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GROW

There are many ways we can GROW: in our faith, as a church, in our maturity, as a community. On this page we’d like to highlight the many ways we grow as a family!  As new events are planned, look here for additional information–we’d love for you to join us!

While all in person services and activities are cancelled, we invite you to join us for a video daily devotion on our Facebook page every Monday-Saturday at noon. A link to each daily video will be posted here later in the afternoon.

Upper Room Devotion

Upper Rooms for September/October are now available outside of the office. Feel free to stop by Mon-Thur 9-4 or Fri 9-1. At this time they are not available online.

Take a Breather   

All of our daily devotion videos can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pg/cumcshelby/videos/?ref=page_internal. You do not have to have a FB account to watch these videos.

September 24th:

Take a Breather

An Interspiritual Awakening

Posted by Central United Methodist Church Shelby, NC on Thursday, September 24, 2020

Welcome back, friends, to our Thursday September 24th edition of “Take a Breather”. I’m Danny Buckner and it’s my privilege to serve as music director for Central Methodist Church in Shelby, NC. Let’s sit back, take a deep breath, and relax a bit…ahhhh.

I’d like to share a devotional found at www.cac.org. Richard Rohr begins…

An Interspiritual Awakening

Today, I introduce you to my friend Adam Bucko, who is a devoted Christian contemplative, Episcopal priest, activist, and friend to the poor. He collaborates with spiritual leaders across religious traditions and mentors young people, helping them discover a spiritual life for the 21st century and live in the service of compassion and justice. Here he reflects on what he sees as a spiritual awakening in younger generations.

For younger people, many of us, it’s very clear we see God as present in all of the traditions. . . . Not only do they believe that there is one underlying reality at the foundation of all major world religions but they are also convinced that different traditions and their unique approaches to God complement each other. . . .

But it’s also important to say, a lot of young people don’t actually identify with a tradition any more. . . . Many of our churches, synagogues and mosques are freaking out when they hear this, thinking that young people are no longer interested in the sacred. But to me it is clear that young people are not necessarily rejecting God, they simply feel that many religious organizations lost touch with reality and are too concerned with money, power, self-preservation, maintaining the status quo, and ‘having right beliefs’. As a result, they tend to view them . . . as organizations that are spiritually bankrupt, that are no longer able to speak to and address some of the big questions of our time. And it takes deep insight and spiritual courage to see that. It is for this reason and many others that I don’t think of the rise of the ‘spiritual but not religious’ among our youth as a sign of spiritual decline but rather a new kind of spiritual awakening. . . .

We have to acknowledge that when people hear about spiritual and not religious people, they often immediately think that these are people who are just shopping around and not really that committed. . . . But when we look at some of the people who come from that group, we realize that actually many of them spend more time [in spiritual practices] than regular churchgoers.

Richard: I can honestly say that I have observed many of these same things in my work with young people at the CAC. I do not see a lack of spirituality and good faith in many seekers of the next generation, but an abundance of it and a deep desire to live with integrity and in alignment with their values. Such people are not satisfied with a faith simply handed to them by an institution or the previous generation. They insist on investigating what is truly important for transformation and a more just and compassionate world.

Let’s close our time together with the Prayer of Saint Francis…

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love

For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

We invite you join us again at noon tomorrow to “Take a Breather” and each day of the week (Monday – Saturday). We also invite you to join us for our “Virtual” worship service each Sunday live on our Facebook page (Central Methodist Church in Shelby NC). We love you and hope you have a great rest-of the day!

September 23rd:

Take a Breather

Going Up?

Posted by Central United Methodist Church Shelby, NC on Wednesday, September 23, 2020

I was in my Zoom Book Club yesterday with a diverse group of men and women that I have truly grown to admire and respect.  We are reading White Fragility, a very thought-provoking book speaking of the difficulty white people, like me, have in discussing racism.  And a question came up about fear… Are white people afraid of black people… and if so, why?

