A Moment of Grace
As the extreme cold retreated and the snow began to melt away with the warmer rain of last week, I sat in our living room attending to some of the tasks of the day. The sun was shining brightly in the window, becoming almost blinding. I stood up to adjust the blind and saw a wonderful sight - especially after the cold we had just endured. Birds - not huddling for shelter in the bushes but out in the open. In fact, a dozen or more small birds were gathered around the bird bath we have in the front yard. What had been a solid block of ice for a week or more had melted into a clear pool of water, and the birds were making the most of this winter's reprieve. Several splashed together bathing in the middle of the water while others sipped from the edge. More flitted back and forth between the bath and the nearby barren dogwood waiting for their own turn. They were making the most of a bright, warm day in the midst of the harsh, dreary cold of winter. Although winter would surely return, they were enjoying the grace of the moment.
How often does God offer us a moment of grace in the midst of our lives from the burdens of busyness, brokenness, stress, sorrow, and worry that fill so many of our days? Do we take the time to celebrate God's grace even if it might make us look a little silly like tiny birds that have forgotten that winter is not yet over? May you find joy in the grace God gives you today, for God's mercies are new each day!
Blessings on the journey,
Called: Our Way or God's Way
Over the next few weeks, we will explore how God calls us to join the work of Jesus in the world as we learn more about the Apostle Paul's journey into ministry.
Sunday's Sermon Snippet: Our Way or God's Way?
How did Paul become the church's worst nightmare persecuting Jesus' followers instead of the great missionary he was called to be? How did Paul go from being a boy filled with potential for great things and sent to Jerusalem to study God's ways to a man being smuggled to a boat carrying him back to the refuge of home in Tarsus? The earliest story we have about Paul (originally known by his Hebrew name Saul) finds him as a young man, newly trained by the great rabbi Gamaliel and seeking to make his mark in the world as a zealous follower of God. Stephen, a deacon set apart by the church to serve the poor, had been arrested and tried for blasphemy. In defense, Stephen points out how generations of God's people have rejected the prophets and have now murdered the Anointed One that they foretold. Upset, the council of religious rulers take him out to be stoned, first by the witnesses to his supposed crime and then by the crowd. Paul oversees the execution as the witnesses lay their coats at his feet and approves of what they have done. From there, Paul leads a great persecution against the church, going house to house, and dragging Jesus' followers to prison one by one and family by family. All but the apostles flee from Jerusalem to the surrounding countryside. If Paul wanted so desperately to follow God, how did he get it so wrong and become a persecutor of those following God's way? It is important to remember that Paul's violent actions come not because he is inherently evil but because he is following the religious law he has been taught about blasphemy. Young ambition aside, he persecutes the church because he believes it is the righteous thing to do. Taking a step back from Paul's story, there was another man whose desire to do the righteous thing stood in the way of God's purposes for Jesus - Joseph. When Joseph found out his betrothed was pregnant with a child that was not his, he planned to do what he thought was right - to dismiss her. He wanted to do so quietly to avoid any embarrassment or harm for Mary, but still he was going to send her on her way as he was right to do. Yet when he is told in a dream to marry her and take the child as his own, he does this new thing - the truly righteous thing. He was able to hear a new word from God and follow it. Paul, on the other hand, heard a new word from Stephen, one he should have heeded, but continued upon the path he had already chosen. That is difficulty in discerning what God wants us to do. It is not something we figure out and then is settled for the rest of our lives. Discerning God's way means listening for a new word everyday - a new word that may carry us in a very different direction than we thought we were headed.
Financial Peace Learning Opportunity
Pastor Jim is planning to offer a Financial Peace University class this spring. This nine-week class with resources from Dave Ramsey covers eliminating debt, increasing saving, budgeting, and giving to make a difference. The cost will be around $100. If you are interested or want more details, please let Pastor Jim know.
CPR/AED & First Aid Classes
CPR & AED class, Monday, February 20, 6:00 - 8:15 p.m.
First Aid class, Saturday, February 25, 9:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Both courses are 2-year certification with American Heart Association and are first come first serve. Space is limited, pre-registration is required with payment to secure your reservation. $8.00 for one class or $16 for both. Discounted rate is for church family only. If the courses have availability after February 2, they will be advertised to community. Please arrive 10 minutes prior to the course and wear comfortable attire for skills testing. Contact Dinah to pre-register
Living in Community
Thank you to Linda, Donnie, Jason, and Lauren for serving communion in worship this Sunday!
This Week at Port Church
Tuesday, January 17
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Wednesday, January 18
7:00-8:00 pm - Youth Group
Thursday, January 19
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Sunday, January 22
9:30 am - Worship: "Against the Goads"
11:00 am - Sunday School
Mondays at 9:30 and Tuesdays at 7 pm starting January 23
Four-week Bible Study on Parables - See Dianna for more details!
Wednesday, January 25
Wednesday at the Port resumes!
Sunday, January 29
Join us for Progressive Hearts - an easy dice party game for all ages! Prizes and snacks!
Let Pastor Jim know if you are interested in coming.
Youth JUMP! Retreat
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!