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True north

Kitty Williams, Director of Music Ministries

The theme verse for Pure Joy! Youth Choir this year is Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the spirit! 

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

There is no law against such things.


This verse is part of a chapter that describes living “by the spirit.”

Those living by the spirit will reflect not only one, but all the fruit of the spirit described in this verse.

“Woah!” one may say. “That’s a lot of work.”

Our focus is not making sure we ‘do’ all the fruit. As Christians, our single focus is following the Holy Spirit.

Basically, our job is to trust in God through Christ by the Holy Spirit. God’s work handles the rest (the fruit in us.)

John 29:28-29 best describes it: 

Then they said to him (Jesus), “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 

Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 

One of the songs the youth are learning is called True North, by a worship band from Northern Ireland band called Rend Collective. 

Here are the abbreviated lyrics: 
 
Oh, You are my true north
I will follow You into the dark.
I will follow You with all my heart.

I will not let the darkness steal the joy within my soul
I will not let my circumstance become my compass, no
I will not let the fears of life and sorrows of this world
Dictate to me how I should feel
For You are my true north.

I will not let my failures turn into the curse of shame
I will not walk beneath the clouds that taunt me and condemn
For I will stand on solid ground the shadow of Your love
Forgiven, changed, a heart renamed
For You are my true north, everybody sing

Oh, You are my true north.
I will follow You into the dark.
I will follow You with all my heart.

One of the students asked, “What is ‘true north,”

I gave a brief definition. But the question caused me to look it up! (Thank you, Google.)

There is the ‘magnetic’ north and the ‘true’ north. (How scientists figure this out is another discussion.)

This is what I learned:

  1. The magnetic field of the earth changes. Therefore, if you only use a compass, you can be misled and get lost on the way to your destination. 
  2. To reach your desired destination, use the compass plus a ‘magnetic declination’ equation for the location (latitude.)

So how does this relate?

Basically, representing the ‘magnetic field’ – our emotions, world attitudes, cultural norms, religious rules and other voices can dictate our action. Following those guidelines, we miss the mark.

However, by seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit, our ‘magnetic declination,’ God’s kingdom can come on earth as it is in heaven.

The decision to follow the Holy Spirit is not a ‘one and done’ thing.

Trusting and believing is daily work, a daily decision.

“I will trust God today.”

The purpose of church community is to support each other in our daily decision of not what to do, but who to follow.

Miracles like Running 4 Clean WaterGood Samaritans of GarlandGLOWS (Garland Overnight Warming Shelter) and the support of knowing that you are loved will emerge. 

Individuals and the church will bear fruit!

Graduations

Kitty Williams, Director of Music Ministries

On a local newscast last night, the anchor person said:

“It’s finally here! The season of graduations!”

I thought back on my graduations, my husband’s, my children’s and my mom’s graduations.

For our family, each graduation was a celebration of accomplishments with great anticipation and hopes yet to come.

Then I thought of all the students who have come through our First United Methodist Garland children’s and youth programs.

I am thankful for the privilege to work with so many wonderful students who have gone on to become doctors, teachers, engineers, lawyers, analysts, philanthropists, musicians and much more.

Each year, if seniors have been active throughout their high school years, I allow them to choose the choir tour destinations, Dessert Show themes, and most importantly, our theme verse or quote for the year.

I am so thankful for seniors who come to their year with anticipation and willingness to take leadership.

The younger youth appreciate when the older youth lovingly include them.

Together, we all grow in faith.

Madeline Watkins and Liberty Cowan are outstanding seniors. They take initiative, showing creativity and ingenuity.

Although Pure Joy! Youth Choir has been small this year, they are one of the most talented groups around!

I credit Madeline and Liberty for not only singing in tune, but also keeping our group in harmonious unity!

This year, they chose this quote as our theme:

“God can give you peace for the past, purpose for the present and hope for the future.”

There are many verses that support this quote.

Because Ascension Sunday is in one week, the passage brought to this reflection is John 14:25-27.

Before Jesus ascends, he assures his followers:

“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

Prayer:

Loving God, life keeps changing and sometimes that causes anxiety.

Thank you for the calm assurance that your peace can be in us.

Without fear, help us to bring peace and assurance to those around us.

Grief and joy

Rev. Caroline Noll, Associate Pastor, Director of Children’s and Family Ministries

I was all ready to sit down and write this reflection, and then Patrick came in and asked if I had seen the news today.

I was going to sit down and invite us to reflect on what bring us joy.

And then we learned of war across the globe in Ukraine.

And it didn’t seem right to ignore it. I could not with peace turn away.

I wondered if there was a prayer, a poem, or a hymn that would be appropriate instead.

As I thought throughout the day, my spirit did not want to let go of thoughts of joy, even though there is great trouble in our world.

Then I realized, there is a prayer, song, and a poem. I heard it at the Pure Joy! Youth Choir Dessert Show last Sunday.

After intermission, Pure Joy! presented an artistic expression of the story of the people of God through their exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, through the generations, and their eventual return.

The story included songs of peace, wandering, grief, storms, joy, and the steadfastness of God.

It spoke of home, war, separation, identity, return, and love.

The story of the people of God as they were driven into exile by the Babylonians and their eventual return, in part, to Jerusalem with the prophets covers the breadth and depth of human experience and emotions.

The people of God experienced great loss and new comfort, destruction and rebuilding, separation and homebuilding.

And in it all, God was there. In it all, God is here.

So today we lift our prayers of both, of grief and of joy, of despair and of hope, of darkness and of light.

Lord in your goodness, Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.