Covenant United Methodist Church

Changing Lives with Jesus

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Covenant Caller Vol. 9, no. 7

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.

Jesus had a habit of taking the time he needed to renew his spirit. Scripture records that after preaching to the crowds, “he went up the mountain by himself to pray.” (Matthew 14:23b) Jesus knew he needed time to be in communication with God the Father. He allowed himself to be touched by the Holy Spirit. Jesus took time to renew his own spirit.

While the mountain may not be your preferred place to pray and meditate, we all need to find a time and a place for prayer and meditation. We each need to discover a place and make the time for an appointment with our Creator.

This summer feel free to spend time with loved ones, take time with friends, catch up on projects, take time to read that book you have been meaning to get to since last summer (or was it the summer before?), and enjoy some time away. Whatever you do, don’t forget to make time (both some quality time and some quantity time) to visit, talk with, and listen to God. In the words of the hymn,

“Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; abide in him always, and feed on his word.”

(Take Time to Be Holy by William D. Longstaff, ca. 1882)

Grace & Peace,
Pastor Jim

Previous Callers

May 1, 2017

A few weeks ago, as the first service was ending and people were saying their hellos and goodbyes at the door to Wesley Hall, I was handed a prayer card.  The card had obviously been filled out by a young child.  Under the “Joys and Thanksgivings” section the child had written, “I love you God.”  Well, actually it read, “I love you Gob,” but I assumed the “d” was written backwards as children sometimes do.  There we also names written under the “Concerns” section and the child included their name along with the name of a sibling.

At the second service, two children listened to the words of our opening hymn and took them seriously.  The hymn was Lord of the Dance and the children danced.  In that same service I began the children’s moment by asking, “How do we send a message to Jesus?”  Without hesitation the answer came, “Pray.”  Well, I guess I didn’t need to teach that message to the kids!

April 1, 2017

I believe in . . . the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Amen.

- Excerpts from The Apostles’ Creed

Wow, what a statement! The last line of The Apostles’ Creed is a powerful statement of faith. Faith, mind you, just faith. There is no absolute proof that such a statement is true. We do not have faithful individuals from the ancient past who have returned to earth today to witness the truth of life everlasting. All we have is the collected writings of the early church leaders, testimony from believers, and maybe our own unexplainable spiritual or mystic encounters.

March 1, 2017

In Jeopardy style, the answer is, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” And the question is, “Why doesn’t fasting make a lasting difference in most people’s spiritual life?”

During the 40 days of Lent, it is a tradition to give up something for the season. Sometimes it is a food item we enjoy, but blame for our weight problem, so we claim to give up chocolate, or pie, or cake as a spiritual discipline, when we really want to lose weight. At times we try to use Lent to work on breaking a bad habit by pledging to give up something like swearing, cigarettes, or road rage for the season, in the hope it will last beyond the few weeks of Lent. But the reality is it doesn’t really work! Usually we are back to our familiar behaviors well before the Lenten season is complete. Why? Because our spiritual life, like nature, abhors a vacuum!

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.