Centerport United Methodist Church
            The Pastors' messages comes from the May issue of our monthly church newsletter - The Focus.

One Easter at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., a woman named Diane told her story. It was a
story of rebellion and attempted rejection, but also a tale of the power of unremitting love. Diane grew up in
a good, loving home – family outings, birthday parties, softball games, dance classes, even church. But for
some reason Diane never felt good about herself, especially when she reached adolescence. In high school
the symptoms appeared: drugs, alcohol, staying out all night, lying and stealing.
The family was increasingly in crisis as they tried to reach out to Diane while at the same time attempting to
maintain some stability in their life together, to hold on to the values that they believed in as a family. There
were the rounds of counseling sessions, rehab for Diane, tough love, tears and prayers. But the more her
parents reached out to her, the more rebellious Diane became.
Finally, she ran away from home. She started living the kind of life that she now says she doesn’t even want to
talk about. In her late twenties, things began to change. Diane talked about what had happened to her.
“At first, I felt my parents’ love was unnecessary. It was smothering love. Then as things got worse, I began to
feel unlovable. I think I resented my parents because if I was unlovable, then I could do what I wanted, and it
wouldn’t matter. But as long as I knew I was loved, I wasn’t free to do my thing. So I needed to destroy their
love in order to be free. But they never stopped loving me. Even when I got arrested, and they refused to bail
me out of jail, I could see the pain of love in their eyes. Now I realize how much I needed their love, and that
it was their love and prayers that kept me alive all those years. What amazes me most of all is that my worst
could not destroy their love for me.”
Easter operates on many levels—the rebirth of hope, the triumph of life over death, the opportunity to begin
again, and again, and again.
But Easter also displays a God whose love for us is like a parent’s love for a prodigal child. Even if we reject
God, God will never reject us, never turn away from us. Even when we do evil things, God, out of pure love,
will find a way to make something good come from it. “What amazes me most of all is that my worst could
not destroy their love for me.”
As Mother’s Day approaches, let us remember those whose love for us was never in question, no matter
how far we roamed from home. And let us pledge to be bearers of this unshakeable love for others.
During this Resurrection season, let us remember the God whose love for us never diminishes, never
wavers, never dies. And let us turn to this God to find what good can be born from the worst things we do.
Mother’s Day, Easter season, endless life—just imagine that God can feel about us the way we feel about our
own children, and you begin to get a sense of just how far our loving Heavenly Parent will go for us. It’s really
pretty amazing.
UNSHAKEABLE, UNREMITTING LOVE

One Easter at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., a woman named Diane told her story. It was a story of rebellion and attempted rejection, but also a tale of the power of unremitting love. Diane grew up in a good, loving home – family outings, birthday parties, softball games, dance classes, even church. But for some reason Diane never felt good about herself, especially when she reached adolescence. In high school the symptoms appeared: drugs, alcohol, staying out all night, lying and stealing.


The family was increasingly in crisis as they tried to reach out to Diane while at the same time attempting to maintain some stability in their life together, to hold on to the values that they believed in as a family. There were the rounds of counseling sessions, rehab for Diane, tough love, tears and prayers. But the more her parents reached out to her, the more rebellious Diane became.


Finally, she ran away from home. She started living the kind of life that she now says she doesn’t even want to talk about. In her late twenties, things began to change. Diane talked about what had happened to her. “At first, I felt my parents’ love was unnecessary. It was smothering love. Then as things got worse, I began to feel unlovable. I think I resented my parents because if I was unlovable, then I could do what I wanted, and it wouldn’t matter. But as long as I knew I was loved, I wasn’t free to do my thing. So I needed to destroy their love in order to be free. But they never stopped loving me. Even when I got arrested, and they refused to bail me out of jail, I could see the pain of love in their eyes. Now I realize how much I needed their love, and that it was their love and prayers that kept me alive all those years. What amazes me most of all is that my worst
could not destroy their love for me.”


Easter operates on many levels—the rebirth of hope, the triumph of life over death, the opportunity to begin again, and again, and again.


But Easter also displays a God whose love for us is like a parent’s love for a prodigal child. Even if we reject God, God will never reject us, never turn away from us. Even when we do evil things, God, out of pure love, will find a way to make something good come from it. “What amazes me most of all is that my worst could not destroy their love for me.”


