From Pastor Jeff
From Pastor Jeff
Dear Members and Friends of West Austintown UMC,
We have entered the season of Easter! A couple years ago, on the first Sunday after Easter, a visitor came up to me during the passing of the peace and said “Pastor, why do you keep saying “He is Risen”? Don’t you know that Easter Sunday was last Sunday?” I assured the visitor that I did know Easter was last Sunday, and I proceeded to explain that we are Easter People not only on Easter, but every day!
The season of Easter, we have entered is a time when the church continues to lift up the gifts of Jesus’ resurrection and how it has given us grace and life. We are an Easter people and so we seek to live in the light of Jesus’ resurrection all the time, just as I assured the visitor. This past Good Friday, we held our Holy Communion and Tenebrae service. At the time of Tenebrae, I was sitting in the chancel, and after each reading I would extinguish a candle. As the service and the night went on, the lights were dimmed lower, the candles were extinguished, and the songs from our hearts and mouths became increasingly softer. At the conclusion of the service, all of the lights were out, and the only candle left burning was the Christ candle in the middle of the table. As the gathered congregation departed in silence, I was left alone in the Sanctuary—no lights, no music, no screens—just one candle burning bright. As I looked up, I saw the light of Christ reflecting off of the golden cross on the altar.
In many ways, that is the Easter truth. On the other side of the cross is the fullness of God’s grace and forgiveness. The light of Christ’s resurrection shines fully beyond the time of violence and death on the cross. The season of Easter is about learning to trust that truth more fully throughout our lives.
In this season of Easter, I have been continually reminded of the connection between living a resurrection life and the act of serving. Over the past couple of weeks there have been many ways in which you have been living into the resurrection life and the act of serving. From providing and serving meals at Funeral Dinners, to buying, packing, and spreading Easter Eggs for the many children who came out for the hunt, and to coming to enjoy the fellowship or helping to serve at our monthly community dinners. Each time we gather together, we have an opportunity to share the truth of Jesus’ resurrection not with words, but with the act of feeding and serving people.
I would encourage you to consider finding news ways to be in service as part of your continued celebration of Easter. You can find many ways to serve both within our church and through missions that the church supports beyond our walls. Community Dinners, Community Garden, Camp Scholarships, Back-2-School Block Party, Clothing giveaway, Habitat for Humanity, Protestant Family Services, Sunday school, youth group, confirmation and the list goes on.
Friends, let us continue to live into and show the love that Jesus Christ has for us, and in doing so we will discover our own resurrection.
In the Love of Christ!
an open invitation for all
an open invitation for all
First United Methodist Church hosts free monthly community dinners open to the public.
These events focus on reaching out to our local area, sharing the grace of God and building a more united church family.
Our first Community Dinner of the season starts on September 27 from 5-7pm.
West Austintown First United Methodist Church offers a group bible study open to the community called Supper, Study & Service in which participants gather to share a meal and explore a book that helps us reflect on our role as Christians in our community.
This study culminates in a Service project in which the group gives back to the local community by way of creating Blessing Bags from donated items, making a meal, and serving it to those in need.
We have partnered with Our Community Kitchen to serve these meals to the less fortunate.
During 2017 Summer, West Austintown First United Methodist Church offered Supper & Study for a second time. The book covered was A Grace-full Life by Wes Olds & Jorge Acevedo which seeks to answer the questions: "In what ways is God an ever-present God?," "Why does God want to have a personal relationship with me?," "How can I fully experience and respond to God's grace?," "How can I die well '"surrounded by God's grace?"'.
Our group connected with Our Community Kitchen to serve a meal and deliver Blessing Bags.
If you would like to attend our next Supper, Study, & Service group, it will begin September 12th. You can find more information for these meetings and others on our church calendar.
During the 2017 Lenten season, West Austintown First United Methodist Church offered a Supper & Study in which members gathered together, reading and discussing Tom Berlin's book Restored which helps us to see our mess through the eyes of Christ to find redemption and restoration. This Supper & Study group finalized their study with a Community Outreach program. They connected with Our Community Kitchen in downtown Youngstown & were invited to serve soup & give Blessing Bags to our unhoused brothers & sisters. Our next Supper & Study will begin mid-July.