Stewardship Message – The Gratitude Path – December 8, 2020

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.–James 1:24

Dr. Darian said to write about what I am grateful for in the year 2020. I have to admit that gratitude is probably not my first or natural reaction to this year. At the beginning of the year, it became apparent that my mother’s health was becoming more fragile, and I would need to be more vigilant in my care of her. Then the pandemic hit and I became somewhat housebound, due in part to my responsibility to care for her and in part due to my own status as a member of a vulnerable group (over 65, high blood pressure, high susceptibility to respiratory infections-I’ve had the flu 37 times!). And then in March, my son’s and daughter-in-law’s social networking business in Portland, OR, collapsed, and they had to let all their employees go. Yeah, gratitude for the year 2020 could be a hard one.

And yet I find myself very grateful indeed. We celebrated Mom’s 89th birthday this year (in a limited group, of course), and I have been reflecting a lot recently on how fortunate we are-4 children with spouses, 8 grandchildren with spouses, and 13 great-grandchildren-to have her in our lives for all this time. What a blessing for all of us!
Staying at home has meant less eating out, less fast food, more time for exercise, and more time for my own cooking. The result has been an improvement in my overall health and the loss of a few pounds. I am grateful for the opportunity to focus on my physical well-being.

My son and his wife, with more time on their hands, planted a huge garden in their yard this summer. My daughter-in-law, a talented cook, created a hot sauce made from their home-grown tomatoes and baked tomato pies, quiches and other culinary delights from their multitude of vegetables. My son then sold them at a pop-up market. They both reported having great fun doing something that they would never have gotten to do otherwise, and they shared their joy in doing it with me often in pictures.

Perhaps what I am most grateful for, though, is how the people of our church worked so hard to be sure that those of us who were homebound could continue to participate in the life of the church. I am so thankful every Sunday when I turn on my computer and participate in the worship service through Facebook, even when I am visiting my mother in Clinton, MS. What a privilege it is and how appreciative I am!

So, along with James, I am counting all of 2020 joyously, learning to be steadfast in the midst of trials, working on being perfect and complete in my faith in God and my appreciation for all His many blessings and abundant mercies in my life.

Gracy Taylor

Stewardship Message – The Gratitude Path

“Christ has no body on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now”. Saint Teresa of Avila

Millie Williams and George Purnell shared with us in our past two weekly newsletters snippets of their grateful hearts. It has been so refreshing to hear different people’s response to Dr. Darian’s challenge to share what we are grateful for.

As a relatively newcomer to West Point (3 years); I am so very grateful for this (my) church and it’s amazing outreach to various groups and community needs. From Rocky‘s and my first visit to FUMC, we were met with an outpouring of love and inclusiveness. This began when we walked into the church, after the service, an invitation to join a couple for lunch afterward, and a phone call the following day from a church staff member. We were overwhelmed with joy at the many opportunities to serve and be served by our church. You all immediately became our new family in a new land; as so many were literally the “hands and feet of Jesus” to us. I am truly grateful for the outpouring of love that I see exhibited to the “multitudes”; within our church walls and to various community needs, as well as, missions beyond our borders. In this strange time of social distancing; I am so very grateful and impressed with our COVID task force that have given so much time and planning to make the best of a strained time in the face of many mandates, both locally and statewide!!!! We have many talented members in our church family that have demonstrated their love and commitment in meeting the various needs of every age group by offering “ different “ ways to worship, both apart and collectively.

A very sincere thank you to all who work so diligently and often behind the scenes to keep our church family engaged and alive. Again, so many of our members are the “hands and feet of Jesus”; and I am supremely grateful. I challenge myself and each of you to use the individual talents that God has blessed us with to be His Light in our church, community, and the world. (Ref) Matthew 25: 37-40

Debbie Bond

Stewardship Message – The Gratitude Path – November 17, 2020

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 says “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

As disciples we should be grateful people, people who are aware of all the wonderful things that God gives and does for us. I am GRATEFUL for music. Music is an important part of worship and praise to God.

I am thankful that Mrs. Rachel has provided me with an environment that is warm, encouraging, and full of new possibilities. I am GRATEFUL that voice and guitar have helped me to feel and be more confident. Music has not stopped here at FUMC. It has changed, but it has continued. I have done voice virtually, in a private home, and now back in the church. I know God can hear me wherever I sing.

Palms 95:1 says “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.”

I pray that we all have hearts that can feel love, ears that can hear the music, and eyes that can see all our many blessings.

Millie Williams

Commitment Sunday will be Sunday, December 6th. Pledge cards will be mailed to members the week of November30th. You may bring your pledge card to church, mail it to P.O. Box 293, drop it by the church office or call Julie at 494-1658 to turn in your pledge. Thank you for your continued support of the FUMC ministries.

