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July 2021 Newsletter       


New Sunday Schedule

July 11th-17th – U.M. ARMY

 

 

We have an awesome group of youth and adults that have sacrificed a week of their summer to join God’s Army!
Let’s keep them in our prayers this week. 
Check our facebook page to see some of the work they’ve done. 


Upcoming Events!

 

July 18th – Joyful Noise Sing-A-Long & Young @ Heart

Our Joyful Noise Praise Team has been getting together once a month to play some of their favorite southern gospel tunes, and you’re invited to come sing along with them! It’s from 2-4pm.
After the sing-a-long is Young @ Heart, which is all about fun, fellowship, food, and games! It starts at 4pm.

July 26-30: VBS – Discovery on Adventure Island

Vacation Bible School is quickly approaching and we’re still looking for volunteers and we encourage you to invite as many kiddos as you can! 
Click here for Child Registration
Click here for Volunteer Registration

 

Important Save the Dates

September 2nd – October 28: Financial Peace University

Starting September 2nd, Pastor Kevin will be leading a 9 week course featuring life-changing tools and content that will help you take control of your money for good. For more information, click here.

October 9th: 31st Annual Fish Fry

If you’d like to get involved in the planning of this year’s Fish Fry, please contact the office. We’ll make sure to let you know when the next planning meeting will be. 

 

Pastor’s Page

Should Christians Engage in Politics?

           Politics have been at the forefront of many conversations these days.  Even after a global pandemic, which should have arguably worked to unify America, the citizens and the leaders of this country seem more divided politically than in decades.  The question that is often asked of me, as a clergy person, is how to vote on certain issues.  I think the bigger question is to ask if we should be engaged in politics outside the church at all?

Reinhold Niebuhr, graduate of Yale Theological Seminary and one of the 20th century’s most recognized theologians, struggled with this question in his early career.  In 1952, towards the end of his career, he determined that too often the process of equating our Christian convictions to politics becomes in its own way a process of idolatry. What he means is that when a person becomes passionate about Jesus Christ and when that person begins to work in service through Christ by showing compassion and love into the world, one will often see the work of considering political issues from a Christian perspective.  Because they are passionate about engaging in politics as a Christian, their politics become something that one can begin to worship.

Politics can be a dangerous place for a Christian.  When one engages in politics as a Christian, others may assume their decisions and rhetoric are the individual speaking on behave of God.  An outsider could view their rhetoric as a viewpoint that is in concert with the church’s theological interpretation of scripture.   Considering the reality that there is a political divide often found from church to church, or even from pulpit to pew, this engagement of politics might hurt the message of the gospel in evangelism.  If the pastor is speaking from one political view and the congregation is from the opposing, who is right?  I believe, as Christians, we should speak out against injustice.  If, as in Niebuhr’s day, a totalitarian regime was to be committing genocide against a people, then the political thing for a Christian to do is to advocate against that injustice.  It is the duty of Christians in a republic like the United States to work for the good of that republic.  But even Augustine understood that the good of that public is limited by the good of the people that represent that public. 

Humanity is not holistically good.  Not in the sense of God’s perspective, or our own.  Because humanity is evil through their own selfishness, humanity is unable to completely advise the republic, which it represents, with true goodness for the flourishing of that republic.   However, though Christians are unable to do complete good through politics, it is necessary for Christians to engage in it.  But it is foolish to do so with the idea of changing the world, the country, or even the local congregation.  We are not equipped to make big changes; we must work a little at a time slowly sanding down the rough edges of evil and reshaping it into something smooth and good. 

Niebuhr would say, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”

Many Blessings to You All,
Pastor Kevin

Christian Faith and Politics. Pg. 59. July 21, 1952.
The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr. Pg. 160. “The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness.”

A Thank You From Mr. Clyde Keeling

Clyde would like to offer his thanks to those who came and did several odd jobs around his house. It meant a lot to him and he wanted us to let you all know how much he appreciates you.
“May you all go with peace and may the Lord take a liking to you.”
-Clyde

Did you know you never have to miss a sermon?

