Pastor’s Corner November 2022
November is a month with two distinct bookends, opening with “All Saints” Sunday in which we as a congregation observe the “tradition” of remembering those who have finished their journey in this life with faith.
“12 So then, with endurance, let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us … 2 and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.” (Hebrews 12:1a-2) I know that remembering a loved one, often comes with tears and sadness, because we miss the ones we are remembering. But verse two calls us to fix our eyes on Jesus, who endured the shame and the pain of the cross … so that we too may joyfully join him in God’s Kingdom!
During funeral services I ask those in attendance to never grow tired of sharing their memories of the life they shared with their departed loved one … because by telling the stories of “life” our loved one remains close in our heart. So, we as the church on the first Sunday in November, pause and remember, those who have finished their course in faith.
In our secular world November closes with “thanksgiving” a feast for the eye and the waist line. Also, in our consumer drive culture there are “black Friday” sales. However, I would draw your attention to the last Sunday in November, as it is the first Sunday of Advent! Advent is the start of the Christian church year. Personally, I think Advent can best be described as; “anticipation season”. We anticipate the arrival of the Christ, the promised One of God, the prophets of old spoke of his arrival: “14 Therefore, the Lord will give you a sign. The young woman is pregnant and is about to give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) and “2 As for you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, though you are the least significant of Judah’s forces, one who is to be a ruler in Israel on my behalf will come out from you. His origin is from remote times, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2)
Most likely, I join you in proclaiming; “wait, Christmas, I’m not ready!” But that’s the point of Advent … to get ready! So, who is it that you’re waiting for anyway?
Pastor’s Corner August 2022
Grace and peace to each of you,
Throughout my life I have been blessed with “good friends”. I have collected some of my thoughts on what makes a “good friend”, and brought in some Scripture references, from the “wisdom” book of Proverbs and also one from Ecclesiastes, and close with words from John. (Common English Bible):
A good friend doesn't let you get away with murder but will speak for you in your defense. Accountable, a good friend, holds you accountable.
A good friend asks hard questions but stays with you while you struggle with the answers; “9 Oil and incense make the heart glad, and the sweetness of friends comes from their advice.” - Proverbs 27:9
A good friend sees you at your worst but still loves you; “24 There are persons for companionship, but then there are friends who are more loyal than family.” - Proverbs 18:24
A good friend has had plenty of practice in forgiving you, as you have in forgiving them.
A good friend has no illusions about you (knows you're only human) but still has hopes for you; “10 If either should fall, one can pick up the other. But how miserable are those who fall and don’t have a companion to help them up!” - Ecclesiastes 4:10
We all need a good friend, otherwise we'd just go on making the
same dismal old mistakes; “20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, so you might grow wise in the future.” - Proverbs 19:20
Of course we do have a BFF … Jesus! (Before continuing sing; “What a friend we have in Jesus”) “15 I don’t call you servants any longer, because servants don’t know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because everything I heard from my Father I have made known to you.” - John 15:15
“Lord, I forget. I get wrapped up in my own daily affairs and don’t think about anybody else. Like old friends, whom I have not gone by to see for so long. Like new neighbors, for strangers are merely friends I haven’t met. What a travesty! What a shameful waste!
Friendships have to be intended, or they don’t happen.
I wrote, because I hurt for her, and wanted to ease for one small moment, her aloneness. And, in answering, she wrote between the lines, giving me permission to be part of her life at a crucial time. For friendship is not only giving, but also receiving; not only a going to, but a being invited in.
There are those I know, casually, whose unique insights would enrich my life. There are those I know, casually, who hunger for friendship, whose loneliness is a constant, chilling thing. They too have much to give.
Lord, friendships have to be intended, and tended.
Bless us all. Amen.” (Bless this Mess & other prayers – by Carr and Sorley)
Pastor’s Corner July 2022
Grace and peace to each of you,
Road trip! It’s July and summer is in in full swing, many families are in summer vacation mode, how about you? Judy mentioned that “Road trip” made her think of the game; I’m going on a trip and I’m taking an auto, next person I’m going on a trip taking an auto and books, next I’m going on a trip taking an auto, books and cards etc. With our scripture selection for the month we will be joining Paul on the “Roman Road”, a journey of faith. However just because we are in vacation mode, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue on intentionally.
“15-16 So be careful how you act; these are difficult days. Don’t be fools; be wise: make the most of every opportunity you have for doing good. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to find out and do whatever the Lord wants you to.”
