On December 24 we will begin the day with the Fourth Sunday of Advent at 10 a.m. As the next day is Christmas Day, we will hold our Christmas Eve service at 4:00 p.m. - with a eye to making it easier for young families to be with us. December 31 also falls on a Sunday. As it will be the sixth day of Christmas, we will have a service of lessons and carols. We are ready to welcome you to join us in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ - God at home with us.
My summer reading included Weird Church by Beth Ann Estock and Paul Nixon, as recommended by Bishop Devadhar. One of the chapters described how a single-family household started and ended each day. I decided to try it with my daughters and am recommending it to our congregation for the fall.
In the morning we set our intention by saying the following: "Today I will pay attention, see Jesus, be Jesus and mess up. I can choose my attitude. I can look for an opportunity and we can find a way forward together. We follow this with the Lord's Prayer.
In the evening review the day, either around the dinner table, or in your journal. What did you notice when you paid attention? How did you see Jesus? How were you Jesus? How did you mess up? For what are you grateful today.
I hope that enough of us will take on this habit that we will have some very interesting things to share with one another during worship this fall.
Anyone who welcomes you, welcomes me, the One who sent you. Anyone who accepts what I do accepts my Father, who sent me. Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God’s messenger. Accepting someone’s help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing. - Jesus Matthew 10:40-42
This Sunday we will consider three levels of welcoming one another - 1) Welcoming people we don't know when they come into the church, 2) building relationships with people outside of the church, and 3) strengthening all of our relationships by expressing God's grace through the acceptance of all persons as being those God loves.
Phil Maynard cases a vision for the church. "People are accepted wherever they are in the flow of God's love and invited to discover the depths of God's love through the growth of relationships with other believers and the growth of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ."
"We love because we have been loved. We welcome others because we have been welcomed. We invite others to discover this grace because of what we have learned about this transforming power of God's love."
Are you tired of the polarization in our world? Now is the time to experience community unity! South Walpole United Methodist Church is hosting two back-to-back events on Sunday June 4 that are proven to create true community - eating and dancing.
Come at noon to share in a Community Pot Luck. Bring your favorite dish and sample a variety of delicious culinary delights. Sit beside neighbors, make new friends, become reacquainted with people you knew long ago. Everyone is welcome to gather around the table for this delicious meal. (Hint: if you don't know what to bring come anyway - there is always more than enough at a pot luck!)
If you can walk you can dance! Dancing is a fun way for people of all ages to interact with one another. Led by caller Tony Parkes we will dance playfully in circles and squares and lines. It's sure to put a smile on your face and a song in your heart. The dance will begin at 1:00 p.m.
There are various names that have been given for the role I play in the church.. Most people call me Pastor Sarah, my grandfather was called The Minister, other churches use Rector. Each of these names have slightly different meanings: shepherd, servant, director. But one most important names for the work I do is Priest.
A priest has two main jobs. First they need to be and stay connected to God. Methodists talk about the means of grace also called works of piety as tools for keeping this connection alive. These include prayer, reading, studying and searching the scriptures, sacraments, holy conferencing. These things are part of my job.
The second job of a priest is to connect other people to God. This requires that the priest make relationships built on love with other people. Sometimes the relationship is like Legos. Imagine the yellow Lego is God and since I am a redhead the red Lego is me. This is what it looks like if I connect someone to God as a Lego.
But priests are called to connect more than one person at a time. If I move the Legos around like this I can connect more – but as long as connecting is dependent on one priest and we connect like Legos, the connection is rather precarious. The connection may not be very strong. If the priest and another person have a falling out they can easily become disconnected from God.
And if the priest disconnects from God (has her own spiritual crisis) look what can happen. This is also what can happen if a priest moves from one congregation to another.
At Christmas time my daughters got a new toy called Bunchems. They are plastic burrs. Colorful, spherical Velcro. Bunchems show us another way to understand the job of a priest. They illuminate the scripture in Hebrew 7:23-28 that says all Baptized and Confirmed Christians, all disciples of Jesus Christ are called to join the priesthood of all believers.
So imagine the yellow Bunchem is God. And I’m still the red one. My job is to connect with other people and help them to directly connect with God, like this. And the beauty of this is that when these disciples, connect to God by practicing the works of Piety, habitually accessing the means of God's grace directly, can then connect other people to God like this.
This is surely a Methodist way of being church. The early circuit riders connected people to God, helping them to develop their own strong connection through the works of piety. And the class leaders, the lay leaders, the Sunday School teachers were all then able to use their own gifts and graces to be effective members of the priesthood of all believers.
Of course in all denominations the holy catholic Church has always grown better using the Bunchem model. Paul and Silas used it, St. Francis used it. Many of our grandparents used it with us. Or better said, the Holy Spirit used all of them to pass on the a true and vibrant Christian faith. This is how faith spreads.
So if you want to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, if you want to contribute to the flourishing of God’s holy church, join the priesthood of all believers. Be a Bunchem!
Pastor Sarah Connected to God
Connecting to someone to God like a Lego
Connecting more people like a Lego is a little unstable!
Look what happens when the Lego priest is disconnected from God (or is moved from one congregation to another)
"Love, like the yellow daffodil, is Lord of all I know. Ring out, bells of Norwich, let the winter come and go. All shall be well again, I know."
Holy Week is upon us. Time for followers of Jesus to renew our fellowship and draw the circle wider.
If you don't have a church home, and live near us, know you will be welcome for Palm Sunday (10:00 a.m.), Holy Thursday (7:30 p.m.), Good Friday (ecumenical outdoor stations of the cross starting at Epiphany Episcopal Church at 3 p.m.) and Easter Sunday (8:00 a.m. vigil and 10:00 a.m. Eucharist) celebrations at South Walpole United Methodist Church.
On Palm Sunday we will become deeply aware of God's presence with us through all of life. On Holy Thursday we we hear Jesus' mandate which, when followed, leads us back to the gardens. On Easter Sunday we will unleash the Alleluias and join Jesus in the garden of light and life. Adam Hamilton will be our guide through the season of Easter as we read through the gospel of John together.
Read through these verses and imagine the scene. Imagine it from multiple points of view. What is it like to be the dry bones? How long have they been lifeless, dusty, hopeless, without the breath of God to make them alive?
What would it be like to be Ezekiel – grabbed by God and given what seems like a hopeless task? How would if feel to begin to see the fruits of the collaboration with God – witnessing to the bones and the Spirit of God coming upon them?
Imagine all the souls who have been part of our congregation for almost 200 years. Think of the ones you have known who are no longer with us. Think of people you know who have turned away from Church life all together, not feeling the Spirit of God among fellow Christians.
Listen to this song about the passage. Mary found it for us. Come Alive!
With the faith you’ve given us we step into the valley unafraid. We call out to dry bones come alive. We call out to dead hearts come alive. Up out of the ashes let us see an army rise. We call out to dry bones come alive.
What does it stir up in you? What is your prayer for your life, for your friends and family, for our church?