As Mother’s Day approaches, let us remember those whose love for us was never in question, no matter how far we roamed from home. And let us pledge to be bearers of this unshakeable love for others.


During this Resurrection season, let us remember the God whose love for us never diminishes, never wavers, never dies. And let us turn to this God to find what good can be born from the worst things we do.


Mother’s Day, Easter season, endless life—just imagine that God can feel about us the way we feel about our own children, and you begin to get a sense of just how far our loving Heavenly Parent will go for us. It’s really pretty amazing.

One Easter at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., a woman named Diane told her story. It was a
story of rebellion and attempted rejection, but also a tale of the power of unremitting love. Diane grew up in
a good, loving home – family outings, birthday parties, softball games, dance classes, even church. But for
some reason Diane never felt good about herself, especially when she reached adolescence. In high school
the symptoms appeared: drugs, alcohol, staying out all night, lying and stealing.
The family was increasingly in crisis as they tried to reach out to Diane while at the same time attempting to
maintain some stability in their life together, to hold on to the values that they believed in as a family. There
were the rounds of counseling sessions, rehab for Diane, tough love, tears and prayers. But the more her
parents reached out to her, the more rebellious Diane became.
Finally, she ran away from home. She started living the kind of life that she now says she doesn’t even want to
talk about. In her late twenties, things began to change. Diane talked about what had happened to her.
“At first, I felt my parents’ love was unnecessary. It was smothering love. Then as things got worse, I began to
feel unlovable. I think I resented my parents because if I was unlovable, then I could do what I wanted, and it
wouldn’t matter. But as long as I knew I was loved, I wasn’t free to do my thing. So I needed to destroy their
love in order to be free. But they never stopped loving me. Even when I got arrested, and they refused to bail
me out of jail, I could see the pain of love in their eyes. Now I realize how much I needed their love, and that
it was their love and prayers that kept me alive all those years. What amazes me most of all is that my worst
could not destroy their love for me.”
Easter operates on many levels—the rebirth of hope, the triumph of life over death, the opportunity to begin
again, and again, and again.
But Easter also displays a God whose love for us is like a parent’s love for a prodigal child. Even if we reject
God, God will never reject us, never turn away from us. Even when we do evil things, God, out of pure love,
will find a way to make something good come from it. “What amazes me most of all is that my worst could
not destroy their love for me.”
As Mother’s Day approaches, let us remember those whose love for us was never in question, no matter
how far we roamed from home. And let us pledge to be bearers of this unshakeable love for others.
During this Resurrection season, let us remember the God whose love for us never diminishes, never
wavers, never dies. And let us turn to this God to find what good can be born from the worst things we do.
Mother’s Day, Easter season, endless life—just imagine that God can feel about us the way we feel about our
own children, and you begin to get a sense of just how far our loving Heavenly Parent will go for us. It’s really
pretty amazing.

If you have ever been to a circus, you’ve seen
the huge bull elephants chained to a peg in the
ground. It looks like the elephant could easily
pull the peg out of the ground and escape, but
it does not try. Why? As a baby, elephants are
tied to huge stakes that they cannot yank out
of the earth. Weeks of pulling and tugging
teach that the struggle is useless and left only a
trench around the stake. Resistance is futile.
Though the elephant grows to possess great
strength, it remembers only the futility of past
efforts and does not even try to escape. It is
conditioned to failure.
It is time now to begin another year—so
soon, with much left undone. Yet we carry
with us emotional baggage that weighs us
down and makes it difficult to move forward.
Maybe we’ve strained so hard to free
ourselves from the hindrances that confine us
that we don’t try to change the things that
have held us back in the past. We’ve become
so accustomed to where we are that just
accept it and don’t expect more.
Poet Lucille Clifton wrote a poem about
“running into a new year” that expresses this
tendency to hold on to the past:
I am running into a new year and the old years
blow back
like a wind that I catch in my hair
like strong fingers
MOVING AHEAD
like all my old promises
and it will be hard to let go of what I said to
myself
about myself
when I was sixteen and twenty-six
and thirty-six even forty-six
but I am running into a new year
and I beg what I love and I leave
to forgive me.
Those “strong fingers” make it hard to let go
and move on. We hold tightly to our old
thoughts, opinions and feelings. Memories
haunt us. Anger conflicts us. Guilt burdens us.
Like the peg that chained the baby elephant in
place, they give ground grudgingly.
Yet, we can’t run into a new year chained to
the past. We can’t be weighed down by
regret or resentment. We need to loosen
those “strong fingers” that keep us pinned
down to the past. We need to give thanks for
our lives and grow into the fullness of who
God created us to be. Prayer will help when
our spirits falter. So will the love of good
people, as will the knowledge that the
struggles we’ve endured in the past have
strengthened us to face the new challenges of
tomorrow. The peg is pulled out of the
ground. Can you make a run for it?
Grace and peace be yours this New Year,

