February, 2023

Happy February!

I am pleased to tell you that this is the month we are starting our Gratitude Project. If you haven’t heard of our Gratitude Project, that’s ok! It’s a project we’ve been stewing on but haven’t really mentioned before. We are into a new year, and are thinking of new ways to reach out to the Hudson area   public. One of our members suggested we find a way to show our gratitude to individuals and groups in our community. So, we are jumping right in and figuring out what this project consists of as we go.

When we think of gratitude, our minds may automatically go to thankfulness. We can stop and be thankful for so many things. We can be thankful for our health, thankful someone is in our lives, thankful for the food we have and the homes we live in.

Gratitude is something different than that. Something deeper. It is something we give. Thankfulness is more of a fleeting emotion, while gratitude is a deeper sentiment. Something that can grow over time.

Think of it as how someone gains a friend. Very often, a deep friendship grows out of the sum total of little offerings. A handwritten note on their birthday. A thoughtful gift given. A phone call to check on them when they know they are down. Helping with a task that is inconvenient. These things add up and a loving friendship is formed.

Our community is in need of a loving friendship, so to speak. And our church can grow that friendship out of the little offerings we give to the people of our community. So keep your ears open about our Gratitude Project and let’s find ways to give our gratitude.

As Paul said to the Corinthians, “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”

Peace and Blessings always!

Pastor Brian

January 2023

Happy New Year everyone! I pray your year was full of blessings and may the Lord continue to bless you all through the coming year and beyond! While pondering what to write for this month’s newsletter, I kept thinking of the scripture in Matthew chapter 13. “Therefore,” Jesus said to them, “every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom treasures new and old.”

I thought of it because I believe it is important to look back sometimes, and reflect.  We tend to do this at New Year. We think about the significant moments during the old, past year.  Many were good, some were not. But that’s how we learn. We take those moments, and hopefully not beat ourselves up, and grow from them.

Looking back on this past year, I can’t help but feel so proud of our church for all the good it has done. Yes, we made some mistake. I know I did. But there were so many efforts to serve our community and God’s Kingdom, I’m just blown away by everything all of you have done. And I mean all of you. We are the body of Christ. We are in this together. And we couldn’t do it without each other.

Beyond our regular efforts to serve, there is one recent example I want to quickly mention. A family reached out to me just before Christmas. It was pretty last minute, but the dad had such a hard time asking for help. When he finally did, I let our church know and in less than a day, we had $300 raised and several gifts collected. Amazing! Thank you everyone who gave their time and resources that day! I can’t describe the emotion and gratitude as well as relief on their faces.

So now the New Year has come. It’s time to continue to bring out the old, the ways we serve so well…AND bring out the new. What is the new? That’s what we need to figure out! As you all know, our church is in a bit of a financial crisis. I’d like to think of it as an opportunity. We get to pull out something new from the storehouse. The storehouse, in this case, is God. We need to go to God, and ask, “What new thing would You have us do, Lord? How can we grow? How can we help bring Joy and Love to our community in a new and unique way?”

We have some building to do! There may be some labor, but hopefully we can make it a labor of love. Happy New Year and God bless you all!

–Pastor Brian

December 2022

Holiday Greetings in Christ! I pray that your Christmas season is off to a good start. You may have heard it said that Christmas is a time of miracles. I wanted to share this sweet little story related by Lidy Baars….I hope you enjoy it.

“If it wouldn’t have happened to me, I am not sure I’d believe it either. That is the thing, this really happened, it’s not something I dreamed up as a pretty story. Quite a few years ago, I went on the first ever “Clothe the Children” Charity Event with my husband’s service club. The idea was that 100 children from families in need would be matched up to 100 volunteers, and taken on a $100 shopping spree to a local store. The store would open early only for all of us, and the prices would be almost “at cost” so that the children could choose what they needed for the winter months. I was matched up to a young girl of about 8, Anna, and the morning of our shopping adventure, she was clutching a list her mom had made for her. Items she desperately needed, such as new socks, a pair of jeans, a sweatshirt and tennis shoes were on the list.

