Dear Church Family, This week's (long!) e-note covers the following subjects: -
Ash Wednesday New Sermon Series New Group-Life Opportunities Share the Spirit Auction, Dinner and Luncheon - A Very Diverse Church! Ash Wednesday: The season of Lent begins tomorrow night, February 22nd at our Ash Wednesday worship service. I'll be sharing an Ash Wednesday message during that service. I hope to see you Wednesday evening at 6:30 in the sanctuary for this important and sacred time of worship. New Sermon Series: This weekend, February 25-26th begins a new sermon series for Lent and Holy Week. The series is called, "God Questions? Jesus' Answers to Seven Big Questions." During this seven-week series, we will explore the following questions: Who is Jesus? Where is God? Am I accepted? What matters most? What brings fulfillment? What about suffering? And is there hope? This is an especially good time to invite others to visit BUMC. Last weekend you received business cards about this new series. I hope you will share some of those cards with your friends this week, along with an invitation to visit our church.
Tomorrow you will receive an email about the series that you can forward to your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Please "Step Up" and "Invite and Welcome Others" during this important time in the life of our church. New Group-Life Opportunities: As we begin the season of Lent, several new group-life opportunities are available. For example, three groups will gather during the next seven weeks beginning on February 26th to discuss the "God Questions?" sermon series. One will meet at 11:00 Sunday mornings, one will meet at 9:30 on Wednesday mornings, and the other will meet at 6:30 on Wednesday evenings. Several other new groups are forming as well. To learn more about group-life options, where you can better connect to God and other Christians, please click here. Share the Spirit Auction, Dinner and Luncheon: Most of our members would agree that our Jubilation and Sonshine youth choirs, along with our entire youth ministry, are among the best things we do at BUMC. The annual "Share the Spirit" auction and dinner will be held this Saturday evening, February 25th. This event directly supports the youth choir tours and youth summer missions. Another good option for supporting this cause is to attend the youth choir program and luncheon on Sunday, February 26th at noon. Your participation at one or both of these two events is crucial in supporting this vibrant ministry at BUMC. For more information about these two events, click here. A Very Diverse Church! Every week I receive dozens of emails, cards and letters from our congregation. Last week I received four especially interesting pieces of correspondence. Two of them concerned the recent controversy involving the Catholic Church, the federal government, and contraceptives. One person was extremely unhappy with the federal government. They felt the recent decision on contraceptives was an assault on the constitution and religious freedom. In their opinion, the
government had no right to force this upon the Catholic Church. They believe the United Methodist Church should condemn this decision and fight to overturn it. The other correspondence I received on this topic was radically different. This person was totally supportive of this recent government decision. They noted that no Catholic churches were forced to provide contraceptives to their employees. Instead, they argued, only large Catholic institutions like hospitals that serve the broader public were effected, and since these institutions receive public funds, they should follow public rules on this matter. The very same week, I also received two pieces of correspondence about Islam. One member felt that Islam promoted terrorism and should be condemned by the United Methodist Church. The other person was concerned with the anti-terrorism course being taught by the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office. They felt this training unfairly painted all Muslims as terrorists when only a tiny percentage of Muslims actually engage in violence, and they wanted the United Methodist Church to fight against this kind of "Muslim bashing." These four pieces of correspondence reminded me of several important things. • BUMC is an incredibly diverse congregation, both politically and theologically. • People think that the United Methodist Church, and the senior pastor of Brentwood UMC, can do a lot more than we actually can! • There are always two sides to every conflict. • We would do well to listen to both sides of arguments before making a final opinion or decision. • United Methodists have a long history of "Holy Conferencing" where we respectfully listen to people who differ from us, genuinely try to understand them, seek common ground when possible, and always practice civility, even when we strongly disagree. I don't expect much civility in the secular political arena in 2012. But I do hope that those of us in the Christian community, and
especially those of us who are United Methodists, will practice civility, even when we disagree. In the end, our common faith in Jesus Christ and our connection as a community of faith transcend our political and theological differences. Being the pastor of a "big tent" church and denomination is challenging at times. But it's always interesting! Between the holiday weekend and the awful weather, including rain and snow, many of us were out last weekend. So I hope to see you back this weekend as we being our Lenten series: "God Questions? Jesus' Answers to Seven Big Questions." Finally, it was good to receive Jacob and Lillian Donaldson and Bill Caldwell as new members. Welcome to our church family. In Christâ€™s Love and Service, Martin