Christmas is coming, and I’m feeling quite
unprepared. Maybe it’s all the effort Gina and I
have made now that our son is getting married
this month. Maybe it’s the resistance I feel to what
I know is coming: all the business that the season
entails. Maybe it’s the lingering effects of the year
that has had so many joys and so many difficult
times. I am a little tired.
It’s odd that I should feel unprepared this year.
We’re probably in the best shape for Christmas at
church that we’ve been in since I’ve been here.
We have some wonderful services and studies
prepared, and some great events planned over
the next several weeks. It’s all great stuff.
Still, much as I love these celebrations, the
“holiday spirit” has yet to catch hold of me. Maybe
it’s avoided you so far, too. Perhaps it won’t
arrive in the same way at all this year. Or maybe
another spirit will come upon us, one having less
to do with parties and presents and decorations
and more to do with God.
Christmas has become increasingly problematic in
our culture. More people are saying that they
enjoy the season less. In a Gallup poll taken a few
years ago, fully 85% of respondents said that
Christmas has become far too commercialized,
with not enough emphasis on its true spiritual
meaning. The percentage of Americans who say
that they would enjoy the holiday more if people
did not exchange gifts grew to 42% from 28% six
years prior.
Except for the merchants who depend upon our
Christmas spending for their success, maybe this
growing dissatisfaction with the way we celebrate
the season is not a bad thing. Perhaps we are
beginning to wake up to the reality that buying
and consuming will not provide us the true joy
and peace we crave at Christmas. That comes
from another, a deeper and quieter place.
So, if we are not prepared for Christmas, it could
be a good sign. It won’t be the end of the world if
we don’t put on the perfect party or purchase the
just the right gift for everyone on our list. Maybe
Martha Stewart can do it, but is that really the
point?
If your life has a little disorder and chaos in it this
year, thank God. For, just as at the beginning of
creation, it is God who brings order out of chaos.
Not you or I, hard as we may try to keep
everything under our control. Like life, Christmas
will never be all wrapped up like a pretty package.
Just looking at the first Christmas will tell us that
much. A barn surrounded by animals wasn’t the
neatest and cleanest place for the Savior of the
world to spend his first night on earth. But it was
magnificent all the same, just how God chose it to
be.
We may never be ready for Christmas. But that’s
just fine. It is into our not-so-readiness that Christ
comes. Into our depleted spirits, our worried or
even saddened hearts, our over-done, 24/7
chaotic lives, He comes. Not by our determined
efforts, but by God’s grace. And the true gift of
Christmas is shared once again - Love.
Christmas is coming, and I’m feeling quite
unprepared. Maybe it’s all the effort Gina and I
have made now that our son is getting married
this month. Maybe it’s the resistance I feel to what
I know is coming: all the business that the season
entails. Maybe it’s the lingering effects of the year
that has had so many joys and so many difficult
times. I am a little tired.
It’s odd that I should feel unprepared this year.
We’re probably in the best shape for Christmas at
church that we’ve been in since I’ve been here.
We have some wonderful services and studies
prepared, and some great events planned over
the next several weeks. It’s all great stuff.
Still, much as I love these celebrations, the
“holiday spirit” has yet to catch hold of me. Maybe
it’s avoided you so far, too. Perhaps it won’t
arrive in the same way at all this year. Or maybe
another spirit will come upon us, one having less
to do with parties and presents and decorations
and more to do with God.
Christmas has become increasingly problematic in
our culture. More people are saying that they
enjoy the season less. In a Gallup poll taken a few
years ago, fully 85% of respondents said that
Christmas has become far too commercialized,
with not enough emphasis on its true spiritual
meaning. The percentage of Americans who say
that they would enjoy the holiday more if people
did not exchange gifts grew to 42% from 28% six
years prior.
Except for the merchants who depend upon our
Christmas spending for their success, maybe this
growing dissatisfaction with the way we celebrate
the season is not a bad thing. Perhaps we are
beginning to wake up to the reality that buying
and consuming will not provide us the true joy
and peace we crave at Christmas. That comes
from another, a deeper and quieter place.
So, if we are not prepared for Christmas, it could
be a good sign. It won’t be the end of the world if
we don’t put on the perfect party or purchase the
just the right gift for everyone on our list. Maybe
Martha Stewart can do it, but is that really the
point?
If your life has a little disorder and chaos in it this
year, thank God. For, just as at the beginning of
creation, it is God who brings order out of chaos.
Not you or I, hard as we may try to keep
everything under our control. Like life, Christmas
will never be all wrapped up like a pretty package.
Just looking at the first Christmas will tell us that
much. A barn surrounded by animals wasn’t the
neatest and cleanest place for the Savior of the
world to spend his first night on earth. But it was
magnificent all the same, just how God chose it to
be.
We may never be ready for Christmas. But that’s
just fine. It is into our not-so-readiness that Christ
comes. Into our depleted spirits, our worried or
even saddened hearts, our over-done, 24/7
chaotic lives, He comes. Not by our determined
efforts, but by God’s grace. And the true gift of
Christmas is shared once again - Love.

