A weekly newsletter from United Methodist Church of Lenox
A NOTE FROM THE PASTOR
“And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him” (Mark 1:12-13 NRSV).
God, we meet your Son not in the palace, but in the wilderness. He was vulnerable like us - as he stayed in the wilderness for forty days. He was there in embracing all the challenges or struggles of human life such as hunger, thirsty, fear, insecurity, and anxiety. For your Son, each one of these challenges was another name of the beasts in the wilderness, which he was asked to encounter. He was driven to cope with those forces that stormed his mind and heart.
God, we too, encounter our own beasts in the wilderness of our lives. Fear drives us to get panicked, hunger weakens us to feel helpless, thirst drags us to be impatient, insecurity dwindles our trust and belief, and anxiety shakes us to lose the balance on the steps of our life. Help us, O Lord, to see the angels of light, of courage, and of empowerment. Guide us to weather all the storms in the course of passing the turbulence of pandemic, uncertainty, and helplessness.
God of abiding and caring love, you sent the angels into the wilderness when your Son went against many spiritual battles. You reminded him that he was not alone in the desert journey. As your Son encountered your abiding love and care, help us to find your angels who show up when we are tired, hungry, thirsty, and surrounded by the wild beasts of despair and distress. With your help, we can move beyond our time of struggles and frustrations. Help and guide us to take on the courage of preaching the gospel of the “vulnerable Jesus” who emptied himself for the abundance of God’s infinite love. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
By Rev. Jinyong Choi, North Boston Korean UMC, Andover, MA
Based on Mark 1:9-15
The First Sunday in Lent 2021
Lent is a perfect time to access our spiritual health – as individuals and as a church. Lent is a perfect time to ask ourselves important, hard questions: Where am I? How close am I to God or how far am I from God? How spiritually fit am I? How spiritually fit are we? We invite you to join us asking ourselves these spiritual questions.
Upcoming Sunday will be a contemporary worship service that will be led by Tom Cairns. come and enjoy the spiritual hymnals. Let's praise our God together!!
If you visit the link below or dial this number by your phone, you can join the worship service at 10am. please come early so we can start the worship at 10.
Are you missing time with your UMC of Lenox community where you can chat and catch-up with them? We are too! That is why we are starting a Virtual Coffee Hour on Sundays at 9:30am and 11:00am through Zoom Video/Audio Conferencing!
Before and after the worship service, you can join the virtual coffee hour via zoom to check in folks from church. Let’s catch up with newcomers and friends. Bring your coffee for time to chat and check-in!!
From this room, people will be grouped into smaller groups, if we have many folks at once. Let's stay connected!! you may find the zoom link above which is the same one with worship service.
* Bible Study - Wed 10am ( Gospel of the Mark )
* Office Hours
. Pastor Nami working from home ( Tue-Fri, 9am-5pm and Sat 9am-2pm) - available to reach out phone call (442-6314) or email ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
.Kathy, Administration Assistant working in the church office Tue (11am – 2pm) and Fri (9am – 12pm) Hours are flexible so please call church office (445-5918) or email (email@example.com) to make sure she is working
Lenten Book Study
The book is called "why easter matters", it has 4 sessions, video and group discussion. Please sign up if you like to participate and let Pastor or Jill Wehry know and church will offer the book for you. It will be held via Zoom on Tuesday night, starting Feb 23 at 6:30pm-7:30pm. If you are registered to this group, a zoom link will be sent to you for that day!
Arts and Faith : Lent 2021
During the Lent, every Saturday morning 10am, we will enjoy the video commentary about a work of art inspired by the Sunday Scriptures of Lent for imaginative Prayer Exercise.
First gathering will be held Feb 20th, Sat at 10am via email. you don't need to sign up for this and just visit the zoom link below at that time.
I am writing to tell you that Nancy can not take any more calls or reservations because her office is filled to capacity. They have more than 8,000 emails and phone calls so far! If you still want to try with her office, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
where do you want to receive the vaccine? Pittsfield or Worcester office?
Eventually someone will contact you but it may take a longer time.
So you should also try to go to this website: mass.gov/covid-vaccine. This will tell you about your eligibility, and all of the local places you can receive a vaccine. you can register to make the appointment. Nancy said that Berkshire Medical Center is giving the vaccines almost everyday at Berkshire Community College on West street, and that it is very efficient.
