From the Pastor’s Desk

Be Still and Silent - June 2022

by Pastor Kenn Curren

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10 NIV

In our busy lives, taking time to be still is difficult. We have the demands of work, family, extracurricular activities, and the list seems to go on. Even when we plan a vacation, seeking silence and solitude may be difficult. Silence can be…uncomfortable, piercing, lonely, and hard to find. Silence can also be…beautiful, peaceful, and magnificent.

Countless scriptures echo the importance of silence and solitude in our life as we seek time with God. Try to be still and silent for one minute. It sounds easy, but that single minute will feel like an eternity, especially when you have other things competing for your attention. With the noise in our environment and within us, it seems rare to find silence anywhere anymore. Taking the time to be silent and to listen for God’s voice is a spiritual discipline we need to incorporate into our lives.

Jesus set the example for us by going off by himself to pray. He began his ministry after his baptism out in the wilderness. Whenever he sought answers to difficult decisions or wanted to be closer to God the Father, he went off seeking solitude and silence. Resting in these moments of solitude renewed him for the constant demands of his ministry and he received self-care. Mother Teresa said, “We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

I encourage you to take a leap of faith and trust the silence. Being still before God is the enduring stance of prayer. Being still is the purest form of listening. Be still…Be silent…spend time alone with God, and hear what he has to say. Be still, listen, and don’t give up.

Peace, Pastor Kenn

 

Servant's Heart - May 2022

by Pastor Kenn Curren

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Serving others, willingly giving of our selves to help others, seems to go against today’s standards. Our culture tends to focus on personal happiness and satisfaction. Self-fulfillment becomes the goal. As followers of Jesus, we are to be different than those in this world. Jesus gave Himself, so we must give ourselves for others.

Throughout the gospels, Jesus teaches us about the true meaning of values, love, friendship, and serving one another. The love that Jesus teaches is not the romantic kind, but a characteristic. This agape love is an act of the will. We are to love one another as brethren in the same family, bearing each other’s burdens, praying for one anther, admonishing each other, and building up one another. Because of God’s love for us, we have the power to love and serve others.

So, what does a servant look like? Here are some traits I have noticed: Servants see needs that others miss. They do what is needed, even when it isn’t their job. They serve without being asked or expecting thanks. Servants don’t see their service as a big deal. They don’t seek position or status. Instead, a servant’s heart holds other’s needs and welfare as a high priority.

Seek opportunities to serve others. Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “to the extent that you did to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.” Just as Jesus gave of himself, we are to give ourselves for others. Having a servant’s heart is simply giving some of yourself away.

Peace, Pastor Kenn

 

On May 8 we celebrate Mother’s Day and the Festival of the Christian Home. This day that honors mothers began as a special service in May, 1907, at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Anna Jarvis organized a service to honor her mother, who died on May 9, 1905. By 1908, Anna Jarvis was promoting the idea of honoring all mothers on the second Sunday in May. In 1912, the Methodist Episcopal Church recognized the day and raised it to a national agenda.

Let us offer this prayer for mothers and women throughout this world:

Gracious God, we thank you for the gifts of love we have received. We pray for those who gave us life, and for those who have lost a child. To them we offer our love and support. We pray for those who have nurtured and cared for us as mother figures throughout our lives. Bless these women, let their faith and love shine forth, and let us honor them always with respect. We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen

Make A Difference - April 2022

by Pastor Kenn Curren

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.” John 20:1 (NIV)

    We are almost through the season of Lent and are beginning to prepare to celebrate Easter (April 17). During our Lenten series we have explored many questions – Would we be willing to take a detour? Are we prepared to use our resources to help others? Who is my neighbor? How can I adjust my vision to see others like Jesus sees them? What difference can I make in someone else’s life? As I ponder these questions, I think back to a story I read in the Augsburg Sermon Book (1985). A pastor shared this story:

“I’ve never seen such a crowd in church,” the woman exclaimed. I didn’t know her, but apparently she was impressed with the number of people gathered for Easter worship. Then, as she was shaking my hand and moving toward the front door, she added, “Do you suppose it will make any difference?”

I asked her, “What do you mean? Will what make a difference?”

“Easter,” she said. “Will Easter make any difference for these people, or will life tomorrow be the same as it was yesterday?”

    I believe that is a profound question we each need to examine. Will Easter make any difference in your life? As Christians, we are living in the presence of a living Lord and Savior. We live in the power of the resurrection, hope, and victory. Because Jesus lives, we will live also. This good news should inspire us to live in a way that brings hope to this world of brokenness. We can share this hope that lives, people, events, and circumstances don’t have to remain the same because there is the possibility of change, renewal, and new life because of Jesus. Life doesn’t have to continue in the same old ways because Easter can make a difference.

Easter makes a difference if, and only if, we are willing to carry this gift of the gospel with us as we walk the road of life. As you listen to the familiar story of the resurrection, ask the Spirit to open you to the possibilities that life can be dramatically different because of Easter.

Peace, Pastor Kenn

This is the good news- the grave is empty, Christ is risen. Hallelujah! This is the good news- the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never put it out. Hallelujah! This is the good news- once we were no people, now we are God’s people. Hallelujah! Christ is our peace, the indestructible peace we now share with each other. Hallelujah!

© 1998 Wild Goose Publications, administrated by GIA Publications, Inc. 

Serving Others - March 2022

by Pastor Kenn Curren

“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should also wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:12-17

During the month of March, we will be observing Lent to prepare us for Easter. Throughout this period, we will be reminded of Jesus’ mission and purpose of coming to serve others and not to be served. So the question for us to ponder during this sacred time of reflection becomes – are we following Jesus’ example of serving? Or, are we merely going through the motions of being a volunteer? Some may ask, “Is there any difference between volunteering and serving?” According to scripture – yes, there is a difference.

Tony Alstott wrote that our American culture says, “Volunteer.” Jesus says, “Serve.” According to society, volunteers give their time according to their preferences. People will volunteer “if it is something I like to do, want to do, and if it fits my schedule.” When we follow Jesus, we no longer volunteer according to our personal preferences. We now serve according to Jesus’ preferences. How many of us would volunteer to wash the feet of everyone who came to church Sunday? As disciples, we are called to serve, and often times those places we are called are outside of our comfort zones. Do we follow our personal preferences or respond to places God is calling us to serve?

The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” God equips us with spiritual gifts to accomplish His mission. At Loudonville UMC, and the community, there exist many opportunities to serve. Examine the gifts that God provided to you and look for places that you may put them to use as you serve others.

Peace, Pastor Kenn

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