I had to chuckle a little when a few people have mentioned to me that Ash Wednesday this year is on the same day as Valentine’s Day, that is February 14th and….that Easter Sunday is the same day as April Fools day, which of course is April 1st. I had been wondering if they thought that maybe I did not own a calendar and that I had not even noticed this phenomenon 3 months ago when I started working on the Lenten services. On Ash Wednesday we will have our Ash Wednesday service as usual, but, this year we will attempt to go out into the community (that’s me and my Lay Leader/Certified Minister Roger) and mark foreheads with the cross of ashes. This is to remind us that we came from dust, and dust we shall return. But there is more to this you know, we are to repent of our sins too, and maybe even fast and pray. What a novel idea….you know…to pray with each other. I for one would love to see people praying with each other every day, wouldn’t you? For those of you who can fast, I do recommend the one small meal a day if you are so inclined to,  and to not completely fast as it is not good for our health. But, if you can, more power to you. I do though, recommend that you pray, and that you pray long and hard to God to forgive us of all our sins….and to pray long and hard for others who are in need, whether it be in health, in need of money, in spirit or with mental health needs. I look forward to this Lenten season and to seeing everyone at church or out in the community.

God bless you.

Well summer is almost over and the children are either back at school or will be going back to school. This is a good time to remind everyone that we have children’s Sunday school between services at 10:00 a.m.

This is going to be a great year for Chino Valley UMC, as we are gearing up for our own events and programs at the church.

We will be involved in the Territorial Day Parade on Saturday September 05, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. We will be riding on a float and will have a booth at the park handing balloons and goodies.

We are hosting the annual Classic Car Show and Ice Cream Social on September 19, 2015 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Come and enjoy the fellowship and see the wonderful cars and trucks.

Our Charge Conference is Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. until noon.

We will be celebrating the 27th anniversary of Chino Valley UMC on Sunday September 27, 2015 with one service at 10:00 a.m. and a potluck to follow (the actual anniversary is September 25th). Bring all your memories of Bob Remp to share.

On Friday, October 02, 5-9 pm  and Saturday October  03, 2015 from 8 am to 5 pm we will be joining other United Methodist Churches in Cottonwood for a Leadership Training class.

Do not forget that we will be hosting the Interfaith Choir at our church this year on December 13, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. We will be enjoying singing with choirs from all the other churches in Chino Valley area, bringing us all closer together with God. We begin rehearsals Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.

Peace and grace,

Pastor Mike

Well, the honeymoon is over as they say. Here we are marking the one year anniversary of my being blessed to be able to come to you as a servant of God with the District Superintendent, the Bishops and God’s blessings.

What a wonderful experience learning who each and every one of you are and have become, and also where you are in your beliefs. We have all grown in some way, and I pray that we continue to grow spiritually.

We started several programs and concepts in the first year. Most are still going, a couple did not work out, but you never get anywhere if you don’t try. We will look at doing more or trying out something new once in a while, so bare with us when we make suggestions. Remember, all we are attempting to do is to improve your worship experience through music and added Scriptures.

It is sad to note that we lost 8 members to the Church Triumphant in the first year, but we have gained 15 members and we continue to add more each month to keep the church growing, growing, and growing.

I still invite you to come as you are and to be blessed by God’s grace every Sunday. We thank you in the name of Christ for seeking him out.

Never forget our Mission Statement:

Chino Valley United Methodist Church is a family of believers and seekers centered on Jesus, serving our community by ACTIVELY: Loving God and our neighbors. Inviting all to follow Jesus. The United Methodist church’s prime objective is: “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

Peace and grace to you in Christ,

Pastor Mike

I will be 62 next month, April 23rd to be exact. At this time of life I pictured myself being ready to settle back, relax and let the younger people do things. I guess I imagined that I would have accomplished every thing important to do by now. How wrong I was. In some ways this seems to be a new beginning for me. Things that were important to me in my 20’s and 30’s seem no longer very relevant or at least as important as they once were.

