Pastor’s Message – September 27, 2022

Worship In October: Paul’s Last Words to Timothy

I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.

These are perhaps the most familiar words of Second Timothy, the last letter attributed to St. Paul in the New Testament. He writes to the young minister he has mentored and trained in the faith, sharing with him what matters most as he moves forward without Paul.

Paul’s last words to Timothy are not the first time we’ve seen the passing on of wisdom from one leader to another at the end of his life. Jacob famously blessed all of his sons at the end of Genesis. Moses instructed Joshua. Elijah walked with Elisha. Of course, Jesus was constantly sharing “last words” for his disciples as he went to the cross, and again before he ascended to heaven.

When someone nears the end of his or her life, there is a heightened attention given to what is said. The closer a person gets to eternity, and as they glimpse eternity, what a tremendous perspective they offer to the living! During the month of October, we will not only discuss what Paul says to Timothy but why. That familiar verse about finishing the race is at the end of the letter, but what comes before it makes it all the richer. I look forward to what God will reveal to us together!

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian

Pastor’s Message – September 20, 2022

What’s Bringing Us Joy in September

Every month I like to take a moment and share what I’ve been reading, watching, or listening to that has brought me joy over the past month. This month I’m sharing not recent releases but rather some gems from years past.

Hell or High Water (movie): One of you church members recommended this 2016 modern western to me a while back, and it had been on my ‘to watch’ list for a while. I finally watched it over the weekend and loved it. It is a bit violent, and language is rough, but what a story about two brothers who are amateur bank robbers and the two rangers in pursuit of them. If you have seen this film, let me know, as it is one I want to talk about at length!

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (book): Published in 2001, I picked up this novel to read on a flight to Minnesota back in 2011. Little did I know that the story was set in Minnesota—in the region I was visiting! This is a slow and quiet story with some of the best writing I’ve ever seen. A friend of mine once said she read the first pages of it in her Easter sermon one year, and I can see why. It is full of hope, resurrection, and miracles.

A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band by Rich Mullins (music): Singer-songwriter Rich Mullins, whom I quote all the time, died 25 years ago this week in a car accident. His music is indeed his ‘legacy,’ and this album released in 1993 is the one I’ve been drawn back to recently. The song that is probably best known on it is, “Hold Me Jesus,” and the bridge says this: “Surrender don’t come natural to me. I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want than to take what you give that I need.” What a prayer, and what a piece of art this is.

I’d love to hear what’s bring you joy this month and in years past!
all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – September 13, 2022

Learning to Fall

Years ago, while getting ready to teach a morning yoga class, my elbow grazed the handle of a glass mug in my kitchen. So began its slow descent to a crash. I placed the larger chunks of glass in a paper bag and swept the smaller parts into a dustpan. I got on my hands and knees and scanned the floor, in search of delicate slices of glass.

The yoga class that I’d planned for that day focused on balancing. We built our way into a pose that required standing on one foot at a time, I watched the students shake and waver. I thought of how desperately they were trying not to fall— and how I did not want for them to fall! I reminded them to breathe, noticing the strain on faces.

When we finally reached the time for resting pose, they happily sunk onto their backs, and my thoughts returned to the falling mug. Nobody wants to fall. Nobody wants their favorite things to fall and break. And nobody really wants to start the day by picking a broken cup off the kitchen floor.

Yet falling is part of life — and a large part of the disciple’s life.

I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their lives will lose them, and those who hate their lives in this world will keep them forever. (John 12:24-25, Common English Bible)

Following Jesus sometimes means letting things ‘fall’ away. We often hear the saying, “Let go, and let God.” But I would add to that, “Let it fall.” Let the broken pieces of our lives fall. Let the fight to be in control fall. Let the resentment fall. Let the past fall.

After my yoga students that day fought potential tumbles for an hour, they happily “fell” onto their backs for prayer and meditation. In the falling, we let go. In the falling, we let God. In the falling, we rise with Christ to new heights.

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – August 30, 2022

_ Worship In September
If I Were A Rich Man: The Parables of Luke

Whether or not you have seen the beloved musical, Fiddler on the Roof, you have likely heard some of the songs from it. One of the most played is, “If I Were A Rich Man,” where the lead character of Tevye dances and dreams about what life would be like if he had far more wealth.

