Pastor Post
 
Every week, one of our Pastors shares their thoughts in a short newsletter article.  It may be reflections on the week, information about a new ministry or activity, or just birdwatching advice.  If you’re signed up for our newsletter, you’ll receive it in your email every Thursday!  Or if you’d rather read them here, you’ll find an archive below.

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

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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
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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


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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.

Blessings,

Pastor Stacey


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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.”
 
Blessings,
Pastor James
 

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The Village UMC – Pastor Tommy

Dear friends,

What a great weekend we had! We were able to gather outside at the Hub on Saturday and in the parking lot on Sunday. How beautiful to see familiar faces in person and to hear each other sing and pray. How special was the Sanctuary on Tuesday at lunch for come-and-go prayer. We will have all three of these opportunities again this week. Go to our website and register if you would like to come.

This Sunday, we will also worship together online. It is Communion Sunday, so be prepared with your elements. Also, we have a tremendous opportunity for our communion rail offering I would like to tell you about.

Ten years ago, Rev. Derek Jacobs started a group in South Dallas that would become The Village UMC. This Sunday, they will livestream worship from their own new church building for the very first time. Derek has long been a friend of ours. He was present at the groundbreaking for our new church building in Melissa. We have been walking together for ten years, learning from each other about how to start new churches, and (recently) how to build buildings during a time of quarantine. We are blessed to be connected to God’s powerful work at The Village, and we are so excited to see this congregation find a long-term home.

Let’s make a special offering this Sunday for The Village – to celebrate a successful new church start, to give thanks for new disciples of Jesus, and to praise God for the beauty and diversity of the churches in our North Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
 
God Bless,
Tommy

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God Was in the Whisper – Pastor Ed

The word for “whisper” in 1 Kings 19:12 is דְּמָמָה (demamah, originally from damam) in Hebrew. Demamah can be translated as “blowing,” “silence,” “still” and that is why demamah renders “whisper” as a possible translation. Some other translations are “small voice,” “thin sound,” “quiet,” “subdued, small voice.” You get the idea! In 1 Kings 19:12, God was in the whisper.

In the Hebrew Scriptures’ (a.k.a. The Old Testament) Time, the belief was that a god who manifested god-self through thunders, strong wind, storms, earthquakes and fire was considered a powerful god. No wonder the God of the Old Testament is considered by many a scary and angry God because that is the way Yahweh showed up to Israel and through Israel to other nations very often. The word demamah (whisper, silence, still) appears only three times in the Old Testament. God was in the whisper.

It is true we sometimes need God to show up to us in thunderous ways. There are times in our journey we desperately need God to appear as strong and mighty a God as possible because we feel the wheels are falling off our cart and we need a big-time type of deliverance. But there will be times when we will need God to come as gentle as a dove and whisper to our hearts that God is in the midst of our storms and earthquakes in life, right there with us, and ready to save.

As you and I ask the question, “Where is God in all this?” and “How is God at work in our midst?” let us not allow ourselves to be tossed around by the strong winds of negativity and adversity that try to break our hearts to pieces; the earthquakes of challenges to shake even our deepest human structures; and the fire of discontentment, frustration or hatred to burn us to the ground. Let us, instead, focus on the small voice, the whisper of God to us that reassures us, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Friend, listen for the whisper of God calling out to you today. God is with us. And God will lead us out of the cave, out of the hindering place, on to the path where God wants us to go.

Shalom!

Pastor Ed


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What Question Would You Ask God? – Pastor Abe

If you could ask God only one question, what would you ask? Seriously, take a moment to consider your question. Now consider why this question was important to you.

In the Bible, Moses was asked by God to go to Pharaoh and set the Israelites free from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 3:1-15). Moses asked God two questions, which gave him clarity and courage for his journey. Moses asked God, “Who am I…,” which God responded, “I will be with you.” And Moses asked, “What if Pharaoh asks who sent me,” which God responded, “I Am Who I Am.” God’s answers showed Moses (and us) that our life’s journey is not about us, but what God is doing through us. Life is about trusting God’s plan for our future. God’s name – “I Am” – gives Moses the confidence that God exists, God is inexhaustible, God draws near to us, and no reality exists without God.

