From Our Pastor

First Sunday of Lent

Posted 2 March, 2017 by Pastor Keith Ritchie

As we worship Sunday, we find ourselves in worship on the first Sunday of Lent.  As we prepare for worship this Sunday, I am so grateful to carry into this service the rich and blessed memory of beginning this season in worshipped on Ash Wednesday.

The Gospel of John is our companion as we worship in this 40-day season. This Sunday, the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus (John 3:1-17) informs our worship. Nicodemus is confused, understandably so, when Jesus speaks of a new birth. We are familiar with the expression, "Born again." But what do we mean with this statement?

During the 11am service, the First Hand Experience Children's Puppet Team will offer a presentation titled, "Samaritan Woman." While this is exciting in and of itself, this presentation is especially notable in that it fits in perfectly with time spent with the gospel of John in Lent, as Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan Woman (John 4) is before us on March 12th. Also during the 11am service, the Children's Choirs will sing "Ask, Seek, Knock." Finally, I count it the greatest of gifts to gather with you at table; to know a place set there for us by the most gracious of Hosts.

The beautiful and inspiring Lenten devotionals created by members of this church are now in circulation! Those who attended services Ash Wednesday received devotionals; they will be available again this Sunday as we worship. Remember, these devotionals feature art and photography corresponding to the scripture guiding us through Lent:  ten passages from the gospel of John. I am so impressed by and thankful for these devotionals that Paula and I have set aside a copy to send to each of our daughters.

The Lenten study, "Creed" began this past Tuesday; I am excited and grateful for this study of The Apostles' Creed so prominent within our journey through Lent this year. I am grateful to Sarah Whitmore for leading the noon session of "Creed" each Tuesday, and grateful to all who attended her session of "Creed" as well as the evening session I am leading. These two sessions of "Creed," along with Maegan Mitchell's young adul study on Tuesday means that more than forty persons attended small group ministries at First UMC this week - thanks be to God!

As I write this, I am excited about and grateful for the "Closer" service to be held in the Uptown Ministry Center this evening. "Closer" is a prayer and worship service designed for those who wish to disconnect from the chaos of daily life so as to draw closer to God. All are welcome to take part in these quiet practices of prayer, meditation, and reflecting on the word of God. Many thanks to our Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, Maegan Mitchell, for creating this service.

During Lent, the sanctuary of the church will be open from noon until 1pm each Wednesday. I hope you will find this as time to visit, pray, read scripture, enjoy the quiet.

I have written again my once a month article for the Martinsville Bulletin. It is to be in Friday's paper. I welcome your feedback.