Is It True?

I have been receiving a lot of questions lately, both firsthand and secondhand, that start with the phrase, “Is it true?”  “Is it true that worship times are being changed?”  “Is it true that we are changing adult classes in Sunday School?”  “Is it true that I am going to lose my home group?”  The answer to these questions is yes, we are looking at new ministry ideas that may mean restructuring some things, but no final decisions have been made about anything.  The reason we are looking at new ministry strategies is because the results of our congregational survey clearly indicate that we need new ways to do ministry if we are going to be effective in reaching our community for Jesus Christ.  The general agreement seems to be that what we are currently doing isn’t as effective as it could be so we need to make some changes.
It is understandable to have a certain level of anxiety whenever we hear about change.  The first thing we tend to do is focus on how that change affects us on a personal level. It’s easy to say that we need to do new things until that change impacts us directly.  The Bible challenges us to go beyond self-interest in our discipleship.  The Apostle Paul said, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).  It’s fine to think about how change is going to affect us on a personal level but we must also look at the big picture as well and ask what is best for the church as a whole.
On August 29th, at our fifth Sunday service, I will be laying out the strategies we want to use to fulfill the mission God is giving us as a church.  These strategies will challenge us to view ministry in new ways and will require us to do some things differently.  Each of us must be prepared to ask ourselves if it is worth moving out of our comfort zone in order to be more effective at communicating the Gospel to the world.  As Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).   I look forward to some exciting times ahead as we seek to “reach the world for Jesus Christ, one person at a time.”

Blessings,

Pastor John

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One of the best known of Jesus’ parables is the one about the Good Samaritan.  A man gets beat up by robbers.  Two men, a priest and a Levite walk by the man without helping, while a Samaritan stops and aids the wounded man.  What made this parable shocking to the listeners of Jesus is that the men who passed by the injured person were thought to be righteous while the one who helped is the one they would have considered to be a sinner.  The point of the story is that the ones who are truly righteous are the ones who love one another.  Godliness isn’t about the way we dress or how much intellectual knowledge we have but about loving our neighbor.

A version if this parable was played out in real life before a security camera on the streets of New York City.  A man risked his life by coming to the aid of a woman who was being attacked.  He was stabbed and lay bleeding on the street for almost an hour before he died.  Many people passed by him but nobody helped, not even the woman he rescued.  It turned out that the man who sacrificed his life to save another person was a homeless immigrant from Guatemala.  I wonder how many “good” people passed this man by because they assumed he was just an illegal immigrant or just some homeless guy of no value.  Yet it is this man, Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax, who has taught us what it means to love our neighbor.  Indeed, the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.

As the whole issue of immigration has become a political football, the ones getting lost in all the rhetoric are the immigrants themselves, both legal and illegal.  While some are drug dealers and criminals, the vast majority are people who are simply desperate to escape poverty and see no other way than to cross the border illegally.  So while it is true that we must secure our borders we also cannot forget that the people on the other side of that border are human beings and we are their neighbors.  How are we going to love those neighbors as we love ourselves?

Watch this video. What would you do?

The month of May has several observances.  There is Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, and the Christian days of Ascension and Pentecost often fall in May as well.  However, there is a United Methodist observance in May that you probably haven’t heard of.  The Sunday closest to May 24, is known as Aldersgate Sunday.

What is Aldersgate Sunday?  On May 24, 1738, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, wrote in his journal that he “felt his heart strangely warmed.”  It is the day when John Wesley felt he really understood what it meant to be saved by faith.  He was already an ordained minister in the Church of England, but he had always been riddled with doubt about the assurance of salvation.  By his own admission he was trying to earn his salvation through good works.  He had been studying with some Moravians, who had been teaching him about salvation by faith.  Those lessons finally took hold when he attended a Bible Study at Aldersgate Street in London.

The reason this event is so important is because through salvation by faith Wesley understood that Christianity wasn’t just an intellectual pursuit or a set of rules to follow, but Christianity was an experience to be lived out on a daily basis.  Wesley brought the concept of Christian discipleship back to the Church, which had been focused on the intellectual aspects of faith.  In so doing, Wesley became the greatest evangelist in the history of England, and his teaching would become part of the fuel for the revival in the American Colonies known as The Great Awakening.

A new movie is coming out about John Wesley.  It is scheduled to be shown April 30 – May 6, at the Penn Cinema, near the Lancaster airport.  I would encourage you to make time to see the inspiring story of a man who influenced the spiritual lives of people on two continents, in the name of Jesus.

Blessings,

Pastor John

Join us as we celebrate Holy Week with;

Palm Sunday – Our Senior Choir will be presenting an Easter Cantata in the 10:30 am service.

Maundy Thursday – We will remember our Lord’s Last Supper as we partake in Holy Communion at 7:30 pm.

Good Friday – We will remember Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross during our Good Friday Service at 7:30 pm.

Easter – Join us for our regular worship services, 8:15 and 10:30 am, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

For the next month, February 14 – March 14, we will be conducting a Family Ministry Assessment Survey at Memorial UM Church.  This month-long survey will help the leadership of the church identify the family needs within our church, as well as the needs of our church family. Your participation in this survey is very important to us. The survey, which is completely anonymous, can be taken either online or in written form. You can take the survey online by clicking the link below. Hard copies of the survey are available in the church lobby outside the sanctuary. Completed surveys should be returned to the church, no later than March 14, and placed in the designated box in the church lobby. Thank you for your participation!

The survey is being conducted through Memorial’s partnership with House on The Rock Family Ministries. House on the Rock Family Ministries will be compiling all of the data from the survey and reporting back to Memorial’s leadership team with the results.


Church Office Closed

The church office is closed and all activities for Wednesday, February 10th at the church have been cancelled. Stay home and enjoy the snow!

The Snow Emergency Plan is in effect for Sunday, February 7th. The Celebration Service (8:15 am) and Sunday School classes are cancelled. The church will be open and we will hold the 10:30 am service for those who are able to attend. Walkers are encouraged to attend. Please use extreme caution if you venture out in the storm.

All afternoon and evening activities are cancelled.

The Youth Flag Football Tournament and Super Bowl Party at Black Rock are cancelled.