Pastor’s Message – December 13, 2022

A Heart Holding Love’s Weight

This is a shorter version of a weekly musing on my website, darianduckworth.com

“What heart could hold the weight of your love?”

This is the first line of a song titled, “Holy,” by Matt Redman, and when I hear it, all I can see is that baby named Jesus, even though it’s not technically an Advent or Christmas song. Think about how small a baby’s heart is. Intricate and miraculous like all hearts, yes, but still so small. This tiny heart came into the world to bear the weight of his Father’s love for us. What a heavy load for one so light to carry. Yet His heart was created for this very purpose.

A couple of weeks before Advent began this year, I was climbing into the passenger seat of a car and noticed a distinct red dot on the floorboard. I got closer to discover it was a tiny piece of wood painted red —and shaped into a heart.It is such a little thing; and yet it isn’t little. For in the grander story of Advent, the little wooden heart on the floor calls us back to the little heart of an infant, simply beating and pumping and growing as he becomes a man. His heart will break for the world’s sin and bleed for our healing and eventually stop so that death might be defeated.

But for this season—for this glorious, joyful, and deeply mysterious season, we remember what great things God does with what seems so small by the world’s standards.

Will you pause to sing, “Holy,” over the infant-king?
Will you receive the weight of love his heart brings to you today?

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian

Pastor’s Message – December 6, 2022

A Full and Beauty-Filled Month

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for the Church — and one of the busiest as well. I wanted to take a moment to highlight what we’ve been doing, what we’re doing now, and what is coming up.

Exploration Meeting Follow Up: Thank you to everyone who came to the Exploration Meeting on Dec. 1. Lots of good and helpful information was shared by Annual Conference Treasurer David Stotts and our District Superintendent, Rev. Paulette Buford-James. After Mr. Stotts’ office sends us a summary of the presentation, we will compile information to share with you this week, especially for those who could not be present.

Adopt A Family: You’ve been reading and hearing about this important outreach for a few weeks now, and we need your help. Please check out the second page of this newsletter for more information, and let Stacy know how you can help. Psalm 72 called us yesterday to work for justice and peace for the poor, and we have an opportunity to obey the Scripture with Adopt a Family.

Third Sunday of Advent: We will have ONE worship service at 11a.m. this upcoming Sunday, December 11. Our choirs will lead us in worship, and we will live into our worship theme of offering lullabies to the infant King Jesus. Please make your plans to attend. All children are invited to participate in the March of Angels as well.

A phrase I am meditating on a lot this season is from the hymn, “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” and it says: Joy of Every Longing Heart. What does your heart long for this season? Let us look to Jesus our Joy to satisfy each and every longing!

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – November 29, 2022

Lullabies for a King: An Advent Worship Series

Let every heart prepare him room …

This memorable line from the beloved Christmas hymn, “Joy to the World,” reminds us that the Advent season is a time of preparation for a birth. Think of all that goes into readying a room for the baby who will sleep there. We purchase and assemble furniture. We paint and decorate. We ensure that the baby will be safe in this newly sacred space.

As we prepare the rooms of our hearts for Jesus’ arrival, we are going to look more closely at something that our ancestors did to prepare for his birth: the writing of songs. The psalms are full of a variety of songs that range from praise to lament and everything in between. We know that the psalmists were all singing in anticipation about a Messiah who would come and save the world. Did they realize, however, that the Son of David they watched for would first be a baby, in need of lullabies to sing him to sleep?

As we spend time with the psalms during Advent, I invite you to envision Mary, the young, pregnant mother, humming these same psalms we hold in our Bibles. I invite you to imagine her gently rocking the newborn baby, singing to him the songs of praise her mother sang to her. These are likely the same songs, the same lullabies, he sang under his breath as he went to the cross. What a beautiful opportunity we have to sing over the King of Kings in this holy season, too.

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian

Pastor’s Message – November 15, 2022

What’s Bringing Us Joy

It’s been a couple of months since I shared what I’ve been reading, watching, or listening to that has brought me joy over the past month. The hope is that in sharing what has lifted my spirit, you will take time to ask God what has lifted your spirit as well.

The Great British Bake Off (TV Show): When my family visited in October, every night my niece, sister, brother in law, and I watched an episode from the newest season of this pastry-filled competition. New episodes release on Fridays, so we were all caught up by the time Friday arrived! One thing that I like about this show, other than how delicious and beautiful the foods look, is that the bakers seem to form great friendships in the midst of “competing” against each other. Yes, it’s a reality show, but it was a lovely and light world for my family to enjoy together. Don’t watch if you’re hungry!

