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Tag Archive | "Pastor Mary Ivanov"

On a journey


cs-united-methodistPastor Mary Ivanov

Cedar Springs United Methodist Church

140 S. Main St. • Cedar Springs, MI  49319

 

 

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” 

(Deuteronomy 31: 8, NIV)

 

My family is in a season of transition. We will move from Cedar Springs this summer and make our way to Muskegon, where I will serve as pastor of Lake Harbor United Methodist Church beginning in July. I never moved as a kid, and my parents still live in the house where I grew up. But, moving is much more common than it used to be. Many families move these days for many reasons: employment, family needs, financial reasons, and the list goes on.

Moving is tough. To leave behind what is known and comfortable is not easy.  I like routines. I like knowing what’s coming next. But I’m not surprised that one of the ways we describe our spiritual life is a journey. We are on a journey with God—stopping here and there, but never staying where we are. God calls us to growth and vitality in our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit guides us, many times to places that we never thought we’d go and serving in ways we never expected. Does this ring true for you?

Scripture is full of examples. The Israelites moved out of Egypt into the Promised Land on a long journey. Jesus was born after Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. Jesus’ life and ministry did not take place in one community, but he moved around, even going to places where no one else would go and encountering people who were eager to receive him.

So we’re on a journey with God, and the Good News is that God is faithful to walk with us. God never leaves us or forsakes us. I take great comfort in that promise even as I know that the time we invest in a community is important. I’ve been blessed to get to know many people in this community and be a part of their lives. My spouse and I are thankful for dedicated teachers and school employees who have been such a vital part of our children’s early years. We’ve been blessed to be a part of the congregation at CSUMC.

I’m grateful to be have been a part of the CS Ministerial Association for the last six years. This group has been joy-filled, life-giving, and faithful to God’s call to love God and love each other. I’m grateful for the commitment to find our unity in Jesus Christ and trust in the Holy Spirit to guide us. I appreciate the connection we have and the honest sharing and respect we have for one another.

I celebrate what God is doing in our community, and I’ll continue to pray for you as we journey with God. I love Paul’s words: I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1: 3-6, NIV).

If you don’t have a church home or have been away for a while, consider getting back to church or trying it out for the first time. I invite you to worship with us at 9:00 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. On May 25, we move one worship service at 10:00 a.m. We share the love and hope of Jesus Christ!

 

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Hearing the Prophets (Read Amos 5: 21-24)


cs-united-methodistPastor Mary Ivanov

Cedar Springs United Methodist Church

140 S. Main St.

Cedar Springs, MI  49319

 

Each year when we remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), I’m amazed at the work he did as a servant of Jesus Christ. In just 39 years, his prophetic voice and tireless work for justice for all left a profound impact on our country and around the world.

He was a Christian pastor like my colleagues and me, but I cannot imagine what it was like to lead and work for racial equality for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rev. Dr. King is commended for his “I have a dream” speech, but he was much more than a dreamer. He was a doer. He lived his faith in Jesus Christ who came for all. He suffered for his faith. He was a prophet.

One way that I’ve heard prophets defined is that they seek to tell us where we are, tell us where God wants us to be, and they drive God’s Word in between. Rev. Dr. King’s legacy continues to draw us back to examine ourselves and our world and see where we’re still struggling to love one another as Jesus Christ loves us.

Rev. Billy Graham was a friend to Rev. Dr. King and participated in the civil rights movement. In a sermon, Rev. Graham said, “Jesus was not a white man; He was not a black man. He came from that part of the world that touches Africa and Asia and Europe. Christianity is not a white man’s religion, and don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s white or black. Christ belongs to all people; He belongs to the whole world.” Rev. Graham’s words are powerful as we celebrate the message of Christmas: that God comes in Jesus Christ for ALL the world.  In late December my family and I visited Washington, D.C. and were able to visit the memorial dedicated to Rev. Dr. King. It is a beautiful space surrounded by many of Dr. King’s quotes. One of the poignant for me is, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Throughout the Old Testament, we find “justice” and “righteousness” paired together, in the Psalms and throughout the Prophets.  And Amos is no exception. We are called to be people who seek to be righteous (to have right aim before God) and who seek justice (which is concern for the poor and oppressed). The two are tied together.
Early in Amos, chapter 5, God speaks to the people:
“Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts.”
It’s no surprise that Jesus’ words to the people call us to be righteous and just. In the same spirit of the prophets, he calls us to “seek first the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness…”
There are times when we stray from God’s way, and we are constantly called back to faithfulness. The struggle for righteous living is real along with the work of seeking justice. Each day, we’re called to love and serve God, to live as children of God, as we work to bring even a glimpse of the Kingdom of God right now.

How are you working for God’s Kingdom? Where do you see it clearly?

If you don’t have a church home or have been away for a while, consider getting back to church or trying it out for the first time. I invite you to worship with us at 9:00 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. We share the love and hope of Jesus Christ!

 

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