September 2018  
SMTWTFS
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30    
Upcoming Events
SEP

26

WED
General Church Office Hours
9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Monday-Thursday
Ionia Food Pantry (Zion UMC)
2:00 PM to 4:30 PM
(Washington Street) Volunteers are always welcome!
SEP

27

THU
General Church Office Hours
9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Monday-Thursday
SEP

30

SUN
Worship Service
9am - Berlin Center UMC
11am - LeValley UMC
OCT

01

MON
General Church Office Hours
9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Monday-Thursday
Boy Scouts Meet
7:00 PM
at LVUMC
OCT

02

TUE
General Church Office Hours
9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Monday-Thursday
Cub Scouts Meet
7:00 PM
at LeValley UMC
OCT

03

WED
General Church Office Hours
9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Monday-Thursday
Ionia Food Pantry (Zion UMC)
2:00 PM to 4:30 PM
(Washington Street) Volunteers are always welcome!
Bible Search
Season of Lent

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS, FOR THEY SHALL BE FILLED. Matthew 5:6

As I mentioned in the February newsletter, we are in the Christian season of Lent, a season of soul-searching and repentance. It is a season for reflection and taking stock. This is a personal Spiritual practice, but I think it can also be a church-wide practice, a time when the church, for us, Berlin Center or LeValley, can take stock of where the church is, where we think it should be, and how we are going to get there.

Have you ever fasted? Do you understand the concept of fasting? Most of us who are familiar with Scripture know that Jesus, following his baptism, went into the wilderness for forty days. He fasted, was tempted by Satan, and after the forty days was very hungry.

From this familiar scenario, we get the idea that a fast has to be a very arduous task for an extended period of time. I must admit, I am your pastor and I have never fasted, other than in preparation for blood work or a medical procedure, so I am not knowledgeable in the practice of Christian fasting.

Confessing that I have never fasted fills me with guilt as a United Methodist and more so as United Methodist pastor. Fasting has been a part of Methodism from its early beginnings. John Wesley considered fasting an important part of a Christian's life and he fasted weekly. To Wesley, fasting was an important way to express sorrow for sin and penitence for overindulgence in eating and drinking. He believed it allowed more time for prayer and was more meaningful if combined with giving to the poor. John Wesley called fasting one of the "acts of piety," along with praying and studying the Bible. Wesley did advise caution against extreme fasting and against fasting for those in fragile health.

More and more Christians find the spiritual discipline brings enlightenment and enrichment to their lives. "I'm not skipping a meal because in place of that meal I'm actually dining with God," says the Rev. Jacqui King, pastor of Nu Faith Community United Methodist Church in Houston. Wesley's example inspired the Rev. Holly Boardman, a retired United Methodist minister. In the traditional vows taken at her ordination, she promised to practice fasting and to recommend it to others. "There have been times I'd be wrestling with some issue in a church,” Boardman said, “and when I fasted and prayed about it, I felt like I heard an answer from God," Boardman said. "God speaks sometimes when you're open, when you're listening. Fasting sets the stage for hearing God."

Rev. Boardman wrestling with an issue in Church set the stage for hearing God and, in our churches, can set the stage for hearing from God as to what we need to be doing to be viable churches long into the future. Do we need to revise our worship style? Do we need to be more invitational? We cannot sit back and say everything is fine when we have no children at one church and maybe up to a dozen at the other and when the majority of our church members are closing in on 70 years of age.

My prayer is that the June revival at Berlin Center will do just that, jumpstart renewals at Berlin Center and LeValley. So, over the next three months, beginning during these last four weeks of Lent, I hope you will fast for a day or two each week, praying for the revival and the future of the Berlin Center and LeValley United Methodist Churches. I suggest partnering with two or three others to keep each other accountable and praying together at least once each week.

Karen Wambaugh may have fasting resources in the LeValley library, you can find resources on line, or I can offer you some advice. I am currently reading an excellent book titled Fasting by Jentezen Franklin that was recommended by Cindy Taylor. I will share it with anyone who would like to borrow it.

As my friend and Greg’s colleague, Dr. David DenBraber, said to me today

, “REFINE YOUR SENSES THROUGH FASTING, TO BE IN TUNE WITH GOD.”

 

Pastor Nancy