The best to all for the start of 2020!!
But first, Linda and I want to thank you all for your wonderful Christmas gifts — cards and cookies, presents and financial gifts! We are so grateful. You are such a blessing to be on this journey of life with!!
And so, a new year … a new decade! Any specific goals that you’ve set for yourself?
I’ve affirmed that I would benefit from a bit better roundedness in my life. I’ve decided to be more attentive this year to my physical and spiritual wellness and to the ways that I strive to lead our church.
And so, I’ve signed up for a series of workshops called Tending the Fire. They are facilitated by Rev. Barbara Lemmel of our New England Conference. The focus is on being a non-anxious leader, the balance of work and non-work, and at better understanding one’s self and the church.
I’ll be in Concord Jan 21-23, Mar 24-26, and May 12-14 attending these workshops.
I also ask myself about MUMC — What goals ought we be setting for ourselves for a new year, a new decade … a new age?
My answer is:
Our #1 goal ought to be to show the world around us that we are a fellowship of people united with the very heart and mind of Christ.
And our #2 goal?! To affirm that this heart and mind of Christ can be found all around us and that the divine plan is that it be in everything all around us.
How do we accomplish these 2 goals?!
Well, we start by individually and collectively growing even more in the heart and mind of Christ. And that starts with individual intentionality. It starts with individual spiritual disciplines – especially the practice of contemplative prayer … also known as mindfulness practice. I’ve introduced you to this in worship and in our Tuesday AM group. I’ll provide more resources in 2020 and offer a couple of times during the week that we might gather to practice this together.
The second goal comes from seeing the world differently. It comes from seeing God and Christ differently!! It comes from seeing Christ most perfectly incarnate in Jesus, but also seeing Christ in the world from the very beginning and therefore (at least in part) in other cultures, other faith traditions, and other people.
I know this sounds radical and perhaps even heretical. But, if there is one God … and if that one God is truly loving of all, then that God would be constantly working in all the world through all of time.
I really encourage you to spend time working through Fr. Rohr’s book The Universal Christ.
I will offer more resources on this. We’ll offer a class on Huston Smith’s book The World’s Religions in the spring. And perhaps some will want to join me in working through two other books:
The Tao of Inner Peace by Diane Dreher
(supplemented by The Tao of Christ
by Rev. Marshall Davis)
The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh
My prayer is that our growth in the heart and mind of Christ will bear fruit, especially in how we connect to our young daycare families and to the rest of the community around us.
Speaking of growth, please see the list of new members who joined during Advent. What a joy to welcome persons into full membership and to celebrate their commitment to the ways of Christ through their local church. Welcome one and all!
By the way, if you would like to officially join as members of MUMC, please talk to me or let the office know. I’ll be welcoming in three more new members in just a few weeks!!
Finally, please see the enclosed letter regarding the potential split in The United Methodist Church. We have put links to additional information on our website.
I close then with some words to contemplate:
At birth all people are soft and yielding.
At death they are hard and stiff.
All green plants are tender and yielding.
At death they are brittle and dry.
When hard and rigid,
We consort with death.
When soft and flexible,
We affirm greater life.
Tao Te Ching 76
“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
Jesus of Nazareth
Happy New Year