Good Friends of Crete UMC,


I’ve always been an early riser. It’s both a blessing and a curse. I’m awake with the first bird call which means it’s just beginning to dawn. The skies are clear today, so with cup of coffee in hand, I went out onto the back patio to watch the sun rise over the hills and fields to the east.

 

“How Great Thou Art” is a hymn that comes often to my lips, as it did this morning. I grew up in what used to be called the Swedish Covenant Church and we sang it with gusto, often with a verse or two in Swedish, no less. The poem was written by a Swedish pastor named Carl Boberg. The story goes that one day he was caught in a thunderstorm on the southern coast of Sweden. The violence of the storm followed by the return of the sun and the singing of birds left him falling to his knees in awe. Soon he penned the nine stanzas of the original version in Swedish. Several years later, Boberg unexpectedly heard his poem sung by a congregation to an old Swedish folk melody. The same tune sung today. (For the rest of the story you can go to https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-how-great-thou-art)

 

When Billy Graham was asked why he used the song so much at his crusades, he said this:


“It glorifies God. It turns Christians’ eyes toward God rather than upon themselves. I use it as often as possible because it is such a God-honoring song.”

 

And I think he was right. The atmosphere shifts and if only for that moment, whispering How Great Thou Art to the sunrise this morning, (in the words of the Venerable Bede) "I was no longer the center of my life and therefore I could see God in everything".

 

Especially today, we need those moments, dear friends. Attached is a link to a video of our Director of Music, Brenda Kenyon singing “How Great Thou Art”, accompanied by her husband, Paul. Click to watch- https://youtu.be/0XMN-z7v7uo. Let’s gather around this song together, turning our eyes from ourselves, the storms that assail and to our great God, for “The same God who is over the storms, who created the hills and the valleys, comes down to be our helper. The same God who spoke the mountains into existence, who knit us together in our mothers’ wombs, sent His own Son to take our place on the cross. And that same God will come again one day to make all things right (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

 

Yours in storm and sun, Pastor Kristen


Below are the words to “How Great Thou Art”:


O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder


Consider all the worlds thy hands have made,


I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,


Thy power throughout the universe displayed:

 


Refrain


Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:


How great thou art! How great thou art!


Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:


How great thou art! How great thou art!

 

 

When through the woods and forest glades I wander


And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,


When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,


And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

 


Refrain


And when I think that God, his Son not sparing,


Sent him to die, I scarce can take it in,


That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,


He bled and died to take away my sin.

 

 

Refrain


When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation


And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!


Then I shall bow in humble adoration,


And there proclaim, My God, how great thou art!

Music:
Click the underline blue line to watch video—
How Great Thou Art
https://youtu.be/0XMN-z7v7uo

Click HERE to download Devotion PDF

Weekly Devotion of May 23 to May 30, 2020


Good Friends of Crete UMC,


The baby robins have hatched. Outside one of the front room windows of the parsonage, there’s a tree where the robins have built their nest. It is so close that if I opened the window, I could touch it. For these last 2 months, this pair of robins have been my company. I’ve watched them taking turns sitting on the nest. And when the nest was empty, I could slip behind the couch and press my nose to the window to see two perfectly blue eggs.

 

Now there are two small baby robins with grey, skeletal bodies. When they open their mouths, the gap is bigger than their heads. Every morning, when mom and dad are gone, I tiptoe to the window to see them snuggled tight to one another. Their beaks have grown longer than their bodies now. They are amazingly ugly. But I imagine their parents find them beautiful.

 

I’m so grateful for this sign of new life outside my window. I’m deeply grateful for this company that allows me to witness such faithful diligence that brings about new birth, and how that faithfulness continues to sustain and strengthen fragile new life that will soon take flight.

 

Jesus reminds us that God is faithful. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Later in the gospel, he says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

 


In these long days when fear and loneliness, uncertainty and helplessness have been my constant companions, I’ve also been given these two other companions beside me. They’re not sparrows but they’re close enough. It’s as if God drew an invisible arrow on my windowpane with the words, “Look here” written on it. A surprising and unexpected gift in the form of these two robins who daily remind me that I am known and I am loved by God. That my Heavenly Parent finds me beautiful.

 

We sing, “His Eye Is on the Sparrow”.

 

“Why should I feel discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart be lonely
and long for heaven and home?
When Jesus is my portion?
My constant friend is he;
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know he watches me.”

