MARCH 6, 2017
Today we are almost one week into the holy season of Lent. If you have chosen to adopt a spiritual discipline during this season—such as giving up a favorite food or hobby, adding an extra devotional time to your daily schedule, or decluttering your home—I hope it’s off to a good start! And if you haven’t adopted a Lenten discipline yet, it’s never too late: if you’re still looking for a way to enhance your spiritual life this Lent, we have plenty of opportunities for you at Auburn First UMC! Our choir and adult Sunday School class are always welcoming new members—choir practices at 6:30 on Wednesday evenings, and Sunday School meets at 9:00 on Sunday mornings.
We also have also begun our Second Annual Lenten Film Festival, which is the perfect spiritual practice for movie buffs! Each Sunday afternoon during Lent we are gathering at church to watch a movie together (upcoming flicks include “The Truman Show”, “Life is Beautiful”, and “Risen”, among others), and then we share a meal while we discuss the film’s religious themes. All are welcome to join this fun and informative group, and free childcare is always provided!
In addition, we have also begun a new Lenten worship series, based on the book “More Than Enough: Living Abundantly in a Culture of Excess” by Rev. Lee Hull Moses. As we continue on our journey through Lent, we will be focusing on decluttering our spiritual lives, re-examining our busy schedules, grappling with injustice and inequality, and learning to live abundantly by embracing simplicity! Here’s a preview of what’s coming up:
3/12—Much Ado About Money
(Reminder: we are worshipping at the Presbyterian Church at 11:15 this week!)
3/19—The Blessing and Curse of “Stuff”
4/2—Loving Your Neighbors
4/9—Put On Your Work Boots!
See you at the Presbyterian church next Sunday for an awesome ecumenical service! Have a blessed week!
JANUARY 25, 2017
The month of February is drawing ever-nearer, and it’s time for us to do some mountain climbing! I’m not talking about real mountains, of course—Nebraska is sadly lacking in that department, much to this Colorado girl’s chagrin! But over the next five weeks, we’re going to be climbing some metaphorical mountains in worship at Auburn FUMC as we begin our new sermon series, entitled “Lofty Goals: Lessons from the Sermon on the Mount”.
In this pre-Lent worship series, we’ll be exploring the fifth chapter of Matthew and learning more about these important Christian life lessons that Jesus shared with his first disciples. Here’s a look at what’s to come:
1/29--#blessed (Matthew 5:1-12)
If you’re on social media, you’ve probably seen people used the #blessed hashtag. Celebrities say that they’ve been #blessed when their latest single is at the top of the charts, athletes say that God has #blessed them when they sign a multi-million dollar contract, and sometimes people say that they’ve been #blessed by finding an extra McNugget in their Happy Meal! But what does Jesus have to say about the true meaning of being blessed? (Hint: It has absolutely nothing to do with money or McNuggets!)
2/5—A High-Sodium Life (Matthew 5:13-20)
When it comes to picking a can of soup, you’re probably better off picking a low-sodium option—but when it comes to sharing your faith, you want to be as salty as possible! Jesus says that his disciples are supposed to be “salt for the earth” and “light for the world.” Today we’ll learn about how we can fill Auburn with light and “holy flavor” as we work to build God’s Kingdom together!
2/12—Rotten Roots (Matthew 5:21-37)
Jesus didn’t shy away from tough topics, and neither will we: today’s sermon is all about anger, lust, and swearing! (“Swearing” in this context means swearing oaths or making promises—don’t worry, there won’t be any four-letter words in this sermon!) We’ll look at what Jesus had to say about righteousness and temptation, and how we can destroy sin by knocking out the roots!
2/19—The Care and Keeping of Enemies (Matthew 5:38-48)
Frank Burns on M*A*S*H once said that “it’s nice to be nice to the nice”—and he was right! It’s easy to love the people who are naturally loveable…but what about the people who seem thoroughly unlikeable? Do we have to be nice to them too? Let’s discover what loving your enemies is all about, and along the way we’ll also learn about the history of commonly-heard phrases like “turn the other cheek” and “go the extra mile”!
2/26—At the Mountaintop (Transfiguration Sunday)
We’ll be ending our sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount in a very appropriate location: on top of a mountain! Come hear the story of the Transfiguration, which will help us transition into our Lenten journey (which will be based on the book “Gifts of the Dark Wood: Seven Blessings for Soulful Skeptics and Other Wanderers”, by Omaha-area pastor Eric Elnes.)
See you in church!
JANUARY 6, 2017
Happy New Year, Auburn FUMC!
Today (January 6th) is the Feast of the Epiphany, when we celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men who came from the east to worship Jesus. It also marks the end of the Christmas season, which means that it’s finally time to take down the lights, the trees, and the Nativity sets until next November. Here at the parsonage, the toddler is a little bit concerned about the Christmas tree being “broken” and put back into the box—but we’ve managed to appease her by keeping all of the snowman-themed decorations out for her to play with!
We’ve got some great things coming up at Auburn FUMC as the new year commences. We’ll be launching our brand new website next week, some of our young people will be joining other United Methodist youth in Salina for “The One Event” later this month, and we’ve got some exciting sermons in the works! Here’s what you can look forward to in worship during the month of January:
January 8—Baptism of the Lord Sunday
On Baptism of the Lord Sunday, we will be reaffirming our baptismal vows and giving God thanks for the sacrament of baptism. We will also be celebrating Holy Communion.
