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Dear Friends, June/July 2017
Grace and peace in the Name of Jesus. The above scripture has always been special to me as I think of our need to cast on Jesus all of our worries, anxieties, fears, and stress. One of the most popular TV shows for teenagers today is the Netflix original 13 Reasons Why where the lead character makes 7 cassette tapes for 7 people telling them the 13 reasons for her suicide. It is a very sad show that illustrates the suicide epidemic in America where over 44,000 people committed suicide in 2016. The show 13 Reasons Why is controversial because it could encourage teens to rationalize making the decision to take their own lives. One thing that is missing in all the 13 episodes is God and faith. No where is faith in Jesus ever mentioned or the importance of being part of a faith community. Each Sunday I consider preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a matter of life and death. We face stress and anxiety every day- no matter what age we are- and we need to continue to fight the good fight of faith. The suicide epidemic is a sign that people are hurting and need to know God loves them and they are not alone. It is our job- as followers of Jesus- to reach out and share this Good News with all people. At a recent Sr. High Youth Group we discussed the 13 Reasons Why show and it was profound to know that our young people know that faith in Jesus gives them strength and courage. As Jesus says in John 16:33- “I have told you these words so you would have peace in me- in this world you will have trouble- but take heart I have overcome the world.”
Some one shared with me recently that around 1700 people have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge with only 26 surviving. All 26 people who miraculously survived said that they realized the second they jumped that they really did not want to die. We, as people of faith, must demonstrate to others that we can persevere through pain if we look to Jesus. Walking with Jesus through life and trusting in his saving grace will give meaning and purpose. We must embrace people who live with a mental illness- especially depression- and make them feel welcomed at church. One very interesting stat is that the least likely demographic to commit suicide is African American Women. Could it be due to their faith, their perseverance through many hardships that have given them the ability to overcome and press on. Interestingly…white males are the most likely to commit suicide. I bring this topic up because we- as the Body of Christ- are in the life saving business. We need to help people share their pains and heartache with God. To invite all to be part of a church family that is honest with the difficulties of life and bring our cares to God. We must continually share our faith in a Risen Lord who loves and welcomes all people. That we can cast all our cares on Him because He truly cares for us. The primary way that people know that God cares for them is through God’s people. People who are thinking about taking their lives need others to listen and care for them. So many people just need someone to show some compassion. And if you are a person who is desperate and alone I invite you to care for someone else. In doing so you will experience your God given purpose to share divine love and gain a new perspective on your own problems. You get outside of your self.
Do not hold onto the heavy weight of animosity, hatred, grudges, anxieties….. cast them on Jesus. Release them to the one who died for you so you could be set free. You can hold on to your cares or you can cast them onto the Lord- it is your choice.
Please mark your calendar to attend a Special Church Conference on Tuesday June 13th at 7pm. The sole order of business is to vote on moving forward on the much needed addition that will expand our welcome/foyer area and finally make our church building fully handicap accessible. Each member of First UMC is encouraged to attend to hear about the plans and vote on whether to proceed in raising the needed funds. I believe the leaders of the church have come up with a wonderful plan that will strengthen our mission and ministry to all.
Your participation is vitally important. I invite you to attend this very important meeting on June 13th.
I am excited about our First UMC Float for the Westborough 300th Parade on September 10. Thank you to Dick and Naomi Howarth for donating their pick-up and trailer. Pray for what our float will represent as it goes down Main Street. I want everyone to know that we love to share the love of Jesus! That we are full of the JOY of the Lord and seek to help all people in need. Since the Westborough 300th parade is on September 10th our RALLY Sunday will be held on September 17- on which we will resume our 2 services and then have a big BBQ! Mark your calendars!
I strongly encourage you to not take a break from worship this summer. Commit to honoring the sabbath and you will be blessed. Many people have shared with me that the best Sunday’s- when the Holy Spirit really blesses them- are the Sunday’s that they almost did not attend- but attended our of honoring the sabbath. Make summer 2017 special by attending worship each Sunday- whether you are home or vacationing. Our summer worship hour- one service at 9am- begins on Children and Youth Sunday- June 11.
Make plans to be in church on June 4th- PENTECOST SUNDAY- and where RED clothing- when we celebrate the birth of church with the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2) At the 9am we will commission new Stephen Ministers and at 10:30am we will celebrate the Confirmation of 21 youth. We celebrate that they will profess their faith in Jesus!
On May 21 we welcomed 11 new members to the First UMC family. Look for their photos and biographies in this newsletter and on our church website. There are others who will be joining soon. Please let me know if you are interested in officially becoming a member of the First UMC family.
One saying that I find comfort in is THE STRUGGLE IS REAL, BUT SO IS GOD. Jesus never promised that life would be easy but when we follow Jesus we accept the calling to share the love of Jesus and help those in need. We are given a purpose to live each day focused on the Lord. Christ-centered and not self-centered. I remember meeting with someone recently- who was suicidal but is now passionate about life- because they now walk with Jesus! They had tears of joy streaming down their face as they praised God for a new life. And that is what following Jesus gives us- NEW LIFE. Alleluia! and Amen!
In Christian Love, Pastor John
Battles are fought in our minds every day. When we begin to feel the battle is just too difficult and want to give up, we must choose to resist negative thoughts and be determined to rise above our problems. We must decide that we’re not going to quit. When we’re bombarded with doubts and fears, we must take a stand and say: “I’ll never give up! God’s on my side. He loves me, and He’s helping me! I’m going to make it!- Joyce Meyer
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
― C.S. Lewis
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