February 24, 2020
Greetings to each of you. This Wednesday Lent begins with our Ash Wednesday service. As we move through Lent and what it means I thought it would be nice to provide a virtual trip to the Holy Land and walk the Via Dolorosa. I trust it will be as meaningful to you as it was to me when I traveled to the Holy Land. May you be blessed at this holy time. Amen.
February 5, 2020
Greetings in Christ’s holy name. I want to take a few moments and provide you information regarding the upcoming Conference for the United Methodist Church. Recently, Bishop Saenz provided a video and PowerPoint presentation regarding the topic on many hearts and minds. I provide his video and notes so you may hear from him directly and may prayerfully reflect on his points. As always, if I may assist you in any way, do not hesitate to contact me at belliott at greatplainsumc.org. Blessings, Pastor Bianca
P.S. This will also be under the United Methodist tab.
January 7, 2020
I hope you had a sacred Advent and Christ.mas season. My husband and I did as well as our church family.
Last Sunday we celebrated Epiphany. This is a church holiday (Holy day) where we recognize the arrival of the Magi to the home of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. They, as the song taught us, had three gifts of gold (to recognize Jesus as King), frankincense (to recognize Jesus’ role as our High Priest), and myrrh (to be used in His burial as our sacrifice/atonement). We pondered how wise men sought Jesus then and wise ones do today. Our prayer is that Jesus is found by those looking diligently for Him. Feel free to let us know if we can help you on your journey to find the Christ-child.
January 6, 2020
I have an update that some of you may be curious about as it pertains to recent news sources. The United Methodist Church is going to have an annual conference later this year. Among many important topics will be one regarding human sexuality and the church. I want to provide you two links to help you begin to pray earnestly and consider deeply how you believe God is leading you on this topic. The vote has not occurred yet and this is an option for the church to vote on in May. Please be in prayer for global, national, and regional officers and bishops. Also, please pray for congregations, ministers, and most importantly, your neighbors over the coming months. If you have an questions or want to talk about this or other items, feel free to contact me (Pastor Bianca) at belliott at greatplainsumc.org. Thanks.
Each week in Advent I want to share with you ideas to help Advent be more meaningful to you. These observations come from the Upper Room Devotional (we have a free copy for you at the church). If you like them or have a question or feedback, please feel free to email me (Pastor Bianca) at belliott at greatplainsdistrictumc.org. Enjoy!
Advent Week Four Observations
In a quiet place with a candle (blue/purple and pink/rose), and a Bible, begin this special litany saying: “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18).
Light the fourth of five candles and relight the other blue/purple and rose/pink ones. Let us see the love in the Lord!
Read Isaiah 7:10-16 ( https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=isaiah+7&version=CEB) and Matthew 1:18-25 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+1&version=CEB).
Reflect upon these questions from Psalm 80:19 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm+80%3A19&version=CEB). Remember that salvation is a gift from the Lord. What other gifts has God given you today?
Engage: Show an act of kindness to a child with a parent who is ill or incarcerated, or take dinner to the medical team at your local emergency room or urgent-care clinic.
Pray: Gracious God, we seek You everywhere with expectant eyes that invite us to see love in the world today. Amen.
Advent Week Three Observations
In a quiet place with a candle (blue/purple and pink/rose), and a Bible, begin this special litany saying: “Jesus said, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them’.” (Matthew 11:4-5).
Light the third candle of five (with the other two as well) of five. This rose candle is for JOY. Les us see joy in the Lord!
Read Isaiah 35:1-10 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=isaiah+35&version=CEB), Luke 1:46-55 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+1&version=CEB), and Matthew 11:2-11 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+11&version=CEB ).
Reflect on these questions: When have you seen the promise of joy in challenging times? How do you share with others the joy you find in Jesus?
Engage: Read James 5:7-10 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+5&version=CEB ). How are you willing to be patient and wait for joy today? How will you serve others as you wait?
Prayer: Gracious God, we seek You everywhere with expectant eyes that invite us to see joy in the world today. Amen.
Advent Week Two Observations
In a quiet place with a candle (blue or purple) and a Bible, begin this special litany saying: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1 NRSV)
Light the second candle of five. This second candle is for HOPE. Let us see HOPE in the Lord.
Read Isaiah 2:1-5 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+2&version=CEB ) and Matthew 24:36-44 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+24&version=CEB).
Reflect on these questions: Where do you see hope in Isaiah 2? in Matthew 24? Reflect on the hope that God’s light will shine on the mountaintop, revealing the goodness of life.
Engage: Ideas to engage with the Scripture may be to do a prayer walk with another person (https://www.greatplainsumc.org/prayerwalks). You can have this private time with God on a mountain, in your neighborhood, or just about anywhere. As you walk, look around for signs of hope.
Prayer: Gracious, God, we see You everywhere with expectant eyes that invite us to see hope in the world today. Amen.
Advent Week One Observations
In a quiet place with a candle (blue or purple) and a Bible, begin this special litany saying: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.” (Psalm 72:18 NRSV)
Light the first candle of five. This first candle is for PEACE. Let us see PEACE in the Lord.
Read Isaiah 11:1-10 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=isaiah+11&version=CEB ) and Romans 15:4-13 ( https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans+15&version=CEB).
Reflect on these questions: Where do you see peace in Isaiah 11 and Romans 15? Where do you see signs of peace in an anxious world?
Engage: Slow down and reflect on your story. Bring your family together to share stories of gratitude and salvation.
Prayer: Gracious God, we seek You everywhere with expectant eyes that invite us to see peace in the world today. Amen.
Be sure to take time to journal your thoughts and, if you like, share them with the Upper Room or us.
Perhaps you are wondering why we have “Hope Within” so prominently displayed.
It basically comes from 1 Peter 3:15. The NIV translation has, But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
The words “the hope that you have” are considered as the hope within the Christian. Peter was writing to Christians (Christ-followers) a very long time ago. He reminded Christians that we not only have hope within us but that others, perhaps you, would like to know more about that hope. And he encouraged us to share this hope with everyone. And as United Methodists, we are very happy to do so.
That tells you a bit about that title. I will share more about what that means to us and to you in another post.