Wednesday March 6th is Ash Wednesday. Come join us in the sanctuary at 6:45pm to start off our Lenten season together with prayer, the Word, and reflection…and of course ashes. The service will be 45minutes long and conclude with time to come to the altar and have the sign of the cross in ash put on your forehead if you choose. Our children will be invited to the Kids Worship 501 room to have a special Ash Wednesday service with Ms. Lizanne and then get to come back to the sanctuary for ashes at the end. Nursery will be provided for the youngest among us. Come to reflect on the ultimate gift of Love.
On January 13, 2019, at HLUMC, we witnessed baptisms, reaffirmations of faith, the receiving of members and prayers for renewal… and celebrated the beginning of our Confirmation class.
I saw: a man and his son, kneeling together—one being baptized, the other reaffirming his faith; another man and his two daughters, and yet another man and his daughter and son—all of them being baptized.
We took in families, and individuals; black and white; rich and not so rich; (really) young and not so young. We received entirely new believers and some who were renewing faith. We welcomed people from other traditions: Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian; and while we recognize and affirm the value of those traditions and experiences, we are so glad God has led those people to us. Twenty-seven new members, and it was an amazing morning.
All the more amazing because, as Bishop Woodie White recently said to me, “I have observed in these recent years, how really difficult it is get so many people to commit to religion, discipleship, faith, and membership. Times have changed, and are changing dramatically. You of course, have enumerated contextual issues, making ministry even more challenging.”
Yes, he is right. Which makes the miracle all the more amazing! And what a blessing, to believe that Jesus is with us in our baptismal waters, as he was one day long ago.
No coincidence that January 13 was, according to the Christian calendar, Baptism of the Lord, which reminds us of one of the great stories in the New Testament.
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Our worship theme for the year is ancestry.faith. We are looking at the great stories and characters of scripture that provide us our spiritual DNA.
The seasons of the Christian calendar can help us explore our ancestry. They set a context for Jesus’ invitation to join him in his work. In sum, the church calendar tells the story of Jesus’ life, narrates some of the most important episodes in his ministry, and in that way help us to find our way into his way. We are invited to align our lives with his life and to find our purpose in the story of God’s way with the world.
So far: Advent: the four weeks prior to Christmas day, when God’s promises gestate. We remember Jesus in Mary’s womb. We await his birth, and the appearing and experience of God’s salvation and joy.
Joy, says Eugene Peterson, is always a communal matter, never something we feel in isolation from brothers and sisters. Joy comes to us, to or church, to the world, to all people, as we experience and ponder the grace and mercy of God.
The first Sunday of Advent is the Christian Calendar’s New Year’s Day.
After Advent comes Christmas—which is both a Day and a Season.
On December 25, we sing in celebration of the Light born into the darkness.
But that day’s celebration is but the first of the Christmas season: the Twelve Days of Christmas. For Twelve Day we are to praise God’s mercy and grace…
Sadly, most of us quit celebrating “grace” far too soon—in favor of resolutions and work (the secular New Year falls on the 8 th day of Christmas)—which cannot save us. It is an irony how, so quickly after beginning with the Spirit, we end with the flesh.
Then comes Epiphany, only the first of the caledar’s awkwardly named seasons. On January 6 we celebrate “Epiphany, proper,” the 13 th day after Christmas. We remember how the Magi brought gold and other gifts to
Jesus; and how Herod brought the sword and the shedding of innocent blood.
If Christmas tells us that Jesus was born king of the Jews, Epiphany reminds us that Jesus is also Savior of the world. The Magi were but the first non- Jews to recognize the significance of Jesus’ coming. Herod was but the first narcissistic madman to violently oppose him and his proclamation of peace.
The season of Epiphany tells some of the many ways in which Jesus’ ministry as Savior of the world is recognized by those he came to seek and save.
