Pastor Mindy Huffman's Memo

Wednesday, May 11

John 20:19-20 – Being Made Whole

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Why did the Risen Jesus have to carry those ugly marks, left by the nails and the spear? Why didn’t he remove them? A scar is a reminder of both pain and healing, the trauma of being wounded the possibility of being made whole. The disciples and their faith had been wounded, probably even traumatized by what the events surrounding the crucifixion and the crucifixion itself. Being able to see and touch the nail prints and the spear mark was a healing for them, it was them being made whole so they could go forward with their mission. Each of us, no doubt, has been wounded. And the bad news is – we will probably be wounded again in the future. Physical wounds, emotional wounds, mental wounds and spiritual wounds. And when we get wounded we can do 1 of 2 things with our wounds. We can choose to allow our wounds to fester and remain open and allow ourselves to grow bitter and defensive and wall ourselves off from others. Or we can allow healing to begin, a scar to appear. 

The healing for the disciples began when Jesus extended down to them the nail scarred hands and wounded side and allowed them to touch it and see that they were real, and begin to understand the extent that Jesus went to for each of us. We too can touch the nail-print hand that Jesus stretches out to us, we can forgive and be forgiven and move forward. We can move toward wholeness and the abundance of life Christ offers to us. We can allow new life to begin that we might rejoice in the Risen Jesus and take His story to others, carryout our mission to make disciples and further the Kingdom of God. 

Often times it is less about right or wrong, my way or no way and more about loving one another the way Jesus loves us. So do you have wounds that need healing? Let Jesus heal you, touch the hand with the nail print that is stretched downward. Touch it and let new life begin. Don’t let the wound fester and keep you from a relationship with someone. Because if there are wounds keeping you from a relationship with others, then they are also keeping you from a true relationship with the Risen Jesus. It may not be healed the way you want, but if you give it to the Risen Jesus, new life will begin. Allow Jesus to heal you, be transformed, rejoice and experience the Risen Jesus so that you too can tell His story over and over and over and so that you can have the abundance of life that Jesus desires for you. 

I think perhaps the scars on the Risen Jesus are there for 2 purposes. One so we would always be reminded of what our lack of love, trust and obedience cost and the length to which Jesus was willing to go to redeem us. And two, to show us the transforming, healing power that is available to all of us in and through our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.  

Allow Jesus to heal you, be transformed, rejoice and experience the Risen Jesus so that you too can tell His story over and over and over and so that you can have the abundance of life that Jesus desires for you. Amen

Pastor Mindy



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Wednesday, May 4

Easter Every Day

Encountering the Risen Jesus

Luke 24:13-35

On that 1st Easter day Jesus’ followers hope was all but sniffed out. It’s late afternoon and Cleopas and his fellow disciple area headed home to Emmaus from Jerusalem. They had just left the demoralized and confused group of disciples with the events of Good Friday fresh in their memories. The 7 miles back to Emmaus seem like a million. Their feet shuffle, their heads hang and their shoulders sag. The Master they had loved and followed had been horribly put to death on a Roman Cross. Just a week before the hopes of the disciples had risen to a fevered pitch, when they excited crowds had hailed Jesus as the long-for Messiah – the deliverer from the tyranny of Roman occupation. But now he was dead. Their hopes were dashed, their dreams over – they had hoped he was the one. As they trudged home they were talking about all that had happened, trying to make some sense of it. So caught up in their disappointment and despair they fail to notice a traveler coming along side of them. And when they do notice they don’t recognize that it is Jesus. Jesus asks them what they are discussing and slowly hurts, feelings, disappointment, grief and tears begin to pour out. Then Jesus begins to lay things out for them. He takes them back to the beginning of Scripture and walks them through, reminding them of what they know and the connections they should be making. Then starting with Moses and all the prophets he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. He opened to them the Scriptures with a view of showing them how all the Old Testament pointed to Him as its fulfillment. He walked them through the entirety of the revelation to show how it gave witness to who He was, why He had come and why it was necessary. Jesus wanted them to see that if they would only believe what the Scriptures say about him, they would understand why He came and why He had to suffer. They would have known who He was. Scripture still gives testimony of who Jesus is. It still opens for us who Jesus is and all the promises of God. 

