|THE JOYFUL NOISE
Do you feel safe? If you do, where do you feel it most? In your Home? In your town? In your state? In your country? Do you feel safe in life? These are important question because never before have Americans felt so unsafe - unsafe from crime, unsafe from rip-off artists, unsafe from our own government, and unsafe from all those who would take advantage of us. These forces and people keep us from living full, rich lives. We need to experience real safety and real belonging in order to live a fulfilling Christian life.
I recently spent three and a half days in a place with people that made me feel safe, a place where I felt belonging. It was the annual Rocky Mountain Conference of the United Methodist Church. Yes, issues came up. Yes, there were disagreements. Yet even so, the spirit of God kept finding its way into the sessions, into the music, into the fellowship, and into the conversation. Wesley's connectional system works; it produces an environment and culture where people can feel safe; a place where people can experience Christian belonging; a place where people can open up and share who they really are. I wish all of you could have experienced it with me. It inspired me for my future work in ministry.
In a world that seems to be coming apart, I found real safety and real belonging. Where else could I go and experience this? I can't get it from business. I can't get it from alcohol, drugs or stimulants. I can't get it from being rich. I can't get it from being a member of a social group or club. This, the Methodist church, is the place where I can go to experience belonging and safety. And there is no place I would rather be than in the UMC! I find belonging through its people, its organization, and in its message of hope. It connects me in a way that calms my soul and frees me from fear.
It is my hope that this church, our church, provides a sanctuary where you and others can seek and find this kind of safety and belonging in Christian faith. Indeed, we are called to make a safe place for those who live in fear, for those who may not know safety or belonging. One of my purposes in this new appoinrment is to strengthen, renew, and fortify our chwch as a place where people can feel safe, feel belonging and experience connection with God.
In so doing let us consider new ways for understanding what it means to create a safe place, a place of belonging. First, let us consider anew our personal experience with church. Does it represent a safe place now? We know the answer to this when we ask ourselves, "Can I completely let down when I go to church? Can I really be myself? Do others accept me no matter how I differ from them?" When we feel safe, we can trust others with our concerns and fears. We can ask for help and support. Renewing the church experience as a place of safety and belonging means that, when we go, we leave the world at the door. We leave its influence, its politics, and its agenda, outside.
Being part of the family of God brings with it a responsibitity - a willingness to look inside ones self and be humble. Making church a safe place of belonging also requires honesty. In order to insure that others feel safety and belonging, we experience church as a place that frees us from fear and liberates us from evil.
So let's begin our journey together in the spirit of genuine interest in making our church a safe place in new ways, ways that may have been overlooked or forgotten. Our hearts will help us know what it means to belong. Our hearts will help us know what it means to feel accepted and respected. Our collective heart will guide our work as we seek to faithfully follow Jesus Christ.
In the bigger scheme of things, we renew our emphasis on safety and belonging because safety and belonging give us the strength to face the challenges of life. We need safety and belonging in order to gain the spirit's power and courage to carry the light of Jesus Christ back into our homes, workplaces and into the world around us. It glves us the strength to reach out to others who seek safety and belongurg.
Consider those around you who lack this spiritual safety and belonging. They are searching; their hearts are searching. Let's invite them to join us in our faith connection and invite them to come and be free from fear. Let's invite them to experience the hope that comes when one belongs to the family of Jesus Christ.
It is an honor to come and serve at Wheatland and Chugwater. I pray for God's continued guidance in our ministry and ask you to please do the same. We are bound up in this grand and exciting adventure of faith together. Until I see you at our first worship service, I ask that you be in prayer about what it means for you to belong and think of new ways to make our church a safe place, a place where everyone can experience belonging. And I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas when we meet!
Grace and peace,
Pastor Robin Riley
IN OUR THOUGHTS AND IN OUR PRAYERS:
Tom K.; Irene J.; Jim W.; Diane N.; Leslie D.; Will C.; Jim C.;The Kevin E. Family;
**Please remember to write down any meetings, gatherings, etc. on the
DATES TO REMEMBER
July 2 - Welcome, Pastor Robin Riley
Finance & Ad Council Meetings to be announced
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UNITED METHODIST WOMEN
The UMW ladies invited everyone to our annual Ice Cream Social in honor
After a discussion with Caroline F., Holly J., and several others, it
For our mid-summer activity, the UMW ladies will meet for a bring-your-
All ladies of the church are invited to attend any of these events. We need