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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March, 2019

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Matthew 6:19-20

How many of you have a treasure?  It doesn’t have to be an item that is worth a particularly large amount of money, but it remains a treasure to you nonetheless.  Depending on what that item is you may go to some great lengths to protect that item. It may be in a safe, or even a bank deposit box.  It might be in a cabinet or otherwise protected space so that it is not disrupted or disturbed. It might be something like Grandma’s China that is in the special dish cabinet (you know the stuff that will only see the light of day if the Queen herself is coming to dinner).

As I thought about what items I might consider my treasures I  realized that I am guilty of keeping them tucked away, attempting to  protect them from moth, rust or thief. The truth is, though, that any and every earthly material item has a shelf life. Try as we might to protect them those items can and will eventually be consumed.

I am certain that is why Jesus implored those who would listen to build up instead treasures in heaven.  To be clear I do not believe that Jesus was referencing some heavenly safe deposit box that we will be able to open and enjoy on the other side of eternity.  I think instead Jesus wanted his followers to understand that in the end all those earthly treasures are insignificant and will pass away. But, heavenly treasures they make a difference for eternity.  I once read that we are making deposits in those heavenly treasures when we: give of our resources as well as ourselves; pray and fast in private; forgive someone; share the gospel; love our enemies; endure insults and persecutions.  Basically when we do the things that Jesus taught us to do. And it is here that we see the difference between those earthly treasures and the heavenly ones. Our earthly treasures often result in things kept stashed away privately from the world, while our heavenly ones result in our interaction with or concern for others.

No, I don’t believe that Jesus has the angels keeping a scorecard of who has deposited what in that heavenly treasure bank because that has nothing to do with our ability or inability to join Him there.  Our     salvation has already been bought at a very high price. But, I do believe Jesus has called us to leave behind those earthly treasures and instead seek the heavenly ones because in doing those things we are showing the world Christ’s love and we are promoting His Kingdom here on Earth.  There is a large part of the world who still seek after those earthly treasures, I hope that we, as the Church of Jesus Christ, can continue making deposits in the heavenly ones, not for our glory, but for His.

God Bless,

Pastor Devin

To see all the happenings at EUMC and read the rest of the March newsletter, click here: March 2019 

 

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January, 2019

“I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.”

-John 12:46

Happy New Year!  I hope this newsletter finds you and yours doing well.  It might be a bit of carry over from the Christmas season, but, no matter what the previous year held there is always something about the start of the new year that makes me hopeful and joyful.   I fully recognize that in reality not much changed in the moment that 11:59 pm on December 31st became 12:00 am on January 1st. That one single moment did not fix all the problems in the world. It did not suddenly make anything better.  So why be hopeful, why be joyful? Well a colleague of mine shared this picture on New Year’s Day…

For me, that single comic panel summed up why as this new year begins I pause and take a moment to be hopeful, to be joyful.  Sure I  could look around at the state of the country and the world. I could allow the anger, the hatred, the conflict,  the distrust that is readily apparent to set the tone for how the year will go…

OR…

I…we, can choose to plant flowers.  Yes there is plenty of darkness in the world, but, there is also light. We just finished celebrating that light coming into our world, offering us hope, love, joy and peace and my friends, that light has not gone out. The light of Christ burns bright into all those deep dark places in the world, and in our lives.  I hope you will join me this year in not just basking in that light in your own life, but also spreading it. Let us make this world a better place through our words and our actions. Let us make this world a better place by sharing the love we know in Christ.

Join me in planting a flower today.

God Bless,

Pastor Devin

 

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December, 2018

“She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

-Matthew 1:21

As I look out my window and write this I can’t help but have the words of a favorite Christmas song come to mind, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” The snowflakes are falling and it seems like every time I venture outside I see more and more reminders of the coming holiday.  But as much as I might enjoy some of those Christmas traditions I was also reminded that we aren’t in the business of only celebrating one day during the month of December.

An article from UMC.org reminded me that before we get to Christmas we have the season of Advent.  And from that article we are reminded:

The season of Advent, which comes comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” or “visit,” begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year for Christians.

During Advent, we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ. We  remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah and our own longing for, and need of, forgiveness, salvation and a new beginning. Even as we look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem, we also look forward anticipating the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of all that was promised by his first coming.

Christmas Eve service is among my favorite services I get to be a part of each year, but I also want to challenge myself and all of you to not jump ahead too fast this Advent     season.  Take time during this season to live in that time of anticipation, to prepare for the coming of Christ. For as the article reminds, we are called not just to look back at His birth, but also to look forward to the promised return.

I hope you will join me this Advent season in celebrating this time of anticipation and preparation.  That we can be reminded of the Hope, Love, Joy and Peace that this      season brings because of the birth of that child so long ago.

Merry Christmas and God Bless,
Pastor Devin

 

 

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November, 2018

Esther 4:14 “For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

What am I here for? What’s the point? What is the meaning of life? Maybe you have found yourself asking one or all of those questions at some point in your life. A recent edition of Reader’s Digest compiled a list of some of the best quotes pertaining to that last question…What is the meaning of life? Among those answers:

  • “My aim is to spread more smiles than tears.” – Tupac Shakur
  • “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on…” -The Beatles
  • “Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.” -Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life
  • “The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.” – David Viscott

I don’t know if any one of those is the final be-all-end-all answer on what is the meaning of life, but I do think they all offer us some good guidance in finding meaning in our lives.

Just a few weeks back I preached from the book of Esther. In that story we see the young Jewish woman, Esther, suddenly vaulted into a situation that she never expected to be a part of. I am sure she asked herself those same questions that I listed above, wondering why she found herself standing at a crossroads with the Jewish people. One path led to redemption and freedom, the other to eradication. “Why me, what am I to do?” she wondered. It was her cousin Mordecai that laid it out for her when he told her, “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

I think that all of us have metaphorically stood at those crossroads in our own lives, our families, our church, our nation, our world. If you are like me you have been left asking the same question as Esther, “Why me, what am I to do?” I encourage all of us to hear Mordecai’s words anew, “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.” Now you could shrug it off and think, I’ve not been brought to “royal dignity”, but to those comments I would remind you, YOU are a child of the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. Each of us is the daughter or son of the King, that by default makes us a part of a royal bloodline, one that goes back to Jesus, back to David, back to Abraham, back to Adam. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, chosen and loved by the Creator of the World. We have all been given a place to serve, we have all been given gifts to use, we have all been given a chance to make a difference.

I pray that we can all maybe find a sliver of the answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?” in our service to our Savior, Jesus Christ. All of us together are the Church, here for just such a time as this. It is my honor and my privilege to serve with and alongside each of you as we work to make this world a better, more meaningful place.

God Bless,

Pastor Devin

 

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