Pastor David's Page

Inviting You to Follow the Lord...

Pastor David

September 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This month, I want to talk about miracles. A miracle, according to Webster, is "an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs." We usually take it to mean something that cannot be explained or conceived in our human understanding; something that defies the laws of nature or science. If we cannot understand or explain how it happened, it must be a miracle from God.

The word miracle never appears in the Bible. Instead, the words most often used to describe these acts in the Bible are "signs," "wonders," or "acts of power." God creates the whole universe out of nothing. The prophets heal illness, raise people from the dead, control nature, and make food last beyond its physical capacity. Jesus is the ultimate miracle man. He does all these things and more; he himself conquers death and rises from the dead.

Throughout our lives, many of us have experienced things we can only describe as miracles, or signs of God's power. We have seen people who are seriously ill be made well. We have seen mothers who medically were unable to bear children, become pregnant and bear a healthy child. We have seen people turn their lives around by the grace of God and experience healthy relationships and wholeness they did not know before. We have seen a way made out of no way. And we have seen hopelessness and despair turn into praise and rejoicing. We may have difficulty trusting God or having faith, but sometimes we just can't explain a positive turn of events except to say that God must have pulled us through.

The interesting thing about Jesus' signs is that he rarely does them all on his own. Jesus does his wondrous works in cooperation with some human initiative: Jesus' mother has to prod him to turn water into wine. Those who are sick often express some kind of faith or belief before he chooses to heal. Mothers and fathers come before Jesus begging for their children to be healed. The disciples cry out that their boat is sinking … and a young boy shares his lunch.

The sharing of the loaves and fishes is one of Jesus' most spectacular and best known miracles, or signs. He takes a small amount of food and makes it enough for a hungry crowd of thousands. But this extraordinary act of God could not have happened, at least not in the same way, if that young boy hadn't been willing to share his lunch. Where would Jesus have gotten the two fish and five loaves, if not for this very brave boy who was willing to take the risk of sharing everything he had?

This fall, our congregation is being asked to believe in miracles. We are being asked to come together as a church and accomplish things that we simply cannot do in our own power. It will take divine intervention and assistance for us to succeed, but it will also depend on us doing our part. Most of us, when asked about giving more money to the church, feel rather hopeless. If we have not been able to pay our bills up to this point, what makes us think that the congregation can come up with such large sums of money in such a short time? It would take a miracle to raise this money. It would take an act of God. This is why we have named November 17th Miracle Sunday. We are asking everyone in the congregation to give a little more, above and beyond their regular giving, so that together, with God's blessing, we might see a miracle in our church.

We believe in miracles. We believe that God is able to do signs and wonders in our lives. We believe that God is alive in our church. And we can even trust that God is able to do a miracle and multiply our dollar offerings to save this church.

Inside you'll find information about the Miracle Sunday campaign, but you'll also read about our Fall Festival and our Anniversary celebration; about new explorations of worship and music; about Bible studies and Sunday School; about three of our members who helped repair a home struck by hurricane Sandy; and about upcoming outreach efforts in our community. We need every person's participation in these ministries and celebrations. We need a renewal in worship and prayer and sharing together. We need to continue to meet the needs of our community in many ministries.

Like the young boy with five barley loaves and two fish, we are asked to share what we have and let God bless the results. This is true with money, but also with our spiritual gifts and our physical talents. When we all come together and share our gifts, we trust that God can multiply our offerings and make miracles happen. I look forward to seeing us put our efforts forward this fall, and seeing how God will bless and multiply all that we can do.

God Bless Us All,

Pastor David

March 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"I'm sorry I hurt you." "I forgive you."

These are simple words, but powerful. In our many relationships and activities, we human beings seem to always be in need of confession and forgiveness. As parents, we teach our children their importance. We try to practice confession and forgiveness in our own lives, but it is not always easy. Too often we fail to confess or even recognize our sins against others. Or we find it difficult to forgive others who have sinned and hurt us. But we know that, as Christians, we are called to make confession and forgiveness a part of our everyday life.

