Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Thinking Towards Sunday; March 1, 2015

Scriptures for this Sunday:

Hymns for this Sunday

  • Worton UMC:

    UMH 451 – Be Thou My Vision

    UMH 154 – All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

  • Christ UMC:

    UMH 359 – Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed

    UMH 337 – Only Trust Him

Snow Day Update; Sunday, February 22, 2015 @ 7:25 am

It is Sunday Morning, February 22, 2015 at 7:16 am.

I just spoke with both Council Chairs of Worton UMC and Christ UMC and following decisions were made:

  1. Due to road conditions (mainly icy roads and state of the parking lot) the worship service at Worton UMC is canceled.
  2. Due to road conditions (mainly icy roads and shortage of parking in downtown area) the Sunday School at Christ UMC is canceled.
  3. Christ UMC will be opened for anyone who wants to come for worship at 10 am. Please exercise caution and care if you decide to brave the elements and drive on icy roads.
  4. Pancake Brunch is postponed to next week, immediately following the service

Philos

Asher

Pancake Supper Postponed

Due to extreme weather conditions and the forecast for snow, the pancake supper scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 5 PM at Christ United Methodist Church has been postponed.

Instead we will have a Pancake brunch immediately following the worship service on Sunday, February 22, 2015.

Could you, the reader, help us out by making sure that everyone you can think of is aware of this change. Thanx in advance for your help.

Meanwhile, we are still scheduled to have an Ash Wednesday Service at Potter’s House Ministries on Wednesday, February 18 at 7 PM.  I am preaching and I hope to see many of you at the service.

Thinking Towards Ash Wednesday

This Wednesday, February 18, 2015, will mark the beginning of Lent and we will observe it with an ecumenical Ash Wednesday Service.

This service will be held at the sanctuary of Potter’s House Ministries under the leadership of Bishop Charles Tilghman. Pastors and elders from many different denominations will lead the combined service, Pastor Asher Tunik will bring the message.

Scriptures for Ash Wednesday: Johah 3; Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

You can read these Scriptures here: NIV2010 and ESV

Snow Day Update from Pastor Asher

Snow Day Update from Pastor Asher

I am posting this at 7:59 am on Sunday. February 15, 2015

I just talked with both Council Chairs of Worton UMC and Christ UMC and following decisions were made:

  1. Due to road conditions and extreme weather the worship service at Worton UMC is canceled.

  2. Due to road conditions and extreme weather the Sunday School at Christ UMC is canceled.

  3. Christ UMC will be opened for worship at 10 am. Please exercise caution and care if you decide to brave the elements.

I hope to see all of you on Tuesday for the pancake supper at Christ UMC (5 pm until pancakes are gone).

I hope to see all of you at 7 pm on Wednesday at the Potter House Ministries for the Ash Wednesday service.

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; February 15, 2015; Matthew 16:1-4

Scripture for this Sunday: Matthew 16:1-4

You can read it here: {Click Me}

Hymns for this Sunday:

UMH 133 – Leaning On the Everlasting Arms
UMH 88 – Maker in Whom We Live (Verse 3)
UMH 156 – I Love to Tell the Story

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The last three weeks we have been looking at miracles. There is not a human being alive today that has not asked for a miracle at one time or another. I also think that there is not a human being alive that has not experienced a miracle in his or her own life. Most miracles that we experience go unnoticed or unrecognized. That asking for miracles and not recognizing them when they occur happens IN PART because we live in a fallen world. We are free and able to make choices that put our actions either in accord with God’s guidance or against it; we call this ability “Free Will.” Since the Original Fall happened it is in our nature to make irrational decisions and choices that separate us from God.

Our good intentions, irrational decisions and wrong choices manifest themselves in conflict, illness, bad/unproductive habits, and addictions; and eventually they come to haunt us. It is usually during those uncomfortable and anxious times that we ask God for a miracle: a healing, a financial windfall, for a difficult situation to resolve itself, for something to happen that will take our pain away.

