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
August 2015 GREETINGS BROTHERS & SISTERS IN CHRIST!
August signals the last month of "summer" as people return to fall schedules with the beginning of school and other fall activities. I think it seems the summer months go so quickly because we try to get so much into them! In Iowa, we know the warm temperatures will come to an end and we try to squeeze in as many outdoor activities and as much travel as possible in a short time.
As much as we love the beautiful weather and enjoy the outdoor activities to participate in, we often find ourselves a bit tired out from it all. We find that we haven't had time for rest, renewal and spiritual growth in the midst of so many things to do. Some people take a "vacation" from church over the summer and their spiritual well can become quite empty.
With the fall calendar before us, I hope you will make time in your calendar (before it fills up) to join us for Wednesday night gatherings in August for a time of rest and renewal. This will be an informal gathering around the grill and the fire pit (weather permitting). We will move indoors on rainy evenings. After our meal we will share a song or two and then pray for the needs of our community and congregation. I pray that these times will bring us closer to God and to each other as we share our burdens and concerns, as well as celebrating God's faithfulness.
In worship, we will study the book of Ephesians during August. The Letter to the Ephesians was written by Paul when he was a prisoner in Rome. In spite of the fact that he was locked up and didn't know if he would be executed for sharing the gospel, he continued to send encouragement to the churches. He begins the letter by telling the believers
how favored they are and what wonderful things God has planned for them. This letter is written to us to also be encouraged in the challenging times of today's world. The words of scripture invite us to draw near and to know how much God loves as. This brings us comfort, strength and peace in the midst of all the difficult things we face each
"I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources God will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to
understand, as all God's people should, how wide how long, how high, and how deep God's love is." Ephesians 3:16-18 NIV
JUNE 2015 GREETINGS BROTHERS & SISTERS IN CHRIST!
The month of June marks the beginning of summer! Students celebrate the end of the school year and look forward to a break from books and homework. Graduates celebrate completion of high school and prepare for the next step in their life journey.
For the rest of us, June marks warmer weather and longer days. Many plan landscaping and garden projects. We enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, biking, hiking and fishing; along with many sports activities - softball, baseball and golf to name a few. Summer is also the time when families and friends travel to celebrate weddings, family reunions
and take summer vacations. What are you looking forward to during the warmer summer months? Are the months and days already full?
Don't forget to leave room for Bible study, worship and prayer during the summer months! Be sure to find a place of worship where you are. During the hours of travel time or around a camp fire, take time to read scripture passages and remember God's hand in creating all that you are seeing and enjoying. Be sure to say a prayer before you set out on travels, asking for God's guidance and protection and say a prayer when you arrive at your destination, giving thanks for God's watching over you. When you gather with your family and friends, offer prayers that honor your relationships and how grateful you are for those God has put in your life to share your life journey.
Over the summer, we continue to worship and plan events which require volunteers to serve in various capacities and to offer hospitality and refreshments. On Sunday, June 14, we will host a water station for the Marion Marathon. It is also Flag Day so we will have a patriotic theme and dress in red-white-and-blue and wave US flags.
During June, I will be attending the Iowa Annual Conference from June 6-9, along with Norm and all the other clergy and laity representatives from around the state of Iowa. Over a thousand will gather at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines for this event where we seek God’s will in being the United Methodist Church. Rodney Bluml will be preaching in my absence, so be sure to welcome him warmly!
Wherever you are and whatever you are doing during these summer months, don’t forget that God is with you and is just waiting to be a part of your life every moment of your day!
The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves you. The LORD will take delight in you, and in his love he will give you new life, and will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
See you in church! Pastor Lisa
MAY 2015 GREETINGS BROTHERS & SISTERS IN CHRIST!
Spring is here and some of you may remember one of my favorite traditions from childhood that begins the month of May – delivering May baskets on May first – known as May Day! These are small baskets usually filled with flowers or treats and left at someone's doorstep. The giver rings the bell and runs away to keep the giver a secret. I think about the blessings of God’s love that often come as unexpected surprises that bring a sweetness to life, like a May basket left on the door step of our life. The spring flowers that flash new color after months of winter drab and the hints of warm breezes after cold winds of winter, remind us of God’s intention to give us the beauty of creation to enjoy.
