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Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.- 1 John 4: 7-8

Dear Friends,                                                                        April 2017

Grace and peace. We have been having a great book study on Creed: What  Christians Believe and Why- Exploring the Apostles Creed by Adam Hamilton.  In our discussion last week we talked about the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. The chapter about the Holy Spirit was enlightening as we explored that ‘Spirit’ translated in the Old Testament  (in Hebrew) was ruach- the same word for wind. And in the New Testament in ancient Greek the word spirit was pneuma which also means wind or breath. In John 3 Jesus told Nicodemus..  “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit is the part of the trinity that people most misunderstand because it can surprise us and move in ways unexpected. I believe, as a church family, we are growing in trusting the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is what Jesus promised when he said he would be with us always and as it came on that day of Pentecost (Acts 2) it gave birth to the church. We each need to personally welcome and invite the Holy Spirit into every situation of our lives.   Another word in the Greek for Holy Spirit is paraclete. Paraclete means  "one who consoles or comforts, one who encourages or uplifts; hence refreshes, and/or one who intercedes on our behalf as an advocate.” It also means “called to one’s side.”  How wonderful it is to know that God wants to be by our side as a comforter, helper, consoler, encourager.

I have been intentional in inviting and welcoming the Holy Spirit and I have been amazed at how I have been experiencing the Lord’s presence in all situations. In this day of smart media cell phones we are so often looking down and communicating passively through texting or emailing. Nothing will ever take the place of face to face communication. Experts say that 80% of communicating is facial expression and tone of voice. Ask the Holy Spirit to work through you to love others through face to face communication. A gracious and loving tone and expression can work wonders as people are joyfully surprised by your kindness.  Just the other day I was at the Dollar store and looked someone in the eyes and began a conversation. I could tell that this person was touched by my words. A smile can truly be a profound gift. So I remind you to quickly call on the Lord and invite the Holy Spirit into every situation.

Here is a great quote from Jack Levison  about how the Spirit worked in the scriptures….”The spirit was a force to be reckoned with, an impulse to which mere humans capitulated, a source of daily breath and an uncontrollable outside power." 

Adam Hamilton says… “The Spirit still IS this force. The Spirit becomes incarnate in us, and in the church. Through the Spirit we come to participate in God's work in the world, and we come to experience God's transforming, guiding and comforting work in our lives. “  Amen!

First UMC is being known as a church that is filled with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is a force to be reckoned with! People are experiencing a refreshment and renewal each Sunday through welcoming and receiving the Holy Spirit. Please let me know your stories- your testimonies- of how you have welcomed and invited the Holy Spirit into your life. When you ask God to be with you great things can happen. Pray that you can be moved by God to show kindness and love wherever you go. 

Our church is growing because we are trusting that the Lord is with us. More and more people are testifying how they are welcoming Jesus into their daily lives.

You are invited to live a Spirit-filled life so you can experience all the Lord offers-  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control. (Galatians 5)

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday on April 9.  Each will receive a palm to remember that day that Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey. Hosanna!  Also- please make plans to attend our annual Seder Christian Passover meal on Maundy Thursday March 12 at 5:30pm. We will have a moving Tenebrae Service afterwards at 7pm where the altar will be stripped of all color and we will remember the sacrifice of Jesus.  We will also be hosting the ecumenical Good Friday Service on April 14 at 12noon. 

Our Easter Vigil is a special service at 5:30pm on Saturday April 15. Then on Easter Sunday we will celebrate the resurrection with our Easter Sunrise Service at Tufts/Cummings School on the border of Grafton and Westborough on RT. 30 at 6:30am April 16.   We will have our Easter Celebration Services at 9am and 10:30am. 

God is doing great things in the lives of those who open their hearts to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.  I encourage you to take a moment and invite the Lord into your life each day. You will certainly be blessed.

In Christian Love,

Pastor John

I have a great need for Christ; I have a great Christ for my need.-  Charles Spurgeon

The Spirit-filled life is not a special, deluxe edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the total plan of God for His people.- A. W. Tozer

When it is a question of God’s almighty Spirit, never say, I can’t. - Oswald Chambers

Sunday Worship Schedule  

Join us for a traditional worship service @ 9:00am with age appropiate Sunday School classes for kids ages pre-k through high school.
If you enjoy a worship service with a more contemporary feel, please consider our 10:30am service.  We offer a one-room Sunday School format for children ages pre-k through second grade. 
Come early and join us for a hymn sing at 8:45 am.  
 
Refreshments and fellowship time at 10 am.