Once the store doors were flung open wide by the store’s employees (who volunteered this time at work) Anna and I joined the 100 children and their “helpers” and rushed into the warm store. I had Anna’s list, and was reading “jeans” and wanted to go straight there, but my little one set her eyes on a sparkling, red, fancy holiday dress. You know that kind? With tulle, and lace and a poofy skirt. Oh! I could see it in her eyes, THIS is what she really wanted to buy. Not underwear, socks, a pair of jeans and sweatshirt. I tried to steer her away, saying her mama had made a list, and that’s what we needed to look for, as there was only so much time before we had to leave. o she trailed behind me, casting wistful eyes on that red, totally-impractical, party holiday dress.

We choose all the things on her shopping list quickly and were the first ones to arrive at the dressing rooms. There, a salesgirl let us in, but said she had to turn on all the lights first, since it was still dark in there. She turned on the lights in the dressing room one by one, and the three of us went to the back and chose a little dressing room. The salesgirl opened the door to the little cubicle, and can you guess?? I couldn’t believe it, but that sparkling, red holiday dress was hanging in that room! Honest. The salesgirl was so perplexed, as all the rooms had been cleared the night before. And I? I got tears in my eyes. I know, silly me. But really? THE DRESS! By then, I had already decided to buy Anna that dress, no matter what, and have it brought to her school later.

We weren’t allowed to spend more than the allotment, since that wouldn’t be fair for the other children. I told my little Anna that Christmas is a time for miracles and that God knew how much she wanted that dress, and He loved her so very much. He wanted to give her the desires of her heart. And that this was a little Christmas miracle. Oh, I know, it’s not the huge kind of miracle of saving lives and making a path in the ocean waters. But still, it was a miracle for little Anna. And it was a miracle for me. It showed me once again that God so loves each one of us, and He cares about the desires of our heart. Of course, as you can guess, the dress fit her! When we reached the cashier, our purchases, everything on Anna’s list, AND the dress, came to a total of 99.98! I got so much more out of volunteering to help a little girl shop for clothes. So. Much. More. I cried all the way home that morning. Not because Anna was able to get her dress. But because our Father in Heaven loves us so much. And He’s always there.”

 I pray you experience a miracle this Christmas. Peace always!   -Pastor Brian

November, 2022

Greetings in Christ!

Whenever I sit down to write the “From the Pastor’s Desk,” I always ask myself, what is significant for the upcoming month? And of course, this is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving! When I think of giving thanks, I often think of the movie, Yankee Doodle Dandy with James Cagney about the life of George M Cohan. He would always conclude their act with the words, “My mother thanks you, my     father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you.”

There isn’t much I want to say about the celebration of Thanksgiving in these words. I would rather take this time to say thank you to all who are involved in making Hudson First UMC the amazing church that it is. I am not going to mention names because I wouldn’t be able to fit it all on this one page, and I would inevitably, although accidentally, leave someone out.

First and foremost, thanks be to God and the Lord, our savior Jesus Christ. Without the Lord, we would be nothing and have nothing. But in Him, we have everything, through salvation. Thank you to all of our    committee leaders. You do so much and for so little in return. Thank you to all the committee members for your time and efforts. Thank you to Lay Servants. Your help to myself and the service to the church is     beyond words. Thank you to the music leaders, who help make the services 100 times more beautiful and heartfelt. Thank you to all who sing in our choir. Thank you to the people who do coffee hour. What else is there to say besides, cookies, donuts and coffee. Nuff said! Thank you to the ushers who pass the microphone, bring the offering forward, and generally watch over our congregation during the services. Thank you. Thank you to the ones who help prepare and serve communion. It means more to me than you know. Thank you to those who bring flowers. Those little thoughts add a touch of heaven.

Thank you to the ladies of the UWF for your education, expanding our appreciation for diversity, and   bringing joy to the community, and more! Thank you to the money counters. It can be a complicated and tedious task, especially fighting the copy machine. Thank you to the leaders of Bible Studies. I believe it is as important as having the worship service itself.  Thank you to the Secretary to the Pastor. Being my wife, I can say you are beautiful, talented, and amazing. Thank you to those who help clean and maintain the church building and property. Thank you to those who manage the upkeep of the church and parsonage. Thank you to those who help with funeral dinners and other food events. Thank you to those who lead VBS and all who volunteer. Thank you to all who lead and help with ministries such as the backpack program and the mitten tree. Thank you to those who help with special worship services.

And finally, but not at all least, thank you to all who assemble at the church to worship the Lord. Your  presence is an absolute joy. If I forgot anyone, I deeply apologize, and to you I say, thank you!

Peace and blessings always!

Pastor Brian

October 2022

Greetings in Christ!

Happy October! I’m sure you have noticed that the leaves are starting to change color and there is a chill in the air. The smell of burning leaves and wood smoke will soon permeate our neighborhoods. No other time of the year do I think more about the changes of season than Autumn. It reminds me of Ecclesiastes chapter three. It begins, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Of course, now I’m going to have the song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” in my head the rest of the day, but that’s ok.

And so the scripture goes on with a list. I’ll name a few. “A time to be born, a time to die. A time for love, a time for hate. A time to scatter stones, a time to gather stones together. A time to kill, a time to heal. A time for war, a time for peace.” While reading this scripture and these dual statements, I can’t help but ask, is there really a time for hate, killing, and war? I think of something I’ve said to our kid more than once. It’s never ok to hit someone! If I mean that on such a seemingly small level, I have to also believe that it’s not ok for those larger versions of hitting.

But then, I think of what Jesus said more than once. In John 16, he said, “In this world we will have       trouble…” and also Luke 17, “Things that cause people to stumble are sure to come…”. So what we can take from this is, it’s never ok to kill or hate. But in this world, at least right now, hate will happen, war will happen. But we can take heart, Jesus said, I have overcome the world! And like the scripture, (and the song) says, there is a time for peace, and it will come again. Maybe someday, we will all learn to get along in this crazy world.

Right now, you may be experiencing some sort of trouble. You may be in pain, whether physically, emotionally, or even spiritually. You may be experiencing a hard time financially. Or maybe there is a bad situation where it feels like it will never end. It will. Peace in your life will come again. In the meantime, I pray you will open the Bible and seek the comforting words of Jesus when he said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” So I encourage you to keep seeking, and you will find what Jesus truly means when he says, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” 

Peace and blessings always!

Pastor Brian

September, 2022

Greetings in Christ!

I pray that the month of September is off to a good start for all of you. What do we think of in September? Well, besides somehow becoming the beginning of Pumpkin Spice Season, it’s the time kids are back in school and when we also celebrate Labor Day.

I wanted to talk about Labor Day for a moment. It was made official on June 28, 1894 when President Grover Cleveland signed it into law. It has a very interesting history of how it came about and I recommend reading about it. Honoring the American worker and giving them a day of rest, reminds me of something Jesus said in Matthew chapter 11.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Like the harsh demand early Industrial Revolution Business had for their workers,  the Israelites had so many laws and demands upon them. To break these would mean certain punishments, banishment, or even death. When Jesus said this, he was excusing these harsh demands upon the people, and I believe he was also excusing the harsh demands we put upon ourselves.

In our lives, there seems to be a demand for us to be perfect in so many ways. We can feel a certain amount of guilt because of some things we did or didn’t do. We feel we don’t live up to the world’s standard of how to be a good Christian. We feel the weight of the society’s judgement. But Jesus said, Come to me all you who are weary…and I will give you rest. He didn’t say, Come to me so I can whip you into shape as to what a good Christian is supposed to look like.

