In thinking about this month’s letter, I am just filled with a wonderful feeling. We have been busy doing the work of the Lord, and there are many different ways that this is evident.
We have focused a lot of energy on seeing how our relationship with Jesus is one that grows and matures with us. As we are actively living out our faith, God is helping us grow. We continue to be changed from what we are into what God wants us to be. It has been a real blessing to be able to journey with each one of you as you continue to walk by faith and not by sight. The momentum and enthusiasm around church is fantastic. People are really enjoying their faith and are seeing how much God loves them and how He reveals that love to us each and every day.
As the weather changes and we move into summer months it is easy to put faith aside and enjoy ourselves. This is detrimental to us and our faith journey. I had a wise professor in seminary that use to always say “ good, better, best; never let it rest until the good become better and the better become best.” This is a wonderful way to remind ourselves that there is always room to grow and ways to make our faith life stronger and better. How do we look for Christ in our daily lives and in our daily actions? If we are called to be Christ to the world today ~ How am I doing with it?
It is an awesome responsibility and a wonderful reward to know that we are Christ’s hands and his feet this week and in this place. May we be the hands that reach out to our brothers and sisters in need. May our hands reach out to hug instead of fight. May our feet walk the extra mile with our neighbor in need instead of kicking. May our hearts love the unlovable. May this summer allow us to be the best example of Christ that we can.
May The Lord Bless and Keep You,
Rev. Stephen W. Barch
Paul Harvey said it best : And on the 6th day, God looked down on Adam in his planned paradise and said, “I need a nurturer.” So God made a Mother. God said, “I need someone who feels deeply and loves fiercely, whose tears flow just as abundantly as their laughter, whose heart is as warm as their ability to guide and set limits is strong. I need someone whose influence on those that they nurture is eternal.” So God made a Mother.
God said “I need someone who can hear a sneeze through closed doors, in the middle of the night, 3 bedrooms away while daddy snores next to her, who could kiss the ‘boo boos’, scare away the monsters under the bed, clean up the middle-of-the-night accidents, and live off of 4 hours of interrupted sleep. So God made a Mother.
God said, “I need someone who can ride the roller-coaster of anxiety, hope, fear, and pride with an outward appearance of calm assurance as she sends her child off to his first day of school. I need someone who will buy the school supplies, drive for the field trips, help study for the history tests, fill out the permission forms, clap from the back row of the spring musical, and help coach a sport she’s never played. I need someone to teach a child to tie her shoes, make new friends, handle disappointments, shop for a prom dress, and drive a stick shift. And when that child is 18, I need someone to ride that roller coaster of anxiety, hope, fear, and pride again as she sends her child away to college with the same calm confident outside exterior.” So God made a Mother.
God said, “I need someone who is willing to jump in a car and drive children to school, soccer games, and piano lessons on a daily basis. I need someone who can run to the grocery store twice in a day, because someone forgot to add something to the list. I need someone who can take the animals to the vet, drop off the dry cleaning and pick up prescriptions and still make sure dinner in on the table for the family to eat.” So God created a Mother.
“Somebody who realizes that children need to be allowed to grow, gain confidence in themselves and be encouraged to be independent individuals and accept the path they choose. Somebody who realizes that their job is one where the better they are the more surely they won’t be needed in the long run. “ “Somebody whose breath will be taken away when they visit their first newborn grandchild in the hospital and their daughter looks at them with loving eyes and says “I hope I can be the kind of mom you are, mom.” So God made a Mother.
Thank You God for making Mothers
The boy Jacob led his father down the rocky hillside that led up to Jerusalem from Jericho. His father, Ezra, had been blind from birth. Each day from daybreak until dusk he sat on a boulder, always the same boulder. Begging for food or money from pilgrims on the road.
Jacob left his father and climbed again up the hillside, where he tended the flocks of their neighbor. Jacob lived with his father, mother, Anna, and his younger brothers and sisters in a tiny village of Bethpage. They were poor and Jacob was trying to help where he could. Jacob spent all day on the hillside watching the sheep and the newly born lambs. It was nearly evening when he noticed that one of the lambs were missing. The mother ewe was bleating uncontrollably, and Jacob set out to find the little one that had wandered away from its mother. He put the Ewe on his shoulder and as it was getting to be evening, he bounded down the hillside to get his father. He ran along the rough road to the boulder where his father was always waiting for him, but when he came to the place, the boulder was empty! His father was not there. Jacob stood there trembling with fear; surely his father had not tried to make his way home alone, up the hillside full of rocks and stunted thorn bushes? Then a worse thought struck him. Had robbers attacked him, a defenseless blind man? Jacob was crying when he looked up and saw a man walking down the road towards him. He wiped his eyes and started towards him. Jacob didn’t know if he could be trusted but he ran to him to ask him if he had seen his father. As Jacob got closer to him Jacob stopped,
the man was his father, Ezra!”
