenever someone’s enemy attacks them in their cities; or any plague or illness comes;whatever prayer or petition is made by any individual or by all of your people Israel—because people will recognize their own pain and spread out their hands toward this temple— then listen from heaven where you live. Forgive, act, and repay each person according to all their conduct, because you know their hearts. You alone know the human heart. Do this so that they may revere you all the days they live on the land that you gave to our ancestors.

Listen also to the immigrant who isn’t from your people Israel but who comes from a distant country because of your reputation— because they will hear of your great reputation, your great power, and your outstretched arm. When the immigrant comes and prays toward this temple, then listen from heaven, where you live, and do everything the immigrant asks. Do this so that all the people of the earth may know your reputation and revere you, as your people Israel do, and recognize that this temple I have built bears your name.

When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you may send them, and they pray to the Lord toward the city you have chosen and toward this temple that I have built for your name, then listen from heaven to their prayer and request and do what is right for them.

When they sin against you (for there is no one who doesn’t sin) and you become angry with them and hand them over to an enemy who takes them away as prisoners to enemy territory, whether distant or nearby, if they change their heart in whatever land they are held captive, changing their lives and begging for your mercy, saying, “We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly!” and if they return to you with all their heart and all their being in the enemy territory where they’ve been taken captive, and pray to you, toward their land, which you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen, and toward the temple I have built for your name, then listen to their prayer and request from your heavenly dwelling place. Do what is right for them, and forgive your people who have sinned against you. Forgive all their wrong that they have done against you. See to it that those who captured them show them mercy. These are your people and your inheritance. You brought them out of Egypt, from the iron furnace.

Open your eyes to your servant’s request and to the request of your people Israel. Hear them whenever they cry out to you. You set them apart from all the earth’s peoples as your own inheritance, Lord, just as you promised through your servant Moses when you brought our ancestors out of Egypt.

As soon as Solomon finished praying and making these requests to the Lord, he got up from before the Lord’s altar, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out to heaven. He stood up and blessed the whole Israelite assembly in a loud voice: “May the Lord be blessed! He has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. He hasn’t neglected any part of the good promise he made through his servant Moses. May the Lord our God be with us, just as he was with our ancestors. May he never leave us or abandon us. May he draw our hearts to him to walk in all his ways and observe his commands, his laws, and his judgments that he gave our ancestors. And may these words of mine that I have cried out before the Lord remain near to the Lord our God day and night so that he may do right by his servant and his people Israel for each day’s need, and so that all the earth’s peoples may know that the Lord is God. There is no other God! Now may you be committed to the Lord our God with all your heart by following his laws and observing his commands, just as you are doing right now.”



Modern Times

waiting-man Our world is one hot mess.  We are polarized, captivated by our own anger at one another. No one wins.
 

But, these words keep pushing me :If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14  (NRSV)

Humbleness… well that trait went out of style years ago, replaced by an insatiable appetite about ourselves.  We tuned into the stationWIFM-What’s In it For Me, pushing and shoving our way through life just to get an edge up, a tiny piece of something more than the stranger next door.  We want it, therefore we take it.  Nothing else matters but our own point of view.

We didn’t get here overnight, you know. It took time, well planned and orchestrated effort to develop a nation of people primarily fixed on their own needs and desires. It took self-help books, talk shows, slogans, and messages on our walls to create a world of takers instead of givers. “Believe in yourself,” “fight for yourself” and “look out for number one!”

Somewhere in our effort to foster healthy self-esteem, we created a monster and unleashed it across America. The beast invaded the presidential elections, the nightly news and the streets of our cities. We felt a need to be right above all others, from city hall to our kids’ ball games, nothing was off-limits. Profanities, sarcastic humor, accusations, and bullish behavior was not only condoned, it was exemplified.  There was no filter, no attempt to be nice, and no effort to be kind to one another, let alone be ‘humble’.

We lost the value in being humble, to lift up the soul of another person with equal honor and respect. Humbleness underscores kindness, generosity, compassion and human dignity. To  humble ourselves is to stop pushing, shoving, and accusing; to let the other go first, congratulate the winner,  be a gracious opponent and put down the weapons of violence.  It allows us to be silent, to experience the moment and to recognize God plunked down in our midst.

Humbleness changes our perspective on life.  We discover that we are not  center stage of the universe, nor have we ever been.  Life is not all about us!  We have no choice but to fall down to our knees, seek God’s favor and ask forgiveness of our selfish ways. We admit  that we are thirsty and hungry, compelled to drink in God’s perfection like a beautiful wine and share in the holy bread. We long to be refreshed,  for the peace that fills our empty souls and heals our broken land. 
 
God, in your mercy, hear us.
 


Relevant

rel·e·vant/reləvənt    adjective: relevant

closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand.