So on Labor Day this year, or any day of rest, let us remember that we don’t have to be perfect. We can rest in the fact that Jesus came and saved us, and we reflect on his teachings. We take on the yoke of the Lord, which is light, and do the best that we can. You may remember the quote, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” May it be so will all of you!

Peace and blessings always!

Pastor Brian

August 2022

There’s a saying in this part of the country. If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes. It’s funny because it’s true. Although, it does seem like during this past month there have only been two temperatures. Hot and humid! I know summer is many peoples favorite season because of all of the activities available like boating, fishing, gardening, and front porch sitting (my favorite).

Sometimes we get sad when the summer season starts to come to a close and I think August is when that starts to get in our minds. School will be starting and September is right around the corner, which means fall is also coming soon. It’s important to remember the importance of season changes and find the appreciation for all of them. They really can be a blessing.

There is a big change in the weather in our family over the past couple of months. Some good and some bad. As many of you know, I lost my sister to liver failure recently. But we also found out that we are going to be grandparents for the first time. Also, our daughter is getting married. Plus, our daughter, Mary, is going to be going to college and moving an almost two hours away, which is bittersweet.

All of these changes, mostly good, some bad. The changes are going to be different. And this is why we rely on God. I think of the story in the bible where Jesus and the disciples are crossing the Sea of Galilee. There’s a terrible storm and the boat they are in seems like it’s going to capsize and the disciples are fearing for their lives, and all the while, Jesus is asleep. And they call out to him, Lord, don’t you care if we drown?! And Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the waves…and he calmed the storm. And then he asked…where is your faith?

We all misplace our faith sometimes. You might say we can be fair-weather friends to our faith, but it’s ok to call out to him. He wants us to rely on Him. So, let us try to turn our situations over to the Lord because no storm that we have to face can be bigger than God!  Have a great month, whatever the weather may be!

Peace and blessings always!

Pastor Brian

July, 2022

Greetings in Christ!

July is the month we celebrate our freedom in this country. What do we think of when we think of the word freedom? We might think of flags flying, patriotic songs, parades, the declaration of independence, and the souls who gave their lives that we can live free here in the U.S. One of my favorite  movies is an old one by Frank Capra called Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. One of my favorite scenes is when Jefferson Smith says, “Liberty is too precious to be buried in books. People should hold it up in front of them every day of their lives and say…I’m free….to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn’t do that, but I can…..and my children will.”

So, what comes to mind when we think about freedom from a spiritual point of view? For many people, they can look back during their life and realize they were in prison. Oh, maybe not in actual jail. They didn’t get arrested, read their rights, handcuffed and locked up in a cell. But more in a prison of addiction, sadness, self-pity, oh poor me (I’ve been there)….angry at the world, angry at God, “How can you let this happen?” Angry at themselves saying, “What is wrong with me?!!! Well if I just take another drink, I can forget about it, at least until tomorrow morning.”

Yes, some of us have been in prison of our own making, and when I, myself, reflect back on those years, I can see when I started to realize, I can be free! I don’t have to be shackled like this. And it was when I began to ask, “Lord, what do I do? I don’t know what to do. Please tell me and show me the way.” You see, I began to knock. I began to seek. And it’s true, I might have still been a little skeptical, but the door began to open. Maybe just a crack, and I could see a liiiittttle bit of light.  But the important thing is, I began to talk with   Jesus. I began to talk to him as if he was right there with me, and tell him my problems. And over time I    began to feel the weight lift and I also began to realize, I don’t have to be perfect. Believe me, I’m far from it. But we can be assured, God knows our journey. God knows our hearts. In Luke 12, Jesus said, “Are not 5 sparrows sold for 2 pennies? Yet, God forgets not one of them. Indeed the very hairs of your head are numbered. Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.”

So while we enjoy this season, let us remember, the source of true freedom, our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Peace and blessings always!

