Ashley's Words

The ministries happening here at GUMC are incredible, and I am lucky to be a minor part in some of them.  I pray that my weekly blogs/letters help to let you know what is happening here and how you might join in with our ministries.  Blessings to you!

ACES Teacher Letter

November 24, 2019

Good Morning Teachers!

 

This past week at t.a.g., we spent most of the hour and a half packaging Tiger Packs after having a great discussion on ways that we can be (and are) engaged in ministry throughout our community.  At first, it seemed like a big disruption and inconvenience for this group—who loves coming for a lesson and fun, active game on Wednesday nights—that they would have to spend 45 minutes standing in a line putting food items into baggie after baggie.  But, as our discussion went on, and as they participated in the packaging, we realized a couple of things.

            -There is joy and a special source of fulfillment in doing good for someone other than yourself

Yes, Thanksgiving is a time to “give thanks,” but I would argue, more than anything, it is also a time to be giving with those thanks.  We are called to give thanks all the time—to be a thankful people, to praise God daily for all that we have been blessed with—so that we may be blessings to others.  Thanks-giving is the time when we say here are these blessings, you be blessed by them too…and in this act of giving, we find that we are, yet again, blessed richly.

            -Once you begin to see differently, you can never go back, you are forever seeing more and more

The famous “I was once…  was blind, but now I see…” from the song Amazing Grace is a perfect description of what we experience when we are given the gift of God’s eyes, God’s perspective for a moment in time.  We can never un-see, un-feel, un-notice all of that again.  Once you see hunger, injustice, hurt, loneliness,…whatever it might be…it remains with you and then you see it more and more—not necessarily because it’s happening more and more in your presence but you are now more aware of it and cannot help but see it…respond to it.

 

And, so, at the end of our hour and a half t.a.g. time, we had really not done any of the lesson I had written or set out to do, but we completed packaging all the Tiger Packs we had enough supplies for, found joy in the giving of our time and our abilities, come together to work as a group, and ended up with a whole bunch of new ideas on ways we could increase ministries to populations in need (and acknowledging ways we already are that we hadn’t known about).  It’s quite possible I felt fuller leaving the church that evening than I will leaving the table on Thanksgiving Day.

 

Limited Office Hours Next Week

Next week, I will be in the office on Monday only.  If you need anything, email me then or call/email the main office on Tuesday or Wednesday.  The main office will be closed Thursday and Friday of next week.  Enjoy your Thanksgiving holidays! 

 

No Wednesday Night Activities Next Week

We will not have Wednesday night activities—Blessed Community, choirs, t.a.g., Senior High, or studies—next week, Wednesday, November 27th.

 

Advent Family Devotionals

There will be Family Advent devotionals available starting on December 1st on the table under the large tv in the overflow.  While these were devotionals from a previous year, I loved the idea—they are a family picture that you color together and talk about devotions as you color!

 

This week, I’ll be with the Confirmation class for Faith Friend Sunday.  Let me know if you need anything before the ACES hour or grab Dime Dude.

 

In faith and love

Ashley

ACES Teacher Letter

November 3, 2019

Good Morning Teachers!

 

This week has been all about shared ministry and community, and not just church ministry.  This week has had so many of us going in opposite and all directions that we’ve had to lean on each other for help.  Help with worship visuals, help getting and running around kids, help running people to places they need to be, help sitting with people, help doing dishes/making dinner/going grocery shopping, and help covering each of our other needs when we were in the midst of life ministry.

 

I am a lone wolf.  I don’t tend to like to have to lean on people, reach out to people, or need people.  Sure, I like community, but I never really wanted to need community.  But ministry calls us to a life of community.  Not only because it is good for us but because we, at some point or another, will require it. 

 

Zach also reminded me of another part of community this week—a part that I don’t like to think about because it convicts me over and over and over again in my lone wolf status.  Maybe the reason that you are called to be in community right now, at this very moment, isn’t necessarily because you need it.  Maybe the reason that you are called to be actively engaged in community is because someone else needs you, and without you—you specifically—their life, their ministry, this world would be lacking, would be falling apart, would feel broken, etc.

 

This was also perfect ruminating for All Saint’s Sunday—a week when we celebrate the saints who have passed away and think about how we continue to honor their legacies by living their lessons and memories today and moving forward.

 

Intergenerational THIS WEEK!

This week’s Intergenerational will introduce Advent and the next Unit.  At first, when we were talking about the Christmas story, I was thinking how early it felt to already be jumping into all of this…and then we got snow…on Halloween!  So, we might as well go with it.  Plus, who doesn’t love to get the chance to actually spend some time to teach about the story of Jesus’ birth?

 

***One thing that we want to try to make sure to stress throughout this Unit.  If you make a craft—especially crafts that have to do with the theme of light or the characters in the nativity story—or if you create a liturgy or a special prayer or anything that can be read, we want to use them in worship on December 15th!  If you can keep your crafts in a separate room/place downstairs (or give them to me to keep separate) or send me whatever prayers or liturgies you create, the ACES leaders and I would love to create a worship service using these elements in our readings and our visuals.