May is also a month to give thanks for the gift of mothers and other women of faith who have made an impact on our faith journeys. They are another gift that God has provided to inspire and encourage us in living out our faith in loving ways of caring for one another. It was also God’s intention to remind us that we are a part of God’s family, which
includes more than our family or origin. This family includes those we worship with each week, those we claim as brothers and sisters in our denomination, conference, and Christians around the world.
We also celebrate the end of the school year and those who will be graduating from high school and other continued studies. We are blessed by those God has provided to teach us the skills that will lead us through our lives and those who have provided a foundation of faith to build our lives on.
The end of May brings Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, initiated to honor the soldiers of Union and Confederate armies who died during the American Civil War. By the late 19th century, the holiday became known as Memorial Day and was expanded to include the deceased veterans of all the wars fought by American forces. We give
thanks for those who dedicate their lives to God and country and protect our freedom.
Enjoy the gifts of May and give thanks for God’s love which continues to surprise us each day with gifts that allow us to taste and see that God is good! Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see — how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him. Psalm 34:8 (The Message)
See you in church! Pastor Lisa
CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! We chant the words and celebrate the resurrection and life of Christ on Easter Sunday! What a great way to start out the month of April! But do we remember that God’s gift of life is something we receive every day? During Lent, we explored God’s love and care for us through the “I am” statements of scripture. I am . . . the bread of life; light of the world; good shepherd; true vine; the way, truth and life; the resurrection and the life. These taught us that God loves us, cares for us and wants to be present in our lives each and every day. Our own resistance can hold us back from experiencing God’s love and care; along with new life. Often we want to hold on to our current or old life. But new possibilities resemble a resurrection – it doesn’t come without death. We can’t go from Palm Sunday to Easter without the pain of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. We recount the memories of pain, disappointment and heartache; as we remember betrayal, suffering and the crucifixion of Jesus. Easter only occurs because Christ squarely faces pain and death. But they are not the final realities.
Are we willing to take the pain of letting go of the things that rob us of the time and energy we need so we can do God’s work? Can we sacrifice more of our life for the good of others and make changes that allow us to reach out to those in need? When we remain open to God’s power of revealing new possibilities, we discover what resurrection is. It represents new life, different life and often involves going in new directions and being open to the blessing of new opportunities. In order to find the resurrected life for ourselves, we must also learn to walk in the way and truth of Christ’s example for us. This proves that the One who is Resurrection and Life works on both sides of the grave; for the here-and-now of life as well as eternity. Are you ready to live a resurrected life?
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” John 11:25-26
See you in church!
MARCH 2015 GREETINGS BROTHERS & SISTERS IN CHRIST!
During March we continue our journey through the Season of Lent that we began on Ash Wednesday. During this time our small group study and our Sunday worship services will be based on the “I Am” statements of Jesus and bring us to the places in the Holy Lands where Jesus spoke these statements! As we travel, we remember that God is always with us, no matter where our journeys take us.
Our Ash Wednesday service on February 18 reminded us of the darkness of sin and the light that came into the world when God came to earth in the form of a human in Jesus Christ. We are asked to not only remember how lost and broken we can find ourselves in our own sinful
ways, but to also remember that we have been freed from the bonds of sin because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross – giving his own life as a ransom for ours. We look at the world around us and see examples of darkness and light.
This contrast between darkness and light, sin and forgiveness, also reminds us that we constantly need to be seeking God’s guidance and strength in order to stay on the right path and walk in the way that pleases God. Lent calls us to confess the ways we’ve rejected God
and ask for God’s mercy to help us be faithful disciples. Lent is considered a time to slow the pace of our lives. We are asked to give up something that will allow us to make space for God or have time to be with God or do something for God.
One of the ways you can do this is by joining our small group study on Sunday after worship, around 11:00. You can also read a daily devotional each day and spend time in prayer. Pick up the “Upper Room” devotional at the Information Booth or go online at www.upperroom.org.
