Pastor Nikki’s Notions – March 2017

Dear Friends,

This year, Lent begins on March first. Lent is popularly known as a forty-day period on the Christian calendar when Christians are called upon to identify ourselves with the suffering of Christ. We are to seriously and soberly consider what it actually means to follow Jesus in all things. And so we are called upon to deny ourselves, give up our favorite snacks, and do away with whatever other luxuries we commit ourselves to fasting during Lent. It is a time for sackcloth and ashes, for repentance, mourning and sober self-reflection. But the truth is that there is much more to Lent that meets the eye. Lent is a time for us to draw close to God and   offers us many blessings. These blessings are summed up well by William Arthur Ward:

“Fasting and Feasting”

Lent can be more than a time of fasting. It can also be a joyous season of feasting. Lent is a time to fast from certain things and to feast on others. It is a season to:

Fast from judging others; feast on Christ living in them.

Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.

Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.

Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.

Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.

Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.

Fast from anger; feast on patience.

Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.

Fast from worry; feast on appreciation.

Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.

Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.

Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.

Fast from hostility; feast on non-resistance.

Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.

Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.

Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal hope through Jesus.

Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.

Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.

Fast from suspicions; feast on truth.

Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.

Fast from thoughts of weakness; feast on promises that inspire.

Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.

Fast from everything that separates us from the Lord; feast on everything that draws us to the Lord.

Pastor Nikki’s Notions – January 2017

Dear Friends,

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE! What a joy it is to celebrate the first day of 2017 with you all in worship. What better way to begin a brand new year by gathering with our church family? Yes, New Year’s Day is a time to reflect on all that has happened in the year gone by, and an opportunity to look forward to the coming year with renewed hope and a clean slate.

It is a time that is hopeful enough for many of us to resolve to change things in our lives that we’ve been wanting to change for the past year, to make New Year’s resolutions. If we’re honest, for many people, New Year’s resolutions are not things to be taken particularly seriously. How many newly-purchased gym memberships go unused come mid-February? What percentage of folks actually successfully make it through the throes of caffeine withdrawal and kick the coffee habit? How many diet plans fall by the wayside? It seems to me that we make all kinds of promises to ourselves at this time of year with great intentions; we wish to become better people. And so I wonder, why do so many of these resolutions fall by the wayside? Is it a lack of will power? A lack of desire? Are we resolving to do the wrong things? Or are our resolutions just one more item on an ever-expanding to-do list? Perhaps. Or maybe it’s simply that we push off all of the things that we’ve been dreading getting started on until the new year, hoping that somehow the fresh start that the new year lends will motivate us.

Whatever reasons we have for our new year’s resolutions falling apart, it is important for all of us to think about how we will spend the year to come. How will you use the most precious of God’s gift—life and time?

As we think about this, it is entirely possible for all of us to create long lists of things to accomplish and commit ourselves to in 2017. But I think that if we can all commit to two simple rules for the year, we’ll be doing splendidly. They’re quite simple: Love God with all that you are and all that you have, and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. These are the most important things we can do in the year to come, so let’s keep them in the forefront of our minds this year!

Pastor Nikki