October, 2019

12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ.

27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.

1 Corinthians 12:12 & 27

The last few weeks have been anything but boring around Emmanuel.  It seems to happen every September. As summer winds down and those hot temperatures begin to give way to the cool morning air the calendar starts to fill up.  There are activities and ministries and studies and meetings all that have kept people coming and going. And I for one love seeing it. I love to see the life in the church.  People coming, people going, laughter shared among friends, tears shed during times of struggle. It does my heart well to see it.

It has been during these times of busyness, whether it be a Sunday morning, a Wednesday evening, or a meeting of one committee or another, that I was reminded of Paul’s words to the church at Corinth.  He reminded them that while there is one body, it is made of many parts. That reminder served me well to recognize that all those things that take place are important. The times for worship, the times for business, the times for fellowship, the times for fun, the times for grief; all of them are a part of the church and its life and all of them can be done for the glory of God.

There are a number of different parts at work at Emmanuel.  But the thing I love about this Church is that I truly believe all of those parts are working for the same purpose.  To live in to our mission of, “Loving God, Loving Others, and Making Disciples of Jesus Christ.” Each of us is a beautiful, wonderful creation, made lovingly by God.  But when we come together, when we act as one, we are so much more. We become the body of Christ, we become Christ for the world around us.

We have recently been going through a time of seeking God’s will.  We have joined with First UMC for times of fellowship and prayer, seeking God’s will for the United Methodist Churches presence here in Blissfield.  Those talks have been very beneficial and I hope they are going to continue. We are going to continue to seek God’s will and ask for God’s leadership in putting all the different pieces and parts that make up the body in the places where they can best serve.  I know that God is not done with us yet, not by a long shot. There are still plenty of people in our neighborhoods, our schools, our places of work that need to hear the message of hope that is the love of Jesus Christ. I pray that we together as the one body can continue to work toward the goal of bringing people to the cross so that they too can have a relationship with our Lord and Savior.  Thank you for being the hands and feet that make Emmanuel move, let us continue to move forward for the glory of the Kingdom.

God Bless,
Pastor Devin

To view the rest of the October newsletter, click here.

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September, 2019

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children,

you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

-Matthew 18:3

I know it may be cliché to say it, but being a parent is truly one of the most amazing adventures. I was thinking about this as I realized that a little later this month I will have been a parent for seven years now. I don’t quite know where seven years have gone. I do know that there is quite a bit more gray in my hair today than I had seven years ago. But, I also know that it has been full of good times, full of laughter and celebration, full of memories that I will cherish forever. But like any good adventure, it does not mean that everything has always gone perfect. There have been struggles and arguments, frustrations and tears. But, in spite of all those things, I know that I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Watching my children learn and grow, watching them ask questions about the world around them, watching them come to understand who God is for themselves, it has been an experience like none other.

Perhaps this time of reflection is why Jesus’ words from Matthew 18 jumped out at me so much this week. The disciples wanted to know who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I don’t know what they were expecting the answer to be, perhaps those who knew the Scriptures the best, or those who had given the most to the poor and needy, or any other number of things the disciples saw as worthy of being called the greatest. While I don’t know what they expected, I am certain that they never would have guessed that Jesus would place a child among them and point to that child as to what they should aspire to.

“Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” My hope for all of us in the days ahead is that we can become like children. That we can look with awe at the world around us, to see the good that is God’s awesome creation. That we can humble ourselves before God and before one another in recognition of the awesome love of our heavenly Father. That we can welcome all of God’s children into Christ’s Holy Church, whether they be the newly born, or they are in need of being born again.

In keeping with the “Like a child” theme this month, I will be choosing a different child’s book for each Sunday. I will share the story with the kids during their time in service and will likewise structure my message around the themes in the story. I hope you can join us in the weeks ahead, that all of us might again become like children.

Blessings,

Pastor Devin.

For the rest of this month’s newsletter, please click here:  September 2019

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August, 2019

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

–Romans 12:2

Hall of fame football coach Lou Holtz once said, “In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying, so get moving and grow.”  While I do appreciate his sentiment I think that it is missing an important piece, moving just for the sake of moving is not really growth, nor is it beneficial to anyone.  We know through the Scriptures that Jesus kept a pretty busy schedule. He was on the go quite regularly, traveling from town to town, simply put he was on the move. But, the thing that is easy to forget in all the journeys of Jesus that we read about is that He also took time to slow down and rest.  He took time to step away, to pray to God, to seek God’s will for what He should do next. He didn’t stay stagnate for long, but He did take the time that was needed for discernment and understanding to occur before continuing forward on the journey.

Attached to this month’s newsletter is the Vitality Assessment Report we received as a part of the Local Church Assessment program we recently went through.  Copies of it have been available, but I wanted to be sure that as many people as possible have a chance to see it.  The report recognizes the good and fruitful ministry that has taken place here at Emmanuel, but it also recognizes the challenges we face.  Challenges of financial need, building maintenance, and how best to continue to serve within the Blissfield community. The Lead team is in discussions as to what we can do as a church to address some of these questions, but the questions are not for the Lead Team alone.  They are for all of us. My hope is that we will all take some time in the coming weeks to prayerfully consider and discern how we as individuals, and we as the Church can “get moving and grow,” not for our own benefit, but to bring glory to God and God’s Kingdom.

Please know that I am always willing to sit down and discuss this, as are the members of the Lead Team.  If you have any questions or comments about the Assessment letter or anything else my door is always open.