Asking questions was central to Jesus’ life and teachings. His questions brought clarity and transformation to people’s lives. Who do you say I am (Mt. 16:15)? Do you want to get well (John 5:6)? Do you believe (Mt. 21:22)? Why are you afraid (Mt. 8:26)? What does Scripture say (Luke 10:26)? Do you love me (John 21:15)?
Questions bring about learning and clarity. They provide observation and assessment to our present thinking and guide us in more meaningful paths of life.

Asking questions may be the most powerful tool and resource we have as humans. Albert Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about the solutions.” Einstein believed that asking quality questions about a situation would lead you to the heart of the matter, which would then allow one to move forward with clarity.

Questions help us think mindfully. Quality questions lead us closer to God and give us the courage and clarity needed to grow in faith. May God be glorified in all that we say and do- in the questions, and the answers!

Blessings,
Pastor Abe


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Hurdles – Pastor Tommy

Hurdles

This month, we are talking about making a path through the wilderness. What does it mean to walk a new way? What does it feel like to travel through unfamiliar territory? One thing that’s true – it takes practice to become good at walking through new places.

When I was in high school, I ran the hurdles. The 330 yard intermediate hurdles were brutal. You had to focus on each obstacle. You had to watch your step. You had to practice your technique and continually tape bruised ankles and knees. That said, the more I did, the better I became.

The Bible teaches that in unfamiliar times, God is with us. The teachings of the Bible can guide us. The love of Jesus can form us. No matter the length of the race or the difficulty of the obstacles we must hurdle, we can remember who and whose we are. If we practice love every day, our feet will know the way before long.

See you in Church, online.

Blessings,

Pastor Tommy


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Wilderness – Pastor Tommy

I grew up hiking and camping. I know the feeling of wandering in wild and unfamiliar places, of trying to follow the trail, of sometimes missing the signs and not being sure where to go next. The anxiety, the panic, of not knowing how to get back to the path I’m supposed to be walking.

So many stories in the Bible are journey stories. Stories of going from one place to another through danger and uncertainty. Stories of making our way through the Wilderness. In these stories, holy people – Saints, Prophets, and great leaders – find themselves lost, despairing, and afraid.

But in all of those stories, God gives direction. The stories and teaching of Scripture help us to find our way back toward the path toward God’s future.    

Over the next four weeks, I will be preaching about finding our way in the wilderness. This Sunday, we will talk about Jacob wrestling with the angel. We will also celebrate Holy Communion, and remember that Jesus is the truth, the light, and the way.

Sometimes we know the path and wander away from it. Sometimes we can’t see the path. Let’s spend this month seeking the path together. 
 
Blessings,
Pastor Tommy

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The Lord’s Day – Pastor Patty

I spent last weekend with two of our delightful grandchildren. On Sunday morning, as I joined livestream worship on my computer, my four-year-old granddaughter recognized Pastor Tommy on the screen and said, “I want to see church too!” She pulled herself up onto the chair next to me at the kitchen counter. We talked about her questions. Is Pastor Chris a helper? Who is singing? What’s that? She was very interested in what John was doing and all those white buttons on the organ console. I think she was fairly satisfied with my attempt to explain what an organ stop does.

After a short break between services and refreshing our snacks, we sat down for the Wellspring livestream. She was curious about the people again. I told her about my friends Pastor Abe and Pastor Kris and Pastor Janet as they appeared on the screen and all the musicians. Her two-year-old little brother climbed his way in between us from time to time—popping in to see what we were doing and not wanting to miss out on anything.

“Sabbath,” meaning the seventh day, is connected to the day that God rested after six days of creation (Ex. 20:8-11). It is a day to rest and turn our minds to God. As Christians, our Sabbath custom is to gather for worship on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, the day of Resurrection, in celebration of new life in Christ and remembrance of what God has done for us. The rhythm of Sabbath becomes our habit, our custom. These past months we have adjusted our Sabbath practice to connect in a way that is mindful of taking care of each other through online worship.

I am grateful for that sweet Sabbath morning and the comfort of familiar rituals in an uncertain time. I found new blessing seeing worship up close and personal through the eyes of a child. God brings new life to each day, and unexpected opportunities emerge. The connection of the Church, the body of Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit is real—however we gather—offering moments to see in new ways and experience blessing. Jesus taught that Sabbath was made for the good of people (Mark 2:27 CEV). May the rhythms of Sabbath soothe your soul and bring comfort, peace, joy, and assurance of the loving presence of Christ.


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