Pastor B.J.’s Update

October 27, 2021

Hi everyone:

The great shift in thinking that Jesus brings to our relationship with God is the shift from rules to relationship. The ancients understood God as lawgiver and judge, living in the right relationship with this God involved obedience to a way and pattern of living that specifically required or prohibited a long list of behaviors and activities. There were over 600 specific dos and don’ts throughout the first 39 books of the Bible. Over 600 specific thou shall and thou shalt nots. This is religion that is externally imposed and focused solely on behavior.

Jesus brought something quite new. Jesus brought “the Way” to live in the right relationship with God. This way involved a process of internal transformation through spiritual formation and learning to make better decisions. Some behaviors had to stop, not because of laws but because they hindered the transformation we were undergoing.

Notice in Mark 12 (this week’s gospel) that Jesus has reduced the 600 plus laws to just two. Notice also that both “laws” on Jesus’ list are relationship builders. We are to “Love God with heart, soul, mind and strength.” We are to “love our neighbor as our self”. Love transcends the law by making the rules irrelevant. If I am in the right relationship with God and seek to do what is best for the other (and all) the lifestyle and behavior the law sought to mandate, becomes the natural outflow of living “the Way.”

Here is what is happening at Erwin First:

WELCOME Mika! Mika began work as our new Nursery Coordinator on Sunday October 24. Mika is a native of Los Angeles and is a part of Hope Korean Church. We will bring her upstairs to meet the congregation this week, but for those who have children under 5 – the nursery is now fully staffed (yea!). Sunday school, for the older children, continues under the leadership of Dorcas.

TONIGHT (October 27) at 6:00, Student and friends fellowship will meet for the first time at Erwin First. 7, undergraduate, graduate and post graduate students will be meeting for a light supper and fellowship.

Meals on Wheels Syracuse is looking for drivers to deliver meals once a week in Syracuse. If interested, call Meals on Wheels at 315-478-5948 X 213 and ask for Tina. 

This Sunday we are looking at Mark 12:28-34. What is the greatest commandment? I guess if you had over 600 dos and don’ts you might have a favorite or two? The sermon is titled “What Really Matters.”

Here are the live links to the live stream:

On the Church Calendar October 31 is known as “Reformation Day.” 504 years ago, October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses on the door of the chapel in Wittenberg, Germany and the protestant reformation began.

We are sad to report that Susan, Stepmother of Rod and Ben, died on Monday (October 25) at her Elmira home. Calling hours and funeral are at the New Beginnings United Methodist Church 300 E. Miller Street, Elmira, NY 14904. Calling hours are Saturday (October 30) from 10 to Noon and the funeral will be at 12:15. There will be a luncheon to follow.

Here is the link to the live stream:

Monday, November 1 is All Saints Day. It has been our tradition to pause on the first Sunday of November (November 7 this year) and remember our church members and other loved ones who have died in the past year. Here is this year’s list (so far):

Malik, Sr. (April’s son in law) January 2021
Margaret, member at Erwin First
Lorna, Pastor BJ’s mother (February 2021)
Robert, Pastor BJ’s Father (February 2021)
Mac, friend of pastor (April 2021)
Shawnee, father of Brent (May 2021)
Rick, friend of pastor (June 2021)
Jeraldine, member at Erwin First (September 2021)
Millie, mother of Pastor Andy (October 2021)
Susan, stepmother of Rod (October 2021)

If you have a family or friend who has died in the past 12 months and would like them remembered on November 7, please contact the church office before Wednesday November 3.


Every Wednesday at 7:00 a.m. we gather for a zoom prayer meeting. It is open to everyone: come once, come every week, but you are invited to join us at any time: zoom link:

IN OUR PRAYERS: Susan, Stepmother of Rod and Ben, died on Monday, funeral is Saturday in Elmira (see information above); Pastor Andy’s mother’s funeral is this Saturday Tobago; Andy and his family are traveling Thursday to Tobago to attend the funeral. Pray for safe travels and comfort in their grief. Bob reports increased heart capacity; Charlie and Nancy ; Daryl is back to work; Dolores (rehab in Brockport); Pray for all students; pray for all teachers and educators; Pray for front line health workers – who are exhausted; pray for church leaders and all ministers; pray for government leaders; pray for those in crisis.


We now have a DOZEN completed buckets among our city churches and each church reports multiple cash donations!

The city pastors are challenging our city congregations to build 100 Flood Buckets to help folks clean up after recent flooding across the eastern USA. Flood Buckets contain items that are helpful in cleaning up after your home or business has been flooded.

