Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family,
I hope the first few days of 2019 are treating you well, and that you had a safe and blessed New Year celebration.
A Message from Pastor Bill
Please take time to read the following message from Bill Moberly, St. Matthew’s Associate Pastor for Visitation Senior Adult Ministries:
In this month’s newsletter, Pastor Neil reflected on his time in Iceland where winter darkness and summer sunshine were major factors in people’s lives. He pointed out that the enduring truth is that even in the darkest times, light will shine again. Or as my Dad use to say, “Everything’s going to be alright come spring!” To better prepare for the coming spring, I am going to be stepping back from ministerial duties and taking some time over the next three months to reflect, recharge and focus on some health issues that need attending. When spring does come, I will be ready to embrace it fully with renewed strength and purpose. A true joy throughout the past 5 ½ years has been sharing ministry with everyone. I fully intend on returning to the St. Matthew’s staff in April and continue to help where needed.
I want the church family to know that Bill has my full support and that Pastor Nickie and I will be ensuring that St. Matthew’s pastoral care needs will be met while Bill steps back from his ministerial duties. Please keep Bill and his family in your prayers in the weeks ahead.
New Sermon Series
On Sunday, January 6, we’ll be starting a new sermon series called Finding Joy in an Anxious World. I don’t need to tell you that the world in which we live is filled with anxiety, worry, and stress. I feel it, and I know that it affects all of our lives at some level. Sometimes life is very good. Sometimes it is all we can do to survive. Everything from political and world events to personal suffering contributes to discouragement and despair. We know that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, but we struggle to experience it. The first message in the series is simply entitled, Follow Jesus, and is based on Matthew 2:1-12 and Matthew 2:13-23. I believe that this sermon series will be relevant and meaning to people of faith and to people who struggle with faith. So I encourage you to invite a friend and join us as we explore some of the Bible’s answers to the challenges of 21st century life.
As you may be aware, Sunday (January 6) is called Epiphany of the Lord. It is the day that the Church traditionally celebrates the arrival of the Magi (also known as Wise Men) to worship baby Jesus. So on Sunday morning, we will sing the final Christmas Carol of the season, drawing the Christmas season to a close. It’s the perfect way to begin 2019 together.
Pray for General Conference
One of the sources of anxiety for many of us is what will be decided by the called session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church that will be held in St. Louis from February 23-26, 2019. Sometime in the next few weeks, we’ll be having an opportunity to hear more about the General Conference and its potential impact on St. Matthew’s. No matter what you hope the General Conference will decide about the UMC beliefs and practices related to human sexuality, please be persistent in praying that the delegates and the entire denomination will be open to the presence and the leading of the Holy Spirit. I, along with many others around the denomination, have set a reminder on my phone for 2:23pm every day. (the time represents the start of General Conference on February 23 or 2/23.) The reminder simply says Pray for General Conference. Some days, I am able to pause and focus my attention on the Church and ask for God’s presence and guidance. Other days, I admit, it’s just a fleeting thought. But every day, at some point, I pray a simple phrase – just as Jesus taught me – “your Kingdom come; your will be done.” I’ve been told that praying, “your will be done” is a copout and that we should boldly tell God what we want God to do. But I’m increasingly convinced that asking for God’s will to be done, trusting God (more than I trust myself), and paying attention to what God is doing in my life and in the world around me is an essential part of following Jesus, and is one of the ways we find joyin the midst of anxious times.
There are many online resources with information about the plans being considered by General Conference. The Virginia Conference website is a good place to start: www.vaumc.org/GC2019. There you will find links to read as well as a list of the Virginia Conference’s delegates to General Conference. You can pray for them by name and contact them to offer your support.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.