Happy New Year!!

In just a few days we will be entering into a New Year – 2017. It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? The Christmas of 2016 has come and gone and New Year’s Day is on the horizon.  

When I was a child, New Year’s Day was a “take-down-the-tree-day” in our household. It was a day I never liked; evergreen needles needing to be swept and vacuumed up; icicles, those pesky, annoying strips of silver, tossed into the garbage; ornaments carefully packed in cardboard boxes. It was an ending of all the beautiful lights, splashes of vibrant reds and greens and the joyous Christmas carols.  I still do not like taking down the tree and lights!  

And while January has never been a favorite month for me with its too-long nights and too-short days, I have been thinking about how God wants me to spend January, indeed, my time, my energy and passion every month of this coming year. 

As I have been reading and praying for the direction God would have me take, I was reminded of a book I read several years ago by Charles Shelton called, “In His Steps.” It is a story where a pastor challenged his congregation to ask themselves the question before they did anything, “What Would Jesus Do?” In the story, while the pastor, Rev. Henry Maxwell was preparing a sermon based on 1 Peter 2:21, (“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps,”) he was interrupted by a homeless person knocking at his door, requesting assistance in finding employment. The minister apologetically turned him away. 

Two days after the homeless man knocked on Pastor Maxwell’s door, he delivered his sermon to the church. At the end of his conclusion, that same homeless man, Jack Manning, unexpectedly appeared and spoke to the congregation. He related how he had lost his job as a printer and that his wife had recently died. Manning boldly questioned Maxwell’s sermon on Christian discipleship by asking what it meant to follow in the steps of Christ. His speech concluded when he fainted and collapsed in the aisle. Rev. Maxwell took the man to his home to convalesce, but Jack Manning died a week later.

As you can imagine in the story, this experience had a profound impact on Rev. Maxwell. He heard the whisper of God to invite members of his congregation to take a pledge for one year to ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” when facing every decision in their individual lives. 

According to the story, some of his parishioners accepted the challenge. No more would they turn a blind eye to need. Members followed the will of God in their personal lives. The willingness of the people to do what Jesus would do when making decisions led to a radically changed church that impacted the entire community surrounding the church, leading to a movement that spread throughout the entire country.

And while it is a story, I believe that God has used this little book to challenge His people throughout the years to ask themselves, “What would Jesus Do?” in various situations. Which makes me wonder, “What would happen in our church, Moncton First, in your life and mine if we were to accept the same challenge today, and ask when faced with decisions and in giving a response to others, “What would Jesus do?”  

A few weeks ago, my husband, Charlie began packing up some chocolates, candy and various items of food we had in the freezer and on our storage room shelves. I asked him what he was doing and he responded, “I just heard about a new family from Syria with five children that moved in our area and I felt that I should go over and say hello and bring them a gift.”

I think that Jesus would have done the same thing. 

Let me close with these words from the book of Isaiah 58:7-9 (The Message) where God communicates to his people: “What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’

Are you brave enough and willing to accept the challenge to ask yourself throughout this year, “What would Jesus do?” WWJD

Blessings to you and yours! Happy New Year!

Pastor Patti

The Story

Bible-Best-SellerThe Bible is the best-selling book in history, but how many people in the City of Moncton are actually reading it?

We at First Nazarene are hoping to reverse this trend, starting with our own congregation. Beginning on Sunday, September 18 at 10:30 am, First Nazarene will be journeying together with “The Story” – from Genesis to Revelation. A unique program that involves all ages, from preschool to senior, we believe that “The Story” is the right tool to increase Biblical literacy, helping readers to understand better God’s story and see how their own stories intersect with God’s. Consisting of 31 chapters of carefully-selected scriptures sequenced in chronological order, “The Story” presents the Word of God in an engaging format, reading much like a novel.

On our Launch Sunday (Sept 18) we offer a free coffee or tea with a light snack at our NazCafé that begins at 9:45 am. Did anyone say, “cinnamon buns?” Following the morning worship service there will be a free spaghetti dinner with dessert in the gym (donation). We have invited Rebel Band as our guests who will lead us in worship. (You may want to ask your teens and young adults to come to hear this all-brothers band.) In that service I will be preaching from the first chapter of The Story, so you will want to bring along your copy of “The Story.”

Everyone who comes gets a free copy of The Story! Along with the hard cover copies for the adults, we have children’s copies of The Story and teen copies, too. Beginning on September 4 we will be handing out copies of The Story as well as the adult participant’s guides for small groups.

Another exciting feature of this new program is that we have several and varied small groups as well as Bible studies for all ages, starting or re-starting the week of September 18. Be sure to sign up early because there is limited space in the classes.

It is my hope and prayer that you will come and experience “The Story” with us. For more information, please call the church at 858-9308, send an email to monctonfirstnaz@gmail.com or visit www.monctonfirst.com.

Blessings,
Pastor Patti

Ponderings

busylifePonderings

I believe that in the busyness of life many of us take too little time to reflect, muse or ponder. We get caught up in the day to day struggle of just trying to get through the next 24 hours. There are deadlines to be met; appointments to be kept; kids to be dropped off at the sitters; what am I making for supper? Did I even get groceries this week? The car has to go in to the repair shop – again! (Actually, as I begin this reflection I’m waiting for my car to get finished.)

Life does at times become an insane balance of the things we need to do today and those we try to negotiate to put off until tomorrow. And in the process of it all we become jugglers and incessant doers. What is the response to our relentless schedules? How does God factor in to our hectic pace of living? Annie Dillard, that prolific American writer insightfully said, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”

Ponder. What a great word to, well, ponder.

The hymn writer, Joachim Neander wrote in “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” Ponder anew what the Almighty can do…When I sing those words it makes me want to just stop and do exactly that.

Consider…

Contemplate…

When Mary, the mother of Jesus was visited by the shepherds after the birth of Jesus, Luke tells us, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” The shepherds were busy telling everyone they met about the incredible events they had witnessed but Mary was pondering and treasuring the incredible knowledge that God was now up close and personal – the babe suckling at her breast – was Emmanuel – God with us.

Why not in the busy days ahead take time to ponder the wonder of God with us, with you? Ponder the beauty of His creation in the subtle changes we are just beginning to see as we transition into another season. Ponder the miracle of life in a newborn’s cry. Ponder the love of God who would move heaven and earth so that you could be in a relationship with Him.

Reflect…

Ruminate…

And as you ponder, may you get lost in the wonder of the mystery of God!

– Pastor Patti