Loving Music at an Early Age: PUMC’s Choirs

The beauty of Christian music comes alive when children and youth feel what the lyrics say, says Tom Shelton, PUMC’s director of children’s and youth choirs and a sacred music professor at Westminster Choir College.

Encourage families you know to bring their children to choir practice! Choristers learn good singing techniques and music theory; they participate in worship monthly, present a musical, and sing at special services throughout the year.

Open houses for parents and children will be Wednesday, September 18 at 4:30 p.m. (kindergarten and first grade) and the same day at 5:30 p.m. for second through fifth grade.

The first rehearsal for youth (grades 6-12) is Sunday, September 15, 5 p.m. Tom teaches the youngest children, ages three and four, during their Sunday School class.

There is no charge to be in a choir, and singers do not need to be church members.I want young singers to love music their whole life, not just for the time they are with me,” says Tom.

 

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Sermon “Ages And Stages: Become Like Children”

On Sunday, August 4, 2019, Pastor Jennifer Smith-Walz preached a sermon titled “Become Like Children” from the sermon series “Ages and Stages,” and based on the scripture from Mark 10:13-16.

I invite you to go back to your childhood for just a moment. Think about those people in your life who loved you and who you loved. Who were those who let you be a kid, giving you space to be you, and value your opinions?  Who were those who weren’t interested in you or your views? Who were those who got irritated at you for just being a kid?

Today we are talking about how much we need children in our lives and how important it is for them to have adult faith when they grow up. Jesus tells us how wonderful it is to have children among us, even when his disciples tried to keep them away. In the Sanford Davies Room, we have an example in the large stained glass windows depicting mothers bringing their children to Jesus to be blessed.

Children play a different role in society. Having children means that God has blessed you  and given this particular gift. What is essential in life is that children make it to adulthood and be able to pass on the same things, both traditional and economical that were passed on to us. Not all children will make it to adulthood. Being blessed will give them a better chance to live long in this time and place.

We adults need be children to have  hope of entering the kingdom of God, “for to such [as these] belongs the kingdom of heavenIt is for this reason that we baptize children.  Many adults have forgotten what it is like to be children. Movies like “Mary Poppins,” “Polar Express,” or “Christopher Robin” seek to “inspire our nostalgia for the innocent fantasies of childhood.” It’s not just about having the good things in life. We must be able to enter the kingdom of God, to connect deeply with God and his purposes in this world and reconnect with one another. It is going to be joyful but also painful.

Children hold up a mirror in front of us, so we need to be careful how we treat them – how we pay attention to things like bullying, school violence, juvenile incarceration, child abuse, and the way we deal with immigrant children. Also, how we deal with fear, conflict, and anger. We must, therefore, be careful how we act in front of children as they tend to copy our ways, good or bad. Children are vulnerable, at-risk, dependent, in need. 

I invite each one of us to connect with five young people in our congregation and pray for them. Maybe you are being called to be a Sunday School teacher. Children can teach us too. Let them help you to see yourself as God sees you, as you need to be seen by yourself to enter into the Kingdom of God.

Here is a link to the podcast of Pastor Jenny’s sermon

For the complete video of the August 4 service, go to Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page. 

 

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Pastor Ginny Leads an August 24 Retreat

Times of uncertainty can be unsettling to say the least, says Pastor Ginny Cetuk. “I have had many experiences in my life that seemed overwhelming because I did not know which way to go. This was true even though my faith in God and God’s presence in my life was strong.”

“But as a church, we seek to help members and friends in all of the circumstances of life including times that bring great uncertainty. Together as the Beloved Community of Christ, we think and pray and study and worship and support each other in all times, especially in times of change and uncertainty.”

“One such time will be a retreat day set aside for us to think about the resources God
has given us when life as we know it is abruptly changed and we do not know how to
proceed. The title of the retreat is ‘Uncertainty as a Spiritual Discipline.'”

The retreat will be at Princeton UMC on Saturday, August 24, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. “In our time together that day,” says Pastor Ginny, “we will share stories, explore scripture, learn from other faith traditions about practices that are helpful in these seasons and enjoy food and fellowship.”

“Please pray for this event! Ask God to guide and bless you and me as we
ponder our responses to uncertainty and how our faith in Christ can sustain us in
these and all times. I look forward to seeing you there.”

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Art Against Racism

 

Visual artists of all ages – you are invited to submit your work to “Art Against Racism: Princeton and Beyond,” a project in which PrincetonUMC will participate. Co-sponsored by the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice and Create Core Courage, this venture hopes to be a  platform to facilitate an ongoing exponential movement for social change.

The art could depict any aspect of racism, social justice, inclusion, equity, or anti-racism. It could focus on education, immigration, politics, culture, or LGBTQ concerns. The deadline is August 25 to submit photos of your work to artagainstracism@gmail.com. Consult the website of Create Core Courage for details.