The theme of our worship during Lent has been grace. We have heard stories of God's covenant with Abram and Sarai; the Prodigal Son; the 10 Commandments; Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. These stories illustrate the wondrous contradiction that is grace - God calls us into covenant relationship, gives us laws to follow, and expects our obedience; at the same time God forgives and has mercy on us in our sin, betrayal, and violation of that covenant relationship. What an amazing God we serve. How can the same God both expect obedience and offer mercy?

Our Bible Studies and worship have explored these themes, and I invite us all to continue to reflect on them during this Lent. As you take time in prayer, consider if there are persons whom you have hurt either by your actions or inaction. Consider if there are others you need to forgive - either privately in your own heart, or in person. We also need to consider our own relationship with God. Have our sins separated us from God's loving embrace? Have we held a grudge or blamed God for something in our life? Do we need to confess to God in prayer? Or let go of blame and forgive God? Can we grow more in our trust of God's grace?

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he writes the famous quote above. It is by grace alone that we are saved from the endless spiral of sin and guilt. Our response to this grace is faith - placing our trust in God. Our next response can be to serve God and neighbor gladly.

[Our] newsletter is filled with good news of ministries of our church, new members joining, new opportunities for growing in faith and offering our service to God and community. During this Lent, let us respond to God's grace in faith and service.

God Bless Us All,

Pastor David

October 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Fran Conway's Retirement

This newsletter is dedicated to Fran Conway. Fran announced on September 30th that she will retire at the end of the year after serving Drexel Hill UMC as our church secretary for twenty-two years. Fran will have taken this letter and this newsletter and printed, folded, and prepared it for mailing. She will have had her hands on the copy you are holding right now, or pushed the send button for the email you are reading. I expect that she will wish I didn't put her on the front page, but too bad, she deserves this dedication. I speak for myself, and I know the whole church, when I say, Thank You Fran.

Many years ago, Fran's sister was hired for the position of secretary. Soon it was clear a change needed to be made. Fran came in to help. She had experience as a secretary and found that working in the church suited her. Since then, she has worked for five pastors - Bob Jones, Jim Corbett, Herb Snyder, Paul Gutknecht, and David Eckert. When she started in the office, personal computers were still relatively new. There was no Internet or email for common use. Fran still sometimes used a typewriter and a mimeograph machine. Today, she handles all the technology of the office. She has published numerous bulletins, newsletters, committee reports, charge conference packets, and more. She has answered the phone most days of the week, kept the church calendar, distributed the mail, and coordinated office volunteers. She has kept membership records, funeral and wedding records, and statistical reports. She has done whatever was asked of her by pastors and often other people who gave her jobs that no one else wanted to do, or would have an idea how to do.

She has done all of this while participating in the church as a member. She has chaired the outreach committee, worked with social workers throughout the school district to deliver Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets, and served as an officer of the United Methodist Women. She has been a constant witness for our Reconciling Congregations program. She has shared her faith and her story and encouraged others through Bible Studies and small groups. She has been a constant friend to longtime members of the church, and she has welcomed and rejoiced with new members.

Two years ago, in worship, we recognized Fran's twentieth anniversary working for the church. A couple weeks ago, when we first discussed her retirement, Fran said, "I want a party!" We will certainly be having a party before the end of the year. Stay tuned for details, and take a moment in the next few weeks to say congratulations and thank you to one of our church's greatest servant leaders. Thanks, Fran.

God Bless Us All,

Pastor David

September, 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

As we enjoy the last days of summer, I have begun looking forward to the fall season when our attendance in worship picks up and many of our church ministries pick up again. Sunday, September 9th will be our Rally, or our back to church day. We will gladly welcome our choir back as they lead us in worship. Our Sunday School will begin a new year as families and children are back from vacations and getting into the swing of school. In worship, we will dedicate our new Bibles for use in worship and throughout our Bible Studies and education ministries. We will also dedicate backpacks and school supplies to be given to children in need in our local schools. I hope you can join us for this wonderful Sunday.

