The Pastors Page – July 2016

It’s more important than it’s ever been.


If you’ve been attending the United Methodist Church of Saint Clair for the last few months, even occasionally; then you’ve probably noticed quite a bit of discussion about evangelism.  This desire, call, and need to share the Gospel (Jesus’ story) with the world.  The reason you’ve been hearing about it a lot?  Well, because it’s tremendously important.  It’s more important, in fact, then it’s ever been.  I really believe that.  But I need to preface that with the very important reminder that it’s always been very important.

In the early Christian church, folks met in their homes; rarely churches.  They broke bread together, shared stories, prayed and encouraged one another, and learned together.  Over the centuries, Christianity blossomed into something with rigid organization, beautiful buildings, educated and trained Clergy and became something you go to; instead of something you are.  I think it’s time to revisit what it means to be a 1st century Christian.  And I need your help to do that.

Our world is chronically in pain.  As a Pastor, I’m struggling (And I mean really, really struggling) with how to respond to these constant barrages of violence and pain.  I mean, I can’t preach every Sunday about violence, death and abuse, right?  In the past few weeks, we’ve had several awful terror attacks, we’ve had the deaths of more than half a dozen police officers who, as best we know, were targeted because of their badges.  And we’ve had the very high profile deaths of African-American men at the hands of police, with the ongoing struggle of how it seems to very many Americans, that even though almost all Police Officers are good; when there are bad ones, they don’t seem to be held accountable, even when their actions result in the loss of another persons life.

It’s a rough world to live in, especially because we have a world full of false dichotomies; like we have to pick and choose.  Can’t we weep for the death of police officers and wish that all people, including those in law enforcement, would be held accountable?  Can’t we weep for the death of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, and many many others; without also believing that police officers are men and women who run towards danger when others run away; the very definition of a hero?  Why does the Christian Church have to pick a side?  Why can’t instead the church be on the side of all those who are hurting, oppressed, sick, injured, and dying.

You know what I think?  I think the problem is we’re too internalized.  We’re so comfortable.  When the church is externally focused and wants to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), then it count help but weep for every life lost; for every action without justice, for every tear shed.  Because the church that’s inside-out is reaching, yearning, and seeking those people.

So, friends, I hope you’ll continue to tolerate this barrage of discussions about becoming the externally focused church.  We can’t simply be comfortable, our world has gone past that.  We no longer have the luxury of sitting in comfortable pews, listening to nice music, singing familiar hymns and hearing comfortable, easy sermons.  While the world continues in the turmoil caused by sin we simply cannot sit idly by and refuse to change it.

I think we’re ready to change the world.  How about you?

The Pastors Page – August

 Blessings to you in the name Christ!

It has nearly been a month since I was appointed to the United Methodist Church of St. Clair; and it doesn’t even feel like it’s been that long!  It is with genuine sincerity that I can say I am truly blessed to be a part of this congregation, and to be your Pastor.  It’s a humbling responsibility to be tasked with caring for such a warm and loving congregation, and it’s not one I take lightly!  I wanted to start my letter this month with an appreciation for your peace and patience as I get settled into this new appointment.  

When Paul wrote letters to his churches,  he would often remind them of the good they did along side his oh-so famous rebuking of the early churches various ‘growing pains’.  And with that in mind, I thought I’d take the time to celebrate the incredible work that you are doing!  This past month we had Vacation Bible School, something that brings back fond memories of going to VBS as a kid myself; as I’m sure it did for many of you.  But what’s almost as exciting, perhaps, as the smiling faces of small children learning about God, was the awesome outpouring of love and support you showed the children of your church with the work that you did.  Each day, volunteers brought breakfast to the children, helped them with their crafts, fed them lunch and helped them to learn new songs.  All that along with the time spent with their leaders learning more and more about this awesome God that made them and loves them.  Likewise I’ve only been here a few weeks and already I have heard about mission trips and new mission opportunities for the community of St. Clair that you are ready to take on!  How exciting it is to be a part of a church that lives out Christ’s call to serve the community and the world in the name of God.

John Wesley wrote a simple instruction for all Christians, “Do all the Good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, for as long as ever you can”.  My prayer for you is that we would continue to be the church that embodies that phrase.  That understands that there’s an entire world out there that needs to experience the Grace and Peace of Jesus Christ!  

I’m looking forward to what new ways we can do all the good we can, for all the people we can, in all the ways we can.  And I am looking forward to being your Pastor!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor John