First United Methodist
Church of Gilford

We are a church of Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors

05.2018 Pastors Letter

In our own languages, we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.
Acts 2.11b

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ;
Welcome to Day One.
    Everything has a beginning – organiza ons, movements, countries. Even our own lives have a star ng point; a place from which everything else develops and grows. Perhaps it was the result of a plan and a dream, or maybe just a sudden inspira on. But everything has to start somewhere.
The church of Jesus Christ has a star ng point as well. However, it did not begin with a con- s tu onal conven on or a selected focus group. There was no elec on of o cers or adop- on of by-laws. In fact, it wasn’t even planned at all.
    As the me came for Jesus to ascend to heaven a er his resurrec on, the original disciples and many other followers wondered what the future would hold for them. They knew that God didn’t bring them this far just to go back to shing and tax collec ng. But what would happen next. As Jesus ascended, he told them simply to be pa ent. When the Holy Spirit comes upon them, they will know it.
    Then it happened. One morning, as they were all together, what seemed like a restorm came upon them. Wind and ame and noise lled the en re place. However, they were not afraid. Nor were they scared when the crowd gathered to see the spectacle. They were so lled with the presence of God’s Spirit, that they experienced a joy that could not be con- tained. They weren’t sure how it happened, or even the exact words they were proclaiming; but even the gathering neighbors could tell that something big was happening right in front of them.
This is the birthday of the church; the day when it all began. Jesus’ transforming grace was celebrated among the family and proclaimed to the world. In fact, because of the joy willing- ly shared that morning, the world would never be the same.
    This is Pentecost. On Sunday, May 20, we too will gather; not to reenact an historical event, but to rekindle the restorm and experience the same joy and vitality that lled our rst sis- ters and brothers. Because this is what the church of Jesus Christ is all about; to experience God’s eternal presence and bring hope and joy to our neighbors. Come and be a part of this new beginning as we live in God’s Spirit.
    Your Servant in Christ
          Pastor Jim

04/2018 Pastor's Message

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ;
John 10.10b

 

    The idea of having life abundantly would have seemed alien to those who first heard Jesus speak these words; because there was so little about their lives that would have been in abundance; at least in terms of anything they wanted or needed. Poverty, as well as the gap between rich and poor, were extreme; health care was nonexistence – people were ruled by a brutally authoritatve government that served its interests without mercy. And when people turned to the religious establishment for hope, they instead were told that the blessings of God were reserved for those who earned them by devout living and obedience to the law.

    Jesus came to change all that. Instead of arriving like a thief or bandit, someone whose moves were self-serving, Jesus came to offer the gift of love without conditons and the promise that, even in difcult times, they could experience life not in scarcity, but in the abundance of God’s blessings and grace.
    In many respects, life is different in today’s world. Advances in technology and the human conditon have improved signifcantly the world around us. But many still face similar challenges to those in biblical times. In the face of personal and social affictions, we realize that many of us can still experience a life or scarcity, physically, emotionally and spiritually; a life where healing, hope and justice seeming to be the reserved blessing for others.
    As an Easter people, we celebrate resurrection; not only the resurrec on of Jesus from the grave, but our resurrection from a life of scarcity and self-centeredness to one of abundance through God’s blessings of new life and new hope. My prayer for you during these Sundays after Easter is that you will be able to experience the hope of Jesus’ eternal presence and, through love and faith, dedicate each day to bring hope and justice to our neighbors so that, even in challenging times, they may know the hope and joy of an abundant life.