Along with learning how to be better disciples, we also show our gratitude to God for the love shown in the sacrifice of Christ as we sacrifice a portion of each day to spend with God. Knowing that God is walking beside us on every step of the journey of our lives gives us confidence that we won’t get lost if we follow the most import GPS available – God’s Positioning System! That’s why God sent Jesus Christ to earth – to show us the way the truth and the life that God wants us to experience!
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. Jesus told them,”I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:1&6 NLT)
See you in church! Pastor Lisa
February 2015 Greetings Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
As we turn our calendar to February we see new signs of LOVE all around us! Stores remind us to buy our valentines! We search our closets to find all our “red” clothes and we search our minds for something special to say or do to show our love to those who are special to us!
February also signals a special time in the church year as we remember God’s love shown for us in the sacrifice of God’s own son, Jesus Christ. We call this time the Season of Lent. Lent is a solemn religious observance that covers a period of approximately six weeks from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday (the day before Easter).
The traditional purpose of Lent is to give the believer forty days of preparation using prayer, penance, repentance of sins, along with almsgiving, atonement and self-denial, so we might understand how God’s forgiveness cleanses us and makes us holy, and to show our appreciation for God’s love. During Lent, many commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence. (Sundays are not included because we count them as celebration days and we are not required to fast.) Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional and participating in a small group study to draw themselves near to God.
One of the reasons we want to draw close to God is so that we can “know” God better and then understand what God expects of us as disciples and followers of Christ.
This year we will use a study series called “The God We Can Know” that explores the “I Am” sayings found in the Bible. These statements help us to understand the mission and purpose of Jesus and help us to experience and know more about the God who sent him. This will also give us direction and purpose in understanding God’s will for us. The DVD that accompanies this study takes us to the places where Jesus stood and where the “I Am” sayings were spoken. The gospel comes to life as we move from the Judean wilderness to the Galilean hills and into the heart of Jerusalem and we obey God’s command to come near to God and feel God’s love and forgiveness, so that we may learn to share God’s love with the world.
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts cleansed from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22 NIV
Come near to God and share in God’s love!
See you in church! Pastor Lisa
January 2015 Greetings Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Happy New Year! Advent and Christmas are past and 2015 begins! January is a time to take inventory – just as the department stores do this time of year. Of course, they do it to know what is left to sell and to prepare their income tax returns. Our inventory should include what we accomplished, celebrated and gave thanks for during 2014; and making plans for what God
is calling us to do this year – personally and as a church.
It was an extremely unusual holiday season for me, with surgery a few days before Thanksgiving and being in the ICU at University of Iowa Hospital on Thanksgiving Day with only a liquid diet! The first two weeks are a blur because of heavy medication and sleeping most of the time! As I entered the third week, I realized how weak I was and how much healing there was to do yet! Many of you who have had surgery can understand this – thinking you
have all kinds of energy and then being exhausted by just brushing your teeth! I am getting stronger, but still realize I have limits to what my body and mind can do yet.
It has been difficult for me to be away from you during this wonderful season of the church year, but I am so proud to see you all doing your part to offer worship that honors God and invites each person to remember the great gift God sent in Jesus Christ as you also continue to do God’s work through our outreach ministries and caring for one another.
I’m sure you were blessed in December by messages from Rev. Jerry Oakland and Paul Kitzki. I pray that these messages of hope and joy will lead you into the new year with high expectations and visions for what we can be and do with God’s help. Rodney Bluml be preaching during January to continue Peter’s transformational journey from disciple to apostle. What a great model and example to follow as we see Peter go from timid follower to a great leader!
These passages about Peter’s journey, remind me that God is always transforming and changing us. Often it is just a little at a time and we might not even notice. Other times we meet great challenges or amazing spiritual encounters that help us see things in a new way and lead us into new places doing new things and inviting new people to join us! Peter went from denying his association with Christ to taking on the Jewish Council so that he could
minister to and testify about Christ to the forbidden Gentiles. What a powerful and miraculous change! I pray that we will listen closely to the voice of God not only during Advent, Christmas or the New Year; but will make it a daily practice to spend time with God and listen to God’s voice as we are made new every day as God leads us into the world to be witnesses to God’s
love as we do new things!