Ephesians 5:15-17 Living Bible
I think we are often reluctant to commit, to intentionally seek to; “do whatever the Lord wants you to.” And yet that’s just what scripture advises us to do.
Last month, we were active; Annual Conference, Funerals, Yard sale, Fun-n-the-ville, meetings and Lay Servant classes. July brings our nations freedom celebration (aka 4th of July), vacations, Lay Servant classes and the Fowlerville Fair. Many of you actively took part, I would argue that you acted “intentionally” and making “the most of every opportunity you have for doing good”!
So, here’s my question what “intentional activity” do you engage in to further your relationship with God? (If you are willing to share, I would love to hear what you are doing. email@example.com). I have discussed my daily walk, a time of reflection, silence and listening. I also have a variety of devotions books I faithfully read … what are some of your favorites?
According to a statista.com 2021 survey found that only 11 percent of Americans read the Bible daily. Bible readership varies across each demographic, with Millennials most likely to have never read the Bible, whereas the most frequent readers were those aged over 70 years old. Hmm, maybe wisdom does come with age, or perhaps its experience, in knowing that we can’t make it alone, we need God’s help. Here is a by the way; 91 percent opt for a print version of the Bible.
So here’s my challenge for each of you; since we are going on a road trip on the Roman road, how about intentionally reading the Bible every day, reading through the book of Romans? Depending on the translation there about 1650 verses in the book of Romans, so reading 53 verses daily would do it (wow that’s a lot). However if that’s sounds to daunting how about committing to reading one verse daily?
May your daily walk be intentional and a Blessing unto you …
Pastor’s Corner April 2022
Grace and peace to each of you,
The promise of spring … the rebirth of the “natural world” around us! This year April also holds the promise of Easter! Perhaps spring and Easter are tied together due to the promise of a “re-birth” a new start. I feel both of these promises are beautifully expressed in Natalie Sleeth’s 1986 funeral anthem-hymn for her husband Reverend Ronald Sleeth; #707 in the UMH the “Hymn of Promise”.
Hymn of Promise (#707 United Methodist Hymnal)
In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
We have reached the Easter season, the promise of God made real in the son Jesus the Christ! I have been thinking about our rough barn wood beam cross, which has been a part of our Lenten observance. We have been tempted by Satan, met with Nicodemus, the woman at the well, a man born blind … we will also meet with Mary, Martha and Lazarus, all of them have been changed by the promise of the cross, all of us are changed by the promise of the cross.
On Good Friday there is this mental image of Jesus on the cross, this image is also known as a crucifix … many regard this as the symbol of Jesus suffering and death, his atonement for our sins.
Within the Methodist church … we display the “empty” cross, as the symbol of Jesus’ resurrection! As the hymn “He Lives” (310 UMH) proclaims; “I serve a risen Savior!”
The Empty Cross … Tells us that we can be free from our past … that we have the promise of abundant life in and through Jesus! The cross is the place where he died, but today, it is empty! Empty of Jesus earthly body, but it is also full … full of God’s promises. Full of promise and hope … for you and for me. The empty cross is our promise that all of our sins have been washed away and that we have become as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). The empty cross is a reminder and a promise to us that we have a Savior who died for our sins so that we could be forgiven. Because of the cross, we have hope! “… at the last, a victory, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”
Live the Promise!
Pastor’s Corner March 2022
Grace and peace to each of you,
March, the start of “Lent”, Ash Wednesday, according to N.T. Wright; “Lent is a time for discipline, for confession, for honesty, not because God is mean or fault-finding or finger-pointing but because he wants us to know the joy of being cleaned out, ready for all the good things he now has in store.” Well when you hear the word “Lent,” it’s common to think about things like church, Christians “giving things up,” but do you think “Easter”? After all, Lent is a purposeful 40-day period of sacrifice and spiritual discipline leading up to our Easter Sunday’s celebrations.
There are some exciting things happening this Lenten season here at Fowlerville First. We are in the process of “upgrading” the quality of our cyber presence (worship Facebook posts) … currently we are accepting donations to purchase some new equipment, if you would like to contribute, please mark your gift; technology fund.
For whatever reason I have been thinking about “legacy” as in what will leave behind. The Lewis center published a pod cast about what we pass on to our children. It kind of starts (and ends) with the question; what determines whether children will carry on the faith of their parents? “Past research established that parents play the critical role.” According to noted sociologist Christian Smith, new research examining how parents shape their children’s faith and the critical factor of talking about religion in the context of day-to-day life. There it is once again, “communication” (remember communication is both talking and listening). Talking about your faith with your children. Why is it that so many of us shy away from saying anything about God, (maybe we are afraid we will get it wrong?) But here’s the thing; your relationship with God, stems from your faith and is found in our love of God, because God first loved us while we were yet sinners!