“the applicants experience is relevant to the job”

synonyms: pertinent, applicable, apposite, 

 
material,
to the point, germane,
connected, related, linked…
×
________________________________________________________________________________________________
 

“Face it,” the young millennial said, “The Church isn’t relevant anymore.  It’s not you. It’s the whole church in general—it’s just not relevant.” 

It felt like a punch to the gut.  Not relevant??  What does that even mean-not relevant? So I took a deep breath and said, “You have other things you would rather do on Sunday?” 

“Yeah, but it’s more than that. Church is just not important anymore.” 

“Well,” I said, ‘How do we make it more relevant?”

“You can’t,” the millennial said before walking away, “It’s bigger than you. My generation doesn’t need church like you did. You can’t change that.”

Under my breath I muttered, ‘Watch me, I have ‘connections’.”
______________________________________________________________________
 
I went straight to my connection, a hot-line to God to complain who threw it right back at me.   Connections.  That is the point, isn’t it? It’s the mission of the church, sharing a meaningful connection with Jesus Christ, greatest hero of the universe. But, how many of us have ever shared even one personal story of that relationship with our kids?  They only know what they see or hear.  If we hold all those spiritual stories of connections deep inside our Minnesota niceness, well…our kids will never know a single reason for being connected to Jesus, let alone attend the church that points the way. 
We will just be a bunch of nice people visiting on Sunday morning.
 
Church, I have to tell you something.  It’s not me, it’s you. Millennials expect it from me, but you—that’s proof that church is more than nice people.  Why?  Because, if we have no story after claiming a lifetime of a relationship with Jesus Christ, then there is no relevance and the millennials are right. Church, in the name of Jesus, show the millennials why!  Share YOUR faith stories about ‘why Jesus matters’. Share it out loud so our kids hear it!  Write it, claim it, speak it at JAM, put it the newsletter, or post it on our web site.
 
But, don’t hold it in! Faith is NOT personal; it is meant to be shared! Faith in Jesus Christ IS relevant-for millennials, Gen-X, baby boomers, and the next ones coming!

 

Be bold. Be faithful. Be connected. Be relevant.—SHARE YOUR STORY. 



God Happened

God hacross sunsetppened one Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago.  I learned about it after the fact, after the collection was given, the check was written, and one of our own headed to the cities to present the donation.  God happened here, and then again there in a Minneapolis neighborhood with a Baptist church we do not know. God happened in both locations at the very same time and it never made the news.

 A few days earlier, Bruce B. sent an email requesting financial help for needy kids at Zion Baptist church in the cities, a church that he was connected to in his missional work. Zion Baptist was doing an awesome ministry, helping kids get to camp, especially the neighborhood kids who were not members of any faith community.  The church was planted in a neighborhood struggling with poverty, crime, and stress along with wonderful families trying to help their kids navigate it all. Zion Baptist stepped in to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and raised money to send those kids to church camp along with their own.  But, the response was overwhelming and soon Zion found that they were short the money to send the additional neighborhood kids to camp. 

That’s when God happened.  It was a Tuesday.  God tapped Bruce on the shoulder, who then tapped me on the shoulder, who then sent it to the missions committee, and ultimately to the whole church body by the following Sunday morning. God spoke, we listened and then collected a special offering on a random, hot Sunday in July. The kids were going to camp the next day and time was of the essence, but God already knew that.
 

Bruce shared the story about Zion’s ministry which was a lot like our own, reaching kids for Jesus.  Bruce described the neighborhood we prayed for a few Sundays back, praying for the children who were living in the chaos. God listened to LeSueur UMC and to Zion Baptist who, it turns out, were praying too and that’s when God happened, again.

 Bruce left our 9 am service with a check collected from our rural church filled with folks who did not know anyone in that neighborhood, but they wanted to help “Bruce’s Kids.”  Now, Bruce was going to be late for the Zion service, but God already knew that. 

The pastor at Zion was praising his community for raising additional funds to help send the kids to camp the next day,  but they were still short funds, $2000 to be exact.  That was precisely when Bruce arrived at Zion, with a check for exactly $2000 in his hands.  Yup, God happened. This time, it was a Sunday.

 We called that grace. John Wesley called it prevenient grace, a big term that meant God moved all of the pieces of the puzzle into place before anyone in LeSueur or that Minneapolis neighborhood even knew that a puzzle was being created.  God connected two very different churches who both loved kids, Jesus, and grace.

Here’s to God grace happening in your life!

 Pastor Terri 



I Left the Church Over Pie

 I lost my faith over blueberry pie made with little duck cutouts on it.  I re-arranged time I didn’t own between kid sports, supper, homework, pets and working full-time.  The church ladies had a festival and 2 pies were required of every woman. Men didn’t make pie; they just ate it. I offered a monetary donation knowing that I was already over the edge of sanity. Nope-everyone (woman) had to make 2 pies.

blueberry pie

“How many do they need?!?
 