“Jacob,” Ezra called, “I can see! I can see! As I sat by the wayside, listening as the people passed, I heard them saying that Jesus of Nazareth was coming, so I called out to him, “What do you want?” he asked me “I wish to see, Master,” I said. Then. Jacob, he touched my eyes and slowly, slowly I began to see- first shadows, and then people, trees, hills, everything. I followed the crowd looking for him, but he was lost in the crowd, I turned back. “Do you think He could be our savior, the one we have been waiting to see?
What rejoicing there was in Jacob’s home that night! In the next days, Jacob showed his father the sheep and the lambs, all the flowers on the hillside. He showed him the stars at night. A few days later was the feast of the Passover and Jacob told his father “I would like to go to Jerusalem to find Jesus.”
As Jacob ran into Jerusalem, he saw one of the pharisees going to the inner sanctuary, and he ran up to him, “Please, please, where can I find Jesus of Nazareth?” Then the pharisee took him by the arm and led him to a quiet corner and said “that name must never be mentioned again in the temple. That man has been scourged and crucified by the Roman Governor.” But said Jacob, “That man cured my father of his blindness.” Jacob ran out crying once again, running, and running until he ran into the arms of a woman. “What is hurting you child?” Jacob told her the whole story. Gently she took him by the hand told him – “Yes, it is true that the Roman Guards took our Jesus and scourged him and crucified him, but we know he was the long-awaited Messiah. When some of our women went to the tomb the rock was rolled away, and an angel stood there and told them that Jesus had risen from the dead, just as he promised. Go tell your father that Jesus is alive.
This is what we celebrate each and every Easter. Jesus is alive~ and we must tell the story!
In Christ’s Love,
I can’t believe that we are already at the start of March, and we are entering into the Holy Season of Lent. Ash Wednesday is March 2nd, and it will go until Maundy Thursday - April 14th. This is a season that can be scary for some people and bewildering for others.
Lent is the season of the church year that Christians Penitential prepare for the greatest event that ever took place- Jesus’s death and resurrection. It is forty days (Sundays excluded) before Easter to allow us to prepare our hearts, minds, and lives. It is also the amount of time that Jesus spent in the desert preparing for his public ministry. If Jesus spent time preparing,
so must we.
Lent is a time to focus our attention on prayer, fasting and alms giving. These are important practices in the Christian life and lent is a time when we focus our energies on realigning our life with the life of Christ. How can I grow in my relationship with Jesus Christ and become more like HIM:
This is the time we set aside each year, to really focus on ways that we can grow in our faith relationship with Jesus Christ. To remember the love of God that is poured out through Christ Jesus on the cross, in his death, and his defeat of death. This makes the things that we can do for him -pale in comparison. Jesus loves us so much and he is asking that we make this
season special and to try to grow in our devotion to him and one another. May this Lenten season bring each one of us closer to Christ and one another.
In Christ’s love,
As we begin a new year, it is a great time to look at how we are doing. How have we served God and grown in our relationship with HIM? If we have grown, then we have had a good year. If we have not grown as much as we would like, then what can we do differently this year? Our greatest goal is to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ. How we do that is totally different for each of us. Just like our relationship with Jesus Christ is personal and different from others, so is the way that He is calling us to grow in it. The one thing that is the same for each of us is that he will meet us where we are and will continue to give us opportunities to grow each and every day.
Faith has both a personal and a community aspect to it and we as the body of Christ here on earth have a responsibility to look at how we are serving the community that God has put us in and see what it is that he is calling us to offer to them. It is not about getting new members or getting more people to come to church but rather how is God calling us to serve Brimfield IL. Once we figure this out then God will take care of the rest. I am both excited and nervous about how and what God will be asking of us this year. One thing that I know is that if we follow his plan then it will be the best thing for us. So, as we begin this year, the question that we will be asking is How is God calling me to live into the Gospel?
