Just in case you didn’t know…
The United Methodist Church recognizes two sacraments; baptism and communion.
These two acts have a special place in the church because Jesus commanded them and participated in them.
Baptism marks the beginning of our lifelong journey as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Communion nourishes and sustains us on the journey.
Holy Communion includes a profound act of remembrance that recalls the last supper Jesus had with his disciples. But it is more than just a ritual of remembering. It is primarily an act through which our connection with God, each other and our life of ministry in the world is nourished and strengthened.
When we receive the bread and wine so “we may be for the world the body of Christ redeemed by his blood,” we are remembering. At the same time, we are also re-membered, or put back together again. We pray that we may be “one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world.” God’s work of making us one and uniting us with Christ and with each other is the ordinary way by which God feeds us, sustains us and empowers us to live as Christians in the world.
In communion, we do remember the saving work God has already done in the world and is doing today. And we anticipate God’s future for the world and all creation. We’re partners with God in creating this future. We are strengthened and transformed by the presence of Christ in the bread and wine to respond to God’s love by loving God and others.
Baptism and Salvation –
People often have a lot of questions about baptism. Maybe this will clear up a couple.
Q: Do I have to be baptized in order for God to save me?
A: No. God is free to offer God’s salvation if for some reason you have not been baptized by the time you die.
Q: If I am baptized, does that mean I will be saved no matter what?
A: No. Baptism begins God’s work of saving us by cleansing us of sin and beginning the work of renewing us fully into the image of Christ. The key word here is beginning. Baptism starts the process. It does not complete it. We can choose by our action or inaction to let the work begun go dormant and have no fuller effect. Or, as John Wesley sometimes put it, we may “sin away the grace received at baptism.”
Q: How does baptism relate to salvation?
A: We say baptism is the “ordinary” or “instituted” means of justifying grace. It is the usual way God has offered the church to enable people of any age to experience the justifying grace of God and the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Salvation normally begins taking root in people’s lives here. From here we are invited to keep growing in sanctifying grace until by God’s grace and our faithful response we are “made perfect in love in this life.”
If you ever have questions regarding your faith or our worship practices here at Westville United Methodist Church, please feel free to contact me and we can figure it out together.
Remember that God loves you, and I love you, and there isn’t anything you can do about that.
From the Pastor…DID YOU KNOW?
Have you noticed the recent changes inside the sanctuary of the church? The changes can be subtle if you don’t pay attention. I’m talking about the colors used on the alter, the pulpit and the lectern. For example, at Easter, the colors were white, but on Pentecost Sunday, the colors were red. What does it mean? Hopefully, this article will help you to understand.
The Christian year contains two cycles: the Christmas Cycle (Advent– Christmas–Epiphany) and the Easter Cycle (Lent–Easter–Pentecost). Within each cycle are a preparatory season symbolized by the color purple and a festival season symbolized by the color white. After each cycle there is an ordinary time of growth symbolized by the color green. Thus, there is a sequence of seasons using purple, white, and green in that order twice each year.
Purple is a color of both penitence and royalty used during the preparatory seasons of Advent and Lent. Blue, a color of hope, may also be used during Advent but I don’t think we have blue paraments at our church.
White and gold are joyous and festive colors used during the Christmas and Easter Seasons (except on the Day of Pentecost) and in other seasons on festive days such as Baptism of the Lord, Transfiguration, Trinity, All Saints, and Christ the King. White may also be used at weddings and at services where the Sacrament of Baptism is central. White is recommended at services of death and resurrection because it symbolizes both death and resurrection. At services of Holy Communion white linens on top of the Lord’s table are customary, but the paraments hanging over the front or sides of the table and the other visuals should reflect the day or season of the year.
Green is a color of growth, used in the Seasons After the Epiphany and After Pentecost, except when special days call for white or red.
Red is a color of fire, symbolizing the Holy Spirit. It is used on the Day of Pentecost and at other times when the work of the Holy Spirit is emphasized. Red is also the color of blood—the blood of Christ and the blood of martyrs. Because of its intensity, red is most effective when used occasionally rather than continuously for a whole season. It is appropriate for evangelistic services, for ordinations and consecrations, for church anniversaries and homecomings, and for civil observances such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day or Memorial Day. It may be used beside white and gold through the Easter Season. It may be used during Holy Week, beginning with Passion/Palm Sunday, to symbolize the blood of Christ.