“Two homemade pies per person (woman).”
 
“Why do we need that many?  The calculator in my head was spinning.
 
“Because we  always  ask for 2 pies each (woman).” 
 
It didn’t matter how much overtime I put in at work, or the fact I was single parenting it with duties at home. I HAD to make pies. It was my church DUTY. So, I made two perfect, blueberry pies from scratch because frozen wasn’t acceptable.  It took all of my reserves to pull them from the oven at 11:30pm and stop the cats from tasting them.  
 
I got up at 5am the next day and arranged a rendezvous  to get my pies to the church before I headed off to work.  I skipped lunch to leave work early, and arrived at the church to help the late shift clean up. I was already exhausted. Then, I saw my pies, pushed to the back of the counter not even touched, not scored, not served, full and wholly intact.  

“Why?”

“We didn’t need that many after all.”

If this had been the first time, I might have let it go, but it wasn’t.  It happened before—twice to be exact, along with a special six-week choir practice for music that was never performed, an extensive list of asks claiming ‘no one else could do this but you’, and now my blueberry pies were untouched.  I didn’t need a thank-you for my efforts; just needed to know that my service was important instead of unnecessary.  My soul was empty. My faith was burned.

I left the church over pie.

It took weeks of healing before I returned –to a different church to be exact. I missed God and church.  I wanted to show my kids how to jump into a God-filled mission and put faith into action. I found a productive mission that recharged my energy and I didn’t have to bake a pie to prove membership.
 
I think about that every time we need volunteers, especially among busy families. What can we do to make their lives easier and not busier?  Do we need that many volunteers? How will their labor matter? 
 

Today, I look at the effort going into the ministries of Wednesday night JAM (Jesus and Me) and Children’s Church, painting the class rooms bright colors, and all of the planning for one very important mission: reaching kids for Jesus. I see renewed energy in the giving and the mission knowing that the labor matters.

Yes, a few more JAM volunteers would help teach, feed families, mentor kids, but–if you’re feeling so stretched you cannot humanely do anything else,    I get it!  No pies.   I only ask this—grab the kids and come for supper.  Eat. Be fed.  

JAM starts Wednesday Sept 7th   at 6 pm–with supper– in the LeSueur UMC social hall where souls are fed and faith is refreshed.  See you Wednesdays at JAM. 
 
Pastor Terri


Pray for Peace? Colossians 1: 1-14

For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,  so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.  Colossians 1:9-10 (NRSV)

 Our beloved United States is consumed by violence. Black lives, policemen, gays, innocent children, gangs and those struggling with mental illness-all victims of violence.  It is evil.  It is violent.  It is dark.  And, we are scared.

 Hate and anger escalate with every gunshot fired or bomb detonated.  Tension is thick on all sides making the next explosive act of violence a breath away.  We are just one shot away from another incident, another victim, another family in grief and another day in the life of America. And, we are sad.

 “Pray for Peace” is plastered across the internet.  “Stop the violence” fills the cries of the families on the news.  “Hands up, don’t shoot” chants the protesters.” Shots ring out. Officers falls. Black lives are lost.  No one wins.  No one is the victor except fear and darkness.

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”       Martin Luther King, Jr.-1967

“Pray for peace” is such an overwhelming request and, yet, I find it a shallow set of words masquerading as a prayer. “I did my part, now I can go back to my busy life and ignore the world around me.”  Is peace and prayer really that simple, that easy, and that cliché?  

Almost daily I read social media “theologians”, politicians, and everyday Americans claiming that we are a Christian nation-one nation, under God.  They dare me to prove that I agree:  click ‘like’ and ‘share’.   Seriously?

 Do we as a nation bear any resemblance to Jesus Christ these days? Do we bear the marks of the Holy Spirit that proves that this is so?  Do we show each other, let alone the world, that “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23) truly live within us? Do we love as Christ has loved us?  Do we radiate Christ?

 No. We are far from a Christian nation.  We are a shell of humanity without a healthy soul to fill it. We are not who we say we are. We are broken, fearful, hurt, angry, and fill that void in our hearts with bitterness and hate. We shut our doors. We avoid our neighbors. We cluster with others who feel and look like us.  We close our hearts.  We shut out peace.

 Pray for peace?  No, not yet.  Let us first, fall on our knees and pray that we get over ourselves and admit that we need more than a quick cliché of a prayer to return us to wholeness.  Pray that God remove that speck of brokenness from our own eyes and ask God’s grace to consume our fears and imperfections, and open our vulnerable hearts to the possibility that peace begins with us. 

