Our Mission Makes Us One

Every Sunday morning my church family begins worship with three statements of faith. We join in reciting our mission and vision statements, and the creed of the early church known as the Apostles Creed. The Creed is the words of the ancients expressing who God is and what it means to be the church. We say I believe in the communion of the saints. It’s a great reminder that we are bound together not by time or space, but in our unity in God. We share in the mission statement of the United Methodist Church, that we are here “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” It’s a great reminder that our focus is not on ourselves but on Jesus Christ and on living and helping others live as followers of Jesus. Then we say that our vision, Greggton’s vision- is that more and more people are living in and sharing the LIGHT of Christ. Those words remind us that reaching as many people as possible is our passion.

Making disciples means that we are helping each other grow, but it also means that we are connecting to new people. It is why we value the folks that have been a part of our church family for a long time and people in new places equally. The early church learned the art of ‘both’. It wasn’t an either-or world. If the church had settled in, none of us would be here today. There would be no Greggton if the earlier followers had not stepped outside themselves to help new people in new places come to know Christ. It is the same with us today. Our mission in places like the Dinner Church and Trinity is essential as we live out our vision to help more and more people come to live in and share the LIGHT of Christ. Jesus said, “Go, make of all disciples.” We can only be the disciples God has called us to be when we said yes to Jesus ‘Go.’

I am as grateful that we take that ‘Go’ seriously. I am grateful that you are blessing lives in many places to the glory of God.

With Hope and Joy in Christ,

Ricky Ricks, Pastor

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Jana, Ralph, and gratitude

I’ve got to admit that this is a challenging week. A longtime friend of mine, Jana, who is also younger than I died unexpectedly. I had the honor of preaching her funeral on Tuesday. On Monday, we received the news that a pastor friend of mine, Ralph, died in a car wreck.  There are families among us (you are loved) who are facing the prospect of death and my heart aches for them in this season of their lives.

In the middle of all this, I was gifted by two readings. The first is from AJ Jacobs book, “Thanks A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey.  Here is the quote:

In Roman times, when a general was given a triumphal parade, a slave stood in the chariot with him, whispering in his ear that he was mortal. Death reminders were popular in the Renaissance as well. Many classical paintings have skulls or timepieces in the background to remind viewers of the fleetingness of their earthly existence… When it works, it reminds me to savor life, to stress less, to forgive more easily. I hate the phrase YOLO (You only live once) since it can be an easy excuse to act like an idiot and say, whack mailboxes with a baseball bat. But I do believe in WOLO: We only live once. Live life to the fullest as long as you allow other people to do the same and don’t interfere with the U.S. mail.

Then my friend that died suddenly, Jana, left this prophetic post on her Facebook page in January: Not everyone is given the chance to grow old. So appreciate and thank God for every single day of your life.

So I am emerging from these days with a renewed commitment to appreciate each day and thank God for it. I am renewing my commitment to stress less, to practice mercy and forgiveness. I am renewing my commitment to live for ‘we’ instead of ‘me’.

So let me begin with this:  Thank you for all the ways you bless my life, bless our church family, and bless the world.  Never forget that you are loved by an amazing God. Thank you.

With Hope and Joy in Christ,

Ricky

 

 

 

 

On General Conference

The world-wide leadership of the United Methodist Church met over the last four days to discuss the church’s struggle over same-sex marriage and LBGTQ clergypersons. There are people who in good faith make arguments on all sides of this issue.

The outcome was the adoption of the Traditional Plan which affirms the present stand of the church that disallows same-sex marriages in United Methodist Churches and prohibits practicing homosexual persons from serving as clergypersons. Greater accountability was also put into place. There was also an ‘exit plan’ put in place for those clergypersons and/or churches that choose not to live in compliance with these measures.

At the close of the Conference, questions were raised about the ‘constitutionality’ of some of these measures. Those questions will be addressed at a meeting of the Judicial Council in April.

What all this means for the United Methodist Church is still being sorted out.

What does this mean for us?

Today, I rose with the same commitment that I had 4 days ago- to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Our vision is the same – that more and more people are living in and sharing the LIGHT of Christ.

Today the United Methodist Women went to love on the students at Kilgore College Wesley Foundation. The women’s prayer group met to pray to a merciful and forgiving God. You are opening your Bibles to read the Gospel of Luke, and blessing people as you go through your day. On Thursday our afterschool ministry will welcome 40 kids into the love of Christ. This weekend our many our confirmation class and their mentors will be on retreat for their spiritual growth.  On Sunday we will be trained to welcome people through Family Promise into that same love and welcome people dealing with grief into a community that wants to help them live their best lives possible. We are hard at work seeking new ways that we can share the love of Christ with more and more people.

We will keep our focus of loving God and loving our neighbors with all we are. That’s who we are and who we will be as the people of Greggton United Methodist Church.

If you would like more information about the General Conference, check out the news from the United Methodist News Service:  United Methodist News Service <NewsDesk@umcom.org>

You can also find Texas Annual Conference responses at txcumc.org.

Our bishop will be doing a live Facebook feed that you can watch on Saturday, March 2nd at 10am. Bishop Jones will host a live feed to update us on GC2019. This will not be an event you can attend, however, you can tune in at www.txcumc.org/live. Following this feed, you can email questions to Bishop Jones via communications@txcumc.org. He will do his best to answer each one as we navigate the decisions made and their impact on our conference.

