News & Events

Advent & Christmas

This Advent and Christmas we invite you to join us as we reflect on the people who were part of the birth of Jesus. As we build the manger we will hear the stories of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and angels, Jesus, and the Kings and find our own place in this story as worship God in a manger. O Come, let us adore him.
Christ the King Sunday 11/21/28
 Sermon Reflections

Yesterday we celebrated Christ the King Sunday and reflected together on Revelation 1:4-8. Pastor Toni Ruth reminded us that, “To say that Christ is King is to say that he has authority and rule over all other kingdoms and powers. To claim him as OUR King, or LORD, is to say that all our life – what we say, do, think – is subject to his rule, authority, and power.

Take a moment to reflect on this question from your baptismal vow.

Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior,

put your whole trust in his grace,

and promise to serve him as your Lord

in union with the church which Christ has opened

to all ages, nations and races?

How have you fallen victim to the temptation to think of this as multiple choice? In what way does the call to serve Christ as Lord make you uncomfortable in your life? What would it mean for you to commit or recommit to serving Jesus as the Lord of your life? How might it change your relationship with God, yourself, and others? How might it change how you view others that seem very different from you but who have made the same vow as you to serve Christ as Lord?

Take some time in prayer this week to give thanks for the kingdom of God and the reign of Christ. Pray for God to help you live more faithful to your baptismal covenant. Ask the Lord to help you see how his kingdom is freedom and life and invite the Lord to renew your call to serve His kingdom.

Blue Christmas Service

We invite you to this service of remembrance:  Blue Christmas Service, December 16th, 7 p.m.

Christmas time is not always a time when we feel joy. Blue Christmas Worship is a service where those who are missing someone or going through a hard time can bring their struggle to God who comes near to offer us comfort and peace this season.

Overcoming Blindness

Every time Jesus heals a blind person in the Gospels, I always think about our own blindness. Whether we realize it or not, we all have blind spots in our lives. When Jesus heals blind people, the underlying story is it is not just a physical healing but more importantly a spiritual healing as well. The thing about being blind is that we do not always know what we are missing until we receive our sight.

When I was a kid, around the fifth and sixth grade years I played baseball. I remember enjoying it and doing okay. I started in right field because I was a lefty and really inexperienced so it was less likely for a ball to come my way! Eventually I got to be a starter at first base, again because I was a lefty and I was also one of the taller kids on the team, so more likely to catch wild throws to first! I felt I did pretty well at first, but my weakness for a starter was hitting. My hitting was poor at best. Every once in a while, I would get a base hit, and sometimes a double. It was never a consistent thing though.

I do not exactly remember who or how it was figured out, but my memory seems to recall being in the sixth grade and my teacher realizing I could not see the blackboard very well, and so he moved me to the front of the class. I had no idea that my vision was bad. I just thought the world looked just like I saw it without glasses. Boy, was I wrong! My parents took me to the eye doctor and got me some fancy new eye glasses and for the first time the world became more clear and more focused than it had ever been before! Needless to say it did affect my baseball playing! I found out that I could hit the ball! I could actually see the ball and not just watch the pitcher and try to time my swing! My new sight helped me improve my game.

Since those days, I have occasionally lost or broken my glasses. As a matter of fact I lost my previous pair this past summer when I jumped off a boat in the lake and forgot I had them on. I hate losing my glasses. It makes me feel so helpless. I cannot drive, watching tv is difficult. I have no idea of who I am passing in the hall at church. I cannot see things coming at me, so I am always on the defensive when moving about. Not being able to see stinks.

So back to the topic of Jesus and our blindness. Without Jesus as our “glasses” we only see the world in really blurry terms, and not as Jesus and God sees the world we live in. We tend to ignore the bad things around us and the lack of love being shared worldwide. In our blindness we focus on ourselves and live in a very defensive posture as I do when I do not have my glasses. We so many times miss out on the hope and joy God intends for us in our self-induced darkness. I have discovered that the one thing that this Thanksgiving and Christmas Season can do for all of us, is to help us put on those glasses of being thankful and hopeful.