The key take away for me was that “faith speech” needs to find its way into our everyday conversation, with everyone, but especially our children!
Proverbs 22:6 Common English Bible
6 Train children in the way they should go;
when they grow old, they won’t depart from it.
(Check out all of Proverbs 22, there’s a reason it’s called wisdom literature.)
Chuck Colson (founder of Prison Fellowship) had this to say about Lent; “Lent affords us the opportunity to search the depths of our sin and experience the heights of God’s love.”
My thought is that Lent affords us the opportunity to practice our “faith speech”.
Here are just some suggestions; not sure what to say, how about saying something without speaking … Do not take the Lord’s Name in vain, do not “dam” anyone or anything … and if you want to go a step further, try to give up vulgar language all together.
Try saying “grace” at the dinner table. Many of us will say a “silent” prayer for someone or for a situation … try saying it out loud around your children. Remember if it matters to you, it will matter to your children!
(Even if they don’t want to admit it, lol.)
Changing subjects a bit, “Unafraid; living with courage and hope in uncertain times” by Adam Hamilton. I believe it’s a message that’s needed now and I am excited to be leading our Wednesday evening (starting March 9th ) Lenten, Bible book study, with a light dinner at 6:30 and the study starting a 7 pm. I think you just may find it is exactly the guidance we need to move beyond our fear.
Lenten Blessings …
“Jesus is the way to the truth thru which we find life.”
Pastor’s Corner February 2022
Grace and peace to each of you,
Welcome to February and Valentine’s Day which is recognized and celebrated as a day for the expression of love for our spouse, or a special someone, family, friends, and perhaps for our neighbors in general. However, I haven’t heard it used to address self-care, something many of us push aside for some time later.
I read an article by Alan Briggs, and I would like to share some of his insights with all of you. The article is titled “Name Your Struggles” … I thought to myself, wow is that powerful and far reaching! What power is in a name, and as soon as I think/write that, it’s the name of; “Jesus” that comes to mind. Power indeed!
Several of my mentors and instructors have provided advice over the years concerning, funeral’s where the deceased, has struggled with addiction, or maybe suicide, or maybe abuse/abuser … in short I have been told not to “beat around the bush, but to name the situation”, to address it head on.
There is power over naming that which we are trying to identify and to understand or to fight against. Trying to hide it only causes festering wounds for all involved.
Alan provides some examples of the power of naming names;
- Adam’s jobs in the garden were to name and cultivate.
- Jesus changed Peter’s name, giving him a new identity (and mission).
- Names people have called us shape us for years (for good and for ill).
- Paul, after naming specific sins, said such things should not be named among believers (Ephesians 5:3). When we name the temptations we face, in order to avoid them.
From a self-care point of view, I often find myself with an ongoing internal dialog (think angel and devil on your shoulder). Once again Alan presents some questions (and actions) that can help to move and identify our struggles.
“Where am I thriving? Take a few moments to thank God for these things. Start with celebration.
Where am I struggling? Get on your knees and pray through these areas. Ask for God’s help, be honest with yourself, we can do all things through Christ who strengthen us! (Philippians 4:13 my paraphrase).
What feels confusing right now? Seek God for clarity in these areas.
What’s missing right now? These are gaps in your life or longings of your heart. Acknowledge them and open up to God about them.
What emotion am I feeling but struggling to name? This is a chance to be honest before yourself, God and others. What is below the surface?
What are my next steps? In light of the new awareness you may have found after answering these questions, you can make a plan for going forward.
God invites us into obedience, but we often don’t even know how we’re actually doing. This is a perfect season to ask some hard questions, check in with yourself and invite the Father in at a deeper level.”
May it lead to peace … Blessings …
Pastor’s Corner January 2022
Grace and peace to each of you,
January is marked on the Christian calendar as “Epiphany” which means; “appearance or manifestation”, we use it to mark both the manifestation of God as shown in Jesus, (with the visit of the wise men) and to mark the start of Jesus’ earthly ministry as represented in the Baptism of Jesus. In a literary sense, it’s that moment that Jesus achieves realization, awareness, or a feeling of knowledge, of what he is to do, I contend Jesus always knew “who” he was … however we do read the announcement in Matthew 3:13-17; “13 At that time Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River so that John would baptize him. 14 John tried to stop him and said, “I need to be baptized by you, yet you come to me?”
