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DS Suzanne's January Meditation

We are almost halfway through the month of January 2021. Seems impossible. We have celebrated the New Year, Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord. This is one of my favorite times of the church calendar year and there are many. A time of beginning again.

Epiphany. Matthew 2:1-2, 9-12: After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

I am reminded of the faithfulness and obedience of the wise men. Historically, we believe Jesus was a toddler (between two and three years old) when the wise men came to worship him and offer him their gifts. A journey lasting between two and three years! Then the wise men paid attention to the warning they received in a dream and returned to their country by another route.

How faithful and obedient are you to God’s leading in your life?

How faithful and obedient am I to God’s leading in my life?

We continue to journey through this pandemic together, 10 months so far. Are you and I, like the wise men, willing to journey faithfully and obediently together, no matter how long it takes?

Baptism of the Lord. Matthew 3:13-17: 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

On this Sunday in the church calendar year, the congregation and I would celebrate the “Congregational Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant.” (The Baptismal Covenant IV, UM Hymnal pg. 50-53). The symbolic importance of water related to baptism would be explored and a step-by-step teaching of the “Renunciation of Sin and Profession of Faith,” would follow.

How do we in our own lives, as faithful followers of Jesus, laity and clergy, live out our vows in this Baptismal Covenant? (UM Hymnal pg. 50)

  • Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?
  • Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
  • Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations and races?
  • According to the grace given you, will you remain faithful members of Christ’s holy church and serve as Christ’s representatives in the world?

The vows of this covenant have become more critical to me each year in my faith journey. Living as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ is not easy. Some days it is really challenging and some days I miss the mark. Our lives should have an eternal focus. I hope and pray through the power of the Holy Spirit that our lives will continue to be transformed – becoming more and more Christ-like.

2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

A new year gives us the gift of a new beginning. Each day gives us a new beginning. Each hour gives us a new beginning.

Ephesian 4: 1-7,22-24: I (Paul) therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Today, as I write this article, I am well aware of the world’s happenings. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

The need for prayer is overwhelming. Thank goodness we are called to pray continually! The world needs the hope and love found in Jesus. Continue to boldly share the good news! Remember, we are in this journey together.

Grace, Peace and Love,

Suzanne




Church & Clergy Listings in Directory Updates

Follow this link to find the updated Church & Clergy Listings in our District Directory.




UPDATE - COVID-19 Guidelines for Local Churches

As we know, guidelines for church reopening are being updated frequently. Here is a link to the most up-to-date guidelines (New York State and Upper New York Conference):

unyumc.org/about/church-covid-19-guidelines 

For frequent updates related to COVID-19, including whether or not a specific address is in a microcluster, go to https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home.
 

NYS County Health Department links

Churches are required to have developed a Safety Plan and have it available/on file at the church and to submit a form that affirms that guidelines are being followed prior to reopening.

Upper New York also is requiring that churches affirm their compliance with safety requirements by submitting this form. Any changes (worship from in-person to online, etc.) require that the form be resubmitted.

As always, please contact any of the following if you have concerns/questions:

suzanneblock@unyumc.org, 716-860-7860

 

cornerstonedistrict@unyumc.org, 716-665-2423

 

susanletessa@unyumc.org, UNY Director of Benefits & Human Resources, 315-898-2002

 




Visiting the District Office

The District office observes guidelines recommended by the Upper New York Conference and New York State. You must make an appointment to visit the office (Monday or Thursday). The day of your appointment, we ask that you complete the Health Questionnaire and bring it with you. Please park in the church's handicapped parking on Lakeview Avenue. Call the office (716-665-2423) when you arrive to gain entrance to the building. Please wear a mask and observe social distancing; hand sanitizer will be available when you enter the office. If you have any questions, please call or email the office, 716-665-2423 or cornerstonedistrict@unyumc.org




New Mailing Address for District Office

Please note our new mailing address: PO Box 842, Jamestown, NY, 14702. The physical address for the Cornerstone District Office is the same, on the second level of Christ First UMC, 663 Lakeview Ave., Jamestown, NY