Looking Forward to 2023

Last September, I spent a week off the grid in the southern Rocky Mountains praying and planning for worship 2023. What quickly emerged in prayer was the overall purpose for the year. As senior pastor, I want the church to have a solid understanding of what it means to be a United Methodist Christian by growing in the Wesleyan method of interpreting scripture and improving our knowledge of UM history, theology, and polity so that we can navigate 2024 as faithful United Methodist Christians. With 2024 being an election year and the next meeting of the General Conference that will likely finalize the denominational fracture that is already underway, it seemed best to prepare us to live faithfully no matter what happens.

After returning and sharing the plan with Pastor Lisa, worship staff and Church Council –and making some edits — this is where it seems the Spirit is leading us in worship (and some study, too) for next year:

Winter Series 2023 Jan 8 -Feb 12

Series Title: What We Value. Series Overview: This past fall we embarked on a journey to help move our church forward by redefining our mission, values, and goals for 2023. This has been a group effort of the whole church and its leaders. We will spend six weeks exploring the biblical roots and theological foundation of our values and how we are called to live them as a church this year.

Lent Series 2023 Feb 26 -Apr 9

Series Title: Were you there? Series Overview: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” The haunting hymn invites us to consider what it was like for the people who were there on Good Friday. Join Pastor Rob this Lent for a narrative look at the bystanders and scoffers, the other victims, the soldiers, the beloved disciple, the women, and those who cared for Jesus’ body – all were there with Jesus in his final hours. (Based on the scholarship of Amy Jill Levine in Witnesses at the Cross).

            Easter: “Were you there when he raised up from the grave?” Continuing with our Lenten Series, a few women were there when Jesus came out of the tomb. They shared the news with the disciples and they world changed. This year, Jesus invites us to the garden tomb to be there when he was raised up from the grave.

Eastertide 2022 Apr 16 -May 21

Series Title: Created: A Theology of Humanity from ‘The Beginning.’ Series Overview: “In the beginning…” Genesis opens with rich imagery to ground people of faith upon the character of God and God’s intentions for humanity. Through Genesis, God proclaims the identity of humans, our purpose, our relationships, and how we’re made for each other. By slowly walking through Genesis 1-3, we’ll see the ways our origin story shapes the trajectory of our future and calls us to meaning, purpose, relationship, and unity with God.

Early Summer of 2023 May 28 – Jun 18

Pentecost – May 28

Scholarship/Graduate Sunday – June 4

Pastor Lisa’s Retirement Sunday – June 11

Lay Report from Annual Conference – June 18

Summer Series of 2023 Jun 25 -Jul 30

Series Title: Reading the Bible for all it’s worth. Series Overview: To quote Rachel Held Evans, the “Bible can be: Controversial, Sacred. Irrelevant. Timeless. Oppressive. Embattled. Divine.” This list of adjectives is just the start of how we read, interpret, and apply this source of God’s revelation to us. So how are we supposed to read the Bible as United Methodist Christians and makes sense of it for our lives today? Join Pastor Rob as we explore what is the Bible, how Jesus read the Bible, how we can interpret the Bible and how that gets applied to science, progress, and violence.

Late Summer Series of 2023 Aug 6 – Sep 3

Series Title: The Shout! Discovering the call to justice from the prophet Isaiah. Series Overview: In Isaiah’s day, God’s people were doing all the right things to be above reproach; they prayed, fasted, made sacrifices and offerings, and even repented. But it just seemed like God wasn’t listening to them. In chapter 58, Isaiah challenges God’s people to help them understand that despite their religious practices, they still fight, strike, and oppress others. They cry to God, but God wants them to hear the cry of the needy. So, in chapter 58, God calls Isaiah to shout  and not hold back to invite God’s people back to righteous living.

Back to Church Series of 2023 Sep 10 – Oct 8

Series Title: Cap or Slap: Does the Bible actually say that? Series Overview: There are a handful of well-meaning phrases that are part of our vernacular but can confuse, discourage, or alienate some people from God. This series, inspired by the book Half Truths by Adam Hamilton, empowers us to better understand God, comfort each other, grow in our knowledge and understanding of God — but to do that we have to know what is true (cap) and what is false (slap) in these phrases that are attributed to the Bible

Fall Series of 2023 Oct 15 -Nov 19

Series Title:  Living faithfully in a fracturing political world. Series Overview: Our American political climate is becoming less and less civil. Jesus’ way of peace, mercy, justice, and love seems nowhere to be found. This is concerning for a nation that claims to have Christian values as its political heritage. This practical series empowers and propels us to live faithfully in such a political climate as witnesses to the way of Jesus that transcends cultural wars, rejects Christian nationalism, and calls for reconciliation. 

Advent Series of 2023 Dec 3 – Dec 24

Series Title: The Heart That Grew Three Sizes: Finding Faith in the Story of the Grinch. Series Overview: Dr. Seuss wrote How the Grinch Stole Christmas! to express his concerns about the commercialization of Christmas. Advent is a season for Christians that doesn’t count down the shopping days of Christmas but prepares our hearts to receive Christ (anew). In this way, the Grinch and Advent might have enough in common to help us differentiate between the true meaning of Christmas and that which the Grinch steals from the people of Whoville. We will have a congregational watch party and all church book study as part of this exciting series.

I look forward to learning and growing together in 2023,