January 15—Human Relations Sunday
Human Relations Sunday is a special giving Sunday in the United Methodist Church; one which focuses on caring for at-risk youth, marginalized and oppressed populations, and communities in need. And because January 16th is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we will be celebrating Human Relations Sunday by reading portions of one of Dr. King’s sermons. (It’s called “Paul’s Letter to American Christians”, and MLK delivered it over 60 years ago…but I think that you’ll find that it’s still shockingly relevant to us today!)
January 22—Ecumenical Sunday
January 22 is “Ecumenical Sunday”, and we are going to celebrate this with our Presbyterian sisters and brothers here in Auburn! Our congregations will be worshiping together at 10:00, here at the United Methodist Church, and the service will feature leadership from both congregations.
January 29—A New Sermon Series!
January 29th will mark the beginning of a new lectionary-based sermon series that will run until the beginning of Lent. It’s called “Lofty Goals”, and is based on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are the meek, do not worry about the future, you can’t serve God and wealth, avoiding anger and lust…we’ll be hitting all those topics and more!
I hope that your New Year is off to a fabulous start! See you in church!
DECEMBER 7, 2016
Greetings! Here’s a long-overdue update from Pastor Emily!
They say that time flies when you’re having fun, so the past few months must have been an absolute blast! It’s been a busy fall:
And now the Advent season is upon us! This is a time of waiting and anticipation as we prepare for the birth of Jesus Christ. We will be celebrating in a variety of ways at Auburn FUMC, beginning with our youth and children’s Christmas play on December 18th. During our 10:00 worship service, our youngest disciples will be presenting “Matt and Lucy’s Version Births”, which explores the differences between the nativity stories found in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. It’s a cute and heartwarming play, with lots of great music—you won’t want to miss it!
On Christmas Eve (Saturday, December 24th), we will have two worship services for you to choose between. We’ll have a casual family-oriented worship service at 4:00, and then there will be a traditional Christmas Eve service at 7:00 with choir and brass music. Both services will feature candlelight worship and Holy Communion. Come to one, or come to both! (Hey, I’ll be at each one!)
And then, on Christmas morning, we will be having our usual Sunday worship service at 10:00. Kids are welcome to come in their Christmas pajamas (adults can too, if they really want!), and we will celebrate Jesus’ birth with music, storytelling, and the baptism of one of our newest members!
I’m looking forward to celebrating this joyous season with all of you! Have a blessed Advent as we wait and worship together!
AUGUST 30, 2016
My home is full of books. We are a literature-loving family, and if you were to catch a glimpse of our living room you would know it! We’ve got textbooks, philosophy books, novels, and newspapers. We have books about science fiction and books about 20th-century wars (those are Stephen’s.) We have biographies, books about religion and spirituality, and historical fiction (those are mine.) And of course, we have lots of children’s books! With a pint-sized bookworm whose vocabulary is rapidly expanding, we have an entire library of children’s classics—Goodnight Moon, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and of course, lots of Dr. Seuss!
Dr. Seuss is hands-down Evie’s favorite author at the moment….I’m pretty sure that I could read “Hop on Pop” or “Put Me in the Zoo” with my eyes closed! So it’s not surprising that Seuss has inspired my upcoming sermon series! We’re going to spend the next five weeks looking for Biblical messages in some of our favorite childhood stories, including:
September 4th: The Cat in the Hat Comes Back
September 11th: Green Eggs and Ham
September 18th: The Zax
September 25th: The Sneeches
October 2nd: Horton Hears a Who!
So what are you waiting for?!? Join us at Auburn FUMC for rhymes, laughter, and worship that will make you feel like a kid at heart!
AUGUST 2, 2016
Grab your remotes and fire up your DVRs—the Olympics are coming! The 2016 Rio Olympics opening ceremony will commence on Friday evening at 6:00, and over the next few weeks athletes from around the world will compete in a wide variety of events. (Seriously, have you looked at the list of Olympic summer sports? They’ve got everything from archery to rugby, rhythmic gymnastics to golf, table tennis to water polo! There’s even a trampoline event!)
And while the international athletes are showing off their physical fitness, the people of Auburn First United Methodist Church will be focusing on spiritual fitness! Throughout the month of August, we will be flexing our spiritual muscles and learning about the heroes of the Old Testament in our Olympic-themed worship series: “Go For The Gold!” And make sure to bring the kids and grandkids—there will be fun Olympic games to play during children’s time!
GO FOR THE GOLD!
August 7th: Running the Race (Hebrews 11:29-12:1)
August 14th: Wrestling With God (Genesis 32:22-32)
August 21: Shotput—Good Things Come in Small Packages (1 Samuel 17)
August 28: Weightlifting—Be Strong in the Lord (Judges 13-16)
JULY 6, 2016
But Ruth said, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. –Ruth 1:16b
Do you remember those senior class superlatives from your high school yearbook? The kids who were voted “Class Clown”, “Best Smile”, and “Most Likely to Succeed?” I didn’t earn any of these coveted titles when I was in high school—as a shy marching band geek in a school of over 2000 students, I wasn’t anywhere near the inner circle of popular kids who usually earned those honors! (Although when I was in 8th grade, I was elected “Class Bookworm” and I wore the title with pride!)
