Our adult book study, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy with God in the Busyness of Life by Joanna Wever, continues. We are almost halfway through. Recently we had a good discussion about burdens. We read a story about a wagon and rocks; later we were encouraged to picture our own wagons and what kind of rocks we are toting around. Understanding the rocks as responsibilities, many answered: work, family, home duties, church duties, other duties. These responsibilities can tire us out and take up a lot of time to be sure. There is a difference though, between a responsibility and a burden. What are the burdens in your life that you are carrying around? You may be keenly aware of their weight or nearly breaking your metaphorical back everyday and wondering why everything is so HARD. Responsibilities are real – we are not called to remove ourselves from family and community and to turn our backs on the world – that type of living is a different call for monks and hermits. So, then, what are our burdens – and how do we remove them? Burdens present themselves innocently enough on our journeys – we gather them from time to time, and in varying amounts - they can keep on coming, again and again. We pick them up through normal interactions with others and sometimes we never put them down. These burdens are known to us a anger, shame, and guilt.
Now sometimes, they are known by their close friends’ names: frustration, worry, embarrassment, and regret, but they are really the same. God does not call us to carry these burdens; in fact we are encouraged to lay down our burdens - at the riverside, at the feet of our savior, at the cross. Can we though? Can we let them go? They can sometimes be helpful and offer us strength or courage, or commitment. We can become stronger by carrying these burdens, but we are not meant to bear them forever, always increasing our load. I encourage you to consider your burdens and to turn to God in prayer. Thank God for having the strength to carry them this far and intentionally ask to lay these down. Imagine yourself removing these burdens from your load. Repeat this as often as necessary. Read Matthew 11:28: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. New Living Translation.
I am excited! I have had a marvelous summer and I do feel refreshed and renewed. There is a lot that is getting ready to get started in September.
Youth Group - will get restarted (I’m not sure when yet).
Confirmation Class - open to youth grade 6 and above - will start 9/8 at 9m. This class will be in place of regular Sunday School. Aiming for Confirmation on 5/31 (Pentecost).
From umc.org: “Confirmation includes three aspects,” This Is Your Baptismal Liturgy summarizes. “a) God confirms the divine promise to those who were too young to grasp what God was doing in their baptism, b) they respond by professing their own acceptance of the grace they have received and their own faith in Christ, c) the Church, as represented by this congregation, confirms the commitments they make.” Confirmation is not a destination. It is more of a way station, a place where we renew our commitment to the journey we have been traveling under the care of others. “It is the first time that persons publicly declare their intention to live out the vows of the baptismal covenant,” Burton-Edwards teaches. “It is not intended to be the last time. It’s just that confirmation is the label we put on the first time.” It is also a time for a congregation to celebrate their young people’s commitment to “live as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ,” and to renew their commitment to do the same.
Adult Book Study - Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy with God in the Busyness of Life, by Joanna Wever. We will begin 9/5, 12:30. I am reading this on my Kindle. It is available in paperback as well, and on Amazon for $4.99. Study guides are also available for $10.99 for a 10 week session. Let’s all get the book, study guide is optional. If you are interested in this (or a different book study) and would prefer/need to meet in the evening - PLEASE reach out and let me know! I am available for studies in the evenings, but I haven’t received any requests for them!
Also going on - we will be meeting on 9/8 after the service, before the Church Leadership meeting, to discuss our visits to other congregations.
I am reminded that with each breath, with every prayer, with every new moment - there comes an opportunity for renewal and a fresh start. Our loving God continually provides invitations for new life and forgiveness. It seems we are most likely to recognize this at the start of a calendar year or at the beginning of a school year - whether or not we are preparing for school in any way. Know that you are always welcome at Alplaus and in the universal community of living faith for a fresh start and new forgiveness today and every day. Thanks be to God!