May 26th–Emily’s Musings

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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 goo.gl/XinwiY

 

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:

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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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August 2: Emily’s Musings

Grab your remotes and fire up your DVRs—the Olympics are coming!  The 2016 Rio Olympics opening ceremony will commence on Friday evening at 6:00, and over the next few weeks athletes from around the world will compete in a wide variety of events.  (Seriously, have you looked at the list of Olympic summer sports?  They’ve got everything from archery to rugby, rhythmic gymnastics to golf, table tennis to water polo! There’s even a trampoline event!)

 

Olympics.jpg

And while the international athletes are showing off their physical fitness, the people of Auburn First United Methodist Church will be focusing on spiritual fitness!  Throughout the month of August, we will be flexing our spiritual muscles and learning about the heroes of the Old Testament in our Olympic-themed worship series: “Go For The Gold!”  And make sure to bring the kids and grandkids—there will be fun Olympic games to play during children’s time!

GO FOR THE GOLD!

August 7th: Running the Race (Hebrews 11:29-12:1)

August 14th: Wrestling With God (Genesis 32:22-32)

August 21: Shotput—Good Things Come in Small Packages (1 Samuel 17)

August 28: Weightlifting—Be Strong in the Lord (Judges 13-16)

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July 6: Emily’s Musings

But Ruth said, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.  –Ruth 1:16b

Do you remember those senior class superlatives from your high school yearbook?  The kids who were voted “Class Clown”, “Best Smile”, and “Most Likely to Succeed?”  I didn’t earn any of these coveted titles when I was in high school—as a shy marching band geek in a school of over 2000 students, I wasn’t anywhere near the inner circle of popular kids who usually earned those honors!  (Although when I was in 8th grade, I was elected “Class Bookworm” and I wore the title with pride!)

We like to honor the people who stand out from the crowd; the people who shine brightly and seem to “have it all.”  But strangely enough, we don’t find too many of those shining stars in the Bible!  To the contrary: the Bible is filled with underdogs and losers and nobodies!  The pages of Scripture are full of outsiders and outcasts—and the really crazy thing is that in the end, God turns these people into the stars!  Throughout the Bible, God is constantly using the most unlikely people, and God is always transforming underdogs into heroes and heroines!

In our July sermon series, we’re going to be studying one of these unlikely heroines: a young woman named Ruth.  We will examine her story and see what it has to teach us today—we’ll talk about faith and trust, we’ll talk about how Christians are often called to be outsiders in the world, and we’ll talk about how wide and expansive the Kingdom of God truly is!  Join us on this journey as we get to know Ruth: a woman who was the least likely to succeed, but through whom God accomplished powerful things!

 

July Sermon Series: “Girl Least Likely to Succeed” 

 

July 10th: Ruth 1

“Girl Least Likely to Succeed: The Outsider”

July 17th: Ruth 2

“Girl Least Likely to Succeed: No Good Deed Goes Unnoticed”

July 24th: Ruth 3

“Girl Least Likely to Succeed: When is ‘Bad’ Behavior Good?”

July 31st: Ruth 4

“Girl Least Likely to Succeed: From Outsider to Insider!”

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June 21: Emily’s Musings

June has been quite the crazy whirlwind month!  I attended the Great Plains Annual Conference, I was ordained as an Elder in Full Connection—this is the United Methodist clergy equivalent of getting tenure!—and then I spent a week teaching teenagers about Methodist theology at Confirmation Camp.  (Fortunately, camp wasn’t all work and no play: in between classroom sessions, I honed my archery skills and went ziplining for the first time and made a spiffy tie-dyed t-shirt!)

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Ordination–you might notice our District Superintendent on the left!

It seems like the summer is rushing by very quickly, but we’ve got some amazing community outreach opportunities on the horizon1  We’ll be talking about these more in church over the next couple of weeks, but please mark your calendars and fire up your ovens for the following events!

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April 20: Emily’s Musings

Stephen and Evie and I have been in Auburn for nearly 10 months now, and it’s amazing to me that we’ve been here for almost an entire year.  It feels like the time has just flown by—when we first arrived, Evie wasn’t even crawling; now she’s running and climbing and talking and getting into all kinds of mischief!  Stephen and I often talk about how fortunate we are to be raising Evie in a church community like this one.  One of the best parts about being a church member is the knowledge that you have a whole network of people who are looking out for you and supporting you through life’s ups and downs.

 

We try to take good care of each other here at Auburn, and we have fabulous people who lead our hospitality ministries and prayer ministries.  Pastoral care visits are an important part of my work as well, so if you (or a friend or family member) are ever in the hospital or in need of a visit, just call the church office and let us know!  I am always happy to schedule a visit, and we can also put you on the prayer chain or send some meals through our Hospitality Committee.

 

A few more spring updates:

  • Our confirmation class is starting up soon, and letters have been sent out to potential confirmation students!  This year’s class will feature a trip to “Confirmation Camp” at Camp Fontanelle—it’s going to be a great time!
  • Speaking of camp, it’s time to get your kids (and grandkids) registered for United Methodist summer camps!  Information and registration sheets are on the bulletin board; remember that all child/youth members of FUMC will receive a 10% camp scholarship for themselves and one friend.  (More financial aid is available; contact the church office for details.)
  • Mark your calendars—we will be honoring our high school graduates on Sunday, May 15th.

 

Have a fantastic week!

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