Pastor’s Message – February 15, 2022

New Year, Same Time
This is a shorter version of a musing I wrote on Feb. 2 for my weekly blog. You can read the whole post at

February 2 may be the nation’s official “Groundhog Day,” but for my car that date was January 2. When I cranked my car, the screen said that the date was Sunday, January 1, 2002, and the time was 3:00. Ever since then, when I crank the car, this is the date and time that appear on the screen. As Bill Murray’s character in the film, Groundhog Day, wakes up everyday on February 2 at 6:00 to “I’ve Got You Babe,” so my car wakes up multiple times a day on Sunday, January 1, 2002 at 3:00.

I don’t know what caused my car’s clock to embark on its own version of Groundhog Day, but I do know that coming face to face everyday with a new year stuck in the same time for the past month has been an opportunity for reflection. I’d like to share what the “wrong time and date” has taught me over the past month.

Without the time to tell me how late or early I am running, I’m able to ENJOY THE RIDE more instead of focusing on the destination. Every time I get in the car there’s a tiny bit of HOPE that it’ll be “normal,” again, and hope is a powerful thing to carry into each day. If something has to be broken in my car, I’m GRATEFUL that it’s simply the clock and not something more pressing. Sometimes things are simply BROKEN, and it’s okay to acknowledge that. And finally, ACKNOWLEDGE that we’re all broken clocks who don’t know what day or year it is sometimes, and Jesus is the one who realigns us with this day that he has made. So let us rejoice and be glad in it.

What might God be teaching you through something as ordinary as a clock?

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Lectionary Texts for Sunday, February 20, 2022 (7th Sunday After Epiphany)
Genesis 45:3-11, 15
Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40
1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50
Luke 6:27-38

Pastor’s Message – February 8, 2022

The Glory of the Lord Shall Be Revealed:
An Epiphany Worship Series in February

If you’re familiar with Handel’s Messiah, you likely read this title with a melody in mind. One of the beloved selections is based on Isaiah 40:5: “Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah’s prophecy is not only a poem for the Advent and Christmas seasons. In the cold and bare days that February’s winter often brings us, the glory of the Lord has not departed. Instead, that glory is shining among us and revealing Jesus more and more each day if we pay attention!

We began this series this past Sunday appropriately with “The Glory of Worship.” In the weeks to come we will celebrate His “glory sightings” in the Word of God, in our worship together, & in the work of our congregation.

The Word of God. The Worship of God. And the Work of God.

Does it get any better than those three?

This month we are moving towards Transfiguration Sunday on February 27, when the glory of God is revealed in our Lord Jesus. From the outside looking in, it would appear that Jesus simply went on a hike with his three best friends, and they encounter two old (as in Old Testament!) friends on that adventure. What those first three apostles experienced, however, was a revelation of God’s glory that they never forgot. Do you also want to be transfigured by that glory? Then lace up your spiritual hiking boots, and let’s go exploring. Let’s go celebrate. Let’s sight his glory together.

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Lectionary Texts for Sunday, February 13, 2022 (6th Sunday After the Epiphany)
Jeremiah 17:5-10
Psalm 1
1 Corinthians 15:12-20
Luke 6:17-26

Pastor’s Message – January 25, 2022

What Brought Us Joy In January

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.

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan (book): This is the first book I read in the new year and it was delightful. Set during World War II in Britain, four women compete for a spot to co-host a cooking show on BBC radio. The catch is that their recipes must be according to the food rations of the day. I enjoyed the characters and was sad to say goodbye to them and their creative recipes when I reached the last page.

From the Front Porch (podcast): I’ve been listening to this podcast for the past couple of years, and it is where I get a lot of great ideas of books I want to read (including The Kitchen Front!). It is hosted by Annie B. Jones, owner of an independent bookstore in Thomasville, Georgia. In addition to her own reading recaps, she talks with guests about life as a small-business owner in the south. It really does feel like sitting on someone’s front porch eavesdropping on a great conversation.

All Creatures Great and Small: Season 2 (TV): Yes, I recommended season one of this show last year. Yes, it’s part of the reason I chose the congregational hymn, “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” this past Sunday. Yes, only two episodes in and it’s even better than the first season. Yes, you should watch it!

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

all good things,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – January 18, 2022

Drinking the Baptismal Water

After our most recent infant baptism, someone asked me if I’d ever baptized a baby that would not stop screaming. I thought for a moment and honestly couldn’t remember a time that a baby screamed the whole time, even though there were plenty who had unhappy moments. However, the question did bring back to me a memorable baptism with a different kind of unexpected noise.

The little boy I was baptizing was three years old and known by the congregation to be talkative and animated. Many a children’s sermon took scenic routes when he raised his hand to answer a question. I expected him to have a lot to say but was surprised when he said, quietly at first, “I wanna drink the water.”

I remember his parents trying (unsuccessfully) to shush him, and he got louder: “I wanna drink the water!” I kept on going with the liturgy, asking them the appropriate questions, trying not to make eye contact (unsuccessfully) with my three-year-old friend. By the time his dad picked him up for me to place the water on his head full of hair, he was screaming, “NO, NOT ON MY HEAD! I WANNA DRINK THE WATER!” I was joyfully laughing with the congregation, even though his dear parents were not.

