As we start 2011, we look forward to where God is leading us. This year we are implementing new programs and encourage all to join in on these growth opportunities. One of these is a monthly insert from the pamphlet A Year with John Wesley and Our Methodist Values, [see insert] prepared by the
Board of Discipleship in response to The United Methodist Council of Bishops call that the Church engage in intensive study of and reflection on our Wesleyan theology, polity, and practice. Throughout the year we will be publishing a monthly installment that will consist of a Wesleyan Scholar teaching point on a Wesleyan theme followed by a corresponding practice reflection by Bishop Michael Coyner. Process these thought provoking articles with your spouse, your Circle, Sunday school class and others as you make these concepts authentic to your faith practice.
Another new program emphasis in 2011 is geared toward intentional faithful development thru bible study and small groups. Small groups have been an area of growth for many persons in our church in the past, and I sense a growing hunger in others to discover a more fulfilling spiritual life. On January 22 & 23 weekend services special guest preachers will share an exciting word about a dynamic spiritual growth opportunity, Discovery Sunday. Don’t miss this wonderful life changing opportunity to connect deeper with God and others.
As we look to 2011 as a new positive beginning, let us remember the encouraging words of St. Paul “….but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” Philippians 3:13
Grace & Peace,
HOW TO DEVELOP TIPPERS INTO TITHERS
South Central District is hosting How to Develop Tippers into Tithers on Saturday, February 5, 2011 at the Family Life Center in Albia from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This seminar is being led by Jim Griffith, assessor, trainer, and coach for new and turn around churches. This event will cover: Principles of Giving, Rethinking motives for Giving, and Helping people to Grow in their Giving. The cost is only $100 per charge. At the end of the day each team will return home with an organized strategy for their year-round stewardship effort. Churches who have implemented this strategy have, on average, increased their giving by 23%!
STUDY: I REFUSE TO LEAD A DYING CHURCH
The author, Paul Nixon, coaches pastors and churches of many denominations across North America, with a special interest in new church development and multi-site congregations in urban areas. The book study group’s first meeting will be Wednesday, January 19 at 7:00 p.m. We have a limited number of books available at a discount price in the church office. Plan to join us for this inspiring study.
HUMAN RELATIONS DAY IS JANUARY 16, 2011
The Human Relations Day offering supports Youth Offender rehabilitation programs, Community Developers self-improvement programs and United Methodist Voluntary Services – community work and advocacy that challenge oppression and injustice in the United States and Puerto Rico. Please consider donating to this worthy cause.
BLANKET SUNDAY IS JANUARY 16, 2011
Oh how good a warm blanket feels! All of us know the feeling. A blanket can ease pain, up-lift spirits, and make the world seem brighter during disasters that have devastated areas around the world. In such situations, blankets become a tool of survival. The United Methodist Church is a great provider of blankets through UMCOR and our church is doing its share to ensure that blankets will be there when needed. A special offering will be taken for blankets during Blanket Sunday. Show your passion and care to help warm another human being by donating to this mission.
A free dinner and movie for all of our friends and neighbors is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, January 28th in WFH.
Please join us for Cinnamon Roll/Mission Sunday at 9:30 a.m. in WFH on Sunday, January 9th. We will be having a special project for all ages to work on and a mission project that will span the month of January. Don’t miss out!
On Friday, February 18, 2011 Montgomery Street
Preschool will be having their annual Family Night. This
year the event is open to the church family and the
community as well as the MSPS families. We will be
having a light meal at 6:00 p.m. followed by a comedy
show by Jim Austin at 7:00 p.m. There will also be
baskets of goodies that will be raffled off. It should be a fun event for the entire family so mark the date on your calendar!
Condolences to the John Haning family on the passing of his brother, Robert.
Thanks to everyone who delivered poinsettias to our shut-ins.