On the second Sunday of the season of Epiphany, every year, we tell the story of Jesus’ baptism. We remember how Jesus came from Nazareth, 90 miles to the north, on foot; how he found his cousin John in the wilderness, and the crowds who flocked to him.
John was preaching hellfire, damnation and warning the crowds of the coming judgment of God. John demanded not just contrition but conversion, and real, good works, as evidence of that conversion. And John offered baptism to those who were confessed, repented, and desired a new life and purpose.
Curiously, Jesus—who did not himself need what John the Baptist was offering—came to the river to take his place with those who did. Jesus took his place with them, and with us—he really is Emmanuel—so that that we can take our place with him, and with others. He still does.
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We saw that on Sunday! And nothing like I have ever seen before! What a great, unique, unparalleled day we enjoyed. En-JOY-ed. Our entire community, blessed by the day. If I didn’t know better, I would say that Sunday was Pentecost rather than Baptism of the Lord… what a great time.
I am glad for the many who were there, and somewhat sorry for those who weren’t. But you can still see it (go to our “Worship With Us” tab, click on “Live Streaming,” and watch the service from January 13).
And thanks be to God.
Summer plans – make sure you have these dates on your calendar!
Music & Arts Week at Lake Junaluska, June 23-28
Senior High Music Camp, July 8-12
1st-8th Grade Music Camp, July 15-19
Youth Mission Trip, July 21-28
VBS, August 5-9 (9-11am, 11-1pm – aftercare)
The Hawthorne Lane UMC Youth Group will have another Parents Night Out Saturday February 2, 2019! PNO is for children, infants through 5th grade. The youth, with adult supervision, will entertain and care for your children for the evening. We will have snack dinner, games, play time in the gym and movies. The cost for the evening is $7 per hour per child. All funds go to the youth group’s summer mission trip.
To reserve your spot, please return the attached registration form via email ASAP!
Please feel free to pass this along to others who may be interested.
Thanks so much for your support of the youth of Hawthorne Lane United Methodist Church!
Parents Night Out
5:00 – 9:00 pm
Sponsored by HLUMC Youth
Our Atlanta partners are gathering another group for a week of mission work at Hogar Methodista in Costa Rica on May 11. Interested in going? Please see Katie Gauntner (email@example.com) or Skeet Sims.
Thank you to all who have helped HLUMC successfully host 7 weeks of RITI! BUT – it’s time to sign up for the last 2 months of RITI. We need volunteers for Tuesday dinners, breakfast items, “set-up” at 4pm on Tuesday, and help with Wednesday am laundry. Signing up is easy: on-line at WWW.hlumc.org OR use the sign up book in the back of the sanctuary OR mark the Connection Card in Sunday’s worship. Please help us provide this extraordinary ministry to our homeless neighbors! Contact Carolyn Horton at chorton@.hlumc.orgor 980.859.2849 with any questions.
Jump back into the swing of things with kids choirs, If Gathering, youth bells and choirs, church family dinner, and kids/youth evening activities. Can’t wait to see everyone back again. Starting again January 16th. (new singers are welcome to join in by going online to register and pay the activity fee. Returning singers/ringers are all set to go!)
The Outreach Committee has set a 2019 goal of 4,000 items for our donations to Loaves & Fishes. But more importantly, Loaves & Fishes has sent out a request for FRUIT. The pantry shelves are nearly empty of non-perishable fruit items. Please help Loaves & Fishes meet the needs of the hungry in Mecklenburg County by bringing non-perishable fruit items!
The other morning, Jensen gave me a quarter—a bright, shiny quarter, I mean.
The preschoolers were on their way back to class after chapel, but he and Ms. Lizanne stopped. She opened the door to the class where I was teaching. Jensen’s three-year-old self walked right over and put the quarter in my hand.
In the glint of that quarter was the light of proof: the worth of what we are doing—and even more to the point, of what God is doing—at HLUMC.
One of the things you’ll notice about Hawthorne Lane is how active we are.
