The In Between

It seems like yesterday that I arrived in Creston but it was almost 9 years ago that Chuck and I packed up our stuff in Barnesville and came north to Creston.  That year was filled with firsts.  I clearly remember the first time I locked myself out of the parsonage!!  Thanks to Alice who was enjoying her morning coffee for the spare parsonage key!

I remember maneuvering through the firsts of traditions.  How things were done for Thanksgiving, All Saints Day, Christmas, Easter, etc….

I remember my first funeral.  It was for a non church member and got her name confused with a name of a road in Barnesville….they were very similar!  HOW EMBARRASING!

Now nine years later I’m noticing my lasts.  I didn’t realize at Christmas, that would be my last Christmas Eve.  Last night we had my last choir rehearsal.  Each activity it seems in my head and heart I check off as I complete it for the last time.

The strange thing about firsts and lasts though is what lies in between.  In between while here in Creston was ministry and service and life.

In between we laughed and we cried.  In between we reached out to someone who was lonely, we fed someone who was hungry, we cared for the stranger, we guided those who were lost.

In between we, the people of the Creston Canaan UMC and myself, WE became family, we made disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, and we were the church together.

In between we agreed, sometimes we argued, at times we pouted, we did a lot of compromise, we agreed to disagree a time or two, but we never let our differences keep us from loving God or one another.

As I prepare to leave Creston and go to the East Fairfield UMC I realize I’m not looking forward to the firsts but I cannot wait to get to the in between.  It’s the in between where we are in true ministry together and do our best work and serve God the best.

Thanks you Creston Canaan UMC for all the first, all the lasts, but mostly, thank you for the years in between!!

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Easter Message

easter

With Easter just days away, it’s a time to think about renewal and new starts.  Just as the world around us has turned green and spring flowers are blooming, flowering trees are dripping with blossoms and full of new buds, Easter gives each of us an opportunity to be renewed.

I invite you to attend anth8PEH19CFy and all of our worship services this week.

Maundy Thursday Holy Communion and Tenebrae  7 p.m.

Good Friday Cross Walk through Creston sponsored by our Youth.  Meet at the park at 11:30 a.m.  We will begin the walk at noon.

Good Friday Stations of the Cross sponsored by the Norwayne Area Ministerial Association.  Meet at the park before 6:00 pm.  We will begin at 6:00 p.m.

After the Stations of the Cross we will proceed (drive) to the church, Creston Canaan

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UMC, where we will continue the service at 7 pm. with music, scripture, prayers and drama.  Also sponsored by the Norwayne Area Ministerial Association.

I’ve also included the link to Bishop Malone’s Easter Message for each of us.  Just click to read.  An Easter Message from Bishop Tracy Malone

May God bless you with a renewal of spirit this Holy Season.

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Moving Along

3404829750_081741fe9aChristmas was over a month ago and Lent begins March 1 with Ash Wednesday.  January flew by and at some point I believe I blinked because I missed it!  But now I am looking ahead to Lent.  what-to-give-up

Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter.  It has traditionally been a time of fasting, meditation, and self-denial.  We often hear of people giving up some bad habit or something they enjoy for Lent as a way of self-denial.

The purpose of Lent is to reflect on and prepare for the suffering, crucifixion, and death of Jesus Christ. It is a time to draw closer to Christ.

As Lent approaches I would encourage you to ask yourself what you need to do for yourself to draw you closer to Jesus.  If you choose to fast ask yourself, “What keeps me from Christ?”  Then honestly seek that which is keeping you from a close personal relationship with Jesus.

Is it electronics?  Then fast from electronics.  Is it putting your personal interests above God and Jesus?  Then add instead of fast. Add a Bible Study, add prayer, add serving others as Jesus served to your daily schedule.   lent-2015_thumb

Whatever it is that is separating you from Jesus, take these 40 days and remove it from your life and replace it with something that will build that relationship.

But, here’s the key.  Enjoy whatever it is.  Sometimes we think that the self-denial part of Lent means it has to be something that causes us to feel a loss or want.  Yes, if I give up chocolate for 40 days I personally will feel deprived and no closer to Jesus.   If I choose to volunteer at a nursing home reading and visiting with the residents, I will feel my time was well spent as I brought joy to another person’s life. Yet I sacrificed my time.  See what I mean?  It doesn’t have to hurt…and it shouldn’t.

Beginning March 1, draw closer to God and Jesus.  Work on building your relationship with them.  I believe by Easter you will know Jesus better and maybe even yourself too.

