Can you believe that summer is now almost 2/3 over? Where did the time go? I trust you have had wonderful times this summer being with family and friends, enjoying God’s creation in all its beauty.
I want to thank each and every one of you for making me feel so welcome at our parish since I arrived. Your kindness, your prayers and your generosity have been overwhelming and I thank God for the privilege to serve you as your pastor. I am excited about the future of our churches and am trusting God to give direction and guidance to us as we seek to bring Christ to the communities we serve.
It is also my desire and prayer that each of us grow in our faith in Jesus Christ and be equipped to live out our faith in our daily lives.
You have probably discovered a few things about me that are worth noting J. First of all, I love humor! I take great joy in helping others to laugh, so consequently I love to tell jokes! My children have heard them all, so their first response is usually a groan J. Secondly, I like to provide a place in the bulletin for you to take notes on the sermon each Sunday. This is because I believe it’s good to have the opportunity to write down how God speaks to you from His Word. Thirdly, as I have said, I don’t remember names too easily, so please be patient with me when I ask your name for the tenth time! J
Speaking of sermons, I would like to give you some tips on How to Listen to a Sermon taken from the Unofficial United Methodist Handbook. Are you ready? Here we go!
1. Review your active listening skills. Make mental notes as you listen. Take notice of where and why you react and which emotions you experience.
2. Maintain Good Posture. Avoid slouching. Sit upright with your feet planted firmly on the ground and your palms on your thighs, although it’s a bit hard to do while taking notes. Beware of the impulse to slouch,cross your arms, or lean against your neighbor, as these can encourage drowsiness.
- 3. Listen for the Hurting Places. You may feel an emotional pinch when the preacher names the sinner in you or the brokenness in our society. Pay attention to your reaction, and try to focus on waiting for the gospel rather than becoming defensive.
4. Listen for the Gospel. This might well come in the form of a sentence starting with the name Jesus and ending with the words for you. Upon hearing the gospel, you may feel a physical lightness, as though you’ve set down a great burden. After all, it is called Good News! You may cry tears of joy. This is normal. J
- 5. End by saying, “Amen!” Since preaching is mostly God’s word, honor the Word by sealing the moment with this sacred word, which means, “It is most certainly true!” (Another way of saying “So be it!”)
6. Review and Reflect. If you’ve taken written notes, read through them later that day or the next day and consider corresponding with the preacher if you have questions or need clarification. If you’ve taken mental notes, review them in a quiet moment. Consider sharing this review time with others in your congregation or household on a weekly basis.
Again, thank you so much for the privilege to serve you. Together let us trust God for great and mighty things to happen in our churches and in our lives. If I can be of any spiritual help to you, please do not hesitate to contact me. I echo the Apostle Paul’s words to the Philippian church in Philippians chapter 1, verses 3 and 4: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all.”
Peace in Christ,