Pastor's Page


What if we had Christmas in February?

posted Jan 26, 2018, 7:07 AM by Bowmansville UMC

I was wondering what this could mean for us in the shortest month of the year – which often feels like it drags on forever.

In the Book of Common Prayer, Christmas is extolled as a festival season and in the United Methodist Book of Worship, Christmas is extolled as a season of Praise and Thanksgiving for the Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, and that means more than only one day!

But, wait, there is more. The Birth of Christ was celebrated on December 25 but is truly only one of many of the events by which the church recognizes, truly by faith, the presence of God with us.

This festival season begins on December 25 and REALLY ends on Ash Wednesday – which is February 14 in 2018.

While the birth of our Savior opens the season, the Epiphany or “Manifestation” of God in Christ celebrates God’s Appearing and ties us to the Appearing of the Risen Christ AFTER Easter!

From the poverty of his birth, to the adoration of shepherds, to the mysterious gifts of the Magi, the texts of Christmas and Epiphany point us toward the mystery of God being revealed among us.

Through the season of Epiphany (which is truly a continuous journey which begins on Christmas Day), we receive the Baptism of our Lord, the Miracle of the Marriage Feast at Cana, the Call of the Disciples, the Sermon on the Mount, and many more stories of the manifestation of God with us.

Epiphany is a continuation of Christmas which celebrates the humbleness and hiddenness of God with us in our poverty and serves as a proclamation of God’s love coming alive – no longer limited to one nation, but announced for all humankind in every place and time. Praise God!

This is great news as well as “Good News" for you and me!

Christmas is alive and still ongoing. 

For those (few) who still have to take down their Christmas lights, trees, and decorations, this is great news.

For those who experience the length and coldness of winter days in this short month, we can wrap ourselves in the warmth of God’s Spirit revealing light and truth for all. (try keeping up your tree and lights longer!)

God knows we need more light, more truth, and more spirit of Joy in these winter days of February. We need Christmas to stay with us a little bit longer. Keep listening, looking and reaching for God’s presence and continuing manifestation this month. God is seeking us like the Magi sought our Savior.

Pastor Jim


Be a Salt Shaker

posted Jan 24, 2018, 10:52 AM by Bowmansville UMC


(partially from) Seedbed November 21, 2017

Colossians 4:5-6

5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.


CONSIDER THIS....

When I was a young teenager I had the good fortune of discovering a treasure-trove of a book on my parents’ bookshelf. 
A whole lot of those books were bible-based stories and various levels of bible study, though I’m not exactly sure why I pulled it off the shelf and even less sure of why I read it, but of the fact that it changed my life I could not be more sure. The author of the book was Dale Carnegie, and you have already likely guessed the title, How To Win Friends and Influence People. I was influenced on how he treated mankind and how he also gave away his estate later on in life.-JB
I remember a lot about the book, though one lesson stands out and towers above the rest. “Become genuinely interested in other people.”  It’s what I hear when I read today’s text:-JB
5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; 
By “be wise” Paul doesn’t mean, “be on your guard.” No, he means let your guard down. He means, don’t be about yourself. Be about them. It begins with Carneige’s rule: “Become genuinely interested in other people.” Why? Beyond the first step of noticing people, becoming genuinely interested in them is the posture of love. It lets them know they are, in fact, interesting.
Make the most of every opportunity.
What is the opportunity? I used to think the opportunity was to try and work in some way to share “the Gospel message” with them, which in retrospect looks more like trying to get people enlisted on my multi-level marketing discipleship pyramid scheme.
I think of the sharing the Gospel differently now. 
It’s more about the mystery than the messaging. You might have figured that the message of the Gospel is the mystery of Christ, and the mystery of Christ is Christ in us. 
To the extent I am attuned to “Christ in me,” I can be present to the person sitting across from me. 
To the extent I can be present to them, Christ will presence himself with us and the mystery will become manifest. As I become genuinely interested in another person, Jesus manifests his interest in them.
The opportunities are everywhere. The overwhelming majority of people in the world, outsiders or not, are not listened to. No-one leans into them and listens with genuine interest. This is what supernatural love looks like in ordinary clothes.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
I think of becoming genuinely interested in other people like salting a conversation. 
It brings out the flavor in them. It necessarily means becoming less interested in myself (a.k.a. less self-interested). What is it about salt that makes food so much more satisfying? 
Maybe we need to think more about passing the salt as it relates to what is on their plate and not so much about our own. Think about this statement-JB

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your son, Jesus, who is the salt of the Earth and who would so fill us with himself that we might become the same. 
Fill me with the fullness of Christ in my bearing toward others that I might become genuinely interested in them and that my interest could become an act of your love. We pray in Jesus name, amen.
 