You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God—there never has been, and there never will be. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 42:10, 19 NLT
New Year Blessings from Pastor Lisa
December 2014 Streams of Thought
Here we are, entering the last month of the year! December signals the end of 2014 and finds us in the midst of Advent. The first Sunday of Advent on November 30 began the season of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas. The Latin word “adventus” means “coming” and actually anticipates the coming of Christ from two perspectives, his birth at Christmas and his second coming some time in the future. The season of Advent offers us the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah and to be alert for his Second Coming.
It will be a very different Advent and Christmas for me this year because I will be on medical leave for 8-10 weeks following the stay in the hospital, so will not be back to work until February.
Rev. Jerry Oakland will be preaching the four Sundays of Advent, the Christmas Eve service and will be providing pastoral care during December. Rev. Oakland is a retired Methodist pastor, having served congregations throughout Iowa for many years. He currently serves part-time at Matthew 25 as Neighborhood Investment Coordinator. Paul Kitzki will finish up December, preaching on December 28. How awesome that we have a preacher in our
In January, Rodney Bluml from Prairiewoods Spirituality Center will be preaching a continuation of his journey with Peter series, “From Disciple to Apostle.” Rodney serves as Programs & Hosted Group Coordinator and Spiritual Director. He has a master’s degree in Sacramental Theology and holds a Master of Divinity from St. Thomas University.
It will be difficult for me to be away from you all – especially Advent and Christmas. But it reminds me that the Apostle Paul had to be away from the congregations that he cared about. He spent many years traveling on mission journeys planting new churches and spreading the Good News. Many of his times away were times when he was being held captive in a prison or
exiled on an island because he was preaching the Word of God. Paul’s words in his letters reflect his care and concern for his congregation and even though he can’t be with them in person, he is with them in spirit. As I spend the next two months recovering at home, remember that I am thinking of you and praying for you, knowing that you are in God’s hands and will continue God’s work while I am gone.
“I’m thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it’s always a prayer full of joy. And I’m sure the one who started a good work in you will complete it. I have good reason to think this way about all of you because I keep you in my heart.” Philippians 1:3-7
November 2014 Streams of Thought
As we begin the month of November, we realize that the year is winding down and will soon be coming to a close. The first thing we do this month is set our clocks back as Daylight Savings Time ends. It makes me also want to look back over the year and ask you what you are thankful for this year. Has it been a good year for you or has the year been filled with challenges? Perhaps it has been a year of mixed events and happenings – some good and some not so good.
As we consider the issues facing the world right now, we might all have a heightened sense of insecurity and uncertainty in light of words that are new to our vocabulary – Ebola and ISIS come to my mind. These add to the stress we already experience because of changing job markets, unemployment, layoffs, overwhelming work schedules, gas prices, food prices, health challenges, no time for our families or to spend with God, and so many other things that make us unsure of the future.
Thankfully, our God stands firm and provides the foundation to build our lives on when the winds and waves of an uncertain world threaten us. God has created us, given us gifts to share with the world, and invites us to participate in building a kingdom where all are invited and all are loved.
As we celebrated the ministries of the past year at our charge conference on October 20, we gave thanks for God’s faithfulness in taking our simple offerings and multiplying them to feed the children in the Marion Independent School District, the homeless and poor at Green Square Meal Site, providing school supplies and backpacks so children could begin the school year with confidence, bringing joy to needy families through our Angel Tree Christmas presents, traveling to Pittsburgh and Guatemala to share God’s love, reaching out to the neighborhood at the Marion Marathon, the Living Water Softball Team, Marion Senior Living Celebration and our Outdoor Worship Service. God has been faithful and continues to call us to be faithful servants.
We face the important task of listening to God’s voice to guide us in making decisions about how we can be effective in ministry and continue to be good stewards of the gifts God has given us in the coming year. May we be open to new possibilities and opportunities as God
continues to guide us into new places to meet new people who need to hear the Good News of God’s love in new and exciting ways as God does a “new thing” in us, with us and through us!
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
See you in church!