Here is what goes into a Flood Bucket:

UMCOR Cleaning Kit Assembly & Shipping Instructions (Kit Value: $75 per bucket)

  • One five-gallon round bucket with re-sealable lid (14.35” h x 12.19” w x 12.19” d)
    • No screw lids
    • May be used, but must be free from all residual product
    • Advertisements on the outside acceptable
  • One 32-64 oz. bottle liquid laundry detergent
  • One 16-40 oz. bottle liquid concentrate household cleaner
    • No spray cleaners
  • One 16-34 oz. bottle dish soap
  • One 4-8 oz. pump spray air freshener
  • One 6-14 oz. pump spray insect repellent (pack of 10-20 wipes also acceptable)
    • Pump spray bottles must have protective covers
  • One scrub brush
    • With or without handle
  • 18 re-useable cleaning wipes
    • No terrycloth, microfiber, or paper towels
    • Remove from packaging
  • Five scouring pads
    • No stainless-steel pads with soap in them
    • Remove from packaging
  • 36-50 clothespins
  • One 50-100 ft. clothesline (cotton or plastic line)
  • 24 roll of heavy-duty trash bags (33-45-gallon sizes)
    • Remove from packaging
  • Five N95 particulate respirator dust masks (1-3 mm thickness)
    • No surgical masks
  • Two pairs kitchen gloves
    • Durable for multiple uses
    • Remove from packaging
  • One pair work gloves
    • Cotton with leather palm or all leather

We are inviting the rest of the Crossroads District to meet our challenge. Each of us doing small things, can accomplish great things together!

Through the Bible Readings for this week:

27. Jeremiah 12-14 and 2 Timothy 1
28. Jeremiah 15-17 and 2 Timothy 2
29. Jeremiah 18-19 and 2 Timothy 3
30. Jeremiah 20-21 and 2 Timothy 4
31. Jeremiah 22-23 and Titus 1 (and the 504th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation

1. Jeremiah 24-26 and Titus 2
2. Jeremiah 27-29 and Titus 3
3. Jeremiah 30-31 and Philemon 1
4. Jeremiah 32-33 and Hebrews 1
5. Jeremiah 34-36 and Hebrews 2

ANNUAL CHARGE CONFERENCE has been set for Thursday, December 9 at 6:30 (location yet to be determined).

UGANDA TEAM (January 24-February 10) Initial itinerary has been proposed. We will be holding “Bible Summits” “Youth Events” and do a lot of work in Electrical/Plumbing and agriculture in our 17-day journey! We will also be privileged to preside over 2 Nexus Seminary graduations. With all of that we will also take time to visit Murchison Falls (a wildlife preserve) for a day of rest and relaxation. Dan Sullivan, Doug Johnston, B.J. Norrix and Clair Mosher are the intrepid travelers.

TRUNK OR TREAT – at Brown Memorial on Saturday, October 30 from 10:00 a.m. to Noon – would you like to park your car and give candy to Westside kids? Let Pastor BJ know if you are interested in being a part of this fun event for the kids!

October 27 – 6:00 Student/YA fellowship
November 3 – Erwin First Church Council
November 21 – Thanksgiving Celebration 6:00. At Erwin First, hosted by Brown Memorial and Hope Korean and the Syracuse United Methodist Ministries. Pastor Jee Hae, preaching.
December 9 – Annual Charge Conference
December 24 – Christmas Eve (7:00)
December 25 – Christmas Day (10:00)
January 24, 2022 – Uganda Mission Team – through February 10.

Parting Thought
I believe, as a Christ follower, I have an obligation to verify information before I pass it on. If I hear something I like, or that supports something I like, but don’t make the effort to verify the reliability of the source or the veracity of the information then I am participating in an odd form of gossip. Social media has exacerbated this human tendency to speak first and ask questions later. Just passing information on can promote misleading propaganda and other falsehoods and makes us, as followers of Jesus, look foolish.

I cannot stop hardcore political folks from doing what they always do – push whatever slant they can to make their “side” always appear to be the right one. I cannot stop what anyone else decides to do. What I can do is not be a part of it. I can always check the source. I can, to the best of my ability, look for consensus thinking, and look for the input of people who are smarter than I am. I also deleted Facebook from my cell phone (again).

Conspiracy theories have always been lurking in the weeds; social media and a country divided along political alliances has brought them out of the weeds and into the mainstream. We are living in perilous times. St. Paul, in Philippians 4:8, gives the best advice of all. He says, “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

So, maybe the way through is not going to be found in fighting the darkness of misinformation: maybe what we all need to do is stay focused on “Whatever!”

I’ll see you when the community gathers,

BJ Norrix, lead servant, truth follower, missionary

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