Today's reading comes from the Book of the Old Testament prophet Ecclesiastes...
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might."
Richard Foster wrote: "I had come to Kotzebue on the adventure of helping to 'build the first high school above the Arctic Circle,' but the work itself was far from an adventure. It was hard, backbreaking labor.
"One day I was trying to dig a trench for a sewer line -- no small task in a world of frozen tundra. An Eskimo man, whose face and hands displayed the leathery toughness of many winters, came by and watched me for a while. Finally he said simply and profoundly, 'You are digging a ditch to the glory of God.'
"He said it to encourage me, I know. And I have never forgotten his words. Beyond my Eskimo friend, no human being ever knew or cared whether I dug that ditch well or poorly. In time it was to be covered up and forgotten. But because of my friend's words, I dug with all my might, for every shovelful of dirt was a prayer to God."
God has given each of us certain gifts and talents. God knows that using those gifts and talents to the fullest is the very thing that will bring us satisfaction and fulfillment. Are you using the gifts God has entrusted to you in the fullest? That is the road to true happiness!
Whatever your lot in life, build something on it! --- GOD
+++ This Sunday is the first Sunday of Lent. We worship at 8:30am and 10:00am and we will meet the prophet Isaiah of Babylon. On Ash Wednesday we met King David and we learned how God's Amazing Grace guided him through his sinful life and led him to greatness in serving God. Isaiah will tell us about how despairing can turn into true healing... also with God's Amazing Grace. We will be live-streaming the 10:00am worship service on the church's Facebook page and then uploading the recorded worship to our YouTube channel when it is completed. However you can, plan to join us and meet Isaiah in worship!
+++ Our Lenten study group started this week as we are looking at "Finding Jesus through the Psalms". There is still time to join the group! See me for a book on Sunday and sign up outside the Fireside Room. We have not gotten the needed 6 people for an evening ZOOM session on Wednesday nights yet.... So if you are interested in that option, sign up on Sunday!
+++ Our Lenten Self-Denial coin boxes are going like hotcakes! But never fear... we have lots more for your use! This year's gifts will go to support the amazing work of UMCOR in earthquake relief in Turkey and Syria. Currently the death toll stands at over 47,000 people and the situation is dire. So our gifts will be put to good use in bringing relief to many! Don't forget to grab your coin box on Sunday, please!
+++ Last Sunday we announced that Shelly Peters is collecting items for a single mom with children who is starting over and is in need of items for her apartment. If you would like to help out, please contact Shelly at email@example.com or by texting her at 315-380-0728. Items can be dropped off at her office at Winkworth Professional Office Building, 2700 Bellevue Ave, Lower Level, Syracuse, NY 13219. Shelly is also willing to make arrangements for pick up. Thank you for sharing God's love.
+++ Next Wednesday, March 1st, you are invited to attend a "Meet the Bishop" event at the Auburn United Methodist Church from 7:00pm -8:30pm. During this time you will get to meet Bishop Hector Burgos and hear about his vision for the Upper New York Annual Conference and our United Methodist Church. The Bishop is looking forward to greeting you next week!
+++ Mark your calendars for our new Service of Healing and Prayer on Sunday, March 12th at 12:00noon in the Fireside Room. This informal worship service is for folks who are seeking healing for physical, emotional, or relational situations. We will gather on the 2nd Sunday of each month for this time of worship, prayer, and anointing.
Make this day a great day and always use your God-given gifts to the fullest!
Happy Friday! As we get ready for another weekend, here are some thoughts for us to consider:
"I will maintain my righteousness and never let go
of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long
as I live." (Job 27:6)
In his book, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers wrote, "Conscience is that ability within me that attaches itself to the highest standard I know and then continually reminds me of what that standard demands that I do. It is the eye of the soul that looks out either toward God or toward what we regard as the highest standard. The question is, will I obey?"
"God does not speak with a voice like thunder -- God's voice is so gentle that it is easy for us to ignore. And the only thing that keeps our conscience sensitive to God is the habit of being open to God on the inside. When you begin to debate, stop immediately. Don't ask, 'Why can't I do this?' You are on the wrong track. There is no debating possible once your conscience speaks. Whatever it is -- drop it, and see that you keep your inner vision clear."
When we do things that we sense are instinctively wrong, we unleash a storm of conflict and emotion within our own souls. We lose our way.