Colossians 2:7 from the New Living Translation says: “ Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

Our goal should be just as this verse describes, to be people so rooted in Christ that we cannot help but to overflow with thankfulness. This idea of being truly thankful means that we are living lives that are looking out into the world and noticing the little things and the huge things God is doing in our lives all around us. It is as if we are given new glasses to see the world differently and in a new and hopeful way!

My prayer for all of us this Thanksgiving week, is that we put on our “Jesus glasses” and look at the world in a different way, where hope and joy fill all our hearts and souls with the love and grace of God.

Pastor Richard

Our Money Story

Pledge Form 2022

Week three 10/17/21 — Our MONEY Story — Release

Worship Service 9 a.m 

Worship Service 11 a.m. 

Yesterday I talked about the invitation from God’s word to reimagine our economies (household rules/ the way we do things) in light of God’s call for us to radically trust him and to care for the most vulnerable. I shared John Wesley’s advice around money:

 

Make all you can

Save all you can

Give all you can

In this advice is an invitation for you to take some time to reimagine your economy around these matters.

As you prepare to offer your pledge to ministry in 2022 we encourage you to prayerfully reimagine your money story. Where might God be calling you to reimagine your story in light of God’s Money Story? What do you need to rememberabout who God is? What do you need to release in order to know God’s freeing grace? Where might you reimagine what can be? How might God be able to restore your broken places around money and possessions through your life in him?

At the start of all this we challenged you to tithe for just one month to see how it feels. If you have done that, what have you discovered? If you have not yet made that one month commitment we encourage you to give it a try and see how God works through your faithfulness.

As we come toward the end of October, please take time to fill out and return the pledge card we sent you or, even better, complete your pledge online through Realm using the link below. Thank you so much for your faithfulness and your generosity! We pray God will draw you ever closer to His boundless grace in this and every season!

 

Week two 10/10/21 — Our Money Story — Reflect

Worship Service 9 am

Worship Service 11 am

This past Sunday, we continued this month’s stewardship series Our Money Story by looking at what it means to release our money stories to God. We saw in our first reading from Deuteronomy 15 that God commanded the Israelites to release all debt every seven years. This is similar to the manna in the desert story in that if anyone tried to hoard their manna, it would rot. God is adamantly opposed to greed and selfishness among His people, whether its daily bread or money and debt. This is radically different from the values we see every day in our world. We live in a culture that far too often encourages and even celebrates greed.

This disconnect is not unique to 21st century America, however, as we saw in the Gospel reading from Matthew 19. The story of the rich young man vividly illustrates how money and possessions can pull us away from Jesus and from fellowship with other believers. We know all too well the very human tendency to seek meaning, value, and security in our money and our possessions.

We shouldn’t simply hear judgment or rebuke in these stories, but rather an invitation to a better way to live – the way of Jesus. God calls us to release our grip on those things we cling tightly to, so that we might be freed to cling to Jesus. God calls us to release the grip that money and possessions has on our hearts so we might be freed to be generous to our neighbors. God calls us to release our fears and anxieties to Him so that we might be freed to find our security in God’s steadfast love and abiding presence. God calls us to release one another from debts, to forgive one another as we have been forgiven.

God calls us to release our money stories – especially those parts of our stories that move us away from God’s love and from generosity. We release our stories so that God can begin writing new stories in our lives that reflect the values of the Kingdom of God and the reality of God’s abundant grace given to us in Jesus Christ. This week, I pray that God would open our eyes to new opportunities to live into new story of forgiveness and generosity.

Week One 10/3/21 — Our Money Story– Remember

Worship Service 9 a.m 

Worship Service 11 a.m. 

On Sunday, I shared part of my money story and shared some reflection of the good and bad of some lessons I learned about money and possessions in my childhood. This week, we want to encourage you to use your “Our Money Story” Journal (either picked up on Sunday or mailed to you this week) to begin reflecting on your own money story. You can find the questions to guide you on pages 1-6 of your journal. The remembering is helpful, but even more helpful is the invitation to reflect on how the things you learned in your life are impacting you today. What parts of your story are good, helpful, and Biblical? What parts of your story might bear untruths and unbiblical ideas that have kept you from the freedom that God offers us?

Being honest about our story is the beginning point of God’s redemptive work. Here’s a hard truth: unredeemed history repeats itself. In other words, holding on to lies (like mine around productivity and personal value), mistakes of the past, false narratives about the role of money and possessions in our lives, will continue to keep us locked in cycles of unhealthy behavior and belief. Our deepest prayer for each of you this month is that God will help you to see the places that need his redeeming touch, the infusion of God’s Money Story of enough for all, trust in God’s provision, generosity, sharing, and sacrificial love that we see so clearly in the life of the Lord Jesus. We pray for your courage and vulnerability to ask these questions and have the conversation for the sake of your following of Jesus in greater wholeness.

Pastor Toni Ruth

As Rebecca Douglass, Chair of the Finance Team, mentioned on Sunday, we encourage you to bring your pledge card at any point this month. For your convenience we do have an online pledge card. This card can we accessed at on our website and connects directly to Realm so that you can not only set up your pledge but also set up recurrent gifts if you would like to do so. Filling out the pledge card online is very simple, so we encourage you to use this tool.

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Intro to our Money Story

We all have a money story, whether we recognize it or not. Perhaps we are living from a story of fear or shame. Or a story that the church is dying and no longer relevant. Or a story that our actions won’t have an impact. Or a story that we don’t have enough. Where might God be speaking a new narrative into the limited ones we have told ourselves? This theme invites us to discover and tell our money stories in light of God’s money story of liberation and justice. This series encourages us to transform our stewardship practices into more full expressions of who we are and what we believe.

This theme is intentionally direct—it invites us to name exactly what we’re talking about and not skirt around it. To speak of money is to invite tension into the room. We so quickly want to avoid it. But it’s time we reframe this. Money and possessions are one of the most common topics in scripture, and Jesus talked about money more than faith and prayer.

Our money story, therefore, is a spiritual story. Thinking about God’s money story should be liberating, inviting, and transformative.

This stewardship season, we invite you to remember, release, reimagine, and restore your money stories so that we can write the one God is begging us to live into.

 

 

Rest

Devotion for 9/15/21.  Rest

Sometimes we all just need a little rest. Summers for me in my line of work are always very busy. They are awesome and fun, but it really is non-stop from the time school lets out till the time kids go back to school. There are the mission trips, VBS, back to school planning and this year was getting back to a normal Sunday School after being out for over a year and half. Then on top of those big activities there were movie nights, tubing, bowling, and other youth and children events. So, at the end of the summer I feel a little like Sofi looks like in the picture! Just whipped!

I look forward to September when I can finally slow down a little and recuperate. Rest is a good thing. When I was a kid, I was one of those nap haters! Now I would do anything to get a few minutes of midday sleep. I now realize just how important good rest is.

Today’s stress levels are sky high, which leads to a lot more tension in all of our lives. People are so worn out by all the battles we are facing that are above the norm as we continue to try to navigate through the pandemic that will just not go away. Just today I encountered several friends who are truly facing exhaustion. Their tiredness is not from their normal jobs, but stems more from the long term of facing and dealing with the pain and suffering that Covid has caused all of us.

They need real rest. I believe we all need real rest. Even God took a break after completing His wonderful creation. So, are you getting proper rest? Where are you finding the rest that revives your soul? I am not talking just about sleep, which is critical, I am also talking about soul rest, emotional rest, and even mental rest. We are designed as one unit, not multiple pieces. Our emotional, physical, mental and spiritual pieces are not independent parts, but are interdependent. One of the parts directly affects the others. I have lately discovered in a real way that my lack of physical health cause my mind not to be as clear as it should be. When my mind is not clear, it directly impacts my emotional and spiritual sides as well.

Where do find your rest? Maybe it could begin with seeking that rest that God tells us we all need for our souls. There is a reason “Remember the sabbath and keep it holy” is one of the Ten Commandments. That verse is so totally about resting and remembering all that God has done for us, and looking forward to what He will do for us! Do you ever really take a sabbath, a day of rest? A sabbath day for me is a long walk with my wife and dogs, enjoying God’s creation. It is a chance to slow down and breathe out all the stuff I have to deal with, and breathe in the magnificence of God’s handiwork present all around me. It restores me. Go find your real rest. God does not just give you His permission, He pretty much demands it from us.

Peace,

Pastor Richard

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