From the Pastor | Message for Sunday, March 29th

Pastor Chris Jones

Beloved,

Please find a 22-minute message of hope and thankfulness for you during this time of separation. In the video, I share a lesson from the Book of Job and music by Liz Cataldo reciting “There is a Balm of Gilead.” Please join me in praying for our friend Les Anderson, healthcare workers, and all who are suffering during this pandemic.

Yours in Christ,

Chris Jones

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From the Pastor | Special COVID-19 Message

Pastor Chris Jones

Beloved,

Like you, I am in new waters. None of us has experienced quite what we are going through, but humanity has gone through such times on many other occasions; we are better prepared now than we have ever been to weather this storm. We are people of the Book. When we are faced with a challenge, we look to scripture first. The book of Joshua begins directly after the death of Moses. The people of God are on one side of the Jordan, and they are about to enter the Promised Land, an unknown land, a land with dangers, and they are to do so without their leader. Joshua is put in charge and the opening lines of his book are words of commandment and assurance. God declares that:  

No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. 

The truth of these words is soon made clear by the actions of the Israelites. When they follow the law, they prosper; when they don’t, they falter. How will we fare as we cross this Jordan? The law of Moses is ultimately very simple. And can be distilled into two brief sentences: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it:You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. If we follow these laws, we will prosper. We are commanded to “tend the garden.” I know that in the days to come, we will be a light to each other, our community, and the world.

Weathering troubles without fear

This is a time that invites worry and anxiety, but we do not have to accept that invitation. At the last supper, Jesus tells his companions: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Just after teaching us The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus reminds us: do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Notice nowhere does Jesus say that we will be trouble-free, only that we may weather troubles without fear. The fear we must abandon, but the care we must take. The trouble we now face requires prudence as well as a calm heart.

Starting with gratitude and opening up for change

Now that the country is in like mind as to the seriousness of COVID-19, we may better be able to be of service, even if that service is no more than temporary social distancing and hand washing. Let us take a moment to thank God for all of the professionals: doctors, nurses, public officials, researchers, first responders and others who are working to keep us safe. May we heed the sound advice of those whose mandate it is to protect us. To that end, I direct your attention to the Townsend MA website (https://www.townsend.ma.us/)  where you will find COVID-19 updates. When you click on the update you will be brought to two links: the first is the Center for Disease Control’s COVID-19 summary, and the second leads to Massachusetts Governor Baker’s details on the current state of emergency. Currently, we are advised not to gather in groups and so for this week, and perhaps some weeks to come, we must prudently refrain from meeting together for Sunday service. This does not mean we cannot worship together, but it does mean we will need to be creative and open to alternative forms of fellowship. This time will pass, and we may come out with a better and more connected society than we have been. This is a time of opportunity.

Seeking opportunities for growth

I was reading today Lyman Stone’s article Christianity Has Been Handling Epidemics for 2000 Years. Stone notes that “During plague periods in the Roman Empire, Christians made a name for themselves. Historians have suggested that the terrible Antonine Plague of the 2nd century, which might have killed off a quarter of the Roman Empire, led to the spread of Christianity, as Christians cared for the sick and offered a spiritual model whereby plagues were not the work of angry and capricious deities but the product of a broken Creation in revolt against a loving God.” Christians through time have served fearlessly in times of widespread illness. In Wittenberg, the city that gave birth to Protestantism, plague broke out in 1527. In response to those who begged him to flee the city, Martin Luther wrote a letter to a fellow pastor that has come to be called Whether Christians Should Flee the Plague. Amid the stark reality of the Bubonic plague, Luther wrote:

It is not forbidden but rather commanded that by the sweat of our brow we should seek our daily food, clothing, and all we need and avoid destruction and disaster whenever we can, as long as we do so without detracting from our love and duty toward our neighbor. How much more appropriate it is, therefore, to seek to preserve life and avoid death if this can be done without harm to our neighbor.

