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Sanctuary Service: 8:45 & 10 A.M.
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Just a Thought or Two: Section 205

THIS SUNDAY, NOV 6th, 2016

(traditional worship with a more intimate atmosphere, includes special music and sermon)

(traditional worship with special music and preaching, including a children’s moment)

(contemporary, informal worship with preaching and children’s moment)


Section 205


Some things you think will never happen.

The Hebrews, wandering through Sinai for more than thirty years, must have wondered if they would ever get back to the Jordan River and then cross into Canaan. After you have been in the wilderness long enough, you begin to think that is all you will ever see.

The difference between the Hebrews and the Chicago Cubs is that the ex-slaves from Egypt only spent forty years in the wilderness while the baseball club and its fans have been in the wilderness for one hundred and eight years. Deuteronomy 1:29 says the people, when first at the edge of the Promised Land, wouldn’t go into the Canaan because they were terrified. So, they retreated back into the wilderness of Sinai.

If you are a Chicago Cubs fan, you know the club has stood on the edge of baseball’s “promised land.” The team was right there with Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg, Andrew Dawson, Ferguson Jenkins, and so many others…but somehow never able to get across the river.

Bursts of excellence and moments when everything seemed to work, were inevitably followed by disappointment. As a college student I remember Grandmother Fenstermacher, quietly thinking out loud saying, “I wonder if I will ever see them win a pennant or go to the World Series.” She never did.

Some things you think will never happen.



Theo Epstein came to the Chicago Cubs in 2011 after a highly successful career putting together championship teams for the Boston Red Sox. Theo said he had a plan to build a winning club in Chicago and he also said it was going to take time. People would need to be patient.

Patience isn’t easy for many of us. The ex-slaves in Sinai, were often impatient with God and how God works. God didn’t deliver food and water quickly enough for them. When Moses went up on a mountain to talk with God, the people became impatient and demanded that Aaron build them a golden calf to worship.

Whether you are an ex-slave in Sinai, a fan of a long-suffering baseball club, or a part of the church, you may find it hard to come by patience. Just in the last twenty-four hours I have had great conversations with two amazing people who get frustrated with the slow pace of change in the life of the church. Even as pastor and leader, I sometimes wonder if we will ever “get there.”

Even when someone tells us they have a plan and they say the plan is going to take time, we can get impatient.



As the Chicago Cubs were defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers for the National League pennant, winning their way into the World Series, a friend called and asked, “What are you doing Friday night?”

Through the unexpected generosity of a friend, I was able to go the Friday night World Series game with our youngest son, Michael. Not only did Michael and I get to the game, but we went with my Dad, Bob and my father-in-law, Ray. Both are life-long Cubs fans. Both are in their late 80’s.

After writing the sermon Thursday night I drove north to pick up Ray and my Dad to drive to Lincoln Park. We had a mid afternoon meal with Michael, Sarah and Max. Then, the four of us headed to the ball park.

It was a sea of blue. It was magical. It was beautiful.

We sat in Section 205, down the 3rd base line.
I remembered the first time I had walked up the steps behind home plate at Wrigley, on a hot summer day years before. I saw the perfect field, the walls covered in ivy, the flags snapping in the sunshine as the wind blew in off the lake, and I took a deep breath. “This is a park,” I thought to myself and smiled.

My father-in-law, Ray, had been at the last World Series game in 1945, and people kept coming up to him asking to take a picture with him.

The game was close all the way along but the Cubs lost.

As we made our way home, we knew that some things just never happen. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Water circles a drain counter-clockwise. The Cubs get close but they never quite get there.



We headed for South Bend around 11:30 in the evening. All three of us still amazed that we had been at Wrigley Field for a World Series game.

We talked. We talked about all sorts of things.

When I dropped My Dad off around 2 in the morning he said, “The game was great but it was even better just riding along, getting the chance to talk.”

This reminded me that sometimes in life, and in our journey with God, we shouldn’t get so focused on the immediate goal (the win!) that we miss the joy, the blessing, in just being together on the road.

I realize, looking back on life and ministry, that sometimes I was working so hard, so focused on the goal out ahead, that I missed the blessed joy of just being with people. The younger we are, I think, the more goal-focused we can be. The more mature we get, the more we slow down, look around, and enjoy the miracle of the moment.

That morning, I crawled into bed at 3:30 in the morning, thankful for the day and evening. Thankful for the trip. Thankful for outfields that look like heaven. Knowing some things never happen.



After 3rd baseman, Chris Bryant, handled a sharply-hit ground ball and made the throw to 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo for the final out in a Cubs 8-7 win, I had a difficult time believing what I had just seen. It’s the middle of the afternoon on Thursday, hours after the Cubs became World Champions, and I still find this difficult to comprehend.