Can you imagine 92 beautifully wrapped gifts lined up on tables, ready to be sorted and delivered? Thanks to your generosity, we are making
Christmas a whole lot brighter for 10 needy families this year. A special thanks to Folmer for all his help in making my project a lot easier. I LOVE THIS JOB. Bev Sterling
Thanks to everyone who served coffee and to those who furnished cookies for first service. Hospitality Committee
Christmas dinner this year was a test of our faith and many prayers because of the weather. Again our Lord provided and the people came. We served 130 meals, 100 at the church and 30 meals to shut-ins and friends of our guests. Thank you for your generous donations of food and money. A special thank you for our church family who braved the weather to help cook, serve our guests, deliver the meals, and clean up. You are the people make our mission possible. Sam and I are grateful for our church family. May the grace of the Lord be with you all. Coramarie and Sam Rathmel
Dear Friends, I want to say “thank you” to all my friends at the First United Methodist Church in Knoxville who remembered me with birthday and holiday greetings this year. All are very much appreciated! Thanks again! Dorothy Templeton
Happy Holidays! May this Holiday Season be filled with family, fun, and all your favorite festivities! Many thanks for all you do for the residents of Westridge Nursing and Rehab! Thank you! Have a wonderful, happy, and healthy New Year! Your Friends at Westridge
CHURCH WORLD SERVICES BLANKETS+
Church World Services gratefully recognizes First United Methodist Church for your support for emergency response and development around the world through Church World Services. An honor certificate was received as a sign of gratitude for support in 2010 and is now displayed on the bulletin board outside of the church office.
Methodist Church with a certificate for participating in the Animal Crackers program. Because of your contributions, families struggling with hunger and poverty will receive the gift of healthy animals and training in their care. The thank you certificate is on the bulletin board outside the main office.
A YEAR WITH JOHN WESLEY
A Year with John Wesley reveals and makes plain the essence of John Wesley’s life and witness and the dynamic and transforming power of the early Methodist movement. A Methodist way of living becomes accessible through these great themes expressed in contemporary language and in contemporary situations. Those who read and reflect upon these pages will gain understanding of United Methodist theology, polity and practice, but even more significantly, they will learn what it means to walk with Christ in our contemporary world. Please look for these articles each month in the monthly newsletter “The Link”.
Coming the weekend of Jan. 22 - 23 Dynamic guest preaching for these weekend services. Plan to join us!Discovery Sunday launches a six-week Bible study and prayer development experience involving individuals from the congregation who choose to participate. Discovery Groups help individuals discover the power of prayer and what Jesus taught regarding spiritual growth. Consisting of not more than ten persons each, the groups meet weekly for one hour, using the study guide "Spiritual Growth Insights from Mark's Gospel". Discovery Groups have been used effectively in hundreds of North American churches during the past ten years. People want to experience the power of God in daily life. According to a George Gallup study printed in Emerging Trends (a publication of Princeton Religion Research Center), American Christians rate "the spiritual growth of one's family and self as the top priority that congregations should be addressing.
Isa. 60:1-6 Ps. 72:1-7, 10-14 Eph. 3:1-12 Matt. 2:1-12
Isa. 42:1-9, Ps. 29 Acts 10:34-43 Matt. 3:13-17
Isa. 49:1-7 Ps. 40:1-11 1 Cor. 1:1-9 John 1:29-42
Isa. 9:1-4 Ps. 27:1, 4-9 1 Cor. 1:10-18 Matt 4:12-23
Micah 6:1-8 Ps. 15 1 Cor. 1:18-31 Matt.5:1-12
John Wesley on the Dedicated Christian Life
Randy I. Maddox
ONE OF THE CENTRAL THEMES running through the breadth of John Wesley's writings is the importance of dedicating oneself—heart and life—to God, following the model of Jesus Christ.
