Heritage Sunday – November 5

 

Greetings,

 

On November 5th at 10:00am the First United Methodist Church of Westfield will celebrate Heritage Sunday with a combined worship service. I would like to personally extend an invitation to you and your loved ones as we prepare to gather to remember those who have “run their race” and to honor those among us who are still “running.”

Last year, I had the distinct blessing of participating in this congregation’s tradition of Heritage Sunday. It was a moving and meaningful service. I can still remember walking into our beautiful sanctuary last November seeing the names and the photographs of those whose memory we hold near to our hearts.

Charles Wesley once wrote, “Glory to God, and praise and love be ever, ever given, by saints below and saints above, the church in earth and heaven.” M

y sermon on Heritage Sunday will be focusing on John’s vision in Revelation 7:9-17. This beautiful and meaningful service will conclude with the sacrament of Holy Communion. Immediately following the 10am service will be a covered dish lunch (desserts & beverages provided) in the Fellowship Hall. I would love your presence. In the meantime, as always the First United Methodist Church will continue to life you in our thoughts and prayers. 

Blessings,

Nicholas Perry, 

Pastor

 
 


Getting ready for Fall – All about Paul

Study it, study it—for everything is in it! Examine it diligently until you are worn out with old age by it, and do not be distracted from it; you could have no better measure than it.”

(Mishnah ‘Abot 5:22)

 

         William P. Brown observes that the verb translated as “study” literally means “turn,” as if to say that the Bible is a finely crafted jewel that, when carefully turned, sparkles with the light of incomparable wisdom. Brown suggests that in the practice of Bible study, “turning” not only involves a Bible passage; it also involves the interpreter. Whenever we are trying to make sense of the Bible we are also “turning things over in our minds,” from assumptions to new perspectives, from fresh questions to surprising conclusions.

 

            This autumn, as promised I will be “studying” and “turning” the writings of the Apostle Paul in our

Adult Sunday class beginning on September 10th @ 9:30am in Gibbs Parlor. I am suspecting that as we examine a small portion of one of Paul’s letters each week with the Holy Spirit’s guidance we will be rotating and “turning” into deeper and more committed disciples of Jesus Christ.

            On Sunday evenings beginning on September 17th through October 22nd @ 7pm in Gibbs Parlor we will be doing Adam Hamilton’s book The Call: The Life and Message of the Apostle Paul.
 
During these six weeks we will study together:

Called to Follow Christ- Paul’s Background, Conversion, and Early Ministry

Called to Go- Paul’s First Missionary Journey

Called to Suffer- Paul’s Second Missionary Journey (1)

Called to Love- Paul’s Second Missionary Journey (2)

Called to GivePaul’s Third Missionary Journey

Called to be FaithfulPaul’s Death and Legacy

            Philip Yancey, author of What’s So Amazing About Grace and The Jesus I Never Knew endorses this study writing, “Adam Hamilton has proven to be a faithful guide to applying the Bible to modern life in a sane and balanced way, and I trust him as an interpreter of the Apostle Paul for today.”

            Everyone is welcome to Sunday school and/or Bible Study. Prayerfully consider joining others and me as we embark together on this journey with the Apostle Paul. We have secured a handful of Hamilton’s book in the church office that you may borrow for the duration of the study or you may purchase the book on your own. I hope to see you soon turning and being turned by the Word of God.

                                                                                                In Christ,

                                                                                                Nicholas Perry,
Pastor
 
 
 
 


Easter Letter 2017

 
Greetings,

We are entering into my favorite week of the year—Holy Week. I invite you to join me as we usher in Holy Week waving our palm branches and rolling out a makeshift red carpet of clothing for Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Most of the ink in the gospel is used to tell of Jesus’ final week of life— the cleansing of the Temple, a handful of parables about readiness, tears shed over Jerusalem, a meal shared among friends, Judas’ betrayal, Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, his arrest and trial, Peter’s denial and the painstaking events that surround his death on the cross and burial in a borrowed tomb. While the drama picks up in during Holy Week, it also provides us with moments to slow down and deepen our own relationship with God and with one another.

