Newsletter 2021 BUMC
January 19, 2021
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ,
Luke 8: 40-48 recalls a time that Jesus was walking through town and a woman who had been suffering from bleeding for twelve years reached out from the crowds and touched his robe. “She came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I notice that power has gone out from me”. When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace”.
We have been journeying through a pandemic for over 10 months now. Some days we may not even recall the time when we didn’t need to mask up to go outside our homes or remain socially distant from one another. Some days, it may feel that we will never return to days of group gatherings and greeting one another with handshakes and hugs. After 12 years, this woman must have been an outcast in her society, been isolated from her family and gone through great struggle with her faith. If you have been required to quarantine or you yourself have been infected by COVID you may understand the stigma that some are facing. Fear, lack of understanding or frustration has led people to judge others as we watch the infection rate increase and are inconvenienced with business closings and appointments being cancelled.
This woman with the issue of bleeding saw her opportunity and searched out God. Somehow, she knew that she needed Jesus to heal her, to bring her answers and to give her hope for the future. How have you reached out to Jesus throughout the past year? Have you reached for your Bible, found yourself praying more frequently? Have you sought out ways to keep yourself connected with friends and family? Perhaps you have found yourself frustrated and angry. How is it with your soul? Not a question we often ask one another is it? We exchange the words, How are you? How are you feeling? What have you been up to? But, we do not often take the time or allow the space for deeper reflection with one another. In the busy and chaotic world, it is hard to not only make the connections with others to reflect upon these things but also finding the space and the tools to look deeper within ourselves. Has this time of the pandemic brought you closer to God or distanced you? I confess to you that I often find ways of distracting myself to avoid this inner reflection. But, I will say, more than ever I am seeking Jesus these days.
How is God using all of this for His Kingdom? Scripture reveals to us the amazing ways that Jesus offered comfort and healing to His people. An important detail of each of these stories is the courage individuals had as they stepped out in faith. Towards Jesus. Another thing we mustn't forget is the community that we are invited into as we journey with Jesus. Perhaps it is the distancing that has brought about my desire to ask so many questions and to check in with you. To find an opportunity to assess my own spirituality, as well. As we learn from the woman in our scripture passage and from many other stories in the Bible we all have a choice to make. We can attempt to figure things out all by ourselves, we can wait for God to come to us (which does happen!) but I think Jesus often taught us that He wants us to take the steps in trust to draw closer to Him.
As a faith community we have an amazing opportunity to find connection whether we face trials, doubts, grief or moments of celebration. Thanks to technology we have been able to provide the means to connect. Many of you are using your gifts of letter writing, prayer warriors are working overtime, phone calls are being made. Unfortunately, it hasn’t always been easy or the preferred way to worship and fellowship together but I have witnessed so many who have reached out, and for this I am thankful.
Looking forward into 2021 I ask you to persevere. Continue shining your light wherever you are. Do not let the darkness of this world extinguish your love for God or your desire to seek out His comfort and healing.
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore” (Psalm 66:1-3)
As followers of Christ we can have hope for the healing of a nation. Not only healing from COVID-19 but from the division and turmoil that seems to take precedence over Jesus’ commandment to His followers to “love thy neighbor”. This should bring us hope and the determination to reach out to not only touch the garments of our Savior but to be touched with His healing powers. May this offer peace to each and every one of you.
Thank you for all you are doing as a part of Branchport United Methodist Church. I am blessed to be in ministry with you and look forward to hearing your ideas for mission and to continue extending the invitations to others into the Body of Christ.
Looking forward to 2021:
*We are currently collecting “SOAP”er Bowl items- Bar soap, dish and laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, etc.) for The Living Well until February 7th
*In February we will be collecting pet food and supplies to benefit Pet Partner Connections of Yates County
*Our Blessing Cupboard is available to the community
*We are assessing the needs of our building and will be working on repairs and improvements (projects include new front doors, a gazebo in the side yard)
The picture at the beginning of this letter is on the wall of my bedroom. The cards are from many of you since the beginning of the pandemic. These notes and the Christmas cards I received are encouragement and comfort through days that may otherwise make me want to run and hide! Thank you so much! I know that Valentine’s Day is mainly a retail holiday but as we are missing one another and striving to deepen our own relationship with God and one another how about sending some “Valentines” to one another! Share your favorite verse or words of encouragement. Continue extending love to one another and most especially yourselves! Please let me know if you need addresses.