Pastor Mark Graham Date: January 16, 2022
CHANNEL 13 BROADCASTS have resumed. Join us at
9am, 11:30am, and again at 1:30pm and 3pm on Channel 13 each Sunday.
THE AWAKENING SERVICE is every Sunday, 11:30am in
ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL is meeting Sundays, 10:30am in Price Lounge.
CHILDREN’S SUNDAY SCHOOL is every Sunday,10:30am in
THE POTTER’S HELPERS MEN’S GROUP meet the 2nd & 4th
Thursdays of the month at 6pm in Jonah Room, weather permitting. Don Hendrick will
text members if the group WILL meet.
THE CHURCH ELEVATOR is still out of order. We have obtained legal
assistance to help reach a resolution. We appreciate your patience and
understanding as we work through this issue.
M&M’s will meet the 3rd Monday
of each month at 2 p.m., in Fellowship Hall.
We invite all to come with inspiration and enthusiasm!
SARAH CIRCLE (UMW) will
NOT meet in January or February 2022.
COMMUNION SERVERS NEEDED if you are interested
in assisting as a communion server, please contact Dennis Diericks, or call the
MORNING BIBLE STUDY
will be taking a break until Jan 25th. Once they resume, meetings
will be at 9:30 am, in Price Lounge.
HELPERS FOR SENIORS NEEDED
- We have a few senior members of our congregation who are looking for
assistance with grocery shopping, running errands, meal preparation and just
looking for some company throughout the week. If you are interested in helping,
please let the church office know.
ARMY STORE VOLUNTEERS are needed. Whether you would like to work with customers or behind
the scenes, consider volunteering a few hours of your time a week to this
important community service organization.
IT ARTICLES - Please
turn IT articles & notices in by 2 pm Wednesdays.
MAILED “IT NEWSLETTERS” - Those who receive our weekly IT via the
mail: If you no longer wish
to receive the IT by mail, please let our church office know.
UN-DECORATING the CHURCH of our CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS will be Saturday, January
15th, at 9:30 am. Any &
all help will be very appreciated.
Contact Sally Senteney / Worship Team Chair for questions.
COMMUNITY PRAYER MEETING - January 22nd,
2:00pm, is being held this month at the House of Prayer, one block west of our
church (old Furniture
Country Building).Please come
pray for our community. Contact Theresa
Yarger for questions at:
email@example.com or by text or phone at 309-945-5820.
THANK YOU – The family of Jean Orr would like to thank all who sent
cards and assisted with the luncheon following her services. The outpouring of
love from our Church Family was greatly appreciated.
A WARM WELCOME
to Pastor Mark Graham & his wife
Melva England! Please
pray for them as they begin this next chapter of their ministry.
Upcoming Saturday Night Worship Schedule
You are invited to join us in the Chapel, at 5:30pm each
Saturday, January 15th - Linda Bolls
Saturday, January 22nd - Donna Boardman
Saturday, January 29th - Heather Bauer
Saturday, February 5th - Pastor Mark Graham
(Reminder: if you have
events to add to the community calendar, please e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org)
First UMC Prayer List & Prayer Community
Our prayer list for the
week: E mail or call us with updates and requests.
You, God!!! WE praise your Holy &
a God that never leaves us or forsakes us!!!
- BJ Rowlison’s good test results. Thank you, Jesus!
- For Pastor Mark Graham, our interim pastor,
Jan 1, 2022 – Jun 30, 2022. Praise God!
in your mercy, hear our prayers…
for our country to seek justice for ALL…
workers; love, safety, service, and care (theirs & their families).
- Heidi Shimmin as she continues to be
monitored after Cancer treatment
- Everly (three-year-old great-niece of Rich
& Kelli Murphy) is currently in maintenance treatment for Leukemia.
- Dan Fairbanks has been on dialysis for 3-3 ½
years now and in need of a kidney transplant.
Lehman and wife Gladys as Lee undergoes cancer treatments.
- All who
struggle with severe anxiety/depression.
- Family & friends with addictions.
- Prayers for our service men and women.
prayer for a family in crisis.
around the church.
Prayers for a
loved one dealing with health problems.
daughter, Tina, who is recovering from Covid complications.
Phyllis Wiedle –
recovering from a fall.
Reighan Barry – 8
yrs old, Mitzi Nanninga’s granddaughter, who has been diagnosed with B-cell
lymphoblastic lymphoma leukemia.
Pray for the new
pastor God will send next July to serve at our church.
Pray for the
church, Kewanee First UMC and Christ’s church universal.
her Family & Friends as they mourn the loss of Willard.
Dave & Martha
Pastor Leon, Pastor
Bill & Pastor John.
