Pastor’s Message 3/26/2024

                                             Hello, Goodbye

You say goodbye,
I say hello.
Hello, hello.
I don’t know why you say goodbye,
I say hello.
The Beatles have a way of saying so much in few words, don’t they? I
remember the first time I had to say, “goodbye,” to a congregation, and I
came across a hilarious video of this classic song. Ringo, Paul, George, and
John were wearing neon-colored, matching suits, as they sang and played.
It was joyful, and there was deep meaning in what they sang. In every
goodbye there is a hello, and vice versa.

As I embark on spiritual renewal leave next week, you will welcome Rev. Dr.
Giles Lindley as your interim pastor. We will say goodbye to each other, but
you will say hello to what is next in your future as First UMC in West Point.
There will be another goodbye & hello later in June for you when the next
pastor is appointed. Through each of these changes, it is important to
maintain joy, hope and anticipation!

I am grateful for these past eight years with you as your spiritual leader. We
have been through flood, fire, and a lot of sunshine together. As a people of
resurrection, we remember that Jesus’ goodbye on the cross would soon
become an eternal hello of resurrection. So it is for us in the body of Christ
still today. Let us move forward as a resurrection people, and may our prayer
continually be, “Bless the Lord, o my soul, and all that is within me, bless His
holy name. Bless the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” (Psalm

I am looking forward to saying ‘hello’ with you to the risen Christ on Sunday

—the day of resurrection! Thank you for the honor of serving as you pastor.

all good things to each of you,
dr. darian tennyson

Pastor’s Message 03/19/2024

A Message from Pastor Darian

Dearly Beloved Friends,

As I shared with you a few days ago, we have heard from the district superintendent that I will begin a time of spiritual renewal leave on Monday, April 1, 2024. So, my last Sunday of worshipping with you will be on Easter Sunday. What an appropriate day of new beginnings and hope. I am looking forward to the next few weeks of worshipping with you and helping organize a healthy transition for all of you. There will be an interim pastor appointed by the bishop, whose time with you will begin on April 1, and when we find out who that will be, we will let you know.

I have spent a lot of time lately meditating on “Hymn of Promise,” which you can find on page 707 of a United Methodist Hymnal. The last verse feels especially appropriate for us:

In our end is our beginning

In our time, infinity.

In our doubt, there is believing,

In our life, eternity,

In our death, a resurrection,

And at last the victory.

Unrevealed, until its season, something God alone can see.

As we near the Day of Resurrection, I give thanks for each of you and the hope we have in Jesus Christ our Risen Savior. Let us end this Lenten season well and begin the Easter season with the joy of the Lord together!

As always, know how much I love you. It is an honor to serve as your pastor.

all good things,

dr. darian

Pastor’s Message 03/12/2024

                                     Message from Dr. Darian

Dearly Beloved Friends,

As the staff-parish committee shared with you last Thursday evening, the
Lord has spoken clearly to me in recent weeks that the time has come for
me to leave West Point First UMC. This was not an easy decision, especially
considering all we have walked through over the past eight years. However,
I have a deep peace about what He has in store for you as a church family. I
have that same peace for my family and me, and what more could we ask
for than ‘peace that surpasses understanding’?
We do not yet know when my last day will be and are in communication
with the district superintendent about when that date will be. Know that
we will share it with you as soon as she confirms it.
In the meantime, in the upcoming weeks, I am eager to live into the
endings of many letters in our New Testament: benedictions. A benediction,
which we have at the end of each worship service, is a prayer of blessing as
well as one of release and parting. I want to bless you as we release each
other and part ways, and you in turn will bless me, as we do with Number
6:24-26 every week. My focus is on helping to make as easy and healthy a
transition as possible for us all.

Know how much I love and and appreciate you. It is an honor to serve as
your pastor.

all good things, as always, to each of you,

dr. darian

Pastor’s Message 03/05/2024

Renewing Our Covenant

What a wonderful worship service we shared on Sunday as we confirmed John Marlin Stewart and welcomed him into the church’s professing membership. When I was planning the service with him, he said that he would like to read a Scripture passage in Hebrew from the pulpit! Ray Purnell helped him identify a verse in Deuteronomy, and he practiced a phonetic reading before delivering it from the pulpit. I bet very few of us would ever volunteer to read Hebrew in the worship service, but this young man was not afraid at all!

