School Report – Blog from Pastor Lisa

Not long after arriving at Cokes Chapel, someone asked me if I knew what these stacked stones were, that are located on the front lawn of the church.  I had to admit, I hadn’t noticed them.  I am not sure that speaks well of me – it’s pretty obvious once I slowed down and looked where I was directed.

You need to know that Cokes Chapel was founded in 1833, and the current Chapel was constructed in 1855.  That’s a long time past!  Even though I knew how long this community has worshiped on this hill in Sharpsburg, the stones made no sense to me.  My guide then told me that these stones were placed here for carriages and horses to pull along side and for worshippers to disembark.  Who knew!

I have reflected on how many feet went up and down these stones, how many children played on them while folks talked after service, and how today these stones are a beautiful reminder of a way that people came to worship. 

Stepping stones that allowed folks to come into the presence of the Lord.  People came away from demanding farm life, preparing meals ahead of time so there was food ready to eat when they returned home, children and all able hands got up early to finish chores and feed animals so they could come to thank God, pray to God and listen to God.  They came with concerns, fears, hopes, and anticipation, ready to be together for their spiritual sustenance.

After worship, after greeting, laughing, sharing the news of the day and community, they stepped back on these same stones to continue life.

Holy Ground.  Holy Stones.  Not icons or idols, but real, beautiful reminders of life in Christ, whether in the here and now, or well over 100 years ago.  This season of preparation, we are called to slow down, look at the stepping stones we have been using.  Are we looking where Christ is directing us?  Are we coming with anticipation, thankfulness and open to the Holy Spirit forming us anew?   Are we growing closer in heart and life to our Savior?

Sometimes the “old ways” can be powerful, silent, soul shaking reminders of the true reason we are still coming together to worship as a community.  May these stones remind us of the growth that is always before us.  May these stones remind us of the stone that was rolled away from the tomb.  Step into the holy life that awaits us.

See you Sunday,   Pastor Lisa



Lenten Reflection: Week 1

 

Lenten Reflection: Week 1

Everyone likes to win! I admit, I entered the HGTV contest every day (two places!!) to win the home at Saint Simons
… I haven’t heard from them yet – have you? I enjoy information from emails that I signed up for while entering (I wonder, do they know that I signed up for contact and does that help??). One article caught my attention: “Thirteen Weeds to Watch For”. Oh yeah – I want to get ahead of the weed industry that will begin sprouting. There are some sneaking in already with this warm weather!
 
Weeds are the Bain of a Gardner’s life. They send deep roots, mar the smooth canvas of a lawn, or mess with the symmetry of a flower bed, and they steal nutrients from the soil we carefully feed and amend for our flowers. Weeds mask their intent to take over by going under the landscape for a yard or two, then emerging away from the root bed, playing with your confidence that you “got it all”. They have genius engineering built into their DNA, so they can pop off seeds like missiles or fly with the wind to corners yet discovered in the landscape (think dandelions).
 
Yes, I have an awareness of weeds and all the damage they can do. There is a whole industry created around weed control and the mark of a successful Gardner is more garden, less weeds, right?
 
Sort of like sin, I am thinking…. we know the sins that separate us from a beautiful life in Christ. We may even practice
some of the known ways to avoid sin – we pray, seek out ways to be kind, serve others, give. Still
the potential remains always around us, in us, to slip into the easy way of separation from God.
 
Jesus spoke often about seeds, growth and potential – always with the deeper context of how we allow God’s Word and our life flourish through Him. This Lent season, perhaps there are some weeds (sins) you have noticed that you want to pull or remove in your soul landscape. Trust that God has just the right formula to give you power over the things that hinder your spiritual life and growth. Pray, fast, listen, study God’s Word, love, show mercy, forgive as you have been forgiven.
 
Quiz Corner: Did you recognize the weeds above and to the left? 1) Henbit – reproduce by seed, but can also root from stem pieces. Hand-pull when soil is moist 2) Dandelion – a perennial weed. Dig or spot-spray if you only have a few offenders. Apply pre-emergent herbicide in fall to interrupt seed germination 3) White Clover – a perennial weed that spreads rapidly by stems that creep both above and underground. You can hand-pull or spot spray plant with herbicide that kills weeds, not grass.
 
Can you recognize spiritual offenders? Greed, envy, jealousy, pride, selfishness, anger, evil intentions, dissension, lust… anything that separates us from God.
 
“So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” James 4:7-10 The Message


The Practice of Lent

 


The Practice of Lent

Spiritual practices are an opportunity to open us up to the mystery of faith, the life of Christ and the potential we have to become more Christ-like. Lent may not be a liturgical season that you are familiar with. I wasn’t raised with ashes and 40 days of preparation for Holy Week. Yet now I find that I long for this season. This time of reflection, preparation and discernment allows Easter to become a deeper recognition of all that God did in Jesus Christ for us.
Someone has said that “Easter can’t be Easter unless we take part in the preparation of our souls.” The celebration and joy that we lift to God on Easter Sunday is richer and fuller when we walk the path to the Cross, and face the empty tomb, and meet the risen Savior behind the doors we close in life as a spiritual discipline.I want to be an Easter person in the best way possible! Not for me, but for the glory of God. I invite you to journey with me, with your faith community, as we give ourselves intentionally to some space to hear, reflect and sit into the journey that Christ made for us. As obedience, faith and God’s presence were with Christ in these days before his suffering, may we strive for that same holiness of heart and life.First step: join together in our Ash Wednesday Service, this Wednesday, March 1 at 7 pm in the Sanctuary for worship, reflection, repentance, and preparation to make this season of Lent. Look for more to come in your weekly emails, our website and in the bulletin as encouragement and suggestions to connect to our Lord.Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’ Matthew 16: 24

 
Peace,
Pastor Lisa


A note from Pastor Lisa February 1, 2017

 

A Sign of Hope

On a cool, windy morning last week, I hurried into the office.  In the last few weeks, small beginnings of daffodils someone planted, who knows how many years ago, began peeking out of the ground.  By early afternoon that same day, a first bud had presented its full beauty. 

