Where did Good Friday get its name?

April 12, 2017

The source of our term for the Friday before Easter, “Good Friday,” is not clear.  It may be a corruption of the English phrase “God’s Friday,” according to Professor Laurence Hull Stookey in Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church (p. 96). It is the common name for the day among English- and Dutch-speaking people. It is a day that proclaims God’s purpose of loving and redeeming the world through the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is a day that is good because God was drawing the world to God’s self in Christ. As seen in John’s gospel, particularly, God was in control. God was not making the best of a bad situation, but was working out God’s intention for the world — winning salvation for all people. We call it “good” because we look backward at the crucifixion through the lens of Easter!

Join us for Good Friday Service, April 14, 2017 @ 5:00 p.m.

 


“The invitation is to all:” A Wesley hymn devotion for Lent

March 11, 2017

A UMC.org Feature by Joe Iovino*

March 1, 2017, Ash Wednesday

This is the first in a series about hymns during Lent. Read more about musical devotions.

 

United Methodists are likely to sing Charles Wesley’s “Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast” sometime during Lent, the weeks leading up to Easter. The hymn invites everyone to receive new life in Jesus Christ.

Some people have a spiritual gift for making others feel welcome. Gifted parents make their sons and daughters’ fiancées feel part of the family on their first Easter together. Generous students and welcoming coworkers eat lunch with those who are new. Kind church members alleviate the anxiety of parents of squirming kids by offering a warm smile from across the row.

Jesus demonstrated the ability to turn a stranger into a friend. He ate with those whom others kept at arm’s length; chose a tax collector as part of his inner circle; and made Samaritans heroes in his stories. Jesus invited all to follow him, regardless of their personal history or social standing.

Lent: A season of welcome

Lent is often understood as a time that is all about us, the people who are already part of the church. We use the season to focus on our inner lives through fasting and abstinence and spend extra time in private prayer and devotion. We attend special worship services and Bible studies where we use old words like penitence that need explaining.

But Lent is also a time of welcome.

Baptism, the sacrament through which we are initiated into the Church, was a central part of the earliest celebrations of the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. Before the church formalized Lent into a liturgical season, they used the weeks before Easter to prepare converts to be welcomed into the community of faith through baptism.

In 18th century England, some people felt welcome in the church, while others did not. Righting this wrong was part of the impetus of John Wesley and the early Methodist movement.

The first Methodists were intentional about welcoming everyone. They preached where people gathered—town squares and fields near mines. In their meetinghouses, they educated children and distributed medical care to those who could not afford to see a doctor. They also visited prisons to share the gospel of Jesus Christ there.

These ministries grew out of what Wesley taught about God’s grace. He used the phrase prevenient grace to describe the love God has for everyone, even before we are aware of it (prevenient means “coming before”).

This also meant Wesley viewed the sacrament of Holy Communion differently from many of his colleagues. He began to celebrate an “open table,” which United Methodists still practice today. This means that regardless of church membership or lack of it, all who love Jesus, earnestly repent of their sin, and seek to live in peace with one another are welcome at the table where they can begin a new life of discipleship..

The invitation in song

Charles Wesley’s “Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast,” extends the invitation in song.

First published under the heading, “Hymn 50, The Great Supper, Luke 14:16-24” in Hymns for Those that Seek and Those that have Redemption in the Blood of Jesus Christ (Redemption Hymns 1747), the song invites us both to the communion table (see The United Methodist Hymnal #616) and to enter new life in Jesus Christ (see UMH #339). Together, the two occurrences in the hymnal use only nine of the 24 verses Wesley penned. Read Charles Wesley’s complete text here.

 

“Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast” performed by Rev. Clyde McLennan,

http://www.smallchurchmusic3.com.

 

The scripture reference in the heading is a parable Jesus tells about many who decline an invitation to a banquet by giving a variety of excuses. Wesley as narrator begins in the role of the servant charged with making the invitation on behalf of the host:

Come, sinners, to the gospel-feast,

 Let every soul be Jesu’s guest,

 You need not one be left behind,

 For God hath bidden all mankind.

 

Sent by my Lord, on you I call,

The invitation is to all.