Pastor Jim


This is God’s gift to you in 2018. Time.

posted Dec 29, 2017, 7:27 PM by Bowmansville UMC

Most, if not all of us, will get to enjoy this gift in its entirety. The question is, what will we do with it? How will you spend the time you are given in 2018? (hint-prayer) Others can guess a lot about us by how we spend our time. For people of Christian faith, the primary question is what God might say about us is by observing how we spend our time? A second question for reflection as we begin the New Year: how do you view time?

Wrap your mind around the incredible gift that time is a gift from God, equally, to each and every person and what a privilege it is to be given as stewardship of this gift!

The Apostle John quotes Jesus as saying, “I came that they may life and have it abundantly (or, “to the full”).” John 10:10.

Yes, when it comes to Jesus’ dream for us, living abundantly in that, Time is included in that statement.

Years later, in a short letter, the Apostle John wrote to a friend in Christ: “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2

John’s words in his gospel and later letter give us insight into God’s desire for our lives: to live abundantly, healthy, and prosperously (this means far more than material prosperity). This takes having a plan and on January 7, we’ll begin looking at an essential element of such a plan for every follower of Christ. PRAYER

One by one, we’ll examine several ingredients of an abundant, healthy, and prosperous life in Christ, through our worship and in discipleship and through prayer in and out of our church building. 

We’ll look at what the Bible, and what various professionals in each field, have to say about how these elements contribute to living well, living faithfully, praying faithfully, and living fruitfully for Christ.

From one of my beloved verses of scripture I share this thought looking ahead, “I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.” Jeremiah 29: 11 (CEB)

Well, this letter began with the title TIME, and I will end with a calendar number that has personal significance for me as time flies by: 21.

I’ll tell you more about this on the 21th of January as I and my good wife Pastor Cheryl return from the Holy Land.

I pray that in 2018 we all prosper and experience good health, even as our souls prosper.

If you agree, invite others to join you on Sunday mornings here at Bowmansville UMC and in prayer/healing services on the first Thursday of every month here at 7:00pm. (Take time to pray in 2018!)

Pastor Jim



Advent - God comes to live with us

posted Dec 15, 2017, 9:26 PM by Bowmansville UMC

The season of Advent is here!  We’re back to the beginning of the church yearly cycle.  And I celebrate my Second Advent season among you as your pastor.  I look forward to all the trimming of Christmas in our Bowmansville Sanctuary and the brightness of God’s light into the world.  It feels so good to be here and be able to join you in this challenging adventure of ministry in Christ’s presence; for God is surely in our midst!

And here is the core certainty of the season of Advent:  God comes to live with us.

At this time of year when we speak of this spiritual reality that God actually living amongst us, it just rolls off our tongues without much thought.  What if we were to stop and really take in what this means?  It is nothing short of a radical message; a revelation of something totally unique in all human history.

When you think about Christianity, no other religion makes a similar claim; no other religion even suggests that their God physically enters human time and space to live amongst us.  Advent is the season we focus in on this part of our faith.

The four Lessons that lead us to celebrate Christ’s birth this year begin with the call to stay alert, for Christ’s coming will overtake us when we least expect it (Matthew 24:36-44). They speak of radical changes leading to a reordering of expectations (Isaiah 11:1-10).  By the third week we see how God will turn over the tables of the status quo in unexpected ways (Luke 1:39-56).  A humble Hebrew couple become the bearers of the promise.  And Joseph is included in the story as the humble servant, who in his kindness to Mary is granted a heavenly visitation.  Thus he fulfills his parental role to name the child, Jesus and take him as his boy in their home. (Matthew 1:18-25).

The Advent Lessons end by giving us another name for Jesus; he will be known as Emmanuel, which means, God is with us.  This is radical Good News for all generations. We can believe that God is high and lifted up, but as Christians we make another claim; our God lives amongst us.  Thus in humility we can pray: “Lord, I need your help today. I have much to do and cannot do it alone. Walk with me and be my wisdom and my strength.”

As we immerse ourselves in the season of Advent this year, let us put on the garments of humility which will make it possible for us to hear God speaking to us from unexpected places; even in the voice of a child.

Blessings and love to you all...

Pastor Jim


Happy Fall Season, my Friends!

posted Oct 26, 2017, 1:56 PM by Bowmansville UMC   [ updated Oct 26, 2017, 1:58 PM ]

The season of hoodies, sweaters, bonfires, falling leaves, and changing colors is going to be upon us.