I must admit that at first I was taken back as I thought “well, THAT’s just plain silly, why would anyone be afraid of people of color just because they are of color?”  And then I got pretty honest with myself as I thought of the times I have crossed a street, locked my doors in certain neighborhoods, clutched my purse a little tighter.  I have always loved sharing the story of a white woman having won a large bucket of quarters off a Las Vegas slot machine carrying her winnings into an empty hotel elevator.  Just before the doors shut 3 African-American men (2 of them quite large) entered the elevator.  She was very nervous in these enclosed surroundings and as she thought she heard one of the men say “Give it up” she threw the bucket of quarters up and told them to take it all, just don’t kill her.  The men immediately began picking up the quarters and the woman and said they just wanted to know if she was “GOING up.”  Shaken, as she reached her floor, one of the gentleman walked her to her door and told her to have a great day.  Later that evening as she returned from dinner she discovered a beautiful, expensive flower arrangement with a note attached reading “Thank you for the best laugh I have had in ages!”  Signed Eddie Murphy.  The men in the elevator had been the comedian and 2 bodyguards.

Maybe it is time we get honest with ourselves, asking ourselves, “What am I afraid of?”  Someone that doesn’t look or sound like me?  Having enough?  BEING enough?  Health?  Death?  Violence?  Apathy?  Change?  I have learned 2 things over the years:  1) If I sit down and dissect my fears, I discover 99.9% of the time I have nothing to be afraid of…  Years ago, Glenn and I went to an air and sea show in our neighbor’s boat.  I did not want to go.  As we were bobbing in the water with the planes doing their acrobatic stunts and formations over our heads, Glenn asked me why I had not wanted to be there.  I admitted I was afraid one of those planes would crash on our boat.  Even as I said it I realized it was a pretty ridiculous thought!  And Glenn’s comment – “THAT would be so cool!  I mean anyone can die from a heart attack, but can you imagine our grandchildren telling their friends their grandparents had died when a Blue Angel plane had killed us as it crashed onto our boat in the Atlantic Ocean!”

The second thing I have learned is God’s Word tells us repeatedly (like over 230 times), “Fear not.”  We have all probably heard those words from Isaiah, “Fear not, for I am with you…”  But hear them today from the Message, “But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end— Because I am God, your personal God… your Savior. I paid a huge price for you… That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.”

My hope for each of us is for us to lose our fears, especially for each other.  May we all remember that each and every one of us has been called by name, unconditionally loved, lathered with grace.  May we face our fears, whatever they are, whoever they are, with this God, our God.

September 22nd:

Filling Shoes

Posted by Central United Methodist Church Shelby, NC on Monday, September 21, 2020

Welcome back, friends, to our Tuesday September 22nd edition of “Take a Breather”. I’m Danny Buckner and it’s my privilege to serve as music director for Central Methodist Church in Shelby, NC.

Today, I’d like to share a devotional that resonated with me both literally and spiritually. It didn’t have a title, but I’m going to call it  Filling Shoes. It’s written by a Christian fiction author named Tia McCollors.

Filling Shoes

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.     Philippians 1:6

I have photographs of all three of my children when they were toddlers, their stick-size legs stuffed into boat-sized shoes. It’s laughable to watch children shuffle along in oversize shoes. My sons used to trudge along in my husband’s brown loafer. Even my daughter, Reagan, about four years old at the time, clopped into the kitchen in a pair of my black pumps. One day she will have bigger shoes to fill. She’ll possibly carry the weight and responsibilities of balancing a career with raising a family and living a purpose-filled life. She’ll have her own expectations, hopes, and prayers—even disappointments and trials. The thought has stayed with me, and I pray I’ve shown her how to walk with the Lord. She’s a pre-teen now, wearing small heels of her own. Growing up in front of my eyes. Filling her shoes. And now I’m the one wondering if I can fill mine.