Stewardship Message – The Gratitude Path – November 10, 2020

A 92-year-old well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with his hair fashionably coifed and shaved perfectly, even though he is legally blind, had to move to a nursing home. His wife of 70 years had recently passed away, making the move necessary.
As the admitting nurse maneuvered his walker to the elevator, she provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the beautiful curtains that had been hung on his window. “I love it,” he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

“Mr. Jones, you haven’t seen the room; just wait.”

“That doesn’t have anything to do with it!” he replied. “Gratitude is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged … it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or I can get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and every day I’m here I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away.”

He continued, “Life in an odd way is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you’ve put in. I’m still making gratitude deposits. I have had so much that I can still be grateful for and happy about.” To remain happy, remain in gratitude, and you’ll always have plenty to draw from.”
With a stewardship campaign about giving from our gratitude, hopefully this story will cause each of us to think how much we have had about which to be grateful. Like Mr. Jones so wisely stated, “Gratitude is something you decide ahead of time.”
Times might seem a little tough right now, but we can always choose to be grateful, especially for God’s many blessings. There are so many. We’ll never run out of them. So we can give and be grateful and know that it pleases our Father in Heaven.

George Purnell, Stewardship Chair

Pastor’s Message

The Gratitude Path: The Power of the Turn Around

I recently went on a vacation to Charleston, South Carolina, and I loved going on walks around the downtown area. On my first evening there, while walking to dinner at a nearby restaurant, I made a wrong turn and realized I would have to turn around and retrace some steps. Turning around on the sidewalk was easy, but then I was going against the flow of foot traffic! Going against the flow felt awkward, but it’s what I needed to do to reach my destination.

In Luke 17 Jesus instructs ten lepers to go to the priest after they cry out for healing. They obey, and along the way they are healed. One of the lepers notices his healing and turns around on the path to return to Jesus and thank him. Imagine how awkward it must have been to make that turnaround, to go against the flow of the other nine lepers, eager to make good time to reach the priest? The world may try to tell us that choosing to turn around in gratitude and going against the flow of complaint is too much trouble. But there is power in making that turn. When we choose gratitude, we return to Jesus.

This year’s stewardship theme revolves around choosing “the gratitude path” with this story as our guide. It is largely based on Kent Millard’s book of the same. We could easily list our grievances in the year 2020, but the Lord invites us to turn around toward gratitude. We invite you to ponder how God has blessed you this year. We hope you will reflect on what about this church makes you grateful. Giving flows from the grateful heart, and we desire for this campaign to have firm roots in gratitude. Be on the lookout for stories from within our church, and we hope you might be willing to share your stories of gratitude on this path we travel with Jesus.

all good things to each of you,
Dr. D.

Pastor’s Message – October 27, 2020

Reading, Watching, and Listening In October

Every month I set aside one week to share in this space about movies, books, and music that have especially spoken to my heart recently. These are not advertisements for you to go out and buy the items but rather an invitation to consider what you’re reading, watching, and hearing, too. God speaks to us in all kinds of ways, and great conversation can arise among us from where we’re hearing God speak.

Evidence by Josh Baldwin (music): If you follow me on Instagram (and if you don’t yet, please do so @revdrdarian), you know that this album was the soundtrack of my recent vacation. Josh Baldwin currently serves as a worship leader in northern California, but his roots in the Carolinas come through clearly on this album. My favorite lyric is, “The only shadow I see / Is the shadow of your wing.”

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (book): I can’t say enough good about this book that is already on many lists for “best of the year.” Gyasi is a native of Ghana but grew up mostly in Huntsville, Alabama, in a Pentecostal church, and all of these influence her lead character named Gifty. The ways she writes about faith, grief, belonging, science, and family are hard to describe but so unforgettably beautiful.

The Trial of the Chicago Seven (movie): Movies have always introduced me to pieces of history that I previously didn’t know and challenged me to learn more about what happened (The fabulous film, Hidden Figures, is another example). I am eager to read more about this trial from 1968 because a two-hour film is not enough to learn about an eight-month-long trial. Still, the performances are great, and the writing superb. I am grateful for all that history has to teach us and the art of movies that introduce us to some of that history.

Through which songs, movies, and books is God speaking to you?

all good things to each of you,
Dr. D.

Pastor’s Message – October 20, 2020

GLORY: The Return of the King
A Worship Series for the “End of the Year”

Have you heard or said one of the following statements recently?

I’m SO ready for 2020 to end…

2021’s got to better than this…

Go away, 2020…

I hear you and understand. It’s been a tough year for many of us and a strange year for all of us. We’re ready for a fresh start. May I invite you, however, to reconsider what it means to start a new year? One of our anchors in worship this year, something that has helped us to measure time when time didn’t make sense, is the church calendar. According to that calendar, a “new year” begins on November 29 with the dawn of the Advent season. Over the next five weeks we will have our final worship series for the “end of the year,” a time for us to reflect on the past, look to the future, and seek God’s glory in the present.