It’s an exciting opportunity for PrincetonUMC. Some of the art will be on display in the Sanford Davis Room from September 20 to 30 and Princeton UMC will host a breakfast on September 22. Contact Pastor Ginny for information about hosting the exhibit or helping with the breakfast.

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Sermon “Ages and Stages:Your Children and Your Children’s Children”

On Sunday, July 28, 2019, Pastor Jennifer Smith-Walz preached on the topic “Your Children and Children’s Children” from the sermon series “Ages and Stages.” Her sermon is based on the Scripture reading from Deuteronomy 6: 1-9.

Who helped you find faith? Who helped you to know how much God loves you by showing you how much they loved you. Who are those people that helped you to understand how to love God and others by showing you how they loved God and others? I invite you to give thanks to them now.

In Deuteronomy 6, the Scripture tells us, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” We all know this passage. Out of it come guiding principles and Christian practices that we all believe in and follow. This passage breathes with life and faith and spirit.

Jesus said the greatest commandment of all, is to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus is speaking to the community family of families. We are responsible for the children of the whole community and not just our own biological family. I urge you to keep these words in your hearts, recite them and talk about them to your children and grandchildren at home and others away from home to share this faith with them. We are also a model of hope for others around us, including our church family.

Some of you have different concerns for your children and grandchildren, particularly trouble or problems your loved ones are facing. The general desire is for our young people to have grown up in the faith. Grab onto one thing today and apply to your life or situation. Because challenges, suicides, world problems, and bullying will happen. But God is with us. He has endowed us with resilience, trust, and forgiveness. Don’t wait until your faith is where you want it to be. Start now and take the challenge to grow into the model you want to be. Good Christian practices include Loving God, loving our neighbor, showing grace, vulnerability, and forgiveness.

We are models of faith for others around us. Who are your models? It can be your parents, grandparents, and another adult from the church. These three groups are the most significant and have a lot of power for good or bad. It goes beyond just good behavior, and sometimes we forget the falls and the failures. We are therefore invited to pay attention to our spiritual development, to our practices of loving God and others. We must create a prioritized space in our lives where we are gathering, praying, and studying the Scripture with other Christians. 

Here is the link to the podcast of Pastor Jenny’s July 28 sermon.

Here is the link for the video of the July 28 service, found on Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page

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Learning about Uncertainty as a Spiritual Discipline

Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which you do not know what to do? Have
you ever been puzzled as to which way to turn or how to respond to things that arise?
Have you ever felt overwhelmed, or anxious or lost because you just don’t know how
things will turn out?

If you said “yes” to any of these things, know that you are not alone, says Pastor Ginny Cetuk. She will lead a retreat at PrincetonUMC, entitled “Uncertainty as a Spiritual Discipline” on Saturday, August 24, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Part of the human experience is facing times of uncertainty,” she says. “All of us will have experiences that we didn’t expect to have; we have losses of multiple kinds in our lives that leave us uncertain about how to proceed; and all of us will have times when we even question God when the future suddenly is changed in ways we did not anticipate.”

In our time together that day, we will share stories, explore scripture, learn from other faith traditions about practices that are helpful in these seasons, and enjoy food and fellowship. Everyone is welcome.

 

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Sermon “Ages and Stages: Growing Up in Faith”

On Sunday, July 21, 2019, Pastor Jennifer Smith-Walz preached on the topic “Growing Up in Faith” from the sermon series “Ages and Stages.” Her sermon is based on the scripture reading from 1 Corinthians 13: 8-12. 

 

When has your life been disrupted or thrown off course? When have you fallen or failed, or hit a wall, in a way that you couldn’t keep on living your life the same way that you had been doing before? Maybe it was a time when you knew that you needed to run away quickly from the trouble in which you found yourself. When have you hit rock bottom? Maybe it was a time like Moses, when you were in fear and rage came welling up. Maybe your experience was something like David’s when your whole world came crashing down around you when you felt you had overstepped the bounds. Maybe there was even adultery and getting people in your way out of the way.

Maybe it was more like Job when you suffered a severe loss of everything you held dear. Perhaps it was like that of Peter. Walking on water with Jesus, only to find yourself plunging into the bottom of the sea. Maybe you were thrown to the ground like Paul, who was on a crusade to make the world a better place. Or was it like that of the prodigal son who found himself in a pigpen?  Or the older brother doing it right all along yet finding himself staying outside the party? Some have even suffered divorce, bankruptcy, and addiction.