Your conscience then is your gift from God, designed to help you build a life of peace and contentment. Have you been listening to that still, small voice within?
SLEEPLESS? A CLEAR CONSCIENCE IS A GREAT PILLOW!
+++ In our worship on Sunday we celebrate Transfiguration Day. We will hear the Transfiguration story from the 17th chapter of Matthew's Gospel account. Come and hear all about Jesus' appearance being "transfigured" on the mountain. My message is "The Transfiguration Experience" and I'll be thinking about how much changes from this week's Transfiguration event... to next week's Lenten journey. We worship at both 8:30am and 10:00am and, of course, the 10:00am service is "live-streamed" on the church's Facebook page. And then, if you are someone who prefers the church YouTube page, we "upload" the completed worship as soon as the service ends. However you are able, be sure to join us for the fun of worship this weekend!
+++ Our church office is closed on Monday, 2/20 for the celebration of President's Day. We will reopen the office at 9:00am on Tuesday.
+++ The deadline for articles for our March/April edition of the church newsletter are due in the office on Monday. Thanks for helping us keep our publication deadlines!
+++ Ash Wednesday worship is next Wednesday, February 22nd at 7:00pm in the church Sanctuary. We will begin our Lenten theme, "Amazing Grace" as we meet King David in worship that evening. We will also offer the Imposition of Ashes to start Lent.
+++ Our Lenten Study Group begins on Thursday, 2/23 at 1:00pm in the Fireside Room. We will be looking at the new book, "Finding Jesus in the Psalms" by Barb Roose. We need you to sign up outside the Fireside Room and get your copy of the book today. For our first session you will want to read the 1st chapter of the book. Books can be paid for ($14) at the first session. We are also looking to see if there is a group that would like to do the study on Wednesday evenings, on ZOOM. We need 6 people to sign up to make a ZOOM discussion group possible. Please sign up on Sunday!
+++ We are preparing an order for more church name tags from our supplier. If you would like a church name tag, please send the office an email by Monday letting us know that. Thanks!
+++ Beginning in March we will add a new worship opportunity to our monthly worship schedule. I will be offering a Service of Healing Prayer and Anointing on the 2nd Sunday of each month, at 12:00noon in the Fireside Room. This time of worship is designed for those seeking the healing of a physical, emotional, or relational affliction. It will include scripture, a short meditation, the celebration of Holy Communion, and a time of individual anointing and prayer. If you have such a situation in your life I hope you will join us for this holy time together.
Make this day a great day and always work to keep your conscience clear!
Greetings! As the sun struggles to make an appearance in the springtime sky, I read these words in Proverbs...
"A [person's] pride brings them low, but a [person] of lowly
spirit gains honor." (Proverbs 29:23)
Dutch author and priest Henri Nouwen admits in his book In the Name of Jesus that he came to a place where he felt as if his life was stuck in a rut. On the surface, it would seem that Nouwen had it made. He possessed an impressive resume in a noble field of study. But after twenty-five years in the priesthood, he found himself praying poorly, living a life isolated from people, and preoccupied with doubts.
Finally Nouwen asked God if he should leave his prestigious role as a distinguished professor. The answer was clear. God led Nouwen to the L'Arche Community for the Mentally Handicapped. In Nouwen's words, "God said, 'Go and live among the poor of spirit, and they will heal you.'" So he did.
In his new role, Nouwen faced numerous lessons, some painful, a few humiliating, but all in all, he learned humility, compassion, and caring. Pride in his own accomplishments could have kept him from finding the fulfillment he was so desperately seeking. Nouwen's willingness to swallow his pride and answer God's call led him ultimately to buried treasure.
If you lack purpose and fulfillment, maybe God is asking you to turn your life over to Him. Don't let pride stand in your way!
No one ever choked on swallowing pride! --- GOD
+++ This Sunday is the 6th Sunday after Epiphany and we continue looking into the 5th chapter of Matthew's Gospel account. And this week Jesus will be teaching us about the law... murder, adultery, and divorce. My message, "Living by Both the Law and Love" has me wondering about how we can live according to two different sets of rules? Can we live by both the law and love? Come and join me as I think this through. We gather at 8:30am and 10:00am and, of course, our 10:00am worship is "live-streamed" on the church's Facebook page. And then, after worship is completed, we "upload" the worship service to the church YouTube channel. However you choose to join us, be with us for worship this week!
+++ We are looking for a few adults to spend some time with Alex in our Kidz Club program each week. Our Safe Sanctuaries policy requires a two adult rule and beginning this week we will return to following that rule. Can you sign-up to spend one week every couple of months with the kids? There will be the opportunity to sign up after worship this week. Thanks!
+++ New editions of the Upper Room magazine are on the table in the Narthex. These new editions are for March and April.
+++ Please remember our upcoming Newsletter deadline is February 20th for articles for the March/April edition of our church newsletter. Please make sure your articles are in the office by the 20th. Thanks!
+++ Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 22nd! We will worship that night at 7:00pm in the Sanctuary and we begin our Lenten theme, "God's Amazing Grace". Did you know that great hymn was written 250 years ago this year? This year we will meet friends from our Scriptures who were certainly in need of God's Amazing Grace. We hope you'll like meeting these new friends each week.
+++ We will offer a Lenten study, "Finding Jesus in the Psalms". The in-person group will meet each Thursday afternoon at 1:00pm in the Fireside Room and we can make available a "hybrid" model for those who would like to join us on ZOOM at that same time. So all you Florida "sunbirds" can still be a part of the study if you would like! Just let me know if you would like to join us. There is a book to purchase and it costs $14. And... we can even mail it to those who are out of town for your use! A sign-up sheet is on the white board outside the Fireside Room for those attending in person. I will also offer an evening group, via ZOOM, on Wednesday nights if we have 6 people who are interested, since this is really the minimum for a good discussion group. Again... sign-up outside the Fireside Room and let me know if you are interested in an evening ZOOM format!
Make this day a great day and never let pride stand in the way of your relationship with God!
As we await another weekend, here are some words for us to consider....
Then Jesus said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9: 23)
Over the years, I have felt the desire to be more than just a checklist Christian. I've wrestled with the question, "How can I grow closer to God?" And I wasn't looking for the plastic Christian answers: Go to church. Read the Bible. Don't cuss. Be nice. Pray.
Now those are all good things. Things we should do. But we can do all those things and still have hearts that are far from God. I want connection. I want communion. I want closeness.
The New Living Translation puts Jesus' words in Luke 9:23 like this: "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me." I want this kind of all-out pursuit with God. But what does this look like in today's culture?
I think a large part of what it means is breaking old habits to create space in my heart for new growth. In reality, God's desire for sacrifice --- our turning from our selfish ways -- is not for God's benefit, but for ours. Often that means breaking an old habit and creating space in our heart for new growth.
If we want to grow closer to God, we'll have to distance ourselves from whatever is distracting us. Break the old habit and create space in your heart for new growth. And closeness will soon bloom.
If I want to grow closer to God, I have to distance myself from whatever is distracting me.
+++ This Sunday, February 5th, the 5th Sunday after Epiphany, we gather for worship at 8:30am and 10:00am. We will be hearing from the 5th chapter of Matthew's gospel about salt and light and my message, "Becoming Change Agents" has me thinking about how we are called to spread the seasoning and light to the world. We will be "live-streaming" on the church's Facebook page at 10:00am and then "uploading" the completed service to our YouTube channel after it is completed. We will also be celebrating the Sacrament of Holy Communion this week so if you are watching from home... prepare your Communion elements so that you can join us.
+++ Following worship our volunteer drivers will be delivering this month's Shut-In Meal Ministry meals. Thanks to Sam who cooks, the volunteers who deliver, and all involved in this effort. We will pass 500 delivered meals this weekend! Thanks be to God!
+++ Our SPRC meets on Tuesday night, February 7th at 6:00pm in the Fireside Room. We hope to see all members of the team at the meeting and plan to accomplish some important business.
+++ Copies of Immanuel's Annual Report are available on the table in the Narthex. Please pick one up to see about all the ministry work we accomplished in 2022!
+++ Our Dinner and Movie Night is next Saturday, February 11th when we will gather to watch the movie, The Shack. Based on the popular book of a few years ago, the movie stars Octavia Spencer, Sam Worthington and Tim McGraw and takes us along on a father's transformative spiritual journey. Please make sure you sign up this Sunday so we are prepared for all who want to attend!
Make this day a great day and... STAY WARM!