April Devotional

May 2019 – The Price of Pride

Read Together:  He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.  The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.  Proverbs 15:32-33

The story is told of a frog who wanted to travel over the top of a tall mountain from a pond he’d grown up in and learned to hate to be a beautiful lake on the other side of the peak.  One day as the frog watched an eagle soar high above the clouds; the frog had a brilliant idea.  “If I could just get that eagle to hold a piece of string in his talons, I can hold the other end of the string in my mouth.  He could fly me to the other side.”  The eagle agreed to the frog’s plan.  Away they went, hundreds of feet above the Rocky Mountain slopes, soaring to the other side where the big, sparkling lake lay just a few hundred yards away.  As the frog hung on to the string by his teeth for the last minute of his ride, he heard someone below exclaim, “Wow, look at that.  What a great idea!  I wonder who thought of that.” 

The prideful frog couldn’t resist the opportunity to brag and opened his mouth to boast, “I diiiiiiid.  Splat!

Poor frog.  He just couldn’t resist telling people how smart he was.  Reminds me of myself sometimes and I want to kick myself for it.  How about you?  Is pride ever a problem?  If so, today’s devotion study may be just what the doctor ordered.

Discussion Starters:  When you’re complimented or commended for something you did well, how does it make you feel?  Who really deserves the credit for any good we do here on earth.

Lifeline:  Next time someone tells you what a great job you did, give the glory to God.  You’ll feel wonderful!

Reflections

Blessings Always, (Numbers 6:24-26)

Rev. Dr. Andrew L. Foster, III.

Letter from D.S.

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March 6, 2019

My Beloved RISEM Clay (Clergy & Laity),

Greetings to all the faithful people of the RISEM district!

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:3-7)

I purposely withheld from reaching out to each of you as I processed what took place in St. Louis, Missouri at the Special Session of General Conference. I am reminded of the song written by Gordon Light, “Draw the Circle Wide”. This song spoke to me, particularly this line: “Draw the circle wide, draw the circle wide. No one stands alone, we’ll stand side by side.”

I know many of my brothers and sisters in the Lord are hurting and feel the circle has actually not grown wider but has become more narrower. My heart aches for the church, however, I am encouraged by the words of Dr. Charles Albert Tindley, a song in our UM Hymnal #525 – “We’ll Understanding It Better By and By”.

1.            We are tossed and driven
on the restless sea of time;
somber skies and howling tempests
oft succeed a bright sunshine;
in that land of perfect day,
when the mists are rolled away,
we will understand it better by and by.
Refrain:
By and by, when the morning comes,
when the saints of God are gathered home,
we’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome,
for we’ll understand it better by and by.

2.            We are often destitute
of the things that life demands,
want of food and want of shelter,
thirsty hills and barren lands;
we are trusting in the Lord,
and according to God’s word,
we will understand it better by and by.
(Refrain)

3.            Trials dark on every hand,
and we cannot understand
all the ways of God would lead us
to that blessed promised land;
but he guides us with his eye,
and we’ll follow till we die,
for we’ll understand it better by and by.
(Refrain)

4.            Temptations, hidden snares
often take us unawares,
and our hearts are made to bleed
for a thoughtless word or deed;
and we wonder why the test
when we try to do our best,
but we’ll understand it better by and by.
(Refrain)

As we enter the Lenten Journey toward Easter and beyond, I encourage all of us to be the body of Christ, “Resurrected People”, as we covenant with one another to “Do No Harm, Do Good and Stay in Love with God.”

I remain His humble servant-leader,

Rev. Dr. Andrew L. Foster, III.
RISEM District Superintendent

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Bishop’s March 1 message

March 1, 2019

Beloved in Christ:

Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

On Ash Wednesday, we are reminded of God’s call: “Gather the people,
consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast …” —  Joel 2:16

In other words, gather everyone.

“A 2016 study from the nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute found that 39 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 29) are ‘religious unaffiliated.’ That has nearly quadrupled since 1986, when only 10 percent of young adults identified that way.” (USA Today, Feb. 28, 2019)

Though there are many reasons for the increase in the number of young adults who are staying away from the church, J.J. Warren, who many of you likely saw speaking so passionately on the floor of General Conference, traveled with me with on a Mission of Peace journey years ago. I think his words give insight into what young people in the church are seeking:

“For me and the younger generation that is the church now among you, and who want to be the church together with you for the future as well, we desire a church that seeks the justice of God.” (If interested, please see here for a video of J.J. Warren’s full speech)

Let us begin our Lenten journey, earnest in our desire to be God’s prayer, to gather all the children of God, and to surrender ourselves to be transformed through love.

Let us take time to write in our Lenten journals each day, to compose our own prayers for justice, and to examine how our actions give witness to God’s justice.

Let us pray that we will become what the prophet Joel calls, an “assembly of God,” and a community that is the Sermon on the Mount.