This idea came from a survey I sent out in May asking for your response. Over half of the respondents expressed concerns for children and grandchildren and longing for intergenerational connection, not just within one age group or another. However, failure is crucial in our life of faith and being a mature Christian. Just like child growth and development, our faith has direction and movement – a trajectory. Life is going to present us with failures all around, no matter how hard we try. I grew up thinking that we were supposed to be perfect, and we could avoid failure and squash imperfections.  It turns out we are likely to stay on the path we are already on, even if we are going nowhere. Unless, of course, we have help and encouragement.

Many philosophers from Carl Jung, to Erik Erickson, to James Fowler, to John Wesley have written about the stages that we go through as human beings seeking a more mature life. But the person I’m going to be most indebted to today is Richard Rohr who stated that the spiritual life explains how we can very quickly get lazy and stuck in our path if we don’t have other people or other experiences that are helping us to move along this path. And Rohr uses an image that is called the ‘Two Halves of Life.’ Both ‘Halves’ are essential, and we cannot skip over the second ‘Half.’  Wherever you are in your faith journey or maturity is excellent.  You should celebrate and allow room for growth. 

But what happens is that immature leaders rise and immature groups keep our systems moving in these ways. What we need is a group of people, family, church communities, other communities that help us to see ourselves for who we are and help us to see something of who we can become and for this we need people who are further along on their journey than we are. Still, we require experiences of falling and failing as well as that community of people that can help us, when that happens, to see that there is something beyond that. Someone especially who can help us move from that deep dark place?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul presents this picture of love that is extraordinary and way beyond any one’s grasp, the kind of love that only God embodies. He is holding up a mirror to us showing us what we look like and opening a window into what God is doing in us and for us, saying “You are a beloved child of God and more.” Can you draw an image of what is your trajectory of faith and life and love? Can you feel God’s love interwoven into all of it even at the very worst time of your life? Then I invite you to name wise men around you, the elders in your life who have to help you see where your life is going to go – where you are being invited by God to go. 

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“Smartphone Tips and Tricks: How to Connect with Family, Friends – and God”

Our cell phone can be a discipleship tool!  

Join Robin Birkel, Chair of PUMC Communications Committee for 

“Smartphone Tips & Tricks: How to connect with family, friends – and God” 

Sunday, July 14  from 11:30 to 12: 30

Sunday, August 11  from  11:30 to 12: 30

Location:  Friendship Hall, PUMC

PUMC Members and visitors are welcome to attend this workshop. The goal is to encourage low-tech members to access available social media as well as recruit/train more experienced people for video and social media tasks.

Princeton United Methodist Church Building

 

 

 

 

 

 

➡️    Learn tips to get the most out of our smartphone

➡️    Learn how to stay connected to PUMC on facebook

➡️    Learn how to follow a blog post

➡️    Learn how to access our sermon podcasts

➡️    Understand our church’s website

➡️    Learn how to take compelling photos and videos with our smartphone

➡️    Ask our experts questions.

Learning THESE will make our life SO much easier. 

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Sermon: “Come Holy Spirit!: Make Us Fruitful”

On Sunday, June 30, 2019, Pastor Jennifer Smith-Walz preached on the topic “Make Us Fruitful” from the sermon series “Come Holy Spirit.” Her sermon is based on the scripture reading from Galatians 5:1, 13-25. 

For Freedom, Christ has set us free, so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom. How appropriate this is on the 4th of July. Freedom is our current culture. Many grew up in the US, far removed from the experience of foreign rule or political oppression. Yet still, they grapple in some way with concepts, experiences – freedom and bondage; many terms – political, economic, religious, psychological, spiritual, physical. We can also be held captive by loneliness, addiction, abusive relationship, fear, bitterness, jealousy, our own pursuits, disordered passions, sin, selfishness, pride, subtle avoidance, or isolation. 

Paul says, “Christ has set us free! We are no longer bound, or captive. If we ever moved from captivity to freedom, liberation is a process, a limited space in the wilderness. For what then are we freed?  Paul says very clearly: “Freed for love.” Deep, sacrificial, radical, messy love.

Now, the Galatians were a young congregation of new Christians. They were embroiled in debates and infighting, which are outward signs of inward enslavement. Biting and devouring one another through jealousy, strife, discord, factions, and widespread envy.  Have you been to places like this? Maybe, even at Church. This was a different way, which doesn’t make sense of the conventional ideas of freedom or freedom in Christ. This was doing what we want, the way we want, and when we want. This was one of fierce independence, such as freedom from attachment or obligation. 

Freedom in Christ frees space in us to let the Holy Spirit in. It reorders our passions, attachments, and desires and moves us from the realm of being self-serving to focusing on others. It engages us in a call to love – not from a distance, not on the surface, not part-time, but to know how much we need Christ and others. This kind of love shown by Christ and taught by Paul requires deep bonds and attachments with others and God. This may not make sense to our modern sensibilities, especially in our self-centered world.

