Etheridge’s Epistle – July

The July Newsletter is now online. Go to fumctrussville.com/newsletter to view it.

To my child…..

Just for this morning, I am going to smile when I see your face and laugh when I feel like crying. Just for this morning, I will let you choose what you want to wear, and smile and say how perfect it is. Just for this morning, I am going to step over the laundry, and pick you up and take you to the park to play. Just for this morning, I will leave the dishes in the sink, and let you teach me how to put that puzzle of yours together. Just for this afternoon, I will unplug the telephone and keep the computer off, and sit with you in the backyard and blow bubbles. Just for this afternoon, I will not yell once, not even a tiny grumble when you scream and whine for the ice cream truck, and I will buy you one if he comes by. Just for this afternoon, I won’t worry about what you are going to be when you grow up, or second guess every decision I have made where you are concerned. Just for this afternoon, I will let you help me bake cookies, and I won’t stand over you trying to fix them. Just for this afternoon, I will take us to Mc Donald’s and buy us both a Happy Meal so you can have both toys. Just for this evening, I will hold you in my arms and tell you a story about how you were born and how much I love you. Just for this evening, I will let you splash in the tub and not get angry. Just for this evening, I will let you stay up late while we sit on the porch and count all the stars. Just for this evening, I will snuggle beside you for hours, and miss my favorite TV shows. Just for this evening when I run my fingers through your hair as you pray, I will simply be grateful that God has given me the greatest gift ever given. I will think about the mothers and fathers who are searching for their missing children, the mothers and fathers who are visiting their children’s graves instead of their bedrooms, and mothers and fathers who are in hospital rooms watching their children suffer senselessly, and screaming inside that they can’t handle it anymore. And when I kiss you goodnight I will hold you a little tighter, and a little longer. It is then, that I will thank God for you, and ask him for nothing, except one more day………….

Please pass this on to other mothers and fathers. We get so involved in our daily routines that we tend to forget what great gifts our children REALLY ARE.
Think about it and pray about it!

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Jesus said, “Blessed are….”

Every year when I return from Ecuador I realize how blessed I am. But I am also challenged by the Christian community of Atacacho. They have so little in the way of material possessions and the life they live is so very hard for them. Yet they are a very happy people. They feel they are greatly blessed. The happiness they share with me and the spirit of their lives causes me to reflect on my own life and the Christian meaning of happiness. So often my happiness is based on the circumstances of life. Is that true happiness?

Jesus spoke to his disciples about being Blessed. We call these sayings the Beatitudes. The word blessed, which is used in each of the beatitudes is a very special word. It is the Greek word makarios. Makarios can be translated to mean blessed, happy, fortunate, and blissful. Homer used the word to describe a wealthy man, and Plato used it to describe one who is successful in business. Most often this word makarios is translated into happiness, a worldly translation. The English word happiness contains the root word hap which means chance. Human happiness is something which is dependent on chance or the circumstances of life. Jesus used this word makarios with a much deeper meaning, the meaning of blessedness.

The kind of happiness God desires for his children is a well-being, a blessedness, which does not depend on physical or temporary circumstances. To be blessed is not a superficial feeling of well-being based on circumstances, but a deep spiritual experience of contentedness based on the fact that ones life is right with God.

Beginning this Sunday, July 9th, I will begin a series of sermons on the Beatitudes. Let us join together in worship and word to listen to Jesus speak these words of Christian joy and blessedness.

Think about it and pray about it
See You Sunday,
Bro. Bill

Etheridge’s Epistle – June

Please note: The June edition of Neighborhood Watch is now available. Click here to view it.

An Affirmation of Mothers
I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of the loving God, who was born of the promise to a virgin named Mary.
I believe in the love Mary gave her son, that caused her to follow him in his ministry and stand by his cross as he died.
I believe in the love of all mothers, and its importance in the lives of the children, they bear. It is stronger than steel, softer than down, and more resilient than a green sapling on the hillside. It closes wounds, melts disappointments, and enables the weakest child to stand tall and straight in the fields of adversity.
I believe that this love, even at its best, is only a shadow of the love of God, a dark reflection of all that we can expect of him, both in this life and the next.
And I believe that one of the most beautiful sights in the world is a mother who lets this greater love flow through her to her child, blessing the world with the tenderness of her touch and the tears of her joy.

God Bless Our Mothers!!!