On Easter Sunday, at both the 8:30am and 10:45am services I look forward to announcing along with the trumpet shaped Easter lilies, “Christ is risen” and to hear our congregation respond as the church has faithfully done for over two thousand years, “He is risen indeed!” Before we sing, “Up from the grave he arose,” or the two full measures of “Alleluias’” in Wesley’s hymn,

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

(which always makes my voice crack in excitement), take the time to prepare our hearts to see with the fresh eyes of faith our risen Lord.  

At 7pm on Holy Thursday, we will be joined by the Hurlbut Memorial Community United Methodist Church as we share in a service of Foot Washing and Holy Communion and hear the inspired preaching of the Rev. Carmen Perry. On Good Friday, let us join together at noon at Moore Park with other members of our community for our annual Cross Walk. Please take a moment to sign up with LeAnn in the church office as we continue the beautiful tradition of keeping Easter Vigil. 

Every year in anticipation of Christ’s resurrection, I spend some time between Good Friday and Easter morning reading one or more of the gospel accounts of Christ’s suffering and death on the cross. I have found that doing so, allows me to proclaim with a renewed sense of wonder “Christ is risen” and it deepens the hope and promise of new life offered to us in Christ.  

                                                                                    Easter Blessings,

 

                                                                                    Nicholas Perry,

Pastor


 

Holy Week Services- 2017

 

 “Egg”cellent Easter Celebration – April 8th

10:00 – 12: 30 event for children

 

Palm / Passion Sunday – April 9th

8:30 Service & 10:45 Service – Cantata

 

Holy Thursday – March April 13th 7:00 PM –

Combined service with Hurlbut @ FUMC

*Foot washing & Communion
 

Good Friday – April 14th – Noon

Way of the Cross – Moore Park

 

Easter Eve Watch

Sat., April 15th – 6 PM to Sun., April 16th – 6AM

We are asking you to set aside 1 hour, either in the church sanctuary or in your home, to take time to pray.

There will be a sign up sheet outside the office so we can “cover” the entire 12 hours with prayer. There will also be packets available for prayer/scripture reflections that you can use.

 For those that would like to pray at the church and need a key, please contact the office.

 

 

 

Easter Sunday – April 16th

8:30 & 10:45 (both services in the Sanctuary) – Communion

*Remember to bring flowers to put on the cross



What Should I Give Up for Lent?

What Should I Give Up for Lent?

“For whoever wants to save [their] life will lose it, but whoever loses [their] life for me will find it.” –  (Matthew 16:25)

 

In Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism, Kimberly Hahn recalls an Ash Wednesday, having dropped her children off at her sister’s house, asking God, “What should I give up for Lent?”

            What if you turned Kimberly’s question into your own? What areas of your life would you cut out or cut back on? Would you go out less often to restaurants? Would you give up chocolate or another sweet? Do you cut out needless hours of mindless television? Do you go to bed earlier? What would you give up for Lent?


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Christmas 2016

When I was growing up, the Christmas tree was never completely finished until we ran it through my mom’s squint test. All you had to do is squint your eyes so that the colored Christmas lights came out of focus just enough to form a halo around the bulb. My mom’s squint test would make it easy to see where there were too many light bunched up or where lights needed to be moved closer together. The tree was never fully complete until the Christmas lights were evenly placed throughout the entire tree.

 

          When you watch a Christmas move or sitcom you will see it. When you send or receive Christmas cards you will encounter it. Maybe on Christmas Eve with the glow of a lit candle in hour hand while softly singing “Son of God, love’s pure light; radiant beams from thy holy face…” you will experience it. Cameras magically come out of focus. Artists soften and blur


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Pastor Report 2016

Report of the Pastor

CHARGE CONFERENCE

WRITTEN BY REV. NICHOLAS PERRY

01 NOVEMBER 2016

 

 

boat1

 

“When he had finished speaking, [Jesus] said to Simon,

‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’”

 (Luke 5:4)

 The late William Sloane Coffin once shared,

There was a story told in Lincoln’s time of a man asking the pilot of a Mississippi riverboat how long he had been plying his trade.

 “Twenty-six years,” the pilot replied.

“Then,” he said to the man, “you know where all the rocks are, all the shoals, and sandbars?”

 “No,” said the pilot. “I just know where they ain’t.”

