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From the Pastor – APRIL 2020
In the words of John Lennon, “Nobody told me there’d be days like these…”. What a difference a few days have made for all of us around the world. We find ourselves in difficult times where we have been called to isolate ourselves from everybody. To practice social distancing is something that many find difficult because we thrive on interacting with our friends, family, neighbors, and even the stranger at the grocery store. A few days, or more likely – a few more weeks – can make a difference in our spiritual lives and hopefully strengthen our relationship with Jesus Christ. Let us not forget that we are still in the season of Lent, and what a perfect opportunity we have to really reflect on our lives. And let us also not forget that regardless of what the calendar says, we can and should celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior every day. As followers of Christ – everyday is EASTER! And if we need to wait a few days longer before we can come together to worship in our sanctuary, that is what we will do. I promise you that when we are given the “all-clear” sign and are able to meet again – we will celebrate Easter together.
In the case of Jesus a few days made a drastic difference. On Palm Sunday the people of Israel welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with shouts of Hosanna, and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” But only a few days later many of these same people were shouting ‘crucify him.’
Today, as we reflect on this season, I am reminded of a sermon I heard that I would like to share a portion of with you. The following was written by S.M. Lockridge (1913-2000) who was a pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in San Diego California from 1953-1993. I hope these words will bring you a sense of hope as you reflect on the Easter story.
Jesus is praying – Peter’s a sleeping – Judas is betraying
But Sunday’s comin’
Pilate’s struggling – The council is conspiring – The crowd is vilifying – They don’t even know
That Sunday’s comin’
The disciples are running – Like sheep without a shepherd – Mary’s crying – Peter is denying
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s a comin’
The Romans beat my Jesus – They robe him in scarlet – They crown him with thorns
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s comin’
See Jesus walking to Calvary – His blood dripping – His body stumbling – And his spirit’s burdened
But you see, it’s only Friday
The world’s winning – People are sinning – And evil’s grinning
The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands – To the cross – They nail my Savior’s feet – To the cross
And then they raise him up – Next to criminals
But let me tell you something – Sunday’s comin’
The disciples are questioning – What has happened to their King – And the Pharisees are celebrating
That their scheming – Has been achieved – But they don’t know
It’s only Friday
He’s hanging on the cross – Feeling forsaken by his Father – Left alone and dying
Can nobody save him?
It’s Friday – But Sunday’s comin’
The earth trembles – The sky grows dark
My King yields his spirit
Hope is lost – Death has won – Sin has conquered
and Satan’s just a laughin’
Jesus is buried – A soldier stands guard
And a rock is rolled into place
But it’s Friday
It is only Friday
Sunday is a comin’!
Remember – God loves you – I love you – and there is nothing you can do about it.
Important News Release: March 17, 2020
Westville United Methodist Church
*It was announced today that the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention is urging a nationwide halt to gatherings of more than 50 people. Our Bishop, Julius Trimble, also sent out a communication today requesting that all churches suspend their regular worship services.
It is for that reason that the decision to cancel church services and church events has been made and will go into effect immediately. At this time, the church will remain closed until at least April 12th (Easter Sunday) at which time we will re-evaluate and announce whether or not we will have service on Easter.
*We will also be cancelling our Friday Night Fish Fries for the remainder of our Lenten Season.
*The Westville United Methodist Resale Shop will also be closed until April 4th. We will reevaluate reopening at that date.
From the Pastor… March Letter
The Season of Lent…
Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, meaning “lengthen” and refers to the lengthening days of spring. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by new converts and then became a time of penance by all Christians. Today, Christians focus on relationship with God, growing as disciples and extending ourselves, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of ourselves for others.
Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter” and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.
So, how will you choose to participate in this season of Lent? I’ve heard of people deciding to give up things such as chocolate, fast-food, or coffee. Many avoid eating meat on Fridays during Lent, which is why our fish fry is so popular. Others might choose to fast from practices that don’t necessarily make them a better person – like gossiping or criticizing others. Whatever it is you decide to give up, the intent needs to be a big part of truly recognizing Lent. Jesus calls us to fast, but simply tells us to do it for the right reasons. It should not be for our glory, but for God’s. Ideally, if we are doing something sinful, then it would be good to try to stop doing it. But something that is not sinful can be given up, not because it is unclean but because we are called to something greater. It’s about sacrifice.