That little brother of the faith had a revelation many of us overlook: he knew this water was special, he was thirsty, and he needed a drink of what could satisfy him. I fully believe that God was chuckling that day when a little child tried to lead us in it means to long for the Living Water.

In John 7:37, Jesus famously calls out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me.” Why are we so hesitant to admit when we are thirsty, in need of what only God can give to us? We go searching for other wells to quench our thirsts, when the true Wellspring is ever available to us.

This week, let us remember our baptism and celebrate that the Living Water that cleanses us is also available for us to drink every time we cry out to him. Do you wanna drink this living water, too?

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – January 11, 2022

Learning From Epiphanies Past

(This is an excerpt from the latest weekly musing on my website. To read the whole reflection, visit

Last Thursday was the Feast of the Epiphany, when we recall not only the Magi’s visit to King Jesus but also that they had to return home from the Light a different way because of the darkness raging in Herod. That first Epiphany was not so different from two Epiphanies of recent history.

Last year, on January 6, 2021, as chaos unfolded at the U.S. Capitol, I remember sitting in the sanctuary and wondering how such awful events could happen on a day so fraught with beauty and light in the life of the Church. I was angry, hurt, and confused, as I’m sure many of you were, too. There was so much I wanted to say and to do, but instead I simply went home—only to remember another Epiphany of recent past.

Every year on the Epiphany, I have watched the movie, Spotlight, since its release. The reason I do this is because it was on January 6, 2002, that the Spotlight team at The Boston Globe published their in-depth investigation of abuse in the Catholic church. The film tells the story of the small team of journalists who brought this dark story to the light.

I watch Spotlight every year because I never want to forget some of the worst things that happened in the Church, but I also don’t want to forget we are capable of participating in God’s best work of healing, grace, and justice. One spotlight may not cast out all darkness, but it makes a difference.

This year, may we as a Church choose what is right and good and full of light. Let us continue to reject the powers of evil and oppression in all the forms they present themselves. Let us live as a people of Epiphany.

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – January 4, 2022

January Worship Series: A Quest to Live Well
A Study of Ecclesiastes

Every year in the Revised Common Lectionary, the Old Testament lesson is a familiar passage in Ecclesiastes. In fact, it’s possibly the only passage many of us have read in this short book of wisdom. When we look at the whole book, however, we discover a wealth of insight for how to live well.

Most likely, King Solomon deserves credit for much of the writing in Ecclesiastes in the later part of his earthly life. However, the word, “Ecclesiastes” is a Greek word translated as preacher, teacher, or quester. I especially like that third term that Eugene Peterson favored in his Message translation of Scripture. Isn’t the start of the new year a great time to embark on a ‘quest’ to live well?

For the month of January, we are going to dig more deeply than the familiar “season” passage of the third chapter and study some passages from Ecclesiastes. With five Sundays in January, we won’t cover all twelve chapters, but we should be able to touch on most of its themes. You’ll quickly notice that this book is a bit repetitive and sometimes reads like someone speaking his thoughts out loud in a stream of consciousness. It’s a very different book of Scripture but a rich one that will take us on an adventure together.

I hope your new year includes plans to study and meditate on God’s Word. If you ever want a conversation partner on what you’re reading, know that I would love to discuss with you over a cup of tea or coffee! Here’s to a new year of growing closer to God with one another and in His Word!

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian

Update on the church’s covid task force: We are so thankful to Melanie Sanders, Bill Maclean, Jim Helveston, Jessi Sugg, Robin McCormick and Marc Stewart for nearly two years of leading us through the covid pandemic. They are taking a well-deserved break in this new year, and please thank them for their invaluable service. If needed, I will assemble a new task force from our current leadership and keep you posted. In the meantime, know that I’ll be consulting with our church’s leaders as we continue to monitor the pandemic. Thank you for continuing to do your part to keep our church family safe. all good things
~ Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – December 21, 2022

What Brought Us Joy in 2021

We are less than two weeks away from the start of a new calendar year, which always invites us to reflect on the year that is ending. I’ve tried to keep track this year of the books, movies, music, and podcasts with which I’ve engaged, and it’s been fun to look back over what I did record (I did far better in keeping up with books than any other category!). I’m not a big fan of saying, “This is the best movie/album/book of the year.” Instead I’d like to share some resources that drew me closer to God and taught me something new about God at work in the world. As always, these are my personal opinion and may not be for everyone, but I hope they will inspire you to reflect on what brought YOU joy.

Ancient Remedies by Dr. Josh Axe (book): I was introduced to Dr. Axe’s work on a podcast in March, and he and his products have become a go-to resource on all things health for me. His philosophy in this book is simple: food can be powerful medicine for our bodies, souls, and spirits. He is not shy about his faith in Jesus and writes about how caring for our spirit can strengthen the body, too. I love the recipes and as well as the advice in this book. While it’s by no means meant to replace modern medicine, it is a perfect complement.

