An Epistle to Emmaus UMC of Smithville

An Epistle to Emmaus UMC of Smithville

I praise the Lord for each and every one of you and for the kingdom work we are doing here at Emmaus. We are feeding people; clothing people; interceding in prayer; partnering with the community by hosting Boy Scout Troop 77 and HOPE (a grief support group); and, supporting numerous mission efforts. We are indeed fulfilling our mission: Preach, Teach, and Model a Life-Giving Gospel.

I want to address several issues with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ.

PREACHING: It has been said that a preacher’s commission is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. Everyone is happy to be comforted, but few want to be afflicted. We are all on a journey, and if we are comfortable where we are, then we are stagnating. Trust me when I say that I am not preaching at you or over you; I am probably more convicted through my sermon preparation than anyone hearing the sermon. If you are upset about something I said, please verify that is what I actually said. There have been occasions that a person went back and listened to the message again on our website and learned they had misheard or misunderstood what was said. If after verifying your concern and upon thoughtful consideration you are still upset, ask me about it. I could have made a mistake, or maybe we have a difference of opinion. Disagreeing is okay and dialogue is healthy.

ATTENDANCE: It is a national trend that even the attendance of the most devoted is less regular than it used to be. There are many things to compete for our time and attention. Often, we are just tired (yes, “we”). I cannot tell you how many times people have told me, “I almost didn’t come today; but, I was blessed by being here.” Attendance on Sunday mornings is also the hub of everything else that we do here at Emmaus. There is also an energy realized by worshiping in a larger gathering. Visitors/Guests sometimes feel “weird” when their presence is so conspicuous in a small gathering. God provided us a sanctuary that will seat 175. To be faithful stewards, we must do our part in filling it by inviting others into our faith community.

SCRIPTURE: The Bible, God’s holy inspired word, is the foundation for ALL that we do at Emmaus. You know that my preaching is saturated with scripture. At Tuesday night’s Lord’s Supper service, we always read four scriptures. Then we discuss those same scriptures at the Bible study that follows that service. YOU need to be reading your Bible on your own. Every one of us should be studying scripture in a small group. God’s word is transformational, and we are told to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We become like Jesus as God the Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit.

STEWARDSHIP: All good gifts come from the Lord. Everything we have belongs to God; we are only stewards of what He has provided. Over the years, Emmaus has been able to build up several accounts. We continue to fund missions and ministries that bless our community and are in obedience to the Almighty. Currently, we are not meeting our monthly expenses and are making ends meet by using reserves. How we handle our money is an indication of where we are in our journey with the Lord. We are called to give from a cheerful heart and in a way that demonstrates our faith in God’s provision.

COMMUNITY: We do many things well in this area. We provide congregational care by visiting, calling, sending cards or letters, and delivering meals. Our weekly Fellowship time after Sunday worship and our Tuesday night Community Dinners are a great time to break bread and build bridges. This can be taken to another level if we were to be more deliberate about circulating outside of our normal core groups. Get to know someone new each week. Part of demonstrating our hospitality is being more intentional about greeting people, especially guests, in the parking lot and at our entry. Oftentimes we have had guests in the sanctuary who do not even have a bulletin. A reality that we need to address is that many people, especially the young, connect online. Currently, we use Facebook and our website to establish our online presence. Also, I am using Twitter. In the future, we will probably be using Instagram and YouTube. For those of you on Facebook, by sharing and liking, you can help build up our online community.

COMMUNION: Holy Communion is one of two sacraments in the Protestant Church—the other is baptism. It was commanded by our Lord Jesus. As Methodists, we believe it is a means of grace; a blessing of God that has conversion and sanctification power. We also believe that the Lord Jesus is present with us at the Lord’s Supper. How this all happens is a mystery. This is why we celebrate this sacrament at least five times per month: normally the first Sunday of the month and every Tuesday. Let us not miss the importance of communion, with God and with each other. Shouldn’t all believers have a hunger for this meal?

PRAYER: We all know that prayer is communicating with God. It is also a reminder to us that God is in control and that were are humble subjects of the Most High. Prayer moves the hand that moves the world. You know that I pray several times during every Sunday worship service. At Tuesday’s service, one of the highlights is sharing our praises and concerns. Before every type of small group meeting we have, we need to pray. When I joined the choir, they prayed before service on Sunday morning. Now, we also pray at the start of every practice. Each of you is encouraged to develop a robust personal prayer life. This, too, is a transformational opportunity as we spend time with our Creator. Last summer’s Fire Brigade Prayer Team spent 50 days in unified praying. We have a prayer group on Friday mornings and prayer requests can be made on our website. The Drive-Thru Prayer station demonstrates the love of Jesus for a dying world. It is my hope to train people to serve in pairs at this ministry so that we can expand our hours. We are called to be intercessors in prayer.

I hope that you know that I love you and care about you. The Church is God’s vehicle for kingdom expansion. We are the body of that Church, with Jesus as the Head of the Body. It is in the name of Jesus that I write you and pray that Emmaus UMC of Smithville will fulfill God’s calling, individually and as a church.

Grace and peace,

 

 

Pastor Don

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