I can’t stress enough how important this worship series will be for us as a congregation and as individual followers of Jesus Christ. It will revolve around a truth that we declare in the Apostle’s Creed Sunday after Sunday: “From thence he shall come…” The “he” of our declaration is Jesus Christ, and we will face in the Scriptures head-on the reality that Jesus will return in glory one day. We need not fear, but we do need to prepare our individual hearts and our church’s heart to be ready.

Aren’t you thankful that we have a chance to start afresh before 2020 technically ends? Let’s look toward this ending as a new beginning for us in the body of Christ!

all good things to each of you,
Dr. D.

Pastor’s Message – October 13, 2020

What We Need to Know: Sunday School & More

 Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times.
~ Psalm 106:3
Dearly Beloved Friends,

As we conclude our worship series on the psalms, I encourage you to continue pondering this verse and how God is calling you to “observe justice” from a heart that worships him. Next week I’ll share more about our next worship series. For now, here are some important updates and reminders from the church’s COVID-19 task force and staff as we safely regather.

· In-person Worship Gathering: While we no longer require reservations for the Sunday morning service, we surely appreciate your doing so when you can in case we need to contact trace. Also, we continue to require masks for the entirety of the service—the best way to love our neighbor right now!

· Sunday School: We will resume Sunday school this upcoming Sunday, October 18, at 10AM , and classes will conclude at 10:45AM. Please check with other members of your class to see who is ready to meet in person and plan to do so in your usual space (except for the Good Shepherd class, which will meet in the fellowship hall). We cannot share in food or drinks yet, and masks are required.

· Trunk or Treat: Check out page two of this newsletter for all the details of our Trunk or Treat on October 25.

· Charge Conference: Administrative Council will meet with the district superintendent via ZOOM call on Sunday, October 25, at 3:30PM. All members of the Administrative Council will receive login info for the call closer to time.

Thank you for your patience and prayers as we safely resume and remaster some of our beloved ways of gathering!

all good things to each of you,
Dr. D.

Pastor’s Message – October 6, 2020

Learning What a “Real Song” Is

When my niece was not quite three years old, she schooled me on the definition of a “real song.” We’d been singing her favorites, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” when she asked me to sing a song. I’m not sure why the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” popped in my head, but I started to sing it. She stared at me as if I’d lost my mind and said, “Auntie Rev, that’s not a real song.” I asked her what a ‘real song’ was, and she dramatically began singing the ABC song.

When I recounted the story to a friend a few days later, he said, “Well, I guess you can’t really learn any other song until you know the ABC song.”

As I’ve said in our current worship series, the psalms are our “ABC song” of Scripture. We find in their poetry the basic building blocks of unlocking secrets of God’s Word. Learning the themes and truths of the psalms’ open, honest prayers help us to read other parts of Scripture. They are the “real song” that guide us in singing other songs of Jesus and his love.

With all of the changes we’ve experienced in the world this year, changes to which churches have not been immune, we have also had the opportunity to remember Who does not change. In worship this past Sunday, Psalm 19 invited us back into basic practices that we must not neglect, which include worship, study of the Word, and prayers of self examination. I encourage you to read this psalm throughout the week and seek the Lord about how this “real song” might help us grow our faith in & focus on the One who doesn’t change. By tending to these basic needs of our souls, we will improve our lives —and learn to sing even more songs that God has placed in our hearts.

all good things to each of you,
Dr. D.

Pastor’s Message – September 29, 2020

Reading, Watching, and Listening In September

Every month, I’m setting aside one week to share in this space about movies, books, and music that have especially spoken to my heart recently. These are not advertisements for you to go out and buy the items. They are not suitable for everyone, but I hope this will invite us to consider what we’re reading, watching, and hearing. God speaks to us in all kinds of ways, and great conversation can arise among us from where we’re hearing God speak.

1. Rivers In The Wasteland by Needtobreathe (music): I talked about this band in the last sermon of our UNITY series. I had ignored them for years because of the label, “Christian rock,” associated with them. It turns out they are far better than any label. This album is about five years old but does not disappoint. My personal favorite track is, “The Heart.”

2. 42 (movie): Yes, I referenced this movie in a sermon, too. The late Chadwick Boseman marvelously portrays baseball legend, Jackie Robinson, and it sheds light on an important moment in history that still affects us today. Plus, there is a fabulous joke about Methodists in an early scene. I’m slowly making my way through all of Boseman’s movies and am amazed by his gifts that are gone from this world too soon.

3. Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land (audiobook): I love listening to memoirs, especially when read by the author. Stephanie Land provides a firsthand look at poverty in North America from the perspective of a single mother trying to make ends meet. Her voice continues to ring in my head when I read Scriptures about how we as communities of faith are called to care for the poor.

Through which books, movies, shows, and podcasts is God speaking to you these days?

all good things to each of you,
Dr. D.