I use the word active intentionally. We are not busy, if busy means flitting, distracted, unfocused, unable to get anything done. How many times have you heard, or said, “I haven’t stopped, but I haven’t gotten anything accomplished”? That’s busy. Lots of busy churches out there doing lots of stuff, but to what end? (And, of course, more than a few churches doing nothing much at all.
Active, though, suggests your energies are focused: on a task, or part of a task. Your time is full, but with purpose. You have goals in mind and clarity about how to achieve them. You can see what you are doing and why you are doing it. And if at the end of the day you fall exhausted and aching into the bed, you rest assured in the knowledge that you have accomplished a lot, even if it’s only a little piece of the big dream.
An early morning run, when you are training for the marathon. Crafting a solid paragraph, or a good sentence, for your term paper or novel. Tilling a dry, brown acre in anticipation of fresh vegetables to enjoy and share. Hard-planing a cherry board that will be part of the heirloom hutch you are making for your daughter. And for her daughter’s daughters. A painful, regular contribution to your 401K. Teaching, or learning, fractions. Active-ities; not busy work.
Hawthorne Lane, too, is active. We don’t do busy to appear active. We are active—so active that some people might mistake it for busy. But there is always purpose and focus in what we do. We are constantly tending pieces of the work we are called to do. Investing all our energies in worship, study and mission, we teach our children, and youth, and everyone else that we are uniquely loved by Jesus, uniquely called by him into the church, uniquely gifted by the Holy Spirit to go out again and make a godly difference in the ungodly world. And I believe we are getting pieces of that done.
We ask our people to invest their time, their talents, their financial resources and their service in our holy work—and many do. And if, in a given moment or season, it can seem chaotic and feel (as we often describe it) like “holy pandemonium,” we are convinced that what we are doing has both temporal significance and eternal purpose: is a work for now and forever.
Our choirs, small groups, preschool and preschool chapel, Room in the Inn, Coffee House worship, Theology on Top, W@H—all of it by design, actively reminding us of our special call and roll as disciples of Jesus.
And sometimes all the parts come together in a bright, shining quarter of a moment.
So…the other morning. I was teaching my regular mid-week Bible study to a group of mostly older women. Meanwhile, down the hall in the sanctuary, Ms. Lizanne was leading preschool chapel. Carolyn, our financial secretary, was in her office across the hall and wearing one of her other hats: volunteer coordinator for Room in the Inn (our Tuesday night, winter-months, overnight ministry to the homeless in Charlotte; this is our 21 st year).
Back in my class…well, just say the kids’ songs and energies—the holy pandemonium—were such that the ladies and I closed our door so we could concentrate on Nicodemus and the Woman at the Well. All of a sudden, the door opened. Ms. Lizanne looked at me and said, “Sorry to interrupt, but Jensen has something to give you.”
In strode a little boy with beautiful hair and big eyes, and in his hand was a new quarter—the kind I would have wanted to hold onto when I was his age. But Jensen said, “I want to give this to help the people who have no place to live.”
The ladies all but swooned. I knew of nothing other to do than to grab-up the child and give him a hug. I promised him we would use his quarter to help homeless people, and so I went across the hall and gave it to Carolyn for the RITI fund. Carolyn suggested I take a picture and write a blog. Simultaneously we remembered the verse, “And a little child shall lead them.”
In my own office I thanked our God, and his Christ, and the Holy Spirit for our children, our youth, our adults, our staff and our very active church.
Looking for worship a little off the beaten path? Would love to attend worship but Sunday morning is just too crowded with other activities? Come worship with us on Saturday evening December 15 @ 5:30pm in a more relaxed, casual atmosphere. Come with friends or family in your jeans, grab a cup of coffee and a pastry, send the kids down to hang out in supervised fellowship time and let the Word of God speak to you. Songs, Art/Poetry, the Word proclaimed. Maybe bring some friends and then head out for dinner or drinks afterwards. Come as you are…
More info: Email Pastor Carrie firstname.lastname@example.org