OUR REGULAR WORSHIP SCHEDULE RESUMES
THIS SUNDAY, SEPT 18TH
8:45 A.M. TRADITIONAL WORSHIP IN THE SANCTUARY
(traditional worship with a more intimate atmosphere, includes special music and sermon)
10:00 A.M. TRADITIONAL WORSHIP IN THE SANCTUARY
(traditional worship with special music and preaching, including a children’s moment)
11:15 A.M. THE OPEN DOOR AT BUSKIRK-CHUMLEY THEATER
(contemporary, informal worship with preaching and children’s moment)
LOOKING AT THE FLOOR
I’m not much of dancer. You need to know that for any of this to make sense. That will help you understand the dancer whose eyes I avoided.
THE BIG PARTY
Two weeks ago, immediately after worship on Labor Day weekend, Sharon and I drove to Palatine, Illinois to celebrate the wedding of our niece, Natalie, to her fiancé, Joe. I thought the gathering was going to be some kind of informal backyard cookout, but it turned out to be a big party.
My brother-in-law, Phanuel, was in a suit and tie, with a beautiful flower in his lapel. My sister, Liz, mother-of-the-bride, was in a beautiful dress. The groomsmen were looking good, Joe was handsome and Natalie was in her wedding dress. My Dad, Bob, introduced the couple. Natalie and Joe exchanged rings and vows.
Phaneul is a leader in the Rwandan community in America, and there were friends of his from across the country. Joe’s family is Irish Catholic from the Chicago area and they were represented. There were German-Americans tossed into the mix. Irish Catholics, Rwandan Seventh-day Adventists, members of the Baha’i community, and United Methodists were all partying together.
That’s when the serious dancers showed up.
THE DANCER I AVOIDED
A wonderful African dance group showed up, and after they danced for us they began to move through the crowd, pulling people out of their chairs, and leading them off to join the dancing. That’s when I started studying the ground. I avoided making eye contact with any of the dancers because I’m just not very good.
There are times when God comes our direction, I think, and we study the ground. We avoid making eye contact. Because we’re convinced that whatever it is God wants, we aren’t going to be very good. We whisper to ourselves, as I did at the party, “I won’t be very good…the possible joy in the dancing -the following, the serving- is outweighed by the potential for failure.”
SOMETIMES WE AVOID MAKING EYE CONTACT WITH GOD
We’re in the middle of that time of year when members of the Nominations & Leadership Development team are making their way through the congregation, inviting people to serve on ministry teams and committees. I suspect some of us will be tempted to avoid eye contact. We just don’t think we’re very good at the dance of leading, of serving on a team, and so the risk of potential failure keeps us in our seats.
I want to encourage you to look up. I want you to pray and take the risk of joining the dance. God is doing some very good things through First Methodist, and I bump into more and more people who seem to be finding joy in serving…leading.
Moses, in Exodus 3, is asked by God to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt and he wants to decline. He keeps telling God “Not me” until he finally says “Yes.” We’re still talking about how he led the people across Sinai to the edge of the Jordan. The apostle Paul said he was a cracked common clay pot, and yet God was able to pour into that religious lawyer the treasure of divine grace. Jeremiah was too young, just a kid, and yet God used him to speak to a nation in the middle of crisis.
Don’t avoid making eye contact with God, but consider the invitation if someone calls you and asks you to serve…to lead. (Note: If you would like to be considered for a place of service and leadership, just email me or Cath Foreman – email@example.com )
ONE NIGHT I LOOKED UP
On another night, in the northwestern corner of the Republic of Ireland, I was at a wedding reception in a lodge near a rural lake. I had officiated this wedding of friends in the small church where W.B. Yeats is buried, and now the clouds were low as the evening approached. The bride and groom came across the lake in a small fishing boat, her white dress standing out against the green trees and the gray sky.
It was a party I will never forget! An amazing dance troupe from Dublin appeared late in the evening, and when the dancers moved through the crowd, I looked up. “I’m not much of a dancer,” I explained to the young woman and she said, “Oh, you’ll do fine!” It was wonderful. It was an evening I’ll never forget.
Don’t avoid making eye contact when God comes in your direction. Maybe it is to invite you to serve and lead in the church, or maybe God is nudging you to help a neighbor, speak to a stranger at the airport who seems overwhelmed, or say a courageous word when others are afraid to speak up.