I look forward to walking our journey of faith together through this year and to see What God has in store for us. We are all part of His Body. We need each of you to really take an active role in your faith and in the life of the church. You are all special and unique in the life of Union Church. May we make this the best year; I am so excited to be growing in our faith together. May we have a blessed year.
In Christ’s Love,
Happy New Year!! What an exciting time of year. Everyone is in the Christmas spirit and they are
more generous and friendlier than other times of the year. It is also that time of year that everyone seems
to make New Years resolutions. (Well maybe you have made one and broke it by now) . So many of us are
going to lose weight, exercise more, get out of debt, stick to a budget, stop smoking, save for the future, or
spend more time with the family. No matter what the resolution is we set our heart on it and start off really
good and then we lose heart. It made me think –Is there a Christian new year resolution list and what would
it look like:
1. Pray More: He said to me, “This is the word of the Lord.. Mot by might nor by Power, but by my spirit
says the Lord (Zechariah 4:6)
2. Invest in my spiritual gifts Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic
message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
3. Care for myself spiritually Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect,
but I press on to take hold of that for with Christ Jesus took hold of me (Philippians 3:12)
4. Make the tough decisions I know are best. And now, compelled by the Spirit, I a going to Jerusalem,
not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that
prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish
the race and complete the task the lord Jesus has given me.—The task of testifying to the gospel of God’s
grace and Love.
5. Confront the patterns of sin in our lives Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of
witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with
perseverance that race marked out for us. ( Hebrews 12:1).
6. Do the hard work to build community: If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just
between the two of you, if he listens to you, you have won your brother over (Matthew 18:15)
7. Quit comparing myself to other Christians, other leaders and other churches Turning his head,
Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him he asked Jesus ,
“Master, what’s going to happen to him?” Jesus answered “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s
that to you? You follow me.” (John 21: 20-21)
8. Prioritize my family A Christian must be well—thought of—committed to his life. Attentive to his own
children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of
God’s Church? (1 Timothy 3: 2-5)
9. Be more open to change See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up: do you not perceive it? (Isaiah
10. Stayed focused on the vision They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship,
to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe of the many wonders and miraculous
signs that were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common, selling
their possessions and goods, they gave to everyone as he had need. They broke bread in their homes and
ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the
Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2: 42-47 niv)
May we honor God by committing to one or more of these resolutions for the year 2022 and beyond.
May God bless us all.
Rev. Steve Barch
Happy New Year. As we enter into a New Church Year, it is a great time for us to pause and look at how we are living the gift of our faith. God loves you more than you can ever imagine, and he has blessed you with everyone that you love and everything that you have. He wants you to enjoy all the wonderful gifts that he has given and continues to give you daily. He wants you to worship and praise him; to remember who has given you everything and has put you on earth. He has blessed you and given you all the gifts you need to live a happy and successful life. He is still with you, and he will not ever leave you. He wants nothing more than for you to enjoy and appreciate them.
With that in mind - it is right and a good thing to use the gifts God gave us for the purpose that he has for them. We are to live faithfully and worship and praise the author of all life. We are to show him that we appreciate everything that he has done and continues to do in our life. As we continue to live our Faith Journey, we grow in our appreciation of these gifts
and we are to grow in our understanding of and Worship of this wonderful God.
This is where it gets good and interesting. Us living our faith is a gift from this wonderful God, it is the greatest way that we can worship and praise the creator of the world. It is the best gift that we can give God to show him that we know him and love him. We are not just praising a wonderful person who has gone before us or a great leader from times past. No, we are worshipping and praising this God who has created everything. We get to go to church every Sunday and worship and praise Him. We gather with other faith filled people as we journey together throughout this life and into the next life. Sunday worship then works as our family meal. We come together as a family and eat a meal together while sharing our stories
and growing together. We, with one mind and heart (the mind and heart of Christ), all praise God, and honor and respect one another. We all try to live a life that reflects the love that Christ has put into our hearts. We live a life that builds up the body of Christ here on earth. Advent is the season that, as Christians, we look forward to the coming of Christ. It is that time that we anticipate the greatest gift that has been given to us -Brand new, every year at Christmas, - Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Born new in our lives. Born new into the world here and now. Born into all the chaos and mayhem that is going on right now in our world. No matter where we have been or what we have done up to this point- we get a chance to start
over. Jesus Christ wants to come into your life once again. To live in our heart and life. What an awesome and amazing God that we have. To call us and set us apart to live in this world, to walk with him through everything that we go through, and to walk with him when we do not understand the world and what is going on. To truly know that we have God with us, and He is always looking out for our best interest.