We like to honor the people who stand out from the crowd; the people who shine brightly and seem to “have it all.” But strangely enough, we don’t find too many of those shining stars in the Bible! To the contrary: the Bible is filled with underdogs and losers and nobodies! The pages of Scripture are full of outsiders and outcasts—and the really crazy thing is that in the end, God turns these people into the stars! Throughout the Bible, God is constantly using the most unlikely people, and God is always transforming underdogs into heroes and heroines!
In our July sermon series, we’re going to be studying one of these unlikely heroines: a young woman named Ruth. We will examine her story and see what it has to teach us today—we’ll talk about faith and trust, we’ll talk about how Christians are often called to be outsiders in the world, and we’ll talk about how wide and expansive the Kingdom of God truly is! Join us on this journey as we get to know Ruth: a woman who was the least likely to succeed, but through whom God accomplished powerful things!
July Sermon Series: “Girl Least Likely to Succeed”
July 10th: Ruth 1
“Girl Least Likely to Succeed: The Outsider”
July 17th: Ruth 2
“Girl Least Likely to Succeed: No Good Deed Goes Unnoticed”
July 24th: Ruth 3
“Girl Least Likely to Succeed: When is ‘Bad’ Behavior Good?”
July 31st: Ruth 4
“Girl Least Likely to Succeed: From Outsider to Insider!”
JUNE 21, 2016
June has been quite the crazy whirlwind month! I attended the Great Plains Annual Conference, I was ordained as an Elder in Full Connection—this is the United Methodist clergy equivalent of getting tenure!—and then I spent a week teaching teenagers about Methodist theology at Confirmation Camp. (Fortunately, camp wasn’t all work and no play: in between classroom sessions, I honed my archery skills and went ziplining for the first time and made a spiffy tie-dyed t-shirt!)
Ordination--you might notice our District Superintendent on the left!
It seems like the summer is rushing by very quickly, but we’ve got some amazing community outreach opportunities on the horizon1 We’ll be talking about these more in church over the next couple of weeks, but please mark your calendars and fire up your ovens for the following events!
July 13th: Kid’s Fishing Day
Bucket Brigade is sponsoring a community fishing event for children of all ages on July 13th from 5:30-7:00 pm at Optimist Lake. We are still looking for some volunteers and some food/drink donations—you can sign up in the church library!
July 14th-17th: FUMC Booth at the Nemaha County Fair
It’s time to show our community just how sweet God’s grace is! We will have a booth at the fair this year, and we will be passing out free cookies to all the fairgoers. We are asking for donations of home-baked cookies, and we are also asking volunteers to sign up for two-hour timeslots at the booth. (All you have to do is say “hi”, pass out cookies, and tell people about our church if they want to know more about us! And have no fear—we’ve got an indoor booth, so you’ll get to enjoy some sweet air-conditioning while you’re on cookie duty!)
August 21st: FUMC Booth at the Peru New Student Involvement Fair
Auburn FUMC is also going to be present at the New Student Involvement Fair at Peru State College! We will be letting incoming freshmen know that FUMC would love to be their “home away from home” while they’re in school, and we’ll be collecting contact information from interested students. And since the way to a college student’s heart is through her/his stomach, we will be asking for homemade goodies for this event as well…stay tuned for more details!
Our summer is off to a great start, and I’m so excited for all of these upcoming events. We’ve got three big opportunities to share our love and generosity with the rest of Nemaha County, and I pray that God will use all of us to make a big impact!
MAY 10, 2016
Brace yourself: General Conference 2016 has arrived!
Today—Wednesday, May 10th—is the first day of our denomination’s General Conference. General Conference is the highest legislative branch in the UMC; it is held once every four years and is attended by hundreds of clergy and lay delegates from all around the globe. These delegates were elected at Annual Conferences last year, and now they are gathering to worship, share conversation, debate many contentious issues that are facing the Church today, and make polity decisions that will affect all 13 million United Methodists who are part of our global denomination.
The 2016 General Conference is being held in Portland, Oregon, and I have a number of friends and colleagues who are serving as delegates this year. They have an exciting and exhausting 10 days of conferencing ahead of them, so please lift them in prayer during this time! Pray that all of our delegates will make wise, Holy Spirit-led decisions. Pray for safe travels for our brothers and sisters who are coming thousands of miles to be at this event. Pray for the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of all who attend this Conference, and pray that God will be glorified in everything that they do!
If you want to learn more about General Conference, please check out the following resources. You can follow General Conference on Twitter with the hashtag #umcgc, and I will be posting prayer requests on the church Facebook page throughout the next two weeks.
General Conference information: www.umc.org/topics/general-conference-2016
Major issues being discussed: www.umc.org/who-we-are/general-conference-2016-major-legislative-issues
Live video stream: www.umc.org/who-we-are/general-conference-2016-live-video-stream-english
APRIL 20, 2016
Stephen and Evie and I have been in Auburn for nearly 10 months now, and it’s amazing to me that we’ve been here for almost an entire year. It feels like the time has just flown by—when we first arrived, Evie wasn’t even crawling; now she’s running and climbing and talking and getting into all kinds of mischief! Stephen and I often talk about how fortunate we are to be raising Evie in a church community like this one. One of the best parts about being a church member is the knowledge that you have a whole network of people who are looking out for you and supporting you through life’s ups and downs.