 

The author, Civilla Durfee Martin described the context out of which this hymn was born: “Early in the spring of 1905, my husband and I were sojourning in Elmira, New York. We contracted a deep friendship for a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle—true saints of God. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for nigh twenty years. Her husband was an incurable cripple who had to propel himself to and from his business in a wheelchair. Despite their afflictions, they lived happy Christian lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. One day while we were visiting with the Doolittles, my husband commented on their bright hopefulness and asked them for the secret of it. Mrs. Doolittle’s response was simple: ‘His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.’ The beauty of this simple expression of boundless faith gripped the hearts and fired the imagination of Dr. Martin and me. The hymn ‘His Eye Is on the Sparrow’ was the outcome of that experience.” (For the full story, go to https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-his-eye-is-on-the-sparrow)

 

Beloved, keep your eyes out for those invisible arrows God sends your way. They appear in the most unlikely and mundane places. So keep looking. Don’t miss them. They are God’s way of letting you know that you are known and you are loved. God knows your afflictions. And may it be that people make comment on your bright hopefulness because you know the secret of it.

 

I close with this abbreviated prayer from Walter Bruggemann:
The promises roll off your lips
       and into our ears:
   I will be with you;
   I will love you faithfully;
   I will be your God;
My covenant is forever.

 

We count on your words that flow from our ears
    to our hearts, and we are glad.

 

Because we know our hearts of anxiety so well,
    we seem fated to dis-ease.

But because we know your heart of fidelity so well,
    we know you will defeat our demons

                   and make us new.

 

We know about your abiding fidelity in
        Jesus of Nazareth.

Give us patience and steadfastness as we
                   process the ragged edges of our lives. Amen.

 


Yours in the journey,
Pastor Kristen

Click HERE Download PDF

Weekly Devotion of May 17 to May 23, 2020


Good Friends of Crete UMC,


Recently, in my devotions, my mind has turned to the hymns. I miss those moments in worship that sometimes happen - we are singing and it just happens. Suddenly a feeling fills the room, and in that moment, we are truly singing as one. Our hearts and minds are one. We are one in spirit.

Yesterday, I was talking to a church member on the phone. Our conversation had nothing to do with singing but out of the blue said, “I miss singing together in church. I never thought I’d miss that. I’m not much of a singer. Isn’t that funny?”


More and more I find myself singing my prayers these days. Perhaps I’ve run out of words. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past weeks bludgeoning the doors of heaven with cares and needs that seem endless - the world’s, the church’s, yours and mine…

 

And so, I’m singing my prayers these days (which might be something of a relief to our good Lord). I’m grateful I grew up with the hymns and know several by heart. One of those is, It Is Well with My Soul.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

 

I don’t remember when I first learned the story behind this hymn, but knowing it has always made it more meaningful to me because its author knew of what he wrote. He’d faced many tragedies in his life, far more than his fair share, and yet his faith held and gave peace in the midst of profound turbulence. Knowing this story gives me a measure of perspective and balance in the cares of this day. I offer this to you in hope that it will do the same.

 

It was written by Horatio G. Spafford, a lawyer from Chicago and close friend of Dwight L. Moody.

 

Hymnologist Kenneth Osbeck tells the story: “Desiring a rest for his wife and four daughters as well as wishing to join and assist Moody and [his musician Ira] Sankey in one of their campaigns in Great Britain, Spafford planned a European trip for his family in 1873. In November of that year, due to unexpected last-minute business developments, he had to remain in Chicago, but sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Havre. He expected to follow in a few days.

 

“On November 22 the ship was struck by the Lochearn, an English vessel, and sank in twelve minutes. Several days later the survivors were finally landed at Cardiff, Wales, and Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband, ‘Saved alone.’”

 

Spafford left immediately to join his wife. This hymn is said to have been penned as he approached the area of the ocean thought to be where the ship carrying his daughters had sunk.

 

(The full story can be found at https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-it-is-well-with-my-soul)

 


Here is the full text of the hymn. When there are no words left for our prayers, we can always sing. And in some mysterious way, dear friends, as you sing and as I sing, regardless of the distance, we are one. Amen.


It Is Well with My Soul (UMH #377)

 

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Refrain:

It is well with my soul,
it is well, it is well with my soul.