That’s right! We stream our services live on Facebook every Sunday!
One positive thing that came about because of the pandemic is that we had a team that worked very hard to get us online. It was a blessing during the time that we weren’t allowed to gather and it has continued to bless those who still cannot come to church. So if you can’t make it here in person, we invite you to join us on Facebook.
You’ll find videos there of all of our services from the past year.
You can also find videos of Pastor Kevin’s sermons here on our website.

HUMC General Budget as of 7/15/21

Budget Expenses: $92,095.65
Contributions to Budget: $63,930.22
Net Income: -$28,165.43

Attendance

June 20, 2021 – 53
June 27, 2021 – 50
July 4, 2021 – 45
July 11, 2021 – 58
Year to date average – 51

Prayer Requests

Prayer requests are updated here weekly.
You can always submit prayer requests to the church by phone or email or online here.

Ways to get involved

Youth Unplugged 
HUMC’s Youth Group
Meets on Wednesday nights at 5:30

Bible Study (Faith Class)
Sunday School class for all ages
Meets at 9am in the Youth Room

Worship Servants 
Ushers, Greeters, Lay Readers, Media Booth, Nursery Volunteers

Rotary Teams
Rotary teams prepare a meal on Tuesday mornings for the Rotary Club of Highlands. If you can help, please call the office or talk to Thresa Hester, Sarah Stanley, Patsy Piceynski, or Laura Pledger.

Methodist Meals
Do you want to help feed the hungry in our community? Methodist Meals volunteers cook and deliver meals to people in the area on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month. Contact the office for details.

United Methodist Men & United Methodist Women
Both groups meet on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 6:30. All are welcome to join for a night of fellowship and food! 
The next meeting will be July 20th.

Celebrating a Birthday

July 5 – Thresa Hester
July 8 – Samantha Campbell
July 8 – Cathy Freeman
July 8 – Whitney Schoening
July 9 – Linda Yandell
July 14, Evan Griffith
July 16 – Mike Dean
July 17 – Johnny Singletary
July 26 – John Gentry
July 26 – Sarah Stanley

Happy Anniversary

July 9 – John & Margaret Mason
July 9 – Ray & Amy Law
July 21 – Rev. John & Reagan Seaton
July 25 – Bryant & Samantha Balderas
July 25 – Derek & Jacqueline Bell

You may view our full calendar of events here.      


 

 

June 2021 Newsletter 

Congratulations to our 2021 graduates!
Jared Bridwell
Lauren Charles
Abigail Guzman
Peyton Keyes
Cheyenne Stanley
Your church family is so proud of your accomplishments!


Upcoming Events!

 

New Sunday Schedule – Starting July 4th!

 

Important Save the Dates

July 4th – 4th of July Tailgate

 

Our outreach committee is hosting a fun community event on the 4th of July with hot dogs, backyard games, and fireworks! 

July 11th-17th – U.M. ARMY

The youth are still in need of some items to take with them to U.M. ARMY. If you’d like to donate items, contact Amanda at youth@humctx.org

July 26-30: VBS – Discovery on Adventure Island

Vacation Bible School is quickly approaching and we’re still looking for volunteers and we encourage you to invite as many kiddos as you can! 
Click here for Child Registration
Click here for Volunteer Registration

 

Check your email!

We have a new church app called Realm Connect that we’ll be using for communication, notifications, and a whole lot more! If you’re in our system already, you should have received an invitation email. It will have a link for you to create your account. So please check your email and if you have not received an invitation, send an email to info@humctx.org so that we can get you set up!

 

April 2021 Newsletter       


We hope you’re having a blessed Easter season!

We have been busy here at HUMC! 


 

We’ll be viewing The Case for Christ in the sanctuary on April 2nd at 6:30 pm. 

We also have our Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt going on from March 28- April 4. Click here to learn more about it.

 

The Highlands Ministerial Alliance is holding an Easter Sunrise Service at 7 am Easter morning at the Highlands Community Center Park.

 

 

Schedule for Easter Sunday

The Fellowship Committee will be hosting
Brunch from 9:30-10:30 in the fellowship hall
Sunday School is at 10:00
Service will start at 11:00
Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt Grand Prize Drawing will happen at 1:00
Don’t forget to bring your flowers to add to the cross!

 

 

Important Save the Dates

April 24 – United Methodist Men’s Pancake Supper Fundraiser (Tickets will be $10)

May 2 – Church Townhall Meeting

May 22 – United Methodist Women’s Garage Sale 

Get your spring cleaning started and we’ll have more details in May!

July 11th-17th – U.M. ARMY

Youth and volunteers will need to get registered ASAP! Contact Amanda Davis or the office if you’re interested in participating.

July 26-30: VBS – Discovery on Adventure Island

Registration can be done through Realm and must be completed by July 19th.

 

 

Pastor’s Page

Happy Easter Highlands United Methodist Church!

 That’s right!  Easter is not a day; it is a season.  Easter begins on Easter Sunday and continues until Pentecost Sunday, which this year will be May 23rd.  It is the season of the year that we celebrate the Risen Christ.  As we celebrate this Easter season, I want to look at the past year and celebrate the wonderful things that have happened.  I know that there have been some major world events in this last year that have been the forefront of our attention, but here in our church, we have experienced some wonderful blessings. 

It is hard to think that it was more than a year ago when we were forced to shut down the church and begin worshiping completely online, but that struggle became a blessing.  Beginning with a smartphone balanced on a music stand, we built an online worship environment that is top-notch.  This is the product of the amazing work that our media team did.  Because of this, we have members that are homebound now participating with worship.   Additionally, we are reaching people across the country that tune in regularly, and even have some that tune in from across the oceans.  What a blessing.

When we went live in worship, on Pentecost Sunday, the worship team, led by Sarah Stanley, decided that to keep numbers down, we should offer more than one service each Sunday.  We had no idea that God was using this situation to grow our church.  We now worship in two services with different styles, and because of this, we are seeing new faces in worship.  Many of us have our own preference on how to worship, and by providing two styles, we can reach more people for the Kingdom of God.  What a blessing!  Because of this decision, our attendance in the last half of the year was about equal to the previous year even though half of our church was worshiping at home.  Imagine how this will grow as we begin to climb out of the pandemic.

Another blessing this year is the new addition of youth.  I don’t know if you have been paying attention to our youth program or not, but we now have approximately 15 youth in our program each Wednesday.  I don’t know about you, but I am excited to see what will become of that ministry.

We could not go without mentioning the amazingly successful Fish Fry and Trunk-Or-Treat events that we had last year.  What fun, and what an amazing response from the community.  I can see those events becoming more and more successful in years to come. 

It is amazing to consider that if this can be accomplished in a pandemic environment, what is in store for this amazing church in Highlands, Texas?  Well, we will be beginning Vacation Bible School again in July, we will be sending our Youth and Adult Leaders out to do mission work, and who knows what else.  I am so thrilled to see what is to come and to see the lives that are changed by the love of the people of Highlands United Methodist Church.  Please continue to lift up our community and our country, lift up the members and the leadership of this church, and also pray that as the world overcomes the COVID-19 virus, we may infect the world with the virus of Joy that is only found in the Love of God in Christ Jesus.

Many Blessings to You All,
Pastor Kevin

Music Ministry Spotlight

Happy April!

Last month I encouraged people to join the HUMC choir, or give me feedback on how we can do better with regard to the music ministries of the church. I also asked for anyone who watches our services online to let me know which service they like to watch, by sending an email. Well, guess what, I got nothin’! So I’m not sure how to take that, either we are doing a good job, and there are no complaints, or no one read the newsletter, or wants to give any feedback. Either way, I love my job, and always look forward to choosing music that people will enjoy singing, and that will compliment the scripture, theme or message for the day. 