15 Jesus answered, “Allow me to be baptized now. This is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.” So John agreed to baptize Jesus. 16 When Jesus was baptized, he immediately came up out of the water. Heaven was opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting on him. 17 A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son whom I dearly love; I find happiness in him.”
Jesus is God’s Son … a certain epiphany, for all!
The church honors the epiphany of the “wise men” for they recognize through heavenly signs … the King, the light of the world!
I think my question is; what epiphany will our ministry here at Fowlerville First experience/follow in the coming year?
Below you will see the selected Scripture laid out for January (roughly the first half of Epiphany) with the major theme of; the beginning of ministry, through cooperation. My sense is that as the year progresses we will be exploring “ministry” in some detail.
That raises questions in my mind as to what form or function that ministry will take. I.e. what will be the role of worship, missions, education, Heartstrings, Mission House, the Family Impact Center, the global United Methodist Church, or … (you fill in the blank, that’s the thing with an epiphany, you don’t know until it happens.) I look forward to Lenten study, the celebration of Easter, the return of visitation, Vacation Bible School, the completion of Course of Study and the shared experience of ministry as a church.
As such, I would raise the example of the United Methodist Women, as they recently filled in some dates for the 2022 calendar; the next women’s meeting will be March 9th, on April 8th they will “host” a UMW area breakfast, May 5th will be the mother and daughter banquet and the first “yard sale” will be June 9th and 10th. My point is they are moving forward with and into ministry … would that we all could do likewise.
May it be so … Blessings …
Pastor's Corner December 2021
As we enter into “Advent” (waiting in anticipation) another word readily comes to mind; fear. It may be fear of; health (including COVID), employment, the economy, division, of being alone, of not being worthy, lack of time … fear takes a lot of forms and affects us in ways we don’t understand or anticipate. Beth Richardson (the author of “Celtic Blessings”) relates this story on fear; “Fear beats hope,” the news reporter had stated in reference to a story on the Medicare budget … all the while a voice inside of me was saying (screaming); “that’s just wrong! Hope’s got to win.” Is this another chapter in the seemingly never ending struggle between Hope and fear? Folks, we want so deeply to have hope … to trust that God is in charge and has a plan. I recall that District Superintendent Reverend Mark Spaw would often tell us to turn to one another and say; “Jesus loves you, there’s nothing you can do about it … it’s going to be alright!” God help my unbelief. We do want to embrace hope, the hope that is the “gift” brought by a little baby born in a stable in the town of Bethlehem, God’s hope for the world! It is in that hope that we affirm that “Hope beats Fear” (and sadness, despair and loneliness) every time! Angels bring the message; “fear not” to the Shepard’s; “8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:8-20 King James Version
Some of us may feel sad lonely (and perhaps fearful) during this time of year (see Longest Night service Dec. 21st.) when everyone and everything is shouting; be happy, be merry … the message from God is the same; “Fear Not” … you are not alone, I am with you. You are my beloved child, I love you! Give me your fears, your sadness, your despair, your loneliness, abide in me. My prayer this Christmas season is; God’s continued blessings on each and every one of you, and your families … during this Holy time of light and hope! Love (Hope) always wins! Blessings … Pastor Scott
Pastor’s Corner November 2021
Grace to you! Ready or not the “holiday” season is upon us! There are so many activities planned (or in the planning stages, please see the calendar) for the last months of our calendar year … even with Covid continuing to impact our lives … still I feel the need to be thankful, how about you?
“34 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love and his kindness go on forever.” (1 Chronicles 16:34 Living Bible). And then from the Apostle Paul’s writing to the Thessalonians we read; “18 No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 TLB)
Ok, who doesn’t like to be first in line? I remember when I would race, even perhaps give a little “body check” to be first in line … especially in the buffet line. Or who hasn’t experienced waiting for the hostess to tell us that our table is ready?
We like to be at the front of the line don’t we?
Let me ask, do you (and the family) say grace before meals? Judy and I do, we have been taking turns (it used to be with the family, before the boys moved on) and it occurred to me that I wasn’t eager to say grace (to give thanks). Don’t get me wrong, I would say grace (and mean it), I just wasn’t eager to do it.