With the changing season comes the reminder that God is still ordering this wonderful world in which we live.

We are fast approaching a new season of ministry and mission opportunities.

There will be many chances for you to engage, or get reengaged, in the life and ministry of our church!

Let’s be working together to make a difference in our community and across the country and the world.

Please continue be in daily prayer for all of the areas hit hard by hurricanes and earthquakes, and keep the response teams of all church denominations in prayer as they help do the cleanup.

We will have more ‘hands-on’ opportunity to make a difference in the restoration in many of the areas hit by the devastation, so keep an eye on your email, and in the church bulletin.

I am also considering some type of an Open House at church as an open forum afternoon for the local community of youth to engage in a "ask the Pastor night". Of course Pizza and cold & hot drinks to be provided to those youth who come to ask questions of how the Christian church has answers to them in today’s society. Stay tuned for this event coming soon, and watch the church bulletin board. 

I write this with gratitude to God in my heart for leading me here to be in ministry together to all God’s people.

Pray for each other, pray for me, and pray that God will grant us courage to step out in faith together.

Be blessed, and be a blessing.


A Thoughtful Devotional....River Laundry

posted Sep 30, 2017, 5:51 PM by Bowmansville UMC

From the Upper Room 9-28-2017

Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.   James 2:17 N.I.V.

 

While riding through a large city in a developing country, I saw a mother and three children standing knee-deep in a muddy, green river. “Those people are washing clothes,” our driver explained.

That family washing clothes amid the polluted canal’s floating debris remains, for me, a poignant scene.

Certainly, such moments make me grateful for the conveniences I have, including a washing machine.

However, if the memory of that moment only makes me grateful for my own blessings, that would not be enough.

Although I may not be able to lead a campaign for ending poverty or improving access to plumbing in another country, I can offer compassion and help to those around me.

Maybe a grandmother’s lawn needs mowing, a neighbor feels desperate to find a job, or a student could use a math tutor. From picking up trash to giving away groceries, the needs are endless.

 

As Jesus reminded his disciples, “The poor you will always have with you” (Mark 14:7).

 

 In this hurting world, we can reflect Jesus’ love by acting to meet one need at a time.

wrote by Paula M. Miller (California, USA)

 

Thought for the Day: When I see someone in need, God calls me to act with compassion.

Read James 2:14-18

 

Prayer: Dear Lord, show us those who need compassionate words or actions.

Give us the will and the strength to serve them.

Amen.



October......Fall, Family, Food, Friends

posted Sep 25, 2017, 1:04 PM by Bowmansville UMC

Well folks, September has come and almost gone, and we now will enter October, the smell of “fall”,  of autumn leaves falling, the raking of those leaves and some cloudy and rainy (again?) days ahead.

But we here at Bowmansville UMC have much to look forward to this time of the year.

In some of our homes, the normalcy of regular times of school, grades, (right Amy?), the business of school but there is also the business of church, the world and all of those things call all together as Christ’s servants.

Jesus spoke to many in the crowds and his disciples about the world around them, the fall time of harvest, the thrashing of the grains, harvesting of the vineyards, and wine press.

We have a Meatloaf dinner in September, a Friends & Family dinner; this is an outreach of our church to new friends and maybe some family around the area.

We have another one coming forward this October, Wilma’s famous Chicken & Biscuit dinner!

Let’s all join together in Discipleship and be a friend, bring a friend, be a friend in Christ at these dinners as a witness to Jesus Christ and show good family connectedness as this church does so well.

We, as members of Bowmansville UMC, have much to be thankful for in our blessings through Christ’s holy word and his blessed actions here as a family, Shepherding-based church.

I recently finished my first year of Course of Study, and the Wesleyan Class meeting book was part of my teachings.  Part of that main theme was Shepherding the flock, and that is what makes Bowmansville UMC stand out as a church & as family, the Shepherding program which came right out of that Wesleyan theology.

Let’s think how we can use this Shepherding program to add to our church's family this fall season of the year and through the new church calendar starting with Advent.

Let us all be a blessing to those we meet in everyday life.

Blessings to you all this season.

Pastor Jim



Blessings of these September Days

posted Aug 29, 2017, 1:53 PM by Bowmansville UMC


     In the name of Jesus the Christ, I greet you folks this summery though wet season this summer!

