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Notes from the Lay Leader - March 2024

2 Timothy 1:7 (The Message): "God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but

bold and loving and sensible."


Paul seems always willing to tell other people what to do, and here he has advice for Timothy, whom he mentored back in the day. I always assumed that Paul was telling Timothy to use his (Timothy’s) gifts, but now I see that Paul was urging Timothy to use God’s gifts.


I have made the argument before that shy, introverted, no-longer-young Midwesterners are too willing to say, “I don’t have any gifts to offer,” and then sit back and wonder why more people are not becoming disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world. But

Paul is here saying that we should use GOD’S gifts in ways that are bold, loving, and

sensible.


It’s easy to discount God’s gifts to us. We have been the recipients of many gifts from

God, and they come with the expectation that we will use them boldly, lovingly and

sensibly.


Remember our recent ceremony where three people received God’s gift of baptism? I

was a tiny part of that ceremony, but I had a great position to watch. Pastor Jeremy baptized one young, smiling adult. He then baptized one infant, who looked startled when the water ran down her face, but then decided that this must be a fun thing and giggled and smiled! Willow’s reaction helped her cousin Addie, who was skeptical of the process, to decide that it must be OK, so she accepted the gift as well.


Emily, Addison, and Willow happily accepted God’s gifts of baptism and new birth.


During the ceremony, WE pledged to “proclaim the good news and live according to the example of Christ.” Does anyone think that God wasn’t present, or wasn’t listening, or isn’t taking our pledge seriously?


Pastor Jeremy on Facebook: Church, we must end our preoccupation with member preferences and “the way we’ve always done it,” and instead focus relentlessly on the church’s mission and purpose.


We are exploring new ways to be the United Methodist Church in Mecosta County, Michigan. In early April, members of three churches will vote on whether to become one church, working together in new ways to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. No matter how the vote turns out, we at Big Rapids First have boldly proclaimed our intentions to work here and now to make the world a better place.


God, as always, is listening. God takes us at our word. Soon we will commemorate Holy Week, where Jesus certainly put God’s gifts to work for all of us. At Easter, we will celebrate the gift of new life, forgiven of our sins. This gift from God is not given so we can eat ham and chocolate eggs and feel comfortable in our current life. The gift is given so that we can use it boldly, to move forward with bringing others into the life of the church.

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