“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)
I received several kind words and messages from members and friends of this church after worship last week. One of the gifts of this season is that, if you missed church, you are able to stream the entire service (as well as every prior service back through March) yourself and see if you’d agree. It’s always nice to hear when something you preach lands and provides the challenge and encouragement needed for our continued growth.
But – fun fact, other people outside our church listened to that service, too, and some who have known me a long, long time had a different take. “I was surprised to hear you preach in that direction, that’s not how you sound when we talk.” These people know me as a person who tracks the headlines and has big hopes (and fears) for our shared future.
What do I make of this contradiction? It’s as good a time as ever to remember as I’ve written here before that shared discipleship makes us all proselytizers in the Sy Sperling school. I’m not only the pastor of this church, and you aren’t only its members. We are all clients in the ongoing work of growth and sanctification. We pray for transformed hearts and minds. We pray Christ will be formed in us so that we can live as people who no longer sin or harm others.
Revisiting the Greatest Commandment is an opportunity for us all to recognize the challenge of loving God and loving neighbor for the fullness of what it is. We can’t play oblivious like Cain and ask “am I my brother’s keeper?” We understand that we share a calling to care for the vulnerable in our world and to love them well. Maybe most challenging is the call to love our neighbors who say unkind things about us or who wish us harm, to pray not only for our friends and families but also our enemies.
My prayer for all of us is to continue to seek and embody the peace, grace, and kindness of Christ in the weeks, months, and years to come. The deeper joy comes in seeing beyond the division to the ways we can connect and share the joy and hope of salvation in Jesus Christ with a world in need of good news. We each have a purpose in this work. Be brave and live yours today!
Grace and Peace,
Important COVID-19 Update
As the CDC and others learn more about how this virus spreads and how best to protect one another, new attention has been directed toward how length of exposure relates to infection. For now, our in-person procedures meet or exceed all recommendations. If the case count increases seen elsewhere in our country should begin happening in our state and county, we will have to revisit what we are doing. For now, we can continue with our current approach.
Looking ahead, we will likely need to think through what Christmas Eve will look like. If we are able to safely worship in person then, we may need to resort to reservations and ticketing and multiple services to make sure everyone has an opportunity to attend. More to come. For now, be safe, wear a face covering, maintain distance, and understand that preventing the spread of illness is one way of living out our obedience to God’s Greatest Commandment.
Resuming Confirmation Class and Christian Education Update
We will have our first week of Confirmation class this Sunday, October 25 after worship beginning at approximately 11:30am. After this class concludes this winter, we will begin planning for the next cohort for students currently in grades 4-6 to begin in 2022-23. Additionally, we will also be discussing what youth ministries will look like here at FUMC for these Confirmands and the generations to come. Pray and stay tuned!
OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD
We will not be collecting items for Samaritan’s Purse this year. HOWEVER, we are still collecting monetary donations. Please make checks payable to SAMARITAN’S PURSE. You may mail or drop off your check to the church or to Judy Gordley, 37 Elwood Ave, Flemington, NJ. You may also mail directly to Samaritan’s Purse. If you do this, please let us know that you donated so that we may report our total gifts as a church family.
We also have leaflets and boxes available if you would like to fill your own. Please contact the church office or Judy (908-391-2646). Collection week is NOVEMBER 16-23.
Family Promise is Hiring
Family Promise, Hunterdon County’s only agency dedicated to providing temporary housing to homeless families, is hiring four positions, one for a part-time Case Manager and three full-time Residential Aides. If interested or if you know someone who would be, please send resumes to email@example.com.
Continuing Coffee Hour Over Zoom
Laura Newton has thankfully stepped up to host a weekly time of conversation and connection after the conclusion of our worship service each week. Here is a link to that time –
If you have questions or need help, you can ask Pastor Ben or Laura. Don’t be shy, you are missed and a part of this church family, too!
Quick note – we are looking for another volunteer to host the Zoom on Sunday, November 1. If you’re interested, please let Pastor Ben know. The above link will not work on Sunday, November 1.
Worship with Flemington UMC on Facebook
Each Sunday at 10:30am, reach for your phone, tablet, computer, or other internet-connected device for a time of music, prayer, scripture, and preaching. Watching live gives the opportunity to comment in real-time with prayer requests, updates on your life, and more, but if you view the service later you can still comment and share prayer requests and experiences from your life with your church.
If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can simply visit the church’s Facebook page:
The videos are all accessible there without the need to create an account or login. If you have technical questions, please reach out.