NOTE FROM PASTOR J R FOR SUNDAY, JANUARY 21, 2018

Have you ever had a change of mind about an issue that left you wondering … what was I thinking? The more I study scripture these days, the more that happens to me. I grew up in a very conservative Pentecostal Holiness Church. I’m forever grateful for the foundation it gave me in scripture, nurtured my love for God and taught me the joy of being part of a community of faith. Nonetheless, I also must admit that some of what I learn in church back then about God does NOT align with scripture.

Too often church scripture was used to emphasize negative stereotypes about who God is, what God is like, what God thinks about us or how God interacts with us. However, the more I study the scriptures, I find a very different God. I find a God whose love knows no boundaries, One who is always reaching out to us in innovative ways or taking drastic measures to get our attention. God loves us and knows “People Need the Lord.” We need the love, grace, forgiveness and peace that only comes from a loving God.

In the scriptures for this Sundays, God uses Jonah, an unwilling participant at first, who has to be convinced through extraordinary means to carry the message of hope to others. In the other scripture, God uses the power of Jesus presence to enlist help in spreading the message of love and hope by saying to them, “Come, follow me, … I’ll show you how to fish for people.”

God took these innovative and extraordinary actions because God knows “People Need the Lord.” But what leaves me wondering “What was I thinking” is how can I or others read these wonderful stories and portray a negative stereotype of God.

Join us in worship this Sunday, I will reinforce the message of hope and love that God desires for us to live in with a sermon called “People Need the Lord” based on Jonah 3:1-5, 10 and Mark 1:14-20

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NOTE FROM PASTOR J R FOR DECEMBER 10, 2017 THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Todd Deatherage writes “We are each image-bearers of God in a beautiful but broken world.” One hymn of the season, “beckons” Emmanuel to rescue us with this haunting plea. “O Come, Desire of Nations, bind – In one the hearts of all mankind; Bid Thou our sad division cease. And be Thyself our Prince of Peace.”

I thought of these words on Thursday, when in the land where the Prince of Peace was born, the news cycle was of the tensions between Palestinians and Israelis resorting once again to violence in their decades-old conflict. This time in response to the declaration of US plans to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

It makes one wonder if peace is possible? Maybe not; but we certainly should not contribute to the lack of it. As followers of Jesus who said “Blessed are the peacemakers,” we each have a role in seeking peace for ourselves and others. Peace and peacemaking in our world today comes to us most powerfully on this Second Sunday of Advent, knowing that the very Prince of Peace has come to us in that place between what theologians call the “now, but not yet.” Where is that? It’s the place where we each must decide to be about the business of helping to bring peace in the broken places of our lives and our world.

A prayer request to Covenant this week was comfort for a young man who was not permitted to attend his own mother’s funeral. I can’t help but wonder what restoration could have occurred in that family had one person decided to bring peace in that broken situation. We are to contribute to the efforts of peace in whatever situation we can, while living in hopeful expectation that one day all things will be made right when the Prince of Peace returns.

Join us at Covenant this Sunday as we light the Second Advent candle representing peace. My sermon will be “Preparing the Way for Peace” based on Isaiah 40:1-5 and Mark 1:1-9

NOTE FROM PASTOR J R FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT DECEMBER 3, 2017

The Season of Advent begins this Sunday. The theme is Hope. Christmas and the New Year of 2018 are just around the corner. Come, see Covenant beautifully decorated as we also light the first Advent Candle for Hope.

Advent is a season of waiting. It’s a time to be marked by urgent anticipation, longing for the fulfillment of what has been promised. Since Jesus was born 2000 years ago, the promise we are now waiting for is the return of Christ as described in the assigned scriptures for the First Sunday of Advent; referencing the second coming of Christ, instead of the birth of Jesus.

That’s all well and good except, too often, people don’t really spend enough thought on what we do while we wait. While the scriptures encourage us to look for Christ’ return, they also tell us to make the most of the present. Someone once put it this way: “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you do no earthly good.” John Wesley said it even better with these words: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can”. That’s making the most of the present.

In preparing for Advent, Christmas, the unknowable future of 2018 and beyond, let’s make sure we don’t ignore our most precious resource that allows us to make the most of the present. That is “The Shining Light of Hope,” of God’s presence in our lives. Let’s trust in God and seize the day.

Again, join us for worship this First Sunday of Advent as we continue our look for Christ’s return while making the most of the present. My sermon will be “The Shining Light of Hope” based on Psalm 80:7, 17-19 and Mark 13:24-27, 32-37