When I was in my 20’s, the church I attended installed a new associate pastor. She had just graduated from seminary and was beginning her career in God’s service. She was 60!! I thought my gosh what is she doing…how can she want to be starting something like this at her advanced age. How unaware I was then of how much the “older generation” still has to offer.

Almost 3 years ago Gary Kennedy came to me with the suggestion that Janet and I become “Lay Persons assigned” at Haven UMC in Jerome. Janet and I both had talked about feeling a “call” many times. But now that the moment was here…I hesitated… “Am I really ready for this?” I had preached at Haven several times in 2011, and we had come to love the congregation and the community. But really? This now…at our age?

But Janet very quickly got caught up in my enthusiasm. Why not, we thought…now or never we both thought as I jumped into this ministry feet first, closing my eyes and holding my nose just as I jumped into the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean where I went on those long ago summers. And, just like at the ocean the experience has proved to be worth overcoming the fear.

I know it has been a short while, but I believe that I am viewing things much differently now. God has always been a very important part of my life…I long ago had learned the importance of putting God first in my life. First before everything, before work, before family, before friends. I prayed each night when I went to bed. We said grace at (almost) every meal. But had it become more of a habit than a need. More of a “way of life” than an essential part of my life.
I have been reflecting on this recently…where had the excitement gone?

My mother-in-law told us a while back, that every morning when she wakes up she recites… “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it”. What a wonderful way to begin the day! Thanks to this “late in life calling,” I am feeling that excitement again. I have jumped in the cold clear water and re-emerged feeling refreshed, excited and ready to face a new life, a new challenge and a new direction. Some days it will still be put one-foot in front of the other and get things done as before, but now I feel a new richness and the possibilities are endless. I hope you feel that way too.

Peace and grace,
Pastor Mike

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot

How true this is. I have found that as we age we tend to give up on new beginnings. We are content to say “Oh how I wish” or “If I were only younger.” And for some of us, we are still wondering what we want to be when we grow up. It doesn’t seem to matter if we are 30, 40 or 60 or 70, most of us still have things we wish we had done or wish we had accomplished. I admit that I don’t have the energy anymore for that hike across Europe that I once thought I would like to take, but seeing Europe by car or bus is still a possibility. I no longer am enamored of the idea of attending a loud noisy concert, but an evening at the symphony is still an attractive thought. I still would also like to see a Broadway musical, but I would be just as happy to see it in Phoenix as to travel to New York.

I don’t think that this “downsizing” of my dreams makes them any less of a dream or hopefully a possibility. Things like finances and physical ability can still tend to get in the way, but as long as we keep planning, the dreams will never die. When I was younger things had a sense of urgency to them that they no longer have. The idea of wanting results “right now” was something that plagued me. Like a small child pounding his fists on the floor I didn’t want to put anything off. I wanted it “now!” But if I had accomplished everything I wanted to do in my life when I was in my 30’s…what would I be doing now? Dreams age with us. We modify them and make them fit our limitations, but they are still dreams worth holding on to.

God has plans for all of us. He doesn’t necessarily want us to accomplish them all at once or in a span of a few years. God can still work with us as we get older. If we can’t learn things from a trip abroad, we can still learn things from people close by. We can also pass on our accrued wisdom to the young. “Don’t worry if it’s not all possible now…God will see that the things he wants to get done will get done.

In God’s time, not ours.

Keep dreaming!

Pastor Michael

Happy New Year, Peace and God’s Blessings to one and all. We hope you had a wonderful Christmas. For those who did not make it to our Christmas Eve service, Wow! You missed out because the youth and children of Chino Valley UMC did a terrific job with the pageant on the story of the babe at the Inn. The Chino Valley UMC Choir sounded angelic as they sang.

So this is the beginning of a New Year (2015) for everyone. And as we look into the future year of what we are expecting out of ourselves and others, we need to remember to turn to Jesus Christ and to continue with prayers of peace and blessings and asking forgiveness for all our sins. Blessed are you who hear the word of God and follow it where it leads. Doing so, you will be like the servant who, when the master comes, is found doing right. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, and your joy will be full.