In the last three weeks we looked at three different miracles.

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We started this journey by looking at the healing of the paralyzed man and we saw that Jesus healed the man after seeing the faith of his friends. Not only did they have faith, they were willing to put their actions behind that faith (navigate crowds, take roof apart, carry their friend to Jesus). “When Jesus saw their faith” (Mark 2:5) he healed the man.

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Then we looked at the miracle of multiplication. The way the story goes, Jesus was trying to take some R&R in a secluded place. When Jesus and the Disciples got there, they discovered a multitude of people hoping to spend time with him and to hear him preach. We saw that there was some food on that lake-shore (all of the Gospels agree that there were at least five loaves and two fish); we also saw that there was definitely not enough food to feed everyone. We saw that when the available resources were “surrendered” to God, that is when the miracle of multiplication happened.

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Then last week we looked at the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman and we saw that the miracle of her daughter’s healing that she was asking for was rooted in discomfort and anxiety. That story hints that miracles happen when there is physical and emotional discomfort; miracles address that discomfort. Miracles are God’s response to our needs.

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To Summarize, in the last three weeks we saw that:

  • Miracles are rooted in our faith,

  • Miracles happen when we surrender ourselves, our resources and our needs to God,

  • Miracles meet and address our fears and anxieties and miracles address circumstances that are beyond our control. {“The Sign of Jonah” (Matt 16:4)}.

Proviso: Not all our needs are addressed by miracles.

Today I want to share with you some of the miracles that I witnessed on my life’s journey.

{Illustrations from the personal practice of ministry:
  –  Story from NICU
– Story from the mission trip to Cuba
– Story from cross-cultural trip to Nicaragua

}

What’s in it for us.

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1) None of us have complete understanding of God, or miracles, or God’s Grace and Love on our own. What each of us has is what we can see through the lens of our experiences; each of us has a piece of the puzzle. More adventuresome among us may have two or three pieces of the puzzle but none of us individually have the complete picture. When we come together, surrender our individual egos and understandings we learn from each other, we grow and mature in our understanding of God. John Wesley called this process a Journey of Christian Perfection (sanctifying grace).

2) We have a lot of noise in our lives. When we are willing and able to surrender our “noise” and our “possessions” to God, God uses us as instruments in God’s hands. {The Spirit Song}

3) Miracles happen to address a need, to address a discomfort, to address some sort of pain (in my experience more of an emotional than physical pain).

(Proviso – The Miracle of Transfiguration – (Matthew 17:1–9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28–36) – is the only miracle that I can think of at this time that did not address a need or discomfort)

God performs miracles and we are active participants in the outpouring of God’s Love and Grace. Miracles reinforce faith; through miracles God challenges ordinary people like you and I to strive to be the best versions of what God created us to be and in the process to perform extraordinary feats of faith that give us a glimpse of the loving nature of our Creator.

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{Illustrations}

From the Desk of Pastor Asher

Hebrew Scriptures record numerous miracles that took place during the ministry of Moses, Elijah and Elisha. The Gospels record close to forty miracles by Jesus, while the Early Christian Writings record miracles performed by the Disciples and followers in Jesus’ name. I am often asked whether God still performs miracles today and why the miracles that we experience today seem so unlike the miracles of Bible times.

In Acts 2:22 we hear Peter teach that “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know” (NIV2010). In 2 Corinthians 2:12, Paul taught that in his ministry he “persevered in demonstrating among [the people] the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles” (NIV2010). In Hebrews 2:4, Paul also taught that the Resurrection was confirmed when “ God … testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (NIV2010).

Miracles are lessons of faith. Not even once did we hear Jesus say, “Your decision, determination, resolution, ability, strength, intelligence, rituals, courage, moral efforts, etc. have made you well.” Instead we hear Jesus say, “Your faith has healed you” multiple times.

