Dwelling in the Awesome Presence of God

“I am not afraid that the people called Methodist should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America.  But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power.  And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit and discipline from which they first set out.”

– John Wesley, Founder of the Methodist Movement

Pastor ColleenDear Trinity UMC Family,

It happened again – clergy, new and seasoned, buzzing about the dismal state of today’s mainline American church.  In blogs, in personal conversations, and in gatherings of all sorts, discussions about “the death of Christianity in America” have continued to dominate.

Sadly, data concerning the state of the Christian Church in America do seem to affirm this dismal outlook.  For example, in 2010, the United Methodist Call to Action Steering Team commissioned the measuring of the vitality of United Methodist congregations in the U.S.  Of the 32,228 congregations reviewed, it was determined that 36% of UM churches are either dying or are already dead and simply haven’t realized it yet.  And a recent report from the Pew Center reports that the religiously unaffiliated in America has, from 2007 to 2014, increased from 16% to 23%, with weekly church attendance dropping to a mere 36%.  In addition, it was determined that a decreasing number of church goers actually engage in daily prayer.  Even in the face of the vibrancy and growth of the Christian Church in parts of Africa, Asia, Central America and Europe, the “death” of the Christian Church in America appears imminent.

Yet, during the long history of Christ’s Church, we have moved from challenge to renewal, again and again.  As we struggle to contend with today’s peculiar realities, the Holy Spirit remains faithful in leading and guiding us in ways to move from being stale in the status quo, from irrelevance and ineffectiveness by ignoring present possibilities for health and vibrancy to the immeasurable blessing of experiencing newness and life.  Christ’s Church is not dead!  Indeed, the Word of God has promised that we, God’s gathered people, will never be utterly destroyed.  Christ’s Church is not dead, but it is, again, time for us to re-examine and recommit our whole selves to true mission and ministry of Christ Jesus, our Lord.

The Spirit of the Lord is calling us to recommit ourselves to being Christ’s true disciples in the world!  We are to passionately, to faithfully and sacrificially accomplish the will of Christ Jesus and the work of Christ’s ministry in our time and place.  Our true love for and devotion to our Savior ignites our hearts, spurs our actions, and points others to Christ Jesus, our Lord.   How are you serving in Christ’s ministry?  How are you helping in the up-building of the ministry of Trinity UMC?  Each day, I pray for our total commitment to Christ – for that which instructs, enlivens, and takes us safely “from strength to strength”.

I can’t wait to see you on Sunday!  And don’t forget to invite/bring someone with you to join us in worshipping the One who is our true Life, Hope and Strength!

LIFE CELEBRATION SERVICE…for Lynda Mitchell, on Saturday, August 20th.  Lynda passed on Monday (8/15).  Services will begin with the Pre-past (visitation and fellowship) at 9:00 a.m., then will continue with the Memorial Service at 10:00 a.m.  Please keep the Mitchell family in your prayers.
 
THE WEEKEND IN WORSHIP… We will continue, with the third part of our new sermon series, “LEARNING TO TRUST GOD’S WILL”, with a focus on “God’s Will For Your Life”.  Not only do we often wrestle with “GOD AND SUFFERING – Part I” and “UNANSWERED PRAYER – Part II”, we also struggle with what our Lord God desires for our lives.   I hope to see you on Sunday, as the Word of God continues to teach, inspire and empower us!

THE 2017 CONFIRMATION CLASS HAS BEGUN…AND WILL RESUME IN OCTOBER 2016! Many thanks to Jacki Bogolia, our Director of Christian Education, to the parents who have chosen to “walk” with our young people in this extraordinary journey, and especially to the youth who have committed to this life-changing adventure.  Please remember to keep us all in your prayers!

THE PASTOR’S BIBLE STUDY CLASS… continues with a focus on “THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT”.   Jesus Christ preached with the authority of the promised coming King, and in this momentous sermon, the Lord taught about the wonder of spiritual transformation, about how the Holy Spirit works in supernatural and life-giving ways in believers’ hearts and minds and communities.  Hope to see you on Sundays, from 9:15 until 10 a.m., in this challenging and renewing journey.  I’m confident you’ll find it to be a great blessing in your life!
 
WOMEN’S BIBLE STUDY FELLOWSHIP…Every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month, beginning at 11:30 a.m.  We are using the “Experiencing Spiritual Intimacy” by Christa Kinde.  You can purchase your copy for $10 when you arrive at the class.  Ladies, join us for this powerful experience!  Contact Rev. Norman (847-621-9160) for additional information.

