We complete the “Having Words With Jesus” series on September 25, 2022 and the message is “Gulf is Crossed”. The focus Scripture is Luke 16:19-31. Jesus said some hard words about the wealthy who did not help the poor. There is a chasm, a gulf, that separates heaven from hell and the rich who ignored the poor in life cannot cross that Chasm. It is too late. But now is not too late to cross that gulf and go help folks.
Faith and Wholeness
I am working on another series for October called “Faith and Wholeness”. We are saved by faith alone, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8, and I want to explore that a little more. I think we will find that faith and G-d’s grace not only leads to redemption, but also to wholeness in our life today. On October 2, 2022, the message is “Mustard Seeds and Mulberry Trees” and the Focus Scriptures are Luke 17:5-6, 2 Timothy 1:5-7:11-14. We cry out, “Increase our faith!”, but our “little faith” is already sufficient. On October 9, 2022, the message is “The Keurig Machine”. The Focus Scripture is Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7. How patient are we in our faith? Probably not patient enough, so we need to talk. The pastor needs this sermon more than most and it has been amazingly hard to write. On October 16, 2022, the Message is “A Persistent Faith” and our Focus Scriptures are Luke 18:1-8; 2 Timothy 4:1-5; Ephesians 2:8-9. So far, in our “Faith and Wholeness” series, we have talked about how a little faith can be a mighty faith. Last Sunday was about how we are to be patient in our faith. And now, we will explore what it means to be persistent in our faith. On October 22, 2022, Pastor Ron Welborn will add his comments on Faith and Wholeness. And, on October 30, 2022, we will complete the series with a message titled “The Watch Post”. Focus scriptures include Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 and Luke 19:1-10. A faith that leads to wholeness is a persevering faith. An enduring faith that continues beyond the point of persistence.
United Methodists were at the LAMA Food Pantry this week packing the shelves and loading groceries for people in the community. Thanks to Jamie, Robin, Marsha, Candice and Jim!
Stuff-The-Bus was a great success! Thanks to the Luling Lions, Methodist Healthcare Ministries, First United Methodist Outreach Committee, Bomba Socks and, of course, Luling ISD and the children who are the heart of our community!
Our adult Sunday School class meets at 11:00 on Sunday morning, and they are working on a new series of lessons from C.S. Lewis and his “Screwtape Letters”. The Goodreads review is as follows: “The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is a classic masterpiece of religious satire that entertains readers with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to “Our Father Below.” At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.” You sure might want to drop in on Sunday morning and dig in with Bennie and the rest of the class.
Confirmation 2022 was a beautiful, grace filled time in the life of the church as Evelyn Hicks was confirmed and became a member. We use the 39 week “Confirm” curriculum and she did such a great job with the lessons. We are so proud of her!
Many thanks to Tom Townley, singer and Christian Songwriter, who brought the message in music and scripture on Sunday May 29.
It was such a treat to host the Luling High School Baccalaureate worship service on May 22, 2022. These young people are full of faith and have been and will continue to be witnesses for Christ.
As the news came in yesterday about the massacre of the innocents in Uvalde, our hearts were broken. We offered our tearful prayers, and they continue this day, for the Uvalde community. For the families, the teachers and school personnel, the survivors, the first responders and peace officers, the churches, the elected officials, the clergy and funeral home staffs. There is no one in that little town whose life is untouched by what happened. Each will be trying to process these events, and some will need to find strength to perform their duties and help people recover. We pray that our Lord will give them that strength. On that day, I really had no words to offer about yet another senseless act of violence. Another instance of an evil, deranged person seeking out a soft target and committing unimaginable acts. But the next day, I wondered what we are going to do about it. I know that this country is sharply divided over most everything, but it seems to me that we can agree that insane, evil people should not have access to guns. We should be able to agree that insane, evil people with guns should not be able to get in the door of a school. And with these two points of agreement, our elected officials ought to be able to craft some solutions. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once asked, “Who stands firm?”. In the face of evil, who is prepared to make hard decisions? For Bonhoeffer, it was the “responsible ones”. The ones who are called to obedient and responsible action. And so, on this day after, as we mourn and as we pray and as we try to process next steps, might we be so bold in Christ as to ask, “who stands firm?” against this evil tide. And who are the “responsible ones” who will craft some solutions?
The Luling Lions, in partnership with First United Methodist Church of Luling and the local HEB and the Luling community, held a BBQ plate lunch sale to raise money for refugee relief in Ukraine. We raised over $2,000.00 and the money will be administered through Lion’s Club International Foundation and its mission to help refugees and displaced persons from the Ukraine. A big “Thank you, and God Bless!” to all who supported this effort as we serve others around the world.
We presented Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” on Good Friday, and the dramatic recreation of the scene was amazing. In the painting, the disciples are depicted as reacting to Jesus as he says “Very truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And one by one, the disciples tell of their time with Jesus and ask themselves, “Is it I?” And from there, the narration took the congregation on to the Garden of Gethsemane, and then to Golgotha. The cast played their roles perfectly, the choir was filled with the Spirit, and the congregation intently listened and we worshipped. Many, many thanks to the cast, our co-directors Robin Nickells and Candice Wiester, our choir and Esther Park, our choir director, and all of the many of you who helped with the food, sound, lighting, costumes and scenery.
Wednesdays at 2:30 in the Conference Room. We have a new Wednesday afternoon book study which is open to the community. Our first book and series, “Reading the Old Testament Through Jewish Eyes” is so very interesting. We have coupled the book study with reading the Torah portion assigned for that week, along with a New Testament reading that goes with it. The idea is to go through the book slowly, supplementing with a time for prayer. And we have “easy on, easy off” access so that people can join the study at any time. If you are interested, please just come on Wednesday.
Confirmation 2022 has begun and we have such a large and smart group of young people. Let’s continue to pray for them as they walk their journey in faith. Encourage them. Love them. and help them. Already, the people of the church are providing meals each Thursday, and that is so appreciated. Thanks!
Our Missions and Outreach team, in partnership with our Wesley Nurse, organized a winter clothing ministry at the Northside Park in the Fall of 2021. We were able to help families with winter coats for about 100 children and many adults too. We also offered flu shots and other immunizations, which is a continuation of our efforts this year to help keep our friends and neighbors well. I believe this is the 4th clinic we have either hosted or were in partnership to help with. And we did not forget our veterans. Missions and Outreach collected and delivered a huge amount of non perishable food, toiletries, small clothes and other items for the Caldwell County Veteran’s Administration. They will make sure that the items get to our veterans in need. We are so thankful for a congregation who cares so deeply in the United Methodist Way and we are thankful too for our community partners. Together we can do more.
One of the many joys of pastoring in Luling is entering the life of the community. We have had a great relationship with Shanklin Elementary School over the years. Leonard Shanklin was a member of our church for many years and was the beloved principal at Shanklin for many years. So, when I was asked to offer the opening prayer at the dedication of the new school building, I was honored to do so. This new building is a wonder. It is so well designed and it is beautiful. There are three huge murals adorning the hallways, including Texas, the United States and Luling and one can spend some time just reading all the inscriptions. The classrooms are large, state of the art and the school now has a gym and a cafeteria with a stage and all the lights and sound needed for theater productions. And the children, administrators and teachers who greeted us on the tour had the biggest smiles you can imagine.
Thanks to our devoted and hardworking people, we made a great deal of progress as we sorted out the landscaping issues on campus. That big tree that died is gone, the shrubbery damaged by the freeze is gone, the playground is in great shape, the bushes are trimmed and the flowers are blooming in Mom’s Garden. We still need some weeding and mulching, but much of the heavy lifting is complete. Let’s keep working and our church will continue to be that bright beacon of hope in Luling, Texas.
Just a few of pictures from “Stuff the Bus” this past week over at the Gerdes Gym. Rhonda Hunnicutt gave “Bombas” socks to the students and Jim and Candice gave out the hygiene kits. The Luling Lions gave out 275 bags of school supplies and back packs. A great day to encourage and bless our students.
Robin, Mignon and Debbie present Esther with a car so that she and her sister, Sa Ra (standing next to Esther) can come to the church and present their music. Sa Ra is the lead organist at First United Methodist in Seguin. If anyone wonders if God has a plan for them, just look at the smiles on these faces.
We have a new music director and we are so blessed to welcome Esther Park to our staff.
Esther is working on her masters in choral conducting at Texas State. Her resume is amazing. Before coming to the US, she studied piano, song accompanying / vocal coaching at the Conservatory for Music Mainz, and church music at the Conservatory for Church Music Heidelberg. At its website, The Mainz School of Music is named the only of its kind at university level in Germany. In addition to studies in music, Esther was an active choirmaster in St. Johannes Heidelberg and conductor of the Ueberberg-Orchestra in Mainz-Finthen, Germany. While choirmaster, she programmed many concerts with various choral repertoire. We have seen just a glimpse of her work during the interviewing process. We will greet her on August 1 as she begins her journey with us. This is a church service you will want to attend. and might I suggest, ours is a choir you will want to sing with.
A PROMISE FROM AN OLD FRIEND
The 23rd Psalm
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
We have added a prayer wall to our church. As with the Western Wall in Jerusalem, this is a place to prayer and leave prayers in the cracks and niches in the wall. Anyone is welcome to do so. The prayers will remain personal.
“Safe Gatherings” is the Conference’s new training and background checking for those who work with children, youth and vulnerable adults. So, those who teach Sunday school, VBS, visit shut-ins, work with children/youth need to have this training. It comes in three parts. The first step is to register at safegatherings.com. Registering will initiate the background checks and references requirement. There is a fee which of the conference will pay part and the church will reimburse you for any excess. The second step is a relatively painless computer training program we do individually at our own pace. The safe gatherings webpage will lead you into this training. The third step is an interactive session you can either do in person or at a webinar. Go to https://riotexas.org/safe for times and places.