This month, I want to talk about the Praise band that leads the Contemporary service. So let me go back to March of last year, right after the world shut down for Covid. At that point in time, Pastor Kevin had talked a little bit about the idea of streaming our Sunday morning service, but we weren’t sure we had the right kind of equipment and so forth, and so the idea had been put on the back burner. When the church had to stop meeting, Pastor Kevin decided to stream a message from the sanctuary on his cell phone. After that “service” there were about 5 or 6 of us there in the sanctuary, and we decided that it would be possible to do it again the following week, and add some music. So, Pastor Kevin played his guitar and Amanda Davis played the cajon, which is basically a wooden box that you sit on and hit the sides with your hands in rhythm. For the following two months, every week, something new was added to make the quality of the service better so that the people watching from home could have the best worship experience that we could offer. By Easter, Karen Chisholm, our pianist, had come back and joined in playing for the service. During the months of March through May, the church staff would meet via Zoom EVERY WEEK, to make plans for the following weeks’ service, and to figure out how the church could continue to function and serve our congregation during this terrible time. This was not an easy task, and we had to do a lot of brainstorming. As we got closer to the time that we would be able to open back up, and we knew that we might have to limit the attendance (of course we didn’t know how many people were going to want to come back) I made the suggestion of having two services, so that we could keep the attendance low. At that point, I was not really considering that we would begin a Contemporary service. However, when Pastor Kevin first came to HUMC in July of 2019, he did tell me that he would like to see our church get to the point of offering a contemporary service. To myself, I thought, there’s no way in the world we would ever be able to start a contemporary service at this church! But over the year, with that seed planted, and lots of conversations about what a contemporary service would look like, as well as lots of prayer, I was finally on board with the idea of giving it a trial run.

So, sometime after Easter in 2020, we began to think about getting some musicians together to form a band, and come up with a plan to begin a contemporary service. We started with Amanda Davis, who is our Youth Director, on drums, because she had experience in a praise band in the past at another church. Then, I’m not sure how or when this took place, but Kevin talked to Scott Singleton who I guess had mentioned to him that he wanted to learn to play bass guitar. So Kevin got him some music, and Scott got a bass, and began to teach himself how to play. After that, we started trying to think of who else we could ask. Kevin said in one of our staff meetings one day, we need a lead guitar player, if only we knew someone… And Amanda said, well I can ask Donnie (her husband) if he wants to. And I told Kevin that I thought my son in law, Joe had a guitar, and thought he played a little, so I said I would ask him. Well, they both said yes, and we started having practice at the beginning of May, and the first service that we had all of these instruments was May 10, for Mother’s Day. (I will have to tell you Joe’s “God moment” when I asked him about playing at another time). In mid-May, we were told that churches could open back up with limited attendance on June 1. Well, Pentecost Sunday was May 31, so Kevin decided that would be the perfect day to have the congregation come back, and so we did. I don’t remember how many we had in attendance that day, but it was great just to be open again, and we decided to continue streaming the service as a way to reach the members who didn’t feel comfortable getting out just yet.

So, we had decided to begin a second service, with the newly formed praise band leading the contemporary style music, even though not everyone in the congregation was in favor of the idea. We said lets give it six months, and then re-evaluate it. Sometime during May, Kevin got a call from a friend who had a drum set that he was getting rid of, and asked Kevin if he knew of a church that could use it. Of course, he said we need it! And Kevin says that this was further confirmation that God’s hand was in the process of forming the band, and that we were going in the right direction by starting a contemporary service. We decided to make every first Sunday of the month a combined service, so that the congregation would have the opportunity to come together as one for Holy Communion. We did this on the first Sunday in June, and the following Sunday began the new schedule with the first Traditional Service at 9:00 and the Contemporary Service at 11:00, with 10:00 being the Sunday School hour.

Soon after we started the new schedule, Fred Weisinger joined the band on guitar. Fred had played for several years in the Joyful Noise and Nickle Strings Praise Team that used to play primarily southern gospel music, both in church on the 5th Sunday, and also once a quarter at the Highlands Community Center. I am so proud that our band is so diverse as far as age. Fred is a great-grandfather, Scott and I are grandparents, and the rest are either young parents or fairly newly married. I just love that about our group!