October 2014 Newsletter
October is one of my favorite months of the year! I love the turning colors of the leaves on the hillsides to oranges, yellows and reds. The corn and the beans become such a beautiful tone of golden brown. It reminds me of God’s hand in creation and providing a bountiful crop at harvest.
October is also a time for the Annual Charge Conference reports as we look back on the past year. What are some of the things we have done in the past year?
- We made over one hundred peanut butter jelly sandwiches for Green Square Meals each month.
- Our Operation Backpack to the Marion Independent School District elementary and middle schools started with 25 food packs in the fall of 2013 and grew to over 75 food packs per week by the spring of 2014. This programwouldn’t have been possible without the $4,000 grant we received from the East Central District, the food supplied by HACAP and the many school staff volunteers that partner with us to deliver the food packs.
- In November, a team of eight went to San Pablo, Guatemala to help work on a much needed medical clinic there.
- We hosted a water station for the first time at the Marion Marathon on Palm Sunday and greeted many new faces as we passed out water and sports drinks. Our water stop won best design and spirit and received $250 prize.
- The Youth hosted our Dinner in the Woods to raise $1300 for their summer mission trip. Thirteen youth and adults traveled to Pittsburgh to participate in the Pittsburgh Project, helping low-income families rebuild homes and participate in work projects.
- Our Praise Team did an awesome job of creating a float for the Swamp Fox Parade and playing music along the parade route that had everyone clapping and singing.
Now, we are back into our fall routines and watching the temperatures drop as we continue to think about beginning fall programs. We’ve already completed one small group study based on Matthew 6:21 “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This four-week sermon series and small group study challenged us to think about what our treasure is, where we are
investing our lives and where we want to be investing our lives.
We still need volunteers to lead our youth group and children’s ministries. Is God calling you to
share your faith with the next generation of believers? There is always time for you to begin a new faith journey or ministry – no matter how old or young you are! Because life is uncertain and plans may not work out the way you want, it is important to continue to grow your faith to get you through difficult times.
I pray for God’s grace to cover you and the Holy Spirit to inspire you to participate in the life of the church as you continue the work God has for us to do. God has commissioned you for important work! “It is God who enables us, to stand firm for Christ. God has commissioned us, and God has identified us as God’s own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything God has promised us.” 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
See you in church!
September 2014 Streams of Thought
School has started and the fall schedule is filling up fast! Living Water supplied
ten backpacks to children in need and we will be shopping the school supplies to
put together school kits for In-Gathering to send to children in Africa in a few
Fall marks the beginning of another year of learning and teaching for each one of
us, as well. On August 31, a four-week sermon series will begin based on Matthew
6:21, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Four small
group discussions will be held to go more in depth. Pick up your daily devotional
on Sunday, August 31 to be prepared for the first discussion group on Wednesday,
On Thursday, September 4, attend the lasagna dinner hosted by Faith Lutheran
to support three senior living sites that provide safe, affordable housing for low income
seniors at Moundview Manor, Scott Meadows and Trinity Pointe. Come
and enjoy Zio Johno’s lasagna, salad and garlic bread! Yummy!
Then it’s off to the Swamp Fox Parade on Saturday, September 6, as our H2O
Alive Praise Band man the float and provide music and inspiration as we celebrate
ways we have supported the community through our ministries and outreach
events. The parade begins at 10:15, if you would like to walk with the
band and help pass out candy, please meet at the church at 9:00 AM.
Make note that we will be changing worship time to 10:30 AM on Sunday,
September 7, to allow extra time to set up for our outdoor worship and BBQ picnic.
We will be delivering invitations to the neighborhood and ask that you invite
friends and family to join us for worship, the picnic and to play the farm game! It
should be fun for all!
Get to know the conference Leadership Development Ministers on Tuesday,
September 16 as we host two different sessions for clergy and laity from around
the district to enjoy coffee and share in conversation about how LDM’s can assist
congregations to achieve the dreams and visions God has for each faith community.
During the week of September 15th, we will begin packing our food packs for
Operation Backpack which provides food for hungry children over the weekend.
Be watching for an opportunity to assist with this important ministry.