PRAY WITH US…as we seek to fill the staff positions of Office Administrator and Youth Leader.  Also, if you are able to assist in the church office, please be in contact with Martin or with Brian Kiel (beginning August 22nd).  We especially need the help of persons proficient in the use of the computer.

WE ARE TRULY GRATEFUL…for the devotion and faithfulness of Charlotte McCall Sneed, who has served as Coordinator for both the PADS and Trinity Treasures ministries.  Charlotte will be relocating closer to her family.  We pray for Charlotte, for her family and ongoing ministry as she embarks upon a new leg of her journey.  Blessings always, Charlotte!  You will be greatly missed.

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN UNITING WITH TRINITY UMC, in MOUNT PROSPECT?  The process for uniting with the church begins with participation in an upcoming “Coffee With the Pastor” session, where you’ll learn a bit of the stories of The United Methodist Church and Trinity UMC, mp, and be introduced to some of our staff and leaders, along with learning about the expectations of membership.  To register your interest, please contact me, directly, at (847) 621-9160.

See you this weekend!
Pastor Colleen

Through It All

Ephesians 1:19-22

“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power
for us who believe him.”
(Ephesians 1:19a)

candleWhen we are truly honest with ourselves, acknowledging the discomforting uncertainty, the struggle, and the unpredictable messiness of life is unavoidable.  Absolute, easy, and predictable are the realities we, understandably, prefer.  Yet, since not a single day now passes without some measure of messiness – even unrestrained evil – to contend with, we need to be clear about how we will navigate the restless waters of our lives and time.  How do we, as Christ believers, contend with the loss of employment, or health, or marriage?  How do we keep moving ahead when long-cherished hopes and dreams have been crushed?  How do we breathe – much less heal – when someone we love has been brutally maimed or murdered?

Yet again we as individuals, as a nation, as a global community have been assaulted by the insanity of hatred.  In what has been described as “the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history”, a lone gunman stepped into an Orlando nightclub and killed 50 people, while wounding at least 53 more.  Whenever this kind of unspeakable attack on human life happens, we reason that such was perpetrated because of the victim(s)’ race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation – just to name a few of the usual “offenses”.  But in truth, the real reason for such hatred and vicious violence is the absolute insanity of broken minds, hearts, and spirits!

Our mourning continues either personally or as members of the human community.  A year after another lone gunman entered a church to shoot and kill eight welcoming and praying church members, one who had lost her mother in that evil attack admits that her life (and livelihood) were forever changed.  Her priorities were shifted… altered that bitter loss.  But instead of allowing her grief and pain to control and destroy her, she and also others who suffered the loss of their loved ones on that shameful night are using the experience to help others who know grief, which continues to be a gracious means of their personal healing.

Amidst all the pain and struggle and brokenness throughout our world, we, who know Christ also know that we have a Savior whose faithful Presence, power and grace continues to keep and console us through it all.  May we never ignore the privilege of turning to that Savior, in prayer, in every time of need.  And may we always embrace the graciousness of offering prayer and other forms of love to others in the bondage of pain.  May it be so!

THIS WEEKEND IN WORSHIP
We continue with our sermon series focused on how to discover the blessing of experiencing REAL JOY in these challenging times.  Join us, and invite / bring someone to worship with us!

PASTOR’S BIBLE STUDY
Our study of Jesus’ “SERMON ON THE MOUNT” continues to challenge and edify us all.  Join us, and bring your Bible and a friend as we continue this great and blessed adventure.  The class convenes every Sunday, from 9:15 to 10:00 a.m.

A CALL TO PRAYER
The Word of God assures us that the fervent prayers of the “righteous” – of God’s people – results in an outpouring of our Lord’s great provision and grace.  I invite you to join me a time of prayer every Monday morning, between the hours of 6 and 7 a.m.  

Beginning on Monday, June 20th, pray with me and others in our church family as we lift up special prayers for the families, friends and communities of the victims of warring and violence, everywhere.

Rev. Colleen M. Norman, Senior Pastor

The Grace of Transformation

transformation“It’s time to accept the unchangeable past,  to embrace the priceless present, and to have faith in the promise of tomorrow.”

-Beth Moore

Greetings, my Trinity UMC Family!

I am writing this on the heels of an utterly honest and probing conversation with a remarkable twenty-something-year-old woman wrestling with the unimaginable challenge of a relentless and aggressive cancer.  This brave young woman shared the dreams that once gave her hope and strength – dreams of “climbing, unhindered, the professional ladder”, of meeting and wedding “the absolute love of [her] life”, of reconciling with her only surviving parent.  She couldn’t see anything else, didn’t want anything more…until, that is, she received the diagnosis that forced her to reevaluate everything.