I think our grace (giving thanks) had evolved (devolved) to include prayers for family and friends, hospital stays, employment, even church and society divides … in short I was losing site of being “thankful” … not that I wouldn’t want to pray for those other things, because I do, on morning walks, as they happen or nightly before drifting off to sleep, it’s just that they seemed to take the “joy” out of saying grace … being thankful for the food, thankful for God’s love and providence.
With “Thanksgiving” arriving this month, and harvest underway (or done) I feel thankful for; the many blessings I have received in my life not the least of which is my daily bread. Before the Thanksgiving feast, with family and friends gathered around … take time to be thankful, might I suggest taking turns, moving around the table giving thanks for a blessing you have received. Ok, who wants to be first to say grace?
Pastor’s Corner October 2021
Folks we made it into fall, we are attempting to recover, rediscover our “normal” routine … whatever that was, and it’s football season once again! I want to take this opportunity to talk about “loyalty”.
“24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other.” - Matthew 6:24a Common English Bible
You probably understand very well the stress that comes along with divided loyalties. The Christian work ethic drives us to be successful (in the “worlds” eyes). The world, however, often makes demands and presents a false image of what it takes to be successful, demanding your loyalty … at the end of the day we are exhausted, confused and quite possibly conflicted over success and our devotion to God.
We are continually flooded with world images: movies that ridicule God; or couples that play musical beds, while seeking a meaningful relationship; or success that means 24/7 dedication to your work first.
After all it’s Sunday morning and the office will be quiet (and you think; now I can get some work done) or the golf course won’t be crowded and I can get in 9 holes before I need to get back to work. What do you do when your heart and loyalties are pulled in two directions? Jesus understood the struggle we face; that’s why he spoke out against trying to serve “two masters,” we end up serving one and having contempt for the other!
I do enjoy competition (especially in football and basketball) however when it is all said and done and the question is asked where do your loyalties lie … serving God or having contempt for God … the choice is stark and clear … “But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” - Joshua 24:15b
Pastor’s Corner September 2021
Seasons – by Beth A. Richardson
As the seasons change,
We turn to you, God of Creation,
Our source, our wisdom, our comfort.
Be our anchor in the midst of turmoil.
Our healing spirit in times of brokenness.
Our blessing in the emptiness.
We are yours. Amen.
Grace and Peace to you,
September, a time of change, a time of new beginnings. Although some things that we had hoped would change … still stubbornly still cling to us; Covid, War, political division or the challenge and expense of everyday life to name just a few.
Far too often, we find ourselves caught between: the frustration of what often appears that nothing is ever going to change on the one hand and the things that are changing too fast on the other …There is that part of us, that longs for stability, that rock we can cling to, the promise we can stand on.
We don’t have to look very far … even if Goggle may not know the answer, but your soul knows … there in your innermost being the change we seek comes from only one source … the gracious love of God, the redemption of Christ and the leading of the Spirit!
The following are but a few of the writings of Scripture that tell us in whom to for Gods love for us never ever changes;
“8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
- Hebrews 13:8 NRSV
“6 For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, have not perished.” - Malachi 3:6 NRSV
"8 The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever." - Isaiah 40:8 NRSV
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter says, “tell me to come to you on the water.” - Matthew 14:28 Have you found yourself saying the same thing (or something similar) to God? Peter is not “testing” Jesus; he’s pleading with Jesus. Stepping out onto a storm tossed sea is not a move of logic, in fact it is a move of desperation … We do the same thing don’t we? We come to Christ in our time of deep need … when we have tried all the logical avenues available to us … when we realize … that human strength won’t save us. That’s when we turn to God, in our time of weakness and desperation.
I have overhead prayers along the lines of; God, it me (name) I know that I haven’t talked to you in a long time ... but I need your help, now. Its ok, God is there for you in those times of desperation … in our time of need. Just try to remember that God is also there during your times of celebration and abundant joy! God wants to talk to you then also.
God is there in our time of need and in our time of joy … this is the one constant in life! This is the solid rock on which I stand;
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. - Matthew 7:24-25
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand!
… Pastor Scott
Pastor’s Corner July 2021
Grace and Peace to each of you,
If you’re like me you’re in a hurry to put COVID in the rear view and get things back to normal, at least what we think or hope is normal. Psalm 46:10 tells us to; “be still and know that I am God.” Not sometime in the future, not sometime in the past, but in the here and now, the present!
I often struggle with “living in the present”, it’s not always an easy place to be … so much that needs to be done, social and political division, even the wider church seems intent on breaking itself apart, financial issues, medical issues, just so much! Sometimes the present seems to be filled with uncertainty and even pain.