     Well, the summer months just seem to fly by, and here we are looking at September again, with much busy-ness in your household, as in mine.  The usual school stuff is happening around in many households, teachers getting ready for a new school year, new clothes shopping by parents, as well as a new fall season of the church year will be starting up.  I hope your summer was blessed with family and friends getting together for a cookout or a card party, or maybe even a campfire together. I know we did a few back at home, in between the rain!

     There have been things happening at BUMC.  The guest pulpit supply speakers, LaVerne, Kevin, and Jessica, were here while my good wife Cheryl and I were on our 15th wedding anniversary trip to Mackinaw Island up in the state of Michigan.  I heard that both were inspiring with a good message. Though directions got mixed up, we also had a family reunion in the Adirondacks, where I did seminary reading most of the time for C.O.S.!

     As we look toward the late summer & fall season of the year coming up, I ask you folks the same question as last year’s Sept. message, to think of two things (with the bountifulness of the fall harvest time) that God has been blessing you with.

How has our Lord Jesus Christ blessed you, and how during this season of bounty can we as a church bless others here and in the local community!?

      In scripture, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked".  (Luke 12:48)

    How about some end of the month Wednesday night family based church dinners, kind of like what I have been told has happened in the past years, BUT with a slightly new twist!

     So we have all been blessed here in community, so how can we give back to others or even strangers to be a blessing to them in the name of Jesus?  Let’s locally advertise them to the local population that is growing out behind our church, as well as just the local Bowmansville community! Let our church be a blessing to those who are hungry at the end of the month!                                                         

    IF they can give a small donation then let’s allow that to happen, if NOT then lets as in scripture say, I was hungry and you gave me something to eat...(food & spirituality) As your pastor let me help organize these, and do most of the work if need be.

    I just need help from those of you who can, others just be the loving and friendly congregation that truly shows the Love of Christ that is in all that you do each and every day here at Bowmansville and greet and eat with folks if they come through the doors. Might be a small start, not looking to be BIG, but we can be a blessing here! Look for more info in this newsletter elsewhere.

     Bowmansville is a still a bright spot on Genesee Street, a great sign with a message of God each week...we know who to say thanks to...and a message of spiritual uplifting at times to those who need a comfort also.

     As the summer days slip by to fall cooler days, I ask you all to remember those in need, both here at church, our shut-ins, and to folks in community around your house and around your block! 

    With the current flooding around our nation, (AGAIN) I think there should be a call out to our membership to again start bringing in materials for those needed "flood buckets".  The need is great, I am told.  Is this a typical “fall” seasonal mission event???

     In the name of Jesus Christ, we all can do something, and sometimes a small thing to us (like sponges or a small bottle of cleaner, or a hot meal) can be a great thing to those we give to!

     Blessings to you all this September time.

     Pastor Jim

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = 

Folks of Bowmansville UMC, I read this Seedbed text today and with positive thoughts of you, the people of Bowmansville, I keep thinking of how you folks represent the content of this morning's message 8-16-2017.                  Pastor Jim

 

Why Community Pantries Will Never Get It Done!  (The Seedbed 8-16-2017)

BUT it is NOT about food pantries (Pastor Jim)

August 16, 2017

Philippians 2:1-2

    Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

CONSIDER THIS

We have somehow come to equate our Christian witness to the world with the amount of good work we can do in the world. It does make sense, and it’s not wrong. It’s just not exactly right either.  I mean, what distinguishes the service of Christians in the world from say, the United Way or the Mormon Church? (Or the Moose or the Elks clubs)-JB

Is it just that we attach the name of Jesus to our service; as though that were a value add-on?                                                                                         

          Jesus seemed to articulate a different strategy when it came to the way his followers would be recognized and known in the world.

          “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

          Jesus is not advocating for a different kind of service provider in the world. He’s building a different kind of community in the world? It is a community founded in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit; a group of people who are mysteriously caught up in and illumined by the interrelationships of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

          The reputation of the church in the world will never rise above the quality of the relationships within it. In fact, that is the Church. After all, why did Jesus pray “that all of them would be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us . . . ?      Answer: “So that the world will believe that you have sent me.”         It makes sense, then, that Paul would put all his eggs in this basket.

          Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

          Paul gets it—where there is great love, miracles always happen.

Consider this practical example. Why do we put so much stock in community pantries to help the poor?

         A poor person comes to our upper-middle-class church for help and we dutifully send them down to the community pantry. What if we brought them into our community and loved them out of poverty; helped them get jobs, equipped them with the biblical wisdom to build a household economy, raised our children together, and so on?