Inviting you to pray with me

In our contemporary context, I take this to mean that part of tending the garden is taking care of ourselves, but thinking of and acting on behalf of our brothers and sisters as we are able. I ask all of us at New Beginnings to stay safe but remain mindful that we are all connected and that we are charged to be of service. Jesus reminds us that as we do for the smallest of our neighbors so do we do for him. “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” As we move forward in these days, we need to look for ways to be of service. Let us begin to be of service through prayer. In another article on the subject, I found these opportunities for prayer. I invite you to focus on one of these or one of your own and spend fifteen minutes in prayer daily, seeking the will of God:

  • Pray that God would calm fears and that His people would be reminded we have a different identity—one of boldness, not of fear. Pray that the church would be a calming presence and radiant light in the face of so much confusion and darkness.
  • Pray that we would be people of compassion who intentionally reach out to others in our neighborhoods and our family around the world.
  • Pray for world leaders as they work with healthcare organizations and the medical community to develop the next steps. Pray that all would be united for the common good.
  • Pray with researchers and biologists as they work to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Pray for wisdom and insight.
  • Pray with first-responders around the world who are tasked with triaging, testing, and treating increasing numbers of people. Ask God to give them patience, wisdom and a gentle spirit as they work to navigate fears and offer effective treatment. Hospitals are seeing unprecedented numbers of patients with symptoms of flu.
  • Pray with church leaders as they offer insight and wisdom to their congregations and communities. Ask God to give them opportunities to be voices of reason, clarity, and grace.
  • Pray with the families of the who have died and for those undergoing treatment. Ask God to comfort the broken-hearted and to strengthen those who are suffering physically and emotionally.
  • Pray for those whose jobs or hours have been cut due to the economic downturn.
  • Pray for parents who are struggling to work and care for their children.
  • Pray that churches would look for ways to reach out to families in their communities to provide for them and show them the love of Christ.
  • Pray that God’s people would be unified as one Church and that we would look to the lives and faith of our persecuted brothers and sisters as we navigate fear and the unknown … that we would look to them for guidance and for hope.
  • Pray that we as God’s people would be reminded of our hope in Christ and the truth that our Savior who died and rose for us has already overcome the world. Pray that we would be people who read His Word and take both His call and His promises to head and heart.

Yours in Christ,

Chris Jones

For more on the COVID-19 impact on our church and community, please see recent posts below:

Church Services Canceled

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Dear NBUMC family,

The Center for Disease Control has recommended that we do not gather in groups larger than 10 people. As a result, we are canceling public worship at NBUMC this week. We will continue to follow the CDC and New England Conference guidelines closely in the coming weeks leading up to Easter.  

With our public worship canceled, we are looking into worship experiences online. Many churches are streaming services using a church’s Facebook page, while others are using video conference services like WebEx and Zoom. The goal is to find ways to pray, sing, and read scripture together.

What communication channels would you prefer to keep our congregation connected?

You and your family have probably had moments of anxiousness, isolation, and longing for companionship. Many in our community are feeling the same way, and we must continue our ministry.  Our small group Wesley Class is meeting and practicing safe ways to be together.  People in our community remain hungry, so we are planning to hold our Community Supper in April as take-out only.

As we limit how and how often we interact in our daily lives, let’s continue to think of creative ways to safely be in fellowship with one another. Together, we can bring compassion, encouragement, joy, and love to our neighbors in these dark times.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update

coronavirus

Due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, and to help prevent its spread we will be holding one worship service at 10:30 AM on Sunday, March 15th, and March 22nd. Our Casual Service at 9:00 AM is canceled.

We encourage everyone to heed all the advice available to stay home when sick, avoid contact with persons unnecessarily, and to practice safety guidelines when gathering in public spaces – including worship. During the Traditional Service, we will provide opportunities for proper hygiene and social distancing.

We recognize the spread of the virus is a rapidly evolving situation, and we will closely monitor the state of the pandemic to adapt quickly. We will continue to provide additional information as to the status of our events and services change.

World Day of Prayer 2020

Womens-World-Day-of-Prayer-2020

Women, men, and children in more than 170 countries and regions will celebrate World Day of Prayer, Friday, March 6, 2020. This year, the women of the WDP Committee of Zimbabwe call us to worship considering the words “Rise! Take Your Mat and Walk.” With these words as a backdrop, we are invited to learn about Zimbabwe’s history and rich cultural diversity. The WDP 2020 program is based on Jesus’ encounter with a person who, although positioned for healing, had not acted upon the opportunities given (John 5:2–9a). Jesus asked, “Do you want to be made well?” “Rise! Take your mat and walk,” said Jesus. Our sisters from Zimbabwe are taking Jesus’ encounter to be a call to act in love for peace and reconciliation. The action verbs in Jesus’ command suggest that we should not be afraid to act on the word of God. God is offering us the steps for personal and social transformation.

