Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
Romans 11:33 (NIV)
Developmental psychologists, the people who study the way our mental processes change through life, give the phrase “object permanence” to an important change that happens in the brains of infants. If you take a beloved toy or object and hold it in front of a five-month-old’s face, for example, they will try to reach for it. If you take the same toy and place it out of sight, the infant will just continue playing as though the toy had disappeared from the earth.
At some point in the first year of life, however, infants learn that the things they can no longer see actually still exist. So if you take that toy and place it under a blanket, they can crawl over and lift it up to find it. Or if you put it on a shelf out of reach, they may cry because they know it’s there and they can’t have it. This goes for everything once object permanence is established, from cookies to parents leaving for work. We know the thing is there, even when we can’t see it, and we know we still want it.
This declaration at the end of the 11th chapter of Romans follows four chapters of reflection on the place of the Jewish people who were first welcomed into God’s covenant. As in all communities, there was tension between the long-time members (the Jewish people, Christian or not) and newcomers (Gentiles, shorthand for everyone else on earth). In the way that exclusion leads to defensiveness and other responses, some of the newcomers believed God’s blessing had moved completely to them at the expense of those who first received the promise. It’s a Biblical and theological tension I can’t resolve in one paragraph of a weekly devotional, but it’s important to mark it and note it.
Paul spent these thousand-plus words building a case that the call of God is in fact irrevocable but still concludes with God beyond our comprehension. We understand ourselves to be God’s children for a reason; God remains our parent, always loving but sometimes inscrutable. Sometimes we sense and experience the love of God in concrete, life-giving ways. Sometimes the love feels more distant when we need it most, and knowing the love is still there but beyond our reach makes it all the harder to push through the trials of life. In these times, our persistence in faith is what will carry us through to the full experience of that love once more.
Today, remember and receive the call of God with humility. We pray together:
Creator God, these gifts you have given me are amazing. Help me to use them wisely to build up, encourage, and extend your table of blessing. Amen.
Grace and Peace,
Thank You to Those Who Made Worship Happen This Past Week
It was a blessing to see Bruce, Beth, Kim, Grace, and others share their gifts and make worship at Flemington UMC happen last week. As we move forward in this (we pray) once-in-a-lifetime pandemic season, it will take the continued effort of those who have helped and those who have not yet helped to keep worshipping God together and encouraging one another in a time when we all need encouragement. Please respond to this message if you’re able to help. God has given you incredible gifts to share, too.
Help Family Promise Care for Homeless Families in Our Area
People have asked what we can do to support Family Promise today. They shared they are in need of the following items:
$25 Shop-Rite or Walmart gift cards
If you can share some of these items, please bring them to the sanctuary on Sunday and store them under the back table. Walter Maze and others can transport those items to Family Promise’s office.
After Storm Check-up
With fast-moving Tropical Storm Isaias behind us, it’s good to check in with one another to see how we weathered the storm. In the immediate aftermath, many had lost power and, for those who live outside the Borough, that often carries with it the loss of water. Don’t be shy! There are people here who love you, care about you, pray for you, and want to help. We are putting together an unofficial team of people who can drop off water, food, supplies… chop up fallen trees…generally do some of the immediate work needed after a storm to get you back up and running. If you’d like to help or if you’d like to be checked on, please reply to this message.
Nominations Season is Here
Each year we invite new people to lead different aspects of the church’s ministries. If you are eager or interested in giving your time please contact Pastor Ben. If you are asked, consider it an invitation to something good and worthwhile and say “yes!” This is a particularly exciting year to answer the call as we are moving from separate boards to a Leadership Council to free up time and energy for mission. More news and information to follow, but your gifts are needed at this table now.
Zoom Coffee Hour Returns This Week
Grab a hot cup of your favorite morning beverage and join in some digital conversation this Sunday:
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.