Try And Stop Me!

I bet you are expecting a nice newsletter article about Thanksgiving aren’t you.  I bet you think I’m going to write about turkey and dressing, friends, family, football, and the things I’m thankful for. 


Well, I’m not.


Actually I am going to write about what I’m thankful for but that will come in just a minute.  About a week ago a friend of mine asked the question, “I just took my mother Christmas shopping so does that mean that I can start singing Christmas carols all the way home?”


Now, I used to be in the camp of “Wait until after Thanksgiving!”  And maybe you are still there.  But then I started thinking that the Advent season and the Christmas season represents a pretty incredible and important part of my life and faith.  If my soul is craving the opportunity to celebrate the season for more than 4 weeks out of the year then maybe I should listen.


So my thought for you today is this.  If at some point you find yourself fighting the urge to crank up the Christmas carols, stop it!  Let ‘em fly!  Let ‘em ring out!


Because one of the things I am most thankful for in my life is that our God would love us so much that God would choose to come down and be with us in a human form and begin this incredible journey of Jesus’ life.


So this thanksgiving, I’m giving thanks to God for God’s unending love….I’m going to eat some turkey, watch some football, and break out the Christmas music!  Just try to stop me!  


Grace and Peace,

Pastor Chris




There was once a woman who was always able to find something for which she was thankful.  One morning there was a terrible snowstorm, but she still showed up in time for work, and she was thankful. Her supervisor was surprised to see her, and was equally surprised to hear that she was thankful to make it to work in such a storm.


When asked why she was so thankful, she said that she was thankful that she lived so close to work.  Her supervisor still did not understand how she could even walk on the icy sidewalks with the blowing winds.  She said that she was so thankful that she was able to crawl to work on her hands and knees. Her supervisor was astounded, and asked what was so wonderful about crawling to work on her hands and knees.  The woman smiled and said, “During the blizzard in the early morning light, no one was able to see me!” (Parables, Etc. November 1993)


As we prepare to go into the holiday season this year and especially thanksgiving our minds and hearts naturally turn to all the things we are thankful for.  Often, I hear people say that they are thankful for good food, good friends, and good family.  But what about when things are rough?  Can you find the strength to give thanks when things are not going so well?  The goofy story above teaches us that in every part of life there is always something to be thankful for if we will look hard enough.  But I think thankfulness goes even a bit further than even that truth will take us.


Our scriptures teach us that thankfulness is not just a reaction to the circumstances around us but an attitude that can actually affect our lives.  Consider Philippians 4:6, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (NRSV)”  With thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.   Thankfulness is not just to be the reaction to the good things we find in life, but the attitude with which we view life (including our problems which we take to God.)  Thankfulness is not just reaction, it is medicine and it will help us heal.  


Grace and Peace,

Pastor Chris



One of my favorite movie lines to quote is from the character, Mater, in the Movie Cars.   (Don’t judge me, I have kids).  Mater is really good at driving in reverse.  There is a scene in the movie where Mater is demonstrating his backward driving ability to his friends and he says, “There Ain’t no need to watch where I’m going…. Just need to know where I’ve been.” (Show of hands, how many of you read that in Mater’s voice?)

  How are you at driving in reverse?  I kind of like it.  But I only like going in reverse in my car.  I don’t like it at all in my life.  It drives me crazy when I forget something that I used to know.  In my life I want to be moving forward.  I don’t want to lose knowledge, I want to learn more.  I don’t want to forget people and places, I want to experience more.  And I certainly don’t want to go backwards in my understanding of God, I want to grow in my understanding of my faith.  I want a forward motion life.  It looks something like this for me:   Forward Motion Life  (Does God have a plan for me?) Forward Motion Church (Does God have a plan for our church?) Forward Motion Family (What does faith have to do with my relationships?) Forward Motion Faith (What does faith in motion look like?)   Let’s go forward.  Let’s reach beyond where we currently are in our own individual lives… our church…in our families….in our faith.  Let’s trust that if we strive to move our lives, church, family, and faith forward towards God, that God will lead us somewhere incredible!   This month invite someone you know to worship with you.  Offer to pick them up and bring them so they don’t have to walk in alone.  Stretch yourselves beyond what is comfortable.     Grace and Peace,   Rev. Chris Dodson



When I think of July I usually think of hot weather, ice cream, and fireworks!  We kick off the month with a celebration of our country’s independence.  We like to think we are independent people.  Outside of our families, and for some of us good friends, we don’t really feel like we are accountable to anyone.  Ask most Christians who they are accountable to in their faith, and their answer will be, God.  Just God.  Not you, not anybody, it’s just me and Jesus.

