Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Yes, I am happy that summer is now here even though as I write this article Denver is under a winter storm warning! But one of the things that makes me happy is the alarm clock does not have to ring and wake me up as early as it does during the school year. Soccer is ending and baseball is just beginning. Some place to be every night of the week and when there is a late baseball game the night can become very short.
Losing a little sleep is a very small price to pay for the enjoyment of being at the ball diamond cheering on our son and our son’s team. In fact, it is good for the soul. Not in the same sense that Sunday morning is good for the soul, but when we visit the baseball field or if you have a daughter then the softball diamond it’s like a mini-vacation. We get to get away from all the stuff that is going on in the world and enjoy the important stuff like watching our children, youth and young adults playing baseball or softball as we cheer on the home team.
However, it has been my experience that the months of June, July and including August are the fastest months of the year. They fly by! Baseball season will end as quickly as it has begun. Vacations that we planned on for months in advance becomes a reality and is over before you know it. And as we start going to county fairs and state fairs we are also buying school supplies and getting ready for a new school year.
The months of June, July and August are also the loneliest times of the year for us pastors. These three months are the lowest in attendance and I have no problem with seeing less of you even though I love you and miss you. I pray when you are out and about you make a special effort to be in a church on Sunday mornings. Don’t worry what denomination the church you go to is even though I have a bias for UMC. Nor do I want you to worry what kind of worship they have as a new experience may be a good thing. Just bring your experience back to us and it may become a part of and enhance our own worship experience.
While summer goes on the church will still be open and doing the things we need to do that makes us the Oakland UMC. We have been and are good stewards of our resources but when attendance goes down and offering reflects attendance the end of the month balance sheet may become suspenseful! So, don’t totally forget us and remember us in all your planning and budgeting for your summertime activities. In the meantime go and enjoy your summer and I promise you that “we will keep the lights on for you” until you return.
See you Sunday,
Rev. Dennis Hopes
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am so glad spring is here and we have once again celebrated the message of life and hope that Easter brings. I don’t know what your thoughts are but even though it was a mild winter with very few days of brutal cold and just a few snow falls that even required getting out a snow shovel. Winter still had its serious moments. Because of those moments, I find that the cold finds its way to the inside of my bones a whole lot faster than what it used to. Somebody may comment that is simply old age, but something unexpectedly has happened! Snow removal may be out of the question as heart surgery has a way of limiting certain activities.
Spring says we made it and Easter reminds us that our loved ones who have gone on before us have made it too. “Where O death is your sting?’ ‘Where O death is your victory?” Grass has gotten green; the day lilies are blooming and the pretty purple flowers that are covering a part of our backyard is an unexpected surprise. They weren’t there when we moved in last year but after some serious consultation with my neighbors we have a name for our pretty purple flowers. Our pretty purple flowers are called Creeping Charlie and its got to go!
This spring the expected did happen as well as the unexpected. But that’s life! The expected doesn’t happen and the unexpected does happen. Life can get really fickle at times as in when we go to a tomb on Easter morning with nard and perfumes and what we find is an empty tomb. The ending that we expected is not what we got!
But in the morning when I rise Jesus will be there! No matter what happened in the night, in the darkness or in the places that we cannot see Jesus will be there and is there. My faith tells me that.
As I write this article I am sitting in my car watching Will practice baseball and the temperature is 42 degrees and the wind brings the temp down to 35 degrees. Once again Canadian air pushes in on my T-shirt, cut off shorts and grilling on the Bar-B-Que dreams. The cool temps are unexpected and according to my wants and wishes it is a cheap shot from the many creative adventures of God’s creation.
That brings me to the realization that God is going to do what God is going to do and wants to do. God loves me but regardless of my opinion things might not happen the way I want them to happen. We know that God listens and answers prayers, but does that mean God changes for me or is it me that needs to change for God? If we think God is going to change so we can stay the same then there will be a lot of unexpected in our life.
Spring is a time of new life and sometimes we need to embrace the unexpected as much as the expected, because both are and can be God’s creativity in Creation. Yes, I also understand that God gives creation a certain amount of freedom to create and sometimes what creation creates is chaos. But why should creation be any different than us humans who can create immeasurable chaos with our own freedom to do whatever we feel is best to do. That’s when tragedy happens!
This spring we are going to initiate a prayer team with the simple vision of listening to God and coming to the knowledge of what God is guiding us to be as a church. Having a vision and knowing where we are going with God’s leading gives us a way forward into the future. It also gives us a vision that will help us be guided through the unexpected and keeps us away from the tragedies of being church that other churches seem to find themselves in with low attendance and membership.
Spring is a time of life and hope and our prayer team will help us facilitate that spring vision. They are not miracle workers nor are they lone rangers as we need our whole congregation praying for the church. So with your prayers and the prayers of our prayer team we can continue to be a blessing to our community and when the unexpected hits us it won’t turn into a tragedy. Pray unceasingly!
See you Sunday.
Rev. Dennis Hopes
Pastor Kim Dewey