Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Adventures, September 2016 from the Quincy Quill

Adventures with Pastor Andrew
Here I am, Lord.  Is it I, Lord? 
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart
(Here I am, Lord; United Methodist Hymnal, 593)

Where has the summer gone?  I think it’s a question many of us ask, as here we are in September and already at the end of summer.  But amidst the summer ending, September marks another time of new beginnings as kids go back to school, the nights begin cooling down more, the days become even shorter, and we start seeing some semblances of Fall starting to take place, especially with the influx of pumpkin-spice everything and Halloween candy making its appearance in the stores.  Although visit one of the “big-box” stores in Reno or Chico and you’ll likely see some Christmas things up already!!  During my four years in Washington, DC for seminary, I looked forward to September because the humidity usually broke around the middle of the month and the weather became comfortable once again.  Thankfully, I haven’t had to worry much about that since moving back to CA. 

September is always a month in which things begin ramping up as summer gives way to Fall, whether it is in our church or community.  Of course being in California, we won’t be feeling the effects of Fall until later this month at the earliest, yet it seems like there is a change in the air as soon as September rolls around.  As summer has been slower and more laid back, the Fall heralds the return of regular programming.  In the church, we’ll be seeing the return of the choir and bell choir, Bible studies, and many other possibilities that await, as there are ideas brewing too!! 

Along with new beginnings in the Fall, this also means we are in the process of nominations.  Is God calling you to serve?  Our lay leader, Marty Byrne and I are working on seeing what the leadership opportunities of our church are at the time of writing this and would like you to consider serving.  We have opportunities to serve in worship, trustees, staff-parish relations, mission/outreach, hospitality, finance, Christian education…the list can go on and on.  Do you have a gift where you could serve in any of these areas?  I invite you to think and pray about it.  Serving the church is a wonderful opportunity to get to know one another, but it is also a part of mission and vital work of the church.  Sometimes, it is easy to cast off serving in a ministry as yet another aspect of church politics through committee work, but it does not have to be that way or seen that way.  When we remember why we do what we do and the purpose for why we are serving, serving the church through one of the ministry areas should be a joy and honor, even when it can be challenging at times.  You might be hearing from Marty and I in the coming days, but please do not hesitate to contact us if God may be calling you to serve. 

Along with mission, discipleship plays a crucial part of our journey in serving the body of Christ.  Like our bodies, and the various trees and plants around us, our souls also need nourishment and food.  What are you doing to feed your soul lately?  Do you study scripture often?  Do you pray regularly?  Do you have a regular devotional practice?  For example, one of my favorite devotions is Rev. Steve Garnaas Holmes’s “Unfolding Light” or Father Richard Rohr’s daily meditations for daily devotionals.  But, I also treat the way I live and my daily walk as a constant prayer and devotion to God, especially living around so much natural beauty!!  Do you have prayer partners or “holy friends,” the kind who hold you accountable to your faith out of their love for you?  They are valuable to have!!  In fact, the time I offer for coffee and conversation each Friday is one of those times we can ask each other the question that John Wesley would often ask, “how is it with your soul?” and a time for accountability and prayer partnering. 

Small groups are also another essential item for discipleship and spiritual growth, and there are plenty of possibilities for small group study/accountability/devotion out there, so if God may be calling you to put something together, let me know!!  I would LOVE to see us develop small groups in this congregation, as it is a way of meeting each other in a smaller setting and getting to know one another.  In fact, during John Wesley’s time, they called these groups “bands” or “holy clubs” that met regularly at Oxford for prayer, study of scripture, and checking in with one another.  Hearkening back to our Wesleyan heritage, a number of churches have revived this practice too.  Ginghamsburg UMC in Tipp City, OH does something like this called “cell groups” while The Table at Central UMC in Sacramento calls these groups “Kitchen Tables,” many of them taking place in people’s homes, or even out in the community at some of the local cafes/coffeehouses. 

One thing that does stand out for small group involvement in some churches is that being a part of a small groups is a requirement for all members.  Even though small group involvement is not a requirement for membership here at Community UMC, I do want to encourage EVERYONE to engage together in some sort of small group, whether it’s two or three that are gathered. This can also work for ALL ages too, because it is NEVER too early to teach our young people and mentor them in discipleship.  We have an even greater need to reach out with the love of God and neighbor to our children, youth, and college students too!!  Having said that, I would like to invite you to take part in a small group study on Adam Hamilton’s book, Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It for six weeks and will have more information in the Sunday Bulletin and on the church’s Facebook page for times and places. 

As we go into this Fall and time of new opportunities, I look forward to dreaming together with you and seeing what possibilities we have to go deeper in our discipleship and devotion by serving as the hands and feet of Christ in our church and community. 

Peace & Blessings,

Pastor Andrew 

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