What if the community of the church, which is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, was a place where the love for one another was so palpable nothing was impossible for them? Think of the witness this would be to the watching world?

Before I get angry emails, let me be clear. (Pastor Jim)

Community pantries are fine. They certainly help poor people. It’s just they will never solve poverty.

          Only a community of ordinary relationships building itself up with extra-ordinary love will ever hope to do that. And yes, these places do exist. In the end, the point of this post is not to do with poverty. It’s about creating communities of true abundance.

THE PRAYER

 Abba Father, we thank you for your son, Jesus, who makes it all so clear to us.

This is about loving one another. Forgive me for missing the point time and time again.

Bring me into the mind of Christ in a new and living way.

I belong to you Jesus. In your name I pray,

Amen.

For Jesus, With Jesus

posted Aug 4, 2017, 2:04 PM by Bowmansville UMC

From Turning Point Ministries.

Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Hebrews 5:8

Recommended Reading
Isaiah 53:10-12

In the classic board game Monopoly®, one of the most coveted cards to draw is the orange “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Every player eventually winds up in jail—you land on the policeman in the corner or you draw the “Go Directly to Jail” card. But if you have the “Get Out of Jail Free” card … no problem! You can go to jail and get out of jail in the same turn!

That’s fun because it’s a game. 
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Sometimes we end up in the jail or there is suffering, calamity, sickness, trouble, or pain—and there is no orange card to set us free.  New Christians sometimes think following Jesus means no more troubles. Then they learn that Jesus suffered during all three years of His earthly ministry. And His disciples, later as apostles, suffered as well, even as they walked in God’s will. Here’s what we must remember: Suffering for Jesus is to suffer with Jesus. He promised to be with us until the end (Matthew 28:20), never leaving or forsaking us (Hebrews 13:5).

Following Jesus, whether through blessings or burdens, has the same result: being conformed to His image (Romans 8:28-29).

There is a certain kind of maturity that can be attained only through the discipline of suffering.
D. A. Carson

Folks of Bowmansville,  I have been asked by all at different times of our suffering....... even though we love the Lord, yet why do we suffer.  What I read today (above) is part of the answer but not all.  We live in an imperfect world due to the "fall" of man (and woman) in the Garden.  The Good News is that Jesus will come and make all things new (Book of Revelation 21:5), but we as his servants must endure and fix our eyes upon the Cross of Jesus.  Pastor Jim


We are not alone

posted Jul 1, 2017, 12:55 PM by Bowmansville UMC   [ updated Jul 1, 2017, 12:57 PM ]

Folks,

As a July message I want you all to consider this through the summer months as we busy ourselves in summer activities yet still come together in worship these sultry summer days on Sundays.

We as a church are not alone in what we do, even in the summer.

Read Ecclesiastes 4:7-12

So, what we are, what we have become, and what we will become, all depend not just on the free choices and decisions we make and the goals we set for ourselves, and our church. Even in summer we can reach out and grow.

Sometimes our free choices and our community are in conflict. Those who have not come to church lately might need some help.

Sometimes our goals and choices are to head in a given direction, but some of the people we run with can steer us away from our Christian goals.

Even in Academics some goals seem right until we put the Light of Christ onto the scene. Maybe God is Blessing you for HIS reason, and not your own? I as your Pastor have learned that lesson the hard way, a few lost years of service to MY Lord & Savior.

Good things can happen when our goals and choices and the people we are running with are all headed in the same Christian direction.

God's promise to be present to us becomes real to us through the Body of Christ, the Church.

One of the ways in which the Church offers its presence to us is by its activity of affirming (lifting up) people that they might become open to God's embrace. We need to be ever aware of this.

That is how we as Bowmansville church members as the body of Christ can help each other and help the church grow even in membership.

We do it by action. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me. Phil. 4:13.

We do it by stepping out, by trusting that God is there and we are willing to do what we hear him saying He is going to do. As the Gideon's say "take that first step in Faith"

We step forth on the journey to which He calls us and then, after we've walked that journey a bit, we look behind ourselves from where we've walked.

When we do that, we find that the landscape we've covered is littered with evidence of God's presence with us on our journey.

Remember the Footprints in the Sand poem?

Yes there will be times that we as members of the church body were carried by God when our times were tough. Through the Love of Jesus Christ he never leaves us, no matter how dark we imagine it to be!

Remember our church this summer, be thankful for an early 9:00 am service when the air might still be cool for a summer time service, with the warmth of friends and family inside who look for You these summer days.

Christian Summer Blessings this July/August Pastor Jim


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