At the beginning, it was very rough for the band. It took many hours of practice every week to be able to come together and learn so many new songs. We had a hard time coordinating our practice time and the choirs’ practice time. And we were trying to limit the number of people in the altar area, and we went through many trials and errors. There were times when some of us were wondering if God was really calling us to this place in this time. But we made it through the summer months, with a Covid scare or two, and decided that it was time to give the group a name. At first we wanted to let the congregation vote on it. We had about 3 or 4 names in mind, but when it came down to it, all of us decided that we liked the name “Set Free” the best, because we all felt like that is what God had done for us, was set us free. Free from our sins, free from the chains that were holding us back. We had come so far in such a short time, and overcome many fears, trials, and tribulations, and it just seemed to be the best fit for us as a group.

So now, fast forward to January, the six month mark of starting the new service. Some members started asking, well now what? You said give it six months, and we have, so now what? (These would be people who were never in favor of starting a second service.) Pastor Kevin said, and I agree, that it’s really a hard time to measure the success of the service, because we are still in the big middle of the pandemic, and there are still a lot of people who are staying home, and have not come back to church at all yet. The attendance in both services has leveled out to about 20-25 on average in both services. There are probably about 10 people who attend both services every Sunday. And, there are not really very many who have chosen the contemporary service over the traditional. We are really trying to get the word out in the community that we have two very different services to offer. The whole idea of having a contemporary service was not to divide the church and make them choose, but to offer another style of worship that might appeal to the younger generation, who we desperately need to reach.

Just one more thing, at Christmas, the band wanted to have a concert.  So we scheduled it, and it was getting close, and we were finding it hard to learn enough Christmas music to play for a concert. So, we decided to invite members of the choir, and anyone else we knew that might want to participate. We called it a “Not So Silent Night” and it was a huge success. We didn’t publicize it very well, so we were blown away, when we had many pews filled with friends and family! Many people came up to me afterwards and said we have to do this again next year! And the biggest bonus of the whole event was getting Chris Moore involved in playing the keyboard for the band. His voice is so beautiful, and he has so much talent to offer our group. We call him our swiss army knife, because he can do anything! I told him recently that I found notes from one of our staff meetings from last year. It was from the day we were trying to think of people who we could ask to be in the band, and I had his name on my notes next to “keyboard.” I can’t tell you how happy I am to be a part of this awesome group. I feel like we are just getting started, and have no place to go but up! 

With love, your sister in Christ,
Sarah Stanley

 

 

The United Methodist Holy Week Quiz

  1. What do palm branches symbolize on Palm Sunday?
    A. They symbolized victory in the Roman Empire.
    B. Palm is the Latin word for ‘return.’
    C. Hearts of palm were considered ‘kingly food.’
    D. All of the above.
  2. What was Judas paid for identifying
    Jesus to the Roman soldier?
    A. 20 pieces of gold
    B. 20 pieces of silver
    C. 30 pieces of gold
    D. 30 pieces of silver
  3. The Upper Room Chapel in Nashville
    displays a carved wooden
    representation of…
    A. The Nativity Scene
    B. The Last Supper
    C. Christ’s Crucifixion
    D. Christ’s Resurrection
  4. What was not said by Jesus the night
    before he died?
    A. “All those who use the sword will die by the sword.”
    B. “The spirit is eager, but the flesh is weak.”
    C. “Physician, heal thyself.”
    D. “Friend, do what you came to do.”
  5. What are the Stations of the Cross?
    A. Place in Jerusalem where prisoners were sentenced
    B. Moments in Jesus’ journey from his trial to the tomb
    C. Officially approved places for crosses in churches
  6. What does a Tenebrae service consist of?
    A. A drama about the last seven words of Jesus
    B. A reenactment of the Last Supper
    C. Extinguishing of candles
    D. The receiving of ashes
  7. What does INRI mean on a crucifix?
    A. Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Rome
    B. Nazareth, Kingdom of Jerusalem
    C. Sign of the Cross
    D. Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews
  8. Why are eggs associated with Easter?
    A. They symbolize new life.
    B. They have a shell around the body inside, like the tomb of Jesus.
    C. They can be dyed pretty colors to
    represent the joy of Easter.
    D. All of the above.
  9. Which of these Easter hymns did Charles Wesley write?
    A. “Because He Lives”
    B. “Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies”
    C. “Lift High the Cross”
    D. “Sing with All the Saints in Glory”
  10. Why do some churches hold Easter
    sunrise services?
    A. Easter prayer vigils often ended as the sun rose.
    B. Three women visited the tomb early in the morning.
    C. Jesus is often called the light of the world.
    D. All of the above.                         
    Take other quizzes at www.UMC.org/quizzes

Answers: 1. A, 2. D, 3. B, 4. C, 5. B, 6. C, 7. D, 8. D, 9. B, 10. D

 

 

Check your email!