Some tearful nights I cry out to God because I’m not sure if the shoes He’s given me fit. Perhaps they were oversize in comparison to what I thought I could handle. Am I worthy? Do I have what it takes? Why does He trust me with this calling? Then God speaks to me, assuring me that I will grow into it. Growth takes time. So I’ll continue to walk in the shoe He’s given me for now, knowing that I’m not alone. When the journey seems to  much to handle, I know He will carry me. And He’ll carry you too.

Lord, everything I’m able to do is because of You.

Let’s close our time together with the Prayer of Saint Francis…

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love

For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

We invite you join us again at noon tomorrow to “Take a Breather” and each day of the week (Monday – Saturday). We also invite you to join us for our “Virtual” worship service each Sunday live on our Facebook page (Central Methodist Church in Shelby NC). We love you and hope you have a great rest-of the day!

September 21st:

Posted by Central United Methodist Church Shelby, NC on Monday, September 21, 2020

Hi there! Welcome to Take a Breather. I’m Mark Barden, Senior Pastor at Central UMC in Shelby, NC. I’m glad to be able to be with you today and bring you a few thoughts on this beautiful… really becoming a fall day. It has been interesting how the weather had been changing. It really does feel like fall is in the air here in N.C.

Well it has been a little while since I’ve been here with you. As many of you know my father passed away and I’ve been busy taking care of some things there. I must admit to you something about Friday. I was supposed to do Take a Breather and I forgot! I felt really bad about it until Sunday. Pastor Fawn confessed to me that she forgot on Saturday. I said, ”Well, I feel a little bit better but I think maybe for today’s Take a Breather, I’ll focus on forgetfulness.

We can get so tied up in our lives and particularly if something is not part of our routine. We can get very forgetful and sometimes I forget big things like Take a Breather. I’ve always heard that as one gets older one gets more and more forgetful. I’m certainly finding that to be true. But one thing that I know is God never gets forgetful like we do no matter what happens. God is not going to forget us and I think that’s a good thing.

I’m often reminded of the verse in Romans 8 where it says nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even our forgetfulness even though we fall down at times. We may forget things and sometimes there are such things as sins of omission, which means we fail to do something that God calls us to do. But God still forgives us forgives. And for that, I am truly grateful because no matter how many times we fall down, God is going to pick us up and help us get back on the right path.

So, hopefully, with today’s Take a Breather, I’ll be back on the right path and not forget one again. Hopefully, Pastor Fawn will be the same way. We’ll have to enter into a pact so that we remind one another to make sure that we don’t forget any more.  But meanwhile, just keep this in your heart that God loves us and God will never forget.

Let’s bow our heads for a word of prayer.

We are no longer our own, but yours. Put us to what you will, place us with whom you will. Put us to doing, put us to suffering. Let us be put to work for you or set aside for you. Praised for you or criticized for you. Let us be full, let us be empty. Let us have all things, let us have nothing. We freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.

And now, O wonderful and holy God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, you are mine, and We are yours. So be it. And the covenant which we have made on earth, Let it also be made in heaven.

Accept our prayer in the name of Jesus Christ who taught to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Once again, thanks for joining us today. Tomorrow, we’ll have another Take a Breather… I forgot who is doing it… but nevertheless someone will be here. I’ll check with Pastor Fawn and make sure it is not her. If it is, I’ll remind her. Just remember the Good News. God loves and forgives us even when we forget. Take care and God bless. Have a wonderful day.

September 17th:

Take a Breather

Healing Is a Process

Posted by Central United Methodist Church Shelby, NC on Thursday, September 17, 2020

Welcome back, friends, to our Thursday September 17th edition of “Take a Breather”. I’m Danny Buckner and it’s my privilege to serve as music director for Central Methodist Church in Shelby, NC.

I’d like to circle back today to Richard Rohr and I’m specifically on his website www.cac.org down in the “Daily Devotions” tab. I’m come here often because whenever I do, I’m always challenged to think and examine and question how I feel about things. And whether I agree or even fully understand everything I’ve read there, I’ve lived long enough now to know that that’s ok and it’s actually good for me to be stretched beyond where I am toward ever-widening place of grace and acceptance. After all, as children of God, isn’t that what we’re called to do?…to try and see the world through God’s eyes?