Many of us can identify with Tevye. It’s easy to daydream when we begin the thought, “If I had more money.” If we’re not careful we can find ourselves in the pits of greed and dissatisfaction. If we’re careful, though, with those thoughts, we can learn much more about ourselves, life, and the God who is more than enough. We can learn what treasure truly is.

Jesus did not shy away from the topic of riches in his teachings. Luke’s gospel especially highlights some of these stories, and we will spend the month of September learning from these stories about what it truly means to be ‘rich.’

I hope you will take the time to study these passages each week in preparation for our time in worship together. Perhaps read it in more than one translation to get a new take on an old story. I look forward to learning and growing in God’s treasures with you!

September 4: Luke 14:25-33

September 11: Luke 15:1-10

September 18: Luke 16:1-13

September 25: Luke 16:19-31

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – August 23, 2022

What’s Bringing Us Joy In August

Every month I like to take a moment and share 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.

Kim’s Convenience (TV show): Twenty-one minute episodes? Check. A delightful family that bickers and loves and everything in between? Check. A realistic portrait of a clergywoman as a side character? Sold. I’m late to the game on this gem of a TV show, but there is no deadline to enjoy the Kim family and their fictitious convenience store in Toronto. I’m only halfway through season two and look forward to spending time with them when I wind down in the evenings.

The Edge of Discipleship by Darrell W. Johnson (book): Worship leader Brooke Ligertwood shared in an interview that the songs on her live album, Seven, were birthed from reading this study on the book of Revelation. I loved the album already, and now I’m savoring this revelation on Revelation that Johnson, a Canadian pastor, shares in this in-depth study. I’m taking my time walking through this beautifully complex book that is not nearly as scary as we make it sometimes. I’m also realizing I have a Canadian theme going here…

Interview with Kristene DiMarco on Trevor Talks (podcast/You Tube): Journalist Trevor Tyson, host of Trevor Talks, which is available on his You Tube channel or wherever you get podcasts, interviewed a worship leader whose songs I’ve loved for a while. Kristene DiMarco is a part of Bethel Music, and she sat down with him to talk about her new album, The Field. It is very unusual album with some rich lyrics I have to listen to repeatedly to let them ‘sink in.’ I loved hearing her story of relationship with God and how He has formed her into a worship leader.

I’d love to hear what’s bring you joy this month and all year long!

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – August 16, 2022

Isaac & the Acorn

Years ago, I was on a long, morning walk with Isaac the dog when I noticed he was limping. I stopped, knelt down, and examined his paws. Finding no stickers or scrapes or cuts, I stood and told him to shake it off. He tried. But then he stopped again and lifted his front left paw off of the ground. He looked up and spoke with his eyes: ”The problem is this paw. Look again.”

So I held the paw and carefully looked between each toe. I spread the pads of his paws and scraped away the dirt. And there it was. Tucked into the crevices of his paw was an acorn.

I carefully removed the acorn and placed his paw back on the ground. He hesitantly put his weight back on it. Realizing all four feet were back in working order, he took off with tail wagging, dragging his surgeon behind him. I know that was his bow-wow way of saying, “Thanks.”

Isn’t it amazing how something so small can have such a big impact? Isaac’s whole body was affected by adjustments he was having to make from one, small, unnecessary thing.

James 3 is all about the power of our words. He reminds us that words can be like a rudder that “propels a ship” or a spark that “sets a forest ablaze.” Words can seem as small as acorns, but if we’re not careful with them, they can cause harm.

The good news is that our words can also be a great help! Acorns that are not stuck in a dog’s paw can be a great benefit in their proper place. So it is with our words. How will you steward your speech today? Will you build one another up and sing praise to our God with them?

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian (and Dog-tor Isaac)

Pastor’s Message – August 9, 2022

Monthly Days of Prayer

Ten years ago today (August 7), I began what has become a monthly practice of setting aside one day per month to devote to prayer. This day is separate from my weekly sabbath and takes place on a usual work day. It is not a vacation or an extra day off to get housework done or to work from home. It requires me to plan ahead since I step away from the office and routines of pastoral work to focus on spiritual work.

It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and repeating it monthly all these years is worth the effort. Their timing and structure has changed slightly over the years, but the purpose has remained the same: to pull aside with the Lord for one work day for the purpose of prayer for our church. There are some similarities to the monthly prayer days, but each one is also unique because the Holy Spirit leads a little differently each time.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places ~ Ephesians 6:12

We often hear the phrase that prayer is powerful, and how true this is. It’s powerful because, as Paul says in this verse from Ephesians, there is a spiritual battle in this world that we must fight on our knees.

