Those who watch the wind blow will never sow, and those who observe the clouds will never reap… Scatter your seed in the morning, and in the evening don’t be idle because you don’t know which will succeed, this one or that, or whether both will be equally good.
Ecclesiastes 11:4, 6 (CEB)
I’m not the world’s largest rollercoaster fan. I’ll go on them, sure, up to a certain size subjectively and arbitrarily determined by how high I have to crane my neck to see its highest point from the back of the line, the pitch of screams when its cars rumble by, and other considerations I’ll keep to myself. There are a few I’ve really loved, particularly newer, smoother-riding metal ones. Then there are the clackety wooden ones that knock you around so much you leave the ride disoriented with rearranged organs. So, again, I’m not the world’s largest rollercoaster fan. How about you?
I see many things in life, however, even life itself, compared to riding a rollercoaster. Owning a business can be like a rollercoaster. Starting a family is a rollercoaster. The list goes on, but as others have pointed out, I don’t think the metaphor really works as it is used. In most cases, all people mean in saying “This thing is a real rollercoaster” is that it has ups and downs. In almost every one of these uses, the ups are the good part and the downs are bad. Yet on a rollercoaster, the ups are the boring part, and the downs are where the fun happens, where the built-up tension is finally released.
Life is a rollercoaster in many ways, though maybe not in the ways we always think. We begin in one place with the animating instance of birth and navigate relatable obstacles. We experience peaks and valleys, sometimes unexpected (higher) second peaks and deeper valleys, reverses, flips, and more, only to end where we begin with a final reversal as our first breath gives way to our last. This all takes place within God’s cosmos, the timeline of eternity, and the possibilities this life in God’s realm offers.
Some rollercoasters are long while others are too short. It remains true that all can offer surprises. I’ve been reflecting on the ways we conceive our life’s journeys, particularly the second half, as almost entirely a downward trajectory toward that ending. If we didn’t do it in the first half, the thinking goes, it’s too late to start now. Yet many have matured and understood that that restlessness that takes hold of many in their 40s and 50s is not something to be avoided but to be embraced, the awakening of new possibilities and growth. I’ve been inspired by the conversations around many book and Bible studies with people, even people in their 80s and 90s, who continue to be challenged, learn, and grow. Decline is not inevitable. We can move through these ups and downs together, not always knowing where or how the story ends, but remembering we each have a part to play in what gets written.
So today, friends, I pray that whatever is cluttering your heart, your mind, and your life can be set aside to move more fully into the present God has for you and for us. If you’d like to, here is a prayer I came across this morning that may open you to these possibilities:
Lord, help me now to unclutter my life,
to organize myself in the direction of simplicity.
Lord, teach me to listen to my heart;
teach me to welcome change instead of fearing it.
Lord, I give You these stirrings within me,
I give You my discontent,
I give You my restlessness,
I give You my doubt,
I give You my despair,
I give You all the longings I hold inside.
Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth;
to listen seriously and to follow where they lead
through the breathtaking space of an open door. Amen.
(from Celtic Daily Prayer)
Grace and Peace,
Upcoming Worship Schedule
Each week we will work to create a safe, inviting space for worship for those who participate in person while also live-streaming for those participating at home. If the desire for in-person worship increases, we will add an additional service to maintain necessary distance between worshippers. If you have questions or would like to help out, please reply to this message.
As we have seen cases of COVID-19 increase here in New Jersey these last few weeks, the Governor has rolled back some reopenings. For now, churches are not included in those restrictions, but should we need to adjust, we will do so. Please keep an eye on this space each week where we will share what and how we will all worship together each week. Thank you for your flexibility, and know that we are praying and working to share this good news and hope in a stressful time.
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 Pause For Next Sunday
“Zoom fatigue” is a well-documented aspect of month five of COVID-19 life. With this in mind, we are taking a break from these weekly opportunities to catch up, returning on August 16th. Please delete all previous Zoom links and use this one going forward:
This should help bring everyone back together to catch up soon. God bless!
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.