21-22 Pastor's Page
Families and Friends of Racine 1st, welcome to a new and very beautiful Autumn also known as Fall Season in the name of Jesus Christ. When I gaze at the beauties and wonders of God’s creations, I’m deeply inspired by the truth and accuracy of the Psalmist when he says: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies announce what his hands have made. (Psallm19:1NCV).
In the same vein as the heavens declare God’s glory, so do all of God’s creations including the wonderful seasons of each year and the messages each declares concerning its Creator-God. No doubts, our God is an AWESOME GOD! I strongly believe God didn’t make anything at random, without purpose, but that all the creatures may declare his Glory! This holds true for the four seasons in each year. They all differ in temperatures and how they impact our daily lives. Let’s take a brief look at the symbolic meanings of the Fall Season as someone once wrote in the “Busted Newsletter,” and how they impact us. First of all, let’s remember that the Fall Season marks a transitional period from a warmed and hot summer into the cold winter Season. Now, here are the seven lessons the Fall Season represents and how they relate to our faith journey:
1st. Change- Heraclitus, the Greek Philosopher is quoted as saying, “The only Constant is CHANGE!” Autumn /Fall Season help us pay attention to the changes taking place in our bodies and surroundings when temperatures begin to drop. Our surroundings look different as the flower, garden plants whither and the leaves on the trees begin to take on different colors and eventually fall off. Jesus told his disciples to learn from the fig tree that had lost its leaves by teaching a lesson: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but his word will never pass away pass away!” (Matt. 24: 35 NIV). My friends, the message is clear, every created thing in this life, including power, and life itself, is temporary, transient, and thus unreliable!
2nd. Mystery- the changing nature of all created things in life each and every day reveals and presents us with more mysteries of the Creator
and his creations. This is an example of the unfathomable wisdom of God, except by faith!
3rd. Preservation- autumn reminds us of the need and importance of preserving life. This is evidence by the preparations often made by all living creatures, humans, other animals –large and small (ants, squirrels, etc.) as the winter season approaches. Along with other animals, we often recondition our dwelling places; gather enough food stuffs and other basic necessities of life before winter due to the uncertainty of winter weather. This reminds me of Jesus’ parable of his return and his call upon us to be prepared for this second coming. Paul says, the Lord may come like a thief, i.e., when one least expects. (Matt. 24:43; (1Thessalonians 5:2). We must be on the alert!
4th. Protection – as we enter fall, our dress codes change from light to more thicker/heavy fabrics, foot wears from sanders and slippers to shoes and other feet wears that keep the toes warm. Dead leaves are constantly raked to keep the surroundings clean throughout the season. As someone has said: “Cleanliness is next to holiness!” You will agree that being a believer / Christian puts one at enmity with Satan; the principalities, powers and rulers of the dark world. It is in this light that the Apostle Paul warns us to protect ourselves by putting on the whole armor of God. ( Eph. 6:11-18).
5th. Comfort – Like preservation and protection, the Fall Season heightens our need for comfort. In the midst of dropping temperatures, we seek comfort in most cases by creating serene and well insulated spaces. It also gives us a chance to learn, value and cherish what makes us feel warm and safe. This in line with the Apostle Paul’s teaching on contentment. As believers, we must learn to be content in all of life’s circumstances! (Philippians 4:11).
6th. Balance – during autumnal equinox, the length of day and night same to be the same. This is the reason ancient cultures have always associated this time of year with the concept of balance. Autumn grants us an opportunity to harmonize with the Earth and tap into the balance within us. The need for balance is also true for our Spiritual journey in life. There must be a balance between the believers’ faith and actions, words and deeds!
7th. Letting Go- does the phrase: “ let go and let God” sounds familiar? Well, we watch temperatures rise and drop to the tune of leaves falling. As usual, we might prefer a certain temperature on a particular over another, yet we don’t have the ability to sustain it. Autumn illustrates the beauty of letting go no matter what. Our inner egos and patterns of greed and pride can never change the course of nature. Letting go also stresses the truth of the temporary nature of everything around us! Applying this concept of “Letting Go,” to our spiritual life, every potential convert to our Lord and Savior makes a voluntary and conscientious decision to forsake and repent (Let go) of his or her sinful, old ways of life in acceptance of the new and vibrant life found only in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul says, anyone in Christ, he or she is a new Creation (person)…. (2Cor. 5:17). You and I are members of the community new creation in Jesus.
