Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you – that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures…
Luke 24:44-45 (NRSV)
Reading a book can be a rewarding experience all on its own. Reading the same book with a group of other people, however, particularly when there is a good facilitator sharing background information and asking good questions, is even better. This goes for other forms of art, too; viewing a painting with the aid of a good docent, or listening to a good film critic break down the movie you just watched to show why it worked (or didn’t), or any other way of going deeper into anything is time well spent.
This is also, of course, why we engage in the study of scripture each week. It’s an essential discipline to grow in faith, wisdom, peace, grace, and everything else. Still, not everyone has a group of people or a teacher they feel comfortable coming to with their questions. Others have said the scriptures themselves are self-interpreting, meaning that every time we open the Bible, the Holy Spirit is there to steer and guide our reading and understanding.
If you’ve ever found yourself confused or uncertain about anything you’ve encountered in the Bible, however, you are certainly not alone. Remember the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 who was reading Isaiah when Philip ran over and asked him if he understood what he was reading. “How can I unless someone explains it to me?” It’s not that Philip was more intelligent or had all the answers. Philip did, however, have a needed perspective to open this other man’s mind to receive and believe what he was reading.
In our reading from Luke’s gospel this Sunday, Jesus spends one last day in Jerusalem helping his followers to understand what he had endured and overcome, and why. He opened their minds to see things from a different perspective than where their experience, culture, and perspective would otherwise lead them. This is the gift of reading in community, particularly communities where not everyone grew up together or has had a seemingly uniform life experience.
It is a strange awareness that comes to us when we look at the stranger on the sidewalk and remember they have a life every bit as real and rich as our own, with its own triumphs and heartbreaks, fears and doubts, and the rest. Our faith and experience of life are enriched when we join with those people whose stories we don’t know to learn, listen, share, and grow.
My time at Flemington UMC is coming to an end soon. One of the experiences I’ve enjoyed most have been our small group discussions. Think about the studies and conversations we have shared: deep dives into the Apostle’s Creed and the Ten Commandments, the gifts and insights of other faith traditions, rereading scripture with an inclusive lens to better embrace LGBTQ+ people, examining the role of race and racism in America and the church… these are big topics, and it’s been a blessing to journey through them with all of you. I pray that you will continue to open yourselves up to new learning and deeper engagement with the Bible in the years to come as I celebrate where we’ve journeyed together.
Keep the Faith,
Pastor Ben Farewell Celebration – Saturday, June 5, 2021
Save the date! There are invitations in the bulletin in worship as well as coming to you in the mail. Beth La Penta is asking that everyone RSVPs whether you plan to attend or not so we have enough food for everyone. Thanks!
Upcoming Family Promise Help Dates – July 4th Weekend
Thanks to John Newton, Walter Maze, and everyone else who helped feed the family in our care with Family Promise this past week. The ministry has changed somewhat, but the goal remains caring for people and families experiencing temporary homelessness. We will be tasked with providing food for another family the first weekend of July. If you would like to purchase, deliver, or donate in another way, please let Walter know.
Fellowship Hall Possibilities
COVID pressed pause on our after-worship gatherings, but those gatherings will resume one day. Before they do, this is a good time to think about the possibilities of the space we have to bless our neighbors, too. Prior to COVID precautions, we’d welcomed Cub Scout Packs, Dart Teams, line dancers, church events, and more to the space. What improvements or repairs should be made in the coming months to better serve its purpose as a community space for Flemington? A survey will go out in the coming weeks – share and help shape the future of this church!
Continuing Coffee Hour Over Zoom – Time Change!
Laura Newton will host a weekly time of conversation and connection at 11:45 am after our worship service each week. Login is available at 11:30am or conclusion of worship, whichever is later.
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!
New Upper Rooms are Available in the Church Office
The new Upper Room Daily Devotionals are also available now. If you’d like to pick yours up, Gretchen is in the church office from 9am-noon Tuesday – Friday each week. Please call ahead so she can set whatever you are picking up out for you.
You will find every newsletter, worship service, devotional, and additional material posted to our Facebook page:
Even if you don’t use Facebook, you can access everything we have there. If you do have a Facebook account, “like” to follow our page and be notified when new things are posted or when videos are about to go live so you don’t miss anything.
Coffee Hour is a time of sharing after Sunday morning worship hosted by Laura Newton at approximately 11:30 am. All are welcome!
If you have any difficulties accessing any of those links, please reply to this message or call the church office at (908)782-1070 and we will get you connected right away.