Holy Week is here!

Join us this week as we prepare for Easter!  Here’s what’s happening this week.

 

Thursday, April 18th – Maunday Thursday:  Join us at 5:30pm for a simple meal together.  At 6:15pm we will move into the Sanctuary

Friday, April 19th, Good Friday

Noon – 2:30: Ecumenical Good Friday Cross Walk. Meet up at noon at the former St. Frances Cabrini Church on Main Street.  The walk lasts until about 2:30 p.m. in the downtown area of West Springfield. There are 10 stops along the way, and we finish at the First Congregational Church on Park Street.

3:00pm – Short Good Friday service in the Sanctuary

April 21st – Easter Church Service, 10am

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A response to the General Session in St. Louis

I am searching my soul for how we have wounded ourselves again in the name of our religion.  I am searching my soul for a place to re-anchor my hopes.  I am searching my soul for a place of refuge from the storm that has just happened in a ‘church of God’ and I see another storm fast approaching.  Here author Frederick Buechner in his book “The Hungering Dark” reminds us that even in this we are not alone, we are never alone.  Perhaps there is still a bridge to built, having dashed the one offered into splintered pieces.

“The life that I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place and time my touch will be felt. Our lives are linked together. No [person] is an island.

But there is another truth, the sister of this one, and it is that every [person] is an island. It is a truth that often the tolling of a silence reveals even more vividly than the tolling of a bell. We sit in silence with one another, each of us more or less reluctant to speak, for fear that if he [or she] does, [they] may sound life a fool.

…..The paradox is that part of what binds us closest together as human beings and makes it true that no [person] is an island is the knowledge that in another way every man is an island. Because to know this is to know that not only deep in you is there a self that longs about all to be known and accepted, but that there is also such a self in me, in everyone else the world over. So when we meet as strangers, when even friends look like strangers, it is good to remember that we need each other greatly you and I, more than much of the time we dare to imagine, more than more of the time we dare to admit.

Island calls to island across the silence, and once, in trust, the real words come, a bridge is built and love is done –not sentimental, emotional love, but love that is pontifex, bridge-builder. Love that speak the holy and healing word which is: God be with you, stranger who are no stranger. I wish you well. The islands become an archipelago, a continent, become a kingdom whose name is the Kingdom of God.”

― Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark

 

United Methodists and the Special General Session, Feb 23 – 26

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13

 

That is one of many peoples favorite snippets of Scripture.  It is from Paul in one of his many letters to the early church.  How strange it is to contrast this against the ‘other’ scripture, the one that will be debated in St. Louis next week.  I’m talking about Romans 1: 26 – 32 or since what will be debated ignores most of that scripture then we focus on Romans 1: 26 & 27, where, by some, people claim this means that God hates homosexuals.

In 1972, the United Methodist Church added discriminatory language specifically against homosexuals to the ‘rules of the UMC’ in the book called ‘The book of discipline.’  They were very thorough in there additions citing everything from calling it a sin, to prohibiting gay marriage and gay clergy.  There was also language prohibiting clergy from supporting gay rights, and prohibiting financially supporting anything to due with gay and lesbian issues, with a single exception, the “HIV epidemic.”

Of course, there was no mention of the other things Paul wrote in the next section… “They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents,  foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”  Imagine if they had included ‘inventors of evil?’   My dad worked for the defense industry, certainly people who make weapons would be considered ‘inventors of evil’ as would many, many others in 1972 but they were the majority…..

All this is to say, I am happy to have been sent to this church, West Springfield UMC to be their pastor.  Early on WSUMC joined an organization called ‘Reconciling Ministries‘ – a voluntary group who focus is on acceptance of all God’s children.  WSUMC planted their feet firmly in the 1 Corinthians 13:13 soil long before I arrived.

 

I preached a sermon on Feb 3rd, 2019 based on Paul’s Corinthian writings.  If you’d like to read it, you can find it here.

 

In closing I ask each of you to pray for the delegates to the General Session in St. Louis.  Pray that they are overwhelmed by God’s love and grace.

 

Blessings,

 

Pastor Rick

 

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