Worship this Sunday, July 25th will be at Anita Brawner’s place at noon. Our “Christmas in July” themed gathering will include a potluck lunch, singing of Christmas carols, games, and fellowship. Please bring food to share and a chair. Anita lives in Paradise Valley, off of East River Rd, at 56 Deep Creek. Her phone number is (406)222-1789 if you need directions. There will be no Zoom this week.
Hi Good People of Park County and beyond!
I will continue to send weekly emails which will include a devotion, that week’s worship info, and other relevant announcements. As we emerge from COVID restrictions and live into a new future, our worship schedule will be changing. I will explain that in a bit, but first I want to share a scripture that was lifted up in my devotional guide this week. It is a familiar passage, the fruit of the spirit in Galatians, but from The Message. As I read this contemporary translation, the passage came alive for me in new ways. It is about what life can look like when we live by the Spirit.
Hello! I’m back in Livingston!
I travelled 10,960 miles in my car plus flying to Kauai and back. I put my toes in the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. I hiked all over and encountered all kinds of wildlife. I connected with friends from elementary school, high school, church youth group, college, and beyond. I also spent wonderful time with extended family. And the last month and a half I didn’t even open my laptop. My heart is renewed, and my spirit is refreshed. I look forward to re-connecting with each of you.
I am having a wonderful time here on the island of Kauai. See pictures below! I have been exploring different beaches, soaking in the sun, and reading a lot. I’ve shared the beach with a few monk seals, who come up on the shore to take a nap. I love watching the huge sea turtles play in the waves, and encountered one on the beach the other day. I was able to go on a boat excursion along the Napali coast which is spectacular. O, and I am eating lots of pineapple! Everyday is a blessing!
Dear Friends in Faith,
I am in my 27th year of ministry as a United Methodist pastor. It’s hard to believe! I am soul tired from the wear and tear of ministry over the years. I have requested a 3-month renewal leave and SPR and Parish Council have graciously granted it to me. I am so very grateful! I have 10 or so more years of ministry before I retire, and this gift will restore my soul and empower me to continue strong. I appreciate the support and encouragement I have received in this process.
I listened to a talk by Father Greg Boyle today. He talked of the importance and challenge of practicing our faith. It is one thing to believe in Jesus. It is another to live in the way of Jesus. We have great intentions, but many days, by noon, we fall short of our intentions. Living in the way of Jesus is hard. Father Boyle talks about not making daily decisions to be faithful, but moment by moment choices. And so, he creates mantras, or breath prayers, that remind him throughout the day of his intention. For example, one is, “Listen, listen, listen. Love, love, love.” He repeats “listen” as he breathes in, and “love” as he breathes out. Here are some other suggestions: “cherish the person in front of me,” “Your grace is enough,” “Come, Lord Jesus,” “Be still and know,” “Be strong and courageous,” “Do not be afraid,” “I am a beloved child of God.” The possibilities are endless. Such breath prayers can be a source of encouragement, strength, and determination. Try one for a day and see what difference it makes.
Dear Friends in Park County and beyond,
There is a lot of guilt in our Christian tradition. Surely if we are having too much fun then we must be doing something wrong! But, do you think that comes from God? I was challenged this week to think about that. God created this amazing, beautiful planet for us to live on and enjoy. God gave us tastebuds to enjoy the taste of the food we eat. God gave us the ability to laugh and smile and be filled with joy. God created us in a way that our hearts become full when we have fun playing with other people. In these intense days, I think it is important to seek out pleasure and let go of the guilt that comes with it. Go ahead and eat that bowl of ice cream and enjoy it! I’ve been enjoying long hot showers. It’s like the stress dissipates with the water and goes down the drain. And it just plain old feels good.
Dear Family of Faith,
Hope you are staying warm and safe in this polar vortex. Here is something to warm your heart, a video I shared in worship today. Take a moment and watch it, you won’t regret it. It will put a smile on your face! This 4-year-old boy, Rylyn Clark, was missing his cousins and grandparents, so his mom asked him to sing a song that would make them feel better. She recorded it, and here it is! Here it is:
Dear Friends of PCUMM,
I found inspiration in the words of Psalm 36 this week:
5 Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
7 How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
in the shadow of your wings.
8 You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
letting them drink from your river of delights.
9 For you are the fountain of life,
the light by which we see. (Psalm 36:5-9 NLT)
Hello Methodists of Park County and beyond,
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in God, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13 NIV
This is a jam-packed blessing! I have been thinking about what “hope” looks like in these tumultuous days. There is so much going on in our world, so many layers to be navigating. Not to mention the significant things in our personal lives. It can be overwhelming and discouraging. This short powerful verse says hope begins with trust. Trust in God. I think this trust is a verb, an action word. It requires effort and intentionality on our part. It is more than mental ascent or allegiance to God. It translates to action. Living by the teachings and example of Jesus, even when the world calls us in another direction. Somedays it is easier than others to trust God. But, deep down in my soul, I believe that God is trustworthy. That doesn’t mean everything will work out the way I want. It doesn’t mean there will be a happy ending to everything. It does mean through the valleys and mountain tops, God is loving us and giving us what we need to continue on. Hope. As we trust in God, we are filled with hope, joy, and peace. Those are the gifts God bestows upon us as we trust in God. May it be so!
Park County United Methodist Ministries
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