November 29–Emily’s Musings


November 29–Emily’s Musings

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and as we look back on all the ministry that our congregation has done in 2017, I am awed at how God is using Auburn First UMC to make disciples and transform the world! It’s been a busy year, full of worship, fellowship, and mission opportunities.  Here’s just a brief overview of some of the amazing projects we’ve participated in during 2017:

  • We had over 35 children from our community attend Vacation Bible School, and they kicked off our annual school supply drive—which, by the end of the summer, provided full sets of school supplies for 21 low-income students at Auburn Middle School.
  • Seven children and youth from our congregation attended United Methodist summer camps this year; more than half of them were assisted by our church’s camping scholarship fund.
  • We purchased and filled 20 buckets of flood relief supplies for UMCOR’s Hurricane Harvey disaster response.
  • We hosted yet another memorable “Preschool Pumpkin Day” at Lord’s Acre, and this year’s pumpkin sales brought in over $3,000 for local hunger projects!
  • Our youth group raised a whopping $5,700 for Heifer International—and because we hit our fundraising goal a month early, we were able to take advantage of Heifer’s “Cyber Monday Match” program. This means that our gift’s impact was doubled, and that our kids actually contributed $11,400 to fight global poverty!

This is just a tiny sampling of the ministry that has happened at Auburn FUMC this year.  We have experienced meaningful worship and small group ministry, we have grown in faith and in relationships, and our members have shown Christ’s love to countless people in daily interactions with friends, family, and loved ones.  We have been blessed to be a blessing, and I am excited to see what God has in store for this congregation as we enter a brand-new year.

Please join us in worship throughout this Advent season as we anticipate the Good News of Christ’s birth.  We will continue our series on “The Five Senses of Christmas”, and on Sunday the 24th we will be hosting two worship services: one at 10:00 am, one at 7:00 pm.  Both will feature special music, Holy Communion, and an opportunity to contribute to our special Christmas mission offering (more information on that will be coming out next week!)

Have a blessed Advent—let’s continue to make 2017 a fantastic year of faith and service!

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It’s been a very busy fall at Auburn First UMC!  A new year of Sunday School has begun, the youth room is undergoing some big renovations (thanks to a generous grant from the Great Plains Annual Conference), and God is doing world-changing ministry through this congregation.  Here’s a look at what we’ve been doing in the last several weeks, and a sneak preview of what’s coming next in worship!

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Pumpkins! 

Our fundraisers at Lord’s Acre this year have been a massive success, thanks to the hard work of our volunteers and the generosity of our community!  Preschool Pumpkin Day (October 3rd) was a hit as usual, and over 100 three and four year-olds got to enjoy train rides, hay rides, stories, treats, and crafts.  (You can check out some pictures of the fun here!)

We also had several weekends in late September/early October where the pumpkin patch was open for the whole community.  People came from all over to pick pumpkins, and they were exceedingly generous with their donations: we raised over $3,000 for local hunger projects.  Thank you so much to all of the volunteers who helped with pumpkin sales this year, and thank you to everyone who came out for some pumpkin-picking fun!




The Amazing Youth Group VS. World Hunger

God is SO good, and God is doing amazing things through our youth group!  After 10 months of fundraisers (including Preschool Pumpkin Day, a booth at the County Fair, the BRAN ice cream social, the Easter offering, the Valentine’s Day M&Ms, and the Super Bowl sandwiches), they have raised just over $4,000 for Heifer International…which means that they are less than $1,000 away from their goal of raising enough money for an Ark of animals! (What does an Ark do? Learn more about it on the  Heifer International website. )

The youth group also led our worship service on Sunday, October 15th.  Using resources from Bread for the World, they designed and led the entire service–including children’s time, Scripture lessons, sermons, and prayer time.  They did a fantastic job; we’ve been blessed with some incredible young leaders in our congregation!  And as part of our final fundraising push, the youth distributed specially-decorated giving envelopes on Youth Sunday, and they are asking for donations between $1 and $50.  If you took one of the envelopes, please bring it back to church either this Sunday or next Sunday (the 22nd or 29th.)  Thank you so much for helping the youth fight hunger, and thank you for being an example of God’s generosity and abundance for our young people.