God performs miracles and we are active participants in the outpouring of God’s Love and Grace. Miracles reinforce faith; through miracles God challenges ordinary people like you and I to strive to be the best versions of what God created us to be and in the process to perform extraordinary feats of faith that give us a glimpse of the loving nature of our Creator. Our faith and relationship with God help us to recognize miracles when they happen around us. In Luke 16:31 Jesus taught, that those who “ … do not listen to Moses and the Prophets [read those who have no faith], they will NOT be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

A Scripture about miracles that inspires me personally is found near the end of the Gospel of John where the Evangelist penned these words, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31, NIV2010). The purpose of including miracles in the Scriptures is ultimately to challenge us to live abundant lives (John 10:10) to God’s glory and to strengthen our faith in God’s love and grace.

Thinking Towards Sunday; February 15, 2015

Scripture for this Sunday: Matthew 16:1-4

You can read it here: {Click Me}

Hymns for this Sunday:

UMH 133 – Leaning On the Everlasting Arms

UMH 88 – Maker in Whom We Live (Verse 3)

  • UMH 156 – I Love to Tell the Story

  • UMH 569 – We Have a Story to Tell to the Nations

UMH 88 (verse 3)

Spirit of Holiness, let all thy saints adore thy sacred energy,
and bless thine heart-renewing power.
No angel tongues can tell thy love’s ecstatic height,
the glorious joy unspeakable, the beatific sight.

UMH 569 (Verse 4)

We’ve a Savior to show to the nations,
who the path of sorrow hath trod,
that all of the world’s great peoples
might come to the truth of God,
might come to the truth of God.

For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
and the dawning to noonday bright;
and Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,
the kingdom of love and light

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; Matthew 15:21-28; February 8, 2015

Sunday Scripture is Matthew 15:21-28

You can read this Scripture here: NIV and ESV

Hymns for this Sunday:

UMH 452 – My Faith Looks Up to Thee

UMH 63 – Blessed Be the Name

UMH 88 – Maker in Whom We Live

This is a third Sermon in the Series.

To view sermon notes for sermon # 2 {Click ME}

To view sermon notes for sermon # 1 {Click Me}

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The last two weeks we have been looking at miracles. There is not a human being alive today that has not asked for a miracle at one time or another. This happens because we live in a fallen world. Humans are endowed with free will; we are free and able to make choices that put our actions either in accord with God’s guidance or against it. Sadly, since the original fall, we are predisposed to make irrational decisions and wrong choices. St. Bernard of Clairvaux said around 1150 C.E. that “the path to hell is paved [covered] with good intentions…”

These good intentions, irrational decisions and wrong choices manifest themselves in conflict, illness, bad/unproductive habits, and addictions; and they come to haunt us. It is usually during those uncomfortable and anxious times that we ask God for a miracle: a healing, a financial windfall, for a difficult situation to resolve itself, for something to happen that will take our pain away.

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We started this journey two weeks ago when we looked at the story of the paralyzed man who was lowered through the roof by his friends and the miracle of healing that was granted. We saw that before the healing happened, the friends of the paralyzed man reached towards God; we saw that Jesus saw their faith and that as a result there was a connection. That connection was experienced by humans as a miracle.

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Then last week we looked at the miracle of feeding the multitudes. We saw that there was some food on that lake-shore (all of the Gospels agree that there were at least five loaves and two fish); we also saw that there was definitely not enough food to feed everyone. We saw that when the available resources were “surrendered” to God, that is when the miracle of multiplication happened.

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That brings us to today’s reading. This story is recorded in two Gospels: Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30. Today’s reading is a story of the complexity of the faith of the Syro-Phoenician woman, and a testimony to her resilience and perseverance.

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Have you ever felt uncomfortable? I am talking about the times when we are out of our element. I am talking about being uncomfortable at a party where you do not know anybody. I am talking about being uncomfortable on a blind date that you felt obligated to go on. I am talking about feeling anxious and uncomfortable at a time when we are not sure what our role should be, or when we do not know how to act or to behave.

