As we begin looking forward to a time when in-person worship will reopen, check out this great video from the First United Methodist of Covington, TN, It's a great tutorial on keeping each other healthy when we beginning gathering together again.
Return Leadership Team has been looking forward to the time when in-person worship will reopen. To that end, a Return Leadership Team has been created and has been meeting weekly to coordinate the logistics to meet CDC guidelines for in-person gatherings. We are not ready to reopen the church yet, but we’re getting closer. Our first priority is always to keep one another safe. We care deeply for you, and we are committed to doing all we can for each other’s health and safety. The Team will be communicating to you in every way possible as we get closer to the time when we will be gathered together again.
All Crete UMC Worship Services and in church gathering suspended until further notice.
Crete UMC's mission is to be Christ centered, teaching and learning community, dedicated to reaching out to all in a spirit of caring and sharing, a community where growth in Christ inspires us to be joyful sharing people.
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Good Morning! I hope you had a good 4th of July.
This morning, we’re continuing our sermon series on Noah and the Ark. So far, we’ve been looking at the character of Noah, Noah is meant to be an exemplary figure of faith in the Bible. And Noah shows us what faith looks like: Noah trust God, he listens to God, and then he acts, he does what God commands him to do. Noah shows us that faith – when fully matured – has these dual elements of faith and obedience – and we’re supposed to be like Noah.
We left off last Sunday in chapter 7 of Genesis, where “Noah did all the Lord commanded.” Noah gets everybody and everything into the Ark and, then it says, “and the Lord shut him in.” God shuts the door and the rains come.
Today we’ve come to chapter 8 and we’re looking at the flood. Noah and his family and the animals have been on the ark now for 150 days, around 5 months. And it looks like there’s no end in sight. They’ve got no idea when the floods are going to end. God didn’t tell Noah how long this was going to last. So, it’s been about 5 months they’ve been in the Ark.
It was March 20th that the stay-at-home orders were put into effect in Illinois because of COVID-19. I think we might just have a pretty good idea of how Noah and his family and the animals must have feeling after 5 months in the Ark. “God, is this ever going to end? I can’t keep doing this. The Ark’s rocking, the waves throw us to and fro. There’s no sail, no motor, no rudder. There’s nothing steering this ship and we’ve got no idea where we’re going. How long, O Lord! How long is this flood going to last?”
Can you relate? Have you said something like that in the last months? The flood is a metaphor for our lives and the storms that we go through. Right now, our nation – our world – is flooded with the Coronavirus. It’s a global storm and in it, we are all on a ship without a rudder.
The flood is also a metaphor for our personal storms: a divorce, losing your job, a bad diagnosis, the death of a spouse or a child…We go through some things in our lives that are so difficult sometimes, we wonder if God’s even there. “God, where are you? In this pain, in this loss, in this fear, in this global pandemic, in this storm. God, is the storm ever going to end? God, we are crying out. Please make it end.”
We all go through storms in life. And it seems at times like this, God seems conspicuously absent. We cry out to God and we feel like we’re not getting any answers. God, where are you?
The Psalmists felt that way, too. And they confront God, they rail against God in times of crisis and distress. They express their feelings and thoughts to God boldly, no hold barred. They’re good examples to us of how we should express ourselves fully to God. Psalm 13 is one of the Psalms of Complaint or Lament and there are many Psalms of Lament. Psalm 13 starts “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” We can understand that.
There’s an entire book in the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) called the Book of Lamentations. It’s complaints against God when things go horribly wrong. This language of lament gives permission to complain, to lament our circumstances, to speak the truth about our distress. We go to God, honest and bare before him. And this is not a lack of faith, it is part of faith. It’s honesty before God. The Psalmists encourage us to just put it all out there. And after we’ve gotten it all out and there are no words left – we are just silent for a time – and then, we end the same way that all the Psalms of Complaint end. At the very end, after the railing, after the pleading, after the bargaining, after we’ve pounded the floor – all the Psalms of Lament end with “But Lord, I will trust you in the midst of this storm. I will trust that you are with me.” We choose to trust in God in the midst of adversity, when we don’t understand why or how we will make it through, when God seems conspicuously absent, we choose to trust in God.
