March 2022 Newsletter
Notes From the Pastor’s Desk . . . Happy Lent!
Wednesday, March 2, marks the beginning of Lent. "Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, which means "spring." The season is a preparation for celebrating Easter. Historically, Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by converts and then become a time for penance by all Christians." (UMC Book of Worship)
I invite you to join me in observing a holy Lent. The word "holiness" in Scripture refers to being set apart for a sacred purpose. Lent can be such a time. Think of this as an opportunity for revival remembrance or doing the disciplines you may have neglected. Set aside a time for prayer each day. Make worship a priority and both attend and be more intentional about the time we have together for the praising of our Lord and Savior. Consider being more generous with your tithes and offerings and give of your time if you are not already engaged in ministries of service.
The reading of God's Word and prayerful reflection are especially helpful for a Lenten journey. I have followed a Bible reading plan for the past several years that guides me in reading through the Holy Bible every twelve months. If you are not using a plan, consider reading at least a chapter per day of the Gospels. Luke and John spend considerable time chronicling the last week of Jesus' life. You may want to supplement this reading with Isaiah and the Psalms. You may want to choose another book of Scripture such as Revelation that speaks to a time of great uncertainty like the year 2022.
As I write this article, the United Methodist Commission on General Conference is meeting to decide whether holding General Conference is feasible in late August. COVID restrictions and issues relating to granting visas to enter the United States make hosting an international conference challenging. I am hopeful we will find a way to meet and address critical issues facing our denomination. Since the decision to meet has not yet been made, a lot of what I could write is specula-tive. If General Conference meets as scheduled August 29 to September 6, it is likely that some form of a plan titled "Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation" (Protocol) will pass. Once the Protocol passes Annual Conferences, clergy and congregations may choose to affiliate with new denominations described as progressive or traditional or remain United Methodist. Traditionalist leaders have formed the Global Methodist Church and announced plans to launch in September 2022 after the projected close of General Conference.
If General Conference is delayed by a few months, most will likely defer decisions about whether or not to depart the UMC. A longer delay will likely result in more congregations leaving for another denomination or to become independent. I am asking you to be in prayer for the UMC, General Conference and our role as a member of the Mississippi Annual Conference.
Lucedale First UMC will hold an informational meeting following General Conference. In the meantime, I am available to speak to your Sunday School class on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month.
In the meantime, it is Lent. Jesus has shown us the way forward. Abide in Him. Spend time with the Lover of your soul and with the Body of Christ. I remember Bishop James Swanson telling a gathering at Wiggins First UMC prior to the pan-demic that nothing prevents us from making disciples for the transformation of the world.
Dr. Bob Allred, a former pastor of my family in Georgia, used the acronym "FRAN" (Friends, Relatives and Neighbors) to challenge his congregation in Atlanta, GA. Every single person reading this newsletter knows FRAN. Share the Good News of Jesus Christ with your friends, relatives and neighbors. Invite God to shape you into the person who loves Him enough to witness to others who are not yet saved and part of a God-honoring congregation where they are loved, taught and challenged to serve. Invite them to join you in one of our many mission opportunities, 8:30 or 11 am Sunday worship, Tuesday Men's Bible Study, Tuesday Youth, Wednesday Children, Youth and Adult studies and more!
In the love of Christ,