Who among us has not felt left out, lonely, vulnerable and unwelcome at one time or another. It is not a good feeling and most, if not all, of us will go to great lengths to avoid it.

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Today’s reading from Matthew tells us a story of a woman who made a choice to reach out to Jesus in spite of being uncomfortable and in spite of her fears and anxieties. Not only was she uncomfortable, she also made the disciples feel so uncomfortable that they asked Jesus to tell her to go away.

Let us reread today’s Scripture and pay more attention to the dialogue between Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician woman.

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Matthew 15: 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

I can hear and feel her anxiety, fear, frustration, and hope when she said, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.” Jesus recognized her faith in that response. As a result “her daughter was healed at that moment” (Matthew 15:28).

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Today’s miracle of healing is rooted in the Syro-Phoenician woman’s discomfort and anxiety. Today’s reading hints that no miracle ever happens because everything is honky-dory and we are at a place of comfort wearing soft slippers, sipping hot cocoa, enjoying the next episode of Downton Abbey. Miracles are God’s response to our needs, and being in need, whether physical or emotional, is uncomfortable. Miracles happen when we reach towards God in faith and in action. Miracles address needs that we have.

{Illustration: Not all our needs are addressed by miracles}

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Miracles are lessons about faith. I do not know of a miracle in the Scriptures (be it a healing, restoration, multiplication, etc.) that happened because of someone’s decision, determination, resolution, ability, strength, intelligence, rituals, courage, moral fortitude, etc. We do, however, hear Jesus say over and over, “Your faith has healed you.”

Every miracle that has happened in the past or is happening around us at present exposes our falleness and inability to save ourselves. Jesus’ words, “Your faith has healed you,” reinforce faith – faith in God’s Love and Grace towards us, God’s children. God challenges ordinary men and women like you and I to strive to be the best versions of what God created us to be, to step out on faith in prayer and in action, and in the process to perform extraordinary feats of faith that give us a glimpse of the loving nature of our Creator.

{Illustration from the Scriptures}

In the process we become consciously aware of the miracles that God is performing all around us all the time. As we experience God we are changed in the process.

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Miracles happen all around us. They begin with us bringing our problems to God, and they happen when we are willing and able to hear God’s guidance on our lives. Sometimes the answers that we receive from God are not what we hope them to be; in my personal experience the answers that God gives are more challenging than I ever expected. The miracles that I have experienced in my life are much more vivid, powerful, transformative, and exciting than I ever knew or thought to ask for.

{Illustration from the personal practice of ministry}

Next week I will share with you some of the miracles that I have witnessed on my journey.

Thinking Towards Sunday; February 8, 2015

Sunday Scripture is Matthew 15:21-28

You can read this Scripture here: NIV and ESV

Hymns for this Sunday:

UMH 452 – My Faith Looks Up to Thee

UMH 63 – Blessed Be the Name

UMH 88 – Maker in Whom We Live

Approximate Notes for the Sunday’s Message; Mark 6:31-44; Sunday, February 1, 2015

This Sunday the Community of Worton United Methodist Church will gather for Worship at 8:45 am

The Community of Christ United Methodist Church will join our sisters and brothers from the First United Methodist church in their sanctuary at 10 am. Pastor Tonya will lead the worship service. Pastor Asher will preach. Both communities will gather around the Communion Table to share in the Sacrament of the Holy Communion.

Scripture reading this Sunday is: Mark 6:31-44. You can read this week’s Scriptures at this link: NIV and ESV

Hymns for Worton UMC:

UMH 354 – I Surrender All

UMH 117 – O God, Our Help in Ages Past

Hymns for combined worship service at First UMC:

UMH 557 – Blest Be the Tie That Binds

UMH 87 – What Gift Can I Bring

UMH 694 – Come, Ye Thankful People Come

This is a second message in a series. The first Sermon in a series can be found at this link: {CLICK ME}

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Today I want to talk about miracles, what they are, and how to recognize them when they happen around us. Today’s Scripture reading describes a well-known miracle of Jesus. It is in top ten best known stories about our Lord and it is known all around the globe. This historical event is referenced in all four Gospels (Matthew 14: 13-21; Mark 6:31-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:5-15). I want to frame this conversation about miracles in the context of today’s Gospel reading. Today’s reading gives us a glimpse and a clue as to what constitutes a miracle and how to recognize miracles when they happen around us.

