December, 2019

“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

I recently had a conversation with a woman who lives just down the street from the Church. They had actually stopped in during our Trunk or Treat and appreciated the hospitality and warm welcome they received. In the midst of our conversation she shared how difficult things have been as of late and she was fearful that she wouldn’t be able to have anything for her kids on Christmas morning. In what I can only describe as a nudge of the Spirit I asked her if we could help make Christmas happen for them. There was a moment of silence before she was able to respond but the appreciation I could hear in her voice came through loud and clear. In that moment I think she was able to experience a glimpse of that “good news and great joy” that the angel spoke of when it appeared to the shepherds. You see, she had been afraid; afraid of not meeting the expectations of her kids, afraid of the feelings of failure, afraid of how she was going to give her kids a little joy this Christmas.

So my friends the ball is in our court. At my prompting she is putting together a list of a few items for each of the kids (clothing and toys), and I encouraged her to put a few items for herself as well. We will be putting them onto individual notecards and placing them out on the table in the Narthex. I hope that each of us can be in prayer for this family and as the Spirit moves you to consider taking one of those cards and picking up the item listed on it. Bring it in (wrapped or unwrapped either way will work) with the notecard attached and put it in the office by Dec. 15th and we will make sure all the items get to the family. I know there are no shortage of places that money, gifts, and time can be donated this time of year. I will never question the worth of any of those opportunities, but I hope you will join me in helping to support a family right here in our neighborhood.

As we enter this season of Advent I hope all of us can take time to appreciate and embrace the peace, hope, joy, and love of the season as we prepare to celebrate our Lord and Saviors birth.

God Bless,
Pastor Devin

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November, 2019

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”

Psalm 9:1

I recently saw a video of a little girl.  She couldn’t have been more than 4 or 5 years old.  In the video, her Mom was asking her, “What do you love?”  For the next few minutes she listed all the friends and classmates she loved, all the toys, all the food, all kinds of things that she loved.  Finally, her Mom asked her, “do you love me?” And the little girl straight up ignored her! She was much more interested in something going by outside the car window and even with repeat prompting from her Mom she never answered the question.  The video ended with the mother’s exasperated sigh as the little girl continued to be interested in everything except answering her mother’s question.

We could easily draw some parallels between that encounter and to Jesus asking Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Especially knowing Peter’s response of, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Maybe that little girl thought her Mom’s question was silly to ask because of course she loves her Mom.  Maybe the little girl didn’t like being forced to express her love. Whatever the reason the mother seemed a bit dejected when her daughter refused to answer the question. It made me wonder as we enter the month of November, a time commonly associated with thankfulness, how often do we truly express our gratitude to our Heavenly Father?  Do we, like Peter, reply, “you know that I’m thankful” or do we like the little girl sometimes ignore the question entirely and fail to express our thankfulness?

The Psalmist states that, “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”  That is my challenge for all of us this month. To truly give thanks to the Lord with your whole heart. To tell of the wonderful deeds you have seen in your own life.  Not to treat it as a given, but to express it with your words and your actions. If you have one of those wonderful deeds you would like to share I would love to hear about it.  I would love to have some of them shared with the rest of the church during a service this month. If you don’t want to get up and speak yourself I would be more than happy to have you write it down and I’ll read your experience for you.  Ask your children if they have something they want to share, I would be happy to have them share what they are thankful for as well. My hope is that we can be comfortable sharing those “wonderful deeds” with one another so that when the opportunity presents itself we will be able to share them with others as well.  If you are willing to share catch me after a service or call/email me so that we can share our thankfulness with one another.

Feeling thankful and blessed,

Pastor Devin

For more information, please check out our November 2019 newsletter.

 

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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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