The Great Passion by James Runcie (book): I all-caps LOVED this piece of historical fiction by the same author who created the Granchester series. It is the story of a teenage boy whose choral teacher was J.S. Bach during the season that the famous musician composed his masterpiece about the passion of Jesus. It has some of the best insights on grief I’ve read in recent years. It’s a heavy read but so imaginative.

Too Blessed to Be Stressed by Paul Thorn: Singer-songwriter Paul Thorn from Tupelo released this album over eight years ago, but I’ve been re-enjoying it with its upbeat melodies and humorous lyrics. Be advised of some adult language in a few songs. Thorn grew up in a very religious household, and I am intrigued to hear singer-songwriters wrestle with what they believe in their songs.

What is bring you joy in this season? I’d love to hear from you!

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian

Pastor’s Message – November 8, 2022

Mark Your Calendars: Exploration Meeting

Earlier this year we shared with you at Wednesday Night Supper and in Sunday school classes
about happenings in our denomination. We are pleased to follow up on those conversations by hearing from two wonderful leaders in our Annual Conference to First UMC.

On Thursday, December 1, at 7PM, we will welcome our district superintendent, Rev. Paulette Buford-James, and Conference Treasurer David Stotts to FUMC West Point for an exploration meeting in the fellowship hall. It is open to all members of the church. The purpose of this meeting
is for Rev. James and Mr. Stotts to share information about what is happening in our denomination, particularly in the area of disaffiliation.

There is a lot of information circulating about the disaffiliation process, and our hope is that this meeting will be fact-finding session that clarifies and answers questions.

Two weeks prior to the meeting, we will include an insert in the newsletter with meeting guidelines. Anyone who plans to attend must comply with these guidelines, and we ask that you read them carefully when they arrive.

We give thanks for this opportunity to gather with these trusted leaders and one another in the first week of Advent—a week representing hope, and how wonderful a hope we have in Christ Jesus
our Lord.

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Newly Appointed Bishop – Last week, the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church announced that the new bishop of the Mississippi annual conference will be Reverend Sharma Lewis. Bishop Lewis currently serves as the bishop of the Virginia Annual Conference. Please be in prayer for our new episcopal leader during this time of transition. We will be sharing more information with you as she prepares to move to Mississippi.

Pastor’s Message – November 1, 2022

Staff Updates

On behalf of the Staff Parish Relations Committee, I’d like to share some upcoming changes with you.

Pianist – We give thanks for Jace Ferraez’s talent as part of our music ministry for the past few years. Due to changes in his primary line of work, he will no longer be able to serve as pianist, and his last Sunday with us will be November 6. If you wish to contribute to a love offering for him please earmark your check and submit it by November 4.

On Sunday, November 14, we will welcome Dr. Garrett Tobert as our pianist. He holds a Doctorate Degree in Music and is a voice instructor at Mississippi State University. We look forward to how God will use Dr. Tobert’s gifts in our worship services and music ministry.

Financial Secretary: Beginning January 1, 2023, Julie Gray will transition from her role as full-time Office Manager to part-time Financial Secretary. Julie will continue to oversee the bookkeeping responsibilities of the church and maintaining records of financial giving. We are thankful for Julie’s faithfulness to our church and look forward to her serving in this new role.

Office Manager: As Julie transitions to her part-time role, the SPRC would like to announce the opening of the office manager position. If you are interested in applying for this position, please contact SPRC chair Laura Tinsley (laura@centurycg.com or 662-275-0307) or Dr. Duckworth (darianduck@icloud.com or 662-494-5133) before November 14, 2022.

Thank your for keeping our church, our staff and this season of transitions in your prayers! We truly live in the goodness of God.

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME ENDS… Don’t forget to set your clock forward one hour on Saturday night for Daylight Savings Time. You don’t want to be early to church on Sunday.

Pastor’s Message – October 25, 2022

The Drawn Curtain: An “End of Year” Worship Series

For the next four Sundays, we are counting down to one of the most exciting times of the Christian year. Advent begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving with our annual Hanging of the Greens service. As we draw closer to this sacred season, I hold before you a distinct image as our guide for this ‘end of year’ series of preparation.

Historically, venues with a stage where performances occur had large curtains operated by unseen ropes and hidden backstage workers. The signals that the ‘show’ was starting were typically the dimming of the lights and the curtains pulled away from each other to reveal the set and players behind them. The curtains coming back together meant it was time for an intermission or the end of the show.

Worship is not a performance or a show. It is not theater, and it doesn’t take place on a stage. However, when we come together to worship the Holy Trinity, this curtain is an excellent metaphor for us as we approach God’s presence. The drawn curtain can’t help but make us wonder, “What’s on the other side?” There is a mystery to the curtain that draws us closer to anticipate what is to come.

God is always calling us to take a next step of faith, even if we can’t see what is ahead. I hope you will make plans to worship with your community of faith as we wait for our God to draw back the curtain and reveal himself to us in new and wonderful ways.

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Stewardship Message – October 18, 2022

One Priority for Running and Finishing the Race Well:
A Stewardship Message from Our Lay Leader

As a retired football coach, I truly understand the importance of running the race with a mindset of doing our best. We have truly been blessed here at FUMC West Point. When Joyce and I first started visiting here many years ago, I remember the discussions we had about being so impressed with the people here. What stuck out to us was that this was a group of people who truly wanted to please God.

I had just finished reading a book about David at that time. David was known as a man after God’s own heart. I saw the members of this church as being people after God’s own heart. Years later, Joyce and still see our church as being one after God’s own heart. Though we have been blessed in many ways, I see a great need.

One of our many blessings is that we have an awesome group of youth and a great group of children who need leadership. Even though we have wonderful volunteers that work hard to take care of them, we have an opening for a Youth and Children’s Minister. We need to fill this position with top-notch people who will work tirelessly toward overseeing the spiritual needs of our young people. Meeting the spiritual needs of our young people is a top priority, for they are the future of our church. Just like hiring a coach at our local schools if we want the best possible person to coach our teams, we must be competitive in paying this person. We shouldn’t expect to get the best person possible if we don’t compensate them competitively. My prayer is that God leads a top-notch person to us and that we are prepared to compensate them well. And we will have high expectations of this person.

I would ask that each one of us pray that God will lead this person or people to our church and that we pray that God will provide us with the money to pay them competitively. This is one of the ways we can run this race and finish well.

Freddie Brister, Lay Leader

Pastor’s Message – October 11, 2022

The Race Is On!

In our worship service on Sunday, Stewardship Chairman George Purnell shared that our stewardship campaign has begun with a theme of, “Running the Race.” You’ll be receiving a letter from George in the weeks to come, as well as your pledge card that we hope you will bring to “Finish Line Sunday” on October 23.

As George and I discussed this campaign, I became aware of how many important goals and dates we have coming up in the next few weeks. It felt appropriate to use this space to share some of those dates with you. I hope you will save this page, put in on your refrigerator, and ask the Lord where you can be involved!

Sunday, October 16
9:15-10:30AM: Youth Breakfast Fundraiser (Fellowship Hall)
2PM: Charge Conference (Fellowship Hall)
All members of Administrative Council attend with vote

Saturday, October 22
7:45AM: Bed Build (The Dream Center)
Please contact Stacy if you’d like to participate or sponsor a bed.

Sunday, October 23
8:45 & 11AM Worship: Finish Line Sunday (Sanctuary)
Bring your pledge card to turn in!
4PM: Fall Festival (Church Parking Lot and Fellowship Hall)
We need your help with Trunk or Treat and the Chili Cookoff. See inside this newsletter for who to contact!

Let’s lace up our running shoes and get started!

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian

Pastor’s Message – October 4, 2022

A Charge To Keep

On Sunday, October 16, we will host United Methodist churches from across Clay County for our annual Charge Conference. All members of the Administrative Council are voting members of the Charge Conference, and we hope those of you on this committee will attend at 2PM that day.

If you’re not familiar with this annual meeting, it is a time of celebrating what God has done in the life of our churches. We also tend to important business matters. We will approve the roster of church officers for 2023, which has been approved by the Nominations Committee. We will submit paperwork about our finances, property, and congregational life, which keeps us accountable with an annual examination of all that God has entrusted to our care.

So, why do we call it a ‘charge conference?’ In the early days of Methodist, multiple congregations had to share one pastor, and those congregations served by the same pastor made up a “charge.” We still see this in Methodism where most pastors are serving more than one church. The charge conference brought them together.

Something wonderful happens when churches come together, doesn’t it? Charles Wesley’s hymn, “A Charge to Keep I Have,” comes to mind: “
A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.
To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill;
Oh, may it all my pow’rs engage
To do my Master’s will!

To glorify, to save, to serve… this is a charge entrusted not to one of us but to all of us! Will you do your part to fulfill what God asks of us?

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian