Pastor B.J.’s Update

Hi Everyone:   
The spiritual life is an ongoing process – a journey not just a destination. For Christ followers, the process is nourished by our participation in regular spiritual disciplines. We grow closer to God and continue the process of transformation through engaging in prayer and meditation; through the discipline of fasting and confession and celebration; and through the practice of study and community. Like any change we choose for our lives (back to school, getting married, joining a gym, looking for a new job etc.), there are practices we engage in that become habits and rituals later in our lives. What are you doing today that will help you become what you are called to be 5 years from now?

Here are some things to know at Erwin First:  

This past holiday weekend we were in the mid 50’s for worship as we celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. and as we looked at a story of the first Disciples of Jesus.  

This week we are in Matthew 4:12-22. Jesus says “Repent for the Kingdom of the Heavens has arrived!” What does he mean? What does it mean to repent? What is the Kingdom of the Heavens and why would it lead me to change?

There will be a quick meeting after church this Sunday for those interested in a mission trip to Guatemala this year. See David Buzard for more information.

I am putting together a team to travel to Kenya/Uganda October 5 through 22, 2020. We will be working in Nairobi and Kisii, Kenya and in eastern and central Uganda. There may be an opportunity to take a one day safari at Murchison Falls, Uganda as we traverse the area. My team is coming together and I am going to cap the team at a maximum of 6 persons (four are solidly in). Check with BJ.

The Holy Land/Petra tour will be on the ground in Israel/Palestine 3 weeks from today. 55 folks with Syracuse connections will be on this journey. Please pray for peace for us as we travel.

Our Weekly Prayer Gatherings: meet Every Wednesday at 7:00 a.m.            
January 29 – University
February 5 – Erwin First
February 12 – St. Paul’s
February 19 – TBD
February 26 – Bellevue Heights
March 4 – Brown Memorial
March 11 – Hope Korean (at Erwin First)
March 18 – Gethsemane
March 25 – University
April 1 – Erwin First 
April 8 – St. Paul’s
Please make time to pray for the United Methodist Church; pray for those who are in nursing homes and shut in; pray for those who are sick; pray for our nation and for peace in the Middle East; pray for us as a community as we discern God’s leading in our life together! pray for those who are in nursing homes and shut in; Please make time to pray for the United Methodist Church; pray for our nation and for peace in the Middle East; pray for us as a community as we discern God’s leading in our life together!

While I am in the Holy Land and Jordan, Pastor Jee Hae Song will be covering emergencies – please contact her through the church office.       
February 16 – Betty Kline is preaching
February 23 – David Buzard is preaching

TRY CHURCH has been postponed until after Easter. Watch for updates.

Coming Events
January 29 – Trustees Meeting
February 3 – SUMM meeting at Bellevue Heights
February 8 – District Training Day (at Conference Center)
February 11-25 – Holy Land (and Petra Extension) tour
February 26 – ASH WEDNESDAY

Online giving is now available through our website

1. Click on this link:
http://erwinfirstchurch.org/giving/

2. Simply follow the instructions.

NOTE: there is a 1% cost for payments from the donor’s bank account and a 2.9% fee added to credit or debit card transactions. The fee is deducted from the donation: (American Express transactions are 3.5% + $0.30).

Parting Thought:
Metanoia means “to change” and is often translated in the English Bible as “repent.” One of my teachers used to say that a person usually only changes under one of two situations: First, it hurts too much not to change; second, we’ve learned too much to not change.
For example, when arthritis attacked an old injury in my right ankle I was in persistent pain and I was getting periodic injections into the joint. These injections were painful, marginally effective and no fun at all. The pain was such that I finally asked the Dr. what else I could do. He told me to lose 100 pounds and wear a brace on my right ankle. That was 2007 and, though I occasionally lapse and forget my food disciplines I experienced a moment of metanoia in the face of pain and I changed, lost the weight and 12 years later don’t need the brace anymore.
Or as a young driver in Michigan in 1973, I remember reading in the Detroit News that the likelihood of surviving an automobile accident was radically increased if the driver was wearing a seat belt. I learned “too much” and experienced metanoia and began a life-long habit of always buckling up. Spiritually, life often works the same way. Most of us have our lives together, decent jobs, nice neighborhoods, satisfying relationships. Most of us don’t attend to the spiritual life because we don’t really believe we need to. But those moments come: birth of a child, promotion at work, losing a job, death of a significant other, retirement, back to school, etc.; which create pain and an awareness that there has to be more to life or it creates a desire to seek deeper help for life’s journey. C.S. Lewis in his book The Problem with Pain refers to pain as “God’s megaphone.” His argument was not that God sent or caused pain, but pain often drives us to look for a deeper life and for eternal answers and truth.
What will it take to challenge each of us to take the next step deeper on this journey?
I’ll see you when the church gathers, BJ Norrix, lead servant, missionary, change agent