Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
You have probably heard the saying, “There are only two things you can be sure of – death and taxes. Actually that isn't quite true. There are more things we can be sure of -like the changing of the seasons. And, yes, this winter has gone on far too long, but we know eventually spring will arrive. Soon the days will be warmer, the snow will stop flying, the birds will begin singing, the flowers will start budding, and the crops will get planted.
It's just that when we have to wait for something ( like the arrival of spring) longer than we had planned, we can get discouraged and even say things like, “I don't think spring will ever come.”
Well, sometimes, we also feel that way when we have to wait on God. When God calls us to wait for an answer to prayer, we can get discouraged. We might even say things like, “I don't think God is ever going to answer me.”
God understands our tendency to become impatient and discouraged when we are called to wait, so God offers Words of hope and encouragement, beautiful Words like-
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” (Lamentations 3:25)
This month we celebrate Easter. When Jesus died on the cross, the disciples thought it was all over. They had waited three years for their Lord to turn things around - to free the oppressed and save the lost. And now, all was lost, or so they thought. The disciples lost hope. It happens to all of us sometimes, and that is why we need to always remember the Good News of Easter morning – sorrow turned to joy, despair turned to hope, death turned to life everlasting.
Always remember :
1) For which reason, because we have righteousness through faith, let us be at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; 2) Through whom, in the same way, we have been able by faith to come to this grace in which we now are; and let us have joy in hope of the glory of God. 3) And not only so, but let us have joy in our troubles: in the knowledge that trouble gives us the power of waiting; 4) And waiting gives experience; and experience, hope: 5) And hope does not put to shame; because our hearts are full of the love of God through the Holy Spirit which is given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
Have a Blessed Easter,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Small Groups! Small Groups! Small Groups! It just seems like you can’t avoid them – that is if you want to be intentional about growing in your faith. I can’t think of a faith development resource I have consulted in the last five years that didn’t list participation in small groups as a way of growing in our faith.
Robert Schnase, in his book Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, writes the following about participation in small groups:
“Vibrant, fruitful, growing congregations practice intentional Faith Development. From the first generation of Christians to the earliest Methodists to the youngest generations of faithful members today, the followers of Jesus mature in faith by learning together in community. Churches that practice intentional Faith Development offer high quality learning experiences that help people understand Scripture, faith, and life in the supportive nurture of caring relationships. Sunday School classes, Bible studies, short-term topical studies, support groups that apply faith to particular life challenges, children’s church, Vacation Bible School, United Methodist Women, camps, retreats, and youth fellowship groups are only a few of the countless ways by w\which churches help people probe God’s will for their lives and for the world, and bring people together to strengthen the Body of Christ by building friendships and relationships. Christian disciples strive to develop faith and grow in Christ-likeness through study and learning, and God is best able to form disciples when people do this together and not by themselves.”
You may have participated in or are currently participating in one or more of the following small groups held at the Oakland UMC:
Coming in March/April are more opportunities for you to participate in a small group. Such as:
And All God’s Children Said, “Amen.”
Blessings, Pastor Karen
Pastor Kim Dewey