It has been a very intense four weeks this past month. I have led two mission trips and have pulled off an incredibly successful VBS with our amazing church and amazing volunteers! There is no way I could do all of that without the help and commitment of strong and dedicated volunteers! Thank you to everyone who had some role in any of those events. Your support and commitment has not gone unnoticed.
One of the greatest lessons I learned was on the Middle School mission trip to Wilmington a couple weeks ago, and it was about how your presence can make all the difference in the world. Many times it is not what you do on these trips, but the impact you can have on a life or even a community by just showing up. Your presence is so important, and I know I have written about it before, but this summer was a reinforcement of its importance.
In Wilmington, my team was assigned to go and clean the backyard of a person who is on the Vigilant Hope missionary team. This gentleman has an amazing story about how God helped him get back on his feet after a life of facing one tragedy after another. His main focus is to minister to the homeless and drug addicted in the city. He had recently bought a house in a very poor part of town, and needed some young people to help him reclaim his back yard and to build some frames for a raised garden that would provide fresh vegetables for him and his neighbors.
The week before we arrived, he told us that two doors down was a drug dealer’s house. There was a violent event where shots were fired and some of the bullets went into the house across the street just above the couch, nearly hitting the homeowner. He called the authorities and turned in the dealers and by the time we got there, the occupants were moving out. As you might expect, the neighbors had been living in fear and were afraid to even come out of their homes.
Then we show up, a group of a dozen middle class kids making all kinds of noise and working incredibly hard on a stranger’s backyard. Before long, our homeowner noticed one neighbor sitting on their porch that he had not seen in a long while. Then another neighbor, a young woman, came by walking her dogs. After that another person walked up and asked us what we were doing and expressed that they were happy that we were there. What I learned was that our little group of noisy and hard-working teenagers actually made the neighborhood safer for the residents who live there. Our physical presence was impacting and changing the neighborhood. We were helping to build community and increasing the safety of the residents just by being there.
I have participated so many mission trips over the thirty years I have been doing full-time ministry, never has this idea of just our being present helped me to see the greater impact that we as Christians can have over the world. In so many situations, people and communities just simply need to know that they are not alone and that there are actually people out there who care for them, regardless of the differences between races or cultures. Painting a wall or cleaning a yard are important, but they are not the most significant work. In just a few days our presence in that Wilmington community made a significant impact. Can you imagine if the church just showed up? Never underestimate the impact you can have on someone just by showing up!
See you at church this Sunday! Just show up and impact another person!
An adventure with God awaits in the great outdoors. Jesus walked this earth, he invited 12 men to share in his life and to join him on a great adventure. Today, Jesus invites each of us to join him on this adventure as well.
No need to register just come to Harrisburg UMC Sunday Morning at 10 a.m. Children ages PreK – 4th grade will be welcomed and excited to join the adventure
Starting May 1at at 10 am. Andrea Chambers and Shirley Luce will be leading the Adam Hamiltons Lord’s Prayer Study. Plan to join this eye opening study.
“Most Christians know the Lord’s Prayer by heart.We pray it often, at different times and in different settings. We remember it as the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples. The challenge is to really know the prayer to understand and appreciate the meaning and power of its words and what we ask of God each time we pray it. Through it Jesus teaches us how to pray, and how to live as his followers “- Adam Hamilton
AT THIS TABLE…
Relationships are forged. The Bible unfolds. Tuesdays 7-8 Room #1
Check out this link and plan to join Megan Williams on Tuesday Nights at 7 p.m. Megan is a great facilitator and you will find yourself in a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere, as together we read and discussion the Bible together, learning how to love God and each other better
Session 3: April 5 – May 24 Trusting in God when troubling things happen
THE WOMEN AT THE WELL – Sunday, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m
This group provides a safe environment to nurture the cultivation of deep authentic relationships between a group of multigenerational women. A group where every woman is valued for her experience and wisdom and to deeper our knowledge of Christ through a sisterhood of fellowship, prayer, and bible study.
Here’s the plan for the Summer Session, 3:30 – 4:30
May 22nd – First meeting, Bible study and fellowship
We live in a culture bent on definitions of a good life as continuous upward mobility–climbing ladders of prosperity with increasingly fabulous experiences that we can post to ever-more-likable social media accounts. We may comb the shelves of the self-help section in search of just the right formula to gain success. Perhaps we even gravitate towards spiritual leaders who promise great rewards if we only do “the right thing.” But life happens, right? Most times we are not moving upward but trying to repair the rung we’ve just slipped from. So what if we stopped climbing and started fertilizing, watering, and blooming right where we find ourselves? Welcome to a Lent of affirming a faith in which we are blessed, regardless, and where we can lean into embracing our “good enough” lives. Our Lenten Journey begins with Ash Wednesday Worship on March 2nd at 7:00pm in person and online.