I have had several conversations with people in the congregation about summertime and the beginning of fall. Many of us lament that summer is drawing to a close. There is an expectation that summer brings a slower pace, a time of relaxing, re-charging, re-newing our energy. We need this, as the pace of things speeds up so much in September and October. But what if we haven't found the time to re-new ourselves over the summer? What if summer hasn't been as relaxing as we would like, and we are not feeling prepared for the coming of fall.

Our worship in September will focus on these kind of themes of re-calling the gospel message; re-establishing the church; re-creating our partnership with God; God's re-newing our lives; and the Holy Spirit's re-freshing the Church. And, in a twist suggested by our worship committee - each service will turn our attention to one or more of our stained glass windows. These windows have graced our sanctuary for nearly sixty years, but how often do we look up to really look at them?

As we begin a new season together, I look forward to joining in worship, celebration, prayer, and singing. I also look forward to our renewed ministries. See inside for information on our Sunday School, a new youth group, a new evening discussion group led by Barbara O'Connell, our new venture with Partners for Sacred Places, the upcoming white elephant sale/fall festival, our Charge Conference, and more.

I hope you are enjoying these last days of summer, and let me be the first one to welcome you back as we re-new ourselves in worship and ministry this fall!

God Bless Us All,

Pastor David

April 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

A few weeks ago, my son Jonah came home with a wonderful first grade homework assignment. His "Spring Detective" paper asked him to investigate and record the first signs of spring - including blooming flowers, baby birds, spring showers, mud puddles, and trees budding. He was not sure what trees budding really meant – and so we went outside. Just in our own front yard, we saw that the red maple tree had tight brown, red buds. The smoke bush was beginning to bud and sprout green leaves. And the pear tree was past budding and beginning to sprout the bright white flowers which only last a few weeks each spring. As I put him on my shoulders to examine these trees up close, the sun shone on our shoulders and we shared a moment of wonder and exhilaration at these signs of new life. These signs of life remind us that God is always making things new. Every season, there is something to remind us of God's faithfulness and creativity, if we only stop to look.

Our church is continuing to experience new life and growth in remarkable ways. You can read about some of these inside this newsletter: We have been glad to receive visitors throughout the spring, and have enjoyed getting to know some of our neighbors in new ways. We are preparing for the All Church Spring Retreat this month, and even looking forward to summer camp. The women of our church have gathered with the United Methodist Women at Union UMC in Havertown. We continue to provide for our homeless neighbors through the Hospitality Network. Pastor Rick is graduating and we are praying for a new intern to choose our church in the fall. Our Sunday School and confirmation classes are growing and learning together.

At Easter, we rejoice that God has brought new life out of death. Easter is not just one Sunday, but a season of several Sundays in which we celebrate the good news of God's love going forth in new ways. Let us continue to investigate and celebrate this new life and share it with those we meet each day.

God Bless Us All,

Pastor David

November, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Guess who is coming for dinner?

By now, you hopefully know that Thanksgiving week, we will have a few guests at our church. These guests come to us from the Interfaith Hospitality Network. They join us because, for various reasons, they no longer have homes of their own. They will stay in our basement classrooms each night, and each day they will go to work, send their children to school, and save their money to get out of the program and back on their feet. They will arrive Sunday evening, November 20th and depart for another church early morning Sunday the 27th.

