*** Happy New Year 2021!       |      If you need to meet or talk with Pastor Luke please call the church office to set up an appointment.      |      Worship in person starting Sunday, January 24th at 9:00 a.m. Mask required at all time & social distancing (online worship still available).      |      Please return your 2021 Pledge Cards.      |      Communion Sunday, January 17th.      |      The weekly Booster can be found under "News" along with much more information.      |      Prayer Request and Our Care Center Family link can be found under "News."      |      If you would like to provide "special music" for Sunday morning service, either in person or pre-recorded, contact the church office.      |      Share your prayer request and praises at any time during the week by calling the church office or posting them on the church Facebook page.      |      NEW - Online "Giving" is now available. The "Giving" button located in the upper right corner of the website. See the "News" section for more information.      |      "News" page (updated daily & weekly) with Bible App for Kids, Lesson Activities & Resources for Children's Sunday School, activities for everyone, learning resources, and much more. ***
First United Methodist Church



A Note from Pastor Luke

  Friday, January 8th, 2021 @ 7:27 pm

January 2021 note from Ps. Luke:

“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you, I am well pleased.’” Mark 1:9-11 (NRSV)

We’re starting the new year pretty soon, and I believe that I’m echoing the hopes and dreams of many people when I pray that God be gracious to us in 2021. It’s tradition with many to take up a New Year’s Resolution, and I must confess, I’ve never been any good at them. About the middle of February, my gym memberships seem to get lost, my will to cease drinking soda wanes, and my project lists never seem to get any shorter. Countless hours and pages have been spent lampooning our unfaithfulness to such endeavors; and yet here we are, another year, and I have that old itch again to reexamine my life and try and make some changes.

Perhaps you’re in the same boat. That this past year has provided you ample time to sit in your homes and think, or to look at everything you do, everyone you interact with, and every place you go with fresh eyes. That as we stand on the threshold of a new year we are once again invited into a reflection of the year that is passing and to gaze upon a vision of what the next year could be. Throughout the Christian calendar, we are invited to remember the Story of God and find ways in which our own stories echo it, or rather, moments where our stories intersect the divine one and we are invited into it again and again. It’s at the beginning of the calendar year that most people celebrate the Baptism of the Lord (you can find those accounts starting at Matthew 3:13, Mark 1:9, Luke 3:21, John 1:29). Our baptisms mirror the baptism of Christ and life up the essentials of the faith. While each church tradition formulates these words a little different, generally we’re all agreed on a few things:

It is God who saves, and continually invites us into his grace
We reject the forces and powers of evil
We put our trust in Christ alone
A new life is found within in Christ, we are renewed and being renewed
We commit to one another to care for each other
and we are welcomed into the Church, the Body of Christ


This Sunday that we remember Jesus’ baptism, and any remembrance of our own baptism, is a moment where we all reaffirm what God has done in our lives and remember the promises that we made with God, with each other, and with ourselves. It’s a time to remember, renew, and recommit ourselves to the Lord, even if we were baptized as infants or barely remember our own confirmation.

So lately I’ve been thinking about my own baptismal vows: to reject a life of sin, to resist evil and oppression in whatever form they take, to put my whole trust in Christ, and to nurture and encourage my brothers and sisters in our own mutual life of faith. While these are my first and most fundamental vows, they’re brought into a sharper focus when viewed with other vows I’ve taken: marriage, commissioning (and eventually ordination), oblation, etc. Our baptisms, in many ways, are the first and most important promises that we can make; they encompass completely the essence of Christianity, but our own traditions and experiences help us to focus and refine the ways in which God is calling us to live our lives and how he is present in them.

This year I’ve pulled out something from my denomination’s history to meditate on throughout the year. It’s a covenant prayer in the Wesleyan tradition and you can find the original English used on page 607 of the United Methodist Hymnal. Like I’ve said, I’m lousy at new year’s resolutions; they just don’t stick. But vows, prayers, longings lifted up to God, these are different for me. Hopefully, as I continually revisit this covenant prayer, it can be used by God as a way to continually be formed into the image of Christ. So, below I’ve taken the language from this covenant prayer and updated it a bit. Hopefully, I’ve kept the spirit of it, but as with all prayer and poetry, there’s always a bit of our own soul that goes into it too. Nevertheless, my resolution this year is to sit with this prayer and remember how much I am loved by God. May you find this as a blessing, recommit yourselves to God, and remember and return to your own baptism as well. Blessings, friends, and here’s to a good and faithful new year.

Amen,
Ps. Luke

A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition Revised I am no longer my own but led by you.
Have me do whatever you would, with whomever you would.
Task me with work, task me with waiting.
Use me for Your glory, or set me aside,
Known for you, or left anonymous for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I offer all things to you, for your use and your joy
with a clear mind and an open heart.
And now, O’ loving and almighty God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
You are mine, and I am yours. May it be forever.
And these promises I’ve made on earth,
may they be written in heaven. Amen.

SERVICE TIMES

Welcome Center (Coffee & Conversation): 8:30-9:00 a.m.
Worship Service: 9:00-10:00 a.m.
Fellowship: 10:00-10:30 a.m.
Sunday School: 10:30-11:30 a.m.(only during school year)

P.O. Box 394

200 CHURCH ST

Shenandoah, IA 51601

712-246-2081