We try to take good care of each other here at Auburn, and we have fabulous people who lead our hospitality ministries and prayer ministries. Pastoral care visits are an important part of my work as well, so if you (or a friend or family member) are ever in the hospital or in need of a visit, just call the church office and let us know! I am always happy to schedule a visit, and we can also put you on the prayer chain or send some meals through our Hospitality Committee.
A few more spring updates:
Have a fantastic week!
MARCH 30, 2016
Wait, what? Didn't we just celebrate Easter a few days ago? That big service with all the brass instruments and all of the "Alleluias" and all the kids with the candy and the noisemakers? Wasn't that Easter? It's over, isn't it?
Well, yes and no: Easter Sunday has come and gone, but the season of Easter continues! In the Christian calendar, the season of Easter lasts for 50 days--it starts on Easter Sunday and ends at Pentecost. So really, the celebration of Jesus' resurrection is just beginning. We've only just started the celebration!
But as the United Methodist Church website points out, Easter isn't just a 50-day party. It's also a time to learn and grow and deepen our relationship with Christ. Check out this tidbit from http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/why-is-the-easter-season-fifty-days-long :
Easter is also more than just an extended celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. In the early church, Lent was a season for new converts to learn about the faith and prepare for baptism on Easter Sunday. The initial purpose of the 50-day Easter season was to continue the faith formation of new Christians.
Today, this extended season gives us time to rejoice and experience what it means when we say Christ is risen. It’s the season when we remember our baptisms and how through this sacrament we are, according to the liturgy, “incorporated into Christ’s mighty acts of salvation.” As “Easter people,” we also celebrate and ponder the birth of the Church and gifts of the Spirit (Pentecost), and how we are to live as faithful disciples of Christ.
In that spirit, we've got some excellent learning opportunities coming up at Auburn FUMC! Here are just a few of the many exciting things on the horizon:
It's still Easter, and there's no better time to dig deep and explore our faith together! Happy springtime, happy Easter, and happy resurrection to us all!
FEBRUARY 24, 2016
Back in 2004, when the movie version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” was playing in theaters, I went to see it with my parents and one of my aunts. After the movie, the four of us went to dinner. While we were waiting for our food to arrive, my parents and I launched into an in-depth conversation about the theological themes we saw in the movie. We talked about the movie’s portrayal of love, sacrifice, redemption, and revenge—and the whole time, my aunt looked rather puzzled. After several minutes of conversation, she finally spoke up and asked “Do you guys do this after every movie you watch?!?”
The answer to her question is a resounding “Yes!” My family has a long history of thoroughly analyzing all the movies we view, and we enjoy searching films for Scriptural themes and messages. So it should hardly come as a surprise to learn that I have always loved leading movie discussion groups at the churches I serve! When I was a college ministry intern in Grand Island, NE, I started a summer group called “Methodist Movie Madness”; as an associate pastor in Lincoln, I began the “Lenten Film Festival”…and I’m excited to be continuing that tradition here at Auburn FUMC!
I hope that you will all plan to join us on Wednesday evenings throughout Lent as we enjoy this time of fellowship and discussion. And if you want to keep the movie-viewing fun going at home, here is Pastor Emily’s list of “Top Five Movies to Watch During Lent”:
1. Jesus Christ Superstar—The last week of Jesus’ life, as told by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Much of the story is told from Judas’ perspective, which provides a fascinating character study of this disciple who betrayed Jesus. I recommend the 1973 version: it was filmed on-location in Israel, and the music and costumes are excellent. (The movie is often criticized because it ends with the crucifixion, but pay close attention during the closing scene—if you look really closely, you’ll see a subtle nod to the resurrection!)
2. Ben-Hur—It’s called an “epic” for a reason! This tremendous Hollywood classic had the largest budget and largest set of any movie of it’s era. Ben-Hur tells the story of a Jewish merchant who is betrayed and enslaved by his best friend, and it chronicles his journey toward freedom. Everything about this movie is extravagant and lavish…and as a nifty bonus for religious viewers, the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is seamlessly woven through the story.
3. Romero—A 1989 movie about Archbishop Oscar Romero, who become a political revolutionary and religious martyr in El Salvador. I watched this one a couple of times when I was in seminary, and while it’s definitely not a light and fluffy film (the depiction of violence and corruption in Central America is often difficult to watch!), it’s worth viewing. Romero brings up some excellent questions about the nature of suffering, the role of the Church in government, and how Christians are called to act in the face of injustice.
4. Chocolat—If you’re looking for a light and fluffy movie, this is it! Chocolat is the delicious tale of a young woman who opens a chocolate shop in a small French village during the season of Lent. Be warned: you will be craving sweets by the time this movie is over!
5. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat—Not a Lenten film by any means, and it’s set several centuries before the birth of Christ…but it’s still one of my favorite Bible-themed movies of all time. The 1999 version features Donny Osmond and Joan Collins; it is a musical and visual delight! Perfect for a family movie night!
Happy viewing, and may your Lenten journey continue to be blessed!
FEBRUARY 9, 2016
Hi church family!
