The Pastor’s Pen by Rev. Karen Jones

Holy Week
April 6, 2020

Good Morning! I am staying home and hope you are doing the same. My prayer is that all of us stay out of the Covid-19 related news. I want to invite you to Maundy Thursday at 7pm online. Bishop Jones is conducting a Facebook Live worship service at https://www.facebook.com/txumc/. As part of that service, we will observe a Love Feast which is an alternative to Holy Communion when you cannot physically gather. If you join us, you need to have either bread or cracker and water with you so you can participate.

I want to offer you scriptures for each day of this Holy Week to help you navigate to the cross and to Easter morning.

Call me if I can help with anything!
Karen
598-3616
409-382-8218

Monday of Holy Week
Isaiah 42: 1-9 / Psalm 36: 5-11 / Hebrews 9: 11-15 / John12: 1-11
Tuesday of Holy Week
Isaiah 49: 1-7 / Psalm 71: 1-14 / I Corinthians 1: 18-31 / John 12: 20-36
Wednesday of Holy Week
Isaiah 50: 4-9 / Psalm 70 / Hebrews 12: 1-3 / John 13: 21-32
Maundy Thursday
Exodus 12: 1-14 / Psalm 116: 1-2, 12-19/ I Corinthians 11: 23-26 / John 13: 1-17,31-35
Good Friday
Isaiah 52: 13-53:12 / Psalm 22 / Hebrews 4: 14-16, 5: 7—9 /John 18: 1-19: 42
Holy Saturday
Lamentations 3: 1-9, 19-24 / Psalm 31 / I Peter 4: 1-8 / John 19: 38-42
Easter
Jeremiah 31: 1-6 / Psalm 118: 1-2,14-24 / Colossians 3:1-4 / John 21: 19-31


Dear Center First UMC Family,
April 1, 2020

Rev. Dr. Richard Preston White, our District Superintendent, conducted a Zoom conference with our Staff Parish Relations Committee last night to announce that Bishop Scott Jones has appointed me as the District Superintendent of the North District of the Texas Annual Conference. My new appointment will begin July 1, 2020. Dr. White has begun working with the SPRC to determine the pastoral needs of First UMC Center going into the future. He will take their thoughts to the cabinet in their next session later this week.

It has been a wonderful privilege to serve as your pastor for almost 5 ½ years. We have dreamed God-sized dreams and worked together to make a difference in our community. We have welcomed new members, baptized our littlest blessings, said goodbye to some of our wonderful saints, enjoyed wonderful Men’s Breakfasts and too many covered dish meals to count! We are learning together how to navigate a pandemic. Over the next three months ministry will continue. What that ministry looks like will be up to the Covid-19 virus and County and State officials. Through this time, the staff and I will continue to do everything we can to meet your needs and offer you opportunities to worship and serve. You are blessed by an amazingly creative and dedicated staff. I am blessed to have the opportunity to serve with them. We will all continue working for Christ and for you.

As you prepare to receive your next pastor, I will do everything I can to make the transition as seamless as possible. The time for goodbyes is not now! We still have work and ministry to do. I look forward to helping you move into this next phase of your life together as a community of faith. I am blessed by your friendship, your support and encouragement. While I am excited about this next opportunity in my life, it is hard to leave you! I have been blessed to know you. You have welcomed me into your homes and your hearts. We have shared joys and grief. We have shared life together. The SPRC and I will share the information we get as to next steps in making this pastoral change.

Blessings!
Karen


Gratitude, Love and Prayers – Sunday’s Facebook Live Worship Bulletin for March 29, 2020
March 23, 2020

Thank you so much for tuning in to our first Facebook Live worship service! We were excited that 88 different households joined us from Center, Brazoria, Lufkin, New York City, Virginia, and North Carolina. We are figuring out the number of persons that represents. We have some of the kinks worked out so we are hoping that buffering will not be an issue this week. Thanks for your input on what we can do to improve moving forward. Since there are not group activities at the church, the newsletter will be a little light on information. We decided to use this as our worship bulletin each Sunday. We are keeping you in our prayers. Worship without you was not the same. I was able to envision you sitting in your usual pews! I missed your smiling faces and hugs. (Those of us who are huggers are struggling through this time aren’t we!) As a church, we also missed your generous offering. This week we received a little over $500 in offerings either through the mail or online giving through Vanco Payments. Thank you! Please remember you can also drop your offering in the mailbox outside the office, honk and we’ll come to your car or mail you gift to the church. Our mailing address is 211 Porter Street Center, TX 75935. To use Vanco Payments without downloading the app, go to our webpage and hit the link for Vanco online giving; or visit the link here First UMC Vanco Online Giving.We are reducing our office hours through this time. The office will be open Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm and Friday from 9am to Noon. If you need anything outside those hours, please call me at the parsonage (598-3616) or on my cell (409-382-8218). As the situation with Covid-19 continues, this may all change, but for now we are keeping the course with these hours. Please let me know if there are any errands you need run or if you have a special prayer request. I love you! Stay safe and well! Remember that this too shall pass!