We continue to search for individuals who are willing to lead and coordinate the
Youth and Children’s Ministries, an ambassador to represent Living Water in the
Blue Zones Project and servants to fill positions on various teams from cleaning
the bathrooms, servings as ushers and greeters, and bringing food for fellowship.
Where is God calling you to use your gifts?
“Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand
and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not
status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us,
asking ourselves, “How can I help?” Romans 15:1-2 (The Message)
See you in church!
August 2014 Letter: Greeting Sisters and Brothers in Christ!
As we turn the calendar page to August, it’s hard to believe the summer is nearly over and school will soon be starting!
One of my memories from grade school (yes, I can still remember back that far!) is the first big writing assignment when school started in the fall – writing an essay titled “What I Did on My
Summer Vacation.” I always struggled with this assignment because I felt that my summer had been pretty boring. We never took a vacation like other kids talked about – visiting Mt. Rushmore, traveling to the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean or even experiencing an amusement park. Part of that was because my Dad worked road construction and was away from home working construction projects around the state all summer, only coming home on the weekends about
once a month. This made any kind of vacation during the summer impossible and once the weather turned cold he was laid off for the winter months and I was in school so we couldn’t take a vacation. We also couldn’t afford a vacation.
In fact, the only travel I remember taking as a child were times we went to attend a wedding or family reunion. Now I’ve had the opportunity to do some travel in recent years and have really enjoyed seeing Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building and other great places around the United States. It has also been a privilege to participate in mission trips that took me to the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
But nothing can compare to the summer vacation I had this year – the experience of participating in the Wesley Pilgrimage - traveling in England for three weeks, seeing the great cathedrals, the London Bridge, Big Ben and walking in the footsteps of John and Charles Wesley, founders of the United Methodist denomination. I traveled to Epworth where John & Charles grew up as PKs (Preacher’s Kids), sat at the dining room table where their mother Susanna home-schooled all 8 children who survived childhood (she gave birth to 19) and
stood where they were baptized by their father in the church where he served for nearly 40 years.
I walked on the streets of Oxford and through the hallways of great colleges like Christ Church College (where Harry Potter was filmed) and John & Charles Wesley were ordained as Anglican priests, climbed the tower of St. Mary’s Church, stood outside the palace and prison where John & Charles ministered to prisoners in the dungeons when they were college students. I toured the Roman Baths where leaders of the Roman Empire sought healing and relaxation in the 1st century and where John Wesley preached in town squares. I visited
schools and preaching houses that John & Charles established for the training of pastors and teaching of their children – at a time when education was only offered for the wealthy and would have been completely out of their reach otherwise.
I walked through ancient cemeteries, pondered the meaning and purpose of Stonehenge, saw how wealthy lords and ladies lived in Highclere Castle (where Downton Abbey is filmed). I explored churches built in honor of John & Charles Wesley in Epworth, Oxford, Salisbury and London. The Methodist Central Hall in London seats over 2000 people and is where the first meeting of the United Nations was held, located right across the street from the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey where the Kings and Queens are crowned. I slept in places that had been colleges, hospitals and places of special religious significance.
Added to the amazing experience of visiting all these historical places with deep religious significance was the routine that we followed while on the Wesley Pilgrimage. Each day began with Morning Prayer and communion at 7:30 AM. After eating a quick breakfast and grabbing our sack lunch we were on the bus by 8:30 for a full day of driving and touring, returning about 9:30 PM for our Evening Prayer service. We met in small groups for daily devotional times to share our experiences from the day. We had profound lectures by leaders in Wesley theology, evangelism and covenant discipleship. On our final evening in London, we were seated
with the choir at the evensong service at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
You can tell that I would have no problem at all writing an essay on “What I Did on My
Summer Vacation” this year. In fact, I will be writing a small group study that will probably
take 6 or 7 weeks to share all the information and 2,500 pictures I took. I pray that
all that I’ve seen, heard and experienced on the Wesley Pilgrimage will be something
that will continue to inspire my calling as a pastor and guide us in discerning what God
is calling us to be as a church. I agree with the final words of John Wesley on his death
bed as I consider my England journey and our journey as Christians together, that no
matter where we are: “The best of all, God is with us!”
See you in church!
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!
“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