Heather Bauer -
Karyl Schieler -
recovering from a fall.
- The friends and family of Jean Orr
who has multiple broken ribs (Judy Johnson’s nephew).
Rev Amy Holman’s
family as she went to be with her Lord this week.
Ralph Senteney – is
home now, recovering from hip surgery.
VanWassenhove, for health problems.
Cheryl Hendrick. Please lift Cheryl up in prayer for health
Janis Mahan –
Jane Button – Health problems.
Damien Morales – Linda Bolls & Don Billiet’s great-nephew, who is age
20, with a compromised immune system & now has COVID.
Cancer: Reighan, Everly, Heidi, Drew,
Harley, Janet, Lee, Nancy, Ralph, Brian (BJ), Pastor Bob Herath, Tom, Pastor
Amy Holman, those fighting cancer who wish to remain anonymous.
The many who
have been afflicted with COVID-19.
Those who grieve: Coronavirus losses, other
deaths, lost freedom, jobs, income,
routines, social health…
Lord, in your mercy, hear
our prayers ….
Greetings from Pastor
The first Sunday here
there was a major snowstorm, and the second Sunday was ice… and along with the
weather, we are still confronted with COVID that is persistent but we hope is
soon to wind down. These challenges have
made it difficult to get acquainted with you and for me to become familiar with
the routines and valued traditions of First United Methodist Church. For those who attempted to worship online and
on the broadcast yesterday, I apologize for the delay and for my rather bumpy
start with FaceBook Live from home. We
eventually got there and I wish I could blame the delay on technical
difficulties but I think most of it was human error – mine. You have a wonderful staff, very patient, and
very helpful to me, and very determined to bring you the good news of Jesus
Christ, whenever and however we can. I
praise God for this very skilled staff you have in place and all their hard
work behind the scenes to keep us connected and to keep the congregation safe
during these very challenging times. I
also want to extend my gratitude to Chris and Carrie Gillespie for their warm
welcome and all they do to take care of our youth and take care of the church
facilities. I pray for good health for
Chris and improved health for Carrie as she endures COVID and continues her
treatment for cancer. I also lift up in
Linda Orr who is
recovering from COVID at home this week and has continued to work the whole
time while dealing with flu-like symptoms from COVID. You might say it has been a rocky start to
2022 but in spite of the challenges that have come our way, we have seen God at
work to keep us praying and to keep us close to Jesus Christ. That is my prayer for all of you as we begin
this new year… that we will stay close to Jesus and lean on him and trust him
that He always has our best interests at heart and he will come through with
love and joy and victory.
– Pastor Mark
Last Week’s Sermon
I am celebrating Epiphany, a few days late,. It falls, every year, on January
6. The celebration of Epiphany is
connected with the appearance of a star in the sky over Bethlehem marking the
time and place where and when Jesus was born.
Among people of every age in human history it has been our practice to
observe the night sky. These days,
astronomers observe the sky with high powered telescopes and satellites to
discover the vastness and origins of the universe.
the ancients observed the position of the stars which they interpreted as signs
from the gods – according to their beliefs, signs of favor, of good things to
come, a bountiful harvest, success in battle, and the birth of kings and
queens, kings and queens born to rule with justice and mercy, royalty that
would bring prosperity throughout their kingdom. There were wise sages known as Magi that
spent their days and nights observing the stars. When Jesus was born there was a religion that
emerged from Persia called Zorastrianism that go all the way back to Daniel. You may recall the story when the Magi could
not interpret the king’s dream. The king threatened to have them all killed
unless someone could interpret the king’s dream. They called on Daniel to help and he was able
to interpret the king’s dream and the Magi were spared. These magi were the
ancestors of the Magi who visited Jesus. If Daniel had not saved them, the
descendants would not have been there to bring gifts to Jesus and bring news to
Gentiles that we Gentiles are also included in the saving work of Jesus Christ. The Magi were known for looking for signs in
the sky and they observed this bright star over Bethlehem. They believed that it marked the place where
a great king would be born. Maybe you
have gone to a planetarium during Christmas and have seen a program on the
Bethlehem star. I know we did and it was very interesting. The presenter gave this explanation on how a
cluster of stars and planets most likely all lined up together and looked like
one bright star. This is a very rare
occurrence but as they trace back the position of the stars over the last 2000
years, yes, the timing was right for
this cluster of stars and planets to be observable in the night sky when Jesus
was born. These Magi made the journey.
They came to Jerusalem, the heart of Judea and Israel and assumed that a king
would be born in a palace. They went to the palace of King Herod to ask where
they could find this King. Herod checked
with his own scribes and historians about the birth of this baby and they told
him the scriptures prophecy that the King will be born in Bethlehem which was
like a suburb of Jerusalem, about 7 miles away.
