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Tag Archive | "Pastor Robert Eckert"


4C obit johnson

Sandra A. Johnson, 73, of Cedar Springs, passed away Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at her home surrounded by her family. Sandra was born March 13, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. She was a dedicated employee of CS Manufacturing in the accounting department with 20 years of service. She loved spending time with her children and grandchildren, which was very important to her. She loved animals, sunshine, enjoyed gardening, and made amazing dill pickles. Surviving are her children, Bob (Paula) Johnson, Tim Johnson and Kathy Kay, Kathy (Ken) Coleman; grandchildren, Ryan Coleman, Kate Coleman, and Logan Armstrong; sisters, Kathy Carlson, and Ricci (Larry) Freeman; two nieces and their families. She was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph and Luella Stine; sister, Judy Carlson Alden; infant sister, Nancy Jo. The family greeted friends Sunday, January 24 at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home Cedar Springs, where the service was held Monday, January 25. Pastor Robert Eckert officiating. Memorial contributions may be made to the Humane Society of Kent County or the American Cancer Society.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home

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Resolutions for every day of the year

Courtland-OakfieldUMCPastor Robert Eckert

Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist

10295 Myers Lake Avenue

Rockford, MI 49341



One of the privileges of being a pastor in this area is taking my turn when it comes around to contribute to this column in the Post. I have no idea whether anything any of us writes ever has the impact we hope it will when we’re writing it; still, the opportunity to gather, sift, arrange and present one’s thoughts on what it means to be a person of faith in the 21st century, even in a brief format such as this, helps keeps those of us who do so accountable and attentive to the message of God’s grace that each of us, in our own way, hopes to convey.

So you’d think this spot in the rotation, the week when we’re all turning the corner from one year to the next, would be especially attractive. With 2014 getting one last look before we say farewell and forecasts for 2015 being made, this would seem to be the perfect context for insights on tying up loose ends and stepping forward with bold conviction. You know, the whole New Year’s Resolutions thing.

But how tedious and predictable is that? We’re all capable of googling what the most popular resolutions are and the low success rate people have meeting the goals they set in January. Is there anything at all that a pastor could offer that isn’t just another bow to the clichés of pop culture?

Maybe a different take on resolution would be worth something. Traditionally, during days of auld lang syne, the operative definition of the word involves statements of firm determination relative to particular actions, either to be taken or to be avoided. One might resolve to lose weight, for example, or quit smoking.

Another definition of resolution has to do with problem-solving. Resolution is the just and equitable settlement of a dispute or controversy.

There’s nothing wrong with self-improvement. All of us would do well to take better care of our emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual health and we have nothing to lose by declaring our intentions to do so. In fact, “People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.” (That comes from one of those google searches, http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/)

But an article that I, or any of our area pastors, could write no matter what time of year it is would speak to the need for the employment of every resource of grace—forgiveness, compassion, reconciliation, redemption. It would encourage us to “let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream” (Amos 5:24, NRSV) and it would remind us that Jesus called peacemakers blessed.

We don’t need to wait until it’s time to flip a page of the calendar to “learn to do good, seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:16b-17, NRSV). New Year’s resolutions? Let’s make New Day’s resolutions, every day, always to be part of the solution, actively and intentionally.


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Why we need children

Courtland-OakfieldUMCPastor Robert Eckert

Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church

10295 Myers Lake Ave., Rockford


Among the first stories you’ll come across if you read a Bible from the beginning concerns a man named Abraham and his wife, Sarah. Part of their story is a promise God makes to them that they will be the matriarch and patriarch of an entire nation. “I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore,” God says in the story.

However, at age 100 and 90, respectively, Abraham and Sarah are skeptical; in fact, they fall down laughing. But in this tale what is impossible for mortals turns out to be possible for God who does just as God promised. Sarah conceives and bears a son and celebrates his birth with a different kind of laughter: “Sarah said, ‘God has given me laughter. Everyone who hears about it will laugh with me.’”

We all know how an infant’s coo or a child’s smile can soften the hardest heart. But children mean more to our world than sentimental warm fuzzies. Children are the counterbalance to disappointment, cynicism, and regret. Unfortunately, the scales tip disproportionately toward pessimism when the seniors outweigh the juniors, a trend we have seen in this country, as the baby boom, following World War II, with its average of 25 births per 1,000 population between 1945 and 1959, tapered off to 16 or fewer births per 1,000 population since 1972 (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005067.html).

I’m not maligning folks at the upper end of the age continuum, I just turned 60 myself, but when a person can reasonably conclude that he/she is somewhere in the final 25 percent of his/her life, impending loss produces grief; grief breeds anger and depression; and the anger and depression of unmet expectations and unfulfilled goals is frequently expressed in variations of the lament that everything is worse than it ever was and the country is going to hell.

When one of my now adult sons was a child, there was a day he went to great lengths to turn his bedroom into a mini-theater, created and gave tickets to his parents and brothers, and put on a one-boy show. It was delightful. God gave me the gift of laughter and with it reasons to be optimistic and joyful. Recently his young son, with sword in hand, announced, “I’m a pirate; I’m here to steal your golden balloons!” It was another gift of laughter; another reason to hold on to hope.

Children give all of us a reason for living, a reason for being productive, honorable, charitable, and faithful. But, please don’t read anything into this from your own perspective on the several issues that fall under that nebulous heading of “family values.” I’m not making a political statement here. And please don’t take offense; it is not my intent to disrespect anyone who is uninterested in having children nor to be insensitive to anyone unable to have children.

It’s just that I was listening to the news on my car radio today, wondering whether everything is worse than it ever was, when I caught the smile on the face of the girl in the car next to me as she waved and giggled with the child in the seat beside her and found myself thinking, “along with fresh air and clean water, we desperately need children.”


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