See You In Church Sunday!
Bro. Bill

Etheridge’s Epistle – March

The March edition of Neighborhood Watch is now available here: Trussville FUMC Monthly Newsletter

LETTER FROM A FRIEND
I am writing to say how much I care for you and to say how much I want you to know me better.
When you awoke this morning I exploded a brilliant sunrise through your window hoping to get your attention, but you rushed off without even noticing.
Later, I noticed you were walking with some friends, so I bathed you in warm sunshine and perfumed the air with nature’s sweet scent, and still you didn’t notice me. As you passed by, I shouted to you in a thunderstorm and painted a beautiful rainbow in the sky and you didn’t look.
In the evening, I spilled moonlight onto your face and sent a cool breeze to rest you. As you slept, I watched over you and shared your thoughts, but you were unaware that I was so near.
I have chosen you and hope you will talk to me soon. Until then I will remain near. I love you very much.
Your Friend,
JESUS

Think about and Pray about it.

See You Sunday,
Bro. Bill

Etheridge’s Epistle – February

My Prayer for our Church

Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isa. 64:8

I ran across this story, which is funny, and to the point.

Some years ago, I rounded the corner of a gravel farm road to encounter a large yellow bulldozer crossing the road in front of me. I stopped quickly and noticed a man standing by the road watching the dozer. The dozer was plowing through a field across the road in a lazy circular motion. I asked the man how long he had been watching the dozer. He said, “Ever since I fell off the thing!” The dozer continued its work aimlessly, without purpose and driverless. I thought, “All that power with no direction.” It reminded me of a time when I tried to take control of my life and I could feel the available power of God but instead of letting Him direct me, I wreaked havoc aimlessly throughout the countryside. “Father, before I can become like that driverless dozer, mold me into the gentle, powerful, obedient image of your Son.”

My prayer for myself and our church in 2017 is very simple, “O God, our father and creator, mold and shape me in the image of Christ that I may be your servant. Mold and shape our church in your image and will that we may be your servants in our community.”

See You Sunday
Bro. Bill

Service of the Longest Night

Service of the Longest Night
The Christmas season is often marked by expressions of joy, excitement, and happiness. It’s a time for family to gather and for churches to worship, pointing to the hope that is found in the coming of the Christ child. However, this time of joy and expectation can often overshadow the pain and hurt many experience during this season, when the world’s merriment puts their grief and sorrow in stark relief.

One of the greatest acts of pastoral care in the Advent season is to offer a service known as a Service of the Longest Night. It’s a worship service scheduled around the winter solstice, (the longest night of the calendar year,) and it just happens to fall on or around December 21st every year.

The Longest Night, is a service of peace and hope. It is a simple service of music, scripture, prayer and the lighting of four candles. We light four candles in honor of our loved ones. We light one for our grief, one for our courage, one for our memories, and one for our love. In the service, you are invited to come forward to light one of the votive candles, which represents your burdens, griefs, sorrows, all those things that make Christmas a “blue” time for you. You may speak the name, or the event, if you wish to do so. When you have lighted your candle, or candles, you may return to your seat or come to alter to pray silently.

Please be in prayer for all of our services during this special season and join us at 6:00 pm in the Sanctuary on Wednesday, December 21st for our Service of the Longest Night.

Etheridge’s Epistle – November

All Saints Sunday
November 6, 2016

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:7-8

Sunday, November 6 is a very special Sunday in all of our worship services!
We will celebrate All Saints Day. We will remember the lives of those individuals who were a part of our church family that have gone home to dwell in God’s house. Each name will be read, a bell rung, and a candle in their honor in the worship services.

These are:
Irene Alexander
Doris Mae McCarthey
Ernest Beard
Carol McWilliams
Marjorie Borger
Marzee Owen
Wallace Bowman
Jack Spivey
Jimmy Duke
Kitty Steele
Eleanor Hayden
Patsy Wilbanks
Jack Hutcherson
Patricia Williams
Clarrine King

We will also ask for the names of our extended family and friends to be called aloud by you during the service. Then we will light one candle and ring a bell in their honor.
I hope you will be present for this special worship service.

In Christ,
Dr. Bill Etheridge

Etheridge’s Epistle – World Communion Sunday

World Communion Sunday
October 2, 2016
On this Sunday, while Americans were sleeping, Christians in Zaire left their homes for places of worship to see their pastors take bread in their hands and declare, “This is my body.” In Saint Sophia’s Cathedral in Istanbul were heard the words, “This is my body.” In Saint Paul’s in London a hush fell across the congregation as the pastor declared, “This is my body.” In churches and cathedrals across the United States, today pastors take bread into their hands and declare, “This is my body.” In thatched-roof mission stations across the islands of the Pacific, this afternoon will be uttered, “This is my body.”

