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The Circle of Love

 My mother used to tell me the story of the day that I was born.  She said it was a cold and dreary day in February.  She remembers one of t...

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The Circle of Love

 My mother used to tell me the story of the day that I was born.  She said it was a cold and dreary day in February.  She remembers one of the nurses told her that her baby would share the birthday of George Washington.  The next thing she knew she was lying in bed and I was being handed to her.  The first thing she noticed was how large I was (almost 10 lbs) and how big my hands were, and how loud and powerful I cried.  She told me, “the minute I saw you I loved you.”  And looking at me, she wondered who I was and who I would become.

The day my daughter was born was a clear, beautiful fall day in October.  We actually went to the hospital  two days prior to her birth.  My wife, Melanie, was in labor for 29 hours.   Our daughter, Erin, finally arrived around 6:00 am on that beautiful day.  The nurses placed her into my arms and the minute I held her a tremendous, overwhelming love came pouring fourth from the deepest part of me.  And as I gazed into her eyes, I wondered who she was and who she would become.

Now, my daughter is pregnant and will soon have a daughter of her own.  She sent us a text the other day that contained an audio of our soon-to-be granddaughter’s heartbeat.  And the love from the deepest part of me came pouring out.  Whoever she is, whoever she becomes, she will be loved.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Bell Tolls

The Covid-19 virus has taught me many things.  I have learned about pandemics.  I have learned about social distancing.  I have learned about online grocery shopping.  I have learned about hand washing.  I have learned about not touching my face or eyes.  I have learned about wearing a mask. I have learned that I can do without a lot of things that I formerly thought were necessary.

Most importantly, I have learned that we are interdependent.  We may think we are independent, but unless we are a desert recluse, we all come into contact with other people.  And because of this, my actions or lack of actions affect you.  And yours affect me.  My actions can have serious consequences for you and the people you love.

In order for you and your loved ones to stay healthy, you need me to act in a responsible way.  In turn, I need you do the same.  Society is founded on this interconnected interdependence.  Without it, civilized society breaks down.

John Dunn once wrote

No man is an island entire of itself; every man 
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
..... any man's death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom 
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. “

The bell tolls.  Does it toll just for me or just for you?  Or for all humankind?  Only you and I can answer that question.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Note to the Congregation During the Pandemic: Remember to Walk in Love

Ephesians 5:1-2

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Christ came into this world not only to provide us with a path of Salvation but also to provide us with an example of how we are to live our lives; how we are to relate to other people, people that we love and people that are hard to love.  Our dominant motivator in life is to be love.  Love is to be the driving force in our lives.  

Are we walking in love today as Christ loved us, or are we walking in fear, or anger, or apathy?  Reach out to someone each day and share the love of Christ with them.  

May the Love of Christ be with you,
Rev. Eric Lanier,
Interim Pastor, Memorial United Methodist Church

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Note to the Congregation During the Pandemic: Remember to Look for God's Guiding Hand

Leviticus 23: 40-43
“40 On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters 43 so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

The Israelites had a festival they called The Festival of Booths.   It was a time in which they remembered when they wandered in the wilderness and had no permanent home.  The 40 years that they wandered in the wilderness was a time of extreme hardship and danger. Yet they wanted to remember this time.

They wanted to remember it so that they could celebrate God’s deliverance of them.  God eventually led them to the promised land. And this is what they celebrated.

Hopefully we will look back on this time and see God’s hand, leading and guiding us through the hardships and the dangers.  And we will celebrate our deliverance.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Note to the Congregation During the Pandemic: Remember to Care for Your Spirit

Matthew 15: 1-9
1Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands before they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say that whoever tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God,’ then that person need not honor the father. 6 So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said:

8 ‘This people honors me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me;
9 in vain do they worship me,
    teaching human precepts as doctrines.’”

Lately we have all been reminded,several times a day, to wash our hands.  According to health officials, this simple thing is very important in keeping us healthy.  But we must also remember to keep our soul healthy.  

Jesus’ disciples were guilty of not ritually cleansing their hands before they ate.  On the other hand, the Pharisees were guilty of having dirty hearts. Jesus accused them of putting the rituals of religion over the things of the spirit (such as mercy, kindness and grace).

Let us all do those things that are necessary to stay healthy, like washing our hands.  But let’s also do those things that keep us strong spiritually

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Note to the Congregation During the Pandemic: Remember to Fellowship

Hebrews 10:24-25 
“24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
The writer of Hebrews is encouraging Christian congregations to fellowship with one another. An integral part of this fellowship was, and still is, meeting together.  As Christians we meet together at worship, in Sunday School, in bible study, on work teams, in committee meetings, or maybe we just have a fellowship meal together. Fellowship is an important Christian discipline.  We can learn a lot about God from others. The Holy Spirit works in our fellowship, leading others into our paths, and leading us into the path of others for the work and the will of God.
In times like these we have to fellowship in different ways, but we should never forget to practice fellowship.  The writer of Hebrews, if he were addressing this subject today might say, “ Let us consider how we may show love to one another and perform good deeds for one another from a distance.  Let’s postpone our meetings for now, but let’s not get out of the habit of fellowship. Continue to encourage one another and support one another through this time of trial. The day that we will meet in worship again is approaching.”

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Note to the Congregation During the Pandemic: Don't Forget to Pray

Acts 1: 12-14
"12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers."

After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples were told to return to Jerusalem and wait.  Jesus had told them that they would be baptized by the Holy Spirit but I am sure they did not know what they were waiting for.  While they were waiting they all prayed together, men and women. And they prayed constantly.

How are we spending our time during these days of waiting?  Are we praying? Here is a small. list of things we could pray for:
 Pray for the members of our congregation.  Use a directory and pray for one page of members per day.  Pray for their health and safety during this time. Lift them up to God but name. 
Pray for the health care workers who are treating the sick.  Ask God to guide them and let them feel His spirit.
Pray for all those people who are sick with the corona virus that they be made well.
Pray for the families of those whose loved ones have died.
Pray for our nation’s leaders as they struggle to make decisions that will protect us.
Pray for the people of other nations as they struggle as we do.

Let us spend our time of waiting in prayer for one another, for others, for this nation and for the world.