Come all the world: come, sinner, thou,

 All things in Christ are ready now. (verses 1-2)

 

Wesley wants to be sure we each know there is a place for us at the communion table and in life with Jesus. If anyone thinks the invitation is not for them, Wesley is clear,

Sinners my gracious Lord receives,

 Harlots, and publicans, and thieves,

 Drunkards, and all the hellish crew,

 I have a message now to you. (verse 13)

 

Living the song

In the verses that follow, Wesley urges us who have accepted Christ’s invitation to become servants who invite others to come to the feast and enter into this new life of discipleship. He puts these words on Jesus’ lips,

Tell them, my grace for all is free,

 They cannot be too bad for me.

Tell them, their sins are all forgiven,

 Tell every creature under heaven. (verses 17b-18a)

 

Wesley then closes the hymn with a reminder that this gracious invitation is also a call to live a new life in Jesus that can begin today.

This is the time, no more delay,

 This is the acceptable day,

 Come in, this moment, at his call,

 And live for him who died for all. (verse 24)

This Lent, as we seek to strengthen our inner lives in preparation for Easter, let us also be people of invitation. May we not only come to the table ourselves, but invite others to join us in a relationship with Jesus Christ. With the words of Wesley’s hymn on our lips, we open the doors of our hearts, homes, and churches to welcome all to know the love and forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ.

 

*Joe Iovino works for UMC.org at United Methodist Communications.

 


An Invitation to Join us in Worship

February 28, 2017

Our friends and neighbors here in Sabine County are invited to join

us for an Ash Wednesday Service – Wednesday, March 1.

There will be two services;

Noon

or

6:00 p.m.

Our church is just down from the flashing light stop at 181 Milam Street, Hemphill.

ash.wed.service

 


10 ideas for a more meaningful Ash Wednesday

February 28, 2017

A UMC.org Feature by Joe Iovino* February 9, 2017

Ash Wednesday is an important day in the church calendar.

It marks the beginning of Lent, a season of preparation for the celebration of Easter.

This holy day is not a holiday from work, school, or most other obligations, so if we are not intentional in our observance it is likely to resemble any ordinary Wednesday.

To help us find ways to remember the holy in the midst of our routines—something we should strive for every day—we offer some ideas to consider.

1. Worship

Many congregations offer worship services on Ash Wednesday. In a typical United Methodist service, expect times of prayer, singing, confession and pardon, a sermon, and the imposition of ashes. The somber tone helps us reflect on our own mortality and the need for us to confess our sins.

If your congregation does not offer Ash Wednesday worship, Find-A-Church will help you locate United Methodist churches that do.

2. Serve

On Ash Wednesday, we remember that we are part of the entire human family, making it a great day to serve others. See if you can serve a meal during your lunch hour, or take a personal day to volunteer with a local Habitat for Humanity project.

Your service, however, doesn’t have to be with an organized group. You might instead choose to use your lunch hour to hand out sandwiches and sports drinks to the homeless in your city. You could also mow a neighbor’s lawn, or shovel the snow from their driveway.

3. Give

We encourage you to give to your congregation, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, and other organizations that serve others. Your generosity can also be creative.

Leave your server an above-and-beyond tip—maybe a 100% gratuity. Buy the coffee of the person behind you in line. Put money in the instrument case of a street musician. Purchase a paper from the homeless woman on the corner. Find ways to bless others with that which God entrusts you.

4. Abstain/fast

Giving something up for Lent” is a common practice for many Christians. Often, we give up a favorite food or try to kick a bad habit during Lent. Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is when this begins, but don’t confine yourself to food or habits.

Can you abstain from gossip or complaining for Ash Wednesday? What about defensive attitudes, fear, or anxiety? You probably won’t be perfect at this, but being mindful of times when these attitudes begin to take hold of your day can lead you to prayer.

5. Pray your day

Rather than setting aside special time for prayer, pray your day. Pray for the drivers of the vehicles and fellow mass transit passengers with whom you share your commute. Pray as you pass the hospital, police station, and government offices. Lift up the trash collector and the mail carrier. Pray as you write a letter, email, or Facebook post to an old friend. Offer sentence prayers throughout the day thanking God for your coworkers.

6. Make something

Some of us reflect and pray best when our hands our busy, making today a great day to create something. Get back in the workshop and spend time cutting, sanding, and gluing. Sit at a piano and let the music flow. Take out the paints, glue, clay, and other supplies to create a work of art.

As you create, be mindful of our Creator who longs to be in relationship with you.

7. Be still

Others find meaning in stillness. Try a practice like centering prayer by lighting a candle and pausing before the presence of God. Take a yoga class—some churches and spiritual directors offer holy yoga. Enjoy a cup of coffee on your deck. Listen for the crackling wick, the wind, the birds, the voice of God.

