Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church

A Message for You, April 30, 2009

April 30, 2009 // 0 Comments

Spring brings new beginnings, new life by DR. MICHAEL CONKLIN Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church Spring is a time of wonder for me, and every year I anticipate its coming with a real sense of the coming joy. It isn’t that everything begins to turn both green and the rich colors of spring flowers, though that is certainly a delightful thing. It isn’t that the soil, frozen and icy through the winter months, becomes soft and fertile, ready for the gardener’s touch. The truth is I am an appalling gardener who is so much better at killing plants than helping them to flourish. It isn’t even that we get to celebrate the great feast of Easter with its promise of resurrected life for all. Though that warms a pastor’s heart, and is a deep joy, there is something else in the spring that lifts my soul and gives my heart a sense of delight. Spring, April in particular, is the beginning of baseball season. I love baseball, even though throughout my youth I was not a very good player, did some of my growing up in a town without Little League, and was always the last one picked when we chose sides. I credit my love of the game of baseball to my grandmother, who was a first-class baseball fan. She had shaken hands with Ty Cobb and Hank Greenburg, and had attended at least some of every World Series the Tigers had been in prior to the 1968 Series. She taught my to love the game by taking me to local baseball games in Battle Creek, telling me where to sit for the best view, what to watch for as the game progressed, and how to keep score on a scorecard. She literally passed her love of the game on to me by teaching me to pay attention to what is important, and demonstrating what it looks like and feels like to truly love the game. It has occurred to me that this is exactly how my parents taught me to be a person of faith. They sat with me in church, taught me how to behave, what to look and listen for, even how to sing the hymns. I still remember the day that […]

Ray of Hope in Depths of Winter

January 29, 2009 // 0 Comments

by PASTOR MIKE CONKLIN Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church Here we are, in the middle of a January that will not have the traditional (I think it’s traditional) January thaw. I heard that this is the first time in 24 years that this has happened. I like January thaws. They give us a ray of hope in the deepest part of winter, an indicator that it will not always be cold, snowy and all brown and white. The days seemed more profoundly dismal to me because, as you might guess, I am not a winter sports person. Golf balls simply disappear in four feet of snow. And yet it hasn’t all been darkness, gloom and cold. There were days, deeply cold days, that were marked by bright, clear, blue skies and bright sunshine all day long. It was all that I needed to clear the cobwebs and make the day “right.” In truth, that is all that we really need in those winter times in our lives, too – just a ray of hope in the winter’s chill. The world and the society we live in is often marked by confusion, restlessness, unease and despair. Yet all it takes is a ray of hope in the midst of it, and our world is transformed. We often feel like the character in John Updike’s Pigeon Feathers: “He detested the apparatus of piety. Fusty churches, creaking hymns, ugly Sunday-school teachers and their stupid leaflets – he hated everything about them, but the promise they held out.” In the depths of this winter, with unemployment at record highs, with people struggling just to make it through the cold times, with the world in turmoil, we find that we are a people captured by more than a ray of hope. There is a sunburst of promise and hope in the fact that God has put us here, in this place, at this time – together. As faith communities, we are too often divided along denomination and cultural lines that have more meaning for us than they do for God. But in God’s economy and God’s geography, we are bound together by a common hope, a ray of sunshine in the dark winter: “So faith, hope and love abide, these three,” […]

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