Moses: The Series! 

Finally, we are about to begin a new sermon series based on the life of Moses.  From October 22-November 19, we will be taking a look at various segments of the Moses saga–his birth, his encounter with the burning bush, the parting of the Red Sea, and the journey through the wilderness–and seeking some wisdom for our lives as 21st-century Christians.  This series will also tie in with our 2017 stewardship campaign, as we prepare to recommit ourselves to extravagant generosity in the new year.  Join us as we take a fresh look at an old Sunday School classic, and as we search out how God is calling us to participate in the life of the church next year!


Continue to be blessed by the beauty of the changing seasons this fall, and we’ll see you in church!

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July 18th–Emily’s Musings

There are many wonderful things about living in Nemaha County, and one of the biggest “perks” is the easy access to the area’s vibrant art scene!  Those who are unfamiliar with the region are surprised to learn this, but our little pocket of southeastern Nebraska is home to a wide variety of artists and fine arts-aficionados.  The Brownville Village Theater has been a venue for promising young drama students to show off their acting chops for over 50 summers, and the Brownville Concert Series brings Broadway-level talent to rural audiences.  Area galleries feature sculptures, pottery, glassworks, and paintings created by local talent, and there are many artists and musicians who call the Auburn area “home.”  

It’s a blessing to be surrounded by this level of talent, and that’s why Auburn First UMC is going to spend the rest of the summer celebrating the arts through our new worship series!  For the next six weeks, our “Beautiful Things” sermon series will focus on art in the Bible and throughout Christian history.  And best of all: we will be featuring a series of guest artists who will be joining us in worship and sharing their work with us!  It is going to be a fun and informative summer–you won’t want to miss the chance to see these talented women and men as they share their gifts with us! 

“Beautiful Things”–Schedule of Guest Artists

July 23rd—Nancy Moran (painting)

July 30th—Terry and Renee Vice (broommaking and bluegrass music)

August 6th—Lilli Summerlin (violin)

August 13th—Students from Auburn Dance Academy

August 20th—Dr. Chet Harper (theater)

August 27th—Brittany Jacoby (poetry)


Join us this July and August for an inspiring exploration of faith and beauty!


The image that accompanies this blog post is a painting called “Rejoice”, by artist and priest Sieger Koder (1925-2015).
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Wow, it’s been a crazy summer so far! June was a bit of a whirlwind for our family: first we had Annual Conference in Grand Island, then we went on vacation with my extended family, and then we returned to Auburn for a wild week of Vacation Bible School!

Last week (June 26-30), we were blessed by the ministry of five amazing VBS interns from the Great Plains summer internship program.  Kristina, Annie, Hawi, Jennifer, and Jemimah are travelling all over Kansas and Nebraska this summer, and they are bringing the high-energy “Hero Central” VBS program to churches in small communities like ours.  Under the leadership of the fearless Sarah Hanika, and with the help of a number of adult and youth volunteers from Auburn FUMC, these five interns brought us a truly epic Vacation Bible School experience.

VBS was attended by 35+ children between the ages of 2 and 12, and these pint-sized heroes spent the week learning the Super Hero Code: God’s heroes have heart, courage, wisdom, hope, and power! They played games, did science experiments, heard Bible stories, danced to some ridiculously-catchy songs, ate delightful snacks (courtesy of super-chef Cindy Glenn), and had a great time learning about God’s love.  You can take a peek into the fun by watching the official Auburn VBS slideshow here:

Thank you so much to all of our volunteers, parents, and kids for helping us have a great week of Vacation Bible School.  Always remember–heroes “do good, seek peace, and go after it!” (Psalm 34)

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May 26th–Emily’s Musings

“The heavens are yours, the earth also is yours;  the world and all that is in it—you have founded them. The north and the south—you created them…”  (Psalm 89:11-12a)

Spring has sprung, the sun is shining, and we’re getting a lovely little foretaste of summer today!  The trees are lush with bright green leaves, flowers are popping up everywhere, the dandelions are slowly starting to disappear (much to my toddler’s chagrin), and birds and squirrels and rabbits are playing in neighborhoods all over town.  God’s creation is alive and at it’s most beautiful at this time of year—which is why creation is a perfect topic for a new sermon series!

