A Fiery Sermon

A member of the church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.

The pastor made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone then he sat back in his chair, still silent.
 
The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead. Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.
 
The pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.
 
As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, ‘Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I will be back in church next Sunday.’
 
We live in a world today, which tries to say too much with too little. Consequently, few listen. Sometimes the best sermons are the ones left unspoken.



Reflecting on the Past, Looking to the Future

Another New Year is upon us! Reflecting on 2014, I am humbled and awestruck. In my view, we had a wonderful year 2014 at Perry. We made great strides forward in expanding and tending the ministries that are so vital as Perry’s response to Matthew 25 to care for the “least of these.” I believe that we also made progress shaping and forming disciples through those same ministries (Jesus also applied the term “little ones” or “least” to his disciples) as well as the structured Bible studies and sermon series. I take this opportunity to say: “Thank you, Perry!” “Thank you” for enthusiastically responding to God’s call to nurture God’s Reign in Shady Spring and beyond. I also say, “Thank you!” to everyone for the continued kindness and open reception you offer Lynn and me. Your gifts of love expressed in many ways continue to be the “WOW’s” in our lives. You folks simply “blow us away” with your generosity and love. What better appointment could a pastor’s wife and pastor receive—I can’t imagine one.

Grace and Peace to all,

Pastor Scott



United Methodist Women at Perry

As 2014 draws to a close, United Methodist Women want to share some of our accomplishments, let you know how we’ve managed and spent our money and most of all to say “Thank You” to all of you here at Perry. Without your support we wouldn’t be able to do all that we do to make our group so successful. Truly our “talents” are multiplied because we work together! So here goes!
 
Just look how far and wide the money we have earned has stretched:
 
500 to UMCOR
$300 to Helping Hands

$500 to Imagine No Malaria

$100 to Upshur House

$100 to House of Carpenter for Celebration of Missions

$100 to Shady Spring High School for Project Graduation

$1,200 for missions to UMW Southern District

$2,300 to church for heat pump/air conditioner – Purchased new walk-off rugs for fellowship hall and church entrance
$300 to Burlington House
$1,500 to help Shepherd’s Table purchase a new stove
$100 for school supplies for children from Shepherd’s Table
$800 for micro-phones & music stands for church
$28.57 for candle burning mission
$125 to Cub Scouts for storage cabinet
$500 to Atterson family who lost
home by fire.
 
We have designated funds to purchase a large screen TV and stand to use in the Fellowship Hall for meetings and classes.
 
Each year we reserve enough money in our account to purchase Egg sup-plies for the coming spring.
 
Some of our activities include:
 
Prepared twenty gift bags to welcome guests
Attended spring and fall district meetings for UMW, and received attendance award
Donated items as requested to Upshur House and House of Carpenter at Celebration of Missions Sponsored Egg Factory and Spring Rummage/Hot dog sale

Furnished long stem roses to ladies and girls for Mother’s Day

Made Health Kits for UMCOR

Donated toothbrushes, toothpaste and other health items for Shepherd’s Table children

Provided gift bags for men and boys on Father’s Day

At each meeting we send cards for those in need of a card

Helped with food for VBS and paid for Bounce Houses

Helped Burlington House by providing items for their general store

Donated hot dogs, peanut butter pumpkins, fried pies, baked goods and crafts for Fall Festival

Donated time and baby items to Mary’s Cradle at Trinity UMC in Bluefield

Donated crafts for Annual Conference Meeting

Donated food items to both Backpack Ministry and Shepherd’s Table

At Christmas we will help buy presents for Burlington children and needy children in the community

We have provided lunches, dinners and many meals for district clergy, charge conference and bereavement families

We will provide meat and bread for Church Christmas Dinner.
 
We continue to work toward a successful Prayer Partners group.
 
We are an active, dedicated group here at Perry and want you to consider becoming a member!
 
We meet at 6:30 pm the second Tuesday of each month and always have a devotion and an interesting program schedule. Please join us!


Angels Announce Jesus’s Birth

The Angels Announce Jesus’s Birth, And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men Luke 2:13-14 (KJV)
 
As we enter Advent and await Christmas, we are reminded that Christ’s coming fulfilled many oracles from the Hebrew Scriptures. Still, the coming of Messiah was a surprise to the world—perhaps most of all to Mary!
 
During Advent, our Worship Services and Bible Studies hail from the title: “UNDER WRAPS!” I invite you to consider these four weeks what you might have “under wraps” this year. Are the glitter, materialism, and busyness of the Season keeping our identities as Disciples of the Incarnated One “under wraps?” Our themes these next four Sunday’s are “God is Expectant,” “God is Dangerous,” “God is Jealous,” and “God is Faithful.” Let’s hope (and please keep this in your prayers) our UNDER WRAPS series can help us reveal our true identities as Servants of the One who comes to save us.
 
Just a note about a new Worship Service we are offering this year—The Longest Night/Blue Christmas Service. December 21st is the Winter Solstice and, as such, literally the longest night of the year. We will gather at 7:00p on that night recognizing that Christmas is neither a cause of celebration nor a joyous occasion for everyone. Folks suffer at Christmas after the loss of a loved one or some other traumatic event(s) that have occurred in their lives. Perhaps, you are simply lonely this year. The Longest Night Service is a time when folk are urged to gather and bring life’s burdens with them—especially if they are angry with God—and acknowledge these burdens before God (silently or verbally) within the context of a Worship Service. The Blue Christmas includes symbolic actions and you are invited to bring an ornament with you to hang and leave on the Christmas tree during the Service as a symbol of having spoken your heart to God. All are welcome at this Service and if you know of someone that might be lonely this year for whatever reason, I urge you to bring them to this Service.
 
