Friday, September 30, 2016

Sunday Bulletin - September 25, 2016

SUNDAY WORSHIP:  September 25, 2016


A time of meditation to prepare our hearts and minds for worship


HYMN            Great Is The Lord                 HWB 87

ALL:  Lord Jesus,
            Blind I am, do thou enlighten me;
            Naked I am, do thou clothe me;
            Wounded, do thou heal me;
            Dead, do thou quicken me.
            I know of no light,
            No physician,
            No life, except thee.  AMEN

*HYMN Dear Lord and Father of Mankind HWB 523
                                                                             V. 1,2,4     

SCRIPTURE READING:  Multiple Readings by the Congregation                    

PEACE STORY (or random acts of kindness)

*HYMN My Shepherd Will Supply My Need   HWB 589  


PRAYING CONCERNS AND JOYS                      

MESSAGE:   “Trusting in God”

*HYMN Just a Closer Walk With Thee   STJ 106

ALL:   God of guidance, quicken your Holy Spirit in our hearts
            And minds so we may follow what is right.
            Give us direction so we may know which way to choose
            And which to refuse; which course to claim and which to
            Reject; which action to take and which to avoid.
            Enlighten our minds, purify our hearts, strengthen our
            Wills, and lead us to live as faithful followers of Jesus
            All the days of our lives.  AMEN                 

*HYMN The Lord Bless You and Keep You  STJ 76

*Please stand if able

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Trusting in God, September 25, 2016

Sunday, September 25, 2016
Trusting in God

“Taking as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.”  That line from the long version of the Serenity Prayer is one that made a lasting impression on me.  It also took a huge weight off of my shoulders…….I didn’t have to drive myself crazy trying to change people or trying to change the situations that I found myself in.  I didn’t have to fight against what was happening around me…..fighting against it just made me extremely frustrated and very sad.  I just needed to accept what was happening …..aka…. trust that God would take control and make all things right.  In other words, the very next sentence in the Serenity Prayer - “Trusting that He would make all things right if I surrendered to His will….”.  Wow.  Those two sentences are so powerful and so tempting and I want to follow them so badly because I am tired of feeling crazy inside.  What is it about myself that is keeping me from letting God lead the way?   

Am I so confident of myself that I think I can handle each and every situation on my own?  Am I such a genius that I can figure everything out?  Sometimes I am so stubborn and pig-headed that no one can tell me anything…..I know it all.  HA.  All I have to do is take a backward glance at my life and I should realize that I am not such a perfect being.  If I’m so smart, shouldn’t I comprehend the fact that I could have used a lot of help from God?  You would think so, but nooooo!

The past year has been a trying time.  I sometimes feel overwhelmed with responsibilities.  Yet, I also want to spend time with my hobbies and it’s sometimes a struggle within myself trying to decide should I visit my parents, should I visit my granddaughter, should I do this or that for the church, should I do this or that for Paul, should I do the housecleaning, or the paperwork, or should I go up to my studio and work on my crafts?  Sometimes I just want to explode because I don’t know what to do first.  God – help me!  There it is…..I’ve said it.  God, help me.  Can God help me?  The answer to that is of course God can help me.  But he needs me to do something in return; and that is to trust him. 

I started to think of the people in my life that I trust and the people that I don’t trust.  Why do I trust some and not others?  Those that I do trust follow through when they say they will do something.  They are reliable.  They are honest with me and aren’t afraid to tell it like it is.  I admire them and the way that they live their lives.  I feel safe when I am with them.  I can discuss with them the issues that are on my mind, and they will listen, really listen, and show concern.  They may or may not have suggestions for me….suggestions that I can choose to try or not.  So, is trusting in God the same thing?  I think it is, but it is also quite a bit more than that and quite a bit harder than that.  I have to remember that God knows me intimately.  He knows what’s right for me.  I think that trusting in God requires me to be obedient to him.  Being obedient is quite often difficult for an adult.  It kind of goes against our egos.  As a parent, I’ve been used to being the one that doles out the rules and regulations and I am the one that expected obedience in return.   As an adult, I have had to make many decisions, and I could make those decisions because I trusted myself to make the best decision possible.  But sometimes, there are events or situations that arise where I don’t know what to do.  What I should do, is listen to my heart, for God is there within in, willing and eager to help me.  I need to put my ego aside and just listen and then actually do it.  Perhaps it’s not really obedience in the typical sense of the word,  but what I mean by being obedient to God means working with Him to produce the results needed. I cannot sit down and fold my hands in idleness and expect things to work out on their own. Faith and works must go together. I must permit God to direct my efforts. I must be willing to work when He wants me to work and in the way He wants me to work. My attempts to trust will amount to nothing if I am not willing to listen and follow his direction. But what if the path God is directing me toward is not a path that I myself would choose.  What then?  Am I trusting enough to follow and comply when the thing commanded is something I myself would not choose to do?