When we heard that these guests were coming, we began to plan Thanksgiving dinner. We got volunteers for the kitchen; other people volunteered to bring dishes; Big Mike's Barbecue offered to cook our turkeys in exchange for the opportunity to sell BBQ at our fall festival. The problem is... our guests may or may not stay for dinner! Our guests are all Delaware County residents and may have made plans to join family or friends in the area for the holiday. Of course, we can understand how they would want to be with the ones they love on this special day. And so we are left cooking dinner not knowing exactly who is coming. The laugh is on us, as we now have the opportunity to share a meal, give thanks for our many blessings, and fellowship with members of our church and community - all made possible by guests who may not join us. Through our efforts to welcome others, we find ourselves surprisingly blessed. Now, anyone who would like to eat with a larger fellowship can join the DHUMC Church Family Thanksgiving Dinner. Please RSVP to Sandy Borders if you would like to join us!

Isn't this the way with many of our efforts? As we approach the holidays, we are collecting money and food for the Thanksgiving Baskets we distribute through the school social workers. We have sent donations of flood buckets to storm damaged areas.

We are preparing for the Christmas season in which we will once again give food baskets, adopt families, and give generously to those who need our help this season. All these ministries benefit people in need, but also are a blessing to those of us who are privileged to give and share of our time, our efforts, our resources. We are also blessed by Bible Studies, the Sunday School, the music of the organ, choir, and new bell choir, the fellowship and friendships we have found in the church, and the joy of welcoming new members into this fellowship.

We are also approaching our Stewardship Sunday. On November 13th, we have the opportunity to pledge our support to the church for the ministries of the coming year. When we give to the church, we build up the ministries that have enriched our own lives, and given us opportunities to fellowship with each other and serve our community. We give so that this church might continue to share the love of God, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. We have known the joy of being a part of this church, and we want others to share in that joy. I hope you will take the opportunity, on the 13th, to pledge your support and share in the Stewardship Luncheon to follow.

We have so much to make us thankful this season. I am once again thankful for your generosity toward our guests, our community, our neighbors, and the ministries of our church.

God Bless Us All,

Pastor David

September, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Hurricane Irene has come and gone and, while many felt like it could have been much worse, it did cause some damage. After the storm, the parsonage still had power, but many of our members and neighbors did not. We found a large tree down on School Lane, just down the street from our parking lot. The church was out of power, had a small amount of water in the basement, and several inches of water in the boiler room. As I’m writing on Wednesday evening, most of our church members and neighbors have power. Dal, Jim, and Dan have worked with a portable generator, and consulted with our heating company, but have not been able to pump that water out.

After the storm, I noticed how many people were on the street and eager to share their stories. Somehow an experience like this brings people out of their homes and creates a shared bond of experience. We offer each other words of encouragement, lend a hand with the work of cleaning up, and take turns calling PECO. People who might never open their door when we come visiting, or participate in our fall festival, are pleased to meet as we share storm stories.

As we begin a new season in the life of our church, we have the opportunity to witness to the love of God through these simple interactions. Inside, you'll find instructions on collecting "flood buckets" to send to areas with more extensive damage, and a report on our "Blessing the Backpacks." We have opportunities to invite friends and neighbors to church, and to welcome those who come as guests to our worship. We have opportunities to provide shelter to homeless families into our building, and help our members and neighbors learn how to manage finances. We have opportunities for Bible Study and prayer, worship and celebration, teaching and learning in Sunday School and Confirmation.

Through earthquakes, hurricanes, and through every part of our lives, we have the privilege to serve our neighbors and witness to the love of God in our actions and words. As a church we know that none of us is alone in the storms of life, but are called into community. We are entrusted with the good news that there is a God who created all things and continues to answer our prayers. This simple faith sustains us and is a precious gift we have to share with others.

God Bless Us All,

Pastor David

April 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

A few years ago, Contemporary Christian Musician, Chris Rice, wrote a song called "Smell the Color 9." The song title doesn’t make any sense. How can anyone smell a number? That’s the point, the songwriter claims at the end of the song. We human beings can never perceive God with our five physical senses, but we can cultivate a different set of senses and perceptions. Through spiritual disciplines – prayer, Bible Study, Christian conversation, worship, fasting, serving others – we hope to develop the ability to perceive God at work in our world. A similar point is made by another contemporary praise song, "Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord."

John Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, preached and wrote about a similar idea. He talked about the ability of the Christian to develop "Spiritual Senses." His interest in the science of his day led him to a fascination with the physical senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. But he argued for these senses could not help us to reach God. For that, we needed to cultivate our spiritual senses. To illustrate this point, he turned to Hebrews Chapter 11, verse one – "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

The gospel reading for April 3rd, from John chapter 9, is the story of Jesus' healing a blind man. On one level, the story tells of Jesus' miraculous healing power. But, like many of John's stories, there is an irony at work here. Jesus helps the man who was once blind, to regain his sight. But the crowd who hears about this miracle and yet refuses to believe in Jesus, is presented as blind to what is happening right in front of them.

How often do we wonder what it would be like to live in Biblical times and see the miracles that the people around Jesus saw? When we read this story, it is clear that most of the people of that time did not believe what they saw. They had Jesus, God made flesh, living in the midst of their village, and they did not recognize or believe him. Is it possible that we, in our own way, have God performing miracles in our midst, and fail to perceive them?

I invite you during these final weeks of Lent, to look for the miracles around you. Take some time to enjoy the spring weather and the rebirth of the natural world. Contemplate the miracle of your life, the sustenance of your breath, the wonder of your own body – muscles, bone, nerves all working together. Look to new reports, not for examples of the absence of God, but for those unexplainable places where good triumphs and God may be working through contemporary people or current events. Sight is often a matter of perspective and a matter of faith. If we dare to look at the world around us as a glass half full – we might begin to see that God is not so absent as we thought.

God Bless Us All,

Pastor David

January 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ –

I am sitting and writing this letter during the last week before Christmas. As we prepare our hearts and our lives for Christmas and the New Year, many of our hopes are hopes for peace. We hope for peace in our own lives and our own hearts, we hope for peace within our family and our friendships. We hope for peace within our neighborhood and community. We hope for peace around the world. We are people of hope, people of prayer, and people committed to following Christ as peacemakers.

So what are the things that make for peace? This question is on my mind as I prepare for my trip to Israel in February. Last week, I went to an orientation session and met some of the people with whom I will be traveling. We had a discussion about Jewish settlements on the West Bank. I thought I had my opinions well formed until I began to learn more specific details and hear the stories which came from various points of views. There are many reasons why the work of making peace is so difficult, even and especially in the land where Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share many of their most holy sites. I look forward to sharing my travel stories with the congregation when I return.

In January, we celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. We are invited, once again, to the Upper Darby Community Celebration Breakfast at Drexelbrook (see article inside). As Upper Darby Township becomes more and more diverse, this celebration becomes more and more relevant. In our neighborhoods, our civic life, our schools, our businesses, and our churches we seek to build the “beloved community” that Doctor King spoke about in his sermons and speeches. I am proud of our church for being an active part of this community through our participation in community events, our service at the food pantry and Life Center, our support of the schools and social workers, and our organizing through the First Suburbs Project. Each friendship we build, each act of kindness or service, each voice raised for justice – strengthens the fabric of peace within our community.

Many of us make resolutions in the New Year. This year, I invite you to consider what you can do for peace in our community and our world. But in order to work for peace, we must also find peace within our own hearts and lives. As the year begins, let us take time to be in prayer and to order our lives so that we might have the peace we long for and so that we might be able to give ourselves in the larger work for peace.

God Bless Us All,

Pastor David

December 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Once again, have entered into the season of Advent – the season of expectation and waiting for the birth of Christ. How can we wait for something that happens over and over again the same every year? How can we have a sense of anticipation for something that we’ve already experienced as many times as we have years?

Advent and Christmas is new to us each year, because we are new each year. We are not the same people we were. Take a moment to think about all the changes – joyful and sorrowful and in between – that have taken place in the last twelve months of your life. Think about the changes we have seen in the world around us. Think about our congregation, the new people we have met, and the new ministries we have undertaken in the last year. God comes to us anew each Christmas to meet us where we are - here and now, at this point in our lives.