Uncertainty and worry about: employment, medical results or painful medical treatments, or watching and walking with a loved one who is declining mentally or physically. The present seems painful; the future appears dim, so often filled with more of the same! Have we lost sight of Hope?
Many of us have rushed from the present with an attitude of let’s just get it over with! But we tend to look back with regret or longing for how it was … will it ever be again?
Folks, Jesus calls us to live in today (Romans 12:2) – breath in … breath out … eating todays bread (Acts 2:42-46), to reach out and touch the hand and heart of the one near to us! We are to be open to God’s spirit moving in us as we become Christ’s presence in this world! Surely this is Hope for today! Hope for tomorrow!
Romans 12:2 Easy-to-Read Version
“2 Don’t change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but let God change you inside with a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to understand and accept what God wants for you. You will be able to know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.”
From ‘The Alphabet of Grace”, Frederick Buechner wrote; “Darkness was upon the face of the deep, and God said, “Let there be light.” Darkness laps at my sleeping face like a tide, and God says, “Let there be Buechner.” Why Not? Out of the primeval chaos of sleep he calls me to be a life again …
… He calls me to be this rather than that, he calls me to be here rather than there; he calls me to be now rather than then … Waking into the new day, we are all of us Adam on the morning of creation, and the world is ours to name. Out of many fragments we are called to put back together a self again.’
Blessings and peace … Pastor Scott
Pastor’s Corner June 2021
Grace and Peace to each of you,
While pondering what our church will be or look like in the post COVID reality I came across the following Scripture from the book of James:
7-10 So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him make himself scarce. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet. – James 4:7-10 the Message translation.
I love the idea of shouting “No” to the devil and watching him run off! The “get serious” comments make me think about the “how I like my coffee” question, it’s one of my favorite scenes from the movie “War Room” (A Prayer Closet) The “lukewarm coffee” moment takes place between Miss Clara and Elizabeth. As Miss Clara serves Elizabeth “lukewarm coffee” she cites Revelation 3:15-16 King James Version “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” In other words, it’s time to get serious about this thing we call a prayer life!
Revelation 3:15-17 from The Message translation for reference.
15-17 “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.
Many of us have tried to spend some time in prayer or Scriptural study; many a New Year’s or Lenten resolution has been given up after a short time. Some of us have tried to just have a daily quiet time and have not been successful at that either … So rather than spend time with God, listening for the still small voice, we’ll let others spend time with God and then benefit from their experience … or so that’s our reasoning.
After all, isn’t that why we pay preachers? … to spend time with God. If that’s your approach … I’d like to challenge you with this thought; have you done that with other parts of your life? … There are certain things no one can do for you … and one of those is spending time with God! The point is you don’t have to “do” anything … you just have to “be yourself” while “being” with God!
Blessings and peace … Pastor Scott
Pastor’s Corner May 2021
35-38 Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. “What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!” - Matthew 9:36-38 The Message
Why did Jesus die on the cross? Oh I know, I know. I have heard the official theological answers, such as: to gratify the Old Testament law for sacrifice or to fulfill the prophecy. … But there is something more here don’t you think? … Something personal for Jesus and for each of us. What is it? … Could it be that his heart was broken from the hurting? … I can imagine him, bending close to those who are hurt. I can imagine him listening … He who was once alone, also understands.
As I write this; we still have the COVID-19 pandemic causing pain and suffering … forcing change … but there is hope! As Fowlerville First leadership and I look at the calendar, we hear the comments (even if the comments are our own) so many plans have been changed or been canceled … why do we bother? There is hope!
Consider this, by making plans we are proclaiming that hope! We are stating that we trust in God and that we trust in each other! If change is required (when it’s time) then so be it … we can adjust, however without hope … we lose sight of the love that is offered to us!
There are plans for a Yard Sale, Heartstrings graduation (complete with the gift of a Bible), Fowlerville “Fun in the ville” (a bake sale for “missions”) and possibly the follow-up yard sale. We also continue our support of the family impact center and Mission House (who report that things are slowly returning to normal).
I will also share that registration for the fall at our Heartstrings preschool is currently underway.
As I write this; there is debate (and fear) over issues of race and policing. Once more I would say: “When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd.” The word here is “compassion” from and for all sides of the debate, when we lose sight of Jesus, when we lose sight of hope … “So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd.” God can, and will make the difference; we cannot lose sight of hope!