One of the things I love about The United Methodist Church is its liturgies. For the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, our hymnal is full of prayers and confessions that followers of Jesus have said for years. I was especially struck by these words from the confirmation service yesterday, spoken by the congregation:

We give thanks for all God has already given you
And we welcome you in Christian love.
As members together with you in the body of Christ
And in this congregation of The United Methodist Church,
We renew our covenant faithfully to participate
In the ministries of the church..

How are you fulfilling the promise you made to God to participate in the life of His Church? Our little brother set a great example for us yesterday. Let’s renew our covenant by getting up, getting active, and getting ready for the return of our Lord together!

all good things to each of you,
dr. darian

Pastor’s Message 02/27/2024

For the Love of Laundry

There is something about the Lenten season that calls us to confess our faults as well as our deepest loves. The love that I confess is one for laundry. I have a sneaky suspicion that some of you may snicker at these words. I fully expect at least one of you to ask me (jokingly?) if I’d like to take on your loads of laundry!

The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and Women’s Work by Kathleen Norris is not a how-to guide on laundry itself but rather a reflection on how seemingly mundane tasks like laundry can draw us deeper into the mystery of God. Norris calls us to rethink household “chores” as opportunities for worship. For years, the “work” of laundry on Saturday has helped prepare me for worship on Sunday morning. The sorting. The cleaning out of pockets. The measuring of the detergent. The waiting for silence as the machines’ whirrs fade. What soothes me the most is the folding: shaping disfigured cloth into four-sided figures. From a pile of disorder, order emerges. From chaos comes separation of lights and darks. Every load of laundry is an invitation to experience the creation story. I try not to live in bondage to the laundry but rather live into the freedom it offers.

The Lenten season invites us toward the freedom Christ offers not only in his death and resurrection but also in the journey towards that victory. On his way to the cross, Jesus dealt with a lot of “menial” tasks. He literally got his hands muddy to heal a blind man. He scrubbed his friends’ feet. He approached the unapproachable lepers. Now is a perfect opportunity to look at the everyday and ordinary tasks as opportunities for prayer and new life.

all good things to each of you,
dr. d

Pastor’s Message 02/20/2024

The Origin of “All Good Things”
“Those who are taught the Word should share all good things with their teacher.”
— Galatians 6:6

In August of 2011, I attended a weeklong workshop at the Collegeville Institute entitled, “Writing and the Pastoral Life.” Shortly after returning home, I couldn’t help but gush about my experiences. Have you ever traveled somewhere that had such beautiful sights and memorable experiences that you struggled to describe them to people who weren’t there? That’s how I felt when I tried to write about my time at the institute.

Four years later, I still gush about that week.I still struggle for words to describe how good the time was. So I resorted to saying it was, “all good stuff.” The phrase became my signature, and after reading the above verse, I changed it to “all good things.” There is little difference between the two phrases, but they express the same sentiment. There is so much in life that we can call “good.” For all that stuff and those things, we thank the Source of goodness.

The origin of “all good things” is not only one verse of Scripture. It’s not one workshop in Minnesota. The origin of all good things is the One who declared this world, “good,” with the words of creation. And yes, he is always good!

I encourage you to set aside time to name all the good stuff in your life: past, present, and future. Name those experiences. Share those stories. Turn your gaze toward the heavens and away from the screens. Tell the Lord, “You are good.” Hear him say in return, “So are you.”

all good things to each of you,
dr. d

Pastor’s Message 02/13/2024

Isaac’s Insights & Leroy’s Lesson

Since adopting Leroy the puppy (or perhaps I should say, being adopted by him), I can’t help but reflect on his similarities and differences to Isaac, my beloved dog who passed away last June. I’ve even called Leroy by Isaac’s name accidentally a few times, and he seems to know who I’m talking about! I can already tell they are very different dogs, but one thing they share in common is that they are naturally teachers. Isn’t that so true of our canines and felines? It’s no wonder that God teaches us through them. After all, He created all of the animals of earth, sky, and sea before forming us from the dust. They existed before we did, and along with all of creation are telling the glory of God.
As we enter the Lenten season, we will hear the statement, “Remember that from dust you came, and to dust you shall return.” The animals are some of our best teachers of this truth: we live, and we die, but through Jesus Christ we die to self so we might live forever with Him!
As hard as it was to say goodbye to Isaac last year, in Leroy we’re experiencing resurrection life in a new way. I pray that you will find new life as well this season as we worship together, vision together, and pray together as the body of Christ.
Know how grateful I am for each of you. It’s an honor to serve as your pastor.
all good things,
dr. d