The past month or so has been quite busy! In the last four weeks, I’ve done two funerals, a baptism, a couple of treks down to Kansas on Conference business, Evie’s first birthday party, and an interview with the Board of Ordained Ministry—which I passed! In June, at the Great Plains Annual Conference meeting, I will be “promoted” from Provisional Elder to Ordained Elder. (For those of you who are familiar with the academic world, this is sort of the UM clergy version of going from “associate professor” to “full professor with tenure.” It’s pretty exciting, and I am so thankful!)
We are now coming into a very special season of the Church year: LENT. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. This is traditionally a time of reflection and self-denial; many people will choose to give up something they enjoy (chocolate, television, Facebook) as a spiritual practice during these 40 days. It’s also a time to just get back to the basics of our Christian faith—which is why our Lenten sermon series is entitled: “Seven Essential Questions.” Over the next several weeks, we are going to be looking at some of the most basic questions which Christianity seeks to answer—I hope that you will join us as we explore these questions together in worship!
SEVEN ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS
February 14th: Who is God?
February 21st: What matters most in life?
February 28th: What (or Who) is the Holy Spirit?
March 6th: How do I get saved?
March 13th: Why should I go to church?
March 20th: Where is God when people suffer? (Palm Sunday)
March 27th: Is there hope? (Easter Sunday)
See you in worship! And please remember to attend our Lenten Film Festival starting on February 17th: we’ll be meeting each Wednesday evening during Lent from 5:15-6:30 for a movie/discussion group!
JANUARY 5, 2016
Happy New Year, Auburn FUMC! Welcome to the year 2016—this is a time of hope, promise, new beginnings. (It’s also that delightful time of year where you constantly write the wrong number whenever you have to sign and date something. I’m not the only one who does that, right?)
We’ve got an exciting new lectionary-based sermon series coming up for the rest of January. It’s called New Year, New You! Here’s a sneak preview of what’s in store for the next four weeks:
January 10: New Year, New You!
Out with the old, in with the new! Join us as we say goodbye to 2015 by celebrating our baptisms, sharing Holy Communion, and remembering that we serve a God who always loves us…even when our New Year’s resolutions fail!
January 17: New Year, New Community!
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we will be celebrating Christian unity and remembering Jesus’ admonition to love everyone…no exceptions! I will be sharing pieces of Dr. King’s inspirational 1963 sermon on “Loving Your Enemies”—and I think you’ll agree that his words are still relevant 53 years later.
January 24: New Year, New Church!
The church is the Body of Christ: it has many parts, and each part has a different gift and a different function. Join us as we talk about what it means to be Christ on earth, and why we need to work together to build God’s Kingdom. (Spoiler alert: we might be playing a game of Jenga during this service!)
January 31: New Year, New Life!
Love is powerful. Love can be dangerous. And love is the only thing that can transform our world. Join us as we talk about 1 Corinthians 13 (you know, that famous Scripture that you’ve heard at every wedding you’ve ever been to) and let’s prepare to worship the God whose love offers us the fullness of life!
DECEMBER 24, 2015
Merry Christmas Eve!
In just a couple of hours, I will be leading my first Christmas Eve services at Auburn FUMC. I am so excited to celebrate the birth of Christ with this church community—there will be music and candlelight and stories and Scriptures and an abundance of joy! And as I prepare for worship this evening, I am reflecting on all the joys our church community has experienced in the past month. Indeed, as we’ve journeyed through the season of Advent together, we have encountered a lot of celebrations…
It has been a month full of blessing, and tonight we get to celebrate the most tremendous blessing of all: Jesus Christ, God’s Word made flesh. The birth of Jesus changed the course of human history—and tonight, we get to remember how it all started. Alleluia!
DECEMBER 2, 2015
The greens have been hung, the halls have been decked, and Auburn FUMC looks like a magical Christmas wonderland! I'm so excited to celebrate Advent and Christmas with this amazing congregation, and we have some exciting things going on in the next few weeks. Here's what's on our Advent agenda:
Youth Christmas Caroling at Long's Creek, 6:30 pm (All are welcome to join!)
Cookie Walk in Fellowship Hall, 8:00 am-Noon
Children's Christmas Play, 10:00
Soup Lunch in Fellowship Hall, 11:00
(Free-will offering for missions)
4:00 PM: Christmas Eve Worship
A casual afternoon service, perfect for families with young children or people who will be traveling later in the evening.
7:00 PM: Christmas Eve Service
A traditional candlelight service, featuring choral music and guest musicians
OCTOBER 30, 2015
Happy Friday, Auburn FUMC!
Just a friendly reminder to set your clocks back one hour on Saturday night as Daylight Savings Time comes to an end. (And if you forget and show up to worship an hour early, no worries—you can just join one of our Sunday School classes and enjoy some coffee and treats!)
Have a safe and fun Halloween weekend, and we'll see you at 10:00 this Sunday as we celebrate All Saint’s Day. We’ll be talking about the Christian origins of Halloween, learning about who the Methodist saints are (spoiler alert: we’ve got a whole bunch in our church!), and remembering our loved ones who have left this earth. We will also be celebrating Holy Communion, and celebrating the debut of our spiffy new altar cloth!
And don’t forget: November 8th is Youth Sunday! The whole service will be led by our awesome FUMC youth group. You won’t want to miss it!
OCTOBER 14, 2015
My fellow Methodist-Americans,
The presidential election is right around the corner, and...
