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  • Writer's pictureMemorial Fernandina

A few weeks ago, I spoke from the pulpit about taking the time to pay attention. Pay attention to our surroundings, to the birds in the backyard, to the people on the street, as it helps us focus in on the presence of God. God is with us always, but we may feel woefully alone if we spend all of our time distracted. In fact, we might actually need to go looking for God, to show us the truth about what it means to live this life.


Lent is a perfect time to do just that.  

While some people use these forty days as a time to give up something (think alcohol, meat, chocolate), as a means to filling those spaces with more focused attention on God, I have always enjoyed the practice of building in a habit or discipline that I can carry with me beyond Holy Week and the celebration of the Resurrection. We have wonderful classes, including this exciting Wednesday night Lenten study, but there are so many options when it comes to practices you might be able to incorporate into your daily ritual.


You might be thinking, “Rachel, I don’t have enough time to read a book or enough discipline to do something every day.” Might I encourage you to start small? Take a verse or a portion of scripture and pray those verses every day for a week. Choose your favorite worship song and dwell on the words that you sing. Don’t just let the song play, really hear the song. In fact, when we talk about worship at tonight’s study, we’ll look at Wesley’s Directions for Singing in which he instructs everyone to “Have an eye to God in every word you sing.” Spend time in focused attention. Or, if you’re having a hard time figuring something out and need some help, just let me know. I want to equip and empower you with the resources that will help you grow deeper in your discipleship and spiritual journey.  


For now, I will leave you with the blessing that I read today in my own Lenten study book, Have a Beautiful, Terrible Day!, by Kate Bowler. If her words speak to you, know that you can follow along with her study as well by signing up online here: https://katebowler.com/seasonal_devotional/have-a-beautiful-terrible-lent/ Read now her blessing for “finding God’s presence”:   God of all that we hardly notice,

Ruler of the ground under our feet

And the sky stretched over our heads.

Send your spirit to direct our steps

And our thoughts 

As we stumble around this day and night.   


We have too much to do, so give us    

Enough silence to hear your voice.  


We have too much to worry about,  

So quiet us with a moment of your peace.  

  

We have too much to carry,  

So lighten our hearts with your love. 


We are your people,

eyes cast down on the ground you made,  

Wary that the sky will fall again.  

Remind us again that above and below 

you are here.  


Blessings!

Pastor Rachel

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  • Writer's pictureMemorial Fernandina


“How are you doing?”

 

“I’m good.”

 

“No. But how are you really doing?”

 

If I had a dollar for every time I have had this conversation in the last couple of months, I would have enough extra cash to take Margaret and myself out for dinner somewhere nice!

 

There are busy seasons in ministry, just like there are busy seasons in any profession or vocation. If we clergy don't know that when we come out of seminary, we certainly learn it fairly quickly as we experience life in the local church. Having people ask how I am doing really is a beautiful thing. When you ask, I know that you are asking out of genuine concern for my well-being, and that means a lot. As your senior pastor I feel very loved, cared for, affirmed, and encouraged.

 

The last couple of months have been quite intense in terms of situations that require pastoral care and situations of bereavement within our church family.  And although the intensity is indeed physically tiring, I have felt strong and assured in terms of my spiritual, mental, and emotional health. I put this down to some practices I engage in on a regular basis. For example, each month I spend time with some people who make safe, confidential space for me to process the things that go on in ministry. Without these people holding that space for me regularly, I might not be feeling as strong.  Another example is that practice you have heard me speak of before – praying those Scriptures that have become so vital to me in recent years – “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is [God’s] faithfulness.”

 

Making regular time to take stock of our soul health is some of the most important stuff we can do in the Christian life. As we begin another Lenten journey, may I encourage you to make the time to take stock of your own soul’s health. If you don’t know how to do that, please reach out and speak to Pastors Rachel, Alyce, or myself – we would LOVE to help you. I can’t wait to see you on Sunday!

 

Blessings,

Pastor Charlie

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  • Writer's pictureMemorial Fernandina


Imagine my shock when I learned that the United Methodist Church did not start using ashes as an official ritual for Ash Wednesday until 1992. While the observance of Ash Wednesday has roots in the early church dating back centuries, the use of ashes themselves is a rather new introduction across denominations. Perhaps you are coming from another denomination that does not place much emphasis on the church liturgical calendar; if that is the case, Ash Wednesday may be an entirely new experience within your Christian life.  


The imposition of ashes (where we place ashes on the head in the shape of the cross) is a reminder of our human sinfulness and human mortality. Using palms burned from last year’s Palm Sunday, we are reminded of the cyclical nature of life as the pastor performs the sign of the cross while saying, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). At the same time, Ash Wednesday and Lent allow us to prepare for what we know is to come: that sin and death have both been defeated in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  


Ash Wednesday starts off the season of Lent, the forty days leading up to Easter in which Christians observe spiritual disciplines related to fasting, repentance and prayer. While you might think that fasting is only related to food, many people practice other forms of fasting and abstention such as the limiting or withdrawal of a negative habit. Lest you think, though, that this is a form of Christian New Years resolutions, I would encourage you to consider how your desire to fast draws you into deeper communion with God. Perhaps fasting is not the way for you at this time; instead, you might add a spiritual discipline, such as waking up early, taking twenty minutes to pray, or taking a walk outside to give yourself space to engage with the divine. Let this be a time where you reflect on your own humanity made in God’s image. Dwell on your human nature, knowing that we are born sinful but are called to repent and move ever onward in our spiritual holiness.  


I want to extend the invitation to you and remind you of all the ways you can reflect during your Lenten journey. Ash Wednesday is next Wednesday, February 14 (it could be said you can’t have VaLENTine’s Day with LENT). Please join us for ashes on the go at the corner of Centre and 6th or the Pocket Park by Amelia Island Coffee from 1:30 to 2:30pm or attend our 6 pm worship service in the sanctuary. Then, every Wednesday from February 21st until March 20th from 5pm to 7pm we will be hosting a meal and study on the Wesleyan means of grace.


Be sure to sign up for the meal at mumconline.com/news soon because spots are going quickly. If you do not want to eat but would still like to participate in the study, you are more than welcome to do so; there is no limit to our study size! And if you have any questions about Lent in general, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to have a longer conversation with you! I hope you will join us on this Lenten journey.


Blessings!

Pastor Rachel

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