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I understand a miracle to be an event that cannot be explained by what we know and understand. When we imagine miracles happening, we think of humans as passive observers and God doing all the work; in my experience it is not how miracles happen. In my experience, God inspires human beings to play an active part in miracles around us. There is not a human being alive today that has not asked for a miracle at one time or another. This happens because we live in a fallen world.

Humans are endowed with free will; we are free and able to make choices that put our actions either in accord with God’s guidance or against it. Sadly, since the original fall, we are predisposed to make irrational decisions and wrong choices. St. Bernard of Clairvaux said around 1150 C.E. that “the path to hell is paved [covered] with good intentions…”

The combination of our individual good intentions, irrational decisions and wrong choices manifests itself in conflict, illness, bad/unproductive habits, and addictions. Outcomes of that combination eventually catches up with us; it comes to haunt us. It is usually during those times that we ask God for a miracle: a healing, a financial wind-fall, for a difficult situation to resolve itself, for something to happen that will take our pain away.

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I believe that miracles happen through faith when human beings like you and I are consciously aware of the presence of the Holy around us, when we acknowledge that we need to make meaningful changes {Illustration: UMH 354 – “I Surrender ALL”}, and are willing to reach out to God in meaningful action and for guidance. It is in that reaching towards God that God meets us halfway, and we experience the presence of the Holy at that time and in that place as a miracle.

Living in the United States of America in 2015, I am extremely cognizant of the fact that if I want to pick up and go somewhere, all I need to know where I want to go, to check the tire pressure on my car, pack my toothbrush, and anything else I may need I can get along the way.

That was not the case in ancient Judea. 7-Eleven and ACME were not invented yet. Even if you had money, more often than not, you could not get provisions because extra food was simply not available. That is why I think that most men and women who went to hear Jesus in today’s reading, had at least some provisions with them.

It may seem that what I am saying is that the miracle of feeding the multitude was really an exercise of sharing resources. I am NOT saying that. I think that what happened that day is much more nuanced and much more interesting.

I am convinced that most people who went to hear Jesus had at least some food with them. I am also convinced that there was not enough food to feed everyone. The Gospel of John tells us that when Jesus told his disciples to organize a meal, only one young man (John 6:9) stepped forward and offered what he had to the Disciples. I think that this young man was a catalyst for everyone else to step forward and offer what they had to Jesus. And when everyone stepped out on faith, God met them halfway by providing the miracle of multiplication, and they experienced that encounter as the Miracle of Feeding the Multitudes.

{Illustration: How many of us have the courage to surrender what we have to God and see what God will do with it?}

So what does all of this mean for us? What can we take out of today’s reading and apply to our lives?

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{Puzzle Illustration}

None of us can fully understand God. Let’s be honest, each of us is just a tiny speck in God’s Creation and God is bigger than all of Creation. Every one of us has our own understanding of who God is and every one of us has our own relationship with God. It is almost as if each of us has a piece of a puzzle. The only way for us to even catch a glimpse of the Holy around us, the only way for us to catch a glimpse of the whole picture, is to put our individual pieces together and marvel at God’s presence. I think that this is what happened there on the shore of that lake where Jesus landed.

As Jesus was teaching them they became consciously aware of the presence of the Holy around them. They acknowledged that understanding by recognizing that they needed to make meaningful changes in order to stay together and continue to be in God’s presence. They were willing to reach out to God in meaningful action by offering what they had to God, and for guidance. They were willing to be transformed and changed by the presence of God. It is in that reaching towards God that God met them halfway, and they experienced the presence of the Holy as the miracle that we know as Feeding the Multitude.

