From the Pastor

September, 2022

May the Grace and Peace of a Risen Savior be upon you!

I pray this newsletter has found you all well and blessed.  We have been in a process of learning about our faith journeys and specifically what it means to be a member of the United Methodist Church.  We recently have started to examine what it means to give your witness of your encounter with the risen Savior and how that encounter has changed your life.  Your life story is unique to you.  No two people have the same one.  There are some stories that share similarities, but all life stories are unique to the person.

Each life story is important.  Everyone has something to share about their life even though they may not think so.  Every part of the body of Christ is important and valued.  God uses everything that a person has which includes their story.  That’s right… someone out there right now needs to hear your story!  That story is how God has made a difference in your life?  Another way of thinking about it is to ask why follow God?  Every human being asks why.  If we do not get the answer or the answers we like, we keep going until we find one, we do like.

I remember a church campaign that ran many years ago that asks, “How do you make Christians?”  “By being one,” was the reply.  That campaign, I believe just confused people even more.  How do we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?  By getting to know someone such that they trust you.  You listen to their story and the pain/joy in their lives.  You have empathy and love for them because they are a human being.  Once trust is established and a relationship exists, a time will come when you sense they are wanting more out of life.  When that happens, share your story.  Sharing our story of how Christ changed our lives is vitally important to making disciples.  Can you imagine a world where Christians did not share their stories?

We would not have the Bible or any religious material or thoughts.  In fact, we would not have any Christians.  Another view point I would suggest would be the following.  I can’t understand why a group of common, largely uneducated, fishermen and their families would risk their lives to share the story of Christ unless there was something miraculous about it.  It is even more outstanding to consider that these small groups of people who shared their stories had an impact on other nations while the Roman Empire attempted to wipe them out.  Consider in the Book of Acts (8:26-40), Philip shares the story of Christ with the Ethiopian.  The Ethiopian took that message back to his home country.  Would the Ethiopians of that day have known of Christ otherwise?

Consider your own families.  Growing up, did a member of your family read to you stories out of the bible or share their own story with you?  Did someone take time to explain what it means to love your neighbor and to love God?  Did they use only words or did they use their actions and words?  Did they make it personal?  Did you listen to how a member of your family lived out their faith?  What do you remember from childhood?

As we are aware, the world is constantly changing and that change sometimes is feared.  If we do not share our faith with others, then we risk our faith disappearing.  I heard once that Christianity is only one generation away from extinction since it began.  If we fail to share the faith, then it ends with us.  I was told a preacher story recently that I want to share with you.  There was a grandma and grandchild sitting in the kitchen together and the grandma was explaining the importance of a particular vase in the other room.  She told her grandchild that this vase had come with her ancestors from the old country many generations ago.  This vase had been passed on through the generations from so long ago that no one could remember when it had started.  With a look of shock and a little dismay, the grandchild said, “Well, this generation dropped it!”

We have a bright and hopeful future here at JUMC.  Let us not be the generation that drops it.

Peace,

   Pastor Ed

 

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