Trinity United Methodist Church
Thursday, October 19, 2017
We Care, We Share, We Grow
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 May 2017

Over the last couple of months, I have been wandering around our community watching and listening to various people. Some of these people are members of our congregation, business owners, governmental leaders, community organizers, and simply our neighbors. While they come from a variety of backgrounds, education, economics, and family situations; they all have one thing in common... their humanity. We all have those moments where we are hurting, afraid, unsure, and worn out. Put another way, we experience brokenness in our lives. But we also have times where we are healthy, courageous, focused, and strengthened. Those are the moments that we realize that in spite of our brokenness, we are whole. We are Easter people! Our risen Lord and Savior makes a difference in our lives.

One of the things that we have started doing, is to look to our neighbors and explore the issues and needs that they (and we) face. During our worship we are focusing on one area each month to not only raise awareness, but to look at how our faith makes a difference. During April, we focused on autism and special needs. Throughout the month of May, we will be lifting up cancer and how we can sustain each other in the midst of disease. Our youth are leading us in the Relay for Life initiative throughout the month which will culminate with the Relay for Life event on June 3rd. There will be opportunities for us to share our common experiences, our fears, our pain, and our victories. We will be reminded that faith in Jesus Christ makes a difference not only when things are going well, but more importantly when we need to see the hope that he holds out in our times of trouble. This is the faith that we can and must share with each other and our neighbors that will give strength and hope for the future.


                                                                           Pastor Ken


 April 2017



As I write this article today, I'm sitting in a hospital in Clearwater, Florida. My mother's health has been deteriorating over the last year. She turned 90 years old this past Christmas Eve, so it is not too surprising that health issues have been creeping up. Today, however, I am waiting with my father for hospice to come in and evaluate her. I am finding a whole bunch of different thoughts coming and going through my mind. As I reflect upon what I am thinking and feeling, I am reminded of the Holy Week drama that is unfolding.


Like the disciples who shared the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, much of my life has been journeying with my parents with little thought that this day would finally arrive. I had absorbed the stories and teaching that my parents had taught me of which many have been incorporated into my life. While I intellectually knew that illness and death would be in the future, like the disciples I had been able to concentrate on the palms and hosannas while not looking at the cross in the not so distant future. In this moment, the cross is on the horizon. The difficulty is to look beyond the cross to the empty tomb.


Just as Peter, James, and John accompanied Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane on Maundy Thursday, I have been waiting with my parents in the hospital over the last several days. It is a very surreal experience as I need to stay awake and alert in prayer, while it is so tempting to fall asleep in an attempt to deny reality. Quite honestly, there are other things that I would prefer to be doing, yet this is where i need to be. Oddly, I even find that my prayers even echo Jesus' prayer, Lord take this cup of suffering away from us, but not our will but yours be done. How I wish that this moment wasn't before us, but it is.


While Good Friday hasn't come to my mother at this point, the presence of death is very real. As my father and I have talked about what is coming, the movement from the hospital, to nursing home, to hospice care, and eventually death; I can't stop but think about the path to the cross on Good Friday. I guess all of us have "Good Friday' experiences physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually throughout our lives. It is in Good Friday that we truly realize that we aren't God and we can neither control everything in our lives or save ourselves. It is also in Good Friday experiences that the only path beyond the grave comes from God as an act of grace.


It is through Easter that we most clearly see the path that has been before us through Jesus Christ, that leads away from the cross to the empty tomb and eternal life. As I contemplate what is ahead for my mother, my father, and my family including myself; the only true hope comes from looking beyond the cross to the empty tomb. It is easy to focus on the cross and not see the path that is before us that leads to eternal life. My comfort comes not from my present circumstances, but from my complete and absolute faith in the promise of eternal life. The path to the cross is one of suffering and passion, while the path from the cross leads to comfort, peace, and joy. That is the path that i must stay focused upon,  not only today, but every day. I must keep Easter alive in my heart, my mind, and my soul each moment of my life; in good times and bad. For it is in Easter that i find my identity. As the hymn write tells us, because He lives, I can face tomorrow!