Today’s devotional had me at the title…

Healing Is a Process

Mr. Rohr begins…

I have been recently introduced to the work of Lama Rod Owens, a Black, queer, American-born, Tibetan Buddhist teacher, who was raised in the Christian church and graduated from Harvard Divinity School. Perhaps it is because of his many identities that his teachings on love, self-compassion, and justice seem to be drawn from the perennial wisdom of Reality itself. He writes here of the needed work of healing our own wounds so that the healing can be passed on: 

Healing is being situated in love. Healing is not just the courage to love, but to be loved. It is the courage to want to be happy not just for others, but for ourselves as well. It is interrogating our bodies as an artifact of accumulated traumas and doing the work of processing that trauma by developing the capacity to notice and be with our pain. If we are to heal, then we must allow our awareness to settle into and integrate with the pain and discomfort that has been habitually avoided. We cannot medicate the pain away. We embrace it, and in so doing establish a new relationship with the experience. We must see that there is something that must be befriended. This is the true nature of our experience, and in finally approaching this experience we contact basic sanity. . . .

Healing is movement and work toward wholeness. Healing is never a definite location but something in process. It is the basic ordinary work of staying engaged with our own hurt and limitations. Healing does not mean forgiveness either, though it is a result of it. Healing is knowing our woundedness; it is developing an intimacy with the ways in which we suffer. Healing is learning to love the wound because love draws us into relationship with it instead of avoiding feeling the discomfort.

Healing means we are holding the space for our woundedness and allowing it to open our hearts to the reality that we are not the only people who are hurt, lonely, angry, or frustrated. We must also release the habitual aggression that characterizes our avoidance of trauma or any discomfort. My goal is to befriend my pain, to relate to it intimately as a means to end the suffering of desperately trying to avoid it. Opening our hearts to woundedness helps us to understand that everyone else around us carries around the same woundedness. . . .

Perhaps what I have come to understand, finally, is that somehow I have become the one I have always wanted. This is why I do the things that I do. There is a fierce love that wakes me up every morning, that makes me tell my stories, refuses to let me apologize for my being here, blesses me with the capacity to be silent, alone, and grieving when I most need to be. You have to understand that this is what I mean when I say healing.

May all beings be seen, held kindly, and loved. May we all one day surrender to the weight of being healed.

Let’s close our time together with the Prayer of Saint Francis…

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love

For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

We invite you join us again at noon tomorrow to “Take a Breather” and each day of the week (Monday – Saturday). We also invite you to join us for our “Virtual” worship service each Sunday live on our Facebook page (Central Methodist Church in Shelby NC). We love you and hope you have a great rest-of the day!

September 16th:

Pick me! Pick me!- Take a Breather

Posted by Central United Methodist Church Shelby, NC on Wednesday, September 16, 2020

We all know the feeling of not being chosen. Who hasn’t felt the pain of realizing you weren’t picked for the team? Or maybe you weren’t invited to a party others were talking about? Or perhaps you have experienced the rejection of applying for a job and not getting the offer. Some of us have labored endlessly on a presentation only to be soundly rejected. 

Our nation is currently embroiled in serious tensions that extend across racial, economic and political lines where many experience rejection every day. Each sector of our society seems to have an inherent brokenness that leaves many feeling rejected and without a voice in our world. 

Our brokenness and disunity causes God’s heart to ache. As followers of Jesus we are compelled to live a different way. And yet, even though we seek to follow Jesus, many Christians slide into practices and behaviors that unintentionally limit the freedom God wants us to experience. We limit ourselves and we limit each other too. 

It is easy to internalize the rejections and failures we inevitably face as human beings. It is easy to take those places we feel “less than” and adopt that as our identity. It’s also easy to focus on the things we see as weaknesses in other people and define them by those things and nothing else. 

