Resurrection 2019

Eleven youth, five adults and one younger sibling with ties to FUMC attended Resurrection 2019 together in Pigeon Forge, TN, January 25th thru 27th. Everyone attended four worship services that featured music from I Am They, a contemporary Christian band, and a message from Jorge Acevedo on grace.

There was also time for fellowship within the group with meals together and gatherings each night for snacks, worship follow-up and prayer. Our take away from Rev. Acevedo: “At every stage, in every age, from the cradle to the grave, God’s grace follows you.”

Prayer for the Week (February 24–March 2)

Let us pray to God the source of all creation: Almighty God, being created in your image, teach us to discern your hand in all your works, and your likeness in all humanity; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
(Sunday Missal alt.)

Pastoral Ponderings (February 2019)


I must say, and you know, January was a cold month. What will February be like? We will find out, but one thing for certain, February is closer to spring than January. Nevertheless, there were bright spots in January. January was filled with the celebrations of the day of Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord Sunday. Some youth and a few adults went to Resurrection ‘19 in the Great Smokey Mountains. Wednesday Bible Study resumed after a Christmas/New Year’s Break. We had several meetings and finally conducted our first Administrative Board Meeting, a week delayed. We have appreciated our few sunny days.

Church calendar-wise, we are still in Ordinary time throughout February due to Easter arriving later than normal (April 21). Ordinary time is the time of growth sandwiched between the high times of the Christian Year. The high times are Advent/Christmas/Epiphany and Lent/Easter and Trinity/Pentecost. Ordinary time’s green is the color of growth (and a few well-liked sports teams). To prepare us for Lenten Season, beginning in early March, we celebrate Transfiguration of the Lord Sunday (March 3).

Transfiguration of the Lord Sunday celebrates the mountain top experience of Peter, James, and John with Jesus (and Moses, Elijah, and God the Father) upon the Mount of Transfiguration. We may not experience the mountain top experience of Peter, James, and John, but we all have “mountain top experiences” in one form or another. In such experiences, we are encouraged and gain confidence with a new insight. These are usually fleeting and short-lived, but leave a lasting impression.

I recall a few I have experienced from times of prayer, to reading Scripture, to reading St. Augustine to Soren Kierkegaard to Sunday worship to a walk in the woods to learning from a wise
person. I have gained insight from others whom I did not think had insight to offer. May we always be open to learning from others, no matter their location or status in life. God works
through all of us!

Mountain top experiences have an opposite: The low times and we all experience them. We may wonder if God is with us, or if God has forgotten us, or if God is punishing us, or all three. In such times we especially long for an awareness of God or a sign from God, but that awareness or sign eludes us. It is then that faith in God’s faithfulness takes precedence. Faith is believing without having the evidence from our perspective and current experience. Take time to hear from your Christian sisters and brothers, as well as the Good News of God revealed in Jesus Christ: God values you. Going back to growth, the Holy Spirit is continually forming Christ within you and among us as Christ’s Church as we journey through life.

Pastor Mark McFadden

Sunday Reflection (February 17, 2019)


According to the prophet Jeremiah, God calls us to honestly look at what is in our heart because left to our own devices, our hearts may corrupt us and lead us to destruction in a process that also harms others (Jeremiah 17:5-6, 10).

The Holy Spirit speaks to us boldly and gently, and the Holy Spirit also works through others to speak to us. God is patient with us but desires us to recognize the deceitfulness of our hearts. When we turn to God and confront our deceitfulness, our lives can be a blessing that enriches our lives and the lives of others (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

Sunday Reflection (February 10, 2019)


Isaiah, Peter, and Paul found themselves unworthy, but because of God’s mercy and grace, they found the confidence to do God’s work (Isaiah 6:1-8) (Luke 5:1-11) (1 Corinthians 15:9-11). Perhaps part of spiritual growth is the “realization that the closer we approach God, the more we become aware of our own sins (Geneva Bible Notes).”
Nevertheless, God’s grace and mercy overcomes our unworthiness and qualifies us to do God’s work. God can work through you, and God has a work, for you in a congregation of Christ’s Church and in your community. Saying, “I’m unworthy” is an honest admission of our failings, but let it not be an evasion to not do God’s work.

Prayer for the Week (February 11–16 )

Let us pray that we love God in our hearts and in our actions: Almighty God, you have called us to serve you, yet without your grace we are not able to please you. Mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit, who leads us in the way of Christ, direct and rule our hearts in all things. Amen.
(New Zealand Prayer Book)

Pastoral Ponderings (January 2019)


December was a joyful month. We celebrated the joy of Christ’s birth at Christmas Eve Communion. We have shared meals and enjoyed family gatherings. Most of us, if not all of us, received
a present or two. We had our fill of good food and cheer. December with its Christmas season is a special time of the year, but if I had my way, Christmas Eve would begin the Christmas season
and we would shop until January 5th. Presents and gifts would be shared on the twelfth day of Christmas, the day of the Epiphany when the Wise Men delivered their gifts. That is the time we celebrate the Wise Men bearing their gifts to Christ; but, alas, I know that is not going to happen in that order in my lifetime.

December was also a surprising month. The surprising part of December was 22 inches of snow in Galax. My Subaru could not even drive through it. For these parts, I hope 22 inches of snow
is an oddity and not the norm. If is the norm, I may have to look at a vehicle that needs a ladder to ascend into the cockpit. I have seen a few around town. Even though a very small pile of snow
sits in the churchyard from the “big one” a few weeks back, we now transition into the new year. Let’s hope that pile of snow is not waiting for more of its snowy friends to arrive.On a positive
note, the hours of daylight are beginning to slowly lengthen in January. Looking at the weather forecast, it looks good; but, as we know, that can change quickly in January. The last college
football game for the season is played next week. The NFL playoffs are played in January. College basketball teams begin playing their conference opponents, and by the end of the month,
we will know who the top contenders will probably be, come March Madness.

Church calendar-wise, January is the season of Epiphany. The day of Ephinay is always January 6 (twelve days after December 25). This year we celebrate Epiphany on Sunday, January 6.
Now, I debate whether I should still call it “Epiphany Sunday” as opposed to the day of the Epiphany. Epiphany celebrates the day when the star shone over the manger and pointed the way
to the Wise Men to come and pay homage to the newborn kind born in a manger.

Concerning Epiphany, which means “shines upon,” I myself love the image of a “light shining in the darkness” as Isaiah puts it (Isaiah 6). Think of the birth of Christ as a dawning whose brightness only grows as time marches on. Think of it in a personal sense as the light of Christ points out our flaws and leads us to turn from sin. Think of it in the social sense in that we can
create a better society, both today and for the future. Epiphany tells us that God has not forgotten us and left us in the darkness. There is a light!
Living the light of the revelation of God’s love in Jesus Christ, we celebrate Baptism of the Lord Sunday on Sunday, January 13 during Sunday Worship. We will be given the chance to renew
our Baptismal vows in conjunction with the beginning of the new year. To help us celebrate the new year, we have a feast after Worship on Sunday, January 13. Come, bring a dish to share.
Dessert will be provided (I hope you like cookies!)

Pastor Mark McFadden