When the path God has chosen for me is something out of my comfort zone, I may start to worry instead of trusting that God knows what is best for me.  We all know that worrying doesn’t solve anything.  When we worry we become anxious. Trust takes away the anxiety. Think about what happens when worry takes over.  A large portion of energy and time is used up when worrying, sometimes so much time that anxiety takes over your life; worrying can become such a habit that peace and calmness and assurance have little room in our lives. The cure for all this is trust. Trust brings confidence. Trust whispers to our souls that there is no cause to worry. It tells us that God holds the helm of our vessel. It asks us to have courage, assuring us that God is our refuge and strength, that our lives are in his hands, and that he will work out for us the things that are best.  Remember that when you worry you are not trusting, and that when you trust you are not worrying. Worry depresses, discourages, and weakens. It never helps us in any way. It is always a hindrance to us. God wants to bring into our lives a peaceful calm. He would have us without anxiety, as care-free as the birds. It is trust that brings us this experience.

Trust also implies patience. Even God cannot work everything out immediately. So many times we want the answers to our prayers right away. If they do not come quickly, we grow impatient and think God is not going to answer. There is no use trying to hurry the Lord; we shall only hinder him if we do. He will not work according to our plans, but according to his own. Time does not matter as much to God as it does to us.

Trust means that we will not fear the outcome, for many times, the outcome is not something that was expected.  What happens to our trust when that occurs?  Many times, we moan and groan that things didn’t turn out “right.”  But what is “right” to you and what is right to God are probably two totally different things.  How can we say that something didn’t turn out right, when we have no idea of what God has planned for us in the future?  Only after we look back and reflect on what happened will we see that God did exactly what was right for us.
You know, there is a formula for trust.  It is Faith + Hope = Trust.  Faith is belief that God is; Hope is believing that God will do what he has promised, and Trust is living in absolute confidence in God’s unconditional love and having confidence that God is telling you the right thing to do, even when it doesn’t make sense to you.
It’s easy to have faith, hope and trust when life is good.  But there are many obstacles that make it hard to trust in God’s love and goodness, such as pain and suffering.  Physical and emotional pain can keep us self-absorbed and unsure that God is reliable.  Some people are so badly bruised and traumatized that they can barely survive one day at a time.  But, trusting in God does not mean that people won’t get hurt.  God has not promised that he will give us good health, or wealth, or even that we will be happy all the time.  But he does promise that He will be with us through our struggles and our disappointments.  Perhaps these struggles and disappointments are just what we need in order to build us up, or perhaps we need to learn something.  It is during these times that we need to trust in God’s infinite wisdom to do what is right for us at that particular time in our lives. 

Trusting in God is one of the hardest things to do.  But, when we truly trust the Lord with our hearts, we give Him permission and freedom to direct us without us getting in his way.  He won’t force anything on us.  But we must let go of our egos.   By not trusting him, We are trying to retain control over our situations.  But because of our limits as human beings, we really have no control anyway.  Rather than telling God exactly what you think you need for yourself, ask Him to do what is best for you (Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done) and trust that whatever happens is what He wants for you at this time.

God wants us to have full and abundant lives.  He only asks that we believe in Him.  When we do, He can then make us the people He wants us to be.

Life is simple and peaceful when we come to God like little children and say, “God, I don’t want to live on my own. I want to trust You. When I don’t know what to do, I’ll trust You. When I don’t understand why, I’ll trust You. I’ll do my part with Your help, and when I’m done, I’ll trust You to do the rest.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What I have learned at Fairfield Mennonite Church

Sunday Message Prepared by Lynn Walters

What I have learned at Fairfield Mennonite Church

August 28, 2016

I made a list of over 21 things I have learned while at Fairfield Mennonite Church or FMC for short. They fell into two categories:  Ideas about being a “Church” and what I learned from the adult discussion group. I may only need ten minutes to tell you what I have learned, but what I have learned will last the rest of my life.

I have to confess that I enjoyed telling friends and people in general, that I attended a Mennonite Church. I had been a member of a Methodist Church, a Presbyterian Church, and attended a Lutheran and Baptist church in my past. I had family members who were Mennonite, but I had never spent much time with them.

Peoples reaction was often one of  a questioning look on their face. I could tell that they immediately wanted to know if people wore head coverings and dressed like the Amish. I was only too willing to tell them about our church and why I attended this particular Mennonite Church.  I tell them it is a group of people who care for each other and their community.  FMC is a group who is trying to put their faith into action.  Doing is as important, if not more important, than believing.  They are a group who challenged me to live what I said I believed. Who would not want to be part of such a group?

At FMC  I  grew in the awareness  that “caring for the environment” was a responsibility of  all Christians. We have a responsibility to care for what happens to all people and this means that we have a responsibility to make sure the world is a place that can sustain all God's children.  Fred and Dan and others demonstrated this in a way I could understand. I have to confess that I still am not into raising my own vegetables or composting, but I know that I need to do more to take care of the earth God has given us. Who would not want to be part of such a group?

FMC has demonstrated what a “little” church can do. It is FMC that provides the place for the Fairfield Area Food Pantry, the staff to run it and the building in which to serve those in need.  The “building” is to be used to serve anyone or any group that has a need.  We do not charge for use of the building. There is not an attitude that the church must “make money” off its service.  FMC was not out to “protect” itself, but to serve. Who would not want to be a part of such a group?