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Today’s Gospel reading brings us hope and the wonderful knowledge that when we step out in faith God will meet us half way. Today’s Gospel asserts that in at least some of the miracles we are not just passive observers; we are tools and conduits of God’s Love and Grace.

God has a dream and a vision for each one of us individually and for our community. In many cases the apathy in our lives and in our church communities stems from the fact that our dreams are not as vivid as our memories.

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Earlier I used an illustration of a puzzle. Each of us has a unique and highly personal understanding of who God is. Each of us has different gifts and graces. Each of us has different callings on our lives. Each of us IS and HAS a small piece of a puzzle that tells something about our Creator. Sometimes that piece of a puzzle looks like a can of food (i.e. Souper Bowl of Caring), sometimes that piece of a puzzle looks like stepping out and volunteering to do something in church, sometimes that piece of a puzzle looks like something else.

Today I want to leave you with a couple of questions. How vivid is “your piece of the puzzle?” How real is “your piece of the puzzle?” Do you want to see the whole picture, or just hold on to your piece of the puzzle?

My hope and prayer is that all of us are consciously aware of God’s presence in our lives in all times and all circumstances. My hope and prayer is that we are patient as we wait and listen for God’s guidance. My hope and prayer is that we step out in faith in search of God’s will for our community, and in that search we would recognize the renewal that God is offering.

{Transition to the Sacrament of the Holy Communion}

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From the Desk of Pastor Asher: What are Apportionments and Why Do United Methodist Churches Pay Them?

Occasionally I am asked to explain what apportionments are and why all United Methodist churches pay them.

The United Methodist Church is involved in a remarkable ministry around the world. While this sentence sounds correct and looks good on paper, it is not quite correct. I think that the right way to say it is, “The PEOPLE of the United Methodist Church are involved and do remarkable ministry around the world.” The truth is that organizations do not have a personal relationship with God, and organizations do not get involved in mission and outreach. It is the members of individual church communities who are inspired by God’s grace in their own lives to come together, nurture their relationship with God and with each other, acknowledge their differences, and unite in order to be tools in God’s hands in every corner of God’s Creation, with the aim to make disciples for Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:16-20) for the transformation of the world.

Together, we can extend a helping hand so that our neighbors can overcome formidable obstacles in times of crisis. Together, we can reach children, families and communities who have experienced devastation in the wake of disaster. Together, we can spread the gospel of peace and encourage cooperation locally, in our country and around the world. Together we can help survivors of natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes. Together we can invest in vulnerable communities, helping them to become self-sustaining. Although we cannot cure diseases like malaria, together we can implement the most effective solutions known at this time to prevent these diseases from claiming lives. Together we can equip the next generation of Christians to lead the Church and society.

There is energizing synergy in being united and focused by a common mission. By combining and focusing our efforts, each dollar spent goes further, reaches more people, and does more good.

Apportionments are the mechanism that allows the PEOPLE of the United Methodist Church to do together what we cannot do as individual communities. “Apportionments” is the amount that each individual church community is asked to pay in order to support the ministry of the people of the United Methodist Church as a whole; in other words, the apportionments that our church pays helps support regional, national, and international missions. Apportionments is one of many ways that the United Methodist Church comes together to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Apportionments remind us that our faith and devotion to God is bigger than our immediate area. Apportionments remind us that all of us share the same planet and are tasked with taking care of our living environment (Genesis 2:15). Apportionments remind us that all Methodists are connected to God and to each other whether they are down the road a piece or on the other side of the globe.

I think of apportionments as our share of the global ministry of the United Methodist Church. I also think of apportionments as the fuel for connectional ministry. Apportionments are one of the ways that we work together as neighbors and God’s children united by the blood of Jesus; it is a vehicle that brings God’s Love and Grace into every corner of the known world (Acts 1:8).