Fortunately many of our elderly church members have received the vaccine, and the distribution of the vaccine is improving every week. It is going faster in Berkshire county because we have fewer people than the bigger cities.
We hope this information is helpful for you.
Lenten Bible Study led by Rev. Megan Stowe
You are invited to join our DS for a Conference-wide Lenten Bible Study called Roll Down Justice tying Mark Miller hymns to Scripture as we discuss what does it mean to be an inclusive church. It starts February 14 at 7-8:30 pm and repeats Sunday evenings till March 21. It is fine if you can only make a time or two. The only items necessary are an open mind, listening ears, and a Bible in your favorite translation. Here is the link to register: https://www.neumc.org/eventdetail/14965583?month=2&year=2021&day=1&display=m
Guidance for Lenten Spiritual practice
HOW TO WRITE YOUR OWN PSALM OF LAMENT
Lamentation, a prayer for help coming out of pain, is very common in the Bible. When we hurt physically, we cry out in pain; when we hurt religiously, we cry out in lament. A Psalm of Lament is an address to God: a complaint, a request, and usually an expression of trust. Types of complaints include: concerns with the psalmists own thoughts and actions, concerns with the actions of an enemy or prevailing attitude, and concerns with God’s action or inaction. They are cries of despair, anger, protest and doubt. They are the largest class of psalms and were a normal part of Israel’s praise and worship. There are communal psalms of lament and individual ones.
They follow this general structure:
Address and introductory cry: Identify the Lord as the person to whom the Psalm is addressed.
Complaint or Lament : Articulate the problem and ask the Lord for help.
Confession of Trust: Verbalize your trust in the Lord.
Prayer for Deliverance: Request deliverance, or God’s intervention in the problem.
Praise: Offer praise and thanksgiving to God for God’s many blessings.
Take some time and reflect on how the last week (or a time frame of your choice) has been for you. Make note of the predominant emotions you have been feeling during this time, in particular the more negative ones. Reflect on a particular situation or recurring theme that you know has been causing you distress, pain or anxiety and that you feel is beyond your control. Imagine that God is with you and that He has given you complete freedom to lay it all out, to complain fearlessly without judgment, in order to get it all off your chest.
With a piece of paper and pen, invite God’s presence and follow the steps outlined below.
Address and introductory cry: Identify the Lord as the person to whom you are addressing your complaint. Request for His presence as you express what is on your heart.
Complaint or Lament: Articulate the problem you are wrestling with. Detail how it is affecting you, the pain it is causing, and ask the Lord for His help.
Confession of Trust: Verbalize your trust in the Lord. Share your hopes that He will come to your aid, that He will be present with you in your situation.
Prayer for Deliverance: Request deliverance, or God’s intervention in the problem.
Praise: Offer praise and thanksgiving to God for God’s many blessings and faithfulness.
There are many different definitions of spiritual formation. A definition that describes our approach comes from Dallas Willard, who describes spiritual formation in the tradition of Jesus Christ as “the process of transformation of the inmost dimension of the human being, the heart, which is the same as the spirit or will. It is being formed (really, transformed) in such a way that its natural expression comes to be the deeds of Christ done in the power of Christ.”
Spiritual formation is not something that we do to ourselves for ourselves, but something we allow God to do in us and for us as we yield ourselves to the work of God’s transforming grace in us, and also in the world around us.
Pastor encourages you to create a spiritual space to allow God's work to do within you.
Small Group Ministry
In the church council, we started talking about having a small group in our church to be connected to each other well.
The Pastor is looking for the people who may have an interest in or commit to small group ministry as a participant. Before extending this group to the entire congregation, we want to create one small group (5-6 people) to discuss the purpose of our small groups and how that might define how we operate them. small groups should be a chance to get to know a smaller group of folks on a more personal level and be involved in praying for them, sharing our spiritual journeys, and discussion of how to be more faithful in our daily lives. This group will be different with the bible study or book study group. so there will be no typical form for this gathering and we want to make it a casual/social group. The main purpose of this group will be a fellowship by building a relationship together.
Depending on the participants, we will discuss the schedule of this gathering. If you like to join this small group, Please let Pastor know.