Everyone has a part to play in this church, everyone contributes what they can, and I am not talking about money.  I have never been a part of a church where you will find members (even past and present pastors) running the vacuum cleaner and cleaning the kitchen. The emptying of the trash every week by Rodney is a testament to the way all members are important and appreciated. I wanted to be a part of such a group.

People expect this church to help those who have a need. I learned what it means to accept people where they are and not judge them. When FMC opens its building to house someone who does not have a place to live, they are acting like the Good Samaritan who saw that the injured man was cared for. I learned from seeing actions instead of believing words.  I knew from personal experience, their love and their acceptance shown to my niece Michelle and her family.  I know it was not always easy but they helped in a way I think few churches would. Who would not want to be part of such a group?

Here I have seen what it means to be a “Church family”.

When someone has a need you do not say “I will pray for you” but I will take you to the doctor, pick you up for church, bring you dinner, cry and celebrate life's challenges with you. Who would not want to be part of such a group?

Here I saw what  it meant to be a “peace church”. I had often referred to myself as a pacifist but was never able to explain or defend my position.  I just knew that the use of violence in any form, was not what Christ wanted for his followers.  It was here that I saw people taking a stand, willing to take a public position against war and violence. They responded in love when someone took advantage of their help but still held people responsible for their actions.  Who would not want to be part of such a group?


               I have learned what real congregational singing sounds like. I don't think I could save my own life, if it meant I had to sing in tune.  I am always telling people about the beautiful voices in this congregation. Many large churches would love to have people that sang like this little group. I have learned what an important part music can play in worship. Norm's concerts and the civic chorus demonstrate FMC willingness to be part of the community and not  isolated Christians only relating to other Christians who believe as they do. Who would not want to be part of such a group?

Here I found a group of people who were willing to consider a position that the general public often rejected without consideration - their acceptance and love of Haya, a young lady from Gaza.  Their willingness to look at the Palestinian situation with an open mind yet have room for those who have a different  understanding of the Palestinian situation. Who would not want to be part of such a group?


My first contact with FMC was coming with Michelle one Sunday morning.  There was a group seated around a table  drinking coffee and talking.  I now know this might have been the Adult Sunday School Class. I sat down and joined the discussion. I was so impressed, that here was a group of people who thought as I did and were trying to follow the teachings of Jesus. I came from a church of good people but who held different ideas as to what it meant to be a believer in a modern world. The FMC group was thoughtful, challenging and accepting. Who would not want to be part of such a group?

I learned so much from this group of people.  My list is in no special order.  I learned that everyone has something to teach me. This meant accepting people with different ideas and beliefs or no beliefs. I could not reject someone just because they did not use the same Christian phraseology that  I was used to.  I began asking myself “what did they “mean”?  Was it the same as I believed, just using different words to express the same idea or were they new ideas that I needed to consider?

An example of this is the use of the word “myth”.  Every time Joyce would use the word, I would cringe .  All I could think of was Greek and Roman myths and I did not think they were “real”. How could she call the stories in the Bible myths?  In time I came to understand that a myth is a story that has something to teach us. Whether it had actually happened was secondary to what we could learn from the story. Joyce can now use the word myth, and I just listen to learn, not judge.

When we are studying a passage of the Bible, we use as many different translations as we have. We even used a dictionary to aid our understanding. I used to love doing a word study -   looking how one word was used in different places in scripture.  But using different translations shows that a word-to-word study does not add to understanding but can be very misleading.  Seeking to understand the meaning or teaching of a passage is what gives insight and guidance.

It has also become clear to me that we should not insist on one meaning of a passage or that everyone has to believe the same thing about the passage. 



Allowing people to believe something different from me has allowed me to hold on to my beliefs and still learn from others. In fact, they have often proven to be right and I have changed what I believe. It has been these differences which have caused me to rethink and learn to restate what I had been taught.  I know that I often hold different beliefs but that is okay for me and is okay for others.  Who would not want to be part of such a group?

The Christian faith has been a major part of my life since I was very young.  I still believe that the Bible is a special book and one that has been inspired by the Holy Spirit.   I still find that God uses it to speak to me and guide me.  I believe that we all have a need of God's forgiveness.  I can't tell you what is always meant by “sin” but we all know that we are not all we could be, and that none of us are perfect.  I still believe that Jesus Christ was sent by God to show us how we should live our lives here on earth. He makes it possible for me to believe Him when He said he is preparing a place for me to be where He is.  Because I believe this I am not afraid of death or what my future here on earth is.  He has guided me so far and I expect He will see me though the future, whatever that will be here in Fairfield or in Minnesota. Having Jesus Christ as a part of my life has made life worth living and the future bright.

Because people in this church are willing to freely share, I am free to hold and share my beliefs and continue to learn what they have to teach me. They are willing to share when they know that others might hold a different view.  They give acceptance to everyone in spite of  their difference. No one demands we all agree or even sometimes understand what is being said.  Who would not want to be a part of such a group?

Now I would like to ask if anyone one would like to share what they have learned at FMC. Each of us is different and our response, too, will be different but that is why I want to be part of such group.