Wait a minute...
No it isn’t! The election is still over a year away! (If you want to get super-precise, the internet informs me that it is exactly 390 days, 12 hours, and 8 minutes away as of the moment I’m typing this.) And yet all of the pre-election hubbub is well underway, with candidates already popping out soundbites and engaging in lively—and occasionally vicious—debates.
Stephen and I watched the Democratic debate last night, and we watched the two Republican debates before that. We enjoy hearing the candidate’s positions, analyzing their debate skills, and listening to the media coverage and public feedback that always follows the debates. Yet whenever I watch a debate, and whenever I hear see people talking about politics online, I get disheartened by just how ungracious and snarky folks can be toward their political opponents. It makes me wish that we were all just a little bit better at following John Wesley’s rules for elections!
Yes, that's right: our friend John had some very sage advise that all Christians—really, all people—would be wise to follow! It comes from one of his journal entries in 1774, and I thought that I’d share it with you as we enter this year-long craziness known as “election season”!
October 6th, 1774
"I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them,
1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy:
2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against:
And, 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side."
Brilliant, huh? Following these rules is my goal during every election season. Will you join me in committing to this mindset? Maybe we can be a good influence on our brothers and sisters around the country this coming year!
SEPTEMBER 30, 2015
“Let our hearts not be hardened to those living on the margin;
There is room at the table for everyone.
This is where it all begins, this is how we gather in;
There is room at the table for everyone”
--“Room at the Table”, by Carrie Newcomer
On Sunday, October 4th, we will be celebrating World Communion Sunday. (We will also be watching the amazing Carrie Newcomer video shared above—she is one of my favorite Christian artists, and her music just fills me with joy and inspiration!) On World Communion Sunday, we remember that we are part of a global congregation and we celebrate the Lord’s Supper with our sisters and brothers all around the world. United Methodist churches around the globe will also be participating in a special offering, and the funds that we gather will go to provide scholarships for young men and women who are living in poverty. Education is one of the best ways to break the cycle of poverty, so our generous giving on World Communion Sunday can make a big difference!
Auburn FUMC will also be starting a new sermon series and a new stewardship campaign this week. The series is called “More Than Enough”, and we will spend the month talking about God’s incredible generosity. The Bible makes it very clear that God specializes in abundance: God has filled the world with an abundance of resources, and God has showered us with an abundance of grace and love. There is room at the table for everyone, and there is plenty to go around…and as Christians, it’s our job to practice good stewardship and use our resources to build God’s Kingdom. Here’s a preview of what’s in store over the next few weeks:
October 4: More Than Enough: Abundance in Creation
The Message: There is no need to worry, because God always provides. God’s generosity is shown throughout creation, and if we trust in God and follow God’s advice, we will find that there is always enough to go around!
October 11: More Than Enough: An Abundance of Grace
The Message: It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you’ve done—you are a beloved child of God. Judgment belongs to God alone, and God chooses to show us grace!
October 18: More Than Enough: Stewardship of Abundance
The Message: Everything we have—our money, our land, our families, our pets, our possessions—is “on loan” from God. God has created everything, and God has asked us to be the caretakers of all these marvelous gifts. And God wants us to be generous when sharing these gifts with others!
October 25: More Than Enough: An Abundance of Hope
The Message: Even when the world seems to be full of despair, the light of God’s hope can never be extinguished. God is good all the time, and we can trust that God’s goodness will win out in the end!
Enjoy the beautiful fall weather, and we’ll see you on Sunday!
SEPTEMBER 9, 2015
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven… (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Summer is almost over, and a new season is upon us—soon the leaves will be changing colors, the weather will start to cool, and it will be time to pick apples and carve pumpkins! Fall is one of my favorite seasons (I say “one of” because I really can’t pick between spring and fall) and I’m looking forward to this change in seasons. However, the arrival of fall also brings a lot of extra work and challenge to the life of a new pastor, so I wanted to give my awesome congregation a heads-up on all the things I’ll be doing over the next few months.
I’m sharing this with you for two reasons: first of all, I want you to know that I will be out of the office a little more than usual—my Residency retreats and mentoring will take me out of Auburn for three full days each month. However, I will still be available during my normal office hours during the rest of the month, and I can also be contacted via email when I’m on these business trips.
Secondly, I’m sharing this because I would appreciate your prayers as I enter this busy season of life. All of the aforementioned paperwork and travel is an important (and mandatory!) part of my work as a pastor in the UMC—plus, the things that I learn on my retreats will help me be a more effective minister here at Auburn. And if you have any questions about church conference, the ordination process, the Great Plains Conference, or anything else, feel free to ask!
Peace and blessings,
AUGUST 25, 2015
Sharpen your #2 pencils and get ready to take some notes—because Auburn First UMC is going back to school! For the next five weeks, we’re going to be diving into a brand-new sermon series called “Back to School: The ABC’s of the UMC.” We’re going to brush up on our church history, study some of the core beliefs of the United Methodist Church, and read up on what makes this denomination so amazing. Here’s our lesson plan for the next month:
August 30—W is for Wesley
Course Description: Come learn all about John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement. Hear all about his adventures, his girl troubles, and how his passion for God completely changed the world!