Blessings and peace … Pastor Scott
Pastor’s Corner February 2021
February, winter in Michigan! February, Valentine’s Day, a time that we as a society celebrate “Romantic love”! Children, pass cards to friends and classmates saying; won’t you be mine, while looking forward to candy!
The Scriptures have within them so many expressions of Love. John 13:34, Romans 5:8 and the Song of Solomon are but examples. Young love, true love, being in love, love makes the world go round … money can’t buy love. As a society we have a “love” saying for just about every occasion. Yet so very often, we find it difficult or impossible to say “I love you”.
So why is it that so often we don’t trust in love … why don’t we hear, I mean really hear the words “I love you”? Is it because we have experienced heart break and hurt, that we keep our heart hidden away, closed off?
Why is it that we doubt … the love that is graciously lavished on us?
16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 Living Bible
My friends, our faith demands our love of God and our love of neighbor. The world will tempt you to surrender your time and attention to deny true love … we so easily get so caught up in the pace of life that we forget to say “I Love You” to the one that matters!
Pastor’s Corner December 2020
Grace and Peace to you,
Oh, and “Merry Christmas”! Advent and then Christmas, we wait in anticipation for Jesus to arrive.
“16 God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life”. (John 3:16) The Gift for all the world! (Wow, one size does fit all.) This had me thinking about gift giving and receiving.
Do you want (blank) in your life?
Do you want “hope” in your life?
The Prophet Isaiah expresses hope for a Messiah to save us from the sin in the world; 6 A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders.
He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
7 There will be vast authority and endless peace for David’s throne and for his kingdom,
establishing and sustaining it with justice and righteousness now and forever. The zeal of the Lord of heavenly forces will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7
During Advent we anticipate our Savior’s arrival. This hope doesn’t disappoint us;
5 This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)
Do you want “peace” in your life?
The peace of God enables us to help guide the world to see (or know) God’s kingdom breaking into our reality! God grants an inner peace. Because of Christ’s work on the cross, we have a chance to receive salvation, for the Holy Spirit to dwell richly within us. This grants us an inner peace
27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27) When Christ returns, there will also be healing for the nations, this broken world will be healed.
We will also put aside our differences, we will have peace with others; 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28) because we are one in Christ, we are ALL part of the family of God.
How about love, do you want “love” in your life?
When it’s all said and done “love” is the Christmas story! I’ve heard it pointed out that because of Joseph’s love for Mary, he didn’t stone her when he found out she was pregnant before they were married. 18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. (Matthew 1:18-19) we also see God’s love as expressed in John 3:16.
Love is the greatest of all gift’s; 13 Now faith, hope, and love remain—these three things—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 Love is the reason … 4 Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, 5 it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, 6 it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. 7 Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Do you want “joy” in your life?
Life is a celebration and a gift; 4 Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! 5 Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:4-5) Our Joy comes from the Lord! “Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, And Heaven and nature sing, And Heaven and nature sing, And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.” (246 UMH)
No matter what “it” is that you want in your life, Jesus is the answer, he truly is the gift that keeps on giving! Do you want change in your life, accept the gift God has given you!
*all Scripture references are from the Common English Bible
Pastor’s Corner November 2020
Happy Thanksgiving! Grace and Peace to you, hard to believe that it is November!
It occurred to me that each Sunday, I have been giving an invitation to support the “ministry at Fowlerville First” and there may be some who do not know about the various “ministries” here at Fowlerville. So with the idea of invitation and being a thankful, joyful giver, let’s start with Scripture;
2 Corinthians 9:7 Common English Bible
“7 Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver.”
And with it being November and Thanksgiving, let us remember to be thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Common English Bible
16 Rejoice always. 17 Pray continually. 18 Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
The first item to address is the word “Ministry”. My definition for Ministry is; any actions done in the name of God. This should include the way we live our lives, but is often thought of as; our giving (tithing). Friends, it’s more than money!
Please keep that in mind as I highlight some of the ministries here at Fowlerville First; Sunday Worship and the Sacraments (Communion, Baptism), Sharing the Good News of the Gospel, Weddings and Funerals, Bible and book studies, HeartStrings Learning Center preschool, Space for Alcoholics Anonymous to meet, and dinners. There is volunteer and financial support for; Family Impact Center, UMCOR (United Methodist Committee On Relief, a nongovernmental organization operating around the world), ECHO, Heifer international, OMF, Crop Walk, Love INC, Samaritan’s Purse.