AS SIMPLE AS ONE, TWO THREE
You may very well remember the financial crisis of
the American car companies several years back. The
“Big Three” – Ford, GM, and Chrysler - were on the
verge of financial collapse until the federal
government stepped in to bail them out.
You may also remember the debate over the wisdom
of the bailout. Some argued that the companies
should be allowed to fail the way others do when
faced with bankruptcy. Others said that failure of the
Big Three would have devastating consequences on
the U.S. and global economy and lead to the loss of
too many jobs.
No matter how you feel on the subject (I was
personally in favor of saving those jobs), you would
have to agree that the demise of the Big Three would
have shaken things up in this country. Even the
prospect was somewhat traumatic.
We Christians have a different “Big Three” to think
about. It’s called the Holy Trinity, and it is far more
reliable than car companies or anything else we’ve
come up with. In fact, it’s eternal. No bailouts, no
rescue packages, no political maneuvering is needed.
Just faith in a God who is expressed in a three-fold
way as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
As Christians, we love to think in threes. So it’s no
wonder that we’ve come up with a Trinitarian
approach to Stewardship. Our Commitment
Campaign each year focuses on three important
aspects of giving: Time, Talents, and Treasures.
Like our understanding of God, it is a holistic
approach to stewardship—three aspects of the same
central concept.
Time—We’ve all got it. We complain about
never having enough time to do all that we want.
But there is time to do what we can. It’s really a
question of our priorities. Is God important
enough in my life to set aside some of my
precious minutes or hours to worship or to
serve? My belief is that we all have time to do
something for God and/or the church if we want
to. It’s just a question of choosing to do it.
Talents—This is a truly gifted congregation. And
I’m not just talking about singers or builders or
computer experts. Every person in our church is
gifted by God with something to share for the
benefit of someone else, whether it’s cooking a
meal, visiting a friend, clearing a lot, serving on a
committee, or one of the many other talents. The
opportunities, and the needs, are endless.
Treasures—Times are tough for a lot of us.
Money is tight; expenses are increasing. But to be
honest, we’re still pretty rich. Most of us have
some discretionary income to spend on things of
importance to us. We put our money where our
values are. People of faith place a high value on
God, who has really given us everything to begin
with.
By these measures, our church has a pretty good
hold on the Stewardship Trinity. We have a devoted,
giving, multi-talented congregation full of folks who
share their three-fold resources in deeply faithful
ways.
I’m hoping that if you are one of those good
stewards and that you will pray and ask God to help
you offer even more. If you haven’t yet taken the
step into the Trinity of Giving, I want to urge you to
make a move in that direction. You will find there a
surprising ability to give far more than you thought
you could and a God who never stops giving to you.
We all have been given much to build our lives upon,
so many blessings to enjoy. Organizing ourselves on
the basis of what we can give in return multiplies that
feeling of blessedness. Thankfully, that’s something
we can all do. It’s really as simple as one, two, three.