As a conference may we pray this prayer together every day during Lent:

God,
remind me again today that
you are Love;
that Loving is always expressed in action
not beliefs.

Remind me again today
that your love was made visible
in creation,
in Jesus,
in the Church, the body of Christ.

Remind me again today
that it is through love, not
right vs wrong,
good vs evil, that
we are saved.

Remind me again today that you
gather us all,
love us all,
sanctify us all,
call us all, 
to be one —
in Christ,
with each other,
in ministry to
all the world.

Prema and I wish you and your loved ones a blessed Lenten season.

in Christ’s love,

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar

Letter from Bishop re. General Conference

A message from Bishop Devadhar: General Conference 2019

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Feb. 26, 2019

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with tumult.

Psalm 46:1-3

Dear Beloved in Christ,

Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We have just concluded the special session of the General Conference in St Louis. During this gathering of the global church, we worshiped and prayed together and spent time in Christian conferencing, but much remains unresolved and unknown.

Though the actions of the General Conference are still subject to review by the Judicial Council, we return with a Book of Discipline that moves us further from full inclusion. This is disheartening at best and despairing at worst.

While our call as United Methodists is to do good, do no harm, and stay in love with God … I suspect we have fallen far shorter on the first two than the last. I ask that we spend time in prayerful confession of the ways our church has caused deep pain to beloved children of God, particularly LGBTQIA and their allies. No matter what plan you supported for the way forward, remember that when one part of the body suffers, so do we all – and so now we are all in need of healing.

My prayers continue for our church and for each of you in this covenantal community, for all LGBTQIA children of God and their allies, as well as for those who are listening to our words and watching our actions.

I continue to pray for a day when we can live together in the unified Spirit in a fully inclusive church. I  celebrate the beauty and rich variety of gifts that God has created, and I have faith that God will create, in and through us, a beautiful incarnation of the Body of Christ for the transformation of the whole world.

As you gather with your congregations this Sunday, I pray you will build up one another in love, caring for each other’s needs, and praying for God’s spirit to inspire you to witness to Christ’s love in your communities.

In the next two weeks, your superintendents, in coordination with our delegation to this special session of General Conference, have scheduled opportunities for you to gather for support, prayer, and “Courageous Conversations” with one another as we process the actions – and inactions – of the general church and seek a faithful response. I hope and pray these will be opportunities for us to do good and begin to heal while we stay in love with God and each other.

May our faithful God hold us in strength as we witness to the powerful love of Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, for such a time as this.

In Christ’s Love,


Bishop Devadhar


 

Bishop’s Office

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar

Erica Robinson-Johnson Assistant to the Bishop/DCM Phone: (978) 682-7555 ext. 251
erica@neumc.org

Brenda Borchers
Administrative Assistant
Phone: (978) 682-7555 ext. 250
Fax: (978) 682-9555
BishopsOffice@neumc.org

Transformed by the Holy Spirit, united in trust,
we will boldly proclaim Christ to the world.

March Devotional from D.S.

March 2019 – A Gentle Tongue

Read Together: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  Proverbs 15:1

When Gideon headed into battle, he took with him only one hundred men-a meager group compared with the vast army of the Midianites they were up against.  But God was in control, and he caused the Midianites to turn against one another.  Gideon’s army simply sat back and watched as their enemy defeated themselves.  Not one of the one hundred men had to draw their sword.  As the remainder of the Midianite army fled, Gideon called warriors from the Israelite tribe of Ephraim for help in finishing the job.  They cut off the Midianites’ escape route, and Israel defeated its enemy.

But after the fighting stopped, the Ephraimites came to Gideon and angrily demanded to know why they had not been called in the first place to help in the battle.  “Why have you treated us like this?” they whined.  “And they criticized him sharply” (Judges 8:1).

It would have been easy for Gideon to respond harshly to their criticism.  When we feel attacked or criticized, its human nature to feel defensive and lash back at those who make us feel that way.

But responding harshly to strong words is a sure way to escalate a conflict.  Instead of adding fuel to the fire, Gideon chose to douse the flame with soothing, soft words:  “What have I accomplished compared to you?  Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer?  God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands.  What was I able to do compared to you?’  At this, their resentment against him subsided” (Judges 8:2-3).  Maybe people skills came naturally to Gideon.  Perhaps he know the only way to calm the Ephraimites’ anger was to give them credit for the positive things their participation had accomplished. Gideon wasn’t buttering them up or even weaseling his way out of a tight spot; he was merely being a good leader by acknowledging their frustration and their contribution to his success and dealing with their complaints.  He took the focus off of what he had accomplished without their help and showed them that he valued and appreciated them.

A kind response is much more effective than a harsh one.  Next time you’re tempted to let loose verbally and really give someone a piece of your mind, hold your tongue.  Speak gently and with kindness instead.  Make it your goal to soothe the conflict instead of inflaming it by defending yourself or retaliating.  You just might gain (or keep) a friend!

