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
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!
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