Living Water United Methodist Church "The little brown church in the mall"
1155 Grand Avenue (at the corner of East Post Road and Grand Avenue)
Marion, IA 52302
April 2014 Greetings Brothers and Sisters!
The messages of Lent have reminded us of the ways Jesus taught his disciples to
follow him. It began with a mountain-top experience which called us to be
transformed, by understanding that God called his own son, Jesus Christ, to
follow a plan that required giving up his life for our salvation.
We traveled to the wilderness where Jesus was tested by Satan before beginning his ministry.
We listened to Jesus teach Nicodemus that being a Christian requires being reborn. We traveled to Samaria and saw Jesus offer living water to a woman at the well which gave her a new life. We watched Jesus heal a blind man to learn that our eyes might work perfectly and we can still be spiritually blind.
We met on Wednesday nights for a small group study that focused on “Opening Ourselves to God’s Grace.” Grace is the foundation of our Methodist roots and teaches us that grace is the gift of God that continues throughout our lifetime as we recognize God’s grace in our daily life and we reach out to show God’s love through our words and actions.
As we move into the month of April, we complete the Lenten Season and begin Holy Week. Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are some of the most meaningful holy days in the Christian Year. Envisioning Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey as the crowd waved branches and shouted Hosanna is a startling image of the one who would become King of our hearts. Remembering Jesus washing the feet of the disciples as they gather in the Upper Room to share the Passover Meal, which we know as the Last Supper, is a powerful example of what it means to be a servant of God.
We tremble as we contemplate the darkness of Good Friday, and remember the evil that caused the Son of God to be humiliated and crucified in a public display as Christ suffers on our behalf. But even during the darkness of Lent, we celebrate Christ’s resurrection as
each Sunday signifies the life we have because of God’s power and victory over sin and death.
In all of this, we are invited to consider what God is calling each one of us to do and how we will respond to God’s call, and how we can continue to bring living water to a thirsty community as God continues to bring new life in each of us. Let us rejoice, as we see the snow melt and the winter winds end; and the spring sunshine coax new buds and green to appear again. Just as we give thanks that the Holy Spirit continues to renew our spirits and give us fresh perspectives on new places and new people that still need to hear about God’s love.
Continue to watch and pray as we bid each other with the peace of Christ and rejoice in God’s mercy and grace!
“Rejoice – always be full of joy in the Lord!”
See you in church!
March 2014 Letter
The month of March signals the beginning of spring and will hopefully bring
warmer temperatures and more green to the landscape. On the Christian calendar
March also signals the beginning of the Lenten Season, with the celebration of
Ash Wednesday on March 5.
The Season of Lent signifies a forty-day period (not counting Sundays) that the ancient church set apart to prepare new converts for baptism and initiation into the church. Today we set aside this time to consider Christ’s sacrifice and death for our sins and our response to God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
One way to do that is to participate in the special services during the Lenten Season and participate in the Lenten small group study. During the Ash Wednesday service, ashes are placed in the shape of a cross on each person’s forehead. Ashes are a sign of sorrow for our sins and a reminder of our mortality – “from dust we come and to dust we will return.” Even with all of the things we do to try to stay healthy, look younger and search for the fountain
of youth; we realistically admit that our lives will end in death some day and we will face our maker to be judged. The Lenten Season is a time to evaluate how well we have lived up to God’s standards, reflect on how we have shown our gratitude for the free gift of forgiveness and what we might do to be more faithful disciples.
During this Lenten Season we will meet four Wednesday nights for a small group
study that focuses on “Opening Ourselves to God’s Grace.” The core of our
Christian faith is based on God’s grace, freely given through Jesus’ sacrifice on the
cross, which forgives our sins and puts us in a right relationship with God. But
grace does not end there; it continues throughout our lifetime as we recognize
God’s grace in our daily life and we reach out to show God’s love through our
words and actions. God’s plan of salvation was to send Christ to earth to save us
because of God’s great love for us. As John 3:16 tells us:
God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone
who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Please join us as we journey through Lent together, seeking God’s guidance in
living our lives as a reflection and response to God’s grace!
Here we are beginning the month of February and remembering that February is known as the month of "love." We celebrate Valentine's Day on the 14th and look for ways we can show love to those special people in our lives. Bouquets of roses, boxes of candy, showing some act of kindness, or going out to a special place for a special meal are all typical "love" gifts.
When we think about ways we can show God love, scripture tells us that we are to put God first in our life. I recently read an article that used the letters of FIRST to define what it means to put God first in your life. Here it is:
- Finances: put God first in your finances. According to scripture, if you want God to bless your finances, you must tithe. That means giving 10% of your income to do God's work first, before you purchase other things.
