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
July 2014 Greetings Brothers and Sisters!
Four long days at Annual Conference has left me a bit jet-lagged and exhausted! Each day of Annual Conference is packed with presentations, worship services, legislative debate, voting, and times of prayer. Doing the “business” of the church is not merely financial, but includes emotional, psychological and pastoral aspects of being a church in the world today.
In July, I will be taking a Wesley Pilgrimage to England, a trip coordinated by the United
Methodist General Board of Discipleship. In our pilgrimage information we were informed that a “pilgrim” is a person who journeys to a sacred place as an act of religious devotion. Each day will begin and end with prayer and sacrament. Our travel is purposeful: to explore Christ-centered leadership in the Wesleyan tradition and discern how to be a faithful leader in the churches we are called to. This will be my first trip to Europe, and I look forward to experiencing sacred moments in the midst of ancient churches and cathedrals, walking in the paths of John and Charles Wesley, and seeking God’s will in what I learn and what I bring back with me that will help us be the church God wants us to be!
I continue to dream and hope for the United Methodist Church and all believers to transform the world! I pray that my pilgrimage will renew my strength and encourage my mind! I pray you will have sacred moments and experiences that do the same for you!
See you in church,
June 2014 Newsletter
We begin the month of June and I am guessing everyone is longing for some rest and relaxation!
May has been filled with activities and meetings and end-of-the-school year events like
prom, concerts, graduations, etc. Now it is time to finish up the school exams and get out
the summer clothes; pack some bags and head out for new places; schedule family reunions
and get together with friends! How quickly the summer months fill up! Along with some
rest and relaxation, don’t forget that summer months are a great time for continuing your
spiritual journeys and going new places in your faith.
My June calendar begins with Annual Conference. This is a time for all clergy and elected lay members to gather together to consider issues of the denomination and the conference. Ministries are recognized, budgets and legislation voted on, pastors who have died the past year are remembered, newly commissioned and ordained clergy celebrated, retiring clergy are honored and there are many opportunities for worship and holy conferencing with others.
During my vacation time in the middle of June, I plan on spending time with my family hiking,
biking and fishing. But I also have to complete the reading list assigned for my continuing
education trip to England in July – that includes twelve books! I was fortunate to be
awarded a $1,000 scholarship to attend the Wesley Pilgrimage which takes me to important
places of Methodist history and explore Christ-centered leadership in the Wesleyan tradition.
We will be traveling to Salisbury, Oxford, Derbyshire, Epworth, Bristol, Bath and London.
We will visit ancient churches and colleges which had an impact on John and Charles
Wesley (founders of the Methodist faith) and places where the Methodist movement began.
I’m sure that the summer months will pass quickly, so it is important to schedule the most
important things on your calendar before time slips away. I am constantly reminded that
scripture gives us good advice about making our days count and being wise in how we spend
them. God helps us make good decisions on what to do with our time!
“Teach us to number our days, so we can gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
I pray that you will have a summer filled with sacred moments of experiencing and knowing
God’s love everywhere
See you on Sunday!
May 2014 Newsletter
As we head into the month of May, we reminisce that our Lenten Journey is over. We followed Jesus throughout his ministry, seeing times of teaching, healing and miracles. Then watched him ride into Jerusalem on a donkey with cheers of Hosanna, as he prepared to face his death. But first he showed his disciples what it meant to be a servant leader, serving others instead of asking to be served, and then offered a symbol to remember his sacrifice as he instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion at the Last Supper. Then Christ willingly went to the cross and died for our sins. On Easter, the risen Christ invites us to celebrate the victory over sin and our fear of death, as Christ is raised from the dead and we join in telling others that he is alive!
It has been such a powerful time to reflect on God's love these past weeks! The life and death theme of scripture was also played out in my personal life as I bid goodbye to two good friends, one who lost her battle with cancer and another who committed suicide with no one knowing why. I pray that both have found peace with God and know God's promise of a resurrected life in an eternal home. But our journey has not been completed yet. God continues to call us to be witnesses to the world of God's great love through Jesus Christ. Our small group study focused on “Opening Ourselves to God’s Grace.” Grace is the gift of God that continues throughout our lifetime as we recognize God’s presence and grace in our daily life and we reach out to others and show God’s love through our words and actions. Our journey will continue as we meet the travelers on the road to Emmaus, as Jesus makes his presence known. We will be reminded that Christ serves as our Good Shepherd to guide us and protect us we willingly commit to being his flock. Christ will remind us that we are invited to share in an intimate relationship with God and look forward to God making a home in our hearts as God sends the Holy Spirit to live in us and Christ returns to his throne at the right hand of God.
God continues to call us to "go and tell" the Good News of God's love. During the month of May we will honor mothers and women who have led us in our faith. We will celebrate those who will graduate and begin a new chapter of their journey. The Methodist denomination challenges us to "change the world" with a special event on May 17 or 18. We will remember those have given their lives for our freedom on Memorial Day and give thanks for loved ones who have gone before us. In all of this we are reminded to continue to run the race as we were inspired by those who ran in the Marion Marathon and served at our water station on Palm Sunday as we continue to learn how to bring the living water of Christ to a thirsty community!
See you in church!Pastor Lisa
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!
“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