But, the good news is, the grace and freedom of being in relationship with Christ gives us the possibility of seeing our own worth and the worth of others in a different light. Paul in 2 Corinthians puts this idea into helpful words for us when he talks about the “flesh in his side” that he feels God has given him. Hear these words from Paul:

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 9 He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” So I’ll gladly spend my time bragging about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power can rest on me. 10 Therefore, I’m all right with weaknesses, insults, disasters, harassments, and stressful situations for the sake of Christ, because when I’m weak, then I’m strong.

If what Paul says here is true, then those very places that we count as shortcomings are where we can be strong! What!? This seems kind of backwards to me, but if we have learned anything about following Christ, it is that a lot of the time, we have to switch our natural mindsets upside down. 

So, if I am reading this right, all of my weaknesses, struggles, stresses, and fears are the perfect place for Christ’s strength to be especially with me. Let’s think about this for a second and it might just make sense!

If I am fearful, then there is an opportunity to be courageous.

If I have been rejected, then there is an opportunity to remember my worth does not come from the person/situation that resulted in my rejection.

If I am stressed, then I have the opportunity to realign myself to the true peace of God.

The list goes on, but I bet you get the idea. We often do not have the opportunity to practice the things we count as strong qualities (like courage, healthy self-worth, and peace), without the hard parts of life that require those strengths to just get by.  

Let’s remember the words of God in Verse 9: He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.”

September 15th:

What’s the Good News?? Take a Breather

Posted by Central United Methodist Church Shelby, NC on Tuesday, September 15, 2020

As we start our devotional time together today, I want you to think back to the last time you received some really good news. What was it about this bit of news that made it so good? Was it a long-awaited answer to prayer, news that a potential disaster had been avoided, the welcome arrival of an unexpected family member, or perhaps, something else?

As followers of Jesus we can become so accustomed to hearing about ‘Good News’, or the ‘Gospel’, that we lose sight of just what it is that makes the Christian message so revolutionary. 

Jesus’ contemporaries were astonished at the words coming from the mouth of the man whom they had known simply as Joseph’s son that was born down the road. 

The Gospel of Luke tells us that after forty days of fasting and temptation in the wilderness, Jesus returned home. He made his way home to Galilee filled with the power of the Spirit. 

Up until that time, Jesus seemed to be an ordinary member of the small community of about 200 people in the village of Nazareth. However, he was beginning to gain a great reputation throughout the whole district as news about him spread throughout the countryside.

One Sabbath day, Jesus stood up in the synagogue and read from Isaiah’s scroll. Here is how Luke 4:14-21 gives this account: 

“Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news about him spread throughout the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been raised. On the Sabbath he went to the synagogue as he normally did and stood up to read. The synagogue assistant gave him the scroll from the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the synagogue assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed on him. He began to explain to them, ‘Today, this scripture has been fulfilled just as you heard it.’”

His hearers received a message that we now understand to be central to the Christian faith. Jesus claimed to be the one anointed by God to bring “good news”, Euangelion. This Greek word was used in the first century to describe a welcome announcement, or something that created a whole new state of affairs. 

Now, pause for a moment and consider, what’s the news Jesus is talking about here and why is it good? How does the proclamation that Jesus is the fulfillment of ancient promises continue to be good news for today’s world? 

We need to refresh our memories and our imaginations as to how this ‘good news’ was actually supposed to work from the very beginning. News is about something that has happened—something that is going to make the world different, and there are things that are going to happen for which we have to ready ourselves. 

News creates a new situation where we live between the event that has happened, and the event that will happen. It is easy to collapse the Christian message into good advice about how you might live your life or practice your private spirituality. These are good things, but the whole point of Christianity from the beginning was about something that had happened:

  •     News concerning Jesus of Nazareth and his death and resurrection.
  •     News about the God we see revealed in and active through Jesus.
  •     News that has changed the way the entire world is now and will be forever.