The Magi continued their journey, they followed the light of the star
and it led them to Bethlehem to the place where Mary and Joseph and Jesus were
staying. They worshipped him and they gave him gifts. After seeing Jesus, they were warned in a
dream not to go back to King Herod, so they returned home another way.
word used to describe the experience of the wise men is epiphany, which, by
definition, is an experience of a sudden and striking realization. It is the unveiling of a truth, a revelation
of something that was a mystery, it’s a breakthrough, a coming to know
something that was not known before. You
might have heard the expression, “it was like a light went on”, that’s
epiphany. This was the experience of the
magi. They followed the light of the
star, and it brought them to Jesus, the light of the world, and they went home
a different way because they were changed by their experience of beholding
Jesus with their own eyes and would never be the same again.
do not know much about Jesus early years or even much about his first years in
adulthood. He grew up in Joseph’s
home. We assume that Jesus took on the
trade of Joseph – the trade of a craftsman, a tekton, a master craftsman that
worked with the resources he had available, stone and wood.
would like to fast-ward to the beginning of Jesus public ministry, when Jesus
was baptized. He’s in the crowd, among
those being baptized by John. John calls people to repentance and then baptizes
them for the forgiveness of their sins.
Jesus hears John’s words and Jesus steps up and is baptized by
John. Jesus, the Son of God, God
incarnate, God with us, does three
things here that we would not expect or think necessary for the Son of God to
do, namely, to step forward as an act of
repentance, to receive forgiveness for sin, and be baptized. Why? Why did Jesus choose to be baptized?
want to spend a little time unpacking this, looking at what it means for Jesus
to repent, why Jesus decided he needed to be forgiven, and what baptism meant
for Jesus as well as what baptism means for us.
John the Baptist came proclaiming a
message of repentance. Why would Jesus,
Son of God, perfect person need to repent?
To repent is to change your life, to change from living a self-centered
life, that neglects the poor and vulnerable, and take on a whole new way of
living that focuses on justice and fairness and care of the widow, the orphan,
and the refugee.
church people speak of repentance, it seems that we emphasize being convicted
of our sin – we realize that we’ve done some bad things, we have regrets, we
feel guilty, so we take it all to God as an act of repentance; we ask for
forgiveness, we accept Jesus into our lives and we stop there thinking we’ve
got it all taken care of. We did the
right thing, we are freed from our guilt, we prayed the prayer so we’re good,
good with God, and heaven-bound. We’ve got repentance all wrapped up. But that’s not what repentance is…It might be
the start, realizing that something is off, and that I need to change. It’s where I started… I accepted Jesus into
my heart several times; convinced every time that this is the one, I got it
right this time. But when I look at my
lifestyle… still selfish, still lustful, still caught up in taking care of me
and my own; I tend to follow Jesus on good intentions interspersed with
experiences of guilt and regret and praying again and thinking I got it right
this time. After the 3rd or 4th time of giving my life to Jesus, I remember
hearing the scripture, what Jesus says to his disciples, Lo I am with you
always, to the end of the age and I understood that to mean that he would never
leave me or forsake me… Epiphany – it was like a light went on, that once I ask
Jesus in, he’s here to stay and I had peace about that. The repentance that Jesus and John and the
prophets were all talking about was a change of heart, mind, and life from
being “me”-centered to becoming “other” centered, moving from my well-being to
focusing on the well-being of the poor, the orphan, the widow, the refugee, not
as an afterthought, but first, as an expression of my faith in God.
But why would Jesus through the act of
Baptism, need to receive forgiveness for his sins, if, if He is God with us, if
He is perfect, without sin?
took seriously that he is one of us, and he is one with us. He did not count himself better than anyone
else, he took the sins of the world upon himself, first in baptism and then on
the cross, he took on all the sins of the world, all the hate and greed and
injustice, and fear, he saw himself as one with sinners, he saw himself as one
with the most broken, vulnerable, despicable, shunned people on the planet. The self-righteous people saw Jesus as a
glutton and a drunkard; that didn’t matter to Jesus because Jesus is one with
us, one with the worst of us, one with the worst in us, one with all, so that
all can be redeemed; he counts himself as one with sinners, even the
self-righteous, even the hypocrite, even you and me. Following Jesus begins here… begins with
seeing ourselves as sinners, seeing ourselves as one with everybody else, no better, no worse. Just the same. And just as loved and just as precious to God
as everyone else.
Why did Jesus insist on being baptized
by John? In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus
appears before John at the River Jordan to be baptized. Here’s their conversation. John says, “I need
to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it
be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all
righteousness.” (Matthew 3:14-15.) Jesus insisted on John’s baptism to fulfill
all righteousness. Baptism is a symbol,
it is an outward expression of God welcoming us into God’s family. We belong.