As they arrive in Emmaus, they beg this stranger to stay and have supper and spend the night. There was something about this stranger, not just what he was teaching, but the way he was teaching, they didn’t want it to end – they wanted to hold on to him longer. As they sat down at the table for an evening meal Jesus took some bread, gave thanks, divided it and gave it to them and at that moment, in the breaking of the bread their eyes were open, and they recognized Jesus and He vanished. The bewildered disciples were now be-wondered. They jumped up from the table and ran back to Jerusalem and found the others, where they heard stories of Jesus’ appearance to Simon and they shared their marvelous news of Jesus’ appearance and conversation with them. Their hearts were burning.

3 things, we can learn from Cleopas and his friends experience with the Risen Jesus. 1st It is not only at the Communion table we can be with Jesus, but at the dinner table as well. Jesus is not only our Host in His church, but he desires to be the guest in all of our homes, in all of our hearts. As Christians we are to live always and everywhere in a Christ-filled world. 2nd, we need to share the Good News we have been given, we need to share Jesus’ joy because the Good News is never fully ours until we have shared it with someone else. 3rd, we aren’t to nurse disappointment, discouragement and hurt. Instead we are to turn to Jesus and the Word, reread the story over and over and be reminded of all the promises of God. We are to move on, heal and let go. We have to let Jesus do for us what he did for Cleopas and his friend. He came to them, met them at their point of pain and when they got to the meat of the problem, “But we were hoping…” God did not do what they wanted, but what he knew was best for them. Disappointment is caused by unmet expectations. Disappointment is cured by revamped expectations. Faith is the conviction that God knows more that we do about this life and he will get us through it.

We can never really plan to meet the Risen Christ because we never really know when or where He’s going to show up. But we can be sure He will show up – if we believe. We need to start our day by asking ourselves “I wonder where I’ll meet Jesus today?” We don’t know when He will show up, but we know He is alive, He wants to live in our hearts, He wants us to feel the joy and delight of Easter every day. Don’t let disappointment, despair, loneliness, sadness or hopelessness cloud your vision or envelope your heart. Open your eyes and see the Risen Jesus alive beside you, calling you by name, walking with you through whatever life brings. Know His voice and here him call your name. Know He is the bread of life and will meet you where you are. Let your heart burn with gratitude for what Jesus has done. Let your heart burn with joy because of his victory over death, for the forgiveness of your sins, with excitement for serving him!

 

                        Pastor Mindy

 



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Wednesday, April 27

Dare to Never Be the Same

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

The Resurrection is far too mysterious and momentous to be described by us humans, for it is God’s moment and why I believe the Gospel writers don’t leave us at the empty tomb but provide eyewitness accounts of resurrection stories. We learn from these encounters that the disciples and early followers were forever changed by these encounters with the Risen Jesus. As we read and study the resurrection stories we discover that we too have the opportunity to be changed and transformed by encounters with the Risen Jesus, not just once, not just occasionally, but every day. John 20:1-18 tells the story of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the Risen Jesus on the Easter Morning. Here are some things we learn from Mary’s encounter that can be significant in our own lives.

1st we should have a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus, one we cultivate daily. We should know Jesus the way sheep know their shepherd. In knowing Jesus this way we can hear him whisper our name no matter what we might be going through. Jesus speaks to us daily through the Scriptures, our devotional readings, through others, through a hug or a kind word. Know Jesus listen for his voice and follow where he leads. 2nd we need to have unwavering faith in our Good Shepherd as Mary did. Her reward for her unwavering faith, to her was afforded the opportunity to be the 1st to encounter the Risen Jesus. 3rd, once we know Jesus don’t keep it a secret, don’t cling to him, instead go forth with Jesus to be his hands and feet, his hugs and smiles as we proclaim the Good News that Christ is risen. Like Mary we are witnesses to the Resurrection and the promise of new life in Jesus Christ. And we are to share that news with others. Maybe we aren’t called to run and tell everyone, like Mary was, but we are each called to tell someone.