Abide With Me by Sara Groves (music): This album was released in 2017, but it spoke deeply to me this year, especially because of the last song on the album, “He’s Always Been Faithful.” It’s an updated take on “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” and all the songs on the record are new takes on old hymns. Groves lives in Minnesota, where she grew up, and I love hearing artists from outside of Nashville and the traditional Christian music industry.

The Little Things (movie): This was the first movie I saw in a theater after nearly a year. Any film starring Denzel Washington intrigues me, and this crime drama/thriller set in the 1990s in Los Angeles was great on the big screen. The title appears when Washington’s character, a weary sheriff, advises a young detective in an investigation to pay attention to the little things, for they will either trip him up or reveal what he needs to see. Sounds a lot like the walk of a Jesus follower, doesn’t it? Pay attention to the little things, for they contain a big lesson.

all good things, and Merry Christmas, to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – December 14, 2021

A Season of Light

Isaac the dog and I were recently on our daily walk close to sunrise. We were strolling south at a slow pace when I could see the sun shining brightly and beautifully as it rose into the cold sky. Then I looked more closely and stopped in confusion (much to Isaac’s disappointment).

The sun was shining and rising in the west. Wait a minute—the sun rises in the east. What was happening? I double checked my own direction. We were definitely facing south, and the direction of the sun was certainly to the west before 7AM. Isaac pulled me back to reality with a demand to keep walking, so we kept walking through the confusion.

As we walked, and as I paid better attention, I saw the reason for the world seemingly shifting on its axis. What I had been looking at in the west was not the sun itself. I had been looking at a large window of a building, and that window was a reflection the sun rising in the east.

Advent is a season of light piercing the darkness, and it is also a season where the light surprises us. After all, our ancestors had no idea that Isaiah’s prophecy of darkness covering the earth and the deep darkness covering the people would be broken by the birth of a baby. When the light is brightest, it seems to come to us from all directions, and so it is with the light of Jesus.

As we inch closer to the celebration of the Savior’s birth, is your life reflecting his light like that window with the sunrise?

I hope your plans will include worshiping the Lord on Christmas Eve at either 3PM or 5PM. We will also have one worship service on Sunday, December 26, at 11AM.

Let us prepare our hearts and lives to carry the light that no darkness can extinguish.

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Stewardship Message – December 7, 2021

Surely almost everyone has watched a few episodes of The Andy Griffith television show. Every show has a life lesson in it. It has to be one of the most wholesome television shows in history. One of the many great episodes involved young Opie, Andy’s son, coming into some extra money. That money almost “burned a hole” in Opie’s pocket, as he just couldn’t wait to get that new fishing pole. His dad encouraged him to go get that special fishing pole because the newfound money was his to have.

But something happened after Opie got his new fishing rod. One day when Opie was in his dad’s office while his dad was out on patrol, a man came in to report some money that he had lost. After the man left, Opie had a terrible sinking feeling, and ultimately decided to return his fishing pole for a refund. In the end, Andy was very proud of his son. In fact he was so proud of his son, that he bought that fishing pole for Opie after all.

Do you think God looks at you and me the way Andy looked at his son, regarding what Opie did with that money? Does He watch what we do with our resources and how we choose to spend our money? I believe He does. And when we give back to Him what was His in the first place, He is so very proud of us, and in fact, He blesses us more than we can imagine.

We have a chance to do something very special this next Sunday when we make our 2022 pledges to our church. Can we do what Opie did… decide not to spend some of our money on ourselves, but instead do what God has told us is the right thing? I hope you will join Luann and me in giving more in 2022 so that the church budget doesn’t have to be cut.

If we give more in 2022 and beat this budget crunch, we may not get a new fishing rod, but God has a plan that includes more blessings coming our way that we could ever expect.

George Purnell
Stewardship Chair

Pastor’s Message – November 30, 2021

A Note of Deep Gratitude

Dearly Beloved Friends,

I love how a large portion of the New Testament contains letters from pastor to congregation. Every week, this space in the newsletter feels like an “epistle” from my heart to yours, too (although I am no Peter, Paul, or John!). It may not always take the form of a letter, but I do see it as such.

This week is more specifically a personal “thank-you note.” On November 21, you presented me with the most thoughtful of gifts in honor of my doctorate. The framed certificate with its perfect words, the Ben Rosenkrans’ pen & ink of our beautiful church, and the bottomless well of cards are treasures around which I am still smiling. I am so grateful for the United Methodist Women and all of you in the congregation who coordinated and contributed to this outpouring of generosity.

Thank you for loving and supporting me throughout the completion of the doctorate and for honoring that accomplishment in our time of worship together. The Doctor of Ministry degree that I received is one intended to strengthen and build up the church, not only the intellect of one individual. My prayer throughout every assignment, transcript, and research was that the findings would be for the advancement of God’s kingdom and the good of his Church. I hope that the fruit it bears will bless you as much as you have blessed me in the process.

Know how thankful I am for each of you, and what an honor it is to serve as your pastor. As we move into this new year on the Church calendar, I look forward to the new thing God will do among us as we grow and learn together.

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian