Resurrected Life

“Jesus-the Divine Christ!  He experienced a life-giving birth and a death-killing death.  Not only birth from the womb, but baptismal birth of His ministry and sacrificial death.  And all the while the Spirit is confirming the truth, the reality of God’s presence at Jesus’ baptism and crucifixion, bringing those occasions alive for us.  A triple testimony:  the Spirit, the Baptism, the Crucifixion.  And the three in perfect agreement…

My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in His presence, freely asking according to His will, sure that He’s listening.”

                                                                                                                                                ~ 1 John 5

Jesus is our evidence of eternal life, thanks to His resurrection, and the eye-witness accounts of His followers.  He came that we might begin to understand and to comprehend that we, too, have lives that transcend Earth. 

He came that we might begin to understand and to comprehend that we, too, have lives that transcend Earth.  What a profound statement! What a transforming experience for humankind!   What a transforming concept for us! 

We are challenged to begin thinking beyond our immediate circumstances; beyond the boundaries of our human life in the 21st century.  How will our Souls carry on what we are learning here during our lifetimes?  How will we, for all eternity, continue to honor God’s great gift to us?  What is the Spirit; that still, small voice deep inside, calling us to become?

I’ve always felt grateful that our Lenten season, in the northern hemisphere, coincides with the coming of Spring.  It is so easy to feel hopeful in Spring!  The temperatures are warming, the snow is melting, the birds are returning, the grass is greening….  What a beautiful metaphor for our Soul’s growth!  This is a perfect time for personal transformation.  Take this opportunity to consider how God is calling you into more perfect union with Him.  How can you become more “whole”?  How can you become more uniquely “you”?  For this is what you were created to be-your Self.  God has created you, endorsed you, upholds you.  You are the living flesh; a manifestation of our God’s creative skill!  I encourage you to ponder your life beyond the bounds of this singular existence; to imagine how you will exist with God throughout all eternity…  Looking at the Big Picture often brings the small picture into clearer focus.

May God bless your questioning, your searching, your discovering!  May the example of Christ inspire you, encourage you, and fill you with the thrilling confidence that God loves you. 

 ~Ann Scarborough

I appreciate the educators in our church, I have learned so much by taking a class or participating in a small group study.  I’m thankful for the leaders who dedicate their time and effort towards education.

I am currently taking a class on United Methodism 101 which has been a very helpful class for me, especially since I was raised as a Catholic and joined the Methodist church about seven years ago.

I now have a new awareness and appreciation of John Wesley.  I appreciate how a key part of his ministry was to travel and preach outdoors to reach the common person; many of the early Methodist clergy would be circuit riders who were assigned to travel around specific geographic territories to minister to settlers and organize congregations.  This is in line with Jesus’ message; Jesus did not stay in a temple.  Jesus took his message to the people – and not just with other Jews, but with Gentiles and Samaritans as well.  Jesus was there for everyone.

This reminds me of some of the recent feedback we have had from the HCI recommendations.  We’re encouraged to get out of the building to reach the “nones”.  We’re encouraged to free up our Pastor’s time to be out in the community.  But this is not a new idea; this is something our church has done before and is now being reminded that it has worked well in the past.  This was done thirty years ago when Pastor Wayne Walther and the charter members started Glendale; and this was done over 200 years ago when John Wesley and the early Methodists traveled around America.  I have found studying our church’s history has opened up my perspective of who we are as a church, and I’m excited to be part of the next stage.

Matthew 5:14-16 (NRSV) You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Lisa Duffy

“Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;

We are the clay and you are our potter;
We are the work of your hand.”   (Isaiah 64:8)

Eddie Espinosa has written a hymn called “Change My Heart O God” in which he uses the imagery of God as Potter and our lives as the clay being molded.

Perhaps the question we need to be asking is not “What have I been doing?” but instead, “What is

God molding me to be and do in the future to further God’s Kingdom?” 