Going to church is important today because it allows us the opportunity to stay connected to this God. To set aside a day to worship and Honor Him. To keep Holy the Sabbath. To encounter this God. The best thing we do here on earth is to worship and praise this wonderful God. Let’s have a wonderful new year in which we come together with one mind and heart to praise and worship this awesome God of ours. See you in church!!
Rev. Stephen W. Barch
As we continue to deal with COVID pandemic restrictions and finding our new normal, we need our faith more now than ever. God is Essential and it is about time that the world realizes what Christians already know. That God is real and he is alive; He lives in you and me everyday. A successful life is not the stuff we have, but rather is found in the way that we experience God in our lives. To experience life at its fullest, we need to live the Love that God has given to us. This Love has to start at home; we need to love and respect ourselves and our families. The special people that God has placed in our lives to teach us about love. These are the very people who are going to be with us throughout life so that we can grow in Love together. We also have our Church family, the family that we join to grow in our faith. Our church family is a lot like our birth family. These special people are there for each other as we journey in faith through this thing called life. Our faith family is who we join together with to worship this wonderful God.
When you look at the history of religion and what is at the heart of religion, it has always been to Worship God. The best thing that we do in this world is to Worship the Creator of the world. To worship this Good God who has created us and given us everything that we have and everything that we enjoy. At the heart of Worship is Sacrifice. Worshipping God requires that I do something. It is not about getting stuff, but rather what can I do for God. He wants us to Worship and praise him. Jesus spent his whole life worshiping the Father. He spent his life honoring and praising him. God has given us the faith that we enjoy and he wants us to use it to worship HIM. We have been called to share that faith with others; we are being called into action. When we go to church on Sunday we come together as a family to worship our God together. So, when we go to church and participate in the service, we are giving back to God the worship that he desires. It is with one mind and one heart that we pray together. Our attendance at Church on Sunday makes a difference in our lives. It is not a chore that we have to do, but rather it is the opportunity that God has given to us to worship him in the manner that he wants. The heart of Worship is sacrifice, so we come to church not to just sit and listen, but rather to sacrifice –to give back to God some of the gifts that he has given to us. Our time, our attention, our presence, our sacrifice. God wants us to worship together as a family and to become the Body of Christ that He has called us to be. Becoming this Body of Christ counts on our attendance and participation. Each of us are important to the Body. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
May we realize that we have been gifted with the ability to let the world know about this awesome God who loves them. See You at church this Sunday.
We are moving into the fall and trying to get back into the swing of having a schedule; kids are in school, going to church on Sunday! It is a good time to re-evaluate where we are. Especially since “normal” seems to be just out of our reach.. What is this year going to look like?? No one knows—we have to walk by faith and not by sight. We have to trust in God and find ways to live into our faith. We all profess a faith and it is easy to have one when nothing is required of us to live it out or live into it. When things get rough-such as this pandemic– it is scary that we don’t know how things are going to go- trusting in and praying to God takes on a whole new meaning. Trusting God stretches us beyond where we think that we can go. It takes walking by faith, by our belief in a God who loves us and is with us, One who will bless us in the good times and the bad. A God who is involved in our daily lives and who wants to share our life with us and to walk with us every step of the way.
As we begin the church’s program year—this is a good time to look at the way that we live out our faith. So how are we living our faith in our daily lives? How am I strengthening that relationship that I have with God? Do I offer him my best? Do I spend time with Him throughout my day? Week? Do I allow him to speak to me in the events and thru the people that he has put into my life? Jesus told his disciples and he tells us that we can not love God and despise our brothers, for if we love God then we have to love our neighbor. Jesus has called us to change the world around us, to build the body of Christ here on earth by the way that we love our neighbor and to really live out our faith by the extra mile that we take with our brothers.
Is there is something that God is calling us to do or say that will help to build up others and to strengthen the Body of Christ here on earth? There is no time like the present to step into our relationship with Jesus Christ a little bit more and allow Jesus to work in and through us to show the world the power of his love and presence. Are you willing to listen to the little voice inside that is leading you to a new way of living your faith— Jesus is calling and he is calling you and me.
May God bless you on the adventure that He is going to take you on and may you experience Him in a new and exciting way this year. He wants nothing less than your heart.