Personally, I have experienced the death of three grandparents in the past year. I have realized some of my own limitations with my health as I approach forty. As a pastor, I am learning to depend less on my own wisdom or abilities, and trust more in God’s grace. At the same time, I have a new neice who is healthy, whose eyes shine with wonder and fresh excitement. I see Noel and Jonah thriving in school and making new friends. Our whole family has a deeper sense of connection and belonging after another year in this Drexel Hill community. I have seen our church take great strides forward together in welcoming and ministering to our neighborhood.

We believe in faith that God is eternal and unchanging – Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise – as the song says. But God is revealed within a world that is always changing. God is seen, heard, touched, and made real within the real day to day experiences of each of our lives, within the season to season unfolding of creation, within the drama, conflict, and triumph of human history.

For all these reasons, Christmas 2010 promises to be different than any Christmas before. After you think of the past year’s events – think of your hopes and yearnings for the future. What do you wish for your life and for the lives of those you love? What hopes do you have for our world? What expectations and dreams do you bear for our church? Let us worship, pray, work, and wait for the coming of Christ into our lives as we are now. And may we also trust that God is continuing to make all things, including each of us, new.

God Bless Us All,

Pastor David

November 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

As the days grow longer and the leaves around us turn into their autumn colors, our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving. I give thanks, once again, for the privilege of serving in ministry with you in Drexel Hill. I am always thankful for the spirit of willingness, teamwork, and hard work that our congregation brings to every effort. I am thankful for the fourteen people who joined our church last month, for the four babies who were baptized, for the success of our white elephant sale and open house, and for the vitality of our bible studies, prayer groups, and outreach ministries.

I am thankful that you, the members and friends of this church, have kept your promises, made in the vows of membership, to support the church through your prayers, presence, and gifts.

You have prayed for renewal in our church, and we are experiencing a renewal of energy, excitement, and spiritual vitality. You have prayed for visitors to be drawn to our worship and to join our church, and we now are blessed with wonderful new relationships. You have prayed for new partnerships in community ministry, and we are more and more known around this community as an active and generous congregation.

You have been present as we have grown and been fed by God’s spirit in worship. We continue to be blessed through the ministries of the choir, the organ, and creative worship. You have been present to one another in time of need – comforting church members, friends, and neighbors as Christ called us to “bear one another’s burdens.” You have been present and consistent as we work together in various ministries and tasks of the church.

You have also given your gifts. As a result of your generous weekly and monthly giving, our financial situation is much improved. Your financial giving supports our staff, our building, and our ministries. Your giving also is shared through our United Methodist Connection to support ministry and mission throughout Eastern PA, the United States, and the world.

This month, we will ask you to consider, once again – “What percentage of my income is God calling me to give to the work of God through Drexel Hill UMC?” You will have an opportunity to make a pledge for 2011 on Consecration Sunday, November fourteenth. You are also invited to a luncheon after worship that day, to celebrate our commitments and our ministry together. Please plan to be in worship and attend the luncheon, and please join me in prayer that our congregation will continue to respond generously to support our ongoing ministries.

Once again, thank you for all that you do. We have seen some wonderful results from our efforts. But in other ways, we will never see the good that comes from what we do. You are planting seeds that will bring a wonderful harvest of changed lives in this congregation and community and throughout the world. Thanks be to God.

God Bless Us All,

Pastor David

October 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

What a wonderful Homecoming Celebration we had! I was so pleased to see some of our former members “come home” to Drexel Hill UMC, and to see many of our older members make a special effort to join us in worship and fellowship. It was wonderful to be able to welcome Dr. Snyder back into worship and the pulpit, and to affirm his time of ministry at our church. I found it particularly meaningful to recognize, in the children’s sermon, the call to ministry shared by Dr. Snyder, myself, and Rick Brown. The three of us, at different points in our ministry, illustrate that God is always calling new leaders to serve the church. The photographs, the letters of greeting, and most of all the talking and sharing in a meal together reminded us of the bond we share.