We have a new church app called Realm Connect that we’ll be using for communication, notifications, and a whole lot more! If you’re in our system already, you should have received an invitation email. It will have a link for you to create your account. So please check your email and if you have not received an invitation, send an email to info@humctx.org so that we can get you set up!

 

 

 

 

You may also view our calendar here.

 

 

❤February 2021 Newsletter❤

 

Hello, Church Family!

       

          Wow, it has been a while since our last newsletter! 2020 changed so many aspects of our lives, many of which we are still dealing with today. Despite all of the curveballs this pandemic has thrown our way, one thing remains the same; God is in control! And what a mighty God He is! HUMC has continued to thrive and we have been blessed in so many ways this past year. As you may be aware, in June, we began holding two services on Sunday mornings. The 9 AM service has a traditional structure and features all your favorite hymns, while the 11 AM service is more contemporary and features our worship band, “Set Free.” The first Sunday of the month, we have a combined service at 11 AM that combines aspects of both services so that we may celebrate communion as one body in Christ. If you haven’t been able to attend lately, we want you to know that we have missed you and we cannot wait until the day we are all able to worship together again!

 

 

 

Pastor’s Page

Pastor Kevin McMachen

 

Hello HUMC,

 

2020 was a year that we will never forget.  Many of us are still feeling the effects that the circumstances of 2020 has brought to our lives.  I myself, as I am writing this letter, am still recovering from the COVID-19 virus.  But rather than sharing with the despair of last year, I would like to spend some time with the growth that we have accomplished.

 

First of all, 2020 caused us to do something that I thought I would never do to a church while I was pastor. We were caused to close our doors for what I imagine might have been the first time in the church’s history.  Yet, while we were closed, the drive of the church leadership was to see what we could do to be the church when the church is not available.  Thus, HUMC began to innovate.  Because of the closure, we began a process of creating an online worship environment which evolved and grew more wonderful as each day passed.  Now, the product that we present to our online congregation is better than I would have ever imagined.  We may have accomplished this eventually, but 2020 forced us to make this change now.  And now many of our congregation members that once were not able to enjoy worship with us, can now enjoy it from the comfort and safety of their home. 

 

One of the biggest struggles that we had when I was appointed as pastor in July of 2019 was the large loan that we had on the roof replacement project.  In the midst of this pandemic, many donors and two anonymous major donors came together and payed off our 5 year loan in the first year.  This came during a time that the church was struggling deeply with reduced giving because of the effects of the pandemic. 

 

We have made many other changes in the way that we reach our community, the way we worship, and the way that we minister.  In the midst of this pandemic we are beginning to see new people, and long missed familiar faces.  Though many still worship from home, we are beginning to see a rise in worship participation.  In fact, four people that have been joining us regularly are to become professing members of the church on the first Sunday in February.

 

Over the past year this church has experienced a lot.  It feels sometimes like being scrapped across rough sandpaper.  Change is hard, and change can hurt, but God is constantly molding and shaping us into the church that He wants us to be.  I believe that these changes and these struggles that our church has experienced will all be used to build a stronger foundation and a more meaningful and beneficial church for the members of HUMC, the community of Highlands, Texas, and the Kingdom of God.

 

May God continue to bless each and every one of you!

 

Rev. Kevin McMachen

 

 

December 2020

We had an eventful December to say the least! Our choir blessed us with their Christmas Cantata on December 6th, and we had our first ever Not-So-Silent Night on December 21st. Both events were hugely successful.

Annual Christmas Cantata
A Not-So-Silent Night

The week leading up to Christmas was filled with fun events like decorating cookies, caroling with Santa, Storytime with Santa, and a beautiful candlelight Christmas Eve service. 