Is God absent in the storm? The 1st verse In Genesis 8 says, “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and all the domestic animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.” Did God forget about Noah? Was God off, busy doing something else and after 5 months God goes, “Oi vay! I forgot about the guy on the Ark with the animals”? No, God remembered Noah the whole time. The storms of life no more indicate the absence of God than clouds indicate the absence of the sky. God remembered Noah the whole time.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, when it says that God remembers somebody, we’re supposed to perk up and take notice because it means that God is getting ready to act. God is getting ready to deliver them. In Abrahams story, when Abraham got into trouble, it says “God remembered Abraham.” And God delivered Abraham. When Rachael, Jacob’s wife, was crying out to God, “God, I can’t have children!” God remembered Racheal and it says, “God opened her womb.” When the Israelites were held as slaves in Egypt, they cried out to God, and when it says, “God remembered them,” that was when God sent Moses to deliver them from captivity. When God remembers in the Old Testament, it means - God’s getting ready to act. It’s our cue that there’s something about to turn here.
So now – after 5 months – the waters have hit an apex. And it says: “and the waters gradually receded from the earth. At the end of 150 days, the waters had abated; and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains appeared.”
And then it goes on to say that it’s going to be 2 more months – 12 months in total – until Noah can get off the Ark with the animals. So, after 5 months (150 days) God remembers Noah. God intervenes. But it was a going to be 7 more months before he fully delivers them. And this 7 months is what’s called “the in-between time,” the time between when God intervenes and the time when we’re fully delivered.
The in-between time is important time in the Bible. In fact, it’s the norm. The pattern for God’s people is a pattern of waiting. Adam waits for a partner; Noah waits for the flood waters to recede; Abraham waits for a son; Jacob waits to marry Rachel; Hannah waits for Samuel. The Israelites wait for deliverance. Jesus waits to begin his public ministry. It’s the norm in the Bible. It’s almost like a necessity.
But we live in a culture that demands instant gratification. I can order just about anything and find it on my doorstep 24 hours later. I can send a message across the ocean almost instantaneously. I have 24/7 access to information, health care, nourishment, and just about anything. In our culture, a delay feels like a waste of time. A delay feels like a valid reason to doubt the love of God.
Our faith teaches us that God works at a different pace and our lives are lived in a different rhythm. And there is something important to this rhythm - something to embrace in the in-between time.
The in-between time looks a lot like letting go. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before they reached the Promised Land. They had to let go of the past, their dependence on their flesh pots and the way things were.
This in-between time today is a time where I’m finding myself having to give up a lot of things I’ve held dear. I’m having to give up my certainty - my insistence - that there will always be quick answers and easy resolutions. I’m learning to give up my belief that my happiness is contingent on having my short-term needs and wants and hungers met. This in-between time is teaching me to accept the reality of today as it is. And this acceptance is hard work. Richard Rohr says, “To accept reality is to forgive reality for being what it is.”
I can’t say that I’ve accepted it yet. But I’m learning to live intentionally in the life I have now, instead of putting my heart on hold until circumstances improve.
This in-between time is the time God is giving us to stumble our way into new expressions of hope and faith and gratitude in order that we might be God’s renewed people, ready to love and serve him in whatever lies ahead.
The poet, John O’Donohue, encourages us not to lose confidence during the in-between times, but to remain patient and open to renewal. He writes:
What is being transfigured here is your mind,
And it is difficult and slow to become new.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.
There are always storms in life and we will always be changed by them. But God is always working in multiple ways in the storm. And if we slow down, to listen, and to wait, if we are willing to venture boldly into the richness of the in-between time – with God’s help, it can free us, transfigure us, and refine us, and prepare us for the dawn that awaits.
“Listen to your life,” says Frederick Buechner. “See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness; touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace. One of the great gifts of Christianity is that nothing needs to be wasted. Everything—every pause, every wait, every seemingly uneventful hour—is shot through with the sacred.”
May it be so for us all. Amen.
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Weekly Devotion- July 01, 2020
This past Sunday was our second sermon in a series on the story of Noah and the Ark. We’ve been looking at what faith looks like through the figure of Noah. And we see in Noah’s faith, the dual elements of trust and obedience. Noah trusts God and he obeys God.
Faith = Trust + Obedience. That’s the mathematics of faith and Noah is an example of that equation. Noah is a precursor of Jesus, who is our ultimate example of trust and obedience in God.
Who is an example of this kind of faith in your life? Who has shown you what that equation of faith looks like in real time?
A person who comes to my mind is Carolla Schmit. Years ago, I worked with Carolla at a church I was serving and Carolla was the Parish Nurse there. Her work was a holistic ministry of care for body, mind and spirit. She was a health educator and advocate, a personal health councilor and she developed programs and small groups focusing on holistic wellness in the church and in the larger community.
