April 2024 Pastor’s Article

When I was about three, my family lived in New Market, Indiana.  We were at some church function, and something the adults said prompted my young self to interject claiming that I could speak another language.  This no doubt surprised everyone (especially my parents) and when I was asked what other language I could speak I proudly declared “Western!”   I then illustrated my deep understanding of “western” with an exaggerated pronouncement of “Howdy partner.”

I do not actually remember this happening.  Despite that, I know the story well because it is one that gets repeated often.  I think most families have their own types of stories.  Whenever families gather, there is an assortment of stories, inside jokes, and memories that get shared time and time again.   We repeat the familiar tales that everyone already knows because it is a way to remind ourselves of who we are and where we have come from.  When the stories are not repeated, it is surprising how fast collective memories can fade and parts of our past get forgotten.

Remembering is also built into the rhythms of our faith and worship life.  We celebrate the sacrament of communion in remembrance of Jesus.  We follow a church calendar that leads us to remember the same important points such as Easter and Pentecost every single year.  Just like the family stories, we remember in our faith practice to remind ourselves who we are as God’s people.

One of the areas where we might not be as good at remembering is the area of our particular faith tradition.   When young people are confirmed into the church and asked to claim the faith as their own, we tell them our story.   We tell them how John Wesley founded the Methodist movement.  We tell them how Methodism uniquely combines an emphasis on personal holiness with social holiness.   We tell them how Methodist circuit riders were at the forefront of the pioneers spreading across a young United States and that is why seemingly every single small town in the Midwest has a United Methodist church.   However, we do not repeat these stories as well as we should.   We tend to remember who we are as followers of Christ, but we do not always remind ourselves who we are as United Methodists.

With that in mind we are going to have the opportunity to remind ourselves who we are starting this month.   Starting on April 17th we will have a four week study on who we are as United Methodists.  This will focus on our unique theology, our history, and our polity.  The last session, on May 8th, will focus on what comes next as we go over what changes might be coming for Methodism in the future.

I hope that you are able to join us on Wednesday at 7:00 P.M. to remember just who we are as North Judson United Methodist Church.

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