On Sunday, we reflected together on Luke 13:1-9. Pastor Toni Ruth reminded us that sometimes in our lives bad things happen that have no connection to personal sin or righteousness, they are just bad things that happen. In our desire to understand why such things happen we can miss an important teaching from Jesus who invites us to keep our eyes not on others, but on what is happening in our lives right now and how can and will use even the hard things in our lives to draw us closer to His love. We can miss the call to repent- turn around – and find God’s grace waiting for us.
This Lent, what is going on in your life that is hard or that you’d prefer to not think about? What sin or behavior patterns are you stuck in that are keeping you from understanding God’s love for you? What “fertilizer” has come your way that God can use to tend the soil of your life with the medicine of tears, repentance, and struggle that leads to life?
Remember this poem that Pastor Toni Ruth shared and ask God to help you see your need for him in this season of your life.
Don’t surrender your loneliness
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
as few human
Or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My need of God
On Sunday Pastor Toni Ruth invited us to reflect on Jesus lament over Jerusalem in Luke 13. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it. How often I have longed to gather you as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing.” When we feel out of control or as though danger approaches, we can run around like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to get our needs met, trying to avoid pain or conflict, trying to ensure that the worst wont’ happen to us. The illusion of control is so helpful, but sometimes life hands us situations where we are deeply aware of all the things that we cannot control. In such moments we have a choice. We can run around frantic and aimless or we can allow God to gather us in, hold us close, anchor us through the storm. What keeps you from being willing to be gathered? What would it look like for you to stop your hustle, your frantic grasping for control, your agenda for your life and find that God is enough for you today? Find a moment today to be still, breath deep, and listen for God’s call for you to come and find your center amid the chaos under the shadow of his wings. Read Psalm 27 and offer your prayer to God for where you most need to be gathered to God’s love. Sunday Sermon – March 6th First Sunday of Lent
Last week I was cruising facebook, which can easily lead to very deep frustrations and discouragement with humanity. I did it anyway. Sometimes I just like to see how mean and ignorant people can be without a filter. At times it does drive me to prayer, which is a good thing, but I am sure God has to be more upset at humanity than I am. It is a good thing He is full of grace for us all!
While enjoying my plunge into the depths of human honesty and conviction on facebook, I did run across a meme my uncle has posted. It was a picture of an old car from the sixties and the caption read: “In my day, driving without power steering meant not having to go to the gym!” I thought it was great and so true! Then I thought, how many people under the age of 50 have ever driven a car without power steering? It did remind me of a story…
A few years ago when I served at my Florida church, we had a 55 passenger retired Trailways bus we used for trips. On one of our mission trips to the eastern hills of Kentucky we blew the engine. We were less than ten miles from our destination, crawling up the last of the hard mountain climbs to our destination and that poor old bus engine gave up the fight. She was dead on the side of the road. She was not headed back to the Sunshine state without a new motor.
Four months later we finally got the call from the Kentucky mechanic who had finally finished installing the new engine. It became my task to fly to Kentucky and bring our bus home. I flew to the nearest airport, which was still a two-hour drive to where the mechanic’s shop was. Someone from a church there came and took me to a place in the hills of Kentucky where I would never be able to find again! It was around 5 pm or so before I got behind the wheel to begin my one-thousand-mile journey home.
The bus started up just fine and I was on my way. I pulled out, got on the road and was doing my best to navigate the curving back roads trying to find the nearest interstate. I probably was a hundred miles into my journey and I felt the steering get more and more stiff. I was not sure what was going on until I got near the last turn before getting on the interstate, and I missed the turn. Doing a U-turn in a fifty-foot vehicle is tough. Doing that U-turn with NO power steering is something else all-together! I had driven a car without power steering before, it was more difficult, but not that bad. It just took a lot more turning and a lot more muscle strength. Driving a bus without it is a whole different experience!
I eventually made it to Asheville, where I was planning to stop for the night. I do not exactly remember how I got the big old bus into the parking lot at the hotel after driving six hours with no power steering. When I stood up to get out of the bus, I felt like my arms must have looked like the cartoon character Popeye! I was so stiff and sore I was not sure if I could pick up my overnight bag and check in at the hotel desk. I thought that if I needed an injection that night that no needle would be able to penetrate my huge and stiffened shoulders! It really took more than I realized out of me that night.
So, I am a believer in power steering! What an incredible invention! I cannot imagine driving without it now. We all take it for granted. You know, I think Jesus is very similar. I remember the part of my life without Jesus, no power steering. I also remember the larger part of my life with Jesus, with power steering. Looking back, I would have never made it this far in life without Jesus giving me love, hope and direction. Life without Christ would have been like driving that beast of a bus without power steering. Sure, I could have made it through life ok…, maybe? But having Jesus as that source of power in my life sure has made everything so much better, and so much less difficult. The problems and challenges were just more manageable because of Jesus. Big arm muscles might be cool, but nothing compares to a rich life in Christ. Where does your power source come from? For many it is family, maybe it is a career or money. Someone else’s might be control over their life or someone else’s. I just know that my best life is when I am in sync with where God is leading me and when I am relying on Christ to get me there!
I do not recommend driving a bus without power steering! I do recommend a life trusting and relying on Jesus!