Below is a poem I found on another web site that I thought was appropriate for this column. It is used with permission of the writer;

New Year with the Lord

A new year is about to unfold
With new opportunities to explore
Doors will open for new experiences,
New adventures with the Lord
Remember not the former things,
The things of this past year,
The Lord will do new things in us
Much more than we are aware
For He will make a way for us
As we put our trust in Him
And He will guide our every step
By His presence we have within
What God has placed within our hearts,
We find we’ll be able to do
If we look for the opportunities,
We’ll see the door to go through
We mustn’t let anything hold us back
But rise up and take our place
And be all that God wants us to be
With a fresh touch of His grace

© By M.S.Lowndes

Used with permission

Be in peace this coming year and let nothing stand in the way of your belief in God, the Holy Spirit, and in your Savior Jesus Christ.

Pastor Michael

Well, here we are coming up on the Christmas Holidays, with all the hustle and bustle that goes with getting the turkey or ham ready, visiting with relatives, and holiday shopping. Let us not forget to what this day really means for us, that “unto us a child was born”, the one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.

We start the Advent season with “Look who’s coming-A King”, followed by “Look who’s coming-A Savior”, “Look who’s coming-A Judge”, and the 4th Sunday in Advent will be “look who’s coming-A God”

We here at Chino Valley UMC are looking forward to the Christmas Eve service which begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 24th. The Pastor’s message for the Christmas Eve service will be the final of the series titled “Look who’s coming-A Baby”, because, unto us a child was born, born to save us from our sins.

As we plan ahead for the upcoming Holiday season we are looking forward to celebrating with you. Music is such an important part of the Advent and Christmas season and our choir will be singing selected songs for the season which we will undoubtedly enjoy throughout Advent and Christmas Eve, and be able to spend these special times together with hope,  joy and love.

Have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year. Stay safe and let’s not forget to thank God for everything we do have.

Pastor Mike

 

 

 

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.                     ~Melody Beattie

What is popularly commonly known as the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. It became an annual tradition in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed this national day of Thanksgiving, setting aside time for Americans to reflect on their blessings.

But, too often, in the hustle and bustle of dinner preparations, parades, football games, and shopping preparations we neglect to take the time to enjoy our time with family and friends or to express words of thankfulness and gratitude for the love and happiness we experience in our lives. It is often healing to take a few moments to reflect on those things we are grateful for, even during difficult times or times of pain. Thanksgiving has the power to draw people together, creating a lasting sense of peace, togetherness, and community.

Roshi Joan Halifax in the Legacy of Wisdom states that the secret of life comes down to three words: “… appreciate your life”. She and Brother David Steindl suggest that practicing gratefulness will help us to accept what is in the now, allowing us to experience joy and life outside of ourselves and our own suffering.

But many may struggle to find gratitude or express words of thanks while caring for a loved one with serious illness this Thanksgiving Day. Gratefulness may seem like a foreign word for those that grieve the loss of a loved one this holiday. May we each take a moment to reach out, express our own words of gratitude for each of them, and offer a helping hand to those who are hurting today. May each of us take a few moments today to count our simple blessings.

As I count my blessings on this Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks for …Our wonderful children and grandchildren, Janet’s mother, and other family members and their health and happiness; our friends and the support they provide us during good times and bad; and our Chino Valley Family, and the joy and caring they have brought to our lives

We wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving Day. May the beauty of Thanksgiving bring peace and abundant blessings to you and your family today and every day.

Pastor Mike

What a blessing to have been assigned to this church and to this town.  I have been overwhelmed by everyone I have met up here.  People from all walks of life seem to have gravitated to Chino Valley, and they all have one thing in common…they are nice!  Not just average nice like holding the door or saying “Good morning”. But above average nice, eager to welcome and to get to know us and to let us know them.  I guess it’s my years of “big city” living that let us forget that places like this exist.

I have definitely loved learning of the history of Chino Valley.  The history here is intriguing and I am anxious to learn more. So until next time, I am still meeting people and learning about Chino Valley, loving the views and getting ensconced in my new “home”.  Chino Valley and Chino Valley UMC…you are great.

Pastor Mike