  As a pastor in the United Methodist Church I am accountable to the SPRC, the District Superintendent, my colleagues, and the Bishop.  Are you accountable to anyone as a person who attends a United Methodist Church?  Do you owe anything to anyone?  I believe you are accountable to each other.  And you owe a great deal to each other.  Not because you have to by nature, but because you willingly took vows to do so.  I believe those vows mean something.  

When you joined a United Methodist Church for the first time you took certain vows.  Every person who becomes a member is asked to make these vows…….“As members of Christ’s universal Church, will you be loyal to Christ through The United Methodist Church, and do all in your power to strengthen its ministries?  As members of this congregation, will you faithfully participate in its ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service and your witness?”

But that’s not all…. the congregation also takes the same vow again and adds these vows…….Pastor:  Will you nurture one another in the Christian faith and life and include these persons now before you in your care?  People:  With God’s help we will proclaim the good news and live according to the example of Christ.  We will surround these persons with a community of love and forgiveness, that they may grow in their trust of God, and be found faithful in their service to others.  We will pray for them, that they may be true disciples who walk in the way that leads to life.  Yes, ultimately for our faith, we are accountable to God.  But when we join together as the church, we are also accountable to each other.  Jesus tells us in Mark 38:34-35 that we should be willing to lose our life for the sake of the gospel.   Where do we practice that?  Here, with each other, and then together, unified in the world. On the journey with you, Pastor Chris Dodson



A pastor friend of mine recently wrote, “Pretty fascinating to me that the gospel writers don’t portray Jesus post-resurrection as posing and strutting like an action hero.  Instead, they share story after story of disciples finding Jesus hidden in plain sight. And maybe that’s how the kingdom works on us—not as a punch to the face, but as something slowly sneaking up on us from the background.” Think about some of the stories of Jesus revealing himself after the resurrection.  In Luke 24 we see two disciples walking along when Jesus comes walking up next to them and they don’t even recognize him.  Another time recorded in John 21 some of the disciples were out fishing and Jesus shows up on the beach.  Again, we see that the disciples didn’t recognize him. These stories remind us that although we might like Jesus to come in a blaze of unearthly light, the truth is we find him more at supper time or walking along the road.  I often find a sacred moment when I have intentionally set myself apart for a set time to be with God or to serve others like when I am at church camp or on a mission trip.  But it is also true that the sacred moments can often be found in our everyday moments if we will be ready to look for them.   If we look with our hearts, if we listen with all our being, if we live from one moment to the next and not just surviving one thing to the next thing, what we may see is Jesus himself, what we may hear is the first faint sound of a voice somewhere deep within us saying that there is more to life than surviving.  We may notice that these ordinary moments may already be sacred if we would only pay attention to how God is moving in the world around us.     Grace and Peace,   Pastor Chris Dodson



One time a father and his young son went on an overnight camping trip for the first time.  While it was still quite dark, the father arose and started a fire.  Then he aroused his sleeping son.  After protesting a little, the boy got up.  He stood near the fire trying to keep warm as they waited.  He knew they had come to witness the sunrise.             Soon it began!  The blackness in the east gradually turned to gray, then the gray turned to blue.  The image of a lake and shadowy trees began to emerge out of the darkness.  The blue turned to a near-white color.  Finally, pink, violet, and orange hues emerged in the east over the pines!  Suddenly the valley was flooded with light.  They watched this spectacular display in silent awe.              Finally, the boy could stand it no longer.  He turned to his father and said, “Dad, do it again!  Do it again!”             “Again, again!”  If I had a dollar for every time I heard those words from Elise and Sarah. I would be a very rich man.  Sarah is the queen of, “do it again, daddy!”  Every time we would do something fun…. Lift her up, spin her around… it didn’t matter.  She wanted to do it again.             It seems to me to be a lot like our Christian year.  Here we come again to another Easter on April 21st.  Once again, we will retell the story of God’s great love for us poured out in the person of Jesus.  Once again, we will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and the empty tomb. But as we retell the story let us not just jump to the end.  Let us not just skip to the empty tomb.  Let’s take our time to walk through the shadows; to sit with Jesus around the table with the disciples as he tells them what is about to happen.  Let’s feel together the disappointment and the pain of watching him give his life for us.  Because only after we understand the pain of holy week can we truly appreciate the elation of Easter and the resurrection.  Join us on Sunday, April 14th for Palm Sunday as we celebrate Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem.  Join us again on Thursday, April 18th for a Holy Week service that will take us from the Last Supper through the Crucifixion.  And join us on April 24th as we celebrate that Jesus has defeated death and rose again.   May our hearts, in excitement, experience this wonderful event and proclaim, “Again!   Again!”   Grace and Peace,   Pastor Chris