September 6—The ABC’s of the UMC: G is for Grace
Course Description: We’ve all fallen short, and we’ve all made mistakes. Fortunately, the UMC is “all about that grace!” (Extra credit for anyone who got that pop culture reference!) We’ll learn about the United Methodist view of sin, forgiveness, and how we can receive God’s love for ourselves. Spoiler alert: it’s a free gift, and it’s available to everyone!
September 13—The ABC’s of the UMC: H is for Holiness
Course Description: We’re not “holy rollers”, and we’re certainly not “holier-than-thou”…but we United Methodists do love holiness! Come learn about how God is calling us to change our hearts and change the world…and learn the best Methodist tips and tricks for getting our spiritual lives in shape!
September 20—The ABC’s of the UMC: Q is for Quadrilateral
Course Description: Don’t worry, this isn’t a math class! The Quadrilateral is a unique Methodist concept, and it explains why we love the Bible, why we don’t check our brains at the church door, why we follow all these old traditions, and why we value relationships and community so much. You won’t want to miss this one!
September 27—The ABC’s of the UMC: M is for Mission
Course Description: Whether we’re doing tornado relief work in Nebraska, fighting malaria in Africa, serving hot meals in the inner city, or digging wells in a rural village, United Methodists are all about mission work. Come learn about our proud history of radical outreach and justice work, and see what you can do today to build God’s Kingdom on earth!
See you next week!
AUGUST 20, 2015
When I was serving at Saint Paul UMC in Lincoln, I had several hundred names and faces to learn--so for my first year at the church, I would go through the church directory at least once per week and attempt to memorize people's names. (It was like doing multiplication flashcards, minus the math!)
I've done the same thing a couple of times now with our Auburn directory, and it's been very useful in helping me learn all of your lovely faces and names. There is one minor complication, however: our directory is a little out of date! It may seem like just yesterday that you came to the church to have your portrait taken, but it's actually been five years now. Which means that :
So, in order to reflect these changes and improve our communication here at Auburn FUMC, we're going to be making a new directory! There will be new pictures, updated addresses and email addresses, digital copies of the directory for our staff and ministry leaders, and a whole host of other cool things.
I'll have more details for you on Sunday, but mark the following dates on your calendars: pictures will be taken on September 24, 25, and 26! (And the best part? The portrait session is free, and everyone who participates gets a free 8x10 photo!)
We'll see you on Sunday--have a great weekend!
AUGUST 12, 2015
It's here! Today is the day-before-the-first-day-of-school for all of our APS students, teachers, and administrators! I hope that you all have an excellent day tomorrow, and I pray that you will all have plenty of focus and energy as you return to the important work of education this week.
When I was in seminary, I had an Ethics professor who loved to incorporate music into her teaching. Dr. Zimmerman would often begin class by playing a song for us and then inviting us theologically reflect on the lyrics. (This was particularly interesting in her course on “The Ethics of Sex”—we’d often spend the first hour of class having a heated debate over the lyrics of one of Madonna’s greatest hits!) On the first day of her “Introduction to Christian Ethics” class, Dr. Zimmerman would take the whole class over to the chapel and invite us to sing a hymn called “Praise The Source of Faith and Learning” (#2004 in The Faith We Sing.) This beautiful song reminds us that our thirst for knowledge is a gift from God, and that God is present in our educational endeavors…but it also reminds us that human knowledge can never replace God nor fully explain the mysteries of the universe. The truth is that we need both faith and science in order to understand the world around us, and this hymn is a beautiful testament to that. Here are the lyrics:
“Praise the Source of Faith and Learning”
Lyrics by Thomas H. Troeger, 1987
(to the tune of “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus)
Praise the source of faith and learning that has sparked and stoked the mind
With a passion for discerning how the world has been designed.
Let the sense of wonder flowing from the wonders we survey
Keep our faith forever growing and renew our need to pray:
God of wisdom, we acknowledge that our science and our art
And the breadth of human knowledge only partial truth impart.
Far beyond our calculation lies a depth we cannot sound
Where Your purpose for creation and the pulse of life are found.
May our faith redeem the blunder of believing that our thought
Has displaced the grounds for wonder which the ancient prophets taught.
May our learning curb the error which unthinking faith can breed
Lest we justify some terror with an antiquated creed.
As two currents in a river fight each other's undertow
Till converging they deliver one coherent steady flow,
Blend, O God, our faith and learning till they carve a single course,
Till they join as one, returning praise and thanks to You, their Source.
AUGUST 5, 2015
Happy first week of August! I’ve got some exciting updates about our ongoing mission project and our new finance campaign:
I hope to see you all in worship next Sunday! We’ll be doing a special blessing for all the students and teachers who are heading back to school, and we’ll also be doing a “Remembrance of Baptism” later in the service. Come celebrate and praise God with us at Auburn FUMC!
JULY 29, 2015
As the month of August begins, I’m amazed at just how quickly my first month at Auburn FUMC has flown by. It’s been a whirlwind of new names, new faces, and new routines—and it’s been a lot of work, but it’s also been very joyous! And as I look ahead on my calendar, we’re not going to slow down anytime soon: a lot of exciting things will be happening around here in August. (Mark your calendars and warm up your Crockpots now: Sunday School starts on August 30th, and we’re having a potluck after church that day!) We’re also going to be starting a new sermon series this month, focusing on the “Bread of Life” sayings from the Gospel of John. This four-week series is entitled “Eat This Bread”, and we’ll be touching on a wide range of topics: Communion and baptism, miracles and transformations, low-carb diets and the fine art of eating bugs. (Got your attention with that last one, didn’t I?) Here’s what you can be looking forward to:
I’ll see you on Sunday—looking forward to celebrating Communion with the FUMC family!
