Pastor’s BLOG

Lent 2019

Next week we begin the season in the church known as Lent. Lent marks the 40 days that precede Holy Week and Easter. In the Bible, the number 40 relates to: the days of rain during the great flood experienced by Noah and his family; the number of years spent by Israel seeking the Promised Land after the Exodus; and the number of days Jesus was in the Wilderness after his baptism and prior to beginning his ministry.
For us, the Season of Lent is an invitation to 40 days of renewal (“Lent” means “spring”) when we prepare ourselves to take in the Good News of Easter through deeper disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
 
We will begin our Lenten observance with our Ash Wednesday service on March 6, 2019 at 7 p.m. This service sets the tone of reflection and repentance that usually characterizes this season. During this service we will receive the imposition of ashes as a sign of our penitence.
 
The Greater Lexington Area Minister’s Association (GLAMA) will once again sponsor a 30 minute noontime worship service on six Wednesdays during Lent. Each week, pastors from different denominations will take turns leading the service. Following the service, there is a light lunch served for just $5. First United Methodist Church hosts the service and provides the meal. This service and lunch is a wonderful time to worship and fellowship with other Christians from the greater Lexington area.
 
Youth Sunday will fall during lent on Sunday, March 17th. We will have just one service at 11 a.m. so that our entire church can be blessed by the youth. Following the service, our Young Disciple Middle School Youth Group will provide a salad and potato bar lunch for the congregation.
 
Saturday, April 13th will provide us the opportunity to put our faith into action as we join with other churches in Touching Davidson County With Love through our day of service.
We encourage everyone to make plans to participate as we serve our community in the name of Jesus. More information about this day will be forthcoming.
 
On Palm Sunday, April 14th, GLAMA will sponsor the Palm Sunday Parade to the square with a brief service with participants from many of the downtown and area churches. The service begins at 12:15. This annual event is a much looked forward tradition in Lexington. We will have our annual Easter Egg hunt that afternoon.
 
On Thursday, April 18th, our brothers and sisters at First United Methodist Church will join us at 7 p.m. for a joint Maundy Thursday Service. We will be hosting the service this year with an anthem by our combined choirs. Dr. Weisner from FUMC will be preaching.
 
The big day of celebration will be Easter Sunday, April 21st, and we will just one service as we celebrate Easter together.
 
As you can see, the Lenten / Easter season is full of meaningful opportunities for developing one’s faith. I encourage you to participate as you are able. It is a blessing to be in such a vibrant faith community!
 
Grace and peace to you,
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee


Love is from God

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” 1 Jn 4:7.
 
This week we once again observe St. Valentines Day. Its roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15. Around 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius I recast this pagan festival as a Christian feast day declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine’s Day. So while we can joke that Valentines Day was created by the greeting card industry, it really does predate our contemporary observance by more than 1000 years.
 
As the song goes, “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing,” and it truly is – whether that love is between a husband and wife, a parent and a child, siblings, or friends. Yet, what is even more splendorous is the love that God has for us. In the first letter of John we read, “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 Jn 4:9–10.
God so loved us that he sent his only son to this world so that we might be reconciled to God through Jesus. We have been pursued by a loving God who provided a way for us to be forgiven, so that we might enjoy eternal fellowship with God. Truly, God is love!
 
John further elaborates that “since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another” 1 John 4:11. Our love for others grows out of God’s love for us. It is not based on how we feel about other people; instead, it is grounded on the action of God in history in the person of Jesus. We love because God loves.
 
Now, just as God’s love is about action, so ours needs to be as well. John exhorted his readers, “let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action” 1 Jn 3:18. As you approach Valentines Day this week, I encourage you to express your love with concrete action. Flowers, candies, and cards are great, but remember that love enfleshed by action is the model God gave us. Use your imaginations and actively share your love. I would also challenge you not to limit your loving action to just someone in your normal circle. Look for someone who may seem unlovable, and share the active, sacrificial love of Jesus with them.
 
I wish all of you the full blessings of our loving heavenly Father who loved us so much that he gave us Jesus!
 