 

Several years ago, I was white water rafting with the youth in one congregation that I served. We tried as best we could to navigate the waters of Letchworth State Park, but sometimes we would get caught upon rocks where the water was shallow [due to a lack of rain]. Although the experience was fun and I would certainly do it again, I didn’t like being stuck in my rubber raft on a pile of rocks as others passed by.

It is amazing to me how the theme of water flows from the Old into the New Testament perhaps encouraging us to explore its depths. In fact, during Holy Baptism we recall numerous accounts of water in the Scripture:  

                          Old Testament                                                            New Testament

                                 Creation                                                                       Jesus’ birth

                          During the flood                                                              Jesus’ baptism

                    Parting of the Red Sea                                         Jesus’ death and resurrection

                Passing through the Jordan                                  Holy Spirit’s baptism on believers

 

We live in shallow times. We continue to find ourselves and/or others stuck on the rocks unable to move. The good news is that we have a Savior who knows not only where the rocks, shoals, and sandbars are but far more importantly Christ knows where the deep water is (and how to get us there). We also come from a faith tradition that has provided tools for going deeper and exploring the great depths and vastness of God’s grace.    

Since, being appointed to Westfield on July 1

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I have been a wild journey of learning names and attaching faces to those names (a task made even more difficult with identical twins among us). I have visited with many of our homebound members, read stories to my new friends in Apple Seed Pre-K and regularly eat lunch with community members at the Community Kitchen.
During the summer in between unpacking boxes of books, I had the honor of starring beside Pastor Molly as Dr. Paws in our Vacation Bible School

Weird Animals: Where Jesus’ Love Is One-of-a-Kind. I have had plenty of opportunities to attend various meetings from Taking Off Pounds Sensibly

to eating at a submarine at a United Methodist Women’s luncheon. I am thankful for the steady hand of our finance team as well as the goals for disciple-making that our Administrative Board:
  • Bible Studies such as Adam Hamilton’s The Way Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus and our forthcoming Advent Study Under Wraps by Jessica LaGrone.
  • Small Groups United Methodist Women I, United Methodist Woman II, Voices of Westfield, Sunday School classes.
  • Cornerstone District Events such as Road Trip and/or Catch the Spirit.
  • Building Connections with the Apple Seed Pre-school, the Westfield Community Kitchen, and the Westfield Food Pantry.
  • Stewardship to be 100% sustainable (without dipping into our investments) to promote a holistic understanding of giving through sermons, articles, and testimonials.

We can point out where the rocks, shoals, and sandbars are. We know that tune well. However, we must also hear the clear invitation from Christ to “’Put out into deeper water, and let down the nets for a catch’” (Luke 5:4). We, I believe, as a church, are poised to allow the Holy Spirit’s breath to fill our sails and to lead us out into deeper waters.

Personally, I am excited to see that our Sunday School program is teeming with new life. Just this morning, I had a conversation with someone with plans that are already underway for a Junior Church to operate during the Second service. I suspect that other plans will begin to emerge as we push off from the shoreline and learn together some of the timeless teachings of John Wesley, our Methodist heritage, and their impact and usefulness for modern-day disciples who desire to go deeper.

 

Blessings,

Nicholas Perry,

Pastor



Hagah over scripture

“As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey…”  Isaiah 31:4

 lion cub with bone

During my time in school I was jealous of those students who could speed read. They were able to read multiple books and comprehend what they read in the time it took me to get through part of a book. Dismayed I researched techniques to speed up my reading pace only to find out years later that the Christian faith encourages us to read Scripture imaginatively, thoughtfully, prayerfully and slowly.

 

In Eat This Book: a conversation in the art of spiritual reading Eugene Peterson demonstrates in the first chapter how to read slowly. Peterson notices words that I might pass by on my way to the “good stuff.”  For example, in the passage above, Peterson lingers over the word “growls” (hagah) which is the same word in Hebrew for “meditate” in passages such as Psalm 1:2 describing the blessed man or woman whose “delight is in the law of the LORD,” on which “[he/she] meditates (hagah) day and night.” Or one of my favorite verses Psalm 63:6 “I think of [God] upon my bed, and meditate (hagah) on [God] in the watches of the night.” Peterson states, “Isaiah uses this word (hagah) to refer to a lion growling over his prey the way my dog would a bone.”

 


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