As a seminarian, one of my graduation requirements was to go on a cross-cultural trip. I ended up going to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. During that trip we witnessed first-hand the plight of the Christians in these countries, we heard their stories and we saw their challenges. When our delegation came back to the USA, we made a joint decision to start raising money for Christians in Nicaragua. I did several presentations around our conference; one student painted a poster and was selling prints; another student made and sold jewelry. After we finished our fund-raising efforts, all the money was sent to our hosting church in Nicaragua. Our hosts used the money to buy a dairy farm. The church sold milk and milk-products on the open markets and used the proceeds to fund free schools for orphans in the country where a majority of children did not have parents or resources to attend public school. In addition to free education, these children were also provided with breakfast and lunch; for most of them it was their only source of nutrition. While these efforts were done outside of the United Methodist Church’s Apportionment system, it is an illustration of how apportionments work; we put our efforts together and the results were bigger than the sum of what we could do individually.

Philos,

Asher

Information From Pen-Del

Some our local UM folks will be on Maryland Public TV. A documentary, called Reflect, Reclaim, Rejoice, will feature a video recording done at Macedonia UMC (Dames Quarter near Deal Island).  The video recording prepared by the General Board of Discipleship is a tribute to Preserving the Gift of Black Sacred Music.

Don’t miss this and share with 1,000 of your closest friends.  This program on Maryland Public TV will be seen at 5:00 pm on Sunday (Feb. 1, 2015).

From the Desk of Pastor Asher

NIV2010 John 21: 25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

During his life on Earth, Jesus performed many miracles; more than we can count. I suspect that if every miracle that our Lord performed during his ministry was recorded, our Bibles would be too heavy to lift.

Miracles bear lessons of faith. Again and again we hear Jesus say, “Your faith has healed you.” He did not say, “Your decision, determination, resolution, ability, strength, intelligence, rituals, courage, moral efforts, etc. have made you well.” Every miracle that happened in the past or is happening around us at present exposes our fallenness and inability to save ourselves. Jesus’ words, “Your faith has healed you,” reinforce faith — faith in God’s Love and Grace towards us, his children. To perform miracles, God challenges ordinary people like you and I to strive to be the best versions of what God created us to be and in the process to perform extraordinary feats of faith that give us a glimpse of the loving nature of our Creator.

God has a dream and a vision for each one of us individually and for our community. In many cases the apathy in our lives and in our church communities stem from the fact that our dreams are not as vivid as our memories. It is so much easier to focus on our pains and sorrows than on our blessings. Nehemiah warned about it when he preached, “The joy of the Lord is your strength…” (Nehemiah 8:10, also Psalm 28:7). What brings us hope is the wonderful knowledge that if we step out in faith God will meet us half way. Sometimes miracles happen in a way that we recognize them, and sometimes our own hubris and fallenness gets in the way and we pat ourselves on the back thinking that we accomplished something on our own.

My hope and prayer is that all of us are consciously aware of God’s presence in our lives in all times and all circumstances. My hope and prayer is that we step out in faith in search of God’s will for our church and for our community, and in that search we will recognize the renewal that God offers and brings in our midst.

Thinking Towards Sunday; February 1, 2015

This Sunday the Community of Worton United Methodist Church will gather for Worship at 8:45 am

The Community of Christ United Methodist Church will join our sisters and brothers from the First United Methodist church in their sanctuary at 10 am. Pastor Tonya will lead the worship service. Pastor Asher will preach. Both communities will gather around the Communion Table to share in the Sacrament of the Holy Communion.

Scripture reading this Sunday is: Mark 6:31-44. You can read this week’s Scriptures at this link: NIV and ESV

Hymns for Worton UMC:

UMH 354 – I Surrender All

UMH 117 – O God, Our Help in Ages Past 

Hymns for combined worship service at First UMC:

UMH 557 – Blest Be the Tie That Binds

UMH 87 – What Gift Can I Bring

UMH 694 – Come, Ye Thankful People Come

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