Bellport United Methodist Church
Thursday, February 22, 2018
He who abides in love, abides in God.

The Back Pages


Happy New Year!

"Let our New Year’s resolution be this: We will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity,

in the finest sense of the word." 


~ Goran Persson


  A New You   

The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. ~ G.K. Chesterton




American theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) became focused on his life’s purpose at age 19. The result was 70 resolutions, or commitments, he wrote down and then read every week for 35 years until his death. 

Some of those resolutions include: 

• To live with all my might while I do live. 

• To study the Scriptures … steadily, constantly and frequently. 

• Never to lose one moment of time. 

• Never to do anything which I should despise or think meanly of in another. 

• Never to do anything out of revenge. 

• To let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak. 

• Never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life. 


   Fill a Jar 

Need a new tradition to begin the new year? One way to reflect on your blessings as the days and months pass is to fill a Blessing Jar. Simply find a container (ideally with a lid) and place it in a prominent place in your home. Next to it, set slips of paper and writing utensils. 

Encourage every family member to jot down one thing they’re grateful for every day. If you have a large family, you may need one jar for each person. You can also use different-colored paper slips for each family member. 

Every week, sit down together and review the many ways that God is present in your lives. 


   The Meaning of Epiphany  

Epiphany, which comes from the Greek word epiphaneia, means “an appearance” or “a revealing.” Centuries ago, the church set aside January 6, the 12th day after Christmas, to mark the revealing of Jesus as Christ to the wise men, who were Gentiles. Jesus’ first followers were Jewish, so the revelation of the divine Christ to the non-Jewish magi reminds us that Jesus came to earth to save the whole world. 

Symbols of Epiphany include light, a star, a crown (or three crowns) and a globe or stylized portrayal of the world. The color of Epiphany is green to symbolize life, growth, hope and eternity. 

On the church calendar, the Epiphany season lasts until Ash Wednesday, which is determined by the date of Easter. 




“Let love live long; let hate live short.” 

~ Burmese proverb 

* * * 

Love is a friendship set to music.” 

~ Various sources 

* * * 

“Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” 

~ C.S. Lewis 

* * * 

Love doesn't make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” 

~ Franklin P. Jones

  The Limited Power of Ashes 

“The cross, with which the ashes are traced upon us, is the sign of Christ’s victory over death,” wrote Thomas Merton. “The words ‘Remember that thou art dust and that to dust thou shalt return’ are not to be taken as the quasi-form of a kind of ‘sacrament of death’ … It might be good stoicism to receive a mere reminder of our condemnation to die, but it is not Christianity.” 

Perhaps we should structure Ash Wednesday worship with the imposition of ashes early on. Then their dusty symbolism can be supplanted by the forgiveness-flavored bread and wine of Holy Communion. Yet even if the service you attend is laid out differently, remember that ashes mark you only temporarily. Jesus’ resurrection — and the empty cross of victory — assures you already of everlasting life, which begins now.


   Humor to Break Up the Winter Blahs 

• Don't let your worries get the best of you; remember, Moses started out as a basket case. 

• Some people are kind, polite and sweet-spirited … until you try to sit in their pew. 

• People are funny: They want the front of the bus, the middle of the road and the back of the church. 

• Quit griping about your church; if it was perfect, you couldn't belong. 

• Forbidden fruits create many jams. 

• Working for God on earth doesn’t pay much, but his retirement plan is out of this world. 


    Sharing Jesus


The true story is told of two men sitting together on a train. When one shared with the other, a committed Christian, that he was heading home to donate a kidney to his father, the Christian listened intently. Sensing his seatmate’s genuine interest, the speaker confided that he didn’t know his life’s purpose. 

Sensing an openness in his new friend, the Christian told him about Jesus and the purpose Jesus had given to his life. The Christian man said later that he’d never met someone so appreciative of hearing the Good News. 

A key Epiphany theme is sharing the news of Jesus. “Ordinary” Christians can do that best by listening for an opening when visiting with someone and sharing part of their faith story in relation to something the other has said. There’s no need to accost strangers on street corners. Just be yourself, let the Holy Spirit guide you and invite your listener to follow Jesus, too.