The Gospel announces that a whole new world order and a whole new way to be human has now arrived and will one day be fully and finally complete. This is simply good news!

News, especially the good news of Jesus, creates a new situation for those who are hearing it and calls for new decisions to be made. I ask you as we close, in what ways does the Gospel of Jesus Christ call you to make different choices or live differently today?

September 12th:

“Take a Breather”

What’s Your Opinion?

Posted by Central United Methodist Church Shelby, NC on Saturday, September 12, 2020

Welcome back, friends, to our Saturday September 12th edition of “Take a Breather”. I’m Danny Buckner and it’s my privilege to serve as music director for Central Methodist Church in Shelby, NC.

I’d like to share a devotional today that’s titled “What’s Your Opinion?” It’s written by Kevin Presley who is the financial and personnel coordinator for The Fellowship (which is an organization for United Methodist Church musicians, of which I am also a member) and Minister of Music and Worship at Emmanuel UMC in Memphis TN.

Mr. Presley writes…

What’s Your Opinion?

Romans 14:1-12

“Welcome the person who is weak in faith – but not in order to argue about differences of opinion … Why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you look down on your brother or sister? We all will stand in front of the judgment seat of God.”

(Romans 14:1, 10, CEB)

 

Most of us have unlimited access to one another’s opinions via social media, and there’s the constant barrage of opinions coming through every news source related to health, politics, race, religion, and so on. Reinforcing it all are messages like, “Make your voice heard!” and “Your opinion matters!”

So, whose opinion wins out? To whom do we listen? Is it the loudest voice? The most popular opinion? The one that sounds closest to ours? What about the voices and opinions that go unheard? The ones that never get a hearing? Are they any less important, less valid?

Paul, in this passage from Romans, is talking to the church about judging and being judged, but ultimately it is about deciding who belongs at the table. How does Paul answer? All who confess Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead belong in the same worshipping family and at the same table.

So how do we get everyone to the same table? Right now, more importantly than sharing our opinions, we should be sharing our stories with one another. People who know one another’s stories are more likely to feel connected to each other, and people who feel connected are more willing to sit together at the same table.

Prayer

Bind us together, Lord, with cords that cannot be broken. Amen.

Let’s close our time together with the Prayer of Saint Francis…

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love

For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

We invite you join us again at noon tomorrow to “Take a Breather” and each day of the week (Monday – Saturday). We also invite you to join us for our “Virtual” worship service each Sunday live on our Facebook page (Central Methodist Church in Shelby NC). We love you and hope you have a great rest-of the day!

September 11th:

Take a Breather

Remember God's Presence and Promises

Posted by Central United Methodist Church Shelby, NC on Friday, September 11, 2020

My guess is that if you are 25 or older you could easily remember where you were 19 years ago today.  It was one of those days that we will all be able to recall where we were, who we called, sitting in front of the television with emotions railing.  Friends living in New York and D.C. at the time have shared the raw grief and fear they experienced.

19 years ago the United States was attacked by terrorists and life changed drastically.  So many lives lost, especially those of first responders and heroes saving others.  New travel protocol was created, new prejudices arose.  It was such a horrible, sad day for us as individuals and a nation.

But there were good things that happened as well.  We united as a nation.  We supported each other, encouraged each other.  We came together, caring for each other and our country as we waved our flags and shared patriotic unity.  We prayed – A LOT!  The churches have not been as full since those early weeks following the attack.

This morning I woke up thinking of 19 years ago… and today.  Wishing we had those same feelings of ONE nation UNDER God.  And I realized we are still that country, though we may not always reflect it.  And God is still present.  I can’t help but think of Isaiah 61:

[The Lord] has sent me
to bring good news to the poor,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim release for captives,
and liberation for prisoners,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and a day of vindication for our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    to provide for Zion’s mourners,
to give them a crown in place of ashes,
oil of joy in place of mourning,
a mantle of praise in place of discouragement.
They will be called Oaks of Righteousness,
planted by the Lord to glorify himself.