This is World Wide Communion Sunday. Throughout the world churches of all denominations, in all nations, in many languages, are celebrating the Lord’s Supper. And, it couldn’t have come at a better time. We need this time together to remember that our Lord also suffered. And, we need this time also to remember that he did so on our behalf. Not just for you and me, but for neighbors next door, neighbors across the street, and neighbors around the world. “God so loved the world” begins that most memorable verse in the Gospel of John. It is as true in this difficult age as it was then in that time of unrest. The Lord’s Supper teaches us about the necessity of unity. The Apostle Paul tried to get this point across to the Corinthians. They were a divided church and were following many different teachers and teachings. Paul let them know, in no uncertain terms, that their divisions were not acceptable. He explained that to participate in the meal and leave others out or allow division amongst themselves was virtually the same as drinking and eating judgment upon themselves. Communion is serious business.

Let us join Christians across the World to Celebrate God’s grace!
See You In Church Sunday!
In Christ,
Bill

 

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Etheridge’s Epistle – Heartprints

This week read this poem each day and leave Heartprints everywhere you go!!

Heartprints
Whatever our hands touch,
We leave our fingerprints!
On walls, furniture,
On doorknobs, dishes, and books.
As we touch we leave our identity.

O God, wherever I go today
Help me to leave heartprints.
Heartprints of compassion,
Of understanding and love,
Heartprints of kindness
And genuine concern.

May my heart touch a lonely neighbor,
Or a runaway daughter,
Or an anxious mother,
Or maybe a dear friend.

Lord, send me out today
To leave my heartprints.
And if anyone should say,
“I felt your touch”,
May that one sense your love
Touching through me.

Think about it, Pray about it!
See you Sunday in Worship!
In Christ,
Bill

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Etheridge’s Epistle-September

The Christian Holy Habits
Early in my ministry I was given A Pocket Prayer Book that was first printed in 1941, by the General Board of Evangelism compiled by Bishop Ralph Cushman. It is now in its thirty-eighth printing. Inside on page 108, you will find a piece that Bishop Cushman wrote entitled The Christian’s Holy Habits.

THE CHRISTIAN’S HOLY HABITS
I believe in habits:  I believe habits make or break us:  I believe habits send us to heaven or hell.  Therefore I believe in HOLY Habits.
Indeed, so sure am I that a happy Christian life depends upon some four or five habits, that if some person should come to me and say, “Prescribe what U must do to have glad fellowship with Jesus Christ, here and hereafter,” I would say:
First.  Form the habit of keeping holy some portion of each day for Bible reading and for prayer.  Make this your first business.
Second.  Form the habit of giving, every week, a definite proportion of your time in special service to your fellow men, in the name of Christ and of His church.
Third.  Make attendance at public worship a fixed habit of your life.  Allow yourself no excuse for non-attendance that you would not give to your associates in business.
Fourth.  Form the habit of accepting every opportunity to receive the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  Christ will meet you in the communion.  Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.”
Fifth.  Form the holy habit of setting apart a definite proportion of your money for the work of the Kingdom.  Make it the first draft upon your income; set it aside with prayer; use it carefully as unto God.  Have faith to begin with at least a tenth. This habit will be for you a trusty thermometer, marking the temper of your life.

These, my friends, are the holy habits I recommend.  Others will follow on.  Behind them all, of course, must be the hunger after God:  but with these habits formed you have the certain helps that God has sent to bless your days; and more than this, to make of you a faithful steward of the Church of Christ.

Who we are is determined by the choices we make in life and the Holy Habits we develop in our lives. I pray we will choose to develop Holy Habits in our daily lives.
See you Sunday in Worship.

In Christ,
Bro. Bill

Etheridge’s Epistle – August

I Believe in a Live Church

Live churches’ expenses are always more than their income;
Dead churches don’t need much money!

Live churches have parking problems;
Dead churches have empty spaces!

Live churches may have some noisy children;
Dead churches are quiet as a cemetery.

Live churches keep changing their ways of doing things;
Dead churches see no need for change!

Live churches grow so fast you can’t keep up with people’s names;
In dead churches everybody always knows everybody’s name.

Live churches strongly support world missions;
Dead churches keep the money at home!

Live churches are full of regular, cheerful givers;
Dead churches are full of grudging tippers!

Live churches move ahead on prayer and faith;
Dead churches work only on sight!

Live churches plant daughter churches;
Dead churches fear spending the money, time, and talent!

Live churches outgrow their Sunday School facilities;
Dead churches have room to spare!

Live churches welcome all classes of people;
Dead churches stick to their own kind!

Live churches’ members enthusiastically support the ministries;
Dead churches have no ministries–only functions!

Live churches’ members look for someone they can help;
Dead churches’ members look for something to complain about!

Live churches’ members reach out to share their faith in Christ;
Dead churches’ members don’t have enough to share!

I thank God that I am a part of a LIVE Church! I pray for you and our Church
every day. Please pray for me!!!

See you in Church Sunday!

In Christ, Bro. Bill