God Bless,
Pastor Devin

To read the rest of this month’s newsletter, please click here:  August 2019

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July, 2019

“The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped. “

Proverbs 11:25 (MSG)

This week I found myself standing on a beach, my youngest daughter strapped to my chest, blissfully asleep, while I watched my two younger daughters and wife dip their toes into the still slightly chilly waters of Lake Erie.  As I watched the scene play out, the warm sun shining down, the sound of the waves crashing in on the shore, the squeals of delight as the water reached their little feet, I realized just how blessed I am. I am blessed to live my life with my people, Team Pteranodon as we like to call ourselves.

I am also blessed to serve with and alongside such wonderful people here at Emmanuel.  As this newsletter goes to print in July it will have officially been 4 years that I have been here.  In some ways it still seems like it was just yesterday that I took to that pulpit for the first time, in other ways that pulpit feels so familiar and comfortable, it’s almost like home to me now.  I hope you have similar feelings about the past 4 years of ministry that has taken place. I truly believe we have done much good in our community and throughout the world as a part of Christ’s church.

While I may be feeling a bit nostalgic I am not looking to the future with rose colored glasses on.  I fully recognize the difficulties that lie before us. As a denomination and as a church here in Blissfield.  We have done great things together, but we must continue to look to the future and how best to be that beacon of light that Christ called us to be.  Yes there are challenges to face: financial, our building, people to fill volunteer positions, and of course the ongoing denominational struggles.

But, even with those unknowns in our future I still find myself full of hope for the people we call Methodists here in Blissfield, MI.  I find hope because this is a church that strives to bless others, a church that strives to help those in need. We do not have endless resources, but I truly believe we have made great use of what we have in the past, and we will continue to do so into the future.

Thank you for walking this path with me.  Thank you for your continued commitment to Christ’s church.  Thank you for being a blessing to this world.

May God’s abundant blessings be with you now and always,

Pastor Devin

To read the rest of this month’s newsletter, please click here:  July 2019

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June, 2019

And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.

–Acts 2:2-3

Depending on when this edition of the newsletter makes it into your hands I will either be preparing to be ordained as an Elder in the United Methodist Church, or that service will have already taken place.

Regardless of when you are reading it there is one thing that I have to say to all of you, thank you.

As my church family you have supported, encouraged, uplifted, and inspired me.  All of your loving words of encouragement, as well as your suggestions for ways I could improve, have helped me to navigate this journey.  The beautiful painting you gave to me as a gift this past week means so much, it will forever be a reminder of the wonderful people I have had the privilege of serving alongside here at Emmanuel.  For these things and so much more I give you my most sincere thanks.

Someone asked me what is going to change now that I am an ordained Elder?  To put it frankly, nothing much. I will continue to work to make sure that all people know of God’s love for them, no conditions attached.  I will continue to empower others to share their love for Jesus. I will continue to use my voice to support the least, the last, and the lost of our world.  I will strive to make the church a place where everyone who comes through the door will be welcomed and know Christ’s love for themselves. I will continue to serve.

The final thing that I know will remain the same is that the people who call Emmanuel UMC home will continue to do those same things.

Because that is what I have witnessed over the past 4 years. A loving community of people who love Jesus and want to show others how amazing that love is.

This month we will celebrate Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is a Spirit that I know is very much alive within our Church, a Spirit that is alive within each and every one of us. A Spirit that empowers and encourages us to continue forward in the faith. I pray this month that you will take time to appreciate and recognize that you too are filled with that same Spirit that fell on those first Disciples so many years ago.

Thank you for your love and support, thank you for all you have done for me, thank you for your commitment to Emmanuel UMC.  But, let us not ever grow weary or sit back and think the work is done. There is a whole world of people who need to hear of Christ’s love, so I pray you will continue serving with me as we welcome and love like Christ, let’s get to work.

Pastor Devin

To read the rest of the June newsletter, click here: June 2019

 

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May, 2019

Pastor Devin is on paternity leave for the month of May.

Please join us in welcoming Eliza Juniper Smith to the church family.

To view the rest of the May newsletter, please click here: May 2019

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April, 2019

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

Philippians 3:10-11

Why? How Come? How many? Are you sure? But, why?

There is a great scene in the John Candy movie, Uncle Buck, where Candy’s character is being grilled by his young nephew on any range of questions.  As the questions come fast and furious he interrupts to ask, “What’s your record for consecutive questions asked?” Without missing a beat the little boy responds, “38”, and the questions and answers continue.  Anyone who has spent any time with a child in that preschool to elementary age group knows how curious the mind of a child can be. As they attempt to learn and understand the world around them the questions can come at a non-stop pace, truth be told 38 consecutive questions doesn’t sound like all that many.

I sometimes wonder how Paul dealt with those early churches that he helped to plant.  I am sure that they had to of been full of people who were curious. Full of questions, likely many of the same questions asked time and time again.  At the beginning of the third chapter of his letter to the Philippians Paul wrote, “To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard.”  This all but confirmed for me that Paul from time to time found himself answering the same questions over and over. But I love Paul’s words here, that it “is not troublesome”, even if he is responding to the 38th consecutive question Paul’s response shows that the most important thing to him is sharing Christ with the world.  Later in his letter Paul wrote the verses that I had copied above, the ones that we will use as our theme verses for the month of April. To me those verses are the summation of why we ask all those questions. Because we, like Paul, want to know Christ and the power that his resurrection has shared with all the world. It is why we continue to look to the Scriptures and ask questions, why we continue to seek wisdom and knowledge from them.

My hope for us all as we finish our Lenten journey, as we celebrate Christ’s glorious resurrection on Easter morning, is that we continue to ask those questions.  Continue to seek God’s knowledge and wisdom, continue to seek God’s will for your life. Ask questions if necessary, but make sure you take the time to listen for the answer as well.  As we celebrate this month may we continue to seek God’s will be done.

Blessings,
Pastor Devin

To read the rest of the April newsletter, please click here: April 2019

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