Never doubt that no matter what we are going through, what YOU are going through, GOD IS PRESENT!  And God has made promises to restore us as a nation, and you as God’s child, as a strong, holy, faithful, free follower of Christ.  The problems of today are temporary.  God’s grace and mercy are never-ending.

Let us pray…

September 10th:

Take a Breather

What do you want from me?

Posted by Central United Methodist Church Shelby, NC on Thursday, September 10, 2020

Welcome back, friends, to our Thursday September 10th edition of “Take a Breather”. I’m Danny Buckner and it’s my privilege to serve as music director for Central Methodist Church in Shelby, NC.

Sooo…I came home yesterday only to discover that our air conditioning had gone out. Yes, I realize that is totally, as they say, “a first-world” problem and that we were fortunate enough to have it go out when outside temperatures were not in the 90’s like a few weeks ago, but still, the humidity made it feel like camping inside the house as we slept. Now don’t get me wrong…I love to camp and will absolutely put up with the discomforts that come along with sleeping outdoors while camping, but I don’t particularly care to have those same discomforts in my bed at home. Again, first-world problem, I know.

In my line of work, I have the privilege of listening to a lot of folks as they share their thoughts with me…joys, cares, concerns, troubles…and not all problems are first-world problems. They are real problems…heavy problems. It’s while we’re in the midst of those heavy problems that we can find ourselves shaking our fists at God and shouting, “What do you want from me? I’m doing my best here! Why does this (fill in the blank with your heavy problem) keep happening to me?”

It can also be very easy during those times to wonder what God is doing? Is God still looking after me? I suppose questions like these are human nature, but if we go very far down that road then perhaps we limit God. We make God a bean-counter…a God who has favorites… “You didn’t look after me, but you looked after him! What’s up with that, God?” But, despite feeling that way sometimes, I don’t really believe that’s who God is at all.

I came across a really beautiful story today about the nature of God. It’s a true story actually and it comes from the book I introduced to you last week, “Barking to the Choir” by Gregory Boyle.

Mr. Boyle writes…

I once gave an evening talk at a private school in Los Angeles. The place was packed with parents and a handful of students. Sitting in the front row was my friend Vivienne. Her husband, Rey, had invited me to speak. Beside her was her ten-year-old son, Diego. Throughout my talk, I kept noticing Diego. Though he was young, he was mature beyond his years, bright and articulate, without an ounce of ten-year-old fidget. As I spoke, he hung on every word, laughing at all the right places and dropping his jaw when things got more serious. I finished my talk with a heartbreaking story of Puppet and Youngster, sworn enemies who became brothers while working together until Puppet was beaten to death. Suddenly, Diego was sobbing. Even as I continued to speak on auto-pilot, I kept observing him, astonished at his reaction. Puppet’s untimely death had so affected Diego that he was experiencing a full-bodied sorrow, heaving and rocking in his seat. Vivienne turned to him and slowly, sweetly, put her arm around him. What Diego did next is, quite literally, a showstopper. He reared up and at full volume screamed at his Mom: “WHAT?” I stop speaking. Everyone turned and looked. He demurred, but only a little. He leaned in again, and repeated in a fairly loud stage whisper: “WHHHAAAATTTT?” It was clear that he was asking, “What?” as in WHAT have I done now? HOW have I disappointed you now?

It could be true that Vivienne simply wanted to settle her kid down, since everyone was looking at him. And yet her expression seemed to ask, How did I get so lucky to have such a son? But she is also heartbroken by the very thing that breaks the heart of her kid. She wanted to console him and let him know that he was not alone. This mother did not want “from” him. She only wanted “for” him.

Often enough, we get in the habit of shaking our fists at God and saying, WHAT do you WANT from me? We are programmed this way as humans. But I suppose it would be more accurate to ask God this: What do you want FOR me? For starters: life, happiness, and peace: My joy yours. Your joy complete. That’s it. Nothing less than that.