This year’s service will be held on Sunday, March 1st at the New Beginnings UMC located at 265 Main Street, Townsend, MA 01469.

Please invite your friends, family, and communities of faith to join the women of Zimbabwe in prayer and song to support ecumenical efforts toward justice, peace, and healing. The annual offering supports the work of World Day of Prayer USA and helps meet the needs of families in Zimbabwe and around the world who are victims of many forms of poverty, violence, and injustice.

World Day of Prayer is a worldwide ecumenical movement of Christian women of many traditions who come together to observe a common day of prayer each year on the first Friday in March. World Day of Prayer was founded on the idea that prayer and action are inseparable in the service of God’s kingdom. Each year a different country’s committee serves as the writers of the World Day of Prayer worship service. And each year, we are called to action in response to the concerns raised by the writer country.

For more information, contact the national office of World Day of Prayer USA (www.wdp-usa.org).

From the Pastor | My sad privilege

Pastor Chris Jones

Beloved,

It has been my sad privilege over the last few days to be of small help to the Roberts and Johnson family as they grieve the loss of Heidi and John. For those of you who may not know, John’s mother Beverly is connected to us through the Pepperell UMC. One of the few heartening aspects of this time has been the way their families and our community has reached out to offer comfort and assistance to one another. The people and clergy of St. John’s Parish, the Townsend Congregational church, the First Baptist Church, and New Beginnings UMC have all literally opened their doors and hearts without stint in this time of sorrow. Father Jeremy, Mark Brockmeier, and Kevin Patterson have all been supportive and kind. The community outside the churches have also stepped up. Representatives of police, fire, and other first responders will honor the fallen and mourn with us. Others have worked behind the scenes in ways we may never know. Most of all, the Roberts and Johnson families have gathered together in grief, in support, and in love. I am grateful and gladdened by what I am witnessing.

Bringing our community closer

I know that Townsend has been challenged recently with sometimes bitter division surrounding some aspects of public governance. I confess I am ignorant of the particulars of this conflict, but I have heard several people express a hope that this time of grieving as a community will bring us closer and will move our community closer to mending the wounds that remain. I hope this is the case, but the thought puts me in mind of a larger truth spoken by the prophet Jeremiah to a people in captivity. The word of God is: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” God’s plan is true and real though we do not always see it well in these days.

Acting in love

I have said before that there will be times when we will all walk in the valley of the shadow. We live in a broken world, and while God can and does make our crooked roads straight, we still are plagued with people and events that act in ways in opposition to God’s plan for humanity. If we declare ourselves followers of Christ, we are charged with building the Kingdom of God. We do this best by acting in love toward others. Winter is still with us, but we are beginning to turn our minds towards the Lenten season. I pray that we take this time to reach out to those we love and tell them that we love them. I pray that we put down any anger that we hold against another. We are precious, time is fleeting, and the Kingdom calls.

Yours in Christ,

Chris Jones

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Hilltops Views | How Stars are Made

How_stars_are_made

During a recent date night, my wife and I saw the movie “A Star is Born” with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. The movie depicts the journey of Ally, a young singer who finds fame beginning with a chance meeting of Jackson Maine, a successful country musician. A romantic relationship quickly blossoms, but the weight of his alcoholism leads Jackson’s career and their marriage down a dark path. Leslie and I enjoyed it partially because the director didn’t tell the whole story, instead, he left small spaces that allowed the audience to fill in the backstory. I find that the best books, movies, and songs have this common thread of audience participation woven into their stories and lyrics. The singer-songwriter John Mellencamp said it best in discussing his art,

“Keep it vague so people can include themselves into what you are saying, or what your singing, or what you’re painting. Don’t be so specific that it becomes exclusive to you.”

This resonates with me as I think of how we interact with each other and our community. As we continue to reach out to the community, interact with visitors, and participate in fellowship we must provide enough space to allow the other person to take part at the moment. In addition to giving the other person an opportunity to contribute their gifts to an activity, conversation, or project, space helps feed our own curiosity to develop an authentic interest in the individual.