 

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and hath shed his own blood for my soul.
(Refrain)

 

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
(Refrain)

 

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
even so, it is well with my soul.
(Refrain)

 

Yours in the journey,
Pastor Kristen

Click HERE to download

 

Weekly Devotion May 10, 2020 --- May 16, 2020

Good Friends of Crete UMC,


I’m aware of so many concerns in our congregation right now—some of them are listed here in the Joys and Concerns section and many are held in folks’ hearts. Let us remember them, whether they are known or unknown to us.


Prayer is one of the most important things that Christians can do. Karl Barth, the famous 20th century theologian, wrote “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” I cannot personally remember a time when the disorder of this world has been more front and center. But to pray is to remember and live into our inseparable relationship with the God who’s hands are large enough to hold us all. To pray is to remember that this relationship is invested with and inhabited by a power that is an uprising against the world’s disorder.


There are, of course, many and diverse ways to pray, but at the center of all of them is a willingness to hold out our lives to this same God, to say what is really happening to us—with our friends and family—to those whose names we will never know and whose situations we could probably never fathom. And—somewhere, with some small mustard seed of faith—to believe that our prayer makes a difference: to God, to us, and for the life of the world.


So, friends, pray. As Paul writes in his first letter to the Thessalonians Christian community: Pray without ceasing.


Yours in the journey,


Pastor Kristen

 

Click HERE to download

 

Weekly Devotion of May 3, 2020- May 09, 2020


As the news continues to be dominated by beginning steps to reopen the economy and of the loosening shelter-in-place orders, my offering today a simple Hasidic tale on which to reflect and ponder. It is from the book Spiritual Literacy by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat.


An old Rabbi once asked his pupils how they could tell when the night had ended and the day had begun.


"Could it be," asked one of the students, "when you can see an animal in the distance and tell whether it's a sheep or a dog?"


"No," answered the Rabbi.


Another asked, "Is it when you can look at a tree in the distance and tell whether it's a fig tree or a peach tree?"


"No," answered the Rabbi.


"Then what is it?" the pupils demanded.


"It is when you can look on the face of any man or woman and see that it is your sister or brother. Because if you cannot see this, it is still night."


Yours in the journey,
Pastor Kristen

Click HERE to download

 

 

Weekly Devotion of April 26- May 02, 2020

Devotion
God knows, we are in unprecedented times. Today the beginning signs of a loosening of social distancing orders are all around us. We are hopeful that we’ll be re-opening the church in the relatively-near future. Halleluiah! But then again, that brings new questions.


Today’s devotion comes from our Bishop, Sally Dyck. She is offering us a smart, helpful roadmap through the questions we need to be asking as a faith community. I am most grateful for her leadership and wise words. Please read her following letter. I will offer a few words of my own at the end.

 

From Bishop Sally Dyck:
The bars and restaurants have been closed for weeks now. I’ve noticed the last couple of weeks, however, that some of them are doing renovation: pulling out all the glassware, removing the tables and chairs, working on light fixtures, upgrading décor, and often pulling up old flooring in order to put down new flooring.

 

These are things they can’t do easily when they have customers coming and going all day and night long. This renovation also gives me hope that they expect to re-open after people can go back to bars and restaurants!

 

Like some bars and restaurants, as churches we have take-out and delivery, if you will! We deliver online worship services going on, Bible studies, outreach ministries, and other essential ministries. And some of our outreach ministries to those who need food are literally “take out.”

 

But like these bars and restaurants going down to the flooring, this is a good time for churches to go down to the “foundation” of what it means to be a church. Ironically, our annual conference theme for this year is: Y Church?

 

Going down to the foundation of what it means to be a church is an essential task for this time. Why church? In this time of being unable to gather, what have we learned about "why church?" What has it meant to you? Why worship? Why fellowship? What part of a gathering body of followers do you miss the most? Why your church in your community? Clergy with laity: you need to meditate on this and have some conversations about why church. Go down to the foundation of your existence.

 

I always think that our mission statement as the UMC should be a question: Why make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world? This is the key question for why church!

 

But then the next question after "why" is "what." Once these bars and restaurants get their flooring in, they’ll begin to put in what it takes to run a bar or restaurant. Maybe some things will be new; others will be spruced up (deep- cleaned) and ready for us to return someday – essentials of being a bar or restaurant.