This season remember to Do No Harm, Do Good, and Stay in Love with God. Go ahead and eat the chocolate.
SUNDAY IS COMING!
This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.—Psalm 118:24
Suppose a millionaire told you that on the stroke of midnight he was going to deposit in your bank account a gift of eighty-six thousand four hundred dollars. What would you say?
You’d probably say, “What’s the catch?”
And he would say, “The catch is that in the following twenty-four hours, you will have to spend it all. If you don’t, it will vanish.”
Eighty-six thousand four hundred dollars? It’s not very likely that someone will be making a deposit into your account for that kind of money. But how about eighty-six thousand four hundred seconds? That’s the number of extra time-units that this Leap Year Day brings to all of us. And when the hands of the clock close on midnight, February 29th, all of them will be gone.
What should one do with these bonus minutes and hours? Not an easy question, is it? I recently read an article where this very question was brought up, and this is what he said: “There’s a little game I play with myself on Leap Year Day. I call it ‘Suppose.’ Suppose all the little pleasures and satisfactions we take for granted happened to us only once in four years?
Little things like the smell of bacon frying, or the song of a bird, or the laughter of children playing in the yard. If such things happened only on Leap Year Day, how precious and marvelous they would seem. If you play this little game, even half seriously, it will intensify your awareness and your appreciation for all the days that the Lord has given us. Use this extra day to remind you how wonderful life really is on all the other days. It may sound a bit foolish, but it works for me. Maybe it would work for you.”
I invite you to join me this year on Saturday February 29th, to play “Suppose”. I do believe that taking the time to be aware of all the amazing gifts that God gives us DAILY will give us a whole new appreciation for this amazing life we live as followers of Jesus Christ.
Can you imagine…only smelling bacon once every 4 years? NO!
For the magical gift of time, granted to each of us in exactly the same measure, we thank You, dear Lord.
As I reflect on the past year, I find myself smiling about all the things that have happened – even those things that at the time, did not bring a smile to my face. I’ve also been thinking about how much our lives are like books. As we skim through the different chapters in our lives, we will find that in our book some chapters are sad, some are happy, and some are exciting. The important thing to remember is that if we fail to turn the page in our book, we will never know what the next chapter holds. We often get stuck looking at the same chapter over and over and letting it consume us. It’s time to turn the page.
As we enter into a New Year, we will have a blank page on which we are going to put words. We will have an opportunity to start a new chapter in our lives. New Years Day is a good time to fix our eyes on the only One who knows what the year is to hold. You can boldly enter the coming year with renewed hope in the power of God to do through you what you cannot. (You may want to read that last line again.) You can boldly enter the coming year with renewed hope in the power of God to do through you what you cannot. It’s time to begin righting the story of your life.
I’m excited to start this new journey with you as your pastor as we enter into 2020. I anticipate that every one of you in this church will have your own chapter in my book and I can only hope that I will be mentioned in yours.
Wishing you the best chapter yet in this coming New Year.
In His Service,
Greetings in Christ!
It is with great appreciation to the Lord Jesus Christ and His leading in my life that I will begin my journey here at Westville UnitedMethodist Church serving as your pastor.
I would like to take this opportunity to send you a note of thanks for the warm welcome I have already received, and I am looking forward to joyous and fruitful ministry in the years to come.
Just a little information about myself…my name is Toby Guill (pronounced Gill) and I am 48 years old. My wife’s name is Kim, and I’ll just let you ask her how old she is. Together, we have a son named Zachary who is 24 years old and is in the process of discerning his call to ministry. Our home, which is located in Burns Harbor, is rounded out with our two dogs – Gracie and Cooper.
I have a full-time position at Arcelor Mittal Steel in Burns Harbor where I work “shift-work” on the Pickle Line. This type of work schedule keeps me from having what some might call a “normal life”. I, however, vow to make myself available to everyone via phone, text, or email. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat – (I’m just not very good at using all of them.)
I accepted Jesus as my Savior on July 9, 2008 after a drowning incident at Lake Michigan. I accepted my call to ministry only a couple of years ago and became a Licensed Local Pastor in December of 2018. I have been serving as pastor in Whiting Indiana for the past year and a half. I am currently enrolled in Course of Study classes where I am learning so much about being an effective leader in the church and I anticipate graduating in about nine years. (Don’t order the cake yet.)
I look forward to meeting each one you, if not for the first time – then meeting you again.
I’m super excited!
Pastor Toby Guill