While watching the movie “A Star is Born,” I thought about the risks that Ally took to become a pop star, and the support she received so she could take a risk. She received emotional support from a loving father and positive encouragement from her friends. When opportunity knocked at her door the encouragement had given her the strength to lean in, grab it, and move her life forward.

Community Outreach

Our community dinners are an example of how we are serving both the families we break bread with, and the volunteers who organize, cook and serve the delicious meals. Our mission statement is

“We are followers of Jesus, who tend God’s garden, serving the mind, body, and spirit of all God’s children.”

We are fulfilling our mission! The meals we serve nourish our neighbors’ bodies, and more importantly, the moments created in sharing a dinner together feed their spirit. We create a space for meaningful fellowship. A place where a woman who endures discrimination in her workplace feels welcome and her voice heard. We create a space for community reflection. A place where a cook admires the strength and perseverance of a neighbor’s quiet yet powerful work ethic. We create a space to breathe. A place where a mother can enjoy a meal with her young family in-between taxiing her boys from one extra-curricular activity to the next.

Have we created a space for you?

We are blessed to have a committed team of volunteers who have created a dependable process to serve 100 or so community members each month. Like tending a vegetable garden that has been well maintained, our community dinners will continuously need to be watered and weeded, but the hard work of rototilling the soil is done.

As we look to expand our community service and tend to God’s greater garden, there may be hard soil to be plowed or who knows, we may be fortunate enough to find fertile soil. Wherever we locate needy children, let us be sure to plant our vegetables with enough room for them to flourish. Let’s make sure we are not excluding the very ones we seek to serve or the people we need to accomplish our mission. Together let’s look to support individuals in ways that enable them to take life-altering risks; – investigate their faith, reach out to loved ones, seek help, try new careers, uncover hidden talents or find the strength to be vulnerable. As you walk through your week, ask yourself, ask a friend, or ask a colleague

“How can I serve my neighbor so he or she can take more chances to succeed?”

Remember, when we serve our neighbor, we shine a spotlight on love, and allow others to turn away from darkness and fear. Once a person feels heard, loved, and supported, the next opportunity does not feel as overwhelming. A safety net has been erected and tested, or a roadblock has been taken down, giving your neighbor the confidence to attempt something outside his or her comfort zone. Imagine what things you would try if you were free from the fear of failing? Would you make different decisions? If so, let us find ways to pay it forward!

From the Pastor | Ferris Wheels

Pastor Chris Jones

God is always faithful. God keeps his covenant with us, but our faith is not always firm. How do I know this? Two examples come easily to mind. One is the Hebrews remain. All the ancient cultures and empires that were once great are now gone, but the Jews remain. The Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Persian, Greek, and Roman empires are all dust, but the chosen people remain. God’s covenant remains.

The other example is more personal. I know that God is faithful because when I do his will, I thrive, and when I turn from his will, I suffer. Let me explain.

I hate Ferris Wheels

Ferris Wheel
I love roller coasters and Tilt-a-Whirls. I have taken passage on the Pirate Ship and the Kamikaze. I have cheerfully ridden the Log flume, Fish Pipe and Water Slide. I bravely rode the Tumble Bug, Hydro, and Octopus, I have willingly strapped myself into the Wipe Out, Spin Out, Power Surge, Gravitron, Fireball and Fun slide, but I am not going on another Ferris Wheel. UH-UH, no way. I hate Ferris Wheels, but it’s not because I don’t have faith in them.

Defining faith

Faith, along with Love and Forgiveness, is among the most fundamental commands of Christianity. In one sense, faith refers to the way we understand and articulate the human relationship to the divine. We speak about the Christian faith, or the Jewish Faith, or The Buddhist faith or the Islamic faith, or the Hindu faith, or the atheistic faith.

For many years, I took the word faith for granted. I assumed it meant that if you had faith you believed without analysis or proof, you simply: “took it on faith.” This is the common understanding of faith, and it is very much alive in the world. This is what the world thinks of faith:

“Faith means not wanting to know what is true” – Nietzsche.

“Faith is believing something you know ain’t true” – Mark Twain

“Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile” – Kurt Vonnegut

“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason” Benjamin Franklin

I have a great deal of respect for all those men, but about faith, they appear to be ignorant; they are mistaken, they are wrong…that is, they are wrong if they are referring to faith as it is understood in the Bible.