Now, Carolla had this uncanny ability of being right at the right place at the right time. For example, she’d be at the hospital and somebody she knew (often a church member) would just happen to walk in and it was right at the time they needed support. Often someone would cross her mind and Carolla would just act on it: She’d pick up the phone or drop by the house and it was right at the time when that person needed help or a listening ear. Sometimes, it just happened without any forethought on her part at all. Carolla would just be there, where help was needed.
Now, this happened often enough that it got to be just plain eerie. One day I asked her, “Carolla, how does this happen? You’re always right where you need to be when people need you. It’s bizarre.” And Carolla said, “I know! Isn’t it? I don’t know how this happens but God just pushes me around. I get a nudge and I go where I’m pushed.”
The thing about Carolla is that she was one of the most joy-filled human beings I’ve ever met. There was a joy in her that comes from being where God needs you, the joy of knowing you’re making a contribution, the joy of making a difference in people’s lives for their good. She didn’t understand the mechanics of it, she’d never mentally parsed it out, “Faith = Trust + Obedience”. And frankly she really didn’t seem to care much about that. She just knew that God pushed her around and she went where she was pushed
Now I confess that I am not a Carolla. I get a nudge but unlike Carolla, I don’t always act on that nudge. I’m still growing in my faith, learning to trust God’s nudges and then picking up the phone or stopping by the house. I’m working on it. And I find great joy in those times when I trust and obey. But it’s not yet natural and seamless for me. I still need to be intentional, still need to learn how to breath in and breath out this faith. The equation on the Teacher’s blackboard “Faith = Trust + Obedience” does help me think it through, the examples of Noah and Jesus and Carolla give me understanding of what it should look like in real time. But I am thanking God for these breathing lessons, as I awkwardly grow in this wild and crazy walk with God, which is faith, which is joy, which I pray, will one day be as natural and seamless as breathing in and breathing out.
Yours on the journey,
July/August Upper Rooms Have Arrived and Pastor Kristen is once again looking forward to delivering them to your door. Just let her know whether you’d like your Upper Room devotional book in regular print or large print. She’ll come to your door, ring the bell and leave the Upper Room on your step. If you choose to answer the door, she’d love to see you and visit with you! She’ll be wearing a mask and will be standing the appropriate distance from your door. Please email or call the church office for delivery. Also, please give your phone number if you’d like to know when she’s coming.
Return Leadership Team: We’ve been looking forward to the time when in-person worship will reopen. To that end, a Return Leadership Team has been created and has been meeting weekly to coordinate the logistics to meet CDC guidelines for in-person gatherings. We are not ready to reopen the church yet, but we’re getting closer. Our first priority is always to keep one another safe. We care deeply for you, and we are committed to doing all we can for each other’s health and safety. The Team will be communicating to you in every way possible as we get closer to the time when we will be gathered together again.
Crete Food Pantry- Wednesday, July 01 and Wednesday, July 08
Weekly on Wednesday mornings, from 9:00 a.m. till noon, the Crete Food Pantry is giving curbside to those in need a free bag of groceries at 1367 Wood Street, IL 60417. This special service now isn’t just limited to Crete Township Residents. Anyone who drives up will receive a free bag of groceries, no questions asked.
"Even as phase four is taking place, we are bombarded with ”virus” news. Life does go on and many people face unemployment and hard times. The Crete Pantry is continuing to serve any one who comes for food on Wednesday mornings. This is straining the budget of the Pantry.
If you are able to help financially at this time, your gift will be put to immediate use. Any monetary gift is tax deductible and can be sent to The Crete Pantry, 1367 Wood Street, Crete, Illinois 60417.
Any gift goes directly to help those in our area-helping our neighbors." -- Donna Allen
Secure, reliable, and convenient! Give a one-time gift (no account needed), or schedule recurring giving using your checking account, debit, or credit card. (See our SCHEDULE YOUR GIVING help page, or contact Diane at 708-672-8353, if you have questions!)
If you like to help with our ministries, you can donate now.
At Crete United Methodist Church (Crete UMC) , we realize that there will be times in our lives where problems and circumstances seem overwhelming. It is at these times when we may want to isolate ourselves and hide.
We want you to know that you are not alone!
There are many who share your struggles. Crete UMC's Spiritual Themes in Recovery (S.T.I.R) helps those who are struggling with the addictions of Alcohol. S.T.I.R. is designed to provide an opportunity for you to share and interact with others and find encouragement and support that you may need.