This is why the Church exists. Religion comes from the Latin word ‘Ligare’ which means ‘to bind together’ – with God and others. We must invest ourselves deeply in God and one another. Feeding and being fed. Not at arm’s length but up close. It can be risky, hard, counter-cultural, even vulnerable to let others love us, knowing that we won’t do this perfectly. Churches indeed bring out the best and worst of people. Yet, I have great hope for the Church and the way it could be, even if this depth of love is elusive, even if there are seeds of a rift that lead to a gorge, distance, and friction. But I have also seen people that have enormous patience, kindness, generosity, and faithfulness. This could only be borne by the Holy Spirit, which makes one want more, bond more deeply and see God and Christ more dearly in one another, in love, in a relationship. 

Brothers and sisters, Christ sets us free in faith and trust. The Holy Spirit produces fruits in us to know Christ more.  Let us open ourselves to the Holy Spirit and trust that we are free. Look around!  How is the Holy Spirit making you fruitful? How is the Holy Spirit freeing you to love and be loved? 

The sermon is podcast on this webpage under the category “worship.” Here is the link

For the complete video of the June 30 service, found on Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page, click here.

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Sermon “Come Holy Spirit: Make us One”

On  Sunday, June 23, 2019, Pastor Skitch Matson preached a sermon entitled “Make Us One,” from the sermon series “Come Holy Spirit” and based on the scripture reading from  Galatians 3:23-29.  His sermon was a meditation on being united in Christ as one through faith.  . . . Enhancing the theme of universal equality.

Pastor Stitch explained that most often when the Apostle Paul wrote to a church or churches in an area, he began his letters with cheering on the faith of the community. He was their pastor and wanted to celebrate what God was doing in their lives and spur them on to continue in faithfulness as we see in 1 Corinthians 1:4 and Philippians 1:3. 

Paul cares for his congregations like a parent, like a mentor, like a… A Pastor – he loves them dearly; he prays for them often, he celebrates them… and he corrects them…  In Galatians, correction is a focal point. From what we can gather of the letter, there has been a group of “Jesus Followers” who have told the community in Galatia that while Jesus may love them, they need “to be like Jews” to really be loved and share in the Blessings of God. And, from what we can tell, that’s what they did. And then Paul, the Parent, the Mentor, the Pastor, writes them a letter. The opening lines do not contain the healthy love we see in other messages. In Galatians 1:6,  he tells them, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ, and you are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another gospel… if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed.” Everyone listens to his words, feeling the sting of them. Even we hear them! He’s frustrated.  But we kind of understand, too… sometimes, we’re just like Paul. At times, we believe that yelling is the only way to be heard when something is deeply wrong. But by the time we get to Chapter 3: Paul is pleading. . .  In verses 25-28, he encourages them: “But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to the Law, for, in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ, have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

It’s a plea. It’s a plea to go back to the roots, to go back to the simple and profound faith we profess – that in Christ Jesus we are all Children, we are all beloved by God; we are all equal in status. The Grace of God breaks down the barriers and hierarchies we have created in this world that separate us into powerful and powerless, insiders, and outsiders. Grace unites us. Christ has brought us new life. Christ has united us together. Christ went to the farthest reaches of society to include people, as they were. Beggars, Paralytics, Outcasts. Jesus loved them where they were. Jesus loves where we are. In our begging. In our paralysis. When we’ve been outcast. And in him, we are brought together, United as One, to be the Body of Christ for the world.

In his fascinating personal story that happened during a rainstorm, we learn how Pastor Skitch came to believe that the rain water had united him and the people caught in the storm: “Our baptism in the waters of the storm knit us into one body.  We each had needs that guided us to this grocery store, we each had our shopping lists, but the Water on our clothes reminded us of our interconnectedness. It gave us all a shared identity ” Paul is calling us to look through the lens of the Baptism of Christ to see one another. It’s a unifying of us all, first, to Christ.

I wonder what the identifiers are that ring in your head, being used to keep you down: Too Young; Too Old; Divorced; Barren; Single; Widowed; Gay; Just a Woman; Not-from-around-here; Poor; disabled… different.

In Baptism, We are inspired by the claims, by the symbolism, by the action – that God loves us not because of anything we’ve done but because of WHO God is. That as God knows the things we wrestle with internally, how our identities have been named for us to keep us down, that God could call us Beloved Children of the Most High God. 

Hear God’s plea calling to you today, and every day. When the next rainstorm hits us with a double portion of God’s grace, let it be a reminder to see yourself as Jesus sees you. To see others as Jesus sees them. To let God’s love pour over you. For we are no longer separated, but United in Christ, BY Christ, to be ONE.

Thanks be to God.

The sermon is podcast on this webpage under the category “worship.” Here is the link

For the complete video of the June 23 service, found on Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page, click here.

 

 

 

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