Stewardship Message 02/04/2024

A Message from George Purnell, Our Stewardship Chairman

Dear Friends:
I bet you have been noticing how our church has entered a period of spiritual renewal. We are all so grateful to have our church family back together after a period of disruption last year. Maybe you are like me… I had almost forgotten that the Holy Spirit of Jesus was right there with us the whole time, but now I am in full realization that we were in His hands all along. What a great feeling it is to be a part of this church family, where all of us are committed to strengthening and growing our mission together to serve our Lord Jesus.
This coming Sunday, Super Bowl Sunday is really going to be super at FUMC. After our worship service, we will have lunch together, just like it should be! Our luncheon fellowships are always a joy, and if we look what happened in Acts, it should be no surprise.

Luke told us how it was at Pentecost in Acts 2:42:

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

Later in verse 46 Luke says that “they shared their meals with great joy and generosity”. This sounds like FUMC West Point to me!

This Sunday, “Souper” Bowl Sunday, we’ll share a meal of soup and salad (and desserts, of course!) and no doubt it will be a joyful occasion. We’ll also exercise our generosity with an opportunity to complete a commitment card for our 2024 stewardship giving. Pretty much every member of our church has a renewed attitude of “what can I do to support our church family’s missions?” I know you feel it, too. This Sunday is our time!

I hope to see you Sunday. Bring your commitment card which you will receive in the mail, but more importantly bring YOU ! Our church family has so many resources, so many God-given gifts, and so many opportunities to serve. It indeed will be a joy to fellowship with you. See you there!

With heartfelt gratitude,
George Purnell, Stewardship Chairman

Pastor’s Message 1/30/24

Born in Jail

If you were in worship this past Sunday, you know that we adopted a puppy. We named him Leroy, and he is quickly becoming acquainted with church life! He’s been invited to help lead confirmation and will probably be back for future lessons in the children’s sermons. If you need his help in your Sunday school class or event, please let me (his secretary) know.

Leroy actually came from the Choctaw County jail, one of seven puppies born to a dog cared for by the staff and inmates. One by one, the puppies have been adopted to new homes. Though they were born in a place of incarceration, through love they have been set free to new homes. His name means, “the king,” and while we are working daily to make sure he doesn’t “reign” in the house, we also remind him that he is a beloved pup of God.

In Romans 8:2, Paul writes, “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Because we are all sinners, we are all “imprisoned” without Christ Jesus. His life and love have opened a door for us to be adopted as children of God. But do we truly live as a free people?

On Sunday we also talked about praying with confidence and authority. As children of God, we have every reason to be confident that Christ Jesus hears us. We have been set free to serve the one who freed us! Let us boldly pray and confidently live as a people of grace who are consistently extending grace to others.

all good things to each of you,
dr. d.

Pastor’s Message 1/23/2024

After a Wintry Week

Last week the sky offered an unexpected gift of time.
~ Margaret Renkl, The New York Times, January 22, 2024

I woke up this morning to a beautiful reflection by Nashville-based writer, Margaret Renkl, about last week’s freezing temperatures and icy streets. Renkl acknowledged the laments of the week: people unable to get to work and losing their pay, having to drive in risky areas because of jobs that can’t be done from home, those who have no home searching for shelter.

Then, Renkl turned her attention to the wildlife in her yard and her neighbors’ children playing in the snow. She paid attention to what she hadn’t noticed before and sensed a holiness in the world that she would not have seen without a winter storm.

I can’t help but think about what the kingdom of God looks like when I think of last week’s weather. There is much work to do. There are needs to meet and changes to make to ensure all God’s children are safe and fed. And we must not miss the blank canvases that God gives us to pause and be with him in gratitude and generosity.

Modern-day “inconveniences” can be invitations to remember we are not in control. We learn a little more about surrender and acceptance, about humility and awareness.

What lessons did last week’s ice and snow and cold teach you?

What are changes you will make as a result of the sky’s gift of time?

all good things to each of you,
dr. darian