Peace,
Pastor Jim

02/2018 Pastor's Message

See, I am making all things new...I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.
from Revelation 21.5-6


Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ;
    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...it was the season of Light, it was the sea- son of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
Those are the opening words to A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickinson’s best known work that does not include any references to yuletide ghosts or “Bah, humbug.” While it was set during the French Revolution, it could also describe how many people think of the world around us today. We live in a time of major transitions – political, social, economic, techno- logical – just to name a few. The world seems to be changing at breakneck speed. Even among the young, life today is significantly different from what we may remember just a few years ago.
    Chances are we have different attitudes about the transition we experience. Some we would consider positive – even essential. We recognize that they improve the world around us. For example, advancements in health care can add to the quality and longevity of our lives. And it would be a sacrifice for many of us to go back to a time before cell phones or microwaves.
    Other transitions, however, may be rather disquieting; especially in a time when it seems that we may be retreating from the principles of justice and opportunity that has helped define us as a society. Times like these challenge us to look at the world around us, or even ourselves, a bit differently. We find comfort in that which is familiar and expected. When something happens to disrupt what we expect, we find it uncomfortable and perhaps wish for the “good old days” when life seemed more familiar and predictable.
    But the Jesus Movement has always been about transition. God did not bring us a Messiah in order for us to remain the same, but that we, and the world around us, might be transformed through the love and justice of the Good News. We are Christians because God has intervened to bring hope and New Life to us and our neighbors.
    Change is not always easy, even for the church as we seek to make the Good News relevant in a new age. But God is always there to guide us through the transitions of life and remind us of what is truly important, and truly constant; that the grace and truth made real in Jesus Christ is always a part of life, filling us with hope and possibility.
Peace,
Pastor Jim

03/2018 Pastors Message

The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah...for I will forgive their wrongdoings and never again remember their sins.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ.
Everybody loves Lent.
    Actually...no. But, then again, it really isn’t meant for enjoyment. Lent, which began on Ash Wednesday, (February 14th this year), and continues through Easter on April 1st, is a season of prayer and reflection as we spiritually walk with Jesus as he willing- ly made his way to Jerusalem; knowing that what awaited him there was a cross. The season concludes with Holy Week, which begins with Jesus entry into the Holy City on Palm Sunday (March 25th), and continues through his celebrating the Last Supper with his original disciples on Maundy Thursday, followed by his betrayal, mock trial and crucifixion on Good Friday.
    It is hard to think of such tragic and unjust events as celebrations. Why would anyone want to celebrate the pain and suffering Jesus experienced so long ago? And why would anybody think that the Friday of the crucifixion was “good?”
   The truth is that we do not celebrate the events of Lent. We remember with thanks- giving the sacrifice Jesus willingly faced for our reconciliation with God. But what we celebrate this season is the unconditional love that our Savior has for us and the op- portunity Lent provides us to reflect on who we are and who we can be through the grace of God.
    The word Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for spring. And, like spring itself, Lent is a season of transition, leading us to new life and new hope.
    I invite you to join us as we continue to journey through this holy season together. May it be a time of examination and reflection as we seek to become closer to God as we prepare ourselves for the pure joy of resurrection.
Peace

Pastor Jim

01/2018 Pastor's Message

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ;
    Okay, now what! We have just experienced a month of preparation and festivities, all dedi- cated for one special day. But that day is now over. The presents are no longer under the tree and the tree itself has either been recycled or stuffed into a box in the attic, awaiting its return next year. The season is now over, and life is returning to “normal.”
    Or is it? Perhaps we would not want to continue the rapid pace of activities and movement that comes with the holiday season. And seeing many of us will be paying for Christmas over the next few months, the idea of year-round gift-giving may seem less than appealing.
    But before you close the shutters and hibernate until Easter, try to remember why we went through all we did this past month. It wasn’t to stimulate the economy or to get in as much as we could before winter settled in. Christmas was, and is, all about celebrating God’s intervention in the world, and our lives, to provide us with new life and new hope. God’s love for us is so great that we are given a precious gift to assure us that we are not alone in the world; the saving, transforming presence of Jesus is with us.
    The coming months may not be as frenzied as December. However, the reason why we cele- brate Christmas is not dependent on calendars or weather. Jesus was born to bring peace and goodwill to the world. As we live that goodwill, and share it with our neighbors, we help keep the spirit of Christmas growing throughout our community and world. As we begin a new year together, may the hope and joy of Jesus’ birth renew us in our lives and our mission.
Peace,
Pastor Jim

First United Methodist Church of Gilford-Laconia, Inc.
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