Fishers UMC Blog

"When are you going to call me Steve?"

I still remember this conversation. I remember where it happened, what was going on, it was a day my relationship with Steve changed. When I was a freshman in college Steve was Professor Hertzog, the man who taught religious history for a one hour class three times a week. In my freshman year, that's pretty much all he was to me, the guy I saw every couple of days up front talking at me. Outside of occasionally raising my hand I had no interaction with him.


The question above happened almost four years later. I was a month from graduating but I still called him Professor Hertzog around people, Pastor Steve when with friends. In the past four years we had moved beyond a professor/student relationship. I had taken more classes with him, participated in school activities, but also had dinner with him and his family, helped him in classes, he became my faculty adviser, when potential churches called my college he talked with me about it, we had some hard conversations about friends and ministry, I even went on a mission trip to Africa with him. And now, just before graduation when our roles would be officially changing (I would no longer be a student) he was really asking for a change in the relationship too.

I was reminded of this in my readings for Advent this past year. I read through a series of sermons by St. Bernard from almost 1,000 years ago. It was interesting seeing the birth of Christ from a much different perspective than our current American twenty-first century worldview. And in it he mentioned how Jesus changes our relationship with God.

In the Old Testament we are seen as God's children. In the New Testament we are seen as the Bride of Christ. Our relationship with our children is much different than our relationship with our spouse (hopefully). The people of the Old Testament followed rules and order and viewed God as someone almost aloof who could only be talked to through a priest, much like a child sees a parent. But in the New Testament it was less about the rules and more about the relationship, being able to talk directly to God, His Holy Spirit being with us and an active part of our everyday lives. Because our roles changed our relationship changed.

This is the heart of Easter. A change in relationship. We are no longer held captive by sin but can be forgiven so we can have a new relationship with God, a direct one that allows us to see His love more fully. I pray this Easter season we would all take advantage of that, see Jesus in a new light, live into our new roles with a wonderful new relationship with Him. Don't settle for less, be the Bride of Christ this Easter season.

Troy Richards
Director of Sr. High Student Ministries & Modern Worship

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Reflections from year one

As I write this I am nearing the one year anniversary of my commissioning as a Deacon in the United Methodist Church.  Serving both in a church and as a counselor, something has become abundantly clear to me:  people are dealing with difficult things all the time, all around us, every day.  One of the things I love about my work is getting to hear peoples’ stories.  As I listen to the painful struggles people share with me, I can’t help but think about all the people they encounter every day who have no idea what they are going through and therefore don’t know they need a little extra compassion.

We humans tend to be compassionate and supportive when others are struggling, but what about those times we don’t know about the struggle?  That less than cheery cashier may have just gotten an eviction notice; the guy who cut you off in traffic may be racing to the hospital after getting one of those calls we all fear.  We just cannot know all the stuff in people’s lives.  If we cannot know the struggles of the grouchy cashier or the hurried driver, how can we know when to show extra patience?

I am reminded of the fruit of the Spirit.  The “fruit” is a list of several qualities a person should exhibit when the Holy Spirit lives in them (i.e. Christians).  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal 5:22)  When I read this verse I can’t help but notice the “fruit” isn’t about what is going on around me, it is supposed to come from within me.  In other words; my reaction to the grumpy cashier is about me – not her.  Ouch!

When I fail to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle or demonstrate self-control I let myself get in the way of the Spirit who lives in me.  I also lose an opportunity to shine a light in someone’s darkness.  I lose an opportunity to show another what the Spirit looks like, feels like, and how it changes a person.  I lose an opportunity to tell the story of Jesus.

So the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, consider the possibilities of why they might be in such a hurry and say a prayer for them that they arrive safely.  When a server or cashier seems less than friendly ask him or her about their day, or give them a compliment.  When we have the Spirit, we have the “fruit.”  We just have to get ourselves out of the way.

Jill Buckler
Director Of Congregational Relations

 

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