- Interests: put God first when choosing your hobbies, how you spend your leisure time and making career choices. Ask God to guide you in making every decision.
- Relationships: put God first in your relationships. Seek God's guidance in dealing with family, with friends, and your spouse.
- Schedule: put God first when you are setting up your daily schedule. Set aside time to read God's word and reflect on it. Start each day by asking God to guide your day and pledge to find ways to love God more and know God better each day.
- Troubles: turn to God first when you have a problem. Prayer should always be your first choice; not your last resort.
If you haven't yet started a daily devotional practice, pick up a copy of the Upper Room at the Connection Table in our church or go to this website: www.upperroom.org. Click on "publications - Upper Room", enter your email address and you can receive a daily devotional as an email. Check out the ministry tables in our church to find ways to show God's love to God and to others. Consider setting aside time to participate in the Lenten small group study that will start in March. Find ways to show God love every day during February and every month this year!
See you in church,
Happy New Year! Even though we are still in the Christmas Season. According to
the Christian calendar, the 12 days of the Christmas ends January 6! This is the
day we begin the season of Epiphany. As Christians, it is important to keep the
coming of Christ into the world a focus of our lives all year long. Just as we have
been called to celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ; we are called to celebrate
Epiphany as the revealing of Christ to the world. A fireworks event that tells
us to spread the word that Jesus is born!
For the four weeks before Christmas we were called to slow down, wait, and prepare
for the coming of Christ. On Christmas we celebrate that God has come to
earth to be with us – the meaning of the word Emmanuel. The word Epiphany
means manifestation or appearance – associated with the revealing of Christ in
connection with the visit of the Magi. They come following a star, searching for
the new king that has been born and asking the people where to find him. After
delivering their gifts, the three kings who visit from far off lands, return to their
own countries to announce that Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Savior of the world
has been born for all people. The great image of a bright star marks the day of
Epiphany. This star led them to the place where they would find Mary, Joseph and
the child king, Jesus.
From this point on in our scripture readings during the month of January, we will follow the ministry of Jesus from the very beginning. We too are given the initiative for starting again each year with new goals. As we begin a new year, may we all consider what new ways we are going to seek Christ and allow God to be visible each day. Consider what spiritual goals you can add to your New Year Resolutions that will encourage your faith journey and allow
Christ to live in you in new ways. Then consider how we can be Christ’s light to
the world by sharing the gifts that we bring to honor the newborn king and king of
our lives every day of the coming year.
If you haven’t yet started a daily devotional practice pick up a copy of the Upper
Room at the Connection Table. Or you can go to this website:
www.upperroom.org. Click on “publications – Upper Room” – enter your email address
and you can receive a daily devotional as an email. If you need information
about a ministry or event, check out the tables at the back of the sanctuary or talk
to one of the ministry leaders.
As you begin the new year, remember this: The Christ child is born! All you who would
find him, prepare for a journey, as determined as the Magi. All you who would praise him,
come with the faith to follow a star. All you who would worship him, come in humility,
bringing your gifts to Christ, who brings to us the unmeasureable gifts of God.
See you in church!
We begin the month of November with an attitude of gratitude and giving thanks! The first
snowflakes are falling as I write this letter and I start by giving thanks for the beauty of
God’s creation. The gentle snowflakes appear like tiny love letters from God with a backdrop
of the vibrant gold, orange, and red leaves of fall.
Scripture tells us that building the kingdom is hard work and it takes each one of us giving
all we are – our bodies, minds, souls and strength – as we learn to love God more each day
and love our neighbors as well as we love ourselves. We find ourselves weary at times and
need to take time to renew ourselves. New leaders and new energy are required to come
alongside those who have been leading us as we continue the faithful journey. We are
called to be faithful by our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.
Our name “Living Water,” reminds us that we all need to come to God on a regular basis
for some of the living water that renews our souls and minds, the words and practices that
nourish us and give us strength to continue the work of spreading the Good News of
God’s love to the world. We pray that you will consider being in worship every Sunday
that you can. Our hope is that you can participate in daily devotions and prayer that remind
you that God walks with you each day. We dream that each person might find a ministry,
mission or small group where they can continue their spiritual growth and faith formation.
The saints began this journey and serve as our inspiration. May we all run the
good race together and be found good and faithful servants of God!
From the Message version of Hebrews 12:1-3 we hear these words of encouragement:
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves lagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
See you in church!