 

What are the essentials of your church? What difference does your church make in the lives of the membership of your church and beyond? Some of you have widened your circle quite a bit! What is essential in reaching out to them in going forward beyond this time of sheltering in place?

 

And then, what’s non-essential? What have you and the church been spending time and energy on, or maybe placed an over-emphasis on, that is really non-essential? It may or may not need to be eliminated but de-emphasized in importance compared to growing in faith and caring for the vulnerable.

 

After "why" and "what" comes "how." Too often we begin with "how," especially in our anxiety—how are we going to do things in this unprecedented time? "How" is probably the question I hear the most these days:

 

How are we going to be able to make our buildings safe when we can gather again?
How are we going to start up ministries to the most vulnerable again while keeping safe ourselves?
How are we going to have annual conference?
How will we be able to move by July 1?
How are we going to exist financially as individuals/families, local churches, the annual conference and even the denomination?
How, how, how?

 

Don’t think I’m dismissing "how" questions – I have them myself! Everything seems so hard these days! The Cabinet and I keep wrestling with whether we keep to a July 1 start date for new appointments; so far we are. We keep trying to figure out what are the best educational webinars that people need—stewardship, online worship services, intentional discipleship systems, applying for CARES Act funds to ensure paying employees; these and more are some of the webinars we’ve had through video conferencing. Let us know what topics you would like us to cover!

 

A team of clergy is meeting (online of course) to glean best practices for the time when we can gather again, whether that’s in groups of 10, 50, 100, 250, or more. It’s called the ReTurn Team, whose work will be available a little closer to the time we can gather.

 

There are so many hows! And there are not easy and fast answers to them; sometimes our answers change as we learn more about COVID-19. But keep asking the "why" questions!

Frankly, I find it’s easy to stress out on the "how" questions because the "why" questions are harder but in fact more pertinent at this time than ever before. Some say that after 9/11, people flocked back to churches…for about three weeks. And there has been a precipitous drop in church attendance and affiliation ever since. I often wonder about that and I wonder about it now because this is a critical time for us as people of faith to meet the spiritual needs and questions that are heightened at this time.

 

The scriptural verse for our annual conference this year: “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15b). Don’t let the bars and restaurants be the only place where people go to satisfy their hunger and thirst. Let others find in us a compelling hope, comforting love, and a profound spiritual depth that satisfies their spiritual hunger and thirst.

 

~Bishop Sally Dyck

 

 

When we re-open, how will Crete United Methodist Church be poised to satisfy the spiritual hunger and thirst of our neighbors?

 

As your pastor, I am asking all of us to enter into a time of discernment. Discernment is the process of determining God's desire in a situation. True discernment means not only distinguishing the right from the wrong; it means distinguishing the primary from the secondary, the essential from the indifferent, and the permanent from the transient.

 

Begin praying, pondering, imagining, envisioning what God would want CUMC to look like when we re-open our doors. Ask why, what, and then, how. As you listen for God’s guidance, God will speak to you. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Your contribution is needed, it is irreplaceable. As part of this Body of Christ, our discernment would be less without hearing what God has to offer through you.

 

Then please email me with your contribution at klarsen@creteumc.org  and I will collate all the information. This will be the critical resource for the Church Council as steps begin for re-opening.

 

God knows we are on a road we’ve never walked before. But just like those disciples on the road to Emmaus, we may well discover the Risen Christ walking beside us - giving us the promise of new life for this church and it’s mission here the crossroads of Main and Exchange, right in the heart of Crete, Illinois.


Yours in the journey,
Pastor Kristen

Click HERE to download

 

Weekly Devotion of April 19- April 25, 2020


We are there! We’ve finally come to the last step in confronting our fear, using an acronym of the word ‘Fear” from Adam Hamilton’s book, Unafraid, Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times.


Step 4: Release your cares to God.

 

I don’t know about you but this step is hard for me. It’s not hard to hand my cares over to God. What’s hard is not taking them back!

 

Something I have found surprisingly helpful has been the idea that when I find myself regurgitating my litany of fears, I can refocus my attention on a positive fear. A positive fear? Sounds strange, right?