Jesus sent Mary out to the world with the message of the Good News. Easter teaches us God is still in charge, that God will win, that God is always with us, that God loves us, that when we are down and out, God comes looking for us and like He did with Mary on that 1st Easter morning, he calls us by name. He has the power to resurrect, and He has the power to resurrect us. He has the power to turn trudging to running; to turn sorrow to joy; to turn tears of grief to tears of gratitude; to turn death to life. And we are the messengers.

Mary we be like Mary. May we hear the voice of our Good Shepherd calling our name – and may we go boldly into the world proclaiming the Good News that Jesus Christ is alive! When Jesus called her name, Mary heard, answered and was never the same. May we dare to be like Mary and hear the voice of Jesus calling us, calling us to be his hands and feet, his hugs and smiles, and may we answer and respond and never be the same. In his company may we go where Jesus’ love and footsteps show? May we choose to move and live and grow in Jesus and allow Jesus to live and grow in us, that we will never be the same as we tell, love and serve. Amen.

 

 



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Wednesday, April 20

“Blood he bled for you.

The spear he took for you.

The nails he felt for you.

The sign he left for you.

All this He did for you”

                     

Even though we are now on the other side of Resurrection Sunday., I want to share a little about one of the characters in the Holy Week story that I don’t think gets much attention, the thief on the cross.  Here is the message, I think, the thief might have for us today.

 

Luke 23:32-33, 39-43

 

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 

 

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

 

At the end of his life, Jesus was crucified between two robbers, one at his right and one at his left. We cannot help but think of the petitions from James and John and the arguing among the disciples over who was to be at the right and the left hand of Jesus when he entered his kingdom.  However, even in death Jesus found his place with the sinners.  All the gospels tell us of the thieves that were to be crucified with Jesus and how they both joined the religious authorities in reviling Jesus, even as he was dying on the cross.  Luke, however, goes a step further than the other 3 and tells us how the one thief came to believe in Jesus.

 

We know nothing about him.  Nothing of his family or how he came to be where he was.  What we do know about him is that he made a very humble request, “When you come into your kingdom remember me.”  In the midst of his own agony, pain and end-of-life thoughts he turned to Jesus.  Perhaps he was one who never in his life of crime would have spared a thought to matters of the hereafter, matters of faith and questions of religion. Perhaps he was one for whom the moment was everything, whatever was happening now was what counted. But on that day, at that time, he saw the future and he saw Jesus, he knew that the soul was real and that the hereafter mattered, and he knew Jesus was paradise-bound.

 

At what point do we take God seriously?  At what point does our soul, our eternal life begin to get our attention?  What must happen to us, how far does our life have to go astray, what is required to shake us out of our complacency to get us to pay attention to God? We so often tread water, equidistant between two shores, with little concern over where we are going, convinced that at some unknown point in the future we will have time to sit down and figure it out.  And yet, when we get to our most extreme point, will we be able to recognize the face of God?  Would we, crucified on a cross that is the result of our own actions, be able to look at the fellow on the cross next to us and recognize our Savior? Or have we been so long in the faith, so placid in our thinking, that over time, the face we imagine of God has come to resemble our own?

 

Even though we are on the other side of Easter,  I hope each of you will take time out to reflect, ponder and think about the cross, what it meant for the thief, what it meant for Jesus and even more importantly what it means for us.

 

Many have read about the cross.  Some have pondered what Christ left at the cross.  Fewer still have pondered what we must leave.  I urge you to leave something at the cross.  You can ponder, observe and analyze the cross.  You can read about it and even pray about it.  But until you leave something at the foot of the cross, you probably haven’t yet embraced the cross.  What can you leave at the foot of the cross – anxiety, hate, mistrust, grudges, complacency?