Caroling with Santa
Storytime with Santa

 

 


February 17th-Ways to Make it Meaningful:

 

  1. Worship
    Many congregations offer worship services on Ash Wednesday. In a typical  United Methodist service, expect times of prayer, singing, confession and pardon, a sermon, and the imposition of ashes. The  somber tone helps us reflect on our own mortality and the need for us to confess our sins.
  2. Serve
    On Ash Wednesday, we  remember that we are part of the entire human family, making it a great day to serve others. See if you can serve a meal during your lunch hour, or take a personal day to volunteer with a local Habitat for Humanity project. Your service, however, doesn’t have to be with an organized group. You might instead choose to use your lunch hour to hand out sandwiches and sports drinks to the homeless in your city. You could also mow a neighbor’s lawn, or shovel the snow from their driveway.
  3. Give
    We encourage you to give to your congregation, the United Methodist Committee on  Relief, and other organizations that serve others. Your generosity can also be creative. Leave your server an above-and-beyond tip – maybe a 100% gratuity. Buy the coffee of the person behind you in line. Put money in the  instrument case of a street musician. Purchase a paper from the homeless woman on the corner. Find ways to bless others with that which God entrusts you.
  4. Abstain/fast
    “Giving something up for Lent” is a common practice for many Christians. Often, we give up a favorite food or try to kick a bad habit during Lent. Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is when this begins, but don’t confine yourself to food or habits. Can you  abstain from gossip or complaining for Ash Wednesday? What about  defensive attitudes, fear, or anxiety? You probably won’t be perfect at this, but being mindful of times when these attitudes begin to take hold of your day can lead you to prayer.
  5. Pray your day
    Rather than setting aside special time for prayer, pray your day. Pray for the drivers of the vehicles and fellow mass transit passengers with whom you share your commute. Pray as you pass the hospital, police station, and government    offices. Lift up the trash collector and the mail carrier. Pray as you write a letter, email, or Facebook post to an old friend. Offer sentence prayers throughout the day thanking God for your coworkers.
  6. Make something
    Some of us reflect and pray best when our hands our busy, making today a great day to create something. Get back in the workshop and spend time cutting, sanding, and gluing. Sit at a piano and let the music flow. Take out the paints, glue, clay, and other supplies to create a work of art. As you create, be mindful of our Creator who longs to be in relationship with you.
  7. Be still
    Others find meaning in stillness. Try a practice like centering prayer by lighting a candle and pausing before the presence of God. Take a yoga class or enjoy a cup of coffee on your deck. Listen for the crackling wick, the wind, the birds, the voice of God.
  8. Clean something
    Ash Wednesday is a good day to get a jump on your spring cleaning. Spend an hour with the junk drawer, that cabinet at work, or organizing the files on your hard drive. As you remove things you no longer need and reorder those you do, be mindful of the ways God “cleans” us. The Bible tells us “As far as east is from west – that’s how far God has removed our sin from us” (Psalm 103:12, CEB). As we get things in order, we remember that Jesus gave his life so that we might be free from our sins and know new life.
  9. Burn something

    When you finish cleaning, take some of the papers you no longer need to the fireplace, light them, and watch them burn to ashes. The ashes our pastors smudge on us during Ash Wednesday worship come from the burning of last year’s Palm Sunday palms. They remind us of our mortality and call us to repentance – seeking God’s forgiveness for our sin, both the things we have and have not done.

    The ashes you’ll generate in the fireplace are not the same, but can serve as a similar reminder that your sins are forgiven. As the smoke rises up the chimney, know your prayers and life in Christ are rising to God as well.

  10. Forgive and seek forgiveness
    As we pray for God’s grace, we should also seek forgiveness from those we have wronged. Ash Wednesday is a great time to go to those you have hurt. It is also a wonderful day to forgive another. Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us” (Matthew 6:12 CEB). Maybe while you are burning those old papers, you might also burn a grudge. If appropriate, let the person know you forgive them. Remember, however, that forgiveness has much more to do about us than the one who offended us.

Source: Copied from a UMC.org Feature by Joe Iovino

 

 

 

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