Celebrations like this are important. They lift up what is good in our life together. We rejoice in the history of this church, particularly for those who share memories of ministry and life together. And we rejoice in newer members of the church who may not share the same memories, but can find joy in knowing who and what has come before us.

The Psalm above celebrates such a sense of fellowship and unity. Words about oily beards and mountain dew may seem strange to us at first, but let’s explore their meaning: Aaron was the first in the line of priests who were anointed to their calling by pouring holy oil. The vivid description of oil on the head, beard, and robes show the abundance and extravagance of God’s blessing. Mount Hermon was a prominent peak between Israel and Lebanon. The heights of mountains were places of dew, rainfall, fertility, and often the source of waterways that flowed into valleys below. These images evoke a sense of beauty, joy, new life, and celebration which indeed we feel when gathering together with kindred – or fellow church members.

We will share in a similar joy on October 3rd as New Members join into the fellowship, worship, and service of our church. It gives us great joy to welcome new persons into the congregation. Each new person is a blessing to the whole fellowship and gives us hope for the future of this congregation.

We also desire to share this joy with our neighbors, our nursery school and scout families, and others who use our building. The more we know each other, the more we can share each others’ joys and pray for each others’ concerns. We pray that those friends and neighbors who don’t have a church home might find a home in our congregation. This is the purpose of our neighborhood open house. Inside you’ll see more information, but please take a moment now to put October 16th on your calendar and plan to help out with the Open House and the White Elephant Sale.

Thanks to all who help with these ministries, and thanks to all who add, day by day, to the joy we experience in worship, in fellowship, and in service together.

God Bless Us All,

Pastor David

September 2010

Welcome Home!

Its been a wonderful summer, and its hard to believe it’s coming to an end. The days may not be getting cooler, but they do seem to be getting shorter. Once again, our church is gearing up to start the fall season with some extraordinary events.

These church gatherings remind me, in many ways, of family reunions. A few church members are gone all summer, and many of us travel here and there. But at the same time, others have visited and expressed an interest in joining the church! In September, all of us will gather together, young and old, long time member and new guest, all to celebrate what God is doing in our midst.

Like any reunion, we have people we’re looking forward to seeing, news that we want to catch up on, games to play, meals to share, and a good time to have for all. We have many upcoming events and several ways to get involved this fall. Here are a few, and you’ll find more inside!

September 12 will be Rally Day / Back to School Sunday. The choir will return to singing in worship, and Sunday School will begin with a blessing of the teachers and students. This is a great time of year to invite a friend, neighbor, or co-worker to come to church with you.

September 26 will be Homecoming Sunday and we will welcome home Rev. Herb Snyder as our preacher. We have sent invitations to many former and inactive members with the hope that many will indeed “come home!” If you are in touch with any former members, please be sure to extend them a personal invitation to join you in this wonderful celebration. After worship, we will celebrate a light, catered, luncheon to chat with old and new friends.

I will also be teaching a new evening class about Jesus starting September 28th. See inside for more information.

Finally, please join me in praying for those families and individuals who are considering bringing their children for baptism or joining our church in October!

God Bless Us All,

Pastor David

May 2010

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Spring is a wonderful time of year in the life of the church. After the joyful exuberance of Easter, we continue with some wonderful celebrations. We will celebrate Women’s Day and Mother’s Day in the next two weeks. I have spoken already to two families about baptism this spring. In June, we will celebrate Graduates and Children’s Sunday. Right in the middle of all this is Pentecost – a wonderful church holiday where we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the early church. These celebrations are wonderful milestones in the life of the church, and as we celebrate together we can see the importance of children and families in our congregation.