Some things never happen.

What I was ready to handle, to understand, was the Cubs blowing a 3-run lead late in the game. I was ready to handle the disappointment of another loss. I was prepared to get to the edge of Jordan, and turn back to the wilderness because that is where we always end up!

How do you believe things that seem too good to be true?

I’m wearing a Chicago Cubs t-shirt as I sit at my desk. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are filled with stories of the championship and news about the victory parade to come. There is a Chicago Cubs World Series, gray baseball cap sitting on the edge of my desk.

And I still find it difficult to believe.

In a world of bad news, sometimes the challenge is to trust that the good news is real. I don’t mean just good news from the world of baseball (I know this article may not be considered good news to fans of the amazing Cleveland Indians baseball club!), but God’s Good News.

I’ve found people are ready to believe they are unworthy, because of their poor choices and sin, rather than they are loved by God. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” as Paul writes, is far easier for many of us to believe than “God so loved the world that God gave God’s Son to the world not to condemn the world, but that through Him the world might be saved.”

Sometimes good news—whether a World Series win or God’s amazing grace—seems too good to be true.

You may be sitting there trying to believe your team has won (or lost).

You may be sitting there trying to believe there might really be a God.

You may be sitting there trying to believe God loves you with an everlasting, steadying, gracious love.

You may be sitting there trying to believe the cross of Calvary is actually followed by the good news of the empty tomb.

I know.

Some things you think will never happen.

Guess what?

The Cubs won.

God loves you.

You’re forgiven.

Love wins and the tomb is empty!

Believe the Good news. It’s true.


Grace and peace,



  • Don’t forget to “Fall Back” this Saturday night with the end of Daylight savings time.  Set your clocks back one hour so that you don’t show up too early for church on Sunday!
  • Our Food Drive for MCUM has started!  As part of our ‘Season of Gratitude’ we are collecting non-perishable food and household items. Bring your items to any service from now until Nov 13th.  Look for collection boxes in the Atrium or Buskirk-Chumley Lobby. Greatest needs are canned fruit & chicken, cereal and jelly. Click here to view the full list of needs.
  • 1st @ First, for newcomers, is this Monday evening (Nov 7th) at 7:30pm in Thurston Parlor. If you’re new to The Open Door or First Methodist Church, this event is just for you!  No sign-up is required, simply join us for an informal one-hour opportunity to learn more about First Methodist and its mission, the pastors, and others new to the church.




Know people who are spiritually hungry but may hesitate when asked about their faith affiliation? Know people who admire the life and teachings of Jesus, but are turned off by some of the leaders and members of the organized Christian church? Know someone who would say “None” when asked about their religious affiliation?

This coming Sunday we continue our four week series of sermons addressing some of the concerns of the “nones.” We will explore how we can avoid majoring in religious trivial games and focus on living in the now (Luke 20:27-38).

Instead of letting the current crisis of the day controlling our lives, what would it look like if we were a community controlled not by today’s troubles but by the faithfulness of God? We’ll explore that on November 13th as we dig into Luke 21:5-19.

Finally, on Christ the King Sunday, November 20th, join me as we discuss how the church has tried to turn Jesus into an emperor rather than letting him be the Crucified Carpenter. What would it mean if we saw Jesus not as imperial ruler but a loving Suffering Servant (Luke 23:33-43)?

What kind of faith, what kind of church, would speak to the growing number of young adults who have stepped away?



If you haven’t turned in your Pledge Form for 2017, please show your love for God by turning your financial promise in this week. You can pick up a form at the Sanctuary doors or simply go on-line to fumcb.org/pledge2017.


News about the First Methodist building:

  • New speakers have been installed in the Sanctuary. Portions of the main speaker, hanging from the ceiling, have not worked for years.
  • Work is going on to repair some of the “valleys” on our roof.
  • While repairing the Washington Street stairs won’t “fix” the building, we are getting estimates on what it will cost to rebuild them. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

A few reminders about entering and exiting the building:

  • To better welcome guests and parishioners, and to provide a safe environment, the only entrances open on Sunday mornings are those with ushers or greeters staffing them.
  • The Northwest alley door can be used on Sunday mornings. All other alley doors are locked to help us provide the safest environment possible for children, youth and adults.
  • The wooden doors on 4th street should be used for emergency exit only.




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




Faith? Yes.
Spirituality? Yes.
Religious Preference? None.


Good News for the “Nones”

A rising number of Americans show interest in faith and spirituality, but list their religious preference as “None.” This Sunday, Pastor Mark will bring good news for the “nones” with a sermon titled “The None-Sense of Religious Trivia Games.”






First Methodist