Over the next three weeks, as we celebrate three special Sundays on the Christian calendar (Ascension Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, and Trinity Sunday), we will be learning more about God’s love for creation and our call as Christians to be good stewards of the earth around us.  Let’s get ready to “go green” for God as we discuss the following topics:

May 28th—Ascension Sunday

As we celebrate the knowledge that Jesus is Lord over all creation, we will talk about our obligation to be good “house-sitters” as we live on God’s earth.  We’ll learn more about humanity’s relationship with the environment, and we’ll share some tips for eco-friendly living that will also save you money!

June 4th—Pentecost

As the old spiritual says, “Every time I feel the Spirit moving in my heart, I will pray!”  Today we will celebrate the birthday of the Church (there might be funny hats and noisemakers at Young Disciple’s Time), and we’ll honor the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives and in creation.  We’ll also talk about how science and religion can co-exist peacefully, and how the Holy Spirit works through scientific discovery and exploration!

June 11th—Trinity Sunday

Today we will learn more about our Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and we’ll see what the Bible has to say about God’s relationship with non-human life…birds, fish, plants, and animals.  We’ll see that God values all life within creation, and we will remember that God has a purpose for every living creature under the sun.  We will also hear from Gina Long as she gives us an update on Lord’s Acre: the Green Team has some very exciting plans for this fall.  You won’t want to miss it!


I hope that you all have a great Memorial Day weekend, and that you get to spend some time enjoying God’s beautiful creation in the warm days and weeks to come.  And please mark your calendars for our big upcoming events in June:

  • Next week, on June 4th, the youth are hosting an ice cream social from 3:00-5:00 to raise money for Heifer International. Lots of ice cream and baked good, all for a free-will offering…invite your friends and neighbors!
  • Vacation Bible School will be from June 26th-30th. We are still looking for some volunteers and supplies; you can find more info in the church library.  And if you have kids/grandkids/neighbors between two years old and 5th grade, you can sign them up at


See you in church!

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March 6th: Emily’s Musings

Good afternoon!

Today we are almost one week into the holy season of Lent.  If you have chosen to adopt a spiritual discipline during this season—such as giving up a favorite food or hobby, adding an extra devotional time to your daily schedule, or decluttering your home—I hope it’s off to a good start!  And if you haven’t adopted a Lenten discipline yet, it’s never too late: if you’re still looking for a way to enhance your spiritual life this Lent, we have plenty of opportunities for you at Auburn First UMC!  Our choir and adult Sunday School class are always welcoming new members—choir practices at 6:30 on Wednesday evenings, and Sunday School meets at 9:00 on Sunday mornings.

We also have also begun our Second Annual Lenten Film Festival, which is the perfect spiritual practice for movie buffs! Each Sunday afternoon during Lent we are gathering at church to watch a movie together (upcoming flicks include “The Truman Show”, “Life is Beautiful”, and “Risen”, among others), and then we share a meal while we discuss the film’s religious themes.  All are welcome to join this fun and informative group, and free childcare is always provided!

In addition, we have also begun a new Lenten worship series, based on the book “More Than Enough: Living Abundantly in a Culture of Excess” by Rev. Lee Hull Moses.  As we continue on our journey through Lent, we will be focusing on decluttering our spiritual lives, re-examining our busy schedules, grappling with injustice and inequality, and learning to live abundantly by embracing simplicity!  Here’s a preview of what’s coming up:

3/12—Much Ado About Money

(Reminder: we are worshipping at the Presbyterian Church at 11:15 this week!)

3/19—The Blessing and Curse of “Stuff”

3/26—Holy Relaxation

4/2—Loving Your Neighbors

4/9—Put On Your Work Boots!

See you at the Presbyterian church next Sunday for an awesome ecumenical service!  Have a blessed week!