October is here and the leaves are already turning into fall colors! The kids have been back in school for over a month and we are "fall"-ing into our fall routines. It is good to see everyone back from vacations and travels and filling our sanctuary every Sunday. We missed you!
September was a busy month with many activities. Thanks to everyone who decorated our float and took part in the Swamp Fox Parade! We were surprised by some unexpected showers that came up quickly, followed by sunshine that made it feel like a sauna! Thanks for sweating it out and passing out over 500 flyers to the onlookers and sharing candy and cookies with the crowd. We supported the Blue Zone emphasis in exercising our faith by worship, our mind by reading the Bible, and our body by walking and playing.
Over a hundred people attended our outdoor worship and Neighborhood BBQ the next day in the Living Water parking lot. Thank you for all who attended or helped.
Our Green Space Team marked the location of the six trees that are scheduled to be planted in October and we are excited about making the church property an inviting place that allows people a chance to appreciate God's creation. Pray for rain in the next couple of months to overcome the dry, hard ground. Please call us if you have any ideas or questions. We have scheduled tree planting events for the Youth on October 23rd at 5:30 p.m., and the congregation on October 27th at 11:00 a.m. following worship.
As we look forward tro October we have important ways to connect to the community and make a difference. October 4th is scheduled to be our first Weekend Food Backpack distribution to the local elementary and middle schools in the Marion Independent School District. Over forty children will be receiving packs of food. On October 6th we are invited to Prairiewoods for a Blessing of the Animals - bring your pet and have them blessed, or just come enjoy the beautiful Prairiewoods campus.
We continue to grow our faith and follow a path of discipleship by participating in worship, bringing food for the food pantry, serving the meals at Green Square Meal site, teaching our children, studying God's word and spending time in prayer, using our gifts to do God's work. As we consider how much we've yet to do to build God's kingdom, we look to God's word for encouragement:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a
harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
See you in church!
September is here and the fall routines begin! I pray that attending worship every Sunday
is right at the top of the list! God commands it! But did you know that it is also good
for you and adds years to your life! Research studies show that people who belong to a
faith community and attend church regularly add four to fourteen years to their life expectancy!
Isn't that amazing!
On Saturday, September 7, Living Water UMC will participate in the annual Swamp Fox
Parade. The theme of the parade this year is "Blue Acres . . . is the place to be." This
theme focuses on the designation of Marion as a "Blue Zone." The Blue Zones Project is
based on a movement to make a community a happier, healthier place to live, work and
play. Communities work hand-in-hand with experts to develop and implement a Blueprint
for making permanent environmental, social and policy changes that help nudge
people towards healthier behaviors, making positive changes in their lives that can lead
to greater well-being.
This project is based on nine pillars: 1. move naturally - physical activity, 2. family first -
establish regular family activities, 3. know your purpose - put your strengths into action
every day, 4. wine at five - happy hour (with or without alcohol), 5. downshift - adequate
sleep, 6. right tribe - a group that lifts you up, 7. plant slant 80% rule - stop eating when
you are 80% full, 8. plant slant - food that strengthens your immune system, 9. belong to
a faith-based community - sharing common belief of faith in a higher power. As a church
in the Marion community, we already fulfill several of the nine pillars for good health in
the Blue Zone Project and hope to continue to incorporate more as we move forward
with the project.
Learn what the United Methodist Membership vows mean as we discuss a Disciple's Path
in our sermon discussions following worship during September and October. Join a small
group - youth meet on Wednesday nights at 7 PM, men's group and women's group on
Tuesday nights, praise band on Wednesday nights, church school for children during worship,
fellowship and treats following worship. Participate in a ministry - Green Square
Meals, Operation Food Backpack, Green Space Project, In-Gathering Kits, Food Pantry,
Prayer Team. Make a commitment to join a team, participate in a ministry, find your
purpose and live a longer, healthier life! I'm so glad that the world is finally buying into
God's plan for your life!
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Find your purpose, make a plan, that brings hope -- and live a healthier and happier life -
heaven on earth - building God's kingdom together! Won't you join us in making our
own Blue Zone!
See you in church!
The coming of August signals the ending of summer. Summer vacations draw to a close
as kids go back to school. Summer jobs end as young adults head to college. Summer
leisure ends as fall schedules fill our calendars again. We enthusiastically celebrate the
return of the travelers who have been away for a few months. We begin planning our
fall line-up of small group studies, church school activities and a return to a more structured
routine. We give thanks for God's protection and safety during the busy summer
months and we transition into fall.