Baptism has been described in this way:
“It is an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace. We
are forgiven, we are washed clean, and we are initiated into the family of
God. Our tradition in the United
Methodist Church is that you can be baptized at any age even infants can be
baptized because it’s not what we do but what God does in us to include us in
God’s family as God’s precious children and God doesn’t want to leave anyone
When Jesus was baptized by John in the Gospel of
Matthew it says 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water.
At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like
a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son,
whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Jesus’ baptism is an experience of
his baptism, he reveals to us that he is God’s son and God’s beloved. And he
shows us that God is a loving Father, a loving parent. When a child, a youth, an adult is baptized
we get to celebrate what has always been true …you are God’s child, you are
God’s beloved, not because of anything you do, but because of what God does
is an expression of God’s righteousness.
Jesus’ baptism at the beginning of his ministry and Jesus’ death on the
cross at the end of his ministry, reveal to us the fulness of God’s
righteousness and love, God making right all that’s gone wrong, making us right
with God once and for all. Epiphany – the truth revealed, God’s nature revealed
to us in Jesus.
we are baptized as infants or later in life, whether we had no choice in being
baptized, or the decision was entirely up to us, God’s love is constant, God’s
love is unconditional. One of my best
friends at church Pat was not baptized as an infant. His parents decided that they were going to
hold off, let Pat decide when he was older if he wanted to be baptized or
not. And he decided yes, when he was a
freshman in high school that he wanted to be baptized and that he wanted to be
immersed; immersion means your whole
body head to toe goes under the water when you’re baptized.
the United Methodist Church the way we baptize people most frequently has been
to place water on the person’s head by sprinkling or pouring but we also have
immersion as one of the ways a person can be baptized Pat was baptized by
immersion and it was a wonderful, meaningful experience.
have no memory of my baptism by water as an infant, but I am just as baptized
as my friend Pat, because it’s not what I decide or what’s decided for me, it’s
what God decided when God became one of us in Jesus, and laid down his life for
us for the forgiveness of sin for us to be made right with God once and for
The place to start is where Jesus
started… for us to repent, to have a change of heart and mind to live for
others, to love others as we love ourselves. The place to start is where Jesus
started, he identified himself as a sinner.
We start with an understanding that we are one and the same with all
sinners, responsible for the sins of each other, responsible for the sins of
our ancestors, responsible for the sins of injustice and apathy and cowardice
and division. We start where Jesus
started to be baptized for all righteousness, to be baptized and to remember
and celebrate even what we can’t remember, that all sin is washed away all sin,
past present and future is washed away through Jesus so we can see ourselves
and see each other as God sees us as God’s beloved, God’s precious children.
You want to see how we can make the greatest impact on
our lives and the lives of those around us in this new year? It’s to accept this invitation, this
challenge… to start where Jesus started, to follow him. If we start where Jesus started and we keep
going, it’s going to change us for the good until all of us come to the unity
of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the
full stature of Christ. Let’s follow Jesus.
It’s not too late to start over.
It’s not too late to start. Amen.
by Dr. Charles Stanley via crosswalk.com
11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the
sick. 13 But go
and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come
to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:11-13 NIV
There is a common misconception
that believers should be perfect. Pretending to have our lives in order, many
of us wear happy faces and speak words that sound acceptable. At times we’re
ashamed to admit our shortcomings, as if they should not exist. Salvation
through Jesus, however, doesn’t change the fact that sin is present in our
life. When we’re born again, God forgives us and sees us as righteous. Yet
our battle with sin continues till we arrive in heaven.
In fact, striving
for perfection actually can be a trap that pulls us away from living a godly
life. Functioning in this way is a form of relying on our own capability. Jesus
said that He came to heal the spiritually sick because they recognized their
weakness. With an awareness of our inadequacy comes the realization of our need
The world sees
successful individuals as powerful and self-sufficient, but Jesus didn’t care
about these qualities. Instead, He wants people to be aware of their own
brokenness. This is the foundation for godliness.
We should accept our
neediness and seek God passionately. Doing so allows the following attributes
to develop: a hunger for God’s Word, faithful service, deepening trust, and
decision-making based upon principle rather than preference. Patiently and
mercifully, God matures us.
Be careful not to
cover up your sins in order to look like a “good Christian.” Without
recognition and confession of our sinfulness, we are unable to rely fully on
God. It is only with this awareness that we can passionately seek Him, obey in
His strength, and confess with repentance when we miss the mark.
May God keep you
firmly in the grip of His GRACE!!!