8. Clean something

Ash Wednesday is a good day to get a jump on your spring cleaning. Spend an hour with the junk drawer, that cabinet at work, or organizing the files on your hard drive.

As you remove things you no longer need and reorder those you do, be mindful of the ways God “cleans” us. The Bible tells us “As far as east is from west—that’s how far God has removed our sin from us” (Psalm 103:12, CEB). As we get things in order, we remember that Jesus gave his life so that we might be free from our sins and know new life.

9. Burn something

When you finish cleaning, take some of the papers you no longer need to the fireplace, light them, and watch them burn to ashes.

The ashes our pastors smudge on us during Ash Wednesday worship come from the burning of last year’s Palm Sunday palms. They remind us of our mortality and call us to repentance—seeking God’s forgiveness for our sin, both the things we have and have not done.

The ashes you’ll generate in the fireplace are not the same, but can serve as a similar reminder that your sins are forgiven. As the smoke rises up the chimney, know your prayers and life in Christ are rising to God as well.

10. Forgive and seek forgiveness

As we pray for God’s grace, we should also seek forgiveness from those we have wronged. Ash Wednesday is a great time to go to those you have hurt.


Easter Sunday – March 27, 2016

March 30, 2016

Jesus died … and on Easter we celebrate:

 He is risen!  He is risen, Indeed!

He lives! He is with us today.

cross

The beautiful Easter Cross,

decorated early Sunday morning with flowers from home/wayside,

adorned the sanctuary

as Charlotte North plays the prelude.

b

Worship on Easter Sunday

We were blessed to have family, visitors, and guests worship with us.

 a

The children sit spellbound by Pastor Grant as he retells the Easter story during the Children’s Sermon.

Congregation members entertained children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren as well as friends and cousins (several times removed) this weekend. Many attended services as part of their celebration and enjoyed the egg hunt that followed.

d

Agape Class members Brenda Corley, Janette Young with Arlie Boadaway watch and help as the children gather their egg bounty.

c Kari and Whitley enter the playground area looking for the bright solid-colored eggs.

eParents, grandparents, and great-grandparent Bonnie Rach look on as youngsters race for another egg!


Good Friday Service

March 24, 2016

Please join us for our Good Friday service March 26, 2016, @ 5:00 in our sanctuary.

crucifixion-gertner-1210-208x106

The word “tenebrae” comes from the Latin meaning “darkness.” The Tenebrae is an ancient Christian Good Friday service that makes use of gradually diminishing light through the extinguishing of candles to symbolize the events of that week from the triumphant Palm Sunday entry through Jesus’ burial.

This increasing darkness symbolizes the approaching darkness of Jesus’ death and of hopelessness in the world without God. The service concludes in darkness, sometimes with a final candle, the Christ candle, carried out of the sanctuary, symbolizing the death of Jesus. A loud noise may also sound symbolizing the closing of Jesus’ tomb. The worshipers then leave in silence to ponder the impact of Christ’s death and await the coming Resurrection.

 

Why those who are forgiven should be forgiving

From A UMC.org Feature by Joe Iovino March 18, 2016

“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive,” C. S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity. In Christ, we receive forgiveness of our sins. Yet when someone hurts us, we find the process of forgiving others, difficult and painful..

“Forgiveness is the means by which we open our hearts and lives to those who might have wronged us or demeaned us and find a way to say, ‘You are forgiven,’” retired United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert shares.


Maundy Thursday service to be held

March 21, 2016

maundy th

Please join us for our Maundy Thursday service March 25, 2016, @ 5:00 in our sanctuary.

 

What is Maundy Thursday?

 

Maundy Thursday is an alternate name for Holy Thursday, the first of the three days of solemn remembrance of the events leading up to and immediately following the crucifixion of Jesus. The English word “Maundy” comes from the Latin mandatum, which means “commandment.” As recorded in John’s gospel, on his last night before his betrayal and arrest, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and then gave them a new commandment to love one another as he had loved them (John 13:34). This is why services on this night generally include the washing of feet or other acts of physical care as an integral part of the celebration.

While John’s gospel does not record the institution of the Lord’s Supper among the events of this night, the other gospels do. Christians therefore keep this night with celebrations both at the basin (footwashing, optional) and at the Lord’s Table (Holy Communion).

Service will begin @ 5:00; The United Methodist Church holds an Open Table for Communion. All who seek to earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another are invited to the Table.

 

The members of First United Methodist Church of Hemphill