Pastor Roy


 

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SOCIAL JUSTICE - SO, WHAT CAN I DO?

 

 

Continue the dialogue. For now, one thing you can do is share your thoughts and feelings about what is happening. Talk to your family, your neighbors, fellow church members, and friends about what is going on in our society. What does Scripture say? What is our call?

 

 

You ca Learn more. A few resources are listed here: http://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/ERASE_Racism-long-island-district-facts.pdf.

 

 

https://msw.usc.edu/mswusc-blog/diversity-workshop-guide-to-discussing-identity-power-and-privilege/.

 

 

McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Independent School 49, no. 2 (1990): 31-35. https://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/mcintosh.pdf

 

 

3 ½ Minutes 10 Bullets, Marc Silver, dir. (2015). http://www.takepart.com/three-and-a-half -minutes-ten-bullets.

 

 

http://www.indigenouspeople.net/blackwht.htm.

 

 

Glaude Jr., Eddie J. Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2016.

 

 

O’Neil, Cathy, Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. New York: Crown Publishers, 2016.

 

 

Wilson-Hartgrove, Jonathon. Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion. Westmont, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 2018.

 

 

Join our efforts to eradicate racism. Our church is working to join groups and find more resources in our community to continue the efforts to listen, learn, connect, and take action. Stay tuned for more information to come.

 


Continue the dialogue. For now, one thing you can do is share your thoughts and feelings about what is
happening. Talk to your family, your neighbors, fellow church members, and friends about what is going on in
our society. What does Scripture say? What is our call?
You can learn more. A few resources are listed here:
http://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/ERASE_Racism-long-island-district-facts.pdf.
https://msw.usc.edu/mswusc-blog/diversity-workshop-guide-to-discussing-identity-power-and-
privilege/.
McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Independent
School 49, no. 2 (1990): 31-35.
https://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/mcintosh.pdf
3 1⁄2 Minutes 10 Bullets, Marc Silver, dir. (2015). http://www.takepart.com/three-and-a-half-minutes-
ten-bullets.
http://www.indigenouspeople.net/blackwht.htm.
Glaude Jr., Eddie J. Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. New York: Crown
Publishing Group, 2016.
O’Neil, Cathy, Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality
and Threatens Democracy. New York: Crown Publishers, 2016.
Wilson-Hartgrove, Jonathon. Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion.
Westmont, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 2018.
Join our efforts to eradicate racism. Our church is working to join groups and find more resources in our
SO, WHAT CAN I DO?
Continue the dialogue. For now, one thing you can do is share your thoughts and feelings about what is
happening. Talk to your family, your neighbors, fellow church members, and friends about what is going on in
our society. What does Scripture say? What is our call?
You can learn more. A few resources are listed here:
http://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/ERASE_Racism-long-island-district-facts.pdf.
https://msw.usc.edu/mswusc-blog/diversity-workshop-guide-to-discussing-identity-power-and-
privilege/.
McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Independent
School 49, no. 2 (1990): 31-35.
https://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/mcintosh.pdf
3 1⁄2 Minutes 10 Bullets, Marc Silver, dir. (2015). http://www.takepart.com/three-and-a-half-minutes-
ten-bullets.
http://www.indigenouspeople.net/blackwht.htm.
Glaude Jr., Eddie J. Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. New York: Crown
Publishing Group, 2016.
O’Neil, Cathy, Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality
and Threatens Democracy. New York: Crown Publishers, 2016.
Wilson-Hartgrove, Jonathon. Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion.
Westmont, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 2018.
Join our efforts to eradicate racism. Our church is working to join groups and find more resources in our
community to continue the efforts to listen, learn, connect, and take action. Stay tuned for more information
to come