 

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Christmas Love

Christmas is coming quickly and preparations are well underway.  The church had their annual cookie walk last Sunday, there were cookies galore!!  We are getting ready for the Children’s Christmas Program on December 18 during the 10:45 Worship Service.  And Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be here before you know it.

In this season when we spend so much time preparing, planning, shopping, celebrating and stressing, it’s important to have moments when we can simply experience a time of peace and think about the reason we celebrate Christmas:  the birth of Christ.

For me Christmas is about love.  For God so loved the world that he gave his only son….John 3:16.   Christmas begins with God’s love for you and for me.  But then, we have the opportunity to be people who return that love to God by loving others.  

I enjoy going Christmas shopping and finding the right thing that I know my loved ones will enjoy.  When my nephews were young it was fun to see their eyes light up.  All those gifts for family and friends are an expression of love when we give them from our hearts.

But what about others?  The love of God must flow from us to the world.  There are so many ways we can share love with those near and far.  I’m going to list a few for you.  I hope you will take the opportunity to explore letting God’s love flow through you to others this Christmas.

Adopt -a-Platoon – CCUMC is taking on a Chaplain who oversees up to 1000 military men and women stationed in Afghanistan. This will be an on going project so enlist now!  We are collecting Christmas Cards, sign them, slip a note in, hand written or typed, include your email address if you have one.  We will also collect breakfast items: granola/breakfast bars, Breakfast drink powders, small cereal boxes, (please do not open containers, they must be shipped as they are sold)  Your cards and donations will go to a Chaplain who will then distribute to the many troops he/she oversees.  Many items may be taken by helicopter to a unit who is stationed away from the base.  d4606e11e88cd27c9111ce8b2a3aa8c8

Faith UMC in Ashland is collecting grocery bags that are cut into rings.  Folks from the church then make them into sleeping mats for the homeless and distributed through  Harmony House in Mansfield. What the video below to see how to make the rings.  Bring them to church and I will make sure they get to Faith UMC in Ashland.

how to make a sleeping mat from grocery bags

Baskets of Hope is in full swing again under the leadership of Karen Fleming.  We are in need of donations.  Monetary donations are used to purchase fresh meat and produce and other items we don’t receive through the food drive at the Norwayne Middle School.  Donations of non-perishable food items, cleaning supplies, and personal hygiene items are also appreciated.

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Share God’s love this Christmas Season!!!  There are hundreds more opportunities if you look!!

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Giving Thanks

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 Here is the message we have heard from Christ and now announce to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.    1 John 1:5

November is upon us.  Yesterday was election day and today is the day after.  America still seems to be torn.  We were torn over who to vote for and now there are those who are elated that their candidate is the President Elect and there are those who are mourning the loss.

As I was listening to political commentaries last night, (actually at 2 a.m. this morning), I was taken aback by the gloom and doom.  Gloom and doom comes from a lack of hope.  A lack of vision for the future. A lack of faith.

I know one thing, light always overcomes the darkness.  So, we can choose to live in the gloom that some are feeling or we can be a light.  It’s my prayer that our new President Elect will soften the hatred and the negativity he portrayed during his campaign and will open his heart to the people he will serve.   I believe in our political system which is full of checks and balances.  No President has complete authority.

Even more, I believe in the power of God.  To me, it does not matter who was pro-Hilary and who was pro-Donald.  What matters to me is that I am pro-God.  I will pray for our nation.  I will pray for our President Elect and all of our elected officials because I believe prayer changes people and circumstances.  Ultimately, though the leader of our country will change, God is still the one sitting on the throne.

As God’s children, we know right from wrong.  We know love from hate.  We know light from darkness.  Let us stand up and be God’s light shining in our country.  Let us be God’s light shining in our state.  Let us be God’s light shining in our communities.  Let us be God’s light shining in our homes.   Put it all into God’s hands.

 

 

thanksgiving-bible-verses-1024x575THANKSGIVING

November 24th is Thanksgiving when we gather with family and friends and pause to offer thanks to God for all the blessings in our lives.

The Creston Canaan United Methodist Church invites you to our Thanksgiving Eve Worship to take a break from the preparations and come for a short worship service at 7:00 p.m. where we can focus on our blessings.  From 5:30-6:30 there is a free meal at the church.  EVERYONE is always welcome.  Come eat and fellowship prior to the worship service.

Have a very HAPPY and BLESSED Thanksgiving!!thanks-enough

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