The word faith occurs in 458 verses

I read every one of those verses in the New and Old Testament. Not one of them assumes that faith is blind; on the contrary, in the Bible, those who have faith have their eyes wide open and are doing something. What do the biblical authors mean when they use the word faith? They mean: My words and my actions are alike. You can count on me. I keep my promise.

The author of Genesis uses the word faith ten times. In six of those occurrences, he uses the same construction: “he walked faithfully.” When the Bible speaks of Noah walking faithfully, it means that he did what was asked, he built the ark. There is no question that, in Genesis, Noah did what he was told. This is how faith is used in the Old Testament. If one is faithful, one does what he says he will do, accomplishes what is asked, and acts in accordance to the will of God. Every single time the word faith occurs in the Old Testament, it has a very concrete and practical application. When the biblical authors use the word faith, they are talking about following through or not following through. The person of faith is trustworthy because he does what is asked or what he says she will do.

In one of the most important moments in the Star Wars trilogy, Luke is training to be a Jedi. He is trying to lift his spaceship with “the force.” He is failing. His mentor, Yoda is exhorting him. Luke says: “I’m trying.” Yoda replies: “do or do not, there is no try.” The faithful do.

I used to hate roller coasters

But one day, I decided to give up and trust. I let faith rule my mind and now I love them. But I am stubborn. I refuse to give up my fear of Ferris wheels. I refuse to let reason rule and have faith. What have you refused to give up?

In one of my favorite gospel passages, known as “the faith of the centurion,” Jesus praises a Roman officer, a commander of men, not the sort of man given to flights of fancy. He has asked Jesus to heal his servant. The centurion has heard of Jesus, heard of his healing others and asks Jesus to help. Jesus says that he will come to the house and see the man. The centurion replies that he knows that if Jesus only says the word, his servant will be healed. Jesus replies (Mathew 8:10)

“I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”

Now you might say that the centurion had “blind faith” but then you would be wrong. The centurion heard of Jesus and what he was doing. He had evidence for his trust. Unlike others, he had faith.

One of the most remarkable things about the gospel accounts is that, despite the constant evidence, the disciples seem to always need more proof. “Oh, ye of little faith.” Is a phrase Jesus uses often, scolding those near to him; and to those he heals he often says: “your faith has healed you.” The disciples lose faith despite the evidence. The healed have faith because they saw and believed. People can and do argue over whether the miracles happened, but to argue the construction of the passages is nonsensical. Jesus is not asking his followers to have faith without evidence, on the contrary, he is saying “believe and act on what you have seen.”

Letters make up most of the New Testament

They were written after the first-hand evidence had gone. The physical Jesus had left the earth. When faith is used in the letters, it refers in some way to having faith in the truth of Jesus and what he promised. When the letter writers use the word faith, they are using in it one sense to mean Christianity, as in Ephesians 4:13 where Paul exhorts:

“Until we reach unity in the faith, and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Or 1st Timothy 6:10:

“For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

When faith is not used as a synonym for Christianity, Paul and the other letter writers use faith to describe what people are or are not doing, specifically whether or not they are doing what Christ asked. What did Christ ask? What do we do to follow him? It’s very clear. If we are faithful, we are loving God and loving our neighbor. To do these things is to have faith in Christ.

The letter to the Hebrews contains the only definition of the word faith in the Bible (Hebrews 11:1):

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Faith contains substance and evidence, and yet it also contains things hoped for and things not seen. Is this a paradox? I submit that it is not. I have faith in all sorts of things I cannot see: tomorrow’s sunrise, subatomic particles, daffodils rising after winter, my mom. I don’t see these things but I have much evidence that they do or will exist.

I hate Ferris Wheels

Not because I don’t have faith in them. I have faith in the substance of mechanical engineering; I have faith in the reality of electrical engineering. I know by the evidence that thousands of people have safely returned from their Ferris Wheel journey. But when I am on that wheel and it begins to roll upwards, I begin to lose my faith; emotion and imagination overwhelm my faith. Even though there is no substance or evidence, no rational reason, as that wheel tops the sky, I KNOW that the bar that holds me it is going to let go, even though I have checked it many times. My mind is full of imaginings of what might be, my emotions take over, and I fear. So I don’t ride Ferris Wheels, because I lose reason; emotion and imagination steal my faith.

