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“Jesus answered, "Time's up. The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal. If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you'll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment's notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me. Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? 'Father, get me out of this'? No, this is why I came in the first place. I'll say, 'Father, put your glory on display.'"
A voice came out of the sky: "I have glorified it, and I'll glorify it again." The listening crowd said, "Thunder!" Others said, "An angel spoke to him!"”
John 12:23-29, The Message
“The Glory of Fall…
Rising to Life…
by Rev. Rick Pittenger
Dear Members and Friends of 1st UMC,
Looking outside as I write this, there is a beautiful peaceful blue sky today. The multicolored leaves of glory lay against the green background of freshly mowed lawns and the sounds of lawn mowers in the background fade into the natural world that surrounds us all each day. It does one good to take a moment and stare at the stark contrast of life and death in this changing season. The fall air is fresh for the harvest. It is one reason I enjoy living in the Midwest, for it is here that I witness the natural phenomenon of each changing season.
Yes, the crisp fall air takes me back to a simpler time in my life when I had not a care in the world. I knew my parents would feed me, clothe me, and shelter me from the storms of life. When I was a child I remember jumping in piles of leaves in front of our home just west of the church in Brookings.
Even now, some 50+ years later, this season brings with it the smell of homecoming mums, pumpkin pies, and the endless supply of children's artwork. I'm particularly fond of the construction paper covered paper plates with a tiny hand as Turkey feathers that decorate many a home’s refrigerator. Trick-or-Treaters will soon be at our doors. Thanksgiving will soon follow and the crunch of leaves under my feet as I catch the last glimpse of life on trees surrounding our home lies in stark contrast to the many rain-soaked days we’ve enjoyed this summer. At the same time, I know there are some reading this who will say, “That’s not our experience.”
Some of the trees in our neighborhood have given up all of their leaves except for a few final stragglers. Even a bush filled with green just weeks ago is all but empty. Still, there are others that seem to be playing a game of: “I dare you!” or “That’s all you’ve got!” or “It’s going to take more than one night of 29 degree temperatures to scare us off this tree, this bush! Our roots go deeper than you can imagine.”
Then there are those “Ever Greens” that are living up to their name. Standing tall side-by-side with the naked branches of an elm or ash tree, seemingly filled with life ever green.
Suffice it to say, change is in the air. Even in our church, six new members, and perhaps more, will soon be a part of our changing dance with new life. It is an exciting time to witness the changing of the church season as Advent is just around the corner, the beginning of another church calendar year.
As you drink in the beauty of God’s glorious creation, may you do so unplugged from the digital world and come together as Christ’s body, the church, this fall. Join a new group in the church; better yet, start a new group!
It might be a group of new members who are seeking a place to belong, perhaps you’ve been on the outside looking in and have decided to be bold in your faith and ask what you can do to be a better disciple of Jesus Christ in this place. Maybe it’s volunteering at the Welcome Table each week or singing in the adult choir, or helping with our youth group by making a home cooked meal for them. Maybe there is a certain topic you’d like to lead a class in at our church. Maybe you know how people are struggling to eat healthier, exercise more frequently, or you have an ability to help people meditate in silence.
We are stronger when each of us becomes involved passionately with our church. Maybe there’s a part of you that is dying so that you can live life more fully. Maybe we can do this together.
Not sure what God is calling you to do? Let’s start here: Do you know your Spiritual Strengths? The UMC website has a link to a questionnaire. The online questionnaire regarding your Spiritual Gifts is found at the following website... just click on it to begin... It's easy and takes only a few minutes... go with your first answer... upon completion please send me a copy @ pulpittVUMC@gmail.com along with one to yourself if you'd like. Be sure and click the submit button at the end of the inventory. Thanks!
In the meantime, we’ll see you each Sunday in worship as we participate in the change in each of us to make this a better church and a better world for all of God’s people.
Blessings, grins and grace,