Grace and peace to you.
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee


Be The Light in 2019

Every year when the calendar turns over, it provides us a psychological break with the past. We are given the opportunity to consider new endeavors and see the possibilities that a fresh year provides.
 
This past year (2018) was characterized by significant divisiveness and acrimony in our public dialogue. In my sermon on Sunday, I likened living in this time to Isaiah’s words of “being a people dwelling in a land of deep darkness.” I gave some examples of how the unrelenting access to news and the ability to respond instantly have led to people hurting one another with their words.
 
I suggested that the new year gives us an opportunity to lighten the darkness around us by being the light of Christ in four specific ways:
 
First, let us resolve to give less offense to others.
  • We can do this by becoming more polite with our words.
  • We can refrain from using hyperbolic language when referring to another person’s motives or actions.
  • We can go out of our way to be kind to another person, even if, and especially if, they have not been kind to us.
  • We can become people of grace who, like Jesus, are merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love
 
Secondly, let us resolve to take less offense from others.
Today it seems as if everyone is offended by everything and everyone. Any little perceived slight done by one person to another is interpreted as an intentional offense that must be met with outrage and the offending person must be put in their place.
 
  • Instead of taking offence at everything, let us strive to give other people the benefit of the doubt.
  • Let us not jump immediately to assigning evil intent or bad motives to another person’s words or actions.
  • Let us realize that we are not the arbiters and judges of every other person’s opinion.
  • Let us be people of grace we have been called to be by Jesus.
 
Thirdly, let us resolve to pass on less offense.
Before we press the “share” or “retweet” button, let us ask ourselves:
  • Will this thing add to the division and incivility of our culture?
  • Is the outrage or offense of another person that we are about to pass on truly worth adding to the anger and antagonism of our time.
  • Will it add to peace and understanding or will it inflame?
  • If it will inflame or add to the division, then let’s not do it.
 
More than 50 years ago, Hal David and Burt Bacharach wrote a song whose message still resonates today:

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.
 
So finally, as we seek to shine the light of Jesus in 2019, let us commit to loving other people with grace and abandon! The world needs us!
 
Grace and peace to each of you!
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee


God Came To Us

Merry Christmas!
Every year when Christmas rolls around I am reminded how amazing the story of Jesus’ birth is. Mary, a young Hebrew girl, hears a word from the Lord that she will conceive and bear the son of God. She faces embarrassment, ostracism, and even the possibility of death for breaking the norms of the culture, yet she persists with courage and faith. Joseph, a young man, is faced with a betrayal of trust from his betrothed, but he is told in a dream not to be afraid to take the young Mary as his wife. They make a long arduous journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and arrive just in time for her to give birth. Shepherds from surrounding fields receive a message from angels that the Savior has been born, and they head to Bethlehem to worship the new born king. Wise Men from the East also arrive and give gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They then flee to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod only to return after Herod’s death.
 
As wonderful as this story is, the most amazing thing to me is not what Mary and Joseph did, but rather what God did. The Creator of the universe and the one and only omnipotent God chose to limit himself, take on the form of a human, and come to live among us as one of us. God came to us!
Every other faith on earth focuses on what the human must do to reach God. Hindus strive to reunify their spirit with Brahman, Buddhists try to attain nirvana, and Muslims have 5 pillars to attain satisfaction and approval from Allah. However, the story of Christmas is about what God did to reach humans. The love of God came to us!
 
Jesus “though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God has something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in human likeness. And begin found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).
 
God came to us in Jesus because of love, and it is that wondrous love that we celebrate at Christmas. God is not some aloof being who created the world and then stood back to watch what would happen. No, God is intimately involved in the created world, and the story of Christmas is the best proof we have of God’s commitment to be present in the world. God’s loving involvement continues today in the presence of the Spirit.
 
So, wherever you find yourself this Christmas, let the story remind you that just as God came to us 2000 years ago in the person of the Christ child, God continues to come to us every day. You are not alone, and you are very much loved by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
 
My family and I wish each of you a very blessed and holy Christmas!
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee