The Image of God – Pastor Patty

What pictures are created in the visions of your imagination when you think about God? What feelings do you experience? The Bible offers metaphors for who God is and how God relates to us: the rock we cling to, our shield, shepherd, light, breath. Scriptures point to God as a loving father and also as a maternal presence—protective, nurturing, and loving.

“God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female” (Gen. 1:27). A masculine image of God may be more familiar for many, yet God is not limited by our language, our understandings, or our imagination. We can dive deeper into the nature of God by also seeing the image of God reflected in our mothers and women who have been like mothers in our lives.

God is described as a protective bird whose wings provide refuge (Ruth 2:12, Psa. 91:4). Jesus longs to gather the children of Jerusalem “as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” (Matt. 23:37).

God’s words in Hosea 11:3-4 reveal a tender, nurturing, loving, motherly image: “Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up in my arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with bands of human kindness, with cords of love. I treated them like those who lift infants to their cheeks; I bent down to them and fed them.”

As we pause to honor mothers and motherly persons in our lives, our hearts warm with gratitude for the special women who have taught us, nurtured us, and loved us unconditionally, reflecting how God loves us. When our memories bring reminders of complicated or broken relationships, grief, or longing, God is there too with a promise: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you” (Isa. 66:13).

You are created in the divine image. You are a precious child of God. You are loved. God gathers you in and holds you close in the shelter of strong wings. God, with the compassion and care of a mother, will not forget you (Isa. 49:15).

Blessings to you,

Rev. Patty Froehlich

 


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Grace to Grieve – Pastor Patty

Nestled beside the ancient gnarled olive trees of the Garden of Gethsemane, the Church of All Nations rests atop what tradition holds as the rock where Jesus prayed. Facing west from the Mount of Olives looking toward the Temple Mount, a dramatic mosaic over the church entrance shows Jesus weeping. The Latin inscription is inspired by Hebrews 5:7, “…Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears…and he was heard.” For the tearful grieving people surrounding him, Jesus offers his own heart, cradled in the protective hands of an angel.

The church is quiet and dim, reminiscent of the gloom of night that surrounded Jesus in his grief and agony. Jesus grieved for the people he gave complete and perfect love. He mourned what he left behind and he agonized over what lay ahead.

Jesus was not alone in his anguish. God heard his prayers. Angels provided a comforting presence depicted in the mosaic above the chalice-shaped altar that stands next to the exposed rock. Peter, James, and John can be seen huddled beyond a nearby olive tree as Jesus leans against the rock and prays. They struggled to be fully present to Jesus (they kept falling asleep), but they were there.

The words of Luke 22:43-44 frame the images: “Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.” Jesus entered into the fullness of human life and experience. He loved, he grieved, he wept, he prayed. He leaned on his friends. Jesus, who embodied love and grace, needed the grace to grieve.

God, give us grace to grieve. Give us grace to make space for grief. To allow ourselves to take time for grief. To rest in the arms of Jesus as he weeps with us. Give us grace to remember that we are surrounded by people who carry numbing grief, often silently, needing grace to grieve. Give us grace to be gently present to those who grieve. Give us grace to grieve the hurts of our neighbors, of all nations. Give us grace to agonize over injustice that in our tears we offer our own hearts with compassion, conviction, and grace for all in the love of Jesus Christ. Thank you God, that in your grace, we never grieve alone. Amen.

Peace,
Rev. Patty Froehlich


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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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