Fresh Start

I read a story this morning of an irate subscriber of a newspaper who stormed into a the office waving the current edition, asking to see “whoever wrote the obituary column”. When referred to a young reporter, he screamed, “You can see I’m very much alive, and you’ve put me in the obituary column! I demand a retraction!” The young reporter replied, “I never retract a story. But I tell you what I’ll do. I’ll put you in the birth column and give you a fresh start.”   A fresh start.  Doesn’t that sound nice?  I think all of us at times after a mistake, a bad first impression, or saying something we shouldn’t have, have wanted to make a fresh start. Southwest Airlines had an entire commercial line for a while where they would show someone doing something embarrassing and then flash up the tag line, “Wanna Get Away?”   A fresh start.  The opportunity to start over.  That’s what King David was asking for as he cried out to God in Psalm 51.  “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin….Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”   A fresh start.  If you could start some area of your life over, what would you do differently?  Does your attitude, your schedule, your relationship with a friend, or maybe even your relationship with God need a new start?   What would it look like for God to put “a new and right spirit” within you?    As the newness of the year fades and things begin to settle in again, let us remember that we are offered a fresh, new, exciting, never-before-lived-in day every time the sun comes up.   Every day we are offered new opportunity to make the most of that God given day.  So what happens when we allow these Psalm 51 words to become our own?   What are you doing with your ‘today’ because of what God is transforming in your life?     Grace and peace, Pastor Chris



  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.  — 2 Peter 3:18   I have to admit that it feels odd to talk about growth when the temperature outside is 30 degrees and the wind makes it feel more like my deep freeze than a nice, pretty day.  But even when it’s cold outside, growth is still happening at Wesley UMC!  I love that the author of 2 Peter closes out the letter with “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…”  To grow in grace and knowledge is to grow on the inside but it’s also a challenge to grow in the ways we interact with the world around us.   Have you thought about the ways we are doing just that here at the church? Last Sunday we had 9 new members come and join our amazing church!  As our family grows, we have the opportunity to grow as we share the grace and love of Christ…and through prayer and study we get to grow together in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.  And it doesn’t take much to see this same thing happening in other ways as well.  Our Wesley On Wednesday meal and programming is amazing.  New faces and new classes continue to help us grow! On Wednesday, March 6th we will have a Come and Go Ash Wednesday Service.   Instead of a normal service, we will have interactive stations that will lead you into a deeper look at yourself to prepare for the season of Lent.  The stations will also have children’s options so we can all participate together as a church.  Just swing by any time between 6:30 and 7:30 pm that evening.  We are growing deeper in preparation for Easter We are about to kick off our Monthly Missions Focus for 2019.   We will start in March by praying for and working with Legacy Parenting.   We will be sharing information on the great work Legacy Parenting does.   We will be hosting a diaper drive to support them, and are working on scheduling a work day to make a difference together.  This is a great opportunity to share the grace that’s been given to us. We are excited about our Confirmation Class for 2019.   This is a great time for 5th grade and up to learn about God, Scripture, Jesus Christ, the United Methodist Church and our amazing church.   It’s also a time when these youth can join the church.  I love watching these youth grow together! Finally, on Sunday March 10th, we will have a Pot Luck Lunch following worship.  We will talk about some of these upcoming events, and wrap up our finance talk by talking about our giving and budget.  I know….sounds boring…but when is the last time I let you be bored….and there’s FOOD!  Ha ha!   So make plans to join us.    Because God is doing great things through Wesley UMC…and you.   So one last time… But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.  — 2 Peter 3:18   Grace and Peace, Pastor Chris