For this reason, we have begun looking for help with our ministries to children, youth, and families. Our Sunday School teachers do a wonderful job, but could use some more guidance and support. Our youth group has not come together after confirmation as many of us hoped. And busy families with busy schedules would like more from the church, but aren’t always sure how to fit church into the over-full activity calendar. Every day children and youth and families come through our building for nursery school, scout troops, and other events. All around our neighborhood and community, there are families raising children that might benefit from our ministries. And so we see a need to support our growing families and reach out to our neighbors as well.

This new intern is someone we haven’t met. Dan came to us highly recommended, but we are conducting more of a search for this new person. Please pray for God to lead the right person to work with us. We can all look forward to the fall when we hope to welcome this new person to our church family.

In preparation, please take some time to pray for our church, to dream about how you’d like to see these ministries grow: What do our children need to grow strong in character, faith, and service? What would make a difference in the lives of our families? How can we reach out to more of our neighbors? Please also consider what role you can play in strengthening our ministries to children, youth, and families. One person cannot do everything him or herself, but can support and strengthen all of us working together as a team. I look forward to sharing the results of this search with you. In the meantime, let us enjoy this springtime of worship and special events in the life of our congregation.

God Bless Us All,

Pastor David

April 2010

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I am writing this letter in March, I am reminded of these verses from Song of Solomon, “Now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” As I walk Noel to school each morning, the birds sing and the sun warms our back. Just yesterday, I noticed the first daffodils blooming in our neighbors’ yard. As I write, I look forward to the jubilant celebration of Easter, which will likely be upon us when this letter reaches you.

Easter is the highpoint of the Christian year. It is one day, but also a whole season, in which we celebrate Christ’s victory over the grave and God’s gift of new life. This victory challenges us to believe that God is not contained in ancient history or far away places, but that God is still at work in our world, and, even now, wants to give new life to our church.

Last year, I challenged the church with the idea that our problem was not that we were doing too many things, but that the things we were doing weren’t big enough. I felt that people would be inspired if we could accomplish some large goals together, and see our church making a significant difference in our community and the lives of people around us. Since then, we have indeed accomplished much:

We have founded the George Hewitt scholarship and welcomed Dan Lebo as a ministry intern. We have joined the First Suburbs Project, participated in several events and hosted our Governor at the church. We conducted a challenging stewardship campaign, and many members have increased their giving. We are sending a team of volunteers to rebuild New Orleans. We hosted a Fall Festival, and have begun efforts to reach out and “Meet Our Neighbors.” We have opened our building to more community groups than ever before. Our local United Methodist Women chapter has been selected to host the Annual UMW District meeting. We have been selected by our annual conference as a “High Potential Church” to receive special training for both pastor and lay people.

And that is just what is new at DHUMC! We are also continuing many of the wonderful traditions and ministries that have made this church strong in previous years. As we build on our traditions, and try new things, we discover that God is indeed working through us.

Rev. Lillian Smith, from our Bishop’s office, has challenged the churches of our area, and particularly the “high potential churches,” to dream big, and to try big things. In fact, she suggests we try something impossible! When we attempt the impossible, then we must rely on God’s power and not our own. When we try something that we could not humanly accomplish, we are forced to pray for, and expect God to open doors and move mountains. Does that sound far-fetched? Does it sound foolish? Perhaps. But not as foolish as a man rising from the dead after three days in the grave! The miracle of Easter is not just what God did in the past, but what God is able to do in our present day.

I invite you, in this Easter season, to pray and to consider what impossible thing God is calling us to accomplish, and to open ourselves to the possibility of God’s power working through ordinary people like us for the good of God’s kingdom in Drexel Hill.

God Bless Us All,

Pastor David

United Methodist Church Logo
You can get involved in the ministry of justice! Click here!

Note: The Cross and Flame is a registered trademark and the use is supervised by the General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church. Permission to use the Cross and Flame must be obtained from the General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church - Legal Department, 1000 17th Avenue South Nashville, TN 37212.

© 2005 - 2013; Drexel Hill United Methodist Church

Webmaster: Richard Patterson