Wesley imbibed this emphasis from his parents. His studies reinforced it. As recorded in the opening of A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, Wesley read Jeremy Taylor's Rule and Exercises of Holy Living and Dying when he was twenty-three, which led him to "dedicate all my life to God; all my thoughts, and words, and actions." Shortly after, he read Thomas a Kempis's Imitation of Christ, which helped him to see that giving "all my life to God (supposing it possible to do this and go no farther) would profit me nothing, unless I gave my heart!' This classic text by Kempis had such an impact on Wesley that in 1735 he issued an abridgement titled The Christians Pattern as one of his first publications.
Occasionally, "works righteousness" characterizes this emphasis of the early Wesley, with the implication that he set it aside when he came to appreciate God's "free grace" in 1738. However, this is a misunderstanding of the freedom grace brings. For Wesley, the grace of God is not only the unmerited mercy by which we are free from the guilt of our sin, but it is also the power of the Holy Spirit poured into our lives, setting us free for renewed obedience to God. If there is anything distinct in Wesley's preaching about the importance of submitting to God's ways after 1738, it is the stronger emphasis that "every command in holy writ is only a covered promise," as he put it in his fifth discourse on the Sermon on the Mount (par. II.3). Wesley reminds his hearers in this sermon of God's promise in Jeremiah 31:31 to write the covenant on our hearts. The God of grace does not set aside the law; rather God gra¬ciously enables our fulfillment of it.
While God's grace is freeing, it is also resistible. Wesley stressed this balance in his classic sermon "On Working Out Our Own Salvation," affirming that it is only because of the power of the Holy Spirit that we can work out our salvation, but adding that we must join as "workers together with God" in this journey. In other ser¬mons, Wesley makes clear that God graciously invites us to be fellow workers not only in our own salvation, but also in God's larger redeeming work in the world. As a means of encouraging his people to embrace this call, dedicating the whole of their lives to God, Wesley printed an extract of The Christian Pattern repeatedly through¬out his ministry.
The mature Wesley also came to appreciate that the interactive nature of God's empowerment and our response meant that the dedication of oneself to God, like every other dimension of the way of salvation, was open to breach as well as to deep¬ened commitment. This awareness led him in 1755 to introduce in the Methodist societies a practice of regular renewal of one's dedication to God, adapting Richard Alleine's covenant renewal service. This service soon became a yearly staple of Methodist life and has proven for many an effective means of deepening dedication to God.
A Time to Renew Our Covenant with God
THERE IS NOTHING MAGICAL about the flip of the calendar from the old year the New Year, even though eighty-eight percent of all Americans make New Year's resolutions each year. In the United States before 9/11, the number-one resolution was to "lose weight." After 9/11 that changed to "spend more time with my family.” Somehow, even American culture senses a need for a change, a fresh start, and a new beginning.
As United Methodists, the month of January offers us the opportunity to make that new beginning in the Wesleyan tradition by reaffirming our covenant with God. Scripture teaches us that God's covenant with us is eternal and calls us to recommit our lives to God. In Jesus Christ, we see the fulfillment of the promise in Jeremiah; 31:31-34 of a new covenant, written upon our hearts.
Wesley wrote a Covenant Prayer that can be used in a variety of worship and educational settings. It is number 607 in The United Methodist Hymnal:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low by thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
January is also a good time to invite people to join a Covenant Disciple Group, and many congregations offer training for new officers and leaders who begin serv¬ing in the New Year. Some congregations offer a New Year's Eve Watch Night Service as a way of helping people to reaffirm their covenant with God. One helpful model is the "Covenant Renewal Service" (The United Methodist Book of Worship, page 288), but it is possible to use elements of this service on Sunday mornings in January, too.
Dan Benedict reminds us of our need for such a time of covenant renewal:
At the heart of Christian devotion is a sense that we are not our own, but that through God's claim upon us in Christ through baptism, we are God's servants. From time to time, Christians need to make a solemn renewal of the covenant, lest we hold back from God what we once gave to God but over time have hoarded for ourselves.
Let January be a time for renewing your covenant with God, both individually and as a congregation.
Hymn by Charles Wesley
Come, Let Us Use the Grace Divine