Karen
First UMC Newsletter, March 23, 2020 First UMC: www.fumccentertx.org
Facebook Live Worship Services: https://www.facebook.com/FUMCCenterTexas/
Vanco Giving Link: fumccentertx.org/online-giving-2/
Pastor Karen’s phone numbers:
(936) 598-2707 office – Monday through Friday 9am-3pm / Friday 9am-Noon
(936) 598-3616 parsonage
(409) 382-8218 cell


Love God, Love Others, Serve the World
March 18, 2020

It is good to be back home! Everything has changed since I left! The azaleas, dogwoods, wild pears and plums have bloomed, and a myriad of greens have sprung out on all the trees. Oh! And the Corona pandemic has begun! I am so thankful to all who made Sunday’s worship a success. I want to especially thank Portia Gaines for bringing the message. Someone recorded the message and sent it, so I was able to watch on Sunday afternoon in the mountains of North Carolina. It was the only church service I was able to attend as all churches were closed there. I know her thoughts caused you to pause and reflect on your memories of this church and what you love about this place and these people who make up the body of Christ in this place. Following Portia’s thoughts and in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is a good thing to reflect on what is crucial for meaning and in reflecting on the truly important things in this life find some joy and peace. Kathleen Welborn Hayes sent a video of Wesley preaching this past Sunday. I think you’ll enjoy watching the video. I posted it on my Facebook page. It is good to see him doing better. Continue to keep him in your prayers. I am meeting with some of our church leaders today (Wednesday, March 18) at Noon to discuss our plans going forward amid the pandemic. We will send information to you after that meeting to inform you of our plans. We will still be the church and the presence of Christ in Center, TX. Ministries may be curtailed or reshaped, but ministry will go on. Our mission statement is Love God, Love Others, Serve the World. We will still do all those things, but the face of loving others and serving the world may be different during this time. Take care of yourselves! Stay home! If you need anything, call the office or me at home (598-3616). There are several people happy to run errands for you if you are sheltering in place, are afraid to get out, or if you become ill. Grace and peace to each of you!

Karen


Psalm 121
March 9, 2020

Psalm 121 is the Psalm for the week: (Good News Translation) I look to the mountains; where will my help come from?
2 My help will come from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let you fall; your protector is always awake.
4 The protector of Israel never dozes or sleeps.
5 The LORD will guard you; he is by your side to protect you.
6 The sun will not hurt you during the day, nor the moon during the night.
7 The LORD will protect you from all danger; he will keep you safe.
8 He will protect you as you come and go now and forever. Pray for me as I take the week away to refresh and renew; to have some time to physically look up. Being in the mountains reminds me of the vastness of God and yet his care for one so small in comparison to all creation. I am reminded of the creative nature, grace and power of our God. Sometimes we just need to stop and remember. Isn’t that what Lent is all about? Following Jesus to the cross and remembering God’s love of us. Love so amazing that he sent his son to die for us! Even if you can’t get away to a different location, you can get away in prayer, in serving, in worship, in ________________________________________. You fill in the blank for your you. My prayer is that each of us remembers the care of God that the psalmist found that enabled him to write this Psalm.

Karen


New Life
February 25, 2020

Have you noticed? Clover has started to bloom next to roadways. Tulip trees are in full bloom. Pear and wild plums are blooming. In Nacogdoches, the azaleas are budding near the ground. Daffodils and jonquils are shooting up from organic material that appears to be dead. You have probably planted your potatoes by now. There is no evidence yet that they are putting down deep roots, but we know they are. New calves are rollicking in pastures. Life is springing up all around us! The Farmers’ Almanac says that the hummingbirds should be here within a very few weeks. In East Texas, we also understand that a cold snap is likely to come along and either blow it all away or knock it to the ground. New life, new creation is all around us. This new life is fragile to our eyes but think about the effort needed by a growing seed or bulb to push through the soil and the dead leaves that cover it.

In Colorado, I love looking at trees that thrive in the smallest of cervices. At first sight, they seem to be out of place. But they find a foothold, the place that holds a little soil and a little moisture and they hang on. In Rocky Mountain National Park, there are areas that are referred to as the fragile tundra. You only walk except on established paths to protect small plants that look like new growth only to learn that it has taken 20 years for that small 2” high plant to reach its current size.

Life does indeed happen all around us. The question is whether we notice it or not. How is life happening in and around you? This new life can happen in our spirits as well as in nature. During Lent, we concentrate on our spiritual needs, develop spiritual disciplines of fasting, giving and praying. We seek to put down deep roots so the life of Christ can be seen in us. This week, I hope you will read Matthew 13 … the Parable of the Seeds or Parable of the Soil. What kind of ground does God’s Word find in us? How can we till that soil so that God’s word can grow flourish and bloom in each of us?

Karen