 

                        Pastor Mindy



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Wednesday, April 13

The Father’s Great Love

At noon the whole country became dark and the darkness lasted for three hours. At three o’clock Jesus cried in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.’ This means, ‘My God, my God, why have you rejected me?’

Mark 15:33-34

As part of my Lenten Devotion time I have been rereading 2 of my favorite Max Lucado books, In the Eye of the Storm and Six Hours One Friday. So, as we consider all the events of Holy Week and all that Jesus endured and suffered on our behalf, how the cheers of Sunday quickly turned to cheers and cries of “Crucify Him!” I want to share an excerpt from In the Eye of the Storm.

 

Situation: Judas betray Jesus, and the religious authorities arrested God’s Son. The disciples scattered, and Peter denied him 3 times. Jesus, beaten and mocked throughout the night, provided salvation through his death and resurrection. The hours before Jesus’ crucifixion were extremely painful for him, yet he faced the sacrifice with love, courage, and conviction so great that he willingly gave up his life for us!  

 

He looked around the hill and foresaw a scene. Three figures hung on three crosses. Arms spread. Heads fallen forward. They moaned with the wind. Men clad in soldiers’ garb sat on the ground near the trio. They played games in the dirt and laughed.

 

Men clad in religion stood off to one side. They smiled. Arrogant, cocky. They had protected God, they thought by killing this false one.

Women clad in sorrow huddled at the foot of the hill. Speechless. Faces tear streaked. Eyes downward. One put her arm around another and tried to lead her away. She wouldn’t leave. ‘I will stay,’ she said softly. ‘I will stay.”

All heaven stood to fight. All nature rose to rescue. All eternity poised to protect. But the Creator gave no command. ‘It must be done….’ He said, and withdrew.

But as he stepped back in time, he heard the cry that he would someday scream: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ He wrenched at tomorrow’s agony.

The angel spoke again, ‘It would be less painful….’ The Creator interrupted softly. ‘But it wouldn’t be love.

In the Eye of the Storm, by Max Lucaado

I hope you will plan to attend our Holy Week Services as we worship with the wider Syracuse/Wawasee Community.

 

Pastor Mindy



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Wednesday, April 6

What Will You Do With Jesus?

What will you do with Jesus? Neutral you cannot be;

Someday your heart will be asking, “What will He do with me?”

 

It was common in the early days of the Church to observe everyday of what we have come to know as Holy Week. Each day observed a piece of the Holy Week Service. There are still many traditions that offer Services every night of Holy Week. The Gospel story for Wednesday of Holy Week is about Judas, who betrayed Jesus. Back in 2014, I was invited to preach on Wednesday of Holy Week at a church near where I grew up. The message I gave was titled, Betrayed.  The short version of the message was, that the cross is not about God’s love for saints.  The cross is about God’s love for sinners like all of us.  It’s about 2nd chances for people like Peter and Judas.  It’s about 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th, etc. chances for people like us.  But the Good News is FAILURE ISN’T FINAL AND FAILURE ISN’T FATAL.

 

The Hymn What Will You Do with Jesus says, “What will you do with Jesus?  Neutral you cannot be; Someday your heart will be asking, ‘What will He do with me?’”  Judas is the scariest of the disciples because the ability to betray our Savior lies within all of us.  But again, the Good News for us is that Failure isn’t final, and Failure isn’t fatal if we come to Jesus.  Don’t keep him waiting.

This poem conveys it best. This poem was written by Rev. Kathryn Jenkins Elliott, after she heard my message that night.

Judas, Come Home

He came out of the darkness, into the garden,                                                                         

the first light of dawn in his eyes.

He remembered the sounds of the nails being driven;

He remembered his sweet mother’s cries.

As his eyes became focused, and his memory was clearer,

He knew there was something important to say:

Judas, come home.  All is forgiven.

Let me welcome you back home today…

 

But Judas was not to be found in the garden, nor on the road to Emmaus that day.