I referred to this young woman as “brave” because of her un-common wisdom and strength:  “I never know what’s going to happen from day to day, even from moment to moment.  But I do know that I don’t want to waste whatever time God gives me looking back and wishing things were different.  This is now my path – chosen or not – and my Lord is still keeping His promises to me, especially in the midst of this struggle.”  She went on to give witness to her Savior’s bestowing of daily patience, and provision, and peace.  “As I continue to walk my path, I also continue to be informed and transformed by my great God and truest Friend!”

We always hope that God will lift us above and sweep us far beyond our troubles and tribulations.  Sometimes God does precisely that.  But at other times – in fact, most times, our Savior chooses to walk with us through our trials and challenges that we may discover and be marvelously transformed by new and unimagined dimensions of our Savior’s power, love and grace.

See you on Sunday!  And don’t forget to invite/bring someone with you to join us in worshipping the One who is true Life!

This weekend in WORSHIP... We will consider the issue of “UNFINISHED BUSINESS”.  Sometimes fear or haste prevent us from experiencing closure, from being able to “turn the page” and move forward in our relationships and lives.  We hope to see you on Sunday, as the Word of God teaches and empowers us.

The 2017 CONFIRMATION CLASS has begun… Many thanks to Jacki Bogolia, our Director of Christian Education, and to the parents who have chosen to walk with our young people on what is a quite special part of their spiritual journeys.  Please remember to keep us all in your prayers!

The Pastor’s Bible Study Class… continues with a focus on “THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT”.   Jesus Christ preached with the authority of the promised coming King, and in this momentous sermon, the Lord taught about the wonder of spiritual transformation, about how the Holy Spirit works in supernatural and life-giving ways in believers’ hearts and minds and communities.  I encourage you to join us on Sundays, from 9:15 until 10 a.m., in this challenging and renewing journey.  I’m confident you’ll find it to be a great blessing in your life!

I also encourage you to be especially attentive to all of the upcoming activities at Trinity UMC.  Thank you for your continued support of the church with your talents, resources, and prayers.  We need and faithfully using all that God has blessed you to share!

Are you interested in uniting with Trinity UMC, in Mount Prospect?  The process for joining begins with participating in an upcoming “Coffee With the Pastor” session, where you’ll learn a bit of the stories of The United Methodist Church and Trinity UMC, mp, and be introduced to some of our staff and leaders, along with learning about the expectations of membership.  To register your interest, please contact me, directly, at (847) 621-9160, or use the Sign Up sheet, located in the church office.

— Pastor Colleen

The Blessing of Pentecost

“And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit
and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.”
(Acts 2:4)

pentecostObserved 50 days after Passover, Pentecost was known as the Festival of First Harvest.  It was one of three major annual festivals when Jews of many nations gathered in celebration.  After Jesus’ promised – and supernatural – resurrection, our resurrected Savior taught and encouraged His followers for a full forty days, before ascending back to the heavenly realm.  Then ten days after His Ascension, the promised return of our Lord’s Holy Spirit was revealed, as He descended upon His disciples gathered in Jerusalem.

Finally, out of hiding, Peter preached with wisdom and boldness before an international crowd!  Starting on that blessed day, baptism of the Holy Spirit became available for anyone open to His inward, spiritual transformation.  Starting on that day, the world was, indeed, forever changed.  Starting on that day, a massive and worldwide making of Christian believers began and continues to this day.

The blessing of Pentecost was and remains the presence and power of God’s Holy Spirit within and with every believer.  Many fear the consequences of allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and empower their lives — the inability to continue to think and act as they always have.  And while it is true that God’s Spirit always expects and calls us to that which is beyond our human understanding and ability, it is also true that God is faithful in bestowing the power and faithfulness in doing Christ’s work in the world, that we may individually and together proclaim and embody God’s love and grace in our world.  Thanks be to God!


Greetings Trinity Family!

As I recall all that has happened, along with all that is about to unfold at Trinity UMC, I am both thankful for the many ways we are being blessed and excited about how God is leading us in being Christ’s blessing to others.  Special thanks to Rick & Judy Benzinger who were instrumental in coordinating our annual Rummage Sale!

Many thanks to all who helped in the receiving, sorting, and sale of the generous amount of donations we received.  The giving of your time and energies was essential to the success of this event!   And we thank those whose purchases also served to make this event so successful; greeting and meeting family and friends was great!

