a Spiritual Journey in Real Life
For family and friends in the midst of flooding, our prayers are with you!
Michael Paul and Jessica Harris and their children Hannah and Nathan are safe from the rising water of Hurricane Harvey and subsequent rainfall in the Houston area.
It seems like just a few weeks ago, they were here in Hunt visiting on their summer break. We laughed and played and prayed together. It was a fun time. Now their lives are lived moment to moment with uncertainty waiting at each turn. This is the situation for so many who are now safe yet understandably insecure.
What can we do to help? We can give financially to relief agencies like:
UMCOR - www.umcor.org
Rio Texas United Methodist Conference Disaster Team - www.riotexas.org/harvey
Texas Conference United Methodist Disaster Team - www.txcumc.org
We can also offer Prayers and Loving Conversation, with encouragement and promises to come when the time is right to help in the clean up and the recovery.
A friend of ours Kirk Cowell shared a Facebook post today that tells the story of how important prayers and loving support can be in times like this one. Kirk and his family evacuated from their home southwest of Houston to be with family in North Texas. Now instead of wind damage, they are anticipating the flooding of their home from rising rivers and bayous in that area.
Kirk said this:
There's a lot to process for those of us affected by the flooding. Losing so much at once is a tremendous grief, compounded by the reality that so many friends are dealing with the same enormous loss. Then there's the stress of all the things that need to be figured out at some point. Where will we live now? Where will the kids go to school? Then there's the salvage and disposal work, the forms to fill out, the necessary shopping. That's a lot to think about.
It's also freeing, in a way. We own one car, some phones, a laptop, three iPads, one Kindle, and about three changes of clothes per person. I'm pretty sure that's all. We might get a few things from the house, but it won't be much. That stuff is going to be gone. I used to have hundreds of books. Now I'll have a few autographed books and the Bible my grandparents gave me on my 12th birthday--and that's only if they stay dry in the home of the friend who retrieved them for me, and that's a mighty big "if" right now.
Most of all, I have been amazed at the kindness of friends and acquaintances, who have overwhelmed us with their expressions of love and offers to help. We are brought to tears again and again by the messages we receive.
This is going to be hard. I know that. And we are going to fall apart every now and then. The kids are learning some hard lessons. But I am reminded of these words of scripture: "Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it." Thanks for showing your love to us.
Rev Kirk Cowell
Giving thanks for the faithfulness of God and the compassion of God's people -
Along the Way
Pastor Paul Harris
WOW, did you see the solar eclipse on Monday? It was amazing to see. What was really cool was to be with Geri Griffin's family and friends during the eclipse. Standing outside the church as we gathered for Geri's funeral service, Jan & Jim Anderson and their children and grandchildren welcomed one another with hugs and shared the special glasses for eclipse viewing.
Sure, the eclipse was something special. But what made it so much more memorable was to see this family come together in joy and peace with awe and wonder of life's grand adventure.
Adventure - a word we use to describe our earthly existence and the unknown and uncertain journey of life. It is also a word we use in speaking about the journey yet to come into the heavenly host. No one really knows what that journey shall be like; and yet, we Jesus followers claim the certain hope of resurrection from the dead into life everlasting with God.
As Jesus received in baptism a beloved child of God, we believe that Jesus received Geri Griffin in grace and peace as she begins a new adventure.
John 14: 1-4 gives us a clue about the journey and the destination when Jesus says,
“Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. You know the way to the place I’m going.”
We pray in the journey, we pray for the destination, and we pray for all that is known and unknown - Much love and many blessings!
Along the Way with Pastor Paul
Have you noticed trimming of the iconic tree at Hunt United Methodist Church? Sure enough! With work in progress, a work crew is diligently and carefully trimming branches today. Hired by our church trustees and coordinated by Bill Furbush, the crew is taking care of this tree and providing for many years of continued and healthy growth.
Churches can need healthy trimming too. I seem to recall several Scriptures that speak about the need:
JOHN 15: 1-5 offers this saying from Jesus, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches."
SO - what does tree trimming at Hunt United Methodist Church have to do with your life or mine? The necessary action to keep this living organism healthy, the tree, so also is needed in our spiritual lives. To remain centered in Christ and fruitful in ministry together, we need some careful and diligent care so that our lives can grow and multiply the faithfulness of God within us.