 

Adam Hamilton says: “I’d like [you] to consider a positive fear we’re meant to cultivate and be shaped by—a fear that plays a key part in addressing and combatting all our other fears. Scripture speaks of it as ‘fear of the Lord’.” Hamilton goes on to say, “In scripture, fear of the Lord is not primarily terror evoked by an angry God. It is reverence, respect, and awe inspired by a God who is all-powerful and who not only created heaven and earth but continues to exercise dominion over them.”

 

And so, instead of using the word “fear” he asks us to focus on the word “awestruck” as in being…’ seized by an appropriate reverence and respect.” “Being awestruck is the appropriate response to the beauty, majesty, wonder, glory, and power of God.”

 

“When we fear God—when we revere, respect, and stand in awe of God—we fear everything else a little less. The more we trust in God, the less we fear what anyone or anything can do to us, the more we rest in God’s peace, and the more we seek to do his will.”


Here’s the surprising gift of this kind of fear of the Lord—this awestruck-ness, if you will. Fear of the Lord means my being aware that God is God and I am not. So, in those moments when I am feeling overwhelmed, I have a choice. I can choose to redirect my attention from being awestruck at what I am facing at the moment to being awestruck on how great God is (and how small I am). With the proportions now rightly in place, I find I am more able to trust in a God who is always by my side, who is big enough to care for me, and who is stronger than any storm I might be facing. In other words, God’s got this. That’s worth being awestruck about.

 

The next time you are feeling overwhelmed, redirecting your focus to awe, wonder and trust in God’s power can lead you to not be afraid. As Isaiah said, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation” (12:2).

 

In the end, living unafraid is not to live without fear; it is, rather, to live without being controlled and consumed by fear. For holy help, we can:

 

Face Our Fears with Faith
Examine Our Assumptions In Light of the Facts
Attack Our Anxieties with Action
Release Our Cares to God.

 

May practicing these steps help calm your anxious hearts and increase your trust in God.

 

Yours in the journey,
Pastor Kristen

 Click HERE to download the Devotion

 
Weekly Devotion of April 12 - April 18

Devotion
I now return to looking at four steps in confronting our fear by using an acronym of the word ‘Fear’ from Adam Hamilton’s book, Unafraid, Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times. My intention is to offer some specific, practical ideas for addressing our anxiety and uncertainty during these difficult times. These can also be helpful tools in your tool belt whenever you face times of fear and worry.


We began with Step 1: Facing Our Fears with Faith, which means starting with a bias of hope. We saw this is not only faith in God but also to have faith in modern science’s ability to find solutions to the Coronavirus, faith in our fellow human beings to protect themselves and us by following local and national mandates, faith in our institutions to lead us through this crisis. Like others who have gone before us, the primary place we turn to find relief from fear is our faith in God and the spiritual practices that help us to sense God’s presence. But we also can look around us and place some faith in the people, institutions and mechanisms that are working tirelessly to find solutions on our behalf in this crisis.


Next, we looked at Step 2: Examining Our Assumptions (that are frightening us) In Light of the Facts, meaning that so often, in this politically polarized society, those of us both on the left and the right will hear of possible threats that align with our biases, and we immediately accept it as a fact. We examine our assumptions by digging deeper and looking to the subject- matter experts and not fear-mongers.


Today, we look at Step 3: Attack Your Anxieties with Action, meaning doing what we can to address our fears and to be a part of the solution and not the problem. Now, this is a step I can get into. I like action. I’m good with action. It gives me the feeling that I have some measure of control and as a result, it reduces some of those feelings of hopelessness and worry when they rise. You may feel the same way.


Let me ask you, what are you feeling anxious about today? What actions can you take to address those? It may be as simple as gaining the most accurate information about the virus, or best practices for physical safety, or mental/emotional wellbeing. It may be a simple phone call to someone you’ve been worrying about and letting them know you’re praying for them. Gathering information helps us feel more in control and then offers us options to act upon. With God’s presence and power, we can attack our anxieties with action.


Yours in the journey,


Pastor Kristen

Click HERE to download
 

Last week, I offered a devotion introducing an acronym of the word ‘Fear’ from Adam Hamilton’s book, Unafraid, Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times:
 
Face your fears with faith

.

Examine your assumptions in light of the facts.



Attack your anxieties with action.



Release your cares to God.



These four steps can be helpful in confronting our fears at this time of uncertainty. Last week, I focused on the first practice: Face your fears with faith. Today, we’re looking at the second: Examine your assumptions in light of the facts.



