Living in the Light of the Darkness

“If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation:   
everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

– II Corinthians 5:11-21

a-lenten-cross-423x273“There is a part of the soul that stirs at night, in the dark and soundless times of day, when our defenses are down and our daylight distractions no longer serve to protect us from ourselves.  It’s then, in the still of life, when we least expect it, that questions emerge from the damp murkiness of our inner underworld…  These questions do not call for the discovery of data; they call for the contemplation of possibility” (“Between the Dark and the Daylight, by Joan Chittister;
Introduction, pg 10).

I can honestly say that this 2016 season of Lent has continued to unfold in marvelous and unexpected ways – such as the discovery of Chittister’s book filled with probing queries and illuminating insights.  There are times in our lives when we sense ourselves moving, sometimes inching rather than rushing, toward some needed truth or lived reality.  And by God’s grace, this holy period of prayerful reflection and contemplation continues to serve as just such a time for me.  For in the “darkness” of the utter busyness of my daily life, with all of its pressing demands, contradictions, and grand blessings I have discovered (and rediscovered) the Light who enables us all to glimpse and hope for what can and yet shall be.  I am profoundly grateful for my Savior’s kept promises, which not only challenge but also renew our confidence in His faithful presence and power both now and in every day to come.

On this coming weekend we will celebrate and contemplate the marvel and meaning of PALM/PASSION Sunday, when Jesus began the final days of His earthly life.  As Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time, he was resoundingly heralded as the King, as the long-promised Messiah who would surely lead the Jews in overthrowing their Roman oppressors and knowing freedom, at last.  But, as we know, all too quickly, the shouts of welcome and jubilation soured into outcries for Jesus’ crucifixion!  How often each of us suffers the same; good times have become hard and dark times…what we thought would be quickly withers and fades.  What does our Savior make possible for us in such times?  How do we live in such darkness?

Join us in the coming Palm/Passion Sunday worship!  And join us again on MAUNDY THURSDAY, March 24th at 7:00 p.m., on GOOD FRIDAY, March 25th at 12 Noon and on EASTER SUNDAY, March 27th (7 a.m., 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.).   In addition to other special highlights in the service, on Easter Sunday, at 10:30 a.m., we will welcome New Members into this faith community.  Invite and/or bring someone to any or all of these holy worships, as we open ourselves to the blessings the Spirit of the Lord has already prepared to grant.  See you on Sunday!  May it be so…

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LENTEN SERMON SERIES, “THE FREEDOM OF THE DISCIPLINES”…invited us to explore and practice only a few of the many spiritual disciplines, while also inviting us to explore and practice others.  The spiritual disciplines help us to draw closer to Christ and to experience a strengthening of our Christian faith.  I’ll be introducing more such disciplines in the coming weeks.  May we embrace them as the blessings they are meant to be.

THE PASTOR’S BIBLE STUDY CLASS…in which we are continuing our study of Adam Hamilton’s “John: The Gospel of Light and Life” remains a blessing!  While the other Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke – tend to focus on the humanity of Jesus, the Gospel of John focuses more on Jesus’ divinity.  John wrote to proclaim and remind us that Jesus was, indeed, not only God in flesh but also the Holy Spirit, who indwells all who choose to know and walk with Him as Savior.  It is in John’s Gospel where we find a persistent unveiling of the reality of the Holy Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.  I encourage each of you to read John’s Gospel in its entirety.  It’s an inspiring and enlightening gift!

2016 CONFIRMATION CLASS…On Sunday, March 6th, youth and their parents interested in participating in this special experience gathered in my office and the needed plans for offering a meaningful Confirmation experience were agreed upon.  The 2016 Confirmation Class will convene in mid-April.  I’m asking for special prayer — prayers that the Spirit will lead and empower these young people and their families as they consider the making of the most important decision for their faith lives.  (It’s not too late to join us.  Youth in grades 7th through 12th are still invited to participate.  Please contact Pastor Colleen if interested.)

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Pastor’s Bible Study

310167LENTEN SERIES STUDY continues this Sunday.  This Lent, Rev. Colleen M. Norman invites you to participate in a season of spiritual growth and life-changing renewal through the study of the Bible.  The focus of study will be the Gospel of John, as explored by pastor and author, Adam Hamilton, in his new book and Bible study John: The Gospel of Light and Life (Abingdon Press).

God’s grace is free, but it’s not cheap

It cost Jesus his life.”

Daily Hope

 

a-lenten-cross-423x273Tis the season…to REFLECT, RESPOND, AND REJOICE!  While the rest of the world moves through Lent and anticipates Easter simply as spring’s arrival – complete with bunnies and baskets of flowers – Christians reflect upon, respond to and rejoice in a different kind of arrival.  On Easter Sunday, we celebrate the miraculous resurrection of Jesus the Christ, the Lamb of God.  That wondrous day of Jesus’ resurrection from death — now more than two thousand years ago – fulfilled an ancient prophecy:  the Way made to personally knowing and living with and for God, through Christ’s Holy Spirit.

The Bible tells us, in John 1:17, “For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ” (NLT, second edition).  It is God’s grace and might, and unfailing love that has made our salvation possible!  We cannot receive, experience, and share our Savior’s grace through the practice of religion, ritual, or our human will.  We can only receive the grace of real and transforming life through our trust and friendship with the Spirit of Christ Jesus.   And here, at Trinity UMC, we are living this 2016 season of Lent by reflecting upon and responding to the grace and call of Christ’s Holy Spirit, and rejoicing in the wondrous blessings of such faithfulness.

God’s grace changes our thinking and how we choose to live our lives and serve God’s will.  My sermon series for this Lenten season, “THE FREEDOM OF THE DISCIPLINES”  explores how our practice of grounding spiritual Disciplines allows the inward transformation, by the Holy Spirit, of everyone striving to be a disciple of Jesus the Christ in thought, intention, and action.  In the Pastor’s Bible Study Class (Sundays, from 9:15 to 10:00 a.m., in Trinity Hall), we are using and being enormously blessed by Adam Hamilton’s “JOHN: The Gospel of Light and Life”.   Our Trinity Youth, in addition to their continued service at WINGS and PADS, recently partnered with the Night Ministry, by preparing and providing hot soup and sandwiches to some of Chicago’s homeless people.  The power of that experience fueled their commitment to continue to engage in this ministry of great compassion and grace!

Our CONFIRMATION INFORMATION SESSION will be held on this Sunday, March 6th, immediately following the 10:30 a.m. worship service, in the Pastor’s office.  Youth from the 7th through 12th grade are invited to participate in the Confirmation experience.

Also, during this season of blessing, we have celebrated the wedding of Jack and Jan Verhasselt (Saturday, February 20th), mourned and celebrated the life of longtime member, Trevor Hinchliffe  (Saturday, February 27th), as we now also prepare to mourn and celebrate the life of Christine Mazza-Devany  (Saturday, March 5th, at 11:00 a,m.).   And at the 10:30 a.m. worship service, on Easter Sunday, I will be welcoming persons into church membership.  Other persons interested in uniting with Trinity UMC should schedule a time to meet with me (847-621-9160 or [email protected]) as soon as possible.

Because of the present and active Spirit of the Lord, we can follow our Savior in triumphant ways throughout our everyday lives: prayer, fellowship, ministry, and financial giving.  Because of our risen and loving Lord, we too are invited and enabled to live and serve God’s blessed will!  May it be so for you and for me.  See you on Sunday!

Rev. Colleen M. Norman, Pastor

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