January, 2018

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

-2 Corinthians 5:17

Happy New Year! I hope that this letter finds you still reveling in the Joy of the Christmas season as we welcome 2018. I’m sure I am not alone in that in the closing days of 2017 I enjoy looking back at the year that was. I think it is human nature to look back, remember and see what has been accomplished, as well as the growth that has taken place in our and our loved ones lives. I just happened to be flipping through my camera roll the other day, listening to some Christmas music, when a song you may be familiar with came on; John Lennon’s Happy X-Mas.

I’ve heard it plenty of times before (I can thank my Dad, who is a Beatles fan for that) but as I listened to it, the words struck me:

“So this is Christmas

And what have you done

Another year over

And a new one just begun

These lyrics stood out to me because I think they speak a very important truth: “What have I (you) done?” That is a question that each of us would have to ask and reflect on personally to really come to an answer. But I think it is an important one as we enter this new year.

It can be easy to become beholden to the expected order of things, doing what our calendar tells us to do, day in and day out. Before we know it, Easter is here, then the 4th of July, then it’s Thanksgiving, then Christmas and, look at that, another New Year is coming.  We find ourselves with another year over and a new one just begun wondering what have we done.

I do know that we just celebrated the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I cannot think of a better time to sit down and reflect and pray about the year to come. What does 2018 look like for us as individuals, as families and as a Church? How can we continue to move forward with the mission that Jesus gave us to “go and make disciples?” How can we intentionally live into God’s call for our lives? Personally, I am excited to see what God has in store for us as a Church and I hope and pray that our efforts this year will bring honor and glory to God’s Kingdom.

Later in Lennon’s song, he continues:

“A very Merry Christmas

And a happy new year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear”

I wish those same sentiments for each and every one of us, let us go and make it a good one, unafraid of what the future holds.

God Bless,

Pastor Devin

Click here to read the rest of the January 2018  newsletter.

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December, 2017

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.”

—Luke 2:10

“Good news of great joy” … couldn’t we all use a little bit of that? Maybe you are like me and you would really like to get to that good news and great joy right here, right now. If we are being honest we all probably feel that way a little bit. We live in a world and a culture that tells us to have what we want when we want it. I am not so old that I don’t still remember the excitement I felt on those Christmas mornings. Seeing all those presents and the stockings waiting there by the tree. Of course, it was something I looked forward to, something I wanted to get to as quickly as possible each year.

But these last few years I have found myself looking forward to the Advent season with new eyes. I am no longer in as much of a rush to get through the Advent season,. Rather, I want to take time and soak it all in, to savor what it has to offer. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, we will be spending time looking at the Hope, Love, Joy and Peace this season has to offer. I assure you there is “good news of great joy” to come, but  I invite you to join me in not just rushing through this season of anticipation but rather to take time to stop and enjoy it.

The days ahead have been described as the most wonderful time of the year and for us as Christians they truly are. Not because of the presents or parties but because we know what is coming, Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, our Savior.

We already know the gift we will receive this Christmas season, but knowing does not make it any less exciting. My hope and prayer for each of us is that we don’t let our anticipation of what is to come get in the way of enjoying the time we have now.

Merry Christmas and God Bless,

Pastor Devin

(To read the rest of the December newsletter, click here: December 2017 )

 

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November, 2017

23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”

–Hebrews 10:23-24

How many things can you say you do in your life unswervingly?  That is there is no variation, no change in how you do them from day to day, week to week, month to month?  As much as humans are creatures of habit I am willing to bet that there are not many of us who can say we do many things unswervingly.

That is why I love the verse that I started this article with.  It challenges those of us who profess to have hope in the Lord.  It challenges us because if we are going to claim to have Faith in Jesus there is only one way to do so, unswervingly.  It is the only choice because as the Scripture told us, “he who promised is faithful.”  Jesus is unswerving in his promise and commitment to us, and we are challenged to respond in kind.

Now don’t get me wrong that is not an easy thing to do.  While many may find it easy to be faithful when things are good doing so when things go south is another story entirely.  Many of us are likely to stumble and fall during those times, but here is the good news, we don’t have to face those difficult times alone.

That is what the second verse from Hebrews reminds us.  That as Christians we are a part of a community that should encourage and support one another through those difficult times.

I have been grateful to be a part of a community that has for a long time spurred me on to “love and good deeds.”  My hope and prayer is that we can continue to be that community, for each other, and for a world that is sorely in need of some love and good deeds.

Let us be unswerving in our commitment to Christ now and forever,

Pastor Devin

(To read the rest of the November Newsletter, click here: November 2017 )

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October, 2017

“and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

–Ephesians 4:32

I’m sorry.  Can you think of two harder words to say in the English language?  Why is that?  Is it because it requires us to admit we made a mistake, that we did something wrong?  I’m sure that I can’t be the only person who really doesn’t like to admit that they were wrong.  Perhaps the only thing worse than being wrong is having to admit it to the 5-year-old who calls you out on your mistake (not that it has ever happened to me before).