Ron Nicholas

8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9not the result of works, so that no one may boast.10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

I’ve had the opportunity to study with a great class these past Lenten Sundays (and Wednesdays).  The Adam Hamilton study called “Making Sense of the Bible” has been a real ‘eye opener’ for all of us.  We’ve been looking at not only the words of scripture from the books of the Bible, but also how those words got there and how they are arranged there.

This passage is an excellent example of how great scripture is tucked away into the Bible for us to find and relish.  It is not written at the beginning of Paul’s letter to the folks in Ephesus; it isn’t highlighted in bold; or repeated over and over the way we would author such a profound statement of faith.  It is just there for us to find.  And to study, and to talk with each other about, and to use in our faith journeys.

God bless us today as God blessed those who wrote our scriptures of faith.

Mike Shultz

                                              A New Heaven & a New Earth

It will be 11 years in April since the loss of my Mother. At her funeral my daughter sang what is one of my favorite hymns.  #707 the Hymn of Promise.

Lent can sometimes be a dark place thinking of the day’s leading up to the death of Jesus and we do need to remember and travel through those, but this hymn for me is a reminder that we have a wonderful promise from God.  When things in our lives are dark and cold he is there waiting for us to be in relationship. In the death & resurrection of Jesus we are made new and forgiven.

This hymn seems to be a favorite each Wednesday during our Lenten soup suppers.

As we are experiencing warmer spring like weather this week we are hearing the birds singing and will be looking for the bulb to be a flower along with cocoons to turn into beautiful butterflies.

God makes all things new. It may not always be something that we can see (as the hymn says) but God can.

This hymn is not a song about death but one of life and hope made new in Christ Jesus.

May your journey through lent be one where you can see God’s promise in a new heaven and a new earth.

Shelley Shultz

“The Courage to Witness”

 

I suppose all pastors have couples in their congregations where one member attends worship, but the spouse does not.  There was a young pastor with such a couple in his congregation.  Both were members.  The wife worshiped faithfully and devoutly each Sunday, but he, never.  This bothered the young minister until one day he decided to visit the husband.  He phoned the man and made an appointment to see him.  Arriving at the man’s office, he was shown into a finely appointed office.  After a little polite conversation, the young pastor began to say why he came.  He reviewed briefly the family’s situation and then went on to tell in simple words just what Christ and the Christian community meant to him.  Finishing, the executive across the desk said nothing — not a word.  Feeling utterly uncomfortable and wishing he had never come, the young preacher tried again using a few different words.  He concluded by saying, “Now, I think you ought to do something about this one way or the other.”  The figure across the desk said nothing and was expressionless.  The young preacher fidgeted nervously.  At last the man took a scrap of paper and scribbled a few words and shoved it across the desk.  Feeling like an utter failure the preacher took the note, almost afraid to read.  Then everything changed.  The note read, “I   am   so   deeply   moved   I   cannot   speak.”

Consecrated actions sometimes produce greater effect than we sometimes realize.

Rev. Jim Ross

Sacred Deer

It happened again this morning.

I looked out in the trees in my back yard to see a family of deer hunkered down.  Now and then we notice them more readily when they are standing to eat something.  But very often they are in our back yard lying down and very still.  When the light wasn’t as much, in the months of December and January, we would have to ask ourselves if they were there or if we were mistaking rocks for the deer.  In March, it is obvious.  There are deer in my backyard and I love seeing them there.

They remind me each morning to slow down a bit.  It’s so easy to rush into the day, with the appointments to keep and the to-do lists to accomplish.  These deer lay in my back yard as reminders to slow a bit before heading so fast into my day, to take time to pause, time to allow my spirit to catch up with me, time to be still and know God.

What is it in your life that reminds you to take time to “be still and know God?”

May you be flooded with regular reminders that you are a precious child of God, a human being and not a “human-doing.”

Blessings!

Becky Jo

“Who can say but that you have not been brought into this place for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

I believe we all have a calling from God. God has given us all gifts. God has also given us free will. Rick Warren states “God calls everybody to use the gifts and the passion that they have, but not everyone picks up the phone”.

In the book of Esther this orphaned, young Jewish girl found herself placed in a situation that she didn’t want or ask for. She was the only person in all of Persia that had any chance at all to save the Jewish population from annihilation. Even though it was absolutely obvious what she needed to do, God still gave her the free will to choose to carry out this practically impossible mission.  Rather than just go running to the King and begging for mercy, Esther first asked her support system to fast for 3 days, which she did as well. During this time she was able to gain the clarity of how she could fulfill this undertaking.

We need to clear out the clutter in our lives to be able to hear God’s call. First, if you don’t have one already, being part of a small group who prays for and with you is extremely helpful when trying to discern what God is telling you. Just as importantly is to spend time alone with God. Try to get away from all the “noise” in our lives and spend some time in silence. Then, pick up that phone and listen to what God has planned for our lives. Then, trust. This plan may not be anything you ever thought would be a part of your life, but following God’s plan is always an adventure of Biblical proportion and you’ll be glad you did.

Paula Gaboury

Getting Right with God

 
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with Your free Spirit.”  Amen.

~Psalm 51:10-12

I grew up in a Lutheran church where the pastor and the congregation sang the liturgy.  The beauty of the music glorified God and expressed the deep emotions I felt when thinking about how much I loved God.  The words above were our Offertory.  I committed the words and the beautiful chant to memory, and I often pray this.  I sang it as a lullaby to my children and grandchildren.  What a lovely way to transmit faith!

This week began our Lenten Soup Suppers and Bible Study.  This is my favorite religious season of the year.  Yes, it even trumps Advent and Christmas for me.  The pathos, the power of the stories, the fact that Christ paid the price for our sins trumps every other drama!  My heart leaps when I anticipate the worship services and the fellowship of our faith community that we get to experience during Lent.

I hope you will come on Wednesday evenings to break bread together with us.  Come at 6:00 p.m. (or a few minutes earlier) and invite others.  We have a beautiful message and a loving community that has room for everyone!

This week we heard about the terrible persecution of fellow Christians in Libya, Coptic Christians who had traveled to Libya in search of jobs.  Are they so different from us?  I think not, except that they have paid a price for their Christian beliefs that, so far, we do not risk experiencing.   I am humbled by their prayers as they gave their lives.  Would I be so brave?  We worship in relative comfort, but we must remember and pray for Christians everywhere in order to preserve our freedom to worship.  Let us pray for clean hearts and right spirits for all human beings…. And give thanks for the brave, who do not flinch in the face of death.

~Ann Scarborough

Watching the news or reading the newspaper can be very disturbing lately.  Violence… overseas and here… people being killed for their religious beliefs.  I know this is nothing new, but it seems to be an increasing disturbing trend lately.

Just in the last week, ISIS executed 21 Christian hostages from Egypt, a gunman who open fired in Denmark where a cartoonist was speaking and then later at a synagogue, and three Muslim students who were shot to death in North Carolina. 

Today I saw a heartwarming news piece on peace.  Reverend Cody Nielsen and students connected with the University of Minnesota Wesley Foundation invited more than 20 congregations of all faiths in the metro area to “Love Bomb” the Al-Madinah Muslim Student Cultural center on the U of M campus.  On Sunday they gathered to write notes of solidarity, hope and love on construction paper hearts which were then taped to walls on campus.  They are hoping to do more the next day with additional students and staff.  In the interview, one Muslim student talked about how touched she was at the messages of love, that meeting people of all faiths was a dream come true, and that she had previously feared that Muslims would not be welcome in the campus community. 

It was inspiring seeing how the college-aged youth came together, working with other congregations of different faiths to extend a message of hope and love.   The Wesley Foundation is a United Methodist related campus ministry at the University of Minnesota that is dedicated to welcoming all persons.  Their website lists a core value of the Wesley Foundation as “We seek to build a community that is welcoming to all and expresses a world that lives out peace and justice to its fullest extent.  We are an inclusive community that welcomes all persons.  This is a great example of how they executed on that vision, and brought a message of love and solidarity to their community.

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NRSV)
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Mark 12:31 (NRSV)
The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Lisa Duffy