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“We grow up hungry for love, and in ways so deep as to remain unexpressed we long for our Maker to love us.” ― Philip Yancey, What's So Amazing About Grace?
“Grace teaches us that God loves because of who God is, not because of who we are.”
― Philip Yancey, What's So Amazing About Grace?
Dear Friends, September 2017
Grace and peace. I always begin my pastoral letters with this greeting. Just as Paul began his letters to the early churches. Our hearts are thirsty and hungry for grace- God’s unconditional love. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that the church gathers around and- with the Holy Spirit’s presence- defines who we are as followers of Jesus. Our RALLY SUNDAY will be on September 17th this year due to the Westborough 300th Grande Parade on September 10th. The amazing grace of God through Jesus is what we RALLY around every Sunday! RALLY SUNDAY is the Sunday when we will resume our normal worship times of 9am and 10:30am. After the 10:30am service we will have a delicious BBQ and fun and games for all ages. It will be a wonderful time of fellowship as well.
You are also invited to take part in celebrating Westborough’s 300th anniversary by helping decorate our church float. We will be gathering on September 9th to decorate. If you would like to help please call the church office to find out the exact time. We are also looking for people to walk next to the First UMC Church Float wearing our brand new First UMC T-Shirts. They are really beautiful with First UMC and the Cross and flame on front and I LOVE MY CHURCH- with a heart- on the back. You can purchase our new church t-shirts for only $10! We ordered plenty for everyone- in all sizes.
Our summer book study book What’s So Amazing About Grace has truly blessed me and all those who participated. God’s grace is what the church offers to all and is what brings us salvation, joy and peace. God’s grace is what fuels our church because it is what we all need everyday. We will never tire from receiving it because our souls need to be nourished continually. I would never think of not physically eating for weeks and weeks. My body would atrophy and die. It is the same with our souls if they are not nourished by God’s grace on a continual basis. When Nancy and I brought Shaw and Ethan to college we could not hold back the tears. They were wonderful tears as we praised God for our children and what awaited them in college. We cried because we knew the Taylor household would never be the same. That we would miss them. Yet…we also cried because we knew that they had a relationship with Jesus that would empower them to live fully. That they could face any challenge knowing God was with them. The most important things in life are loving relationships and the most important is our personal relationship with Jesus.
Our church is growing because we rejoice in God’s love each Sunday and express it through worship, education, mission and outreach. Our ASP mission is touching so many hearts with God’s love each year. It always brings me joy to see how someone on an ASP mission trip is overjoyed and surprised to experience God’s grace. Many are overwhelmed because it is difficult to define- but they know it is a God thing- that it is what they are hungry and thirsty for.
The focus of our church float will be the wooden cross that was in our altar window this past Holy Week and Easter. We will have a heart at the intersection of the vertical and horizontal parts of the cross with the word LOVE in the middle. “For God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son”…. from John 3:16… is the center of our faith. It is where we meet God- at this intersection. We will have First UMC’s Gospel Accord men’s singing group on the float as well as members of our Joyful Sound Handbell Choir- to spread the music of the Lord to all of Westborough. We will also have the ASP - Appalachia Service Project Float (the church van) behind our float with adults and youth wearing tool belts and boots- and ASP t-shirts! We will also have Dick Howarth’s 1937 Dodge as part of our float with FIRST UMC - Following Jesus Since 1858 on the side.
I am so happy that we - as a church- can celebrate the 300th Anniversary of Westborough MA. We are so blessed to be part of the rich history of our blessed town. The Word of God has been preached and taught within our church since 1858. And it will never go out of fashion because it is by grace we are saved. (Ephesians 2) We are blessed to celebrate the past while looking forward with faith. One can become discouraged watching the 24 hour news cycle. There is always something violent and hate-filled to watch. I am amazed at how grace rises up out of the ashes and shines a light of hope. Even though he is still in shock over his daughter’s death, Mark Heyer- father to Heather Heyer- said that people need to learn to forgive each other. “I include myself in that in forgiving the guy who did this," he said. "I just think about what the Lord said on the cross, ‘Forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.' ”
God’s love works through people who have experienced a divine grace. One such person is our beloved church brother- Cecil Griffin- who died on August 23 at the age of 98. I was blessed to be very close to Cecil and often mentioned him when speaking from the pulpit or during prayer time. We will miss him tremendously but know he is with God in Heaven- with his loved one’s. Everyone who knew Cecil was blessed because he shared the love of Jesus wherever he went. For years myself or Dick Stone would pick Cecil up on Wednesdays for the 6am Men’s Prayer Group at McDonalds. Cecil would always have a good word that would help us experience the power of God’s love. He would often say- “If you have God you have everything.” Cecil believed in and accepted the saving love of Jesus- and he joyfully shared it with everyone.
Let us be like Cecil as we go forward in faith. Cecil knew that many people did not know the Love of God and would make a point in showing and sharing that love. Let us be excited about our church family and how we can reach the hurting and lost in the world.
Thank you for being a part of our church family as we seek to reach people with the love of Jesus. Face the challenges of life with faith in Jesus. Consider inviting someone to come to church with you this Rally Sunday so they can know Jesus like Cecil did in life. He died with love in his heart knowing he was part of a faith community that needed him and surrounded him with love. Let us do all we can to help people know God’s grace and peace. Amen.
In Christian Love,
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.- Ephesians 2:8-10
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