Even though most of us don’t like to seek forgiveness, when we look to the Scriptures we see repeated reminders that when someone asks for forgiveness we should give it to them.  We are told to do this because God has likewise forgiven us through Christ, even if we didn’t deserve it.  There is no shortage of verses that deal with forgiveness, but I selected the one above from Ephesians 4:32 for a specific reason.  It not only contains the instruction that we should forgive one another it also tells us how we should behave when  doing so.

When you take verse 31 from immediately before it into consideration as well it reads:

31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

We are not to forgive with an angry spirit, rather we are to put those ugly sinful human emotions aside and to be kind and tenderhearted (or as it is also commonly translated, compassionate) to one another.  I think this is important for us to remember in our relationships both within the church but also outside its doors.

I asked if saying “I’m sorry” were the two most difficult words to say, perhaps the only ones that are more difficult are, “You’re forgiven”.  When someone approaches us seeking forgiveness we are not to offer a cursory “You’re forgiven” or “it’s ok”.  Rather when someone seeks true genuine forgiveness we are to embrace that person and offer our genuine “You’re forgiven”.  I’ll be the first to admit it is not an easy thing to do, but it is what our heavenly Father expects of us.

Do you have a couple of words you need to say to someone?  I didn’t ask which pair of words it might be that you need to say, but I would argue it doesn’t matter.  Whether seeking forgiveness or granting it we should treat one another with kindness and compassion, just as our Heavenly Father has treated us.

Blessings,

Pastor Devin

(To read the rest of the October newsletter, click here: October 2017)

 

 

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September, 2017

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”

–Galatians 6:9

This summer our family took on a project that we had never done before, something we literally had NO experience with, we planted a garden.  In full disclosure prior to this garden keeping a single plant alive was an achievement in our household.  I was once given an aloe plant that I was assured took NO maintenance as long as it got water once and awhile.  Yet a short time later all I had left was the pot.  So this endeavor into gardening was a new experience.

Now I will be perfectly honest Brittany was the brains behind the operation, she researched the best plants to put together when things would need to be planted, how to best fertilize the soil to yield the best results, she did all the leg work.  It was fun planting it and weeding it and watering it and watching it grow with the kids this summer.  Then the most amazing thing started to happen, we actually had vegetables growing!

We have been up to our ears in tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cucumbers, all of it coming from those little seeds that were planted months ago.  Of course, there was work that had to be done between the planting and the harvest, but seeing the results truly makes it worth it.

Our experience this summer tied in well with the verse from Galatians 6:9.  There were some hot summer days when weeding or watering that garden didn’t sound like a whole lot of fun.  At that point, we had no idea if the garden would even yield anything for us to harvest.  That is how it often is in planting the seeds of faith in others.  It can be hard work, work that we don’t necessarily see immediate results from.  But the work is necessary, it is ongoing, we are called to continue to carry the Good News to people of all nations, including those right here in our own community.

My prayer for us is that we do not lose heart in doing good, yes it is hard work, we can grow weary and tired, and we have no idea if we will ever see the results of that work.  But Scripture does tell us that we will reap if we do not grow weary.  As we enter the fall season and have activities going on around the church I hope you will join me in doing the necessary work to nurture, water and feed those seeds of faith that will be planted.

God Bless,

Pastor Devin

To view the rest of the September newsletter, click here: September 2017

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August 2017

But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.

–1 Samuel 12:24

The last week of July I found myself in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee for a family reunion/get together.  30 people ages 7 months to 81 years all together in one house.  If you happened to catch my sermon on July 23rd you know that vacationing with 3 children isn’t quite the relaxing vacation most of us dream of.  However at some point during the drive home the mountains were in my rearview mirror and all three children were simultaneously napping, there was a period of quiet I found myself looking back at the previous week.  Sure it was crazy, it was loud, it was chaotic, but it was also wonderful.  To be able to spend that time with family laughing and enjoying one another’s company was a great gift.  In looking at the Scripture from 1 Samuel it made me realize that one of the great things that God has done for me is provide an absolutely amazing family to love and support me and my family.
Often it is easy to start to take those things for granted and just accept them as normal and the way it is.  But the Scripture from 1 Samuel provides a reminder for us as to how we should respond to God’s blessings in our lives.  We are to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all our hearts.

Don’t get hung up on the word fear in that Scripture, the original Hebrew word can be translated as fear, respect or reverence, it has a very positive quality, not how we generally view fear today.  Samuel is imploring the reader to have a proper respect for the Lord our God and to serve faithfully.  That is my hope for us as a Church as we begin a new month on the calendar.  We have a lot of events and things that will be happening in the coming weeks and I pray that if you feel led to participate DO IT!  There are so many different ways to help and things to be done that I promise we will have somewhere for you to help that will make use of your skills and talents.  When I look at all the great things that God has done for and through Emmanuel UMC I can’t help but rejoice and give thanks to our heavenly Father.
I hope you will join me this month in giving thanks, in giving praise, in worshiping and in serving the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
God Bless,
Pastor Devin

August 2017

 

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Community Meal

One of life’s greatest pleasures is sharing good food with good company!

We are honored to have the opportunity to host a free community meal for Blissfield area residents. Anyone and everyone is invited to join us on Wednesday, August 2. The doors will open at 5:00 pm and the meal will be served from 5:30-6:30.

Any questions can be directed to the church office at 517-486-3020.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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