He was not on the shore where the fishermen gathered,

Not in the room where his followers prayed…

 

When he learned of the death of the one who betrayed him,                                                            

you might have expected some expression of joy in the end.

He shook his head sadly, his heart deeply broken,

Was there no way to save the soul of Judas, his friend?

While his eyes filled with tears, his heart trembled with sorrow,

He knew there was something important to say:

Judas, come home.  All is forgiven.

Let me welcome you back home today.

 

There, on the wall of a bus station bathroom,                                                                                      

scrawled in ink by an unsteady hand--

The words that remind us of the cross that restores us,

The mercy and grace that is ours by His hand…

No matter the sin or how far we may roam,

“Judas, all is forgiven… come home!”

 

One might almost imagine when Christ entered His kingdom,

He looked to the faces he saw all around.

Searching, and hoping for some sign there of Judas,

Ready to show him that mercy and grace do abound.

The cross made the choice of the noose so pointless,

It’s hard to imagine that there could be a greater waste.

Jesus stands with arms open, ready to forgive even Judas,

To forgive even you, even I, whatever we’ve faced…

 

But Judas was not to be found in the garden, not on the road to Emmaus that day.

He was not on the shore where the fishermen gathered,

Not in the room where his followers prayed…

 

No matter the sin or how far we may roam,

All is forgiven, all is forgiven, all is forgiven…

Come home.

 

I hope you will plan to attend our Holy Week Services as we worship with the wider Syracuse/Wawasee Community.

 

Pastor Mindy

 



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Wednesday, March 30

Praise the Lord In All Things And all Ways

 
  Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.

 

 

 

 

The Psalms have always been one of my very favorite books of the Bible. Every day during my devotional time I read from the Psalms. I start with Psalms 1 and read 3 or 4 every day. Then when I get to the end I start over. I like the Psalms so much because they are really a miniature of life.  Every possible experience we can think of, if prayed to the God who is really there, can’t help but end in praise.  

Confession will lead to the joy of forgiveness. Laments will lead to a deeper resting in God for our happiness, instead of stuff or how others might treat us. If we could just praise God perfectly, we would love him completely and then our joy would be full. The new heavens and new earth that John tells us about in Revelation are perfect because everyone and everything is glorifying God fully and therefore enjoying God forever. Psalm 150 gives us an awesome glimpse of that unimaginable future.

I remember a story I read by the renowned preacher Rev. James Moore. Rev. Moore was out walking early one morning, just about sunrise on an old logging road. All was quiet and still except for the sounds of nature awakening to the day. He said as he rounded a blind curve, much to his surprise, on the edge of an the abyss stood a young man with a trumpet and as the sun was coming up he began to play the doxology. Rev. Moore said Psalm 150 instantly came to mind. 

We are new every morning, creation is new every morning and isn’t that more than enough reason to praise God with everything we are and in everything we do?  I invite you to look to God – look to future, don’t get mired in the past – look to where God is leading, not where you have been and praise him everywhere, for everything, in every way. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

Pastor Mindy



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Wednesday, March 23

Firsts

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

 

There have been many “FIRSTS” in my life. The day I was born. The day I learned to talk. The day I learned to walk, run throw a ball, ride a horse, ride a bike. My first day at school. My first day of high school. Graduation day. First day of college, first day of seminary. First dates, first kiss, first dance. First heartache. The First day I became an aunt. I have had several first days at new jobs. The first day I realized how much Jesus loved me and I gave my life to him.  And I am sure that all of you have many “FIRSTS” as well. 

 

Each new first is both scary and exhilarating. Scary because we are leaving the familiar, the known behind. But exhilarating because new adventures lay ahead. New roads/doorways are opening. And what adventure we may be forfeiting if we don’t go down those new roads or through those open doorways.

 

Last July we all went down the same road on my First day as your pastor. And in 3 short months, are paths will go separate ways and I will have a FIRST day with Hillside UMC and you all will have a FIRST day with your new pastor.  And while it is both sad and a scary, we should look ahead with anticipation at what God has in store for us.  After all God knows all about FIRSTS, after all he did create them. 