God shows up and we study the ground because we don’t think we will be good enough. But when God invites us to dance, to get involved, to love and lead and share, almost always good and beautiful things happen.
Don’t miss the party! Look up!
ADMINISTRATIVE LEADERSHIP CHANGES AT FIRST METHODIST
As the Chairperson of our Staff Parish Relations Committee at First Methodist, I want to inform you of major changes in our administrative leadership. The Reverend Marie Lang, who has recently moved to Indianapolis with her husband, Steve, will be seeking a position closer to home. Her intention is to begin reducing her hours at First Methodist and end her time with us by December 1st.
We are thankful for Marie’s leadership and ministry, and our congregation will be invited to celebrate her ministry as her time here ends.
Our SPRC, along with our Lead Pastor, Mark Fenstermacher, is very pleased to announce that Ms. Shari Sprinkle will be stepping into the new position of Director of Financial Operations. She will be assuming many of the responsibilities (working with Finance, Trustees, Foundation, accounting and payroll, supervision of building staff, etc.) that have been in Marie’s portfolio.
Shari has been on our staff and done an outstanding job as our part-time Program Administrative Assistant (children, youth and college ministries).
A graduate of Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Shari is a Certified Public Accountant. She is married to Geoff, a professor at the Kelley School, and they have three sons. Shari has volunteered with Kappa Kappa Gamma, Interfaith Winter Shelter, the BHS South Swim Team Parent’s Booster Club, and as an officer and leader at First Christian Church in Bloomington.
Shari is good at listening to the concerns of others, helping teams come up with solutions and move forward.
As we welcome Shari to the position of Director of Financial Operations, we also welcome Ms. Cath Foreman to the new position of Director of Office Operations. (Next week’s email will introduce Cath to the congregation.)
Thank you for continuing to pray and encourage our fine team at First Methodist!
Staff Parish Relations – Chairperson
If we are a church that loves people and wants people to be well (just as Jesus wanted the rich man to be well…to be free…to be happy!), then we need to offer resources. So, a team of great volunteers, led by Jonathan Purvis, are working with me to offer a very simple 4-week series of classes about money we are calling Financial Wellness.
Financial Wellness will be offered on four consecutive Sunday evenings from 5:30-6:30, beginning on September 25th, here at First Methodist. Sessions will be straight-forward, easily understandable for non-money types (like me!), and last only one hour. Presenters will be people from inside our church, people you probably know, people you can trust. They will be sharing what they know… helpful insights from their experiences. Each evening will also include a time for questions!
There is no cost for the course. Childcare will be provided (we would like to know if you will be using our childcare) and refreshments will be served.
The topics for Financial Wellness will be:
- 9/25 – Financial Health & Getting Out of Debt.
- 10/2 – Beginning & Building a Budget.
- 10/9 – Handling College & Getting Ready for Retirement.
- 10/16 – Having a Lasting Impact.
Thanks to all who helped make the All-Church Worship & Picnic such an amazing, beautiful, fun day! A special word of thanks to Cath Foreman (aka Picnic Princess) and her team of table & chair movers, grillers, face-painters, etc.
Remember this Sunday we move into our regular worship schedule. The 8:45 is a wonderful traditional service with an intimate feel. The 10 o’clock service is traditional, but also includes a children’s moment. The Open Door, our contemporary service, remains at 11:15 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.
Don’t forget to sign up this week for Financial Wellness, and invite your friends from the community to join you as we begin that 4-week journey on the evening of the 25th. Click here to visit the website
See you Sunday!
Grace and peace,
TRIP TO HOLY LAND SET FOR FEBRUARY 2017: JOIN US!
View details online, contact the church office and/or pick up a brochure for the Holy Land Trip in February of 2017. Led by Pastor Mark Fenstermacher, the trip is with experienced tour operator EO (Educational Opportunities Inc.). At this point it appears we may have approximately 20 persons making this life-changing journey. The cost is just over $3,000 per person (including airfare, hotel accommodations, tour guide, motor coach transportation in Israel, morning and evening meals, etc.) for those who did not register by July 11th. Contact Ms. Cath Foreman if you have questions. Click here to view the trip website
This Sunday we continue a sermon series titled “Prayer: Keeping It Simple.” Whether you’ve prayed a thousand times or never before, these messages will guide you to consider three essential prayers: “Help! Thanks! Wow!”