                                                  Pastor Ken




February 2017



Over the last several months, the Church Council and the Christian Education team has been reflecting upon our purpose as a congregation and how it will play out for our future. The conversation began this past fall when the Christian Education team had a breakfast meeting to discuss "why" we do what we do. Coming out of their discussion was a statement about "connecting". Since then, the Church Council has been discussing and refining this statement. After the Church Council meeting on January 18th the perfected statement is as follows:




                    "As we learn about and experience God's love,                     


          we connect with God, with others and with ourselves."



In reflecting on this statement over the last week or so, there were three things that really interested me. The first thing that caught my attention is how similar this statement is to Jesus' "Greatest Commandment" found in Matthew 22:37-39. Jesus tells us, "'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"



The second item is that our loving (God, others, and self) is a result of God's loving us. I guess, in a way, we really don't know what real love is until we have experienced God's love ourselves. And it is through this experience of God's love that we learn and better understand the depth of God's love which then draws us to a deeper appreciation of his love. In this sense, as we better understand (learn and experience) God's love, we will be drawn to love others even more. This reminds me of Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3:17-19 where he prays that "Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of live and power that comes from God."



Third is that we are to "connect" through love where love is a verb or an action that we take. The dictionary says that to connect is to bind or join with another. To me this means that as we connect, we establish a relationship and link to one another. So in a sense, as we connect, we belong to each other in some way. I shared a couple weeks ago in worship that John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, made something call 'sola sancta caritas' which is Latin for 'only holy love' to be at the very center of what it means to be a Methodist. In this way, we are to connect through holy love.



Over the next several months, we will be exploring what it means for us to live into the statement, "As we learn about and experience God's love, we connect with God, with others and with ourselves." I hope that you will begin reflecting upon the power and potential for this statement in our lives, our congregation, and our community.



                                                                      Pastor Ken

 Christmas 2016 - January 2017
As we rapidly approach Christmas, we also approach a new year. Often this "approach" provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon our past while looking forward in time. This opportunity can be a "reset" for our spiritual life and how we live our lives in light of Christ's birth.
One of my favorite Bible verses is John 1:14 as found in The Message:
                  "The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We                     saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like                     Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish."  
I love the language that God, through the birth of Jesus Christ, has moved into our neighborhood. It forces me to consider how my life should be different because of Jesus' birth. Put another way, if the birth of Jesus means anything to me, how i live my life should be different. In some ways, it's like the way we often react to the generosity of others at this time of the year. Most often, we respond to another's generosity with generosity. And when we don't, there is a sense of accountability as we compare ourselves to another. This is particularly true when I compare myself to the life of Jesus.
In this way, the nearness of Jesus as my neighbor makes me want to be a better Christian in the future. This is especially true as I look at my generosity. As God's love has been generous, it makes me wonder how I can be more generous with my love as a husband, father, friend, neighbor, and pastor to people I know and even those I don't. I long to have the spirit of generosity that is found in the love of God which can only come from a heat overflowing with gratitude.
Over these last few months, God's Spirit has led me to take a deep look at my spiritual life. As I stand here looking into 2017, I realize that one area of discipleship that I need to work on is generosity. With Jesus as my model, I am committing myself to live a generous life that overflows with gratitude for what God has done for me. In this way, I might live my life modeled after Christ, "generous inside and out".
In reflecting upon the birth of Jesus, I hope that you will also examine your life in light of God moving into the neighborhood. In comparing yourself to Jesus, where do you fall short? What parts of your discipleship need some work? While generosity may be the aspect that I need to improve, it may be different for you. I urge you to prayerfully allow the Holy Spirit to direct your attention to that which needs improvement and then make a commitment to live a better Christian life in 2017 than you did in 2016. At Christmas, we celebrate that God has moved into the neighborhood, so what difference will that make for you in the year to come? May you have a wonderfully blessed Christmas and start to a new year!
                                                                           Pastor Ken

[i] Claim the Name Confirmation (Cokesbury, Nashville), p75
[ii]Ferguson, Charles, “Organizing the Beat the Devil” (Doubleday, Garden City, NJ), 1971.
[iii] See Acts 6
[iv] See Acts 5