 

Genesis chapter 1 tells the story of God’s beginnings. Verses 1-5 say, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”

 

When God created the world, God created light out of darkness and called light day and darkness night. Each day brought a new beginning and ending. And still today, each new day, each new first God is still faithful giving us light. As we face new beginnings and unknown futures, we can take heart because God is always with us. We can trust in God and God’s great promises to guide us and provide for our needs. God leads, encourages, and supports us through all of our days and has promised to never leave or forsake us.  

 

So as we continue our time together, let us build the foundation for the future of Calvary. Let us not say I’m too old, I’m too young, I can’t do this or that – but let us say while I can’t do that, I can do this and then ask God to use your current gifts and talents as He needs them to continue to build the Kingdom. Let us look to the future not glumly or sad or confused – but with conviction and fortitude. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

 

So let us be strong and courageous trusting in God to make all our FIRSTS exciting adventures.

 

Pastor Mindy

 



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Wednesday, March 16

As many of you know there is much turmoil in the United Methodist Church. Some of the turmoil is being caused by people who simply are mad because they are not getting their way. That aside, there is also turmoil because General Conference (Our governing body) has had to once again be postponed. General Conference was to have met in 2020, and that was postponed and it was hoped it could happen in 2022. The United Methodist Church is a worldwide church, with conferences and churches all across the world. And because of COVID vaccination requirements and travel restrictions, many of the delegates who would be coming from other countries were finding it hard, if not impossible to get the proper visas and travel papers. So with much angst, it was decided to postpone yet again until everyone could be present as the church decides its way forward.  

As there always is, there is a lot of misinformation flying around on the news and social media, so rather than something from me in this week’s e-navigator, I felt led to share a message from our Bishop with you.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

            Pastor Mindy

People of the United Methodist churches in Indiana,

As I have been listening carefully to the early reactions, I have come to realize that not everyone who reads posts from the INUMC has also read the announcements from the General Conference. I have come to realize that not everyone is aware of the workings of the worldwide nature of The United Methodist Church that spans far beyond the borders of the United States. Not everyone has understood that the very complex decision to postpone General Conference was not a decision by your Bishop or Conference leaders in Indiana but was made by a group designated from our denomination with representation from around the world. And this decision was made even more difficult when needing to consider that many delegates from beyond our U.S. borders have significant challenges to obtain access to vaccinations and travel documents and visas caused by the conditions of the pandemic. The decision to postpone General Conference was not made lightly, nor did it exclude voices from across the theological spectrum. And not all would be aware that your Bishop and Conference leaders are also disappointed to hear about yet another postponement of the General Conference, now set for 2024.

So, what now? Some voices will tell you that the UMC is stuck. The news of a General Conference postponement brings a wide range of reactions from disappointment and despair, to anger and fear. And there will be many voices and agendas clambering to be heard in these days that follow this announcement. But I pray that the story of continued strife and division will not prevail in our United Methodist churches in Indiana. First, because the message and promise of Jesus Christ is needed more today than at any time in our lifetimes. People still need hope. People in our communities still need care. Christ still needs our participation to make a difference in the world. We have a purpose that stands strong with or without a meeting of the General Conference. People need Jesus! Being the Church that offers fresh bread of love, fresh bread of hope, fresh bread of life in Jesus remains our call. People desperately need Jesus!

Even so, it’s no secret that there are profound differences in the church about how God is calling us to be in ministry in the world. And while I remain unapologetically United Methodist and committed to the UMC, I am also working to explore and clarify the possibilities that the Book of Discipline makes available in the event that churches request the opportunity to leave the denomination. Some will speak of roadblocks, but it’s important for pastors and congregations to know that your Bishop is preparing to continue to work graciously in the days ahead to open paths that may be available for those who find the thought of waiting until 2024 to be too much to bear. I will lead with respect and compassion for all.