Discussion Starters: How do you deal with people who speak to you harshly?  Based on today’s proverb, how can you improve your reaction?  What steps will you take to make those improvements?

Lifeline:  Watch for ways you can deal kindly with others.  Bless those around you with kind words of encouragement

Upcoming Events in RISEM District

lease mark your calendars.    

UPCOMING EVENTS IN THE RISEM DISTRICT

  1. March 2nd [GIVING[[JESUS]]GENEROSITY] Resource Day at Osterville UMC, Osterville, Ma
  2. March 2nd and March 16th RISEM Lay Academy at Memorial UMC Taunton, Ma
  3. March 7th Courageous Conversation Meeting at Wesley UMC, Lincoln, RI 6:00 pm
  4. March 30th RISEM Clay Workshop on Committee Guidelines at Memorial UMC, Taunton, Ma
  5. May 18th Pre-Conference gathering-East Greenwich UMC 10:00 am – 11:30 am
  6. May 18th Transition Workshop for incoming pastors. East Greenwich UMC 11:30 am-1:00 pm

 

 
Remember to visit the RISEM District WEBSITE for all the latest updates!!! Go to www.neumc.org/risem

 

February “Devotion” discussion by D.S. Foster

February 2019 – Slow To Anger

Read Together:  “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.”  Proverbs 14:29

Playing in and coaching Division 1 college football as a defensive lineman didn’t exactly give me a passive personality.  Every time the center would snap the ball to the quarterback, I was tin the middle of a major gang war!  If I didn’t move quickly and take the fight to the offensive lineman who was trying to demolish me, I would get run over by a stampede of wild horses.  I learned to fight and to fight hard. 

That was on the football field!

Off the football field was a different story.  Last year I spoke at a college event at the University of Colorado where I built a 14-foot cross in front of several hundred college students and shared with them God’s amazing gift of love and grace.  Hundreds responded to the invitation and gave their hearts to Christ. But one student was outraged!  As I leaned against the side wall of the theater, listening to the band play praise and worship music, he approached me in a fury.  He got in my face and called me every dirty word ever written on a bathroom wall!

Yeah, I probably could have taken him to the floor. Yeah, he probably deserved it. Yeah, something inside of me would have enjoyed making him eat his words.  Yeah, once upon a time, years ago, I probably would have taken issue with him.  But when I left football and grew up a little, I left it all on the field.  Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for them.”  Jesus said, “Be slow to anger.”  Jesus said, “Be patient with people.”  Jesus said, “Vengeance belongs to God.”  As the students’ stormed out of the theater, I prayed for him and still pray for him today, that someday our paths will cross again-hopefully in heaven when his anger will be calmed forever.

Discussion Starters:  Name three people who “provoke you to anger.”  Compare how you want to react with how you really react.  Compare your reaction to the way God wants you to react?  In reality, why is God’s way best?  Why is it best to be “slow to anger?”  What does today’s verse mean when it says those who are slow to anger have “great understanding?”  What do they understand?

Lifeline:  Ask God to give you the understanding needed to keep your anger in check.

Reflections

Blessings Always, (Numbers 6:24-26)

Rev. Dr. Andrew L. Foster, III.

OFFERINGS OF MUSIC AND LIGHT 12/9/18

Here are some photographs taken by Susan Heilbron of the second of the three Sunday afternoon programs.  DSC_2941It all starts with tremendous planning by Lia Kahler, a member of the church Outreach committee.    IMG_9457The Bellimira group..played English Dance tunes. (photo by Sandy Moore)DSC_2993Ed Merck played bass recorder..Bach cello music.  Haunting..DSC_2963Jan Heyer, accompanied by Phil Dietterich, played a beautiful cello. DSC_2967DSC_2972Jesse Keller danced to a contemporary Silent Night  played on piano by Carol Loud.DSC_2997Phil Dietterich introduced his fabulous prelude by Buxtehude telling how Bach admired Buxtehude and walked 200 miles to visit him..And, after his performance called this..DSC_2995a “pretty nice box of whistles.”DSC_2951

and all along we had a happy audience.DSC_2974Kate Taylor and Dana Edelman brought down the house.DSC_2949

And Susan Klein read one of her stories that, in six minutes, told how her 4 year old self was taught the meaning of the universe by an “aunt” during an O.B. thunderstorm.  It was wonderful!DSC_3003In addition to being Master of Ceremonies, Lia sang an aria from Carmen her voice filling the sanctuary.

DSC_2958Finally, we heard the folk trio of Andy Goldman, Jack Cushman and Warren Doty.DSC_3009This program closed with candle light as did all…DSC_3025Thank you to all the performers this season who donated their talent.  And thank you to Claire Ganz,  Judy Mayhew and Emily Broderick who put on lavish receptions after the shows.