I think that’s a really wonderful way to re-frame my thinking. Though I thought, “Well, crap!” when our AC went out I realize that’s not really a big deal at all, but I’ve had a few things in my life that actually were big deals and I wanted to (truthfully, actually did) shake my fist at God and ask that very question…What to you WANT from me?!” Perhaps, instead, I need to remember to ask What do you want FOR me, God? And, maybe you do, too. Something good to think about…

Let’s close our time together with the Prayer of Saint Francis…

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love

For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

We invite you join us again at noon tomorrow to “Take a Breather” and each day of the week (Monday – Saturday). We also invite you to join us for our “Virtual” worship service each Sunday live on our Facebook page (Central Methodist Church in Shelby NC). We love you and hope you have a great rest-of the day!

September 9th:

Take a Breather- Courageous Preschoolers

Posted by Central United Methodist Church Shelby, NC on Wednesday, September 9, 2020

September 8th:

Take a Breather

Like a child accept the blessing…

Posted by Central United Methodist Church Shelby, NC on Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Tomorrow is an exciting day at Central United Methodist Church.  I will imagine that there will be a few sleep-deprived children as they lay in bed thinking about their first day of preschool in 2020.  The Kids Place Director, staff, and board, with the assistance of the church leadership have worked really hard the past several months to prepare for this less than normal school year.  And I know we are ready!!!

I am so excited that our church cares so much about the little ones in our community to have a preschool like Kids Place.  The school teaches colors and numbers and the alphabet.  I have heard compliments from kindergarten teachers on how the children entering school after having graduated from Kids Place are recognizable for their knowledge and social skills.  And the school not only nurtures the children, but also their families.  Parents are encouraged and our staff truly loves each member.

But the greatest gift Kids Place and the church give students and families is Jesus.  The children hear the stories of God and are given a foundation for a lifetime relationship with Jesus Christ.  What a blessing.

You know, Jesus thought children were very important… which was extremely counter-cultural in those Biblical days.  The Gospel of Luke tells us – “People were bringing babies to Jesus so that he would bless them. When the disciples saw this, they scolded them. Then Jesus called them to him and said, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it.” [Luke 18:15-17]   Jesus wanted us to know that he longed for all of us to be as eager as children for Jesus’ blessings.

So tomorrow morning as we welcome our preschoolers and their families into our church home, I hope you will be praying for a wonderful school year filled with wisdom and growth and safety and health.  I hope you will thank God for giving us at Central the opportunity to welcome each little child into God’s Kingdom.  And I really hope that maybe you and I will lose a little sleep tonight as well, as we, with thankful consideration, eagerly receive the blessings Christ has for us.

Let us pray…

September 7th:

Posted by Central United Methodist Church Shelby, NC on Monday, September 7, 2020

September 5th:

Take a Breather

Grab your Blessings!

Posted by Central United Methodist Church Shelby, NC on Saturday, September 5, 2020

 

 

Vision Team News

RANKIN HELPS VISION TEAM EXPLORE WHY

Dr. Nancy Rankin met for the second time with our vision team to help explore why we exist as a church. She expanded on our purpose highlighting the core found in Jesus’ Great Commission: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19).

Key Components:

  1. Make Disciples (of all nations)
  2. Baptize (bring into the family of God)
  3. Teach (Jesus’ commandments)

She engaged the group by asking, “What would work to reach today’s families with schedules that are so overloaded? We have to rethink but continue to deliver the essentials to a changing world. Stop and re-orient.”

Nancy continued to stress the vision must direct relationships, program and management in what the church does. “Leave survival up to God. Just be faithful!”

Something to ponder: A Pathway for Discipleship. How is a discipleship pathway different from a church membership pathway?

In preparation for the next meeting, the team was asked to study demographics and projections for Shelby over the next 10 years in the MissionInsite Report.

Vision Team Minutes 8-15-19

Vision Team Minutes 9-19-19

Vision Team Notes 10-10-19

Vision Team Church Sizes