Finally, my friends, welcome to the beautiful Autumn/ Fall Season. May you and your family enjoy the amazing changes, mysteries of God’s creations, preservation, protection, comfort, physical/spiritual balance and let go and let God to his glory in the name of Jesus Christ.
RETREAT, BUT REASSEMBLE:
“We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.
Dear Families and Friends of Racine 1st U.M Church,
Greetings in the blessed name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. As always, I prayerfully hope you and your respective family are safe, healthy- even if not 100%, as well as staying cool in this hot and often humid summer weather.
My friends and Co-workers in our Lord’s vineyard, I can’t agree enough with you when it comes to how much challenges and difficulties we’ve endured, and still experiencing one way or another. The fact that the level of impacts this global deadly Pandemic COVID-19 has had and possibly is having, varies from one individual, family and community to another cannot be denied. For some it has been either oneself or a loved one mildly infected, treated and recovered. At the same time, for another, it’s either oneself, a loved or an entire neighborhood that was severally infected, treated and survived, but suffered and still struggling with some kind of side effects, while another may have sadly lost a closed loved one! Again, whatever has been either your personal experience, family’s or community’s experience through these strange and difficult times, rest assured that you haven’t been, not for a second, alone! There was and still someone somewhere holding you all in his or her prayers! Most importantly, as a child and friend of Jesus Christ, you can count on his faithful promise: “ I will not leave you as orphans,” (John 14:18), and surely, he’s been present and will continue to do so even now until the end!
Remember, as a believer, physical separation, and at times isolation, from the assembly of other believers negatively impacts very essential parts of our life in ministry and mission together. Some may argue, truly so, that
distance is not a Barrier to God’s power, presence and special blessings wherever and whenever the needs arise.
While the above argument is true, I would still like to extend a “Pastoral Invitation” to you, your family, relatives and friends: A warmed “Welcome Back To Church!”
Yes, it is true that our God is present with us in all places, in all circumstances and all of the time, but that does not diminish the importance of the need for the assembling of all believers. Alongside his call upon the struggling believers to persevere, the author of the Book of Hebrews writes: “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not NEGLECT our meeting together as some are doing.” (Heb. 10:23-25- NIV).
The Apostle Paul also reminds members of Corinthians Church that was very troubled and engulfed by internal and external conflicts not to give up, but keep holding firm to their faith, for the Lord would bring them the desired healing at his appointed time. (2 Cor. 4:8-10) In other words, just as gold is refined by fire in order to bring out its best, so are challenging and tough times we go through as believers in this life. They serve as tests of our faith so that once we remain steadfast and firm, the authenticity of our faith becomes an indisputable witness to help strengthen those with either weak or untested faith, as well as a motivation for those who haven’t come to believe and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to do so.
My friends, how about we think of our being alive today as the gracious act of God keeping a Remnant, like he did with the Israelites, in order to continue spreading the Good News! (Romans 11: 1-5- ESV). Frankly, with all due respect to all the health professionals and the protocols, let’s not ever forget that you and I are alive today only by the Grace of God! We need to continue trusting Him with our safety as we gather for “In-Person Worship” in the days and months ahead.
Now, trusting God to help us continue to keep ourselves and others safe, I’m please to present the schedule for the events marking our congregation’s formal “Welcome Back To Church”
Sunday September 12, 2021- Special Coffee Hour (meet and greet), with a special Cake. Like “FRANC Sunday,” anyone may bring a favorite Snack to pass at the fellowship table following the worship Service. Please invite and bring along a Guest!
In conclusion, we definitely missed each of you and would love to get back to our “In-Person” style of Worship. However, while it is true that “In- Person Worship” has huge benefits to our faith journey including Christian socialization, Spiritual Growth and Witness, I would also encourage you to pray and follow God’s guidance in your choice of worship style. There is no pressure on anyone to join the “In-Person Worship!”
Thanks to all of you for your prayers, committed services and financial gifts to our congregation. Your gift in any kind enables the Lord’s ministry and mission through our congregation. Deeply appreciated!
Finally, let’s stay prayerful, safe, and healthy in Jesus’ Name.
NOTE: We will NOT HAVE THE REGULAR “FFRANC BREAKFAST” on September 5th. As stated above, we will be celebrating “Welcome Back to Church” Sunday with refreshments following the worship service on September 12th.
