Recent Sermons & Reflections from Calvary UMC

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Do things on your plate seem impossible as CV-19 continues to change our lives?  Read this sermon about trusting in God who loves to walk with us in the toughest times and to deal in impossibilities.

 

 

SERMON             CALVARY UMC            06-28-20            REV. ELAINE WING

 

Focus:  “Nothing is Impossible with our God" 

Scripture:  Interwoven throughout the sermon

 

OPENING – REFLECTION QUESTIONS  

         What are some things you (or others) have done that you initially thought were impossible?  

         What things have you wanted to do (or still have on your bucket list) but haven’t because you’ve told yourself “that is impossible for me”?  

 

INTRO TO SCRIPTURE READING

         There are a lot of individuals in the Bible that have done what seemed impossible…  For example: Young David who slayed the giant Goliath with a stone.   Joseph who rose from a slave to a prince.  Daniel, who as an old man, survived being thrown into a den of hungry lions. 

         Our scripture story is familiar to many people – it underscores how nothing is impossible for God.  Mary and Elizabeth are cousins, and both become pregnant through the power of God. Elizabeth does not know her young cousin is pregnant before she arrives for a time of sanctuary from the challenges she is facing.   

            39 A short time later Mary hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea. 40 She went into Zechariah’s home, where she greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, her baby moved within her. 

         The Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth. 42 Then in a loud voice she said to Mary:  “God has blessed you more than any other woman! He has also blessed the child you will have. 43 Why should the mother of my Lord come to me? 44 

         As soon as I heard your greeting, my baby became happy and moved within me. 45 The Lord has blessed you because you believed that he will keep his promise.”

         This story – often pulled off the shelf and told only during the Christmas season – has far-reaching applications for you and I today.  It is about a God who revels in doing the impossible and empowering us through our acts of faith to scale the mountains that seem impossible in our time.

         Let’s dig into the text. Mary faced death by stoning when she agreed to be the servant of the Lord and carry the baby born to offer us salvation.  

         What are you facing by saying “yes” to whatever God is gifting you with as an impossible opportunity?

         Elizabeth, well beyond childbearing years was already the object of scorn and pity for not bearing children. When she becomes pregnant, she remains in seclusion for five months with her husband who had been struck mute by the angel Gabriel. 

         You and I have been in isolation for 3-4 months and we’re going crazy.  Imagine Elizabeth’s situation!  She was in isolation because of something people believed she had done, not because of the threat of catching a virus.  

         Even when there are times during CV-19 lockdown that we might have wished our spouse was quiet, can you imagine how this situation might have felt to her?  

         Yet, we read in Luke’s gospel she said, “The Lord has done this for me.  In these days he has shown me his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” 

         One of the many things that amazes me about these two women is how they persevered with such courage.  Their faith in God who does the impossible, didn’t make their mountainous obstacles disappear. 

         Instead, they are living out the words found in Philippians:  “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.”

         How often have you and I been faced by something that seems impossible…andwe’ve let our fear overcome our faith in God’s abilities?  

         How often have you and I defeated ourselves before we even give something a try or a chance to succeed?

         As usual, God’s Word is multi-layered with many blessings.  We recognize the greatest miracle of this story -- two women who give birth to John the Baptist who prepares the way for the Messiah and Jesus our Savior – who  will change the world.

         This is also a story about God’s liberating power and intentional reorienting of injustice systems.

         God was working to free Elizabeth and Mary from gender injustice embedded in a patriarchal culture.  They faced tremendous challenges just because they were born as women.

         God was working to liberate Elizabeth and Mary from a narrative that would have said to them, “I can’t or shouldn’t do that.”  During the time that Elizabeth’s husband was unable to speak I imagine she learned to speak up for herself as a woman.  

         I believe she learned to handle many of the tasks that her husband had been responsible for… finances, provisions, and other areas of decision making.

         This story reinforces our belief that God CARES for each of us when we say “YES LORD” to an opportunity to serve.  I believe that God is ready to provide whatever we need to achieve the plans for good God has for us.  

         The Gospel of John records seven miracles that show Jesus’ astonishing power over things that we over label as “impossible.”   For example:

Jesus has power over quality – he turned water into wine

Jesus has power over distance – he healed a dying child from afar

Jesus has power over time – he healed a man who had been lame for four decades

Jesus has power over quantity – he fed a crowd of 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two small fish.

Jesus has power over nature – he calmed the sea and walked on nature

Jesus has power over misfortune – without hype of hoopla, he healed a blind man

Jesus has power over death – he brought Lazarus back to life after his death and Jesus himself rose after three days in the tomb.

         EACH OF THESE CHALLENGES SEEM impossible.  But to Jesus, the solution was obvious.  He lived out the words found in Luke 18:27.  “What is impossible for people is possible with God.  

         I also believe that God’s gift of free will comes into play as we face our impossibilities.  Like Mary and Elizabeth, we have the freedom to decide whether we will be the victim of injustice or hardship or whether we will look for the hand of the Lord as we face our mountainous obstacles.

         Did any you see the movie “Hidden Figures” a year or two ago?  It was about Mary W. Jackson, the first African American female engineer at NASA.  She started her NASA career in the segregated West Area Computing Unit of the agency’s Langley Research Center. 

         Jackson, a mathematician and aerospace engineer, never accepted what might seem impossible to others.  She helped break gender and race barriers and open the field of engineering and technology to women. 

          Jackson was part of a group of important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space. Astronauts such as Sally Ride, the first female American astronaut who flew in space in 1983.

         NASA announced recently that the agency headquarters building in Washington DC will be named after Ms. Jackson. 

         Trusting God to do the impossible often requires that we surrender our control and expectations around HOW and WHEN the impossible will be achieved.  

         In closing, I encourage you to offer the Prophet Jeremiah’s prayer daily.  It goes like this:

         “O Sovereign Lord, nothing is too hard for you including my personal “impossibility”  (write it down)

_______________________________________.  I surrender this impossible situation to you from this day on.  Help me not to take it back!  Amen.”

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We invite you to give back to God while supporting the ministries at and through Calvary UMC.  The amount of your gift is far less important than the decision to trust and thank God for your blessings even in this difficult time.  We want you to keep growing in your faith – not to stop or take a siesta out of fear.  Go to www.calvarydumont.com for a recurring or one time electronic gift or mail a check payable to CUMC to CUMC, 185 W. Madison Ave, Dumont, NJ 07628  Thank you in advance of taking this step of faith!

Please enjoy this past Sunday 7/5/20 Worship,

hosted by the Greater NJ Conference of the UMC!

The message ′′Moving Mountains: Perseverance,′′ is part of the Moving Mountains series offered by GNJ Breakthrough.

Liturgist: Rev. Dr. Eunice Vega-Perez, Skylands District Superintendent, GNJ

Preacher: Rev. Hector A. Burgos, Superintendent of Capital District, GNJ

Music: Rev. Hector A. Burgos

https://www.facebook.com/GNJUMC/videos/264315568240144

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Encouraging Words 5/27/20

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We invite you to subscribe to our channel to stay connected -- and take a few minutes to peruse some of the other brief videos of encouragement and music!

Encouraging Words 5/13/20

Psalm 23:  Going Through Life's Valleys

- Where do you turn for comfort and courage when fear and anxiety strike?
- What "spiritual resources" have been provided in times of need which have enabled you to "fear no evil?"

A story/reference to golf helps illustrate as Pastor Elaine takes us deeper into the "Shepherd's Psalm" today! 

Thanks for listening, liking, sharing and subscribing to stay connected with us!

Encouraging Words 5/11/20

Psalm 23: God is Clearing the Way

What does it mean to have a God that leads us? And, can you appreciate the roundabout journey that brings many twists and turns along the way? In His wisdom, God provides a lamp unto our feet...not a crystal ball to reveal the future.

Encouraging Words 5/8/20

Strengthening Relationships:  

Communication & Resolving Conflict

Please find attached the link to the last video in the series "Strengthening Relationships."  This video, less than 10 minutes in length, is about communication and resolving conflict.  I hope it is meaningful to you.  

Encouraging Words 5/6/20

Strengthening Relationships:

Changing Roles During and After Covid-19

This second part of a short series on relationships offers great insight into shifting roles and “relationship turbulence” we may be experiencing these days.  How have your relationships and responsibilities changed? Has it led to deeper understanding of others? Pastor Elaine Wing’s message offers encouragement and a fresh perspective.

Encouraging Words 5/4/20 

Strengthening Relationships:  Romance and Recreation

Pastor Elaine Wing offers the first of three reflections on strengthening our relationships while these Stay at Home orders remain in place. With friends or family, partner or spouse, there are some fun and playful ways to maintain and enhance these relationships!

Encouraging Words 5/1/20:  Living One Day at a Time

Can you invest more time in living in the moment and enjoying the blessings of each day without exhausting yourself by living in the past or future?  It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan and prepare ... we do our best and live in trust that God has good plans for us. ❤️  Hear & read Pastor Elaine’s encouraging words and guidance for today!

Encouraging Words 4/29/20:  Courage & Wisdom 

Pastor Elaine brings us Part II of her three-part reflection on the Serenity prayer. Indeed, this part is a tough one! When faced with important decisions and difficult situations, do you struggle alone? Pray for God’s wisdom and discernment!

Encouraging Words 4/27/20:  Serenity & Acceptance

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Encouraging Words 4/17/20 - Reducing Anxiety and Stress

https://youtu.be/jbBgQmva0LQ

We hope that you experience the many blessings that God showers upon you today.  LOOK FOR the stories of compassion and hope.  Here is the link for today's 8 minute devotional on Reducing Anxiety and Stress.  It's posted on YouTube and Facebook...   Calvary United Methodist Church, Dumont, NJ.   LET'S SHARE BY REDUCING STRESS AND ANXIETY...   Please subscribe to our YouTube channel to view all our videos.

Midweek Reflection 4/15/20 - TP

https://youtu.be/-8q314B-4Gk

Here is today's message from Pastor Elaine Wing, which will surely resonate with so many people. In the absence of closeness, grief and loss are especially painful at this time. Grief is a tough emotion to deal with and it's so sad that we can't offer a hug or hold a hand in person as we would want to. May you all be uplifted and encouraged by Pastor's words today.

2013. Calvary United Methodist Church in Dumont, New Jersey

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