When do you pray daily, monthly, and weekly?

What might you commit to adding to your prayer life?

And how might I pray for you?

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Message from Staff Parish Chair

Members of the FUMC West Point Congregation,

A few weeks ago, I spoke to the congregation during the Glory Sightings Moment. I took the time to highlight our wonderful group of youth and youth volunteers. Our youth are the future of not only our congregation, but also of our community, state, and world. Supporting our youth is vitally important to supporting our church.

As most of you know, we have been searching for a Director of Youth Ministries since the beginning of the year. Despite efforts by the committee members, no viable candidates have been identified. Throughout the history of the church, leaders have emerged from what seems like unlikely places. Think of Jesus’ Disciples and the early leaders of the church! As we talk with the youth and the parents, the perfect leader isn’t someone of a particular age or someone with a particular degree. Our youth need someone who has a strong love of Christ and someone willing to share that with them. They need someone to support them in their growth as young adults and young Christians. They need someone to plan activities and lessons to help them build on their faith and take it to others in the community.

As you pray for our youth and the search for a Director of Youth Ministries, I also ask that you go beyond asking for someone else to step up. Do you know of someone who loves the Lord and wants to share that excitement with our amazing youth? Are you that person who is willing to share your love and support? The Staff Parish Relations Committee is dedicated to this search, and we welcome all the prayers, suggestions, and leads. Our youth are worth all the efforts!

Laura Tinsley, Chairman SPRC

Pastor’s Message – July 26, 2022

Worship in August: The Return of Revival

For many years our congregation has observed a ‘camp meeting’ style of worship during the month of August with one worship service at 11am. We are so excited about the guest preachers, special music, and glorious moments that await us.

When we describe our worship services during camp meeting, it’s easy to reduce them to how we dress (we see a lot of blue jeans) and what we sing (pull out the old Cokesbury hymnal). However, historically the camp meeting was a time and place set aside for spiritual revival. Such revivals lasted for days, and the services went on for hours. John Wesley referred to such a revival as ‘personal holiness,’ when we invite God to send his Holy Spirit to awaken us from spiritual lethargy and fill us with fresh energy from on high. With our hearts rekindled for Jesus, our first love, we can’t help but love our neighbor a little better, too.

Would you join me in this old and beautiful prayer as we pray for our church to experience a return of revival? If you know the tune, I hope you’ll sing it:

Revive us again; fill each heart with Thy love
May each soul be rekindled with fire from above
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Hallelujah! Amen.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Revive us again.

Here are some details of what to anticipate. Be sure to check out the inside of the newsletter for more information on the music! We look forward to worshiping with you and hope you will bring a friend to this year‘s revival.

August 7: Holy Communion and Blessing of the Backpacks

August 14: Promotion Sunday and Presentation of Bibles to 3rd Graders

August 21: Dr. Bob Rambo, preaching

August 28: Guest preacher to be announced

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – July 19, 2022

Enjoying the Present, Anticipating the Future

Many of us are still celebrating the summer season with vacations, sleeping late, and as the kids frequently remind us on Sunday mornings, lots of swimming and sno-cones. I have especially loved returning to day trips on my day off to meet out-of-town friends for a meal. Summertime can especially be good for the soul!

We’ve had some wonderful opportunities as a congregation, as well, to experience God’s presence this summer. We’ve had Vacation Bible School, Sunday School at Dugan Nursing Home, chancel choir, children learning & leading a worship song, to name a few.

While we enjoy the present season, we also anticipate the next season. As this year moves forward, ways to become involved in & make a difference in the life of the congregation will only increase. I invite you to be in prayer before the Lord about where He wants for you to be involved. We will begin the process of nominating church leaders for 2023. A new children’s Sunday school schedule will be assembled. The youth group will need adult volunteers for their weekly gatherings. We will resume having a monthly, churchwide family meal beginning in August (schedule coming soon!).

Of course, none of this possible without you. (Stop and read that last sentence again) We need your teaching gifts, cooking gifts, singing gifts, ordering gifts… And each of us has those gifts to offer!

Where do you feel God calling you to serve in our congregation?

I look forward to hearing your answers in the months ahead. There is no better time to be a part of First UMC in West Point than now—and tomorrow, too!

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian