My Dear Friends:
In recent years summer has somehow managed to sneak up on us rather quickly. These days one is not able to predict the weather patterns as accurately as we could. For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, summer may seem too short. This is because all too soon fall appears, the leaves start changing and then the cold winter will be upon us.
For many of us these summer days are times of vacation, travel, family gatherings and backyard barbecues and, above all, enjoying God’s creation while working in the garden or sightseeing. We also get to watch some fireworks as we commemorate the Independence of the great nation. With regards to our church calendar, we are now in the season of Pentecost. This is a long season, which extends into November and climaxes with “Christ the King Sunday,” which ushers us into the season of Advent.
If you happen to be away someplace else visiting or vacationing please take the time to worship at another church and bring a church bulletin back, and share your experience with me. Tell me the things you enjoyed as a result of your worship experience and I hope we can learn from that church.
My Dear Friends:
Summer is a time to relax and enjoy the beautiful sunny weather, do some projects around the house, and take that needed vacation. It is a time when our youth can attend summer camps. The Confirmation Class this year had a wonderful time at Pocono Plateau and expressed an interest to attend programs like that again in the summer. We are in the process of streamlining our youth group in the area for joint activities. Our first event is a joint cook out with the Episcopal Church youth on June 9th at the Trinity Episcopal Church on Route 611.
Summer is also a time when people find a new church home. We as a church have received about 12 new members in the last few months. Please get to know them and help them to have a sense of belonging here at Mt. Pocono UMC. We will have one joint/unity Sunday service at 10 a.m. on June 30th with a potluck dinner. The theme is “Make Your Culture Proud.” So if you are very good in making a particular meal from a particular tradition please make that dish and come and share.
The God of All Comfort
My Dear Friends:
I have to say a few of our members have moved on to be with the Lord. And as some of our members have also lost loved ones, I wanted to share a few words on this subject so that we know some of us are dealing with grief. Reaching out to folks in our church is very important because of the comfort we find in God and in Christian love. It is very interesting that the one thing we are all certain about in this life is death. Yet, when it happens we are never prepared. Human loss can come upon us suddenly and this can overwhelm us with grief and sorrow. Emotionally, we just don’t seem to be well equipped to deal with such a loss. We either fall apart or head straight for denial, but in reality, these are all part of the normal process of grieving.
It is very easy to give thanks when things are going very well. When the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, that’s when life feels good and it’s very easy to give thanks. On the other hand it is not easy to be filled with gratitude when it’s cold, raining, foggy and cloudy. It feels even more terrible if you have to endure such conditions like when it’s raining real hard and you are carrying a lot of groceries and the paper breaks in the middle of the parking lot. You find out that everyone is in a hurry and no one cares to help. You pick your items up and you get home and you feel tired already, thinking about taking the groceries out of the car into the house. This happened to me just recently by the way. However the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God concerning you.”
Sometimes God has something to say to us when it is raining and snowing and life feels uncomfortable. I guess I had something to learn when it came to the winters here at Mt. Pocono. Our first winter here has been quite exciting. You know I went to graduate school at East Stroudsburg, served at East Stroudsburg UMC and Analomink UMC as pastor so when folks were telling me the winters up in Mt. Pocono were different and sometimes very harsh, I said how hard it can be…I know the area.
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According to Benjamin Franklin in this world nothing can be said to be certain except Death and Taxes. I would add Sunday Church Services. There are few constants in life and it seems that “death and taxes” obviously induce fear in our hearts sometimes. For pastors like me every Sunday is a day of fear and trepidation. Even though you have prepared and prepared, you wake up Sunday morning thinking, ‘what am I going to say?’ and you often leave the service feeling like you did not say everything you wanted to say, and that you did not say it in the way you would have liked. The comfort though is that you get very good support from members of the congregation saying “very nice service” or occasionally you hear comments like “very good sermon, I really enjoyed it.”
Lent is the time of the Church Year when Christians are given the opportunity to pause and reflect on our journey of faith. I am very much aware of how busy our lives are. For most of us, there are many demands on our lives: work, family, cooking, cleaning, shopping, involvement in sports like soccer, basketball, softball, coaching, etc. As human beings, we are part of this world and we have to play a part to keep it going. However, as Christians we are also part of the Kingdom of God. Paul says that we are in this world but not of the world. This means we continue to look forward to the Kingdom that will be established by our Lord Jesus Christ.
As an old year ends and a new year is about to begin we all have to reflect on our lives looking at what we were able to accomplish in the past year and also alreas where we fail to reach our goals. New Year resolutions as we all know are losing steam due to the fact that they are broken or forgotten as old habits push their way back in. However as individuals we still need some self-evaluation or self-examination in relation to our lives, our families, our service to God, etc. We should all look ahead with a good attitude or more importantly a godly attitude. As Paul says, we should forget the past and reach forward to the things that lie ahead, which is the heavenward goal in Christ Jesus. So, instead of strict resolutions we cannot fulfill why not ask ourselves a few questions as part of our self-evaluation: