Theme for 2023: Faith Forward – The Year of Extraordinary Faith!
Recently I had the honor of staying at the Alex Haley Farm in Clinton, TN. Alex Haley was the author of the book Roots which traced his family history back to Africa. It was later turned into a mini-series, and is definitely worth checking out. The farm has several houses, a lodge, and a beautiful chapel built in the shape of an ark! It is truly a place of peace and tranquility, which was Haley’s goal.
The house in which I stayed had four bedrooms, and there were three of us staying there. But the last night, my housemates left early to go back home, and I spent the final night on the farm in a house, in a wooded area, alone. The next house with people in it was further down the road. Let me just say that it was an unsettling feeling at first. Every scary movie I’ve ever seen or heard about came to my mind!
Typically, you don’t lock the doors on the farm because it’s gated and secure, and residents come and go. But this night, since I was alone, I made sure that all doors were locked! I had such a sense of being alone, by myself - just me, myself, and I. And can I tell you that the silence was deafening! And when night falls on the farm, it is DARK!
I turned on the bathroom light to give me company, but it was too bright shining into the room. Then I noticed that there was an inner light, just for the shower. Yes! I turned that light on and it was just enough of a nightlight and just enough of a reminder to me that I was not alone. Just because no one was in the house physically didn’t mean that I was alone spiritually.
Friends, we are not alone. There once was a woman who had been brought before Jesus because the Pharisees accused her of adultery. Imagine how alone she must have felt. And while she was guilty, the Pharisees were only using her for their own selfish motives. When people use us and seem to get away with it, we can feel so alone.
At first, Jesus was silent, scribbling something in the dirt. And sometimes when God seems to be silent in our lives, we tend to think that He’s not there; that we are alone, left to fend for ourselves. What we sometimes forget is that God made a promise…
“…the Lord your God goes with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
And Jesus confirmed that promise…
“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
After writing in the dirt, Jesus confronted the Pharisees with their own self-righteousness. Then He tenderly turned to the woman and forgave her sins, and set her on a new path. And immediately after doing that, after taking the woman from a world of darkness into light, Jesus made a bold declaration about what had just happened…
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
Today, I invite you to consider the times when you have felt so alone in your walk with God. We go through seasons of silence when everything seems to be dark. But if we remember that we have the Light of Christ living in us (better than a shower light!), we will realize that we are never truly a-lone. Instead we are all-one with Jesus!
Join us for worship this 1st Sunday of Lent, as we begin our Lenten sermon series: You Are…I AM. We’ll talk about who we are (and who we are NOT) all because Jesus is! The sermon title: You Are Not Alone…Jesus is the Light of the World. You can worship in-person or you can also join us online at 10:00am. For online worship go to www.umcgt.org.
Movie Showing Join us for lunch and a movie! We will show the documentary After Jackie, and have discussion tomorrow, Saturday February 25. The event will be from 11:00am to 1:00pm. Please RSVP your attendance so that we’ll have enough food on hand. The movie documents the St. Louis Cardinal baseball players Bob Gibson, Curt Flood, and Bill White, as they navigated sports and race after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. The Cardinals found a way to bridge some gaps and become champions on and off the field!
Have you RSVP’d? - Unity Luncheon this Sunday, Feb. 26, after worship. We will celebrate with a catered lunch and a presentation on the African Schoolhouse Number 4. We will have special guests in the house, including Mrs. Doris Frazier, one of the Schoolhouse teachers, and Mark Ohlendorf, Pres. of the St. Louis County Parks Foundation, so please let us know you’ll be there (caterer count) and let’s celebrate together! RSVP here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080c4fa9ae2ea2fe3-black
Another Airing! Show Me St. Louis asked to do an interview on the schoolhouse and my appearance on the Kelly Clarkson Show. It will be air live on this Monday, February 27, 10:00am on KSDK.
Faith Forward Fast: One of the spiritual disciplines of Lent is fasting. This year I’m adding the Wesley Fast to our Faith Forward Challenge. So now it’s First 15, First Day, First Fruits, and Fasting! For more info on the Wesley Fast go to: https://methodistprayer.org/wesleyfast. For more info on the Faith Forward Challenge go to our website: www.umcgt.org.