May we continue to Listen to the Holy Spirit, and live where God leads us.

With Hope and Joy in Christ,

Ricky Ricks, Pastor

 

Where Have You Seen God at Work?

Have you been asked where have you seen God at work in your life this week? Well, let me tell you where I saw him working. When you travel East down highway 80 and cross Eastman road on Saturday mornings, begin looking left and you will soon see a vacant lot with lots of people and cars there. This is the location of the JESUS BURGER CELEBRATION. Alan Johnson, a Pine Tree graduate, is the spiritual leader who preaches a sermon every Saturday morning around 11:00 a.m. to any and all who will come. You will see chairs lined up for the people and lots of volunteers coming to welcome you to the meeting. Next door there is a building where anyone can go to get free clothing and maybe some furniture. There are lots of volunteers in a food line preparing the hot meal that each person will get when they sit and listen to the sermon. Alan preaches Jesus and his love and creates an atmosphere of joy and love and welcome for everyone. The bible says that if you give food or clothes to anyone, you for it to Jesus. God was active Saturday morning.

-Sondra Allen

 

Understanding General Conference 2019  

The Special Session of General Conference 2019 is right around the corner, February 23-26, 2019. This gathering is the culmination of much discussion about the direction of our denomination concerning human sexuality, including how marriage is defined by our denomination, whether self-avowed practicing homosexual persons may be ordained, and whether churches are permitted to conduct same gender wedding ceremonies. Delegates will explore ways to unify the church. As such, the decisions that will be made will significantly shape the future of the global United Methodist Church.

Our delegates will be voting on three plans: Traditional, Connectional and One Church. You can find Bishop Scott J. Jones’ unbiased and thorough explanations of the plans by visiting https://www.txcumc.org/gc2019.

We understand this is a complicated topic, and within the Texas Annual Conference we have individuals from varying theological and ethical perspectives. Over the next several weeks, we will do our best to keep you informed of new developments and how this impacts the United Methodist Church, as well as your local congregation. Together, we can truly find a way forward to continue toward our higher purpose of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

How to Pray

Please join us in praying for the General Conference, the delegates and for the United Methodist Church as a whole.

  1. Wisdom – Pray for supernatural wisdom for all delegates attending the General Conference as they consider each of the plans and decide what option best enables the United Methodist Church to continue its mission. For the Lord gives wisdom; from God’s mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2)
  2. Unity – Pray for unity of spirit and mission between delegates and leadership. Though we many not be of one opinion, we can be of one heart in our desire to reach the world with the love of Jesus Christ. I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word,that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17)
  3. Future – Pray for the future of the United Methodist Church. No matter what is decided at the General Conference, we have a divine mission before us – the same mission that has been our focus since our founding. Pray that our churches are able to come together to continue advancing the Gospel to every country, community and neighborhood in the world. Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5)

Sharing LIGHT: Stories of Heart, Place, & Spirit

This week we said thank you to God for the wonderful life of Lillian Bass. Lillian lived graciously for 85 years loving her family, her church and friends, and her community. Lillian lived with the premise that you ought to discover God’s purpose and live it out. That she did! One of my favorite ‘Lillian’ stories was a conversation as told by her grandson Michael. Lillian who was famous for her conservative nature with money, once engaged in a conversation that went something like this. Lillian: “You have to pay for obituaries according to their length, don’t you?” “Yes, grandmother.” “When it comes to mine, spare no expense.” That story makes me smile, but even more so is the memory of this great lady who invested so much of herself in loving us all. She lived and shared the LIGHT of Christ with the world. Thank you, Lillian.

Grace and peace,

Ricky Ricks, Pastor, Greggton United Methodist Church

Reading the Gospel of Luke

In the 3rd verse of the 1st chapter of the Gospel according to Luke, Luke wrote, ‘it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.’

Some suggest that Theophilus was a Roman official who held sway over decisions over early Christians who were being accused of anti-Roman activity. Others suggest that Theophilus was a person interested in the faith. There is also a secondary audience- the early church that needed clarity on exactly who it was they were calling the King of their lives.

I believe clarity of life and purpose is a good gift to give to each other. That’s why on these Sundays from now until Easter we are sharing in reading from the Gospel of Luke in our worship services. Who is this Jesus? What does it mean for us to follow him in 2019?

There are scripture journal copies of the Gospel of Luke available for free for you at our worship areas. You may also contact the church office and we can help you get a copy.  On one side of each opened page is the scripture. on the other side there is blank space for your thoughts, questions, comments, ideas. I want to encourage you to read, to meditate, to ask questions as we read through the Gospel together. If you have thoughts or comments that you’d like to share with everyone, I’d invite you to do so through this blog.

We are beginning this Sunday with a look at Luke 4:16-30.

We believe that living in and sharing the LIGHT of Christ is the best life possible. The purpose, ‘…so that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught,’ is such a great gift. I hope this time in the Gospel draws us all closer and closer to God.

With Hope and Joy in Christ,

Ricky Ricks, Pastor, Greggton United Methodist Church