JULY 22, 2015
Stephen and Evie and I have been in Auburn for almost four weeks, and we are pretty well settled into our new home. Those of you who have gone on a “Walk With The Pastor” or who have had the opportunity to chat with me in a smaller group may already know this, but Auburn is the first small town I’ve ever lived in. (I grew up in the Denver metro area, I went to graduate school in the Columbus, Ohio metro area, and the last church I served was in Lincoln.) And I am loving small town life so much! Here’s a list of my favorite things about Auburn so far:
We’ll see you on Sunday! Keep bringing donations for our “Back to School” drive, remember to fill out the Sunday School survey if you haven’t already, and keep building God’s Kingdom in our community!
JULY 14, 2015
“[Children are] full human beings in their own right, but beings to whom adults and society in general have special obligations. Thus, we support the development of school systems and innovative methods of education designed to assist every child toward complete fulfillment as an individual person of worth. All children have the right to quality education…”
--From the United Methodist Social Principles, Statement on “The Rights of Children”
It may be hard to believe, but we are only a month away from the start of the 2015-2016 school year! Children are enjoying their last few weeks of sun-soaked playtime, and parents are getting ready to stock up on all the back-to-school essentials: books, new clothes, backpacks, lunch boxes, and school supplies! Unfortunately, for some families in Nebraska, the back-to-school shopping list presents a financial hardship. All those markers and crayons and notebooks add up, especially for those who are struggling to make ends meet.
And this is where you come in! United Methodists have a long and proud history of supporting education, and Auburn FUMC is excited to carry on that tradition with our Back to School Drive! Between now and August 9th, we will be collecting school supplies at church (there is a donation box in the library, near the coffee tables.) Half of the supplies will be going to Living Hope UMC in Omaha, and the other half will be going to students at Calvert Elementary right here in Auburn. So next time you’re at the store, pick up a box of pencils or some glue sticks…and help make sure that every child in Nebraska heads back to school with a full backpack!
P.S. A special heads-up for our K-12 students and our teachers/professors in the congregation: we will be having a special moment in worship on August 9th where we will pray for all of our students and educators!
JULY 7, 2015
Announcing the July Sermon Series!
Thank you for a wonderful first Sunday at Auburn FUMC. Stephen and Evie and I felt very welcome indeed, and it was great to sing, pray, and share Communion with our new church family. Special thanks to our Scripture reader, Communion stewards, greeters and ushers for helping everything go smoothly—and a big “thank you” to Evelyn Heskett for the beautiful music, and to Susan McPherson for the delicious post-worship cake!
We look forward to seeing all of you next Sunday. Members of the Brownville Village Theatre will be with us to provide some special music, and we will be starting a new sermon series on King David. Here’s a sneak preview:
Musician. Giant-slayer. Womanizer. Sinner. King. Do you know the real David?
Most everyone knows the story of David, the little boy who defeated Goliath with his slingshot. But do you know what happened when David grew up? Join us at Auburn First UMC throughout the month of July for our three-week sermon series on “King David: The Untold Story”. Hear the tales of scandal, failure, brokenness, and forgiveness. Get to know this important Biblical figure, and see what his life can teach us about the nature of God and humanity!
July 12th—“David’s Shocking Dance Moves”
July 19th—“David, the Failed Architect”
July 26th—“David’s Darkest Moment”
JUNE 25, 2015
Greetings from Rev. Emily:
Greetings, Auburn First UMC! My name is Emily Cannon, and I am absolutely delighted to be your new pastor. I will be joining you in worship next week (July 5), but here's a little introduction to me and my family:
I was born and raised in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado. I moved to Nebraska for college--I went to Hastings College, which is where I met my husband Stephen. Stephen currently works as a computer instructor at a retirement home in Lincoln, and we've been married for four years. We also have a beautiful little girl named Evelyn, who is almost 5 months old. (We call her Evie for short, pronounced "Eee-vee.") She is a very smiley baby, and she is going to love her new Auburn church family!
I graduated from seminary at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO) in 2013, and have been an associate pastor at Saint Paul UMC in Lincoln for the past two years. I am passionate about sharing God's love, serving God's people, and helping people of all ages feel connected to God through worship. In my free time I enjoy reading, walking, movies, board games, nerdy TV shows, and spending time with family and friends.
Stephen and Evie and I are so excited to meet you all next week. I'm looking forward to being in ministry with you here in Auburn!
Emily E. S. Cannon
Podcasts of Emily's sermons will be posted here!
Pastor Emily is a Colorado native and lifelong United Methodist. She studied Religion at Hastings College in Hastings, NE, and completed her M.Div at Methodist Theological School in Ohio. Before coming to Auburn FUMC, Emily served as an associate pastor at Saint Paul UMC in Lincoln, NE.
Emily and her husband Stephen have one daughter, Evelyn ("Evie"). In her spare time, Emily enjoys reading, walking, playing board games, watching nerdy TV shows, and spending time with family and friends.