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January 25th: Emily’s Musings

The month of February is drawing ever-nearer, and it’s time for us to do some mountain climbing! I’m not talking about real mountains, of course—Nebraska is sadly lacking in that department, much to this Colorado girl’s chagrin!  But over the next five weeks, we’re going to be climbing some metaphorical mountains in worship at Auburn FUMC as we begin our new sermon series, entitled “Lofty Goals: Lessons from the Sermon on the Mount”.

In this pre-Lent worship series, we’ll be exploring the fifth chapter of Matthew and learning more about these important Christian life lessons that Jesus shared with his first disciples.  Here’s a look at what’s to come:

Lofty Goals.jpg

1/29–#blessed (Matthew 5:1-12)

If you’re on social media, you’ve probably seen people used the #blessed hashtag.  Celebrities say that they’ve been #blessed when their latest single is at the top of the charts, athletes say that God has #blessed them when they sign a multi-million dollar contract, and sometimes people say that they’ve been #blessed by finding an extra McNugget in their Happy Meal!  But what does Jesus have to say about the true meaning of being blessed?  (Hint: It has absolutely nothing to do with money or McNuggets!)

2/5—A High-Sodium Life (Matthew 5:13-20)

When it comes to picking a can of soup, you’re probably better off picking a low-sodium option—but when it comes to sharing your faith, you want to be as salty as possible!  Jesus says that his disciples are supposed to be “salt for the earth” and “light for the world.”  Today we’ll learn about how we can fill Auburn with light and “holy flavor” as we work to build God’s Kingdom together!

2/12—Rotten Roots (Matthew 5:21-37)

Jesus didn’t shy away from tough topics, and neither will we: today’s sermon is all about anger, lust, and swearing!  (“Swearing” in this context means swearing oaths or making promises—don’t worry, there won’t be any four-letter words in this sermon!)  We’ll look at what Jesus had to say about righteousness and temptation, and how we can destroy sin by knocking out the roots!

2/19—The Care and Keeping of Enemies (Matthew 5:38-48)

Frank Burns on M*A*S*H once said that “it’s nice to be nice to the nice”—and he was right! It’s easy to love the people who are naturally loveable…but what about the people who seem thoroughly unlikeable?  Do we have to be nice to them too?  Let’s discover what loving your enemies is all about, and along the way we’ll also learn about the history of commonly-heard phrases like “turn the other cheek” and “go the extra mile”!

2/26—At the Mountaintop  (Transfiguration Sunday)

We’ll be ending our sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount in a very appropriate location: on top of a mountain!  Come hear the story of the Transfiguration, which will help us transition into our Lenten journey (which will be based on the book “Gifts of the Dark Wood: Seven Blessings for Soulful Skeptics and Other Wanderers”, by Omaha-area pastor Eric Elnes.)


See you in church!

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January 6th: Emily’s Musings

Happy New Year, Auburn FUMC!

Today (January 6th) is the Feast of the Epiphany, when we celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men who came from the east to worship Jesus.  It also marks the end of the Christmas season, which means that it’s finally time to take down the lights, the trees, and the Nativity sets until next November.  Here at the parsonage, the toddler is a little bit concerned about the Christmas tree being “broken” and put back into the box—but we’ve managed to appease her by keeping all of the snowman-themed decorations out for her to play with!

We’ve got some great things coming up at Auburn FUMC as the new year commences.  We’ll be launching our brand new website next week, some of our young people will be joining other United Methodist youth in Salina for “The One Event” later this month, and we’ve got some exciting sermons in the works!  Here’s what you can look forward to in worship during the month of January:

January 8—Baptism of the Lord Sunday

 On Baptism of the Lord Sunday, we will be reaffirming our baptismal vows and giving God thanks for the sacrament of baptism.  We will also be celebrating Holy Communion.

January 15—Human Relations Sunday

Human Relations Sunday is a special giving Sunday in the United Methodist Church; one which focuses on caring for at-risk youth, marginalized and oppressed populations, and communities in need.  And because January 16th is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we will be celebrating Human Relations Sunday by reading portions of one of Dr. King’s sermons.  (It’s called “Paul’s Letter to American Christians”, and MLK delivered it over 60 years ago…but I think that you’ll find that it’s still shockingly relevant to us today!)

