Covenant United Methodist Church

Changing Lives with Jesus

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Covenant Caller Vol. 9, no. 2

February 1, 2017

February can be a cold and snowy month. Despite its being the shortest month of the year, more snow falls and accumulates in February than any other month! Unless you are going skiing or snowboarding, that’s a dreary thought. But February is also supposed to be a warm month, the month we celebrate the warmth of love, the month we celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day, or more formally Saint Valentine’s Day, has evolved over the years from a traditional feast day celebrating the life of the martyred St. Valentine to a day of romance, roses, and chocolate. But, it wasn’t always that way.

Saint Valentine may have been as many as three different people active in the life of the early church. While all expressed love, none was particularly known for romantic love or in Greek “eros” love. Instead, they were known for serving the downtrodden, the oppressed, and the outcast. They were known for taking risks to do what was right for others despite the danger. Each was ultimately put to death for following the will of God rather than the laws of man.

Let love guide your lifeToday, we call the kind of love the original Valentines had (again in Greek) “agape love.” This is the kind of love that every Christian is expected to have for others as expressed in the great commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

After the turmoil and hate expressed in the months leading up to and after our recent election and inauguration, we could use a large dose of agape love! We seem to be in a vicious cycle playing a nasty game of “can you top this?” in the form of ugly and unkind name calling.

Paul wrote in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” What a challenge! Let’s make February our month of love, a month of love like that expressed in 1 Corinthians 13: love that is patient, kind, not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. May we love with an agape love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Remember, in this world it may not be easy to deal with others, but acting hateful is always sinful and against God’s will. Devote February to practicing Christian faith in love rather than creating more problems by hatred. The world may not notice, but God will.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor Jim

Previous Callers

October 1, 2017

For some time now, we have been engaging in a process of discernment about a building project at Covenant. You may be wondering what the process is, when we will know the final plans, and how soon the project will begin. The process has been and will continue to be deliberate. It began with prayerful discernment of God’s will for the future of Covenant Church. It was during this time of discernment that we made some changes to our Statement of Purpose (see below) and began using the tag line “Changing Lives with Jesus.”

Next, we began to look at how our buildings impact ministry. The Board of Trustees saw a need for changes and updates. After working with architect Jack Althouse, they recommended the creation of a Building Committee (BC) which picked up where the Trustees left off.


September 1, 2017

You may or may not have noticed, but I am not the most athletic guy around. I’ve never been particularly good at sports, though I do enjoy watching some, playing others, and listening to baseball on the radio. Sports can offer all kinds of benefits: they help kids become physically stronger, develop muscle and hand-eye coordination, acquire a sense of fair play, and maybe most of all, experience the importance of teamwork.

Teamwork: think of the people that were, despite their fame, just one side of a great team. Would pitcher Steve Carlton had as many strikeouts without his catcher Tim McCarver? Would comedian Johnny Carson have been as successful without straight man Ed McMahon? Could Moses have confronted Pharaoh without his spokesman Aaron? Probably not, yet the general public gives just about all the credit for success to a single individual.


August 1, 2017

This year, for the first time in my 25 years of ministry, I had the opportunity to participate in an Appalachia Service Project mission trip as a part of Covenant’s ASP team. Our week (actually 8 days) was guided by the scriptural verse, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

The love started long before the week began. Throughout the year members and friends of Covenant have been supporting the fundraising efforts of the team. Then, on Saturday, July 1, many people showed up in the parking lot to see the team off and offer prayers and moral support.

Once in Cocke County, Tennessee, the team put their love into action by fanning out across the county to five different sites to make homes warmer, safer and drier. But the love didn’t stop there!


July 1, 2017

The school year has come to an end, the pools are open, the weather has become hot and humid, and air conditioners are humming. The traditional vacation season is upon us. Summer is here! Theoretically, it’s time to sit back and relax. Yet sometimes we have trouble relaxing because there is so much to do.

We are busy visiting grandma’s, the in-laws, and a few old friends, purchasing supplies for our summer barbeques with family and neighbors, mapping out sightseeing trips to who knows where, and maybe even spending some time at the shore or in the mountains. We are busy with home projects of painting a room, weeding the overgrown garden, and finally reseeding that brown patch that used to be grass. While all those plans and activities may feel important and sound good, we can make our summers so crammed full stuff, we may miss the opportunity to really relax and allow our spirits to be renewed and enjoy the opportunity for some re-creation.