“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
I have a lot of favorite Scripture verses, but these verses from Hebrews 12 would likely contend for one of the top spots, if I had to rank them (I could never choose just one!).
I return to these words often when life is great as I give thanks to Jesus who is the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” — and the very source of all that is good in my life. I also return to these words in moments of reflection, such as these past few weeks as I have been reflecting on my faith journey, as I prepared to share it during worship a couple of weekends ago. I find these words helpful, as they remind me to always remember who has come before me and led the way, helping me to live into and claim my faith as my own.
I also appreciate how these words remind us that sometimes, I’m not going to feel grateful. Life is going to be hard. It is going to be full of difficult circumstances and decisions that weigh us down. Life is going to be full of twists and turns and moments of sin. Yet even then, these words remind us that we can lay these burdens aside, repenting as we turn back to Jesus. When we let go of these things that hold us back, we are freed to run “with perseverance the race that is set before us.”
Life often feels like a race. Sometimes it is a sprint, other times it’s more of a marathon, but each comes with its own challenges. Wherever you are in your journey right now, we all probably have something we would do well to lay aside. What do you need to let go of, or be freed from? What might be holding you back from living fully into the life Jesus longs for you to live?
As you move forward in faith, might you remember you never have to do it alone. Jesus is with you, and so too is the great cloud of witnesses. This cloud of witnesses is made up of those who have come before us… and as we talked about this past weekend in worship, it is also made up of our faith community here at First Church (and beyond).
Thanks be to God for the assurance that we are called to be in this together. To lift up and pray with and for one another… and to be united in spirit, even as we find ourselves physically apart.
Today and throughout the week to come especially, I hope you’ll join me in lifting up extra prayers with and for our community of believers we are so blessed to be a part of.
THIS WEEK’S ANNOUNCEMENTS:
Applications Are Being Taken for the Leadership Team
We currently have two openings on our Leadership Team. Prayerfully consider if God is calling you to be a part of the First UMC Leadership Team. If you or someone you know is interested, please contact the church office to request an application. If there is someone you believe would be a good member of the Leadership Team, encourage them to apply. Deadline is July 20th. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 605-886-4427 if you have questions.
Rocky Railway VBS…Climb aboard each Wednesday July 15 – August 12!
Climb aboard with us Online via YouTube or Facebook as we spread the fun of VBS over five weeks for a super mountaintop summer adventure! Each Wednesday from July 15 – August 12 @ 6pm we will launch a new day for VBS for you to jump on board and power through the week with Jesus! Videos can be viewed live to interact with others or can be viewed later at a time convenient for each family’s schedule. Go to www.watertownfirst.church/vbs to register and reserve your Student Boxcar Pack and for more info! Following the online video session, you are invited to hop on ZOOM via a private email link to talk with other kids and crew leaders, share God sightings, and pray together.
“On A Journey” is our July sermon series led by Pastor Jen Tyler. We hope you will join us for worship either in person or online.
We will continue to hold in-person worship service on Saturday at 5pm and Sunday at 10am. We will continue streaming ONLINE worship services on Saturday night at 5pm and Sunday morning at 10am. To participate in any of the ONLINE worship services, please go to the Church Facebook Page at: www.facebook.com/watertownfirstumc or the Church Website at: www.watertownfirst.church/watch.
Church Building: The church will be available for scheduled small group gatherings and appointments. For now the church will be closed during unscheduled times. Appointments/gatherings can be scheduled by calling the church office at 605-886-4427 or emailing the Church Office at: email@example.com.
Church Office and Pastors Continue to be Available: Our office manager is in the office to answer phone calls during normal office hours Monday-Thursday and a pastor is available in case of a pastoral emergency 24-7.
Church Finances: We’ve had a number of questions about how COVID-19 will affect the financial health of the church. The church’s financial health will be dependent on its members and friends making an intentional effort to continue to give. There are several methods available for giving. You can mail your tithe and offerings to the church at: First United Methodist Church, PO Box 1416, Watertown, SD 57201 or give online at: www.watertownfirst.church/giving-back.