Sunday Reflection (March 24, 2019)

Our sins may leave us in such a slumber that we are too groggy to rise up and take action. We may become so riled up about the sins and failures of others that we do not hear Jesus speaking to us directly: “Unless you repent, you too will perish.”
Nevertheless, God takes deliberate steps to enable us to repentance and fruitfulness, but there is a limit (Luke 13:1-9).

When we fail to take responsibility for our sins and failures, we bring misery to us and others, and once we have done something it cannot be undone. We cannot change the past, but we can make the present and future better! God nourishes us with opportunities for spiritual growth in love, kindness, and mercy. God has given us time in the hope that we will bear fruit. God works with us to wake us out of our slumber so that we rise up and take action that leads to repentance.

Prayer for the Week (March 18-23)

Let us pray that God give us the courage to repent and turn to him and to people in love: Patient God, we are reluctant and slow to make the change of heart we need. Give us the time to understand the extent of your mercy and your love which your Son Jesus showed us in its fullness in his suffering and death. Recognize your own Son in us and accept us in our poverty. Raise us up and change us so that we proclaim your persistent love through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Claretian Publications)

Prayer for the Week (March 11-16)

Let us pray to our seemingly invisible Father in heaven: Invisible God, with the incarnation of your Son, Jesus Christ, we see a reflection of you in your Son. You also give us the Holy Spirit who enables us in prayer and in the search for your truth. In our worship strengthen us to know your purpose for us and the world. Amen.
(Prayers for the Seasons of Gods People, alt)

Sunday Reflection (March 17, 2019)

Jesus compares God to a hen that desires to gather us under the divine wings of nurture, and care (Luke 13:31-35). Yet, when we shun the leading of God’s Spirit, we throw ourselves to the foxes of life that devour us and tear us down. We all have the capability to imitate the fox, but through the Holy Spirit, God gives us the ability to imitate the hen. The Holy Spirit hovers over us and develops us from spiritual chicks to spiritual adults who imitate God as revealed in Jesus Christ.

Sunday Reflection (March 3, 2019)

Having been created in the image of God, we embody the potential to reflect God’s glory to the world (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). We are changed through the Spirit into the likeness of the Christ whom we behold. “The Holy Spirit infuses God’s beauty into our lives and the lives around us (Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible).” The Holy Spirit empowers us to reach our potential in Jesus Christ to reflect Christ to the world.

Although we bear the image of Adam in death and sin, we also bear the image of Christ in the future resurrection and current living (1 Corinthians 15:45-49). Our reading from Luke could be thought of as contrasting the physical person, Adam, with the spiritual person, Christ (Luke 6:27-38). The physical reaction is to curse those who curse us. The spiritual reaction is to bless those who curse us. The physical reaction is to love only those who love us. The spiritual reaction is to love our enemies. The physical reaction is to fight back with violence. The spiritual reaction is to offer love, mercy, and forgiveness.

These instructions of Jesus are not a warrant for allowing others to abuse us and manipulate us; rather, these instructions speak of a resistance that does not employ violence to injure and harm another. It is about making things right through love, mercy, and forgiveness. May our behavior be governed by God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness as displayed in Jesus of Nazareth. May we bear the image of the person of heaven, Jesus Christ.

Prayer for the Week (March 3–9)

Let us pray that we grow in the likeness of Christ: God of life and glory, at the Mount of Transfiguration your Son was revealed in splendor before he suffered death upon the cross. Grant that we, beholding his majesty, be strengthened to follow him and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; for he eternally dwells with you and the Holy Spirit, One God now and forever. Amen.
(New Zealand Prayer Book

Pastoral Ponderings (March 2019)

Welcome to windy March! Although we know there will be some cold and windy days ahead, spring is around the corner. It was a wet February and for that matter, since I have moved here, it has been a season (or seasons) of rain. As I write this first draft it is sunny and in the 50s. Enjoy the sunshine!

March is a time of anticipation on the liturgical calendar. As Advent anticipated the celebration of Christmas, Lenten Season anticipates the celebration of Easter. Before Lenten Season even begins, we have Shrove Tuesday (“Fat Tuesday”). We have a chance to clear our pantries of rich food-stuff that threatens our Lenten discipline. Of course, that is the tradition of Shrove Tuesday. Fat Tuesday is the celebration of “carnival” before the time of Lenten discipline. We will leave Fat Tuesday to New Orleans and enjoy pancakes in Galax on Tuesday (March 5).

What do you give up for Lenten Season to draw closer to God? I personally plan to give up cabbage. It will be tough! On a more serious note, think of things other than food to give up or give less time to. For example, spend less time on the phone, Facebook, computer, watching TV, and so forth, but not March Madness. Replace the food given and/or reallot time to reflect upon your relationship with God. Consider a spiritual food that require more attention: Scripture reading and reflection, prayer, fellowshipping with others, study with others, visiting someone, worship, a walk or bike ride, drive into the countryside. Whatever deepens your walk with God, take time to do it in Lenten Season. Lenten season as a time of spiritual discipline/reflection that prepares us for a joyous celebration of Easter.

Lenten Season begins Ash Wednesday (March 6 at 6:00 in the Sanctuary). We will sing portions of a few hymns, some responsive and Scripture Readings, and prayers. The main part of the service is the Ash Wednesday Cross marked on our foreheads with the ashes of Palm Leaves from Palm Sunday. The Ash Wednesday cross reminds us of our sin, need of repentance, and mortality.

By the way, I do order the ashes from a Catholic distributor, so I am sure they are the ashes of palm leaves. I have found them safe to use. I used to make my own ashes, but one year mine went “bad” and the crosses I made enflamed the forehead of almost everyone with a red cross.

Administrate wise, we have a busy March. The Finance Committee and Administrative Board meet this month, as well as a possible Trustee meeting. I also note that the Adult council will be meeting. These meetings ensure that all the “behind the scene” work gets done to ensure we have bulletins, heat, and paid staff to keep it all going at FUMC. I do appreciate your support of this congregation of Christ’s Church!

I end with a special announcement: Men’s Fellowship Meal is coming this March! Our first meeting is Tuesday, March 26, 6:30 at Porky. The Men’s Fellowship Meal is scheduled for the 4th Tuesday of every month at 6:30 at a location chosen by those who attend. I look forward to seeing the men of FUMC gather for the purpose of fellowshipping.

Pastor Mark McFadden