 We pray that our empty hearts be made receptive to receive the “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control” that the world so desperately needs, especially right now.

 Pray for peace?  No, not yet. Let us pray for the needs of our neighbors, black, red, yellow and white and all of the beautiful shades in between that they have more than just enough to survive, that they live a life that is rich and full, that they know love and compassion from others around them.  Pray that they know safety and security in their own homes, that they can use the gifts that God gave them and find a calling in life that gives them dignity, hope and financial stability, which they, in turn, can share with others.

 Pray for peace?  No, not yet. Not until we pray for wisdom from above to fight injustice with Christ-like justice, that we fight hate with Christ-like love, that we listen more than we talk, that we do more than we boast, and that we put the marks of Christ on the hearts of the community around us. Let us be doers of justice and mercy, and active with kindness and love.  We pray that the tensions of violence diminish as, respect, understanding and patience rises together with Christ’s love.

 Pray for peace?  Do we know the power of prayer?  Do we know the power of action?  Do we know the power of love? Do we truly know that Light illuminates the darkness and extinguishes it?  Let us extinguish the darkness with prayer, action, love and Christ’s Light.

Let us pray that we will be the vessels for peace, that we will seek the marks of a true Christian, bearing love and not guns, that we will gather together to pray for one another needs, and that we will be filled with the peace of Christ that passes all understanding.   That is a lot to for which to pray, but let us pray none the less. Let us pray that we will be the peacemakers, bear the fruits of the Spirit, and live the life that Christ called us to live with one another.

 We as a people have lived too long in darkness.  We have let others determine our course in life.  We have run in fear and have not stood up to words of hate, to bullies, to prejudice, to negative rhetoric, and to inappropriate slang.  We claim to have the Light of the World, yet we have not invited others to share in that Light, keeping it too tightly hid in our sanctuaries.

 Pray for Peace? No, not yet. Not until we pray that Jesus fills our hearts and the Spirit moves among this church. Let us pray for courage to witness with words and actions, to share the light of Jesus in dark places.  Let us grow in our faith by gathering together and supporting each other in small groups.  Let us grow in our faith by learning more about the God to whom we address as ‘Our Father’. Let us grow in grace, sanctifying grace, the grace that John Wesley calls being made perfect, the grace that pulls us closer to God and to each other, to be made more perfect in love.

Pray for peace?  It’s time. Now we pray with the fruits of Spirit, bearing the marks of Christ, caring for the needs of people, and sharing the Peace of Christ with others in the world.  

Pray for Peace?   Go in Peace. Be the vessel of Peace.  Live with others in Peace.  Let the Light of Christ’s Peace shine within you.  And remember to pray, as Paul says, “without ceasing” for others that they, also, may bear the fruit of the Spirit, Christ’s Holy peace, AMEN

Go in the name of the Father of Peace,

God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace,

and the Holy Spirit that fills us with inner Peace.   AMEN



The Church slipped away….

“Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” Acts 2: 46-47

 

Something happened, somewhere, sometime when the world wasn’t looking—the church slipped away.  No longer was it the center of the community or daily lives.  People moved around it like a sign in the middle of the road saying ‘event ahead’, a nuisance to those who just wanted the freedom to drive the road to and from everyday life without stopping at ‘the event’.   
 
 The church became the building, an iconic relic with beautiful features inside reminding those who entered that God was present, the Resurrection happened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon the faithful.  Inside was a peaceful place to find God, sit with God, and fill one’s cup to face the world outside.  Then, the church locked its doors—to keep it safe. The world could not enter except on Sunday and then ALL of the splendor-of-God was revealed– for 60 minutes plus time for coffee.  The building was secured while the church slipped away.
 

 But, the people outside needed what was found inside of that church, not the beautiful objects, but the Spirit hidden between the pews. What to do?  Suddenly, the doors swung open to find the people, ALL THE PEOPLE, to lead them back to the church of Christ. The church found them outside in their homes, in parks, at work and in life.  It happened in the Book of Acts with the Apostles, repeated itself with Martin Luther, then John Wesley, and now—with us. 

The Holy Spirit called the church to stand up and move!
 

This fall, our doors swing wide open to the people on Wednesday night, starting with the youngest of our people: the children and youth who need to know Jesus personally. 

Our plan: JAM-Jesus and Me.

 5:30- Devotions,  6 pm- Family supper-all ages,  6:30-7:30- Youth and Family Worship and

Bible school for 3 yrs – 12th grade. 

 

It is bold. It is courageous. And, yes, it is audacious! We ask the Holy Spirit to nudge and call those in the church to share the food and the Gospel with the children outside the church, adding to the numbers of those being saved. 

 In Christ name,

Be bold and be blessed, 

Pastor Terri