Small Beginnings – Pastor Tommy

One of my favorite things in the world is the annual Native Plant Sale hosted by our local Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary. It’s a great fundraiser, with the parking lot of the Heard completely full of volunteers selling native flowers, shrubs, and trees. You can learn about building a native ecosystem, attracting pollinators, what to plant where and when. I always keep the date on my calendar to look forward to.

Of course, when you buy a plant at this sale, most aren’t full sized. When you buy a tree, what you take home is a sad little stick in a big pot of dirt, maybe with a handful of tiny leaves, maybe not. The sign says “redbud” or “rough-leaf dogwood,” and you more or less have to take it on faith.

I’ve been going to this plant sale for years now, and let me tell you about scrawny little twigs. They turn into trees! Now my backyard has a Mexican plum that blooms every year. I watch cardinals and mockingbirds play on the limbs of my redbud, and my granddaughter climb on my Texas red oak. My yard is like a different place.

I’ve been thinking about those trees this month, as we talk about small things making a big difference. This is a lesson we have learned again and again in 2020. Seeing a friendly face on a zoom call. Taking a few spare cans of food to the Little Free Pantry. Finding eggs at the supermarket. These things add up to blessing. We have all felt it. And the things within our power to do, no matter how small, can bless others more than we can imagine.

If you haven’t filled out a pledge card, I invite you to click here. Think about what you have and what you can give. Through God, the smallest twigs can grow into huge trees. And your gift, even if it may seem too small to matter, can transform the lives of God’s children in our community, across our country, and all over our world.


Do You Not See It? – Pastor Ed

From Isaiah 43:16; 18-19:
This is what the Lord says – he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Israel was constantly harassed by the peoples around them, and they were always at war against each other. There was lots of suffering due to the wars and instabilities. One thing was certain for Israel: God was present with them, even in the midst of despair. In this Bible verse, God is encouraging Israel not to dwell on the past but look into the future and the new possibilities God has for them. “Do you not see it?”

The year 2020 is definitely going down in history! How can we forget it, right?

Those of us who lived through this pandemic and are still alive in this body can tell the stories of their losses and pain.

Unfortunately, there are those who will deny people suffered and died from a virus called COVID-19 because, of course, it was just a “hoax.” Hard for me to believe my wife Daniele’s father died from a hoax on December 12th and was rushed to be buried on December 13 to avoid the spreading of the virus. My wife, daughters and I had COVID-19 in September/October and it was really tough. I can still feel the lingering effects of the disease in my own body. Some relatives in Brazil had to be in the hospital for many days because of the virus. I’ve seen and heard our church people in their personal struggles in 2020 as well.

Reading from Isaiah today, God called my attention to the verses about forgetting “the former things” and to look at the “former things” in a different way. Maybe, if we reinterpret that passage for our days, God may be talking about all the pain and losses we all had in 2020.

However, in addition to that, I believe God is inviting us also to pay attention to the “former way” God has been present with us through it all and to see His hand at work in our midst this past year. We hear God saying, “You’ve seen me at work in the midst of your pain and suffering. You’ve seen how present I was with you, how I gave you strength, how you saw the seemingly impossible happen, how I blessed you with what you needed… that was big and amazing, right? Well, wait until you see what I am about to do…”

God does not want us to forget the pain and sufferings of the past. God does not want us to turn our backs on what has been and will be part of our history. But God does want us not to dwell on them.

Furthermore, God wants us to be able to see and acknowledge His good, big and amazing presence in the bad things that happened to us in 2020 but also, even more, to expect greater and new things from the Lord in 2021, for God is with us!

The question is: Can you see it?

Blessings to you in 2021!

Pastor Ed Volfe


Work to be Done – Pastor Tommy

Dear friends,
I spent most of last night and all of this morning praying for our country.  The images from our nation’s capital were shocking and distressing.
Today, I pray God will bless our nation.  The darkness and division we are living through did not spring up overnight, and it will not heal overnight.  We must be intentional as we work together, and the work will last a lifetime.
As United Methodists, we are committed to our principles.  To do no harm.  To do good to all.  To walk faithfully with God.  Let us hold to these principles and remember that our words matter.  Our actions make a difference.  Our prayers are important.  Let us work together to bring healing to the real injury that has been done.  The Apostle Paul says “let us not grow weary in doing good, for we will reap at harvest time if we do not give up.  So then, whenever we have opportunity, let us work for the good of all” (Gal. 6: 9-10).
Hang in there, friends.  Don’t lose heart.  Pray that our church will continue to be a light in the darkness.  There is so much anger and deception loose out there.  Don’t give in to it.
Dr. King says “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Commit your words, your actions, and your prayers to being a source of light and love.  Small things make a big difference.
God bless you, God bless our church, and God bless the United States.
Pastor Tommy


Silent Night – Pastor Abe

“Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright.” Really? The first words in the song Silent Night speak about a calm night with a sleeping baby, but it was likely anything but calm and peaceful. Crying baby, unwed mother, barn animals close by, no room in the inn…doesn’t sound too peaceful. This year feels more like that first Christmas, chaotic, isolated, stressful, anything but normal. But what if this Christmas could be different?

Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us, “Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.” The peace of God begins with prayer and thanksgiving.

The pressure to buy everyone the perfect gift, to fulfill every holiday tradition, and this year to manage in the midst of a pandemic is not going away. We bring peace to chaos by learning to pray before we plan, to center our lives on Christ in every moment of the season, and by giving thanks for the blessings of God.
The most comforting Christmas song for this year is likely, O Holy Night. “Long lay the world in sin and error, pining. ‘Til He [Jesus] appeared and the soul felt it’s worth.” It is in Christ that our soul feels its worth. It is in Christ, not the world around us, that we find peace. The Gospel of John records Jesus saying, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27).

Take time to pray, and let your soul feel its worth as you center your life on Jesus, knowing you are unconditionally loved. May the peace of Christ fall afresh on you!

Merry Christmas,
Pastor Abe


You Will Live – Pastor Ed

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die…” John 11:25 NIV

When we talk about Christ, we talk about life, death and resurrection. I talk with many people via phone calls, emails, text messages, messenger, Facebook, WhatsApp and, if allowed these days because of the pandemic, face-to-face (or, mask-to-mask). So many people are hurting one way or another these days. The pandemic this year has made things even harder all around the world. Also, the holidays are particularly hard for people who experienced losses whether recently or a long time ago, especially the loss of a loved one. For those amongst us, while everyone else is celebrating and smiling during the holidays, they may be finding ways and excuses to stay away from others in order to deal with their losses and grief.

While our Christian faith points to a God who is always present and gives us eternal life, the pain of loss drives us to ask the question, “Where is God in all this?”

As I pondered again upon these words Jesus said to Martha and Mary referencing to their brother’s death, I was reminded of a couple of things. First, Jesus felt in his spirit and soul the loss of a close friend and wept. Lazarus had died. And second, Jesus is also referring to the life that is renewed in those who are left behind.

As human beings, acknowledging the pain and suffering of loss can help in the healing process. Weeping is part of the human response to the pain that cannot be explained by words. Though we have questions, the answers will never suffice to appease the void in us left behind when we lose our mom, dad, son, daughter, grandpa, grandma… Jesus wept along with Martha, Mary, and friends.

Jesus’ bold statement to Martha and Mary that “those who die will live” refers to those who died, yet it is also directed to those who are left behind. When a loved one dies, something within us also dies. And Jesus is boldly encouraging all of us by saying what is dead will come back to life – perhaps life in a different way but life, nonetheless, “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

During these holidays, claim the words of Jesus in your life. What has died within you will live, because Jesus is our resurrection for today, as well. You will live!

Peace and Healing,

Rev. Ed Volfe


Advent and Waiting – Pastor Tommy

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Now the seasons are changing. The turkeys on Church Street are gone, and Christmas lights are up. In the life of the Church, we have stepped into the season of Advent, the weeks of preparation before Christmas.

As you saw on Sunday, other things have changed, too. After talking with church leadership, staff, and our local medical professionals, we have decided to temporarily pause indoor in-person worship. We have said from the beginning that we would allow our decisions to be guided by the data, and our current and projected COVID numbers indicate that we need to take a step back from large indoor gatherings for a while.

Advent is a season where we long to be together. But Advent is also a time of patience and expectant waiting. We have lots of great activities and volunteer opportunities prepared for this month – read about them below! We will continue opening our outside spaces for small groups. And of course we will continue worshiping online. Your church staff is actively monitoring the numbers, and we will be back in the Sanctuary and Dyer Hall again as soon as we safely can.

Although our ability to gather together is limited right now, we are all in this together. Together is the only way to make it through. Stay safe – you know how to do that. Be kind and patient – Jesus shows us how to do that. Stay connected to your friends, family, and Church – you’ll find ways to do that in this newsletter. Seasons change, and we will be back together soon.

