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

Unshakeable, Unremitting Love

MAKING TIME FOR GOD IS THE BEST RESOLUTION


As we move from one year to the next, our minds turn to that inevitable question: What do I want to make of this year to come? We reflect on goals for ourselves and our family, self- improvement plans and, of course, resolutions. What would January 1 be without them?


I heard one guy say he already dreads the New Year. He reflected, “The holidays aren’t quite over and already I’m about 90 days ahead on my calories and 90 days behind on my bills.”


All of these ruminations are quite arbitrary of course. Our calendar did not come down from above. It is a human invention. There is no real reason why one day on the calendar should bear more significance than any other day of the year.


Yet still we invest the changing of the year with a great deal of meaning. It is a time of hope, of anticipation, of “vision-casting,” to use a business buzzword. Ready or not, the time for resolutions is upon us.


Why do we bother to make New Year’s resolutions in the first place? Why do we feel this need each year to set new goals? Maybe it is because resolutions help us to identify our priorities. They answer the question: how do I want to invest my time, energy, money, and talents in this New Year?


The New Year also reminds us that time is passing. It is up to each of us to maximize the potential of every moment. As author Henri Nouwen says, “We must learn to live each day, each hour, yes, each minute as a new beginning, as a unique opportunity to make everything new. Imagine that we could live each moment as a moment pregnant with new life.”


To be honest, I’m grateful for a new beginning. This past year was not the easiest of years. I am hoping and praying that we will now determine as a nation to protect our children and work towards a less violent society, to more effectively help those who struggle with mental illness and deepen our desire to spend our time on what matters most in life, rather than waste our time on the trivial.


“Be careful how you live,” advises Paul in Ephesians, “not as unwise people, but as wise, making the most of your time.” At one level, that is not hard wisdom to heed. We keep busy and move fast, cramming all we can into every day. Afraid to waste time, we fill time, use time, make time. If only we could stop time. But we can’t, so we keep moving, faster and faster, breathlessly pursuing...what? What was it that we wanted when we jumped on this treadmill of hyperactivity?


When Erma Bombeck was facing the end of her time on earth, she wrote a column titled, “If I Had My Life to Live Over.” Part of it reads: “There would always have been more I love you’s, more I’m sorry’s, but mostly I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it, live it, and never give it back.”


Making the most of your time means living fully in your time, whatever that time is and whatever that time may bring.


Ephesians gives us a helpful reminder about how to get the most out of our lives: “Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Wisdom comes from taking the time to be with God. Getting off the merry-go-round of obsessing long enough to be open to God. To recognize, for instance, that right here, in this moment, amid everything we have to do this day or this week, God is present.


We make the most of our time, in other words, by keeping time with God.


So, what will be your priorities this year? How will you spend your time? Taking some moments to reflect on those questions will lay the groundwork for a meaningful year, no matter what may come your way. I wish you blessings in 2020.


Grace and peace be yours,


    

 Pastor Roy        

 

 

 

     As we start a new year, we put away the decorations, reflect on the holiday gatherings, the presents and gifts, the celebrations...and prepare ourselves for the upcoming winter season. Often lost in this transition from Advent, and Christmas is the opportunity that the season of Epiphany brings for our spiritual awakening and renewal.


      The church celebrates Epiphany on Jan. 6 each year, 12 days after Christmas Day. On Epiphany, we recall the arrival of the wise men to visit the newborn baby Jesus. The season of Epiphany stretches from Jan. 6 until Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. The season varies in length because the date of Easter changes yearly. Epiphany might be as long as nine weeks or as short as four weeks. What is important for us is that for all the hope and joy that Advent and Christmas represent in our lives, the season of Epiphany is of equal importance to us, for it serves as a reminder that Christmas is just the opening chapter of our story of faith.


     “While secular culture generally celebrates Christmas on a single day, the church extends the celebration of Jesus’ birth until the arrival of the magi on Jan. 6. Most of us are familiar with the story of the wise men from the popular hymn “We Three Kings”. They follow a star to find the Christ child and bring him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Epiphany is a good opportunity to expound on some of the details of the story that make the magi so remarkable.


     First, the wise men are paying attention. They “observed his star at its rising” and realized it was a sign. Second, the wise men trust God’s guidance. They leave their country and travel a great distance without knowing exactly where they are going. After finding the Christ child, the three kings are warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and they diligently leave “for their own country by another road.” Third, the magi humbled themselves at the sight of an infant king in a manger: “They saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage.” Despite the odd circumstances – a baby born to an unwed, un-wealthy mother in a barn – the magi presented Jesus with gifts fit for a king born under very different circumstances.


     This beautiful, odd story foretells the many ways Jesus’ life will reverse worldly expectations. Despite how the Holy Family might appear to the townsfolk of Bethlehem, the magi’s visit identifies Jesus as a king. Furthermore, the magi have crossed international borders. They come from a foreign country to mark Jesus as a king for all people.” From the article “Three teaching points for Epiphany” – written by Sarah Bentley Allred


     My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, the birth of the baby Jesus is clearly the beginning...however His growth into the teacher, leader and savior of mankind, and the impact on our lives is the balance of this story, and it is a story of God’s love for us, his creation, and our growth and maturity in God’s love.


     Today we enter a new season...I urge you to read your Bible every day, and to “Always Pray and Never Give Up” (Luke 18:1)... and may this Epiphany season be the time that you see ever more clearly, the Glory of The Lord, your Savior, Jesus Christ, God’s greatest gift to us.


Welcome to Epiphany...Enjoy the Journey!

Brother Wayne Redman
Certified Lay Minister