Pastor Brian

June, 2022

Greetings in Christ!

It is the beginning of June which means summertime is just beginning. One thing I am reminded of this time of year is how so many things are put on hold. For kids, school is out. For churchgoers, at least for our church, Wednesday night Bible study is done and United Women in Faith meetings are over. And it’s an exciting time! Why? Well, beyond children and teachers getting off of school for a few months, it means summer activities are here!

I was curious and so I looked online for a poll about people’s favorite thing about summer, and just as I suspected, it was the warm weather along with the fact that they don’t have to wear so many layers of clothes. But it all seems to come down to the fact that because of the warm, sunny weather, we can get out and do those fun things we love.

After being locked up in the house, fighting the battle of the wind chill, we now go out and take vacation, we get to have Vacation Bible School, (which is just next month, by the way) and, of course, we have the local festivals, county fairs, family barbeques, and picnics.

Yes, we finally get out, warm our bones and enjoy the world in full bloom once again. You know what else we get to get out of? Church! You heard that right! No, I’m not saying don’t come to Sunday worship or any other occasion it’s called for. Going to the church is a wonderful thing. I’m just saying that summer is a great reminder that God calls us to step outside of the church. To look around at the beauty of God’s earth. To look at the beauty of God’s creation and to realize that we are encouraged to leave the comfort of our beautiful stone edifice, and go out and serve God’s children.

I realize it’s not easy. It can be hard to step out into the world and serve. If you have ever been in the restroom of our church, you may have noticed a dial on the wall that says comfort zone. If you turn it up on high, it radiates warmth from the pad on the ceiling. It’s used for making the bathroom warm on those cold days when the radiator heat doesn’t reach that far. But it always reminds me to ask myself. Am I high up in my comfort zone? Am I too comfortable in my life? And many times the answer is yes, and I need to go do something about it. I need to leave the church walls and get out into the world.

So I wish you all a safe and fun summer! Enjoy the sun. Enjoy your families and the time spent together. And try to remember to keep summer as a reminder of God’s beautiful creation, God’s beautiful creation in His children, including yourself, and also as a reminder to get out of those four walls and serve the Kingdom. Amen.

Peace and Blessings always!

Pastor Brian

May, 2022

Greetings in Christ! I hope you all have had a wonderful Easter season. I pray your spring is going well, too! Spring is a magical time of year. Despite the unpredictable weather, it is a time of renewal. The buds on the trees and bushes are starting to open, the flowers have begun to shoot out of the soil, and the smell of cleaning fluid is in the air. That’s right. Spring also means spring-cleaning.

There’s something refreshing about cleaning your home and property this time of year. We’ve been shut up in our houses, confined by the snow and harsh cold of winter, choosing a hot cup of tea in front of the fire with a book instead of trying to wash the windows or scrape the oven.

Despite cleaning not being fun, we get a satisfaction and a feeling of cleansing of ourselves when we do this, especially when we are finished. It’s like a burden falls off of us and we can breathe easier.

Since we are doing all of this for our homes, why not also do some spring cleaning for our body, mind, and spirits? As humans, we often let the weather dictate our feelings. In this season of renewal, consider using this time to examine your internal burdens. Think about the things in the past and ask yourself, “Is this worth holding on to? Is it useful to my spiritual growth?”

There may be many things in the past that come to our thoughts that do nothing but try to diminish our self-worth. Jesus told the story of the tares among the wheat. When the land owner saw the weeds, he said, “an enemy has done this.”

These thoughts that occur to us are the enemy trying to convince us that we are less than worthy of the Kingdom. But let us use that knowledge that it is not from ourselves, and take those burdens, clean them out as best we can, and remember what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. In this spiritual spring cleaning, let us also remember to forgive ourselves. The Lord has already forgiven you. It is ok to do that for yourself. Unburden yourself and take that breath of clean, fresh, heavenly air!

Peace and blessings always,

Pastor Brian