Our General fund giving provides for clergy support, staff salaries, building up keep and improvements. We also tithe to the global United Methodist Church in what is now called Ministry Shares (used to be called apportionments) and if you’re curious about where the Ministry Shares money is spent, contact me and I will get you the information. (Folks, between you and me this is an area we as a local church could do better, we have not paid our full share in a number of years.)
Friends our giving is used/blessed by God in so many wonderful ways!
Thinking about how God takes our “little” and does so many amazing things with it, I can’t help but smile!
I think I’ll close with two John Wesley Quotes:
“Thanksgiving is inseparable from true prayer; it is almost essentially connected with it. One who always prays is ever giving praise, whether in ease or pain, both for prosperity and for the greatest adversity. He blesses God for all things, looks on them as coming from Him, and receives them for His sake- not choosing nor refusing, liking or disliking, anything, but only as it is agreeable or disagreeable to His perfect will.”
― John Wesley, How To Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer
“Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can”
― John Wesley
Pastor’s Corner October 2020
Grace and Peace to you,
We continue to adjust to what is being called a “new normal”. For the church the new normal is about as far from the old normal as east is from west. However I don’t want to dwell on the problems of change, the point is, is that we have changed and did what we needed to and we continue to look for ways to glorify and honor God, serve others and reach out in Christian love! For many of us this might be enough after all, change is hard!
I was on my way through town when I saw a small placard with the words “Thankful Heart” that had me thinking about what it meant to have a thankful heart.
A thankful heart finds many blessings!
A thankful heart experience’s many blessings!
A thankful heart knows many blessings!
Keep this idea of a thankful heart in mind as we add in some Scripture from the Apostle Paul. First let us visit the idea expressed in Romans 8:28 (Common English Bible); “28 We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This is one facet of faith that we often rephrase as; “somehow, someway God brings about good for us.”
The next point is from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (CEB); “16 Rejoice always. 17 Pray continually. 18 Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This is where the grateful, joyful heart comes in;
A grateful heart; finds, experiences and knows many blessings! Do you believe it? Do you live your life like you believe it? Do we count our problems … or do we count our blessings?
Please don’t get me wrong the pandemic and social justice issues have caused pain, suffering and mourning loss … seemingly combing to have brought out the worst in us … but, returning to the wisdom of Romans, God’s got this, we can and will get through this together by the grace of God.
Thinking about the Thessalonian instruction for a grateful heart, some “COVID-19” blessings that come to mind for me are; time with family, time in study, time for reflection and reordering of priorities. The use of technology; being able to “live stream” worship and to attend class without leaving home, and still reaching people far from our beloved church building. I have witnessed the outpouring of love and support in hand written cards, phone calls and generous gifts!
Far from feeling sorry for myself, at times I feel an embarrassment of riches!
So let me ask again … Do we count our problems … or do we count blessings?
A grateful heart; finds, experiences and knows many blessings!
Do you believe it? Do you live your life like you believe it?
May it be so …
Pastor’s Corner August 2020
Grace and Peace to you,
Dog days of summer, seems like hot and humid weather has me thinking about family vacations and time away. How about you?
30-31 The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. (Mark 6:31 The Message Bible)
Jesus and the apostles knew the value of time away, rest … however they also knew the value of being together in community. Today, we call this Christian gathering “the church”.
One outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is a high level of uncertainty, frustrated plans and disappointment. I think that most people are asking for answers. I have been there myself, when our gathering space was closed (for our safety, and the safety of others) we wondered how we would be able to continue being the church?
We are not alone in this; “seeking” in my observation is that almost everyone is seeking answers, whether they know it or not, the true answer is found in the Lord!
7 “Ask, and you will be given what you ask for. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Anyone who seeks, finds. If only you will knock, the door will open. Matthew 7:7-8 (The Living Bible)
Praise the Lord that family, friends and neighbors ARE seeking … my question for “us” is what will they find at Fowlerville First? (kind of makes you go huh and hmm)
What a blessing to be able to show and tell the seekers, we are a gathering of the faithful (the church) led by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Good News, to share our talents, and resources with each other AND with the local community and beyond!
Certainly the pandemic has caused us to pause, and consider, what and how we are to “do church”, thankfully God hears our prayers and often answers them in unexpected ways. As the church, the Holy Spirit has provided talents, gifts and resources; the Spirit equips us and provides opportunities for us to flourish!
(During your time of rest, ask yourself how do “I” fit in Lord?)