I frequently mention that I am a Christian. My faith is very important to me and seems to be becoming more important as I age. I’m told this is normal- perhaps making this the first normal thing about me- ha. Anyway, this post is entirely about my faith, so if you are not comfortable with that I respect that, and I will see you next week.
In March of 2016 I made the decision to join the United Methodist Church, having been Missouri Synod Lutheran my entire life up until that point. This was not a decision taken lightly. I spent a great deal of time in thought and prayer. I knew that I have family members and friends who would not be pleased with my decision, and that certainly weighed on my mind. I told the pastor when I started instruction at the local Methodist church that I might not finish, or that I might finish and decide not to join. She was gracious and understanding, for which I will always be grateful. And when the time came, and I decided to join the local Methodist congregation, she asked twice if I was sure. And I was. And I am.
I’ve been asked quite a few times why I made the change.
The simplest answer is my husband. He was raised Methodist and wanted to rejoin that church, and I joined with him. While that certainly is the truth, it’s not the whole truth.
The best answer is “joy”. The joy of the Lord. The joy of being a child of God. The joy that God himself tells us to revel in! In 1 Thessalonians we read “Rejoice always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances”. In Philippians “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice!” The Psalms, and the entire Bible itself, is full of commands to be glad in the Lord. Yes, we are all sinners, but Jesus Christ has already won us the victory! We should be thrilled beyond measure every day over this glorious news! Perhaps because of their German heritage, Lutherans aren’t too big on outward displays of joy during worship. I once had a pastor who spent several years trying to convince his flock laughing in church was OK. Pastor Griffin- I hope you succeeded!
I love the practical outreach that the UMC does. I personally help out at our “clean up closet” which is like a food pantry, but for personal care items such as laundry detergent, shampoo and toilet paper. Things we all need, but can’t be purchased with food stamps. My congregation also does community meals, reads to kids at the local elementary school, is a drop off spot for the local food pantry, etc, etc. Serving others joyfully is a beautiful thing and is a great way to engage others to go about sharing the good news of Jesus.
Don’t take me wrong. I have nothing but love and gratitude for the LCMS. My entire family is still Lutheran after all! I am grateful that I was born into a family with strong faith who raised my sister and I in the church. I am grateful for the wonderful pastors I had who prayed with me in times of happiness and times of struggle. I am grateful for the wonderful people I met in the various congregations I was a member of over the years.
But for me, at this place in my life, this was a change that made sense. I feel I am where the Lord wants me to be. I feel joyful and peaceful, yet renewed and excited about the Lord all at the same time. And that is why I am now a Methodist.