 

Unit 2

I have sent the Unit 2 lessons to your inboxes along with this letter.  These will be sent as google doc links, but I am also printing off the Units as hard copies and putting them in your rooms along with the curriculum materials.  If there are other things you need—copies or other things ordered for crafts or materials—please feel free to let me know.  Just make sure to give me a couple weeks’ notice.

 

Cinnamon Roll Fundraiser

We’ve heard a lot of people asking…so we’re doing it again!  The youth are selling cinnamon and sticky pecan rolls (full and half pans).  There is more information on how to order in the bulletin or Friendship Center.  They’ll be baking November 15-16th.

 

GUMC Dinner Theatre

The Dinner Theatre tickets are now on sale in the office and around town.  It is sure to be a great show and dinner, as always, so get your tickets now!

 

In faith and love

Ashley

ACES Teacher Letter

October 27, 2019

Good Morning Teachers!

 

Last week, the Confirmation class attended worship with In Christ UMC in Iowa City.  This is one of the Korean UMC congregations found in the state of Iowa.  Because I don’t have a lot of room for these devotions, and I don’t like to share too much of our Confirmation experiences—I’d rather you all speak with the Confirmands—I’ll try to keep this short.  I was fighting back tears as one youth was nervous to play special music.  What I witnessed while he was struggling with nerves and inner emotions were two teachers calmly speaking with him, listening to him, offering him support as he worked through, at his own pace, what he needed to work through.  I witnessed the congregation offering him space, prayer, time, and a breadth and depth of understanding that astounded me.  It was beautiful and moving in so many ways.  As I said…I could barely keep myself together.  It is exactly what I strive to offer to students, what I know I fall short on, but what I pray to be and to do daily.

 

Unit 2

We are winding down our first Unit, The Beginning, of ACES this Sunday and kicking off Unit 2, Birth, next week.  I do currently have the curriculum for the next Unit in my office, but I am still finalizing the overarching Unit plans to give to you teachers.  The plan is to get those details firmed up this coming week and into your inboxes/classrooms this coming week.  The next Unit is two and a half months and includes our Children’s Christmas worship as one of our top moments, so it is quite an exciting, and intensive, Unit!  I can give you a brief run-down so you know what’s coming up:

 

The Advent theme for church and for the whole Unit is "A Season of Invitation"—how were the people in the Christmas story and now, how are we, invited to be a part of the story of God? 

11-3:  Intergenerational that outlines Unit 2 Advent & the Christmas story

11-10:  Luke 1:26-38 Mary's Story (story of interruption, how would that feel? are there any interruptions to our lives sometimes? how do we deal with that?)

11-17:  Luke 1:39-55 Mary & Elizabeth & the Magnificat (how was Mary feeling traveling to Elizabeth? how does Elizabeth help Mary? who are our Elizabeths? how can we be like Elizabeth for others? how can we offer joy and praise?)

11-24:  Matthew 1:18-24 Joseph (what do you think the angel looked like? what do you think happened in Joseph's dream? do you think it was easy for Joseph to trust the angel and God? how was Joseph like an angel for Mary? how can we be like angels for others?  Older youth will get into the interpretation of scripture as well.)

12-1:  Luke 2:8-20 Shepherds (even though shepherds were some of the lowest people of status at the time, they were the first to be told by angels of Jesus' birth and the were the ones who were tasked with spreading the news, we are part of those people--we are commoners/normal people told to share the news with the world)

12-8:  Animals @ the birth (this world-changing event was only witnessed by animals--and we don't even have documentation of what specific animals were there!; as small and insignificant as we think we are, God invites us into the tapestry of God's story to change the world in amazing and wonderful ways)

12-15:  Children's Christmas Worship Practice & 10:30 Worship

1-5:  Intergenerational focusing on what do you do with Christmas the rest of the year?

1-12:  Matthew 2:1-12 Epiphany (the magi were looking for a new kind of King to bring a new kind of kingdom to Earth--that's why they traveled so far and brought their gifts and worshiped Jesus; we are invited to seek a new kingdom on earth each day as well--living out God's Christmas call daily)

 

Cinnamon Roll Fundraiser

We’ve heard a lot of people asking…so we’re doing it again!  The youth are selling cinnamon and sticky pecan rolls (full and half pans).  There is more information on how to order in the bulletin or Friendship Center.  They’ll be baking November 15-16th.

 

All Saint’s Next Sunday

Each year on the first Sunday of November, we hold a special worship of to celebrate and remember the saints who are now “in the company of heaven.”  We invite you to next week’s worship to remember, reflect on the ways they’ve inspired, and to hopefully leave this worship blessed to live as those saints modeled to and for us.

 

In faith and love

Ashley

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