Pastor Tommy


Hope of the Pokomchi

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.
– Colossians 3:12-15a (New Revised Standard Version)
From the beginning, Jesus proposed a way of being that seemed at odds with the world around him and is still at odds with the world around us. Centering on Jesus forces us to recognize the conflict between the way of life Jesus embodies and the ways of life expected by the world. Paul highlights that conflict when he teaches us to clothe ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience in a world where behavior that is the opposite of those ideals is regularly rewarded. What looks like weakness to the world is actually the strength of Christ’s message and example because Christ’s ultimate show of weakness, being nailed to the cross, is our greatest source of strength and hope. With our hearts centered on Jesus, can we extend compassion and kindness to people with whom we disagree? With our hearts centered on Jesus, can we put the needs of others ahead of our own? With our hearts centered on Jesus, can we extend love and forgiveness to one another and create harmony with our fellow human beings?
As I think about the qualities Paul and Jesus call us to embody, my mind turns toward the Pokomchi people of Guatemala. Our church has a strong connection to the Pokomchi people, and we have been sending mission teams and financial support to Guatemala for over 20 years. My experience of the Pokomchi is that they are a beautiful people who embody the spirit of Christ in their lives. Now we, with our hearts centered on Christ, have an opportunity to clothe ourselves with kindness and compassion as we reach out in support of these people.
On November 3rd, Hurricane Eta made landfall in Nicaragua and headed north. This storm dumped torrential amounts of rain on a large part of Central America including in the Highlands of Guatemala where our ministry partners, Hope of the Pokomchi, do their work. All of this rain has caused a major humanitarian crisis as villages are flooded and hit with landslides. Right now, we know that the city of San Cristobal, and many of the outlying villages that we work in have been affected, and there are estimates that put the death toll around 200 people. It is catastrophic.
The good news is that all of the staff of Hope of the Pokomchi are safe, although some have experienced flooding in their own homes. The Skekinah Center, where teams sometimes stay when in country and where much of the ministry is based, has not been affected.
The staff of Hope of the Pokomchi is working to provide food and support for the people of their community. Many roads to the more remote villages are washed out, but they are reaching out as they are able.
We can support this ministry in two ways. First, we pray. This is the list of prayer foci that Hope of the Pokomchi has requested:
  • That the roads would become passable as soon as possible
  • That the pregnant women in the villages would get safely to the hospital in San Cristobal
  • That Hope of the Pokomchi could get much needed supplies to Queja (our partner village) and the other villages in that area
  • Guidance and strength for the village pastors and leaders who are coordinating relief efforts with Hope of the Pokomchi
  • Health, safety, stamina for our Hope of the Pokomchi staff as they carry on with this monumental task
Second, we can donate money directly to Hope of the Pokomchi so that they can buy food and supplies to distribute. You can do this through our secure giving portal and selecting Hope of the Pokomchi as the fund, or you can mail a check to FUMC McKinney at 315 N. Church St. McKinney, TX 75069 and write “Hope of the Pokomchi” in the memo of your check.
The staff and people of Hope of the Pokomchi and the Pokomchi people themselves are near and dear to our hearts. Please join us in prayer for this amazing organization that works with the beautiful Pokomchi people, and please support them financially as you are able.
Pastor Chris Rickwartz


Saints Among Us – Pastor Patty

Thirty years ago this month, my husband and I joined First United Methodist Church in McKinney, Texas. We eased into the life of the church through our Sunday school class and grew closer to our church brothers and sisters through Disciple Bible Studies, missions, groups, and leadership opportunities. Our children found their happy places in Sunday school, children’s choirs, and activities led by smiling volunteers who loved them. As a family, our lives have been shaped and inspired by the saints who welcomed us into a church family that existed long before we got here and bears the imprint of their love and faithfulness in ongoing mission and ministries of love and grace.

Over the years, I have heard hundreds of names read on All Saints Sundays in remembrance of those who passed away in the year before—saints who touched lives and left legacies intertwined with the life of the church. I see them everywhere in my fondest memories. Greeters like Judy Helsley standing at her post each week by the front door. Laud Howell, always looking for and noticing the newcomers and guiding me by the elbow to meet them. John Jensen holding the door with a big smile. Speaking of smiles, I see the colorful hair and oversize shoes of Jim Norman, who started a clown ministry. I remember the behind-the-scenes saints like Joe McMahan who diligently managed Sunday school attendance records for decades. I hear Opal Ann King singing “Oh Holy Night” on Christmas Eve with the voice of an angel. I see trailblazers like Mary Will Craig, the first woman to chair the Church Board.

Teachers. Leaders. Servants. Mentors. Friends. Family. Saints. Generous, loving people with deep convictions rooted in following Jesus and responding to his call on our lives to love God and neighbor. People with varying backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, who found their way to this church on different paths. Yet, they unite with shared purpose as loving people of God.

