Monthly Archives: February2015

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Pastor’s Blog   February 20, 2015  Rev. Todd Watson

This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and many Main Street folks were present for the service and the imposition of ashes. However, though many of us participated in the service, Ash Wednesday and Lent are traditions that may not be deeply rooted in our consciousness as a congregation and as individual believers.

Lent is the Christian season of preparation before Easter. Ash Wednesday marks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent, which begins 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count because they are the resurrection day of Jesus, and that is always a celebration day). Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fastingrepentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ – his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection, and how we might change our lives in response.

Not all Christian churches observe Lent, and since many of us in Mississippi grew up Baptist, we may not have been exposed to Lenten ideas until adulthood. Lent is mostly observed by the Lutheran, MethodistPresbyterian and Anglican denominations, and also by Roman Catholics.  Though the Bible does not mention the custom of Lent, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21.

Like many difficult spiritual disciplines, the temptation is to trivialize Lent into a time when we give up a favorite food, a favorite activity, or a favorite pastime. Though such sacrifices can be meaningful, the call of Lent is for us to change our hearts. We are called to give up sinful activities, not just for the 40 days of Lent, but for the rest of our lives.

How can we celebrate the bright, clear light of Easter if we have not considered the darkness within us that caused Jesus’ death? How can we be ready to live as Easter people if we are not willing to do battle with our dark sides, and let the light of Christ in? May this Lent be life transforming for us all in ways that we’ve never dreamed.

Ash Wednesday Service @ 6:00 pm in Sanctuary

TIES FOR TEENS
Donate your ties! Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative’s Teen
Pregnancy Prevention Program’s “Ties for Teens” drive will go through February
26th. The program, Man 2 Man “Batting Towards Success” will be on
Saturday, February 28th from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Lowery Woodall Technology
Center in Hattiesburg. All boys ages 11-17 are invited to attend. Mr.
Van Jones, Director of Pine Belt 360, will be the keynote speaker. Please
place donated ties in the collection boxes near the entrances to the Fellowship
Hall and Sanctuary. For more information, call the church office.

SERVING OPPORTUNITY
Sunday, February 22nd, we will need as many hands as possible to help
clear out the kitchen, immediately following the 11:00 a.m. worship service.
ALL items must be removed to allow for a thorough steam cleaning of every
nook and cranny of the kitchen. If we can count on you, please call the
church office and let us know

Pastor’s Blog February 12th  Rev. Todd Watson

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 NIV

 

The above short text is one of the most famous of Christian scripture, and the reason it is so famous is that human beings are looking so desperately for an anxiety free space of rejoicing and peace in our lives.  Our faith calls us to peace, thanksgiving, gentleness, and rejoicing—but fear and anxiety quickly erode such states of mind and heart.  How do we find a place of rejoicing, and how do we stay in that place?

Christianity is more than just a set of beliefs, it is also a stance we hold in this life.  Peace is not something that only happens to us, it is something that we choose and make all around us, even in the midst of chaos.  Rejoicing unlike happiness, is not something that happens to us, it is a stance we take regardless of whether our moments are happy or challenging.  Gentleness is not dependent on a good mood, gentleness is a stance we take even when life is brutal and unforgiving.

This Sunday we will explore how to engage and live in rejoicing, gentleness, peace, and thanksgiving, even when life is FULL of everything else.  Life’s circumstances limit our ability to control events or outcomes, but we do choose how we respond to life’s events and outcomes.  To meet them with the mind of Christ, we must live life in a stance that allows us to meet life rather than be subject to life’s whims.  If we are people of faith, and we know the ultimate outcome of our life with God, we can be constantly thankful that no matter what comes our way, we are held by God in the midst of God’s grace now and forever. We really cannot lose, so let’s learn to live as victors in all of life’s meandering journey.

Peace, Todd

Pastor’s Blog February 1, 20105

THE REQUIREMENTS OF LEADERSHIP TRANSITION

I have been spending time in prayer and reflection concerning my role in the leadership transition for Main Street UMC over the next five months.  If we look to the bible for insight and for examples of transition, we see that the entire book of Deuteronomy presents itself as Moses’ last sermon to Israel before his death and before Yahweh’s chosen people settle into the Promised Land under the new leadership of Joshua.

Like all sermon series delivered just before a leadership transition, this one is full of repetition and revision. Deuteronomy repeats much of Exodus through Numbers even as it revises the material in important ways. In coming months, you may hear familiar themes in my preaching as we stand at the crossroads, looking back and looking forward.  But since I am not the same person I was nine years ago when I first became your pastor, my hope is that you will hear familiar themes with fresh and perhaps provocative revisions.  My faith, my understanding of community, and the ways I understand what it means to serve have all been shaped and formed by the last nine years of walking with you.  I believe that our church body has been shaped and formed also as well as individual disciples within that body.

LEARNING FROM ISRAEL’S COVENANT TRANSITIONS WITH GOD

We can learn much in preparation for our upcoming transition by looking to Israel’s covenant transitions with God.  Like the people of Israel, the people of Main Street UMC are challenged to renew our covenant with God and, in particular, our commitment to obeying the commandments of God. Deuteronomy declares that God had a purpose in choosing Israel and giving her a place to live.  If Israel rebels against that purpose, she cannot expect to be strong and to live long upon the land.  The sole aim of the Israel’s life, her own particular wisdom and righteousness which should distinguish her from all others, was not to live in the ways of the world, but to show forth her unqualified loyalty, reverence, love, and obedience to her Lord.  Israel’s possession of the land is linked to her obedience to the commandments of the Lord.

CALLED BY GOD AWAY FROM COMFORT AND PREDICTABILITY

If there is one clear mandate throughout all of scripture, it is that followers of Yahweh and followers of Jesus cannot live the commandments of God and stay in comfortable places.  The Lord we love and serve is always calling us into a future where trust in God’s provision is a basic requirement.  As we look to our leadership transition, the Main Street vision team will continue to meet in coming months.  The timeline in the hallway between Fellowship Hall and Nursery will remain ready to receive your stories and memories about our history.  We will keep you informed as we are all challenged to renew our covenant with the One who sustains us by his grace.  We will be challenged to follow Jesus and to trust that the God who leads us will provide us with all that we need for the journey.

Walking with you, Vicki