Although use of these colors is based on broad ecumenical tradition, other colors have been and are being used in Christian churches. Creativity with colors and other signs for days and seasons is encouraged.
Thank you to Cathy Jo Grostefon for your commitment to making sure the church is properly adorned throughout the liturgical calendar year.
From the Pastor – April 2021
Every month, I challenge myself to put together an article for the newsletter that will either inform you, educate you, or even humor you a little. I sometimes wonder if anyone even reads the articles I write, or do they just skim through the newsletter looking for something specific that they are interested in. How would I know if you actually read my article? If I were to ask you – would you be honest with me if you hadn’t read it? I have an idea. Join me for an experiment. The next time that you see me I want you to say the following…” April Showers bring May flowers”. This is how I will know that you have read at least this much of my article.
The poem that, as we know it, contains the words, “April showers bring May flowers” actually originated all the way back in 1157 in the form of a short poem written by Thomas Tusser. The poem can be found in the April section of a collection of his writings titled, “A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry.” The actual poem goes as follows: “Sweet April showers Do spring May flowers”. I thought that since I am writing this article for the April newsletter – we can talk about this well-known poem.
“April showers bring May flowers” is a reminder to us all that even the most unpleasant things, in this case the heavy rains of April, can bring about very enjoyable things indeed – even an abundance of flowers in May. To make this more relevant to our current time and season of life, we can look at any situation that seems bleak or that we might consider a hardship, and trust that good things are coming. Another line that comes to mind that I have heard is that “It’s always darkest before the dawn”. What does that make you think of?
When Jesus Christ gave his life on the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of mankind – when he drew his last breath, the scriptures tell us that it was around noon and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. “It’s always darkest before the dawn” and good things often come after hardships. Good things like the Good News of the resurrection of Jesus Christ which we will have a special celebration for on Easter Sunday.
So many things have happened over the past year and the global pandemic has logically taken center stage. As more and more people receive the vaccine and reported cases continue to trend downward, I am confident that good things are coming our way. I am seeing light at the end of a very dark period and am placing my hope in the One that brings light, and I am approaching this next season with great anticipation to see how God is at work.
April Showers bring May flowers – let us trust in God’s process.
From the Pastor… March 2021
During the Ash Wednesday service on the first day of Lent, I invited you all to observe a holy Lent: by self–examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self–denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word. While you may be aware of this season leading up to Easter, you may wonder how you might “observe a holy Lent.”
There is no one prescribed way. Instead, we are each encouraged to find our own method of confronting our sinfulness, remembering our mortality, and giving thanks for the gift of salvation we receive through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
One of the more common practices is to give something up for Lent. Some abstain from chocolate, social media, shopping or something else through the season. This is a religious practice we know as fasting. We fast to reorient ourselves away from the distraction of those things, and back toward God.
Another way to reorient your life toward God, is to focus on devotional practiceslike Bible study and prayer during the season.
Many do not know where to begin when reading the Bible. May I suggest reading from a devotional such as Upper Room or downloading a free Bible app like “You Version” to help guide you in this pursuit. The nice thing about the Upper Room Devotional Guide is it provides a scripture passage and wonderfully thought-provoking and spirit-enriching material to read and think about each day.
In the busyness of our everyday lives, prayer can sometimes get squeezed out. Lent is a wonderful time to intentionally work toward finding more time in your life for prayer. You can experiment with different ways to pray during the season, or really delve into a new-to-you way of praying. Enriching your prayer life is a great way to spend Lent.
Another way to observe a holy Lent is to take on a new way of serving. Throughout the forty days of the season, you can adopt a new habit of volunteering in the community or making special financial gifts.
An important practice with which many of us struggle is the spiritual discipline of rest or Sabbath. We don’t have to rest on Saturday, the traditional Sabbath day, or even Sunday. You can instead find moments during an ordinary day to be still in God’s presence. You might choose to spend a few minutes during lunch with a desktop meditationor listen to sermons during your commute. Each can be a great way of enriching your Lent.
Our church offered services on Ash Wednesday to begin Lent, and there are plans of offering other special services during Holy Week, the final days leading up to Easter. There may also be special times of prayer, study, and other gatherings that will help you continue your journey throughout the season.
Observe a holy Lent
This 40-day journey called Lent is a wonderful opportunity to grow in your faith. Find your path of self-reflection and spiritual discovery, and invite others to join you as you seek to observe a holy Lent.
Pastor Toby Guill