Last week I made a lot of phone calls to offer my care and support. I called people from the church, and people from the community of Crete. I called friends, and colleagues and family members. I asked how they were coping with this new reality of Covid-19. I learned that many of them were staying apprised of new developments but putting limits on how often they checked the news (usually one or two times a day). They were aware of what the national and state orders and guidelines were for social distancing, sheltering in place, personal hygiene, etc., and they were following them to the best of their ability.
 
But I also became aware of two extremes. On the one hand, some of the folks I talked to believed the severity of the coronavirus was being over-blown, it was not as contagious and not as deadly as they thought we were being led to believe. Their way of dealing with the coronavirus appeared to me to be carrying on with life much as they had in the past, with few personal restrictions. On the other side of the spectrum, there were folks who thought the coronavirus was being under-blown and their behavior seemed to indicate that belief.



Wherever we are on this spectrum (and we may find ourselves occasionally moving from one to another), one thing that may help is to examine the facts. Facts can be allies in combating our fear, as Adam Hamilton says. This practice of examining our assumptions in light of the facts “recognizes that feelings often begin with thoughts, and those thoughts are sometimes distorted, based on inaccurate information, faulty assumptions, overly negative views of oneself or the world, or mistaken beliefs---what some call ‘stinkin’ thinkin’” It is “a process that is used to identify faulty thinking or assumptions and replace those thoughts with more accurate and more positive thinking, which in turn offers relief from the problematic feelings.” p.45



As we try to examine our assumptions in light of the facts, I see two things that make this practice particularly hard at this time. First, we live in a time when our national confidence in facts are at an all time low. A recent poll from the Pew Research Center (www.people-press.org) reported that “half of U.S. adults say made-up news and information is a very big problem in the country today, and about two-thirds say it causes a great deal of confusion about the basic facts of current issues and events. They also say made-up news and information has a big impact on Americans’ confidence in government (68%) and in each other (54%)”.



(It might be helpful to fact check what you are hearing on the news or online sources with the World Health Organization [a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health] and the CDC [The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US agency charged with tracking and investigating public health trends].)
The second problem is that we are trying to determine the facts in a context where the facts are rapidly changing. For example, yesterday morning we woke to the news that President Trump has extended the order for social distancing from Easter to the end of April.



With this being said, I hope you will find this be a helpful tool in these days of the coronavirus and in the days beyond it for this too shall pass.



I pray for you courage in these days. I leave you with these words from Psalm 27:I, 14
 

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? . . . Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

 

Click HERE to download Devotion

Weekly Devotion:  March 23- March 30

 

In his book, Unafraid, Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times, Adam Hamilton offers a helpful acronym of the word ‘Fear’ that captures four important steps for confronting our fears:

  Face your fears with faith.

  Examine your assumptions in light of the facts.

  Attack your anxieties with action.

  Release your cares to God.

I’ve found this to be a helpful practice in my life in general but I’ve recently brought it out and polished it up. You see, I have GERD, a condition somewhat akin to acid reflux on steroids. When my anxiety is high, I get painful spasms in my chest and recently I’ve been having those chest pains again (don’t worry, I followed up, I’m good). That pain in my chest is like a strange gift because it works like an alarm bell. It tells me that my anxiety is taking over and that I need to confront my fears.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”

There’s an old saying, “God’s taken me this far, he’s sure not gonna leave me now.” When I look back on my life, at those scary, awful times, I can see now that God was already there. I was never alone. God was making a way when there seemed to be no way.

Sometimes it helps to look in the rearview mirror. And if you do, you just might see God there. You just might see, behind you, a God who never left you, a God who was faithful, a God who saw you through. Dear friends, in this scary, awful time, you can confront your fears with faith. Because if God has taken you this far, he is sure not gonna leave you now.

May you have strength and good courage as you take this next thing that’s come along. Pastor Kristen

  • Twitter Clean
  • Flickr Clean
Contact

All Crete UMC Worship Services and in church gathering suspended until further notice. 

You can still stay connected by

Phone: 708-672-8353

Email: office@creteumc.org

 

Phone: 708-672-8353

Email: office@creteumc.org

Office Hours:

M-F, 8-1:00 p.m.

Quick Links

Located at 1321 Main Street, Crete, IL 60417

©2020  Crete United Methodist Church

All Rights Reserved.

Created by Diane J. McGarel