January 22—Ecumenical Sunday

January 22 is “Ecumenical Sunday”, and we are going to celebrate this with our Presbyterian sisters and brothers here in Auburn!  Our congregations will be worshiping together at 10:00, here at the United Methodist Church, and the service will feature leadership from both congregations.

January 29—A New Sermon Series!

January 29th will mark the beginning of a new lectionary-based sermon series that will run until the beginning of Lent.  It’s called “Lofty Goals”, and is based on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  Blessed are the meek, do not worry about the future, you can’t serve God and wealth, avoiding anger and lust…we’ll be hitting all those topics and more!

I hope that your New Year is off to a fabulous start!  See you in church!

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December 7th: Emily’s Musings

Greetings!  Here’s a long-overdue update from Pastor Emily!

They say that time flies when you’re having fun, so the past few months must have been an absolute blast!  It’s been a busy fall:

  • We did a couple of fun sermon series—one on the writings of Dr. Seuss and one on the Lord’s Prayer.
  • We had charge conference and nominations committee, and we have a great slate of volunteers serving on all our committees next year!
  • We’ve paid off our conference mission shares!
  • We’ve participated in a number of local and global missions: we assisted with Meals on Wheels, we sent a cartload of donations to SENCA, we helped out with the Bloodmobile, and we packed flood buckets for UMCOR.
  • We’ve been working on a capital campaign for the trustees.
  • We had a successful Cookie Walk, and we’re getting ready to begin construction on our ADA bathroom later this winter!
  • And now the Advent season is upon us! This is a time of waiting and anticipation as we prepare for the birth of Jesus Christ.  We will be celebrating in a variety of ways at Auburn FUMC, beginning with our youth and children’s Christmas play on December 18th.  During our 10:00 worship service, our youngest disciples will be presenting “Matt and Lucy’s Version Births”, which explores the differences between the nativity stories found in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke.  It’s a cute and heartwarming play, with lots of great music—you won’t want to miss it!

On Christmas Eve (Saturday, December 24th), we will have two worship services for you to choose between.  We’ll have a casual family-oriented worship service at 4:00, and then there will be a traditional Christmas Eve service at 7:00 with choir and brass music.  Both services will feature candlelight worship and Holy Communion.  Come to one, or come to both! (Hey, I’ll be at each one!)

And then, on Christmas morning, we will be having our usual Sunday worship service at 10:00.  Kids are welcome to come in their Christmas pajamas (adults can too, if they really want!), and we will celebrate Jesus’ birth with music, storytelling, and the baptism of one of our newest members!

I’m looking forward to celebrating this joyous season with all of you!  Have a blessed Advent as we wait and worship together!

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August 30th: Emily’s Musings

My home is full of books.  We are a literature-loving family, and if you were to catch a glimpse of our living room you would know it!  We’ve got textbooks, philosophy books, novels, and newspapers.  We have books about science fiction and books about 20th-century wars (those are Stephen’s.)  We have biographies, books about religion and spirituality, and historical fiction (those are mine.)  And of course, we have lots of children’s books! With a pint-sized bookworm whose vocabulary is rapidly expanding, we have an entire library of children’s classics—Goodnight Moon, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and of course, lots of Dr. Seuss!

Dr. Seuss is hands-down Evie’s favorite author at the moment….I’m pretty sure that I could read “Hop on Pop” or “Put Me in the Zoo” with my eyes closed!  So it’s not surprising that Seuss has inspired my upcoming sermon series!  We’re going to spend the next five weeks looking for Biblical messages in some of our favorite childhood stories, including:

September 4th: The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

September 11th: Green Eggs and Ham

September 18th: The Zax

September 25th: The Sneeches 

October 2nd: Horton Hears a Who! 

So what are you waiting for?!? Join us at Auburn FUMC  for rhymes, laughter, and worship that will make you feel like a kid at heart!

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