March 3, 2017

Dear FUMC Family,

I hope your week is going well!  I wanted to write and invite and encourage you to join us here at church this weekend.  This Sunday is the First Sunday in Lent, and we’re kicking off a new series on Sabbath – asking how we might, in this season and throughout our lives, find ways to stop, rest, enjoy life, contemplate God and know true freedom.

This week we’re going to think about how Sabbath calls us to STOP.  We’ll hear two passages of Scripture together, one from Exodus 31:12-17 and one from Matthew 4:1-11.  I’d really encourage you to take a minute and read these before Sunday.  To me, the Exodus passage is particularly challenging, in part because of the way God frames the decisions we make about Sabbath.  God’s words are strong and challenging – and they’ve really forced me to think more seriously about what my Sabbath could look like this Lent, and beyond — and how all our lives might be different if we did this together.  I’m looking forward to sharing more with you on Sunday.

As Lent begins, many of our Sunday School classes are beginning new studies, which makes this a perfect time to get involved or reconnect with Sunday School.  Check out all the offerings here.  Kristen Surratt will be leading a Sunday School class especially for newcomers and others looking for a class.  They’ll be looking at Matthew Sleeth’s great book 24/6.  Everyone is welcome — meet in Room 306 (leaving the narthex, it’s the second door on your left).

You’ll especially want to be with us on Sunday to receive one of our Sabbath Kits, full of helpful tools and ideas to help you and your family keep Sabbath this Lenten season.  We’ve had a great team of volunteers working all week to get these ready – so a huge thanks to everyone who has made them possible.

Finally, I hope you’ll mark next Wednesday and Saturday, March 8 and 11 on your calendars.  We have Rabbi Murray Ezring from Temple Israel joining us on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. to share about Sabbath from the perspective of Orthodox Judaism.  Rabbi Ezring is a powerful, humorous, engaging speaker – you won’t want to miss it!  And be sure to join us for Meet in the Middle from 5:30 to 6:30!

On Saturday night, we’re hosting a Sabbath Experiment Potluck at 6:00 in Carpenter Hall.  As we explore Sabbath together, one of the things we’ll be learning is that Sabbath is about finding delight and joy in the people around you in your life and community.  In the Jewish tradition, we’re imagining Sabbath to begin on Saturday at sundown… so we’ll gather that night for informal food, fellowship and fun together.  From there, we’re hoping for smaller groups to covenant together to meet for a similar dinner 3 other times through Lent.  Come join us and see what the Sabbath Experiment is all about!

I’m really excited about the days ahead here at First UMC.  In the Exodus passage we’ll hear on Sunday, God says we are to keep Sabbath as a sign that God is sanctifying us-making us more holy, or-as we might say here at FUMC-making us more like Jesus together.  Thank you for allowing me to be part of this Lenten journey with you, and for the joy of serving as your pastor.

In Christ,