This Sunday August 20, we will be reading from the Apostle Paul's letter to the Romans. In chapter 11, Paul speaks about God's salvation plan for Jews and Gentiles alike. He proposes a process by which God will welcome God's people and offer opportunities for ALL people to be included in the salvation. As you read this text, you will hear words like "grafting" and "holy roots" and "branches" - tree language which represents a life language of God's faithfulness among all of God's people.
The point today my friends, we have an opportunity to recognize parts of our lives and parts of our ministry as a community of faith that need some Tender Loving Care. We need a trimming - because as the Scriptures teach us New Growth comes from God's work to make a way among us.
Caring for the faithful and welcoming the newcomer, that is what seems to be rising among us as an important work of ministry. And by the way, the special parking spaces under the tree are now much safer to use.
Along the Way
At Hunt UMC, Blessing of the Animals, Open House at the Church, Music, Refreshments, and More...
Hi Friends, please mark your calendar now and begin speaking to friends in the community about our upcoming event at Hunt United Methodist Church.
As with any new idea, this is growing organically as people hear about it. This notion came to me one day as I posted a picture of my dog Bo on Facebook and asked if anyone would be interested in Blessings for their Animals. Now there is a day on our schedule, September 30, for us to gather on the church lawn inside the walking track and bring our bag chairs, pop up canopies, and our animals.
Judy Culp is helping organize other activities and a time of Open House for any who wish to come inside for refreshments, music, and exhibits of current ministries and some wonderful history of this congregation.
I am excited! I hope you will be joining us for that day - a firm start time will be announced soon!
Much love and many blessings!
Along the Way
See you Sunday if not before...
Taking steps in Faith Together...
After a good day in worship & praise of our Lord, the evening here at the parsonage is a time for transition. By that I mean the time in which we give thanks for the week that was and look forward to the week ahead.
As a preaching pastor, Sunday is both the culmination of one week of study and preparation in telling "the story" and the launch of the coming week with another scriptural focus. So this evening, my mind drifts to the home visits scheduled for this week, the day trip to San Antonio, working out a plan for 4th quarter stewardship and Christmas worship, and on and on....
Then a scan through favorite photos stops the mind drift and the transition. The photo of Laura Ogle Harris taken near Broad Haven, Wales is a beautiful moment that brought into focus my bride of almost 37 years, a memorial, a cross, the flowers, and the hedge-skyline horizons along The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path.
Focus on next steps...the next step, that was a conversation Laura and I shared on this spiritual adventure. We were concerned only with the moment at hand and the horizon which brought the reality of our next step into focus.
Friends, we pray for the next steps to be shared this week. And we give thanks for each of you in whom we find community and share our faith.
Much love and many blessings!
Along the Way
Bo the Dog who now lives in Hunt, Texas is a blessing in my life. So much so, that when I was bragging about him to someone the other day, we had to compare photos on our smart phones.
Coming this fall, I hope we can Bless the Animals at Hunt United Methodist Church. Some of us are starting to plan an event for the morning of September 30th.
I am really glad to be visiting homes and offices and hospitals and places where blessed animals reside. I visited with Eloise Massey the other day and met Buttercup, her blessed doggie.
Friends, I pray that your week is filled with opportunities to receive and share in the grace and blessing of God's love. I also pray that your loved ones, especially those furry ones that give love without condition, will be truly blessed.
I like a blessing from John O'Donohue in his book of blessings called To Bless the Space Between Us; it goes like this:
"Nearer to the earth's heart, deeper within its silence:
animals know this world in a way we never will.
We who are ever distanced and distracted by the parade of bright
Windows thought opens: their seamless presence is not fractured thus.
Stranded between time gone and time emerging, we manage seldom
To be where we are:
Whereas they are always looking out from the here and now.
May we learn to return and rest in the beauty
of animal being, learning to lean low, leave our locked minds,
And with freed senses feel the earth breathing with us.
May we enter into lightness of spirit, and slip frequently into
The feel of the wild.
Let the clear silence of our animal being
Cleanse our hearts of corrosive words.
May we learn to walk upon the earth
With all their confidence and clear-eyed stillness
So that our minds might be Baptized
in the name of the wind and the light and the rain."
Much love and many blessings!
Along the Way