From Our Pastor

Lent Observations

Posted 16 March, 2017 by Pastor Keith Ritchie

A woman caught in adultery is brought to Jesus. Jesus is asked by the scribes and Pharisees what should be done to her, citing scripture so as to influence his answer. This is the setting for worship on Sunday. The scripture recounting this incident is captured well in the photograph corresponding to this scripture in our Lenten Devotional. This devotional and our Lenten Worship is framed around these rich and rewarding conversations in which Jesus shares with many in John's gospel; I look forward to spending time with this conversation as we worship on Sunday.

In this season of Lent, I again strongly encourage you to take part in opportunities offered by First UMC. "Creed," the study of the Apostle's Creed is offered each Tuesday at noon and 6:30pm (light meal provided at 6:30.) The church sanctuary is open for prayer from noon until 1pm each Wednesday. The service, "Closer," is offered each Thursday from 7-8pm in the Uptown Ministry Center. This season of Lent has long been understood as a time in which to strengthen disciplines such as prayer, reading of scripture, and worship. It is my prayer we come through this season as people of God strengthened in these disciplines.

I pray as we move deeper into this season that you have these events on your calendars. Chancel Choir presents John Rutter's Requiem on April 9th (Palm Sunday) at 4pm. A Maundy Thursday service remembering Jesus' last meal with his disciples will be held at 7pm on April 13th.  The Good Friday "Crosswalk" through Uptown will be at noon April 14th, beginning at First UMC and ending at Wesley Memorial UMC. At 7pm on Good Friday, a Tenebrae service will be held in the church sanctuary. At 7am Easter morning, a sunrise service will take place on the front lawn of the church. We are all more blessed than we know to be given opportunity to worship and serve God in such abundant ways.

One of these ways is before us again this Saturday. The monthly ministries of the Food Bank and Clothes Closet will take place in the Uptown Ministry Center. If you have not volunteered for either of these ministries, I encourage you to do so. These are blessed opportunities we are given by which to meet Christ as we serve our neighbors.

We are blessed by many opportunities to serve those in need. We did so again this week as those of our Mission Team delivered food bags to needy children at Albert Harris Elementary School, Patrick Henry Elementary School, and Campbell Court Elementary (see pictures on the First UMC Facebook page.) We have been blessed this week, as we are blessed every week, with the opportunity to meet Christ as we serve our Lunch Bunch guests.

So as to follow up on recent conversations regarding how best to align revenue with expenses at First UMC, I remind you these ministries of worship and service take place through the gifts you offer God and his church. These conversations continue, recognizing we did not arrive at this point of financial imbalance overnight, nor will we correct this overnight. Ray Harm, our Finance Chair, and I will attend a daylong event regarding stewardship on Saturday. We do so in the hope this will be of help to the stewardship ministries of First UMC.