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Lent 2017: Day 6

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Lent 2017: Day 6
(If you are wondering why I am only on Day 6, the 40 days of Lent do not include Sundays)
Living Prayerfully by Pastor Wendy
I admit, I had to look up the meaning of the word trifle. It sounds like such a fun word to me, but given the context I knew it wasn’t a word I want to be called. It means of little significance or importance. Today’s prayer was beautiful. These words were of special significance to me today: “Here I am as fully in your presence as I am able to be, offering…”
I needed the reminder today that God accepts me as fully as I am able to be. There are days like today when I am not as present with God or others as I would like to be. I am looking forward to attending required clergy training the next three days, which also means that I feel like I need to get as many tasks done as possible today at church as well as at home so I can be fully present at training. God only expects us to do our best in the moment.
I also appreciate the reminder that I can offer up to God my anxiety about what tasks get done and which ones do not, and I can ask God to help me prioritize what I need to do. I am not alone. God is with me!
What about you? What stood out to you in the reading today?

 


Lent 2017: Day 3

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Day 3 of 40 Days with Wesley by Rueben P. Job (2017).

The first Wesley reading says, “We have nothing but what is owing entirely to thy free and bounteous love, O most blessed Creator, and to the riches of thy grace, O most blessed Redeemer.” I fully agree with this statement, and it causes me to pause.  As I soak in the words, I wonder if my life reflects the magnitude of gratitude and dependence on God that I now hear Wesley articulate.

I am not someone who needs a lot of reassurance.  But, I am human, and I like complements for a job well done and I like to know that my efforts resulted in something good.  I know some of you are thinking…what’s wrong with that?  Nothing, except that when I think like that, the focus is on me. And I know that to feel the level of thankfulness, reliance, and intimacy with God that these words cause me to desire, I cannot be focused on me. I believe that Wesley and Job are trying to help us to live our lives as though we believe with all our essence that all we have and all that we do is made possible by God. As I think about this, I am reminded that Jesus didn’t take the credit.  Jesus modeled a different way.  Jesus continually pointed to God in his words and his actions. I pray that I might do the same.

What about you?  What stood out to you in the reading today?


Lent 2017: Day 2

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Day 2 of 40 Days with Wesley by Reuben P. Job (2017).

Wesley says, “there is no point in space, whether within or without the bounds of creation, where God is not” (15).  Reading this reminded me of an eye opening experience I had while traveling as a seminary student in India two years ago.  One morning we walked to the local market and while we were there our professor offered us the opportunity to experience Hindu worship, which at this temple meant walking around the inner circle three times and receiving a blessing from the spiritual leader, who was a woman.  I was very curious and also quite uncomfortable.  My mind was racing through Hebrew Bible scriptures on idols and I was worried about what I might tell others later about my experience. This sounds crazy to me now, but at the time I was worried that when I went inside, I would be leaving God outside.  I was taught as a child that God is everywhere and I had professed many times that I believed that.  But, in the moment, I wondered if I were crossing a line? Somehow, would I be going it alone inside the temple?

Yet, I felt compelled to go in.  When a couple of other students agreed to go in the temple, I joined them.  As I walked, I thought about my professor’s lecture on Hinduism and their belief that what I was seeing were not idols, but means by which god manifests gods-self in the world. And, then I blocked all this out and turned my attention to a conversation with God.  I was determined to talk to God, in the event God was still present. As I talked I noticed a hand sticking out of the statue like a stop sign which caused me to stop walking and talking. In the silence, I felt an overwhelming sense of God’s presence. I knew God was right there with me. There is nothing any of us can say or do that will keep God away.

I knew this, but on that that, I really knew it! My eyes were opened.  I now know with all my essence that God has been and will always be present with me/with us, everywhere, at all times.

Have you ever had an experience where you doubted or wondered if God was present, only to discover that God had been there all along?  I’d also love to hear from you what stood out to you in the reading today?


Lent Day 1

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Today is the start of lent and the beginning of my new commitment to read, 40 Days with Wesley: A Daily Devotional Journey by Reuben P. Job[1] and share my reflections with you.  My comments today are in regards to the Day 1 devotional. Lent is a time for self-examination and repentance.  As part of my daily blog, I am challenging myself to share what I am reflecting on as well as areas for repentance.

In the reflection section, Job says, “Commitment to a god that is too small will stifle away hope for a transformed world and dull our efforts to bring such a world into being.” I know that God has the power to transform lives.  God can break cycles of poverty, addiction, and abuse.  God can soften hearts and make reconciliation possible.  I have seen firsthand in my own life and in the lives of so many others.  My hope for transformation of the world rests in God. I know we humans cannot do it alone.  And, it feels like a lot of transformation is needed for us humans to love all of creation—everywhere—and work for restoration and reconciliation.

I know God can and does do this work.  But, do I envision it happening…right here…today…or even in my lifetime?  Do I feel the urgency? Am I actively, consciously working toward bring this vision—one that I cannot fully grasp due to my own human limitations—into being? I picture the unfolding of new life and newly reconciled relationships when I think of brining God’s vision into being.  Doing so requires work. I am reminded that there is a difference between passively following along and actively engaging.  Job reminds me that God does not work alone.  God calls those whom are made in God’s image to be co-creators.  I/we have a role to play in “brining such a world into being.”  I am aware today that there is a difference in being willing to hop on a roller coaster with the Spirit and travel to wherever it is leading, not knowing its destination and being a full participant in building and shaping the path that I and others are travelling with the Spirit.  I can see my view of God and my partnership with God expanding today!

What about you?  What in the reading has caused you to stop and reflect?  Where is the Spirit working in you today?  I invite you to share your reflections so we can learn from one another.

Pastor Wendy

 

[1] Reuben P. Job, 40 Days with Wesley: A Daily Devotional Journey, Abingdon Press: Nashville, 2017.


My trip to Alabama

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My trip to Alabama was my fifth and final youth workcamp.  While I am sad that this was my last workcamp, I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had through this church over the years while in youth group.  I have learned many things throughout my five workcamps, but there is one thing in particular that I recognized from each of my trips.  That is to not be greedy and be grateful for what I have.  It is easy for us, especially teenagers, to want more.  We always want the newest clothes and technology.  But when it comes down to it, those possessions don’t matter.  That’s not what living our life to the fullest potential means.  What we should focus on is having those relationships and friendships with each other and with God.  My freshman theology teacher told us each day, “Life is all about relationships and the journey.”  This quote didn’t mean much to me my freshman and sophomore year but during my junior and especially senior year, it started to stand out to me and make a little more sense.  I realized that the journey isn’t always easy.

Each day at workcamp this year, we were asked to think about and point out our God moments that came up.  People had different answers while I just blew off this question because I didn’t know how to answer it since I didn’t think I saw God anywhere.  Now being back for a week, I have taken a step back and re-evaluated the question.  I now realize that God was everywhere that week.  He was in us volunteers who went down and served this community.  We were the hands and feet of God and He gave us strength each day to push ourselves to our limits to serve this community the best that we could.  God was in those who we served, prayed with, and prayed for each day.  Whether these people ran out of money or lost their wife like the gentleman we built the ramp for, whether they went through a huge grieving process or still are grieving, these people are some of the most positive and uplifting people I have ever met.

One thing that we all had in common in Alabama was our faith.  Just as Jesus told the crowds, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  I know I personally just as most of us, have had our struggles with our faith whether that be not listening to God or to completely stop believing in God.  We need each other to get through these rough times but once we do get through them, we are stronger people with a stronger faith.  All of us there in Alabama were children of God.  Another phrase that I blew off because I had heard it so many times growing up.  But now thinking about it, those words have a much deeper meaning.  We all have little features about us that make us special and unique, and when it comes down to it, we all want to serve God and make society, His world, and His creation the best that we can.  Jesus also told the crowds, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  It was great to be able to help comfort these people through all they have been through whether we were building a ramp, talking to them, listening to them, or giving them a hug.

I thank this church for the opportunities we have had to go out into the community and serve.  What we do though isn’t enough because we can always do more, especially on an individual basis.  I encourage you to think about this movie trailer we watched today and challenge yourself just as Trevor did.  I know this seems overwhelming, I totally get it.  There is a lot to do in this world and it never seems like we have enough time.  But imagine if we all stepped up and helped each other out and how much of a chain reaction that would have.  Whether we help one person at a time or a group of people…whether we do something huge or something small…no matter what you do, all of these changes will make an impact on this world.  Make a list if you need to, otherwise just go for it.  I bet you will be surprised because it will make a bigger impact than you might think.