As usual, we will offer the 11:00p Christmas Eve Service with Holy Communion. This year we will take up a special offering during the Service to benefit Brian’s Safe House in Beckley. This vital faith-based ministry is helping men recover from substance addiction and abuse. In our area, drug abuse is the major contributor to family dysfunction resulting in child hunger. Please prayerfully consider how you might sacrifice this year and support the work of Brian’s Safe House. Ask your friends and family to consider donating too when you invite them to the
Christmas Eve Service.
 
Grace and Peace to all,

Pastor Scott



Marks of Discipleship

 This month we complete our sojourn into Matthew’s Gospel the first four Sundays of November. The fifth Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent—the beginning of the Christian New Year and the Gospel focus will shift to Mark with readings of John scattered throughout. Matthew’s texts conclude with a reading from the 25th Chapter—verses 31-­‐46 are among the top five most important passages in the Bible. These verses represent the culmination of what it means to be a follower or disciple of Jesus. We will spend the month of November considering what a disciple is or is not, but Matthew 25:31-­‐46 remain definitive.
 
Our formation as disciples never ends on this side of life. Formation requires constant attention, engagement, and, well, application of spiritual discipline(s). Disciples always consider what their “next steps” in spiritual formation and growth will be—the status quo is never sufficient—there is no such thing as an “instant disciple.” The text from Matthew 25 tells us where the disciple’s journey of formation must end. I hope that you will make extra effort to join us in worship these next four Sundays and consider what your “next step” in formation as a disciple will be.
 
Peace Sisters and Brothers,
Pastor Scott


Colorful Calls

September is a month of transition—from Summer to Autumn. I am always a little saddened as I see the leaves beginning to turn and the nights cool off because, Winter cannot be far off. Yet, between Summer and Winter, comes this glorious, colorful season of transition and we don’t want to miss the sight of our beautiful “mountains of God” in their burning colors.

Transition came to Moses’ life too. He was minding his business as a shepherd (his work) in Midian while God’s people languished under Pharaoh’s bondage and oppression in Egypt. Then, suddenly, he sees a burning bush that is not consumed by the fire (the burning bush is a Theophany or physical manifestation of God) and decides to “turn aside” to see what was going on. His life was never the same again. Although reluctant and not without some protest, Moses answered God’s call to deliver God’s people from oppression. Hey! Moses is “on the lam” from Egypt anyway, and he knows following God’s call “ain’t gonna be easy”! However, the bush is burning with bright flames of yellows, reds, and orange hues—not unlike the colors of Autumn—and Moses follows God’s bright, colorful call—one of THE classic Biblical “Calls”.

Christ too “calls” us to follow him as Christians. Every person who takes the name of Christ is called to service. “They’ll know we are Christians by our love” the hymn says and that is part and parcel of Christ’s call to us—that we act out of the same love as Jesus does. The path of following Christ isn’t always easy but it is there to be followed. What keeps us going? The only “burning bushes” we see might be those in their Autumn colors; rather it is the love in our hearts that burns as we continue to “turn aside” from our daily work to see and hear God’s call upon our lives. May Christ’s love burn within us and never be extinguished as we “labor” unto the Lord.

Peace Sisters and Brothers,
Pastor Scott



Perry Acts As One

In my view we had a most fruitful Fall Festival – the 3rd Annual Festival by count.  “Tons” of hard work by quite a number of people forged a fine Saturday that was blessed with beautiful weather and a collegial spirit.  Yet, for me, the most significant moment actually followed the Festival on Sunday at the 10:45 service.  Karen delivered the usual spate of announcements and then asked if anyone had “anything else,” Obviously prepared for the invitation, Festival Chairman, Rick Dotson, thanked folks for their help and perfectly summed the Festival efforts, as he declared: “This shows that we (Perry) can do anything when we work together.”  In short, we (Perry) acted as “One.”
 
In the 17th Chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus prays what has come to be known as his “high priestly prayer.”  It is a prayer for the safety and unity of the Disciples.  In the next Chapter, Jesus will be arrested and tried, Thus, Jesus prays for his Disciples at this perilous time.  Within hours after Jesus offer his prayer, however, the Disciples scatter in panic – hardly acting as “one.”  The Disciples will later begin to act as “one” under the impetus of the Holy Spirit and, in fact, they will act so differently that only a new name will do – they are called Apostles.  The meaning of their new name is:  “one who is sent.”
 
When the people of a church manage to act as “one” we are sometimes surprised and gratified.  We should, however, remember that Jesus always meant that we should as “one” and John 17 is our assurance from the Christ.  Folks, we have been “prayed over’ by the Master himself!  Each one of us is meant to be an apostle in the sense that we are, each one, “sent.”  So, as your pastor, I am wondering what might happen if we were to continue to act as “one” and apply the same kind of hard work that made the Fall Festival fruitful in inviting folks to church?  Let’s, each one of us, invite at least one new person to church during the month of October.  After all, Jesus has prayed for our safety and who knows how many new folks could come to profess Christ in the coming year!
 
Hulda’s fried pies notwithstanding; they weren’t the only thing we offered at the Fall Festival.  I was so please to note that quite a few Perry folks offered invitations to our Festival guests to attend Perry for worship.  In fact, one couple, along with their granddaughter, did join us at the 10:45 Service after attending the Fall Festival!  “Thank you,” for your dedication and hard work at Perry.  You are a wonderful church family and I continue to be amazed and proud to serve as your pastor.
 
Peace Sisters and Brothers,
Pastor Scott