Electronic giving is almost here!  Research has shown that offering the electronic giving option has proved beneficial by making it easier for many to financially support the church’s ministry.  More information will follow, however, I offer many thanks to Jerry Askeland, our Committee on Finance Chair, for all of his efforts toward making electronic giving a reality at Trinity UMC!

Beginning in July 2016, “SPREADING THE JOY” will be a new addition to this publication.  Within the course of our daily lives, there is much that causes us concern and dulls our recognition of the Lord’s mercies and grace yet in our lives.  Therefore, I am inviting you to share a moment when the Spirit of God has brought celebration and joy into your heart and life.  Your submission may be edited and should be emailed to Martin, at officeadmin@trinitymp.org.

A Pictorial Church Directory is being planned.  Many thanks to Jere Teed for, again, volunteering to coordinate this fun event!  More details to come.

Two books I’m currently reading are: “America’s Original Sin” by Jim Wallis and “Talking in the Dark”, by Steve Harper.  I recommend both!  What are you reading?  Send to:  colleennorman8712@comcast.net.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Colleen

The worst is never the last

praymore“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done… His peace will guard your hearts and minds  as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6, 7b

Greetings, my Trinity UMC family!  My two-week vacation, which I spent in the loving company and care of family and friends in Texas, began on March 28th.  It was a time blessed by rest and acceptance, by joy and laughter, and by the kind of peace-filled contemplation which serves to nurture and nourish the spirit and soul.  In that time, in that place, I felt God’s set-tling and strengthening Presence gently yet faithfully reminding of and granting newness and life.

As I shared in my April 17th sermon, when I had begun my journey back to Mount Prospect, whilst inching forward in the security line, I saw what looked like an oversized sparrow com-fortably grooming itself, surrounded by passengers waiting to board, in one of the gate areas.  “Do many birds make their way into this airport?” I asked the agent inspecting my laptop.  She looked up at me and smiled.  “That bird has been in this airport for over a year.  When we first saw it, it was just a small sparrow.  But since nobody can catch it, it has tripled in size!  With food, shelter, and none of its’ usual predators, it now seems happy to stay.”

How often we, too, find ourselves in unfamiliar and even threatening places.  Life with all of its conflicts, contradictions and outright threats defiantly confronts most of us, every day.  And there are times when we not only yearn for, but actively seek escape…only to eventually realize the unexpected, God-given blessings of our circumstances.  My spiritual journey with my Savior has taught me, over the years, that we are never really able to see what shall be.  And that realization, experienced again and again, has also taught the lesson that the Spirit of the Risen Christ, who does know what shall be, ensures our continued provision and victory.

The Word of God invites – implores – us to cease our fretting, in order to pray with faith and trust.  Allowing the Holy Spirit to simply settle us in our Savior’s presence enables us to receive what only God can provide.  Within and with those of us who know and trust Him, the God of our salvation grants us confidence, strength and peace as our Good Shepherd always leads us safely along His Way.  We continue in this 2016 Easter season blessed with the knowing that only God has the last word!  Christ is risen!  Christ is risen, indeed!

See you on Sunday!  And please invite/bring someone with you to join us in worship.

Much gratitude to God and many thanks to the Rev. Dr. Mosby and Tyrone Mitchell, Sr. for the sharing of their ministries during my vacation.  The Rev. Dr. Mosby is a longtime colleague and servant of God.  Having heard nothing but praise for her presence and gifts, I pray for God’s continued blessings in her life and ministry.  Additionally, my brother in Christ, Ty Mitchell, Sr., along with the choirs of Trinity proved to be blessings to the Trinity UMC Family as they shared their musical ministries to the glory of God.  Thanks to and for all!

On April 17, we celebrated and prayed for our youth who attended the 4th Annual “Hide and Seek:  Straight Talk About God” Confirmation Retreat, conducted again at the Stronghold Castle in Oregon, IL this weekend.  Christ’s Church continues from generation to generation.  Thus, I give thanks for the young people committed to preparing for their life-long journeys with Christ, the Lord and for their families and the friends committed to walking with them.

On April 17, at the Pastor’s Bible Study Class, we began a new course of study:  “THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT”.  Jesus Christ preached with the authority of the promised coming King, and in this momentous sermon, the Lord taught about the wonder of spiritual transformation, about how the Holy Spirit works in supernatural and life-giving ways in believers’ hearts and minds and communities.  I encourage you to join us in this challenging and renewing journey – I believe it will be a great blessing to us all.

I also encourage you to be especially attentive to all of the upcoming activities at Trinity UMC.  Remember to support the church with your talents, resources, and prayers.  We need all that God has blessed you to share!

Reverend Colleen Norman

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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