Sarah Bertsch


Work Camp 2016 Final Notes

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For some of us, this week was the beginning of a journey, and for others, an ending. For some, it was an emotional undertaking, and for others, a physical exertion. But each one of us leaves Alabama a changed person, no matter how obvious that change might be. Whether tagging clothing or constructing a ramp, tearing down a roof or building up friendships, we have united for seven days in an adventure into the deep and dirty. The Sand Mountain Parish was filled with hard-working and painfully poor families, but every one we met was kind, caring, thankful, and welcoming. Even though some of us complained, we were honored to be able to help the not-so-well-off of our country. The experience of this week was a harsh and beautiful one. Who knows what a little more love in the world will do?

Interested in joining the North Broadway UMC youth group?  Contact Pastor Heather at hnordgren@north-broadway.org

 

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Work Camp Alabama 2016 Blog

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From the youth at Work Camp Alabama

Today (Monday) was our first day at our work sites in Alabama.  After only one day of helping and hard work, we all have experienced God in new ways, and have become closer as a group.  At the beginning of the day we were divided into three teams.  Two of the teams helped at thrift stores by sorting and organizing various clothing items, books, toys, etc.  My team worked on building a wheelchair ramp for a man who was severely injured in an accident.  After lots of planning and designing we started digging holes for posts and building the ramp.  We still have lots of work to do, and we will continue on the ramp tomorrow.  Building the ramp has helped me realize how truly lucky I am, and that we all bring hope to people who have lost all hope

Tuesday:  The second day of work camp was good and fun day. Today two of the groups went to garden at the community garden while the other group continued to work on the ramp. In the afternoon the two teams that were gardening went back to where they were yesterday. My group continued to organize and tag clothes at the thrift. When we were done Makenzie, Katie and I tried on formal and wedding dresses. I saw God in a man who was very thankful for the mission team working at the thrift today.

On our third day of workcamp, instead of working on our work sites, we went to Little Rock Canyon National Park to pick up trash and clean up the park. It was sad and amazing to see how much trash people threw in nature and how inconsiderate they were. It was great to clean up the park. After we cleaned up, we took a nice dip in one of the many watering holes in this park. Many of us jumped off the cliff into the water and swam around for a while to cool down and have some fun. Afterwards, we explored the national park some more.  Tonight, we went to Chaney UMC and ate dinner with some of the people in the church. It was great to see the joy in their faces and conversations. It was lots of fun to play games with them. After that we went and watched the sunset. It was peaceful and absolutely beautiful to see God’s creation in that way. That is one of the prettiest views I have ever seen.

It was a relaxing yet fun day and we are ready for another day back at work tomorrow. My group is hoping to finish the wheelchair ramp and everyone else is going to start a new project.

From Work Camp Team

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Thankfullness

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It has been about five months now that we have been together. In that time, I have felt an abundance of Gratitude as I have listened to many of you share how God and North Broadway UMC have shaped your lives.

You have probably noticed that each Sunday morning in November, before the offering, either I or someone else has shared the impact of God’s presence in our lives. We have heard stories about how lives are changed because of God’s love shown through our presence in each other’s lives as a part of this North Broadway UMC community.

Last Sunday I invited people to share on their communication card the ways in which they are thankful this year. In addition to those who wrote a note, some folks verbally shared their feelings of thankfulness with me, and others took the time to email me. The following is what I have read or heard from you. We are thankful for:

  • family and reunions with far away family
  • health progress
  • new relationships
  • a God who allows me to doubt and ask questions
  • the new nursery
  • the way we sing to new babies when they first come to worship
  • a healed and powerful relationship with the Children’s Center
  • the Church Staff
  • a place for youth to explore and learn the difference between the ways of the world and the ways of God
  • support and prayers from NBUMC family
  • a community that welcomes All People regardless of…
  • the commitment to social justice from NBUMC
  • the way we lifted up those that have passed away in the last year
  • the way NBUMC reaches out to the community with kindness
  • Methodist eldercare
  • the excitement about the future of this community
  • the College Connection ministry

With all of this thankfulness called out above, I encourage you to continue adding to this list in the coming months. Be generous friends in a world that needs our love and care—it starts right here with all of us.

I have enclosed a list of many of the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany events coming up in the next month or so. We look forward to celebrating with all of you.

Grace and Peace,

Marcus Atha