Pastor's Letter

January 2018

Be Still and know that I am God.  (Psalm 4:10)


              My Covenant group was meeting in the church library, gathered around a table with our head’s bowed, as we entered into a full minute of silent prayer.  Suddenly our spiritual reverie was broken by the sound of the door opening and feet shuffling in our direction.  We looked up to see one of our members, arriving late and accompanied by their spouse, carrying platters full of Christmas cookies!  We were delighted, of course, and very grateful for we were not expecting this.  However, it did take us some time to recover our spiritual focus!


As we wonder what the year 2018 holds in store for us, one thing we can be sure of is this: there will be plenty of interruptions, distractions and temptations!  Though I am not one to make New Year’s Resolutions per se, I am a believer in the importance of resolve.  In other words, if we are to stay focused on being disciples - “followers of Jesus whose lives are centering on loving God and loving others” - it will require some intentionality. 


Are you resolved to practice some form of spiritual discipline this year?  Will you determine to spend more time in prayer or read a daily devotional or commit to being more present in corporate worship?  The Christian author, Richard Foster, says that “God has given us the disciplines of the spiritual life (prayer, scripture reading, corporate worship etc…) as a means of receiving his grace.  The disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us.”


One thing is for sure, spiritual disciplines help to keep us from drifting away from God the Father as we experience the inevitable round of distractions and temptations.  For even good things like family and friends and work and leisure (and cookies!) can occasionally distract us from keeping ourselves focused on following Jesus! 


If the Christian virtues of faith, hope and love are to be unloosed in the world, it will require the determination of the followers of Jesus to stay the course.  May you make time in 2018 to “be still and know” that Jesus is Lord!



November 2017


            A funny thing happened a few weeks ago while I was finishing up a ministerial task in my study at the church.  It was 11:30 a.m. on a typical weekday and I stood up from my desk to stretch and take a breather.  I walked over to my calendar (God’s Creation Appointment Calendar) on the wall and decided somewhat randomly to read the scripture for that week.  The Bible verse was from Luke 12:7, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Bam!  I was immediately struck with the realization that I had a hair cut scheduled at 11:45 that very day!  I had completely forgotten this appointment until I read this clear message from the Lord!  What are the chances!?


Now do I think the Creator of heaven and earth doesn’t have more important things to do than remind me of my haircut?  I do, but it was still a simultaneously humorous and oddly comforting moment.  It actually did have the feel and flavor of what some call a “God-Moment.”  A God-Moment is when something happens in our lives that we can’t adequately explain, but gives us a relatively clear and unmistakable impression that it has come from something greater than ourselves.  I have had these moments when being touched by the splendor of a perfect autumn day or when praying with a terminally ill church member, or when singing a choral anthem that deeply resonates with a season in my life. 


How about you?  Are you spiritually attuned to these God-Moments?  Of course, the God we believe in is truly our “ever present” help in time of need, as the Psalmist affirms.  But that doesn’t mean we are particularly conscious of Him all the time.  God seems to delight in concealing Himself as much as He does revealing Himself.  I think it is important that when these moments happen we are open to sharing them with others.  When we do, we offer others a sense of hope and reassurance that helps to strengthen and deepen their faith and ours.


We are blessed to worship and serve a living, loving, Father God.  However, we too easily lose sight of this, and in addition to practicing our spiritual disciplines of prayer, scripture reading, and worship, we also do well to be more sensitive to these God-Moments.  So remember, God is much more involved in your daily activities than you can ever comprehend.  Indeed, “the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”


In Christ,

Pastor Eric




August/September 2017


             “...The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve...”


             One of the highlights of this summer was serving alongside our youth during our mission trip to The House of the Carpenter in West Virginia this past June.  While we were there we all spent some time helping to build a handicap ramp for Carol Higgenbotham at her home in Moundsville, West Virginia (the hometown of our former bishop, Thomas Bickerton!). Carol’s mobility had reached the point where she could barely navigate a single stair, but that didn’t stop her from getting out on her front porch to cheer us on as we did our work.


The main supervisor of this ramp-build and other projects was a man by the name of Gary Bryant.  Gary is on the staff of The House of the Carpenter as a volunteer project coordinator. He is a retired engineer in his mid seventies and in great physical shape.  I really appreciated the way he worked with our youth, kindly showing them how to use all kinds of power tools and gently overseeing their work.  He had a genuine servant’s heart and clearly enjoyed helping others.  His patience was tested again and again as our project met with one obstacle


after another, but he kept his composure and caring demeanor throughout.  It was a joy and an honor to work alongside him.


It is a wonderful thing to see a genuine Christian servant in action.  Someone who is not only willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty to help others, but does so in a cheerful way. For it is not only what we do in the service of the gospel, but HOW we do it that matters. 


I am grateful that Park UM Church is populated by many servants of Christ, including our youth who served well on our mission trip!  Servants are simply believers who are willing to expend and extend themselves graciously and in concrete ways.  It is my hope that more of our members will find opportunities to discover the deep seated joy of serving Christ in some hands-on ministry!


In Christ,


Pastor Eric


May 2017

“Let us run with perseverance, the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus...”

                                                                                                        (Hebrews 12:1-2)

             Pretend for a moment you are contemplating running in a marathon (26.2 miles!).  Trained runners suggest that first you would need to honestly answer some straightforward questions?


First, do you enjoy a challenge?  Marathon running takes dedication and discipline, and often the journey to starting line can be harder than the race itself.  You have to be prepared to change your eating habits, increase your water intake, get plenty of sleep, and “pound the pavement.”


Second, are you prepared to train?  The standard plan is that 16 weeks before the race you begin running an average of five miles, four times per week.  Third, do you have the time? Building up to marathon distance takes 6 to 10 hours a week for months.


We expect that running in a marathon would require dedication and discipline.  We know you can’t just show up the day of the race and hope to complete it!  What if we thought similarly about our life of faith?  Is not our faith journey like a “race” that requires perseverance and training?  Could not the above three questions apply to discipleship?


We have been talking quite a bit lately about Covenant Discipleship.  The reason for this is that it is a proven way to dedicate and discipline ourselves for the task of being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ in a world where “sin so easily entangles.”  It is not the only way, but it is an excellent way to assure we maintain the measure of accountability and encouragement we need to stay the course.


My one-hour, weekly interaction with my covenant group is something I thoroughly enjoy and look forward to (Like training with a friend to run a marathon!).  In that setting I am reminded that I am not alone in facing challenges to my faith, while striving to take Jesus seriously.  That hour sharpens and trains my faith perspective by keeping me focused on prayer, gratitude and service.


But it is not easy to live into the “covenant” in Covenant Discipleship. So before you commit to such a course of faith, you may want to ask yourself some straightforward questions: Do I enjoy a challenge?  Am I prepared to train?  Do I have the time?


As your pastor, I continue to pray that all aspire to be disciples: “followers of Jesus whose life is centering on loving God and loving others.” Discipleship is one marathon we are all capable of running, by the grace of God.  So let us “run with perseverance the race... while looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith...”




In Christ,



Pastor Eric



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