I paused to enjoy the sight, reveling in the wonder that within a short time, this bright statement of promise could go from a sheltered bud to a shining statement of seasons yet to come. A hint of spring!  Hope!

It just so happened this was a day I needed to be reminded that God is always at work, generating hope, promise,
and change.  Sometimes that change is done in my heart, sometimes that promise is all I need to remember, and yes, sometimes I need to trust that while I might not see it, God is at work preparing, creating and ultimately revealing the good plan for all God’s creation.
 
Do you ever need to be reminded of hope?  Are there days when you long to see God’s affirmation?  Look outward, listen
for
 the song of God’s great love in the stories of one another, in the very movement of seasons, in worship, prayer, serving, and giving.  Look inward and listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Honor the growth and new life that is at work in you through Jesus Christ. God has a part of each of these holy works. 

Yes, you are a holy work in progress. 

Join me this Sunday in worship at 9 or 11 for more on grace. Folks, sanctification is more than just a word – its a way of life, it represents the disciples  journey of hope, promise, and wonder!  Yes, grace is amazing! 

Peace, Pastor Lisa

Acts 20.32

And now I commend you to God and to the message of his grace, a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified.



Pastor Blog January 26

 
 
A World of Difference!
 

I am proud to serve Cokes Chapel because you make a difference each day for Jesus Christ. 

I am so thankful to serve a church that has paid 100% of your apportionments in 2016!  When we pay our missional askings, the funds from every Methodist church around the world are combined and channeled through United Methodist schools, agencies, missionaries and ministries of the church for missional work in the name of Jesus Christ all around the world.

Just think about it – your faithful giving is used by God not just in Sharpsburg, Georgia, but to ease suffering, give hope, and bring the message of salvation to folks in languages we don’t speak, in countries that we may never visit.  On behalf of the faithful giving, children are given food, education, and hope for a better life now, and in eternity.  Talk about getting a bang for your buck!! Go to the general UMC website http://www.umcgiving.org/ministry-articles/the-world-service-fund to see more details of what you are doing with your giving.

Your giving 100% of our missional askings for 2016 is a tremendous accomplishment to celebrate as a church!  WooHoo! Thank you for your faithful giving and generous spirit. 

Love, Pastor Lisa



Pastor’s Blog 1-5-16

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A Reflection on Time

 the-road-not-taken

The change to 2017 marks a time of attention for us –  we spend some time reflecting on the past year, and hopefully even more time praying, listening and planning for the direction that God will have us take.  Of course, without God leading things get more complicated as we try to do what we think is right, is most needful, most important.  I invite you to consider where you will put your time in 2017 and how you will let God lead you in 2017!

Winnowing down our spiritual focus for 2017 can have a two pronged approach:  one, consider what your personal spiritual focus will be for the year.  Second, consider how you will corporately take part at Cokes to make disciples for Jesus Christ.  In truth, both are intimately connected to one another.  How you commit, nurture and develop in your personal spiritual life reflects in your outward actions.  Daily as you seek transformation in the most simple of thoughts and responses, and more broadly as you join with others at Cokes to do more together than we can individually.

Connections:  ours with God, with our own spiritual life and growth, with others who can support and guide us in faith and life, and together as we remain focused on making disciples for Jesus Christ.

We are a missional church, planted in 1833 in a community that is still growing, still needful of the hope and grace of the gospel, in a world that desperately needs that same Truth as balm for every pain, hurt, and fear.

What will God do with your commitment to personal spiritual growth this year?  Suggestion:  many folks are beginning to pick a “Word” as the focus for their year.  Pray about your Word for 2017 and listen to what God will lead you to.

What will God do with your commitment to the corporate work of discipleship through Cokes Chapel this year?  Suggestion:  just as you may select a Word for 2017, would you pray and select an Area of ministry for 2017?  An hour or so a week in a specific area* from every member can revolutionize our effectiveness for Jesus Christ.

May this year of our Lord be all that is intended for His Glory and honor!  If I can support you in discernment, or God is giving you inspiration for our ministry please reach out to me.  I am here to serve you!  ldempsey@cokeschapel.org or 770.253.6052. 

Peace, Pastor Lisa
 

*If you haven’t yet returned our 2017 Service Opportunities, please click here for a list of ministry areas.  Print it, fill it out and drop it in the offering plate Sunday, or mail to the office.  Your ministry leaders need your support to fulfill the Word God is forming in us for 2017!

 
 

This Sunday plan to be in worship as we take part in the historical Wesley Covenant Service and remember our baptism.  All for the glory of God in 2017!