As for me, what do I know of faith? This is what I know.

  • 100% of the time, when I have kept faith with what Jesus asks of me, I see better days and I do better things.
  • 100% of the time, when I let imagination and fear control me I suffer.

That, for me, is good evidence. As for substance, this is what I have witnessed:

  • I have seen cruel and brutal men become kind and noble,
  • I have seen the hateful become loving,
  • I have seen selfishness give way to compassion,
  • I have seen broken lives transform into whole and useful ones,
  • I have seen the sick in spirit become well.

I have seen this not once but many, many times, all by walking in faithful obedience to what Christ asks us to do.

Now I know most of you have not strayed so far from the path of faith as those I just spoke of. Perhaps you have only paused along the way. Perhaps you are only a few steps from the path. Perhaps you are wondering if you would like to go at all, but if you look to your heart… whether you are one step away or one thousand… I think you will find that there is something you have not been faithful in. There is someplace where fear and imagination has stolen your faith, and I invite you to turn, get back on the path, put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the waters and walks with God.

Rev. Chris Jones

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From the Pastor | What’s in a name?

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Discover more at Hilltops Blog

From the Pastor | What’s in a name?

Pastor Chris Jones

The title Lord clangs off the American ear and caroms off the zeitgeist of the day. To bow the knee is anathema to the western ethic of individualism and diversity. I am glad of many of the fruits of the enlightenment. I am glad that we no longer are quite so easy with racism and sexism and imperialism. However, the enlightenment project that was in its childhood in Wesley #39’s day has come to dotage in our own. In the same bin as the good fruits of the Enlightenment are also the poison apples of materialism, nihilism, and psychic despair. If we are to stop the postmodern senility of the present day, we had best turn back to the lordship of something other than the self.

Opening the door

Whether it feels comfortable or not, the statement Jesus Christ is Lord is the only form of address that will do. The title Lord is the only word that conveys properly the place humanity occupies in relationship to Jesus. Until we are comfortable with that word, the title Christ cannot be actuated in our lives. The anointed one is sent into our lives, He knocks, but He cannot work in our house until we open the door, and we cannot open the door until we acknowledge his relationship to us. He is our friend and our guide and our servant and our redeemer. He is many things, but the first thing he must and ever be is the Lord of our life. He must be the one who we look to for everything. He must be the one in whom our thoughts dwell and on whom we wait, rely and give over to.

Freeing oneself

The sad truth is that the enlightenment sold us a bill of goods. In freeing us from the tyranny of aristocratic political forms and the manacles of social convention, it did not free the will, it only bound it more tightly to the self and despair. We all worship something: the ego, goods, others; all of us have a lord of something, but all these somethings are lords leading to the Slough of Despond. Only the lordship of Jesus leads to freedom. As he so eloquently put it: To gain your life you must lose it. It is only in submitting to the Lordship of Christ that true freedom begins.

Rev. Chris Jones

Wesley Class – Spiritual Formation

John Wesley quote

My Experience

I lead a Wesley Class on Mondays at 10 AM.  The Wesley Class was the foundation of John Wesley’s movement in England.  It is meant to focus the member’s attention on the places where God is moving in their lives.  When I started in my first class 15 years ago, I spent the ride to the meeting breaking my brain to think of where I might have seen God.  In less than a month, my ride to the class was spent in determining which time I saw God at work in my life that I wanted to talk about!!  God is always there doing things with and for you, but we seldom take the time to recognize him.

Class History

When settlers first started coming to North America, a woman who was a housekeeper at John Wesley’s home came with her husband and their children. Mother Peckett, as she became known here, studied under John Wesley and when she came here they moved to the Bradford, Vermont area.  It was sparsely settled and Mother Peckett and her husband started hosting Wesley Classes at their log home because there were no Pastors or churches available.  They also trained others to have classes and they continued once churches were constructed.

Getting started

I hold the class at the church and is open to any who would like to attend and give it a try.  If you can’t come to class, you can pose the questions to yourself:

  • Where did you see God in the past week and what did it mean to you?
  • What did you do for your church?
  • What did you do for your neighbor? Remember, your neighbor is the whole world!

I know that many of you work and wouldn’t be able to come in the morning.  Please know that I would be happy to set up an evening class, just get in touch with me.

Brenda B.

 

 

Brenda Bennett