This is my promise. You will hear from your Bishop and Conference leadership on a regular basis. I will continue to cast a vision for unity amidst our diversity and proclaim there is a place for you in the missional movement of the Indiana Conference. I will place no Episcopal impediments upon those who prayerfully discern they must leave the Church. And I believe, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 – NRSV) People of good faith are found in all aspects of our denominational struggles, and our God will use it all in God’s perfect timing.

My prayer for you is that this Lenten season you will draw closer to Jesus and in love with the one who first loved us. And I invite United Methodists from every corner of the state of Indiana to remember that the first call and mission of the Church is to turn to God in prayer. As we begin this first week of worship in the Lenten season and pray for our Church and its mission for Christ, let us keep the people of Ukraine in our prayers.

Let us pray,

Loving God,
For your people who have begun the journey of Lent, allow us to draw closer to you in prayer, in repentance, in reflection, in vulnerability. Lord, have mercy as we pray for peace and safety for all in harm’s way in Ukraine. In times like these, we are reminded you are our rock and refuge, our deliverer. May we never forget that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and your love and mercy have no geographical, national boundaries or borders.

Come, Lord Jesus. Deliver us from our fears and our trauma. As we look to the hills from whence cometh our help, we are grateful for the help that comes from you. Announcements of postponement of a General Conference will not postpone the prayers of intercession on behalf of those who suffer in Ukraine or in the struggles of addiction on our streets and in our neighborhoods. We call on your strength and wisdom when ours is running short. When we turn our worries over to you, God, you are faithful. Take our doubts, take our concerns, take our disappointment and frustration. You are the only One who can turn our mourning into dancing. And you are the One who can make a way where there seems to be no way.

In the precious name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

 

Bishop Julius C. Trimble
Resident Bishop
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church



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Wednesday, March 9

Start Your Day with the Best Thing

“Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you.” Psalm 31:19

2 Core values I believe every Christian and every church collectively should cultivate and exhibit are; 1 Honor God in Everything You/We Do; and 2 build relationships based on trust and respect.  I believe the way that we begin to do this is for each and every one of us to spend quality, alone time with God each and every day.

One of my favorite things to do 1st thing each morning (besides have a cup of coffee) is to spend some quality time with God.  Doing this just gets my day started off right – it gives me a whole new perspective and outlook as I begin the day.

Why should we spend time alone with God, you might ask? Just why is meeting with God in the secret place of your heart so important? I believe that until we gain an understanding of the immense value and availability of encountering God, we will never consistently engage in this basic but foundational and vital practice.  

As Christians we know we are supposed to start our day off with God. If you have been a believer for any length of time, you have likely been encouraged by someone to spend time every day in God’s presence. But perhaps no one ever told you why this was important. You may never have discovered all God longs to do in the 1st moments of your days. 

God longs for our day to begin with the absolute best thing, and the best thing is his presence. If encountering God’s presence is the best part of our day, then we already know the impact it has made on us. As we journey through the Season of Lent, I invite you to take a look at your spiritual life. How often do you spend time with God? Take a moment and assess how often you actually spend time meeting with God.  I believe that we will only every consistently do that which we want to do, especially with our free time. We might feel obligated to people or practices. But with our personal time, our wants will always win out over our obligations. But once you encounter the incredible love and peace inherent in God’s presence you will begin to desire to spend time with him – it will be something you crave, something you look forward to.  You will discover that your time spent with God is the absolute best part of your day. 

Psalm 16:11 says, “You make know to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” And Psalm 84:1-2 says, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.”

The days I don’t start with the best thing, being in his presence, are my worst days. God’s presence ignites me with passion, love, purpose and a sense of belong that nothing else can give. As you journey through the Season of Lent, I invite you to cultivate new spiritual habits and practices. Spend time each morning with God. Take time to open your heart and allow him to satisfy your eternal need for communion with the Father. Allow him to fill you with his presence that you might experience the reality of his love. And let a true, transformative encounter with the living God fill you with a great hunger to consistently encounter God in the first moments of each day

Pastor Mindy



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