Dear Family of Faith,
These are challenging days. We are “in the middle” and that is a difficult place to be. We are in-between the COVID19 shut-down and whatever life will be like when we overcome this virus. It is especially difficult because we are tired of the disruption, we are ready for things to get back to normal! The problem is we aren’t going to go back to they way things were. Our lives and society are forever disrupted. We need to continue to be careful in order to care for the vulnerable ones in our community. It is difficult finding that space between being paralyzed in fear of COVID19 and living carefree. But in that in-between space is faithful living. Instead of focusing on “going back,” let’s dream about what can be! It is my hope we find new ways to live and be the church. Ways that are more connected, more inclusive, more compassionate, more like Jesus. It is in this in-between that God brings forth new life, just like butterflies emerge from a chrysalis. So let’s hold on to that hope!
Happy September! The latest edition of the Upper Room devotional began this week. The first one spoke to my heart. I’ve shared it with a few other people, and it resonated with them. I share it here as a word of encouragement. The apostle Paul writes about having a thorn in his side. We don’t know exactly what it was, but some kind of physical ailment that caused him pain. In 2 Corinthians 12 he talks about asking God to remove the pain, but instead God answers, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” God doesn’t always take away our pain, but God always meets us at our point of pain and gives us grace. Grace to endure. The author of the devotion writes, “Our weakness elicits God’s compassion. I left the chapel reassured that God’s strength and power within me – not my weakness – would prevail. God doesn’t ask us to be strong on our own. God asks us to pray and believe that God’s power is with us. We can trust God to fill us and to equip us for any task the day brings.” No matter what each day brings, God is with us, giving us what we need to face whatever comes our way. Thanks be to God
The time has come to take the next step. We will launch in-person worship on Sundays at 11 am at Holbrook UMC beginning August 30. It has been a challenge to be disconnected physically during this time and it will do our souls well to see one another face-to-face. We will continue to meet online on Zoom at 9 am every Sunday for those who prefer that option. There is no judgement or shame in either choice. My letter next week will give more details about our procedures for gathering in-person as we work it out. We will wear masks and maintain social distancing. Our worship service will be adapted to meet safety protocol. I appreciate everyone’s patience and encouragement during this difficult time of COVID19. I love seeing your faces on my computer screen each Sunday and will continue to cherish that time. But I will also be happy to see those face-to-face who chose to worship in-person. The threat of COVID19 is real and continuing, so we need to remain diligent in caring for ourselves and one another.
Dear People of Grace, Holbrook, Pine Creek and Shields Valley UMC’s,
I hope this finds each of you well. I had a wonderful vacation with my family. It was good to get away, disconnect, and spend time with my parents and daughters. I even did a few handstands, which keeps me young!
As we roll through August, my mind and heart are with students, teachers, and administrators as they face such challenging circumstances. So much is different while we recognize the importance our schools play in our community life. Decisions are so complex. Will you join me in prayer and support of our schools? Here is a suggestion for prayer:
I miss seeing you all in-person but this deadly virus has altered our lifestyle and it is important to maintain our social distance in order to keep safe and healthy. I continue to lift us all up in prayer as we navigate this and connect with one another in different ways.
Dear Faithful People,
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV)
Hello Good people of Livingston!
I hope you are all doing well as we enjoy the sunshine of summer and endure this pandemic. How are you experiencing joy this week? What has made you smile? What has filled your heart with joy and made you laugh? These days are so heavy, we need an extra dose of joy to restore our balance. I hope Jesus is transforming your water into wine, so to speak. I’ve attached my sermon for you to read to help explain this!
I have been reflecting on Romans 12:1-2 this week. This is Eugene Peterson’s translation in The Message:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.
Dear Friends of Faith,
This is a week for lament; crying out to God. Hearts are breaking. Our nation is in pain. Anger is lashing out uncontrollably, expressing years of injustice. Our Black brothers and sisters are crying. A cry they have been singing for centuries and we only hear in muted tones. But this week is different. It feels like we who are White, who walk in privilege every day, are beginning to hear more clearly. We are collectively awakening to the deep-seated racism in our nation. And it is time for us to do our work. It is time for us to listen deeply to our Black brothers and sisters. It is time for us to re-learn our history about how racism has been rooted into the very fibers of our culture. It is time for us to reflect deeply on how we participate in racism. This listening, learning, and reflection will guide to the ways we can work together for real change.
In Romans Paul writes, “We glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5 NIV) This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on all believers. The Holy Spirit pours love into our hearts every single day! We all have to endure tough times in our lives. And this unusual season of COVID19 is one of those. Each day brings new developments, new data, new things to adapt to. As well as the stress of an invisible threat. It is exhausting. There is a bright side for each of us too. We are still finding ways to connect with one another. And amidst it all, God is the solid rock on which we stand. God’s love is being poured into our hearts every day. Hold on to that promise in these chaotic days and we will experience the glory of God. Join us Sunday to celebrate the Holy Spirit this Pentecost. We’re going to flood our screens with red. Get creative and show your red!
Park County United Methodist Ministries
Just a place for some easy messaging. Feel free to comment!