The fall season is one of my favorite seasons. I look forward to more cool breezes after
suffering from the intense heat and humidity of July. Things seem to "settle down" a bit
after everyone has been going so many directions and traveling a good part of the summer.
We celebrate coming back together as a church family and renew our enthusiasm
to be faithful disciples on a faith journey together.
We also look back over the summer months and remember our week in June at Adventure
Island as children learned God's word and lessons at Vacation Bible School. We
look forward to the beginning of church school and hearing more stories from God's
Word. During July we collected school supplies for fourteen children in Marion schools
through the Marion Cares Backpack Program. We pray that our effort will help children
and youth begin with a positive foundation for the coming school year. Our mission
team spent a week-long rebuilding effort in Joplin, Missouri. We give thanks for their
safe travel and find encouragement from their efforts to help rebuild homes and lives, as
we continue mission by supporting local and global needs.
As we move into fall, I invite you to be intentional about making plans for your continued
spiritual growth. During the month of August, the sermon series will focus on the
Book of Colossians, Paul's letter to the people of Colossae, which focuses on how to "be
the church" God wants them to be. There is encouragement and lessons for us all to
learn from Paul's words.
We will continue planning our Green Space Creation Care Project which will rely on
grant monies and volunteer labor. We received a $500 grant to begin a weekend FOOD
backpack to area elementary children for approximately 98 children each Friday during
the school year. This could be done by several different teams.
As the summer draws to a close, we are reminded that a new season begins and God
continues to invite us to draw near and hear the voice of God calling us to love God and
love one another, as we learn and grow in God's love serving God in new ways, in new
places and to new people.
So if you're serious about living this
new resurrection life with Christ,
act like it. Set your minds on
things above, not on earthly things.
Look up, be alert to what is going
on around Christ -- that's where
the action is! Colossians 3:1-3
See you in church!
Here is July's Newsletter
We are in the middle of the year - of summer - of celebrations! Summer brings
so many opportunities to celebrate! This month we also celebrate FREEDOM!
The Fourth of July - Independence Day - celebrates our freedom as a country and
as individuals. We celebrate through parades, picnics, concerts and fireworks. We
sing the "Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America!"
Be sure to get your tickets for the Praise in the Park on July 6. The concert will
feature five Christian musicians/bands: Big Daddy Weave, Jeremy Camp, White
Ribbon Day, Zach Svoboda, and Bob Colquhoun. What a line-up! The Veterans
Memorial Stadium will open at 3:00 pm, opening prayer at 3:45, raising the flag and
the three opening acts. Big Daddy Weave at 7:00 and Jeremy Camp will close the
concert. Ending with fireworks around 10:30.
In all of our celebrating, let us remember that our freedom has been paid for
through the lives of many who have fought wars and continue to serve in our military
service and political office. We pray for their wisdom, knowledge, safety and
protection. Our freedom is also a gift from God and we ask for God to continue
to bless us in our freedoms. One of those freedoms includes our freedom from
being slaves to sin, a freedom won through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the
cross. The scene at the Lord's Supper reminds us of a sacrifice given where life
triumphs over death, love overcomes hatred, mercy overcomes guilt, and reconciles
all people in peace, in Christ's name.
As we choose how to use our time and money we remember that God has called
us to serve others. Bring cans of food for the local food banks to the concert or
to church for our food pantry. Make PBJ sandwiches after worship on July 7.
Volunteer to serve at Green Square Meals on July 8. Come cheer on the softball
team on Tuesday evenings. Join us in commissioning the Youth mission team on
July 14 and be in prayer for their safety and ministry July 20-27. Collect school
supplies for Marion Cares - filling backpacks instead of buying them.
One of the freedoms we take for granted is the freedom to worship. We can
openly proclaim we are Christian and worship without fear. As you are traveling,
if you can't worship at Living Water, don't forget to take time to worship wherever
In all of our celebrations, let us not forget to express our gratefulness for our freedom,
how much we love our country, and the hopefulness we have because of the
opportunities we have been given and the hope we have in Christ. Pray the Litany
for Independence Day as you gather together with friends and family
Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Use your freedom
to serve one another in love." (from Galatians 5:1,13 The Message)
See you in church!
“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens!
Praise him from the skies! Praise him, all his angels!
Praise him, sun and moon! Praise him, all you twinkling
stars! Praise him skies above! Let every created
thing give praise to the Lord, for he issued the command,
and they came into being.” Psalm 148:1-6 NLT
"For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its savior." John 3:16-17 The Good News Bible