“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
As a human being and Christian, one of the teachings and practices of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that deeply appeals to me is the “Golden Rules: In everything, treat others as you would have them treat you, for this fulfills the law and prophets!” (Matt. 7:12). No doubt, every human being, irrespective of race, geographical location, societal status, etcetera, belongs to the same origin according to both our Biblical Creation Story and secular history’s “Homo Sapiens Species” theory. Ultimately, we are products of a loving and compassionate God who created us in his own image. “So, as we have opportunity, let US DO GOOD TO EVERYONE,” says the Apostle Paul. (Gal. 6:10a-ESV).
In view of the above historical facts and many more, the founder of our United Methodist Denomination, John Wesley, is widely known and quoted, as seen above, as a proponent of RANDOM ACTS OF EXTRAGANT GENEROSITY! Like Jesus, Wesley encourages all believers, especially United Methodist Christians, to be fully involved with Random Acts of Kindness throughout their lives! In other words, Jesus and John not only agreed, but also taught by examples that extending hands of Random Acts of Kindness to other needy brothers and sisters in order to help them realize their full God-given potentials in this life is one of the best ways for all believers to translate their faith into actions.
In light of all of the above, I would like to call your attention to one of the many “Random Acts of Extravagant Kindness” the Racine 1st United Methodist Congregation is currently undertaking in Kakata City, Republic of Liberia/ West Africa.
I believe this unique opportunity to do good in such a turbulent time must be a “Divine arrangement!” It began during my three weeks’ vacation to Liberia in May 2021. While in Kakata City, the Spirit led me to a middle-aged woman, Annie Kwita Dolo. Annie is married to Dolo and a mother of three children: Ernest, James and Grace. Like majority of Liberians, Dolo
and Annie are unemployed! As seen in the above photos, this family of five lives in a “Mud-dubbed and palm thatched hut.” Conversing with Annie, the family’s deplorable living condition immediately caught my attention, and I was really devastated by her story to the point that I couldn’t get it out of my mind! At that moment, it became clear to me that the Lord wanted me to do something for this family. So, I promised the family that I would share their story upon my return to the United States in order to find help to raise the walls and complete their six-year-old foundation.
On Sunday 6th June 2021, my first day in the pulpit following my vacation, I did make the announcement, and later included the story in our monthly newsletter, declaring “SHELTER FOR ANNIE AND FAMILY” as a Mission Project for our congregation. As a pastor with very little or no knowledge in construction, I blindly estimated the cost of the building and asked for a $2,000.00 donation. Amazingly, by God’s providential power, members of our congregation have contributed $3,500.00 to this date! TO GOD BE THE GLORY! Words are not enough to fully express my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the kindhearted and generous members of our congregation! Yet, I say thanks to each and all of you!
Please take a moment to view the photos of the level of progress being made on the “Mission Project! Step 1 - describes the initial encounter with the family and identifies their present living condition. Step 2- shows what is needed to be done to help improve their living condition, i.e., raise the walls and roof the building. Step 3- demonstrates how much has been done in terms of our desired Missional Goal to provide a better and safe “Shelter for Annie and Family.” There stands a new building roofed with corrugated metal sheets! Again, to God be the Glory for the wonderful things he’s doing and accomplishing through you, me and all of us together! Indeed, we are PREACHING JESUS’ TRANSFORMATIVE GOOD NEWS and SHARING HIS COMPASSIONATE LOVE WITHOUT USING WORDS! THIS IS A CLEAR DEMONSTRATION OF PRACTICAL FAITH IN ACTION!
While we’re celebrating the first three steps, let’s continue to pray for the remaining steps that will make the new home fully ready for them to live in. The steps are as follow: Step 4- Cement to plaster the walls and lay floor; Step 5: Install six doors and five windows and Step 6: Possibly assist the family with transition into their new home.
I know some of you might be feeling this is too much more than initially thought, and you are right! I didn’t figure that out from the beginning too! However, do I feel sad and overwhelmed? Not at all! In fact, I’m always very excited to be a little part of something bigger that God does that touches, nurtures and transforms lives to the glory of his own name! We have put our hands into this plow to give hope to a needy family, our sisters and brothers in Christ, let’s not be tempted to look back in despair and dash their hope. Remember, the God who called and presented us this mission never runs out of resources. As usual, He will surely provide the needed resources for the last three steps to complete this “Mission Project!” Remember, you and I are blessed to be blessings to others in the name of God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!
Thanks, and let’s stay prayerful, safe and well in Jesus’ name.
Blessings, Rev. Jakes