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Pastor and author Jonathan Augustine suggests that we are not meant to be a melting pot where we are all blended until we are all the same. Instead we are like gumbo! Each one of us is a unique ingredient, and, because of our uniqueness, each one of us brings great value to the whole recipe.

So many of us want to either blend in or to stand out. We want the creativity that comes from a variety of points of view, but we prefer that everyone sees things from our point of view! It sounds as though we are caught in a conundrum, but maybe what we really want is a place where the love is bold enough to hold us all together, as many and as different as we are, as one body— where you see me and I see you, and where each one of us--along with the Holy Trinity, of course!-- is a necessary ingredient for the perfect recipe.

This Lenten Season we are taking Augustine’s analogy of gumbo and using it as a metaphor for what it looks like to truly be the body of Christ — to be bold in living our unique lives so that others can feel safe in being who they uniquely are, asking questions, staying curious, both blending in and standing all the ingredients of a good gumbo!

Let us love Jesus and love others until there are no others… only sisters and brothers in Christ.

Pastor Jo

February 27, 2023

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When I created our "New Year, New You, New Us" sermon series my concern was that it included too many Sundays. Now I see that we only have 3 Sundays left before Ash Wednesday! How does this happen?

Let's let that question settle in from the perspective of our series thus far - a new covenant, new plan, new purpose, new courage, new orientation - How does this happen?

What have we done to embrace the newness of God's mercies and the new opportunities to share these mercies with others? What are we doing to enhance the ministries of our church in new ways so that everyone around us may know of God's redeeming grace?

Becoming a "new creation" through Jesus Christ is not a "new" invitation, but it does invite us to consider how we are inviting this newness into our lives.

How does this happen? With intentionality, dedication, attentiveness, prayer, and commitment. Life was never meant to be lived in “autopilot” mode. Embrace the newness and celebrate the freedom that is yours through Jesus Christ!

So then, if anyone is in Christ,

that person is part of the new creation.

The old things have gone away,

and look, new things have arrived!

2 Corinthians 5:17

Pastor Jo

February 1, 2023

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This past Sunday we had an opportunity to remember our baptism. As a pastor, this is one of the most meaningful moments of ministry. I saw family and friends gather at the font together. I saw silent tears and pauses of gratitude. I saw children splash with delight. I could sense a renewal and a refreshment in each person who chose to come to the font.

As United Methodist we believe our baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace. The water is only sacred because of what it represents — God’s unconditional love, mercy, and grace. This is why we do not “re-baptize.” None of us can ever fully comprehend God’s salvation. We can, however, accept it, grow in it, and bless others because of it. As we grow and learn we remember that even when we didn’t understand as fully as we do now, even though we weren’t as sincere in that moment as we are now, God’s grace is enough to hold all that we were, all that we are, and all that we will become.

Naomi offered a beautiful backdrop through song. It is a song with no known author or origin. Another reminder of all that has been, is, and will always be a part of our journey.

As I went down to the river to pray

Studying about that good ol' way

And who shall wear the robe and crown?

Good Lord show me the way

Oh children, let’s go down…

down to the river to pray

May our lives continue to be an outward sign of an inward grace so that all may know of God’s redeeming grace.

Pastor Jo Cooper

January 17, 2023

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