I wonder.  How many of us “gave up” something for Lent?  So far during this Lenten season, I have given up bungee-jumping, chicken- plucking, space-walking, and cliff-diving.  You may laugh at that, but, I wonder.  As laughable as my answers are to the question of what I have given up for Lent, I wonder if they might be more honest than what many people answer when asked the same question.  “What have you given up for Lent?” they ask.  And we answer, “Sodas.  Chocolate.  Cell phone.  Cussing.  Television.”  Here is what’s on my heart: if we come to Easter and find ourselves chugging soda with a half-empty Whitman’s Sampler balanced on our lap while we are cussing out the person on our cell phone who is interrupting our television show, have we truly given up anything or have we only postponed certain actions and activities for a while?  Please don’t misunderstand.  I am not being judgmental.  I firmly believe that these small and temporary sacrifices can fine-tune our hearts for the larger sacrifices our faith will demand of us.  I’m just wondering out loud.

        I suppose I am thinking about words like “sacrifice” and “self-denial” because I find myself asking some hard questions this Lent, questions that haunt me.  When was the last time I made a real sacrifice because of my love for Jesus Christ?  A financial gift equivalent to a widow’s mite?  A spiritual sacrifice of turning the other cheek when it was the last thing I wanted to do?  A gift of time offered to something difficult, something to benefit anyone other than myself, when there were so many other things I’d rather be doing?  When was the last time I truly denied myself for the sake of a cause greater than myself?  How long has it been since I last showed love and compassion to a stranger?  Let me tell you something: these kinds of questions make giving up sodas and chocolate look easy.  And will allowing these questions to bounce around in my soul bring me closer to God?  I wonder.

        And the biggest question of them all: with all of my failings, all those times and places in my life when my faith has faltered and my courage has abandoned me, how is it that God continues to love me so very much?  I wonder.  And I rejoice!  Pastor Steve

The Joy of Lent



              THE JOY OF LENT

        The journey of Lent is no easy stroll.  During Lent, we walk with Jesus to the cross.  Lent is a time to examine our discipleship, to compare ourselves to Jesus.  This is not a joyful work for we all know we sin and fall very short of the glory of God.  Lent is a time for confession of sin and somber repentance.  There is a reason why the symbols of Lent are sackcloth and ashes.  Is our faith what it should be or could be?  Is God my highest

priority, my first thought, my greatest love?  These are the questions of Lent.  Like Paul, Lent demands that we cry out to God, “Why do I keep doing the things I know I should not do, and not do the things I know I should do?”  No, the journey of Lent is no easy stroll.  Lent can be a lot like kale; it is very healthy for us but who really likes it?

        Even so, as I look back at previous seasons of Lent in my life, to my surprise, I

remember a lot of joy.  I remember telling one congregation that I gave up two things for Lent, cliff-diving and my dreams to become a Gold Medal winner as a slalom racer in the Olympics.  I remember a Lutheran pastor and friend telling me that his wife had given up cussing for Lent, and it was about to kill her.  More seriously, I see clearly a group of 15 men joining my church for our Lenten lunches.  These men were transitioning from prison.  I smile as I recall my church family members hugging them, introducing them around,

welcoming them to their seats, bringing them food.  Anyone could see that they were not used to receiving such loving attention.  Those men were adopted by my church folk and my congregation decided to add a project to their Lenten journey and offered to do some work at the home these men shared.  It needed a lot of work.  We painted, and plumbed, and rewired, and painted, and gardened, and trimmed hedges, and painted, and

re-shingled, and repaired drywall, and painted, and built stone borders, put in a walkway, and we painted.  As I sit here, I am remembering the many times I have experienced the unity of the church as many different denominations in the communities in which I

ministered came together in Lenten worship, and as members of our denomination with different skin tones came together to break bread and share our love for God in prayer and the hearing of God’s Holy Word.  I have been so blessed as I watched God’s people offer dramas of Lent in their fellowship halls and on their city streets, and as the Stations of the Cross were shared in a space covering 10 city blocks. These are the beautiful, joyous memories of Lent that I will forever carry in my heart. 

        May this year, 2018, be the year when you are blessed by the joy of Lent. 

Pastor Steve


        Charles Spurgeon once said, “Everything is wonderful until you get used to it.”  Those words are so true.  I remember the first time I saw a microwave in    action.  A man took a piece of stale bread, put a few drops of water on it, and it was just like it was fresh-made in only 30 seconds.  It was incredible!  Now, I open the door, put the food in to heat or cook, and stand there wondering why it is taking so long.  During the mid-twentieth century, one of the most recognizable brand icons in America was a dog sitting in front of an old-time gramophone, head cocked, listening to the sound.  That iconic image was owned by the RCA Victor record company.  How amazing, that the sound of a voice talking or singing could be recorded on a plastic disk!  Now, the question asked is, “What’s a record?”  Do you remember when remote controls for television sets first came out?  How does it do that!  It changes the channel from across the room!  I don’t even have to get out of my seat!  It was shocking!  It was so unreal, but I was holding it in my hand!  What about now?  Does anybody get excited by their remote controls anymore?  Babies are fascinated by water.  It freezes.  It boils.  It splashes.  You can weigh hundreds of pounds and still float on it.  It’s a miracle!  Yawn.  It’s just water.    Everything is wonderful until you get used to it.

        January begins the weeks known in the church as the Sundays after

Epiphany, a time for revelation and exploring and discovery, remembering the   journey of the wisemen searching for Jesus.  We need Epiphany.  We need this time that is all about journeys, our journeys as God’s faithful people and our    journey as God’s faithful church.  We need this time to figure out where Jesus wants us to go and what Jesus wants us to do.  Epiphany is about following the light of Jesus Christ obediently, going wherever that light leads and to all upon whom that light shines. Epiphany is God saying, “It’s not about what you want; it’s about what I want.”  Epiphany is about a faith so courageous that we would dare to pray, “Not my will but thine be done.”  These weeks after Epiphany are a blessed reminder that God is leading us, a holy reminder that we have been given a faith so strong it has the power to change the world.  Aldersgate, pray for your church during the next few weeks, for when it comes to faith, even faith, everything is wonderful until you get used to it.  Pastor Steve
















Family Scouting Coming to AUMC

You may have heard it on the news, but this fall, the Boy Scouts of America will allow girls to participate in the Cub Scout Program, ages 5-10.  In 2019, the program will be expanded to allow older girls to enroll in a program that runs parallel to the Boy Scout program, and will allow girls to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.  If you have any questions or concerns, please ask me and I will do my best to address them.  You may learn more with this flyer from the Boy Scouts.

In the meantime, three dates to remember.
February 10th:  Valentines Dinner (More to come)
February 11th:  Church-wide Breakfast to support Scouting Program
February 11th:  Scouting Sunday will be observed during the 10:30 Service

Thank you for your continued support of our Scouting Ministries.

Wayne Miller