1 Church Street
East Harwich, MA 02645
A Message from Pastor John
During last Sunday’s worship celebration we announced that the bishop intends to reappoint me to Acushnet-Wesley United Methodist Church, effective July 1, 2020. While that appointment will present me with new and different challenges, my family and I have been blessed with my time in your midst at Harwich UMC. You are a community that doesn’t simply declare itself to be one of welcome; you embody a welcoming hospitality that knows no limits. I hope to fully enjoy our remaining time together as we travel into the considerably unknown territory that surrounds General Conference in May, Annual Conference in June, and whatever spillover changes may await us in the months beyond. Please join me in prayer that as God leads us into a future that is as yet hidden from our own eyes we will be filled with hope, peace, and joy as we are surrounded with his amazing and unceasing glorious presence.
This newsletter reaches you at the beginning of Lent, a season of 40 days before Easter during which we are encouraged to engage in self-reflection and focus on practices of spiritual discipline. Now, discipline is a word that often carries negative messages… thoughts of punishment, forced isolation, or the loss of privileges, and yet discipline has the same root as disciple and discipleship. If we take seriously God’s call for us to be (and continue in our becoming) disciples of Jesus Christ, we can only do so to the extent that we allow God to exercise discipline in our own lives. And as we do so, our will becomes as God’s will, we place ourselves under Christ’s leadership, and, as the Holy Spirit continues to work in and through us, we grow in that grace that sanctifies us and enables us to become more and more Christ-like. So, disciplined discipleship is our ongoing cooperation with the Holy Spirit working within our lives, so that gradually and steadily we experience the growth toward spiritual wholeness and a more perfect reflection of God’s image into the world around us.
Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of the season of Lent; the 40 day preparation for the events of the passion of the Christ. For centuries, Lent has been seen as a season of training or practice for Christian disciples. Picture yourselves as beginning to train for a road race. You wouldn’t wait until the day before the big event to buy your shoes, start stretching, and begin to jog around the block, would you? Of course not! You’d be down and out long before the midpoint of the race! In the same way, we’re called to train in disciplined fashion for the race God has been set before us. And that race is a marathon, not a hundred-yard dash, for it will consume the rest of our lives here on earth. So, let’s use the time of Lent to condition ourselves spiritually for the race ahead.
Will you join me in working out for the remainder of our 40 days? I promise that you can be stretched and strengthened without developing any crippling cramps. You’ll find in this newsletter a bible reading plan you can use. And on Mondays at 1 we’ll be gathering at the church for a study of John Wesley’s “The Character of a Methodist.” Wesley wasn’t just the founder of the Methodist movement; he was an effective disciple (and discipling leader of others) because he realized that Christian growth cannot happen in isolation of other Christians but only within dedicated Christian community. In this study, we’ll examine things Methodists hold in common with other Christians as well as what makes us distinct within the larger Christian church.
Let’s join together as we seek to grow in Christ-likeness over the weeks ahead.