The saints join hearts and hands through both the celebrations and the challenges. I remember the comfort of Cleayton Mills assuring me that he “had my back” through difficult times in leadership, reminding me that we serve together, not alone. Over centuries, our church has weathered storms of nature and storms of economic depression, war, racism, public health crises, and now a deadly pandemic on top of a contentious political season
We stand together as the church, not because we are of one mind, but because we are of one heart—the heart of Christ. What we share as the church, the body of Christ, binds us in love that is stronger than anything we may encounter. As we navigate these days and live into our ministries, I pray that we hold fast to what is good and with gratitude draw deep from the well of wisdom lived out so faithfully by the saints who came before us and those who walk among us.

Be well friends, walk in hope, and trust the God of love who holds the future. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.” (Col. 3:15)

Grace and peace to you dear ones,
Rev. Patty Froehlich


Living the Disciplines – Pastor Stacey

Melissa UMC has been gathered to worship outside in covered tennis courts during the month of October. The weather has been beautiful, but we have had a few challenges along the way.
  • On October 4, a group of motorcyclists were also enjoying the weather drove by during the middle of my sermon.
  • On October 11, it was very windy, which impacted both microphone sound and my Bible blowing off the stand during my sermon.
  • On October 18, a nearby construction project resumed work on a Sunday morning and we worshiped alongside the sound of a generator, sledge hammering, and welding noises.
No one seemed to mind any of these things quite as much as I did as a pastor. They are small challenges in a world that seems full of big challenges right now.

The thing that keeps us centered in the middle of life’s challenges is often the discipline to keep showing up with faith and doing our best to follow Jesus. Our disciplines of studying scripture, praying, and finding ways to be God’s love in the world can keep us grounded.

Whatever challenges you face in this day? Remember, they are no match for a God who loves you unconditionally and more than you can imagine. If the wind is too blustery or the noises of the world get to be too loud, take a deep breath. Remember that God never called you to be perfect in faith, God calls you to be perfected in love.


Pastor Stacey


The Discipline of Prayer – Pastor James

I have the privilege of being one of several faculty members for the Spiritual Direction program at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. One of the primary courses that I facilitate is titled “The Spiritual Disciplines.” As you might imagine, we cover the biblical, historical, and theological sources behind these disciplines, and we discuss the implications these practices have on the lives of the students’ directees and the students themselves. But our emphasis isn’t purely theoretical; we also spend multiple hours experiencing the very topics that we study. Our deep dive includes the disciplines of self-care, attentiveness to others, Scripture reading, and liturgy. But the central focus of the entire practicum—in fact, of the whole course—is prayer.
When many people think of prayer they think of a “conversation” with God in which they ask for things for themselves or others. While these petitions and intercessions are absolutely necessary, prayer in its broadest sense is so much more. One writer describes prayer as a “grace-filled attentiveness to God that initiates and sustains a change of consciousness, leading to deepening love of God and neighbor.” What a beautiful idea! In this sense, prayer is not simply a conversation or a devotional time, but it’s an attitude! Defined this way, prayer is about opening up and letting the experience of God transform us in everyday life: working, cooking, reading, running, or simply sitting with someone who needs a listening ear. The entirety of our lives can be a living prayer, or, as Paul says, we can “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5.17). But we have to be intentional in reimagining what our “prayer life” looks like.
This view of prayer—and the world—doesn’t happen overnight. That’s where the “discipline” part comes in. We have to practice looking for God in all these so-called mundane spaces. And one of the best places to start is by being still and quiet—by doing nothing at all! If we say we’re going to “converse” with God, we have to learn to be good listeners. Like in a long-standing relationship, we don’t really need words; we simply need to be present with one another, and to be open to what that intimacy reveals. We can do the same with God. Once we’ve got a handle on sitting still, we start to pick up on all sorts of things that never caught our eyes or ears or hearts before: God whispering in the wind through the leaves; God caressing you via the dishwater in the sink; God smiling at you via a panting pup. With this attitude, we begin to see through the false dichotomy of the secular and the holy, and we recognize that God permeates all reality.
We should certainly maintain our times of devotion, recitation of memorized prayers, and even grace before meals. These are all beautiful aspects of our expressed faith. However, these acts and others are enriched through the discipline of “grace-filled attentiveness.” In this holistic approach to prayer, we keep God at the forefront of our lives, experiencing the divine presence everywhere and in everyone. That’s the discipline of prayer; that’s praying “without ceasing.”
Pastor James