LifeWorks by Morneau Shepell, a partner with MetLife, has opened a Crisis Support Line for anyone in the community in need of emotional support. Pastors, lay members, or any community member can call the Crisis Support Line 24/7 at 1-877-757-7587. By calling, individuals will receive professional emotional support and/or referral to community resources. This resource is available to anyone and everyone.
One of the wonderful things about each new year is that it brings with it a sense of a new beginning, 365 days of promise and possibility. Some use this time to bring freshness to their lives. You may decide to declutter the junk drawer, attic, or garage.
As a United Methodist church member, parting with some things for a season, may help declutter your spiritual life. Doing so helps make room for a new movement of the Holy Spirit in the months to come. What might you set aside in the next year?
Lent and Easter Resources for 2021
Lent begins on February 17th, so now is the time to get your requests in for your Lenten studies. Below you will find new options, recommendations, and access to our complete catalog of Lenten resources for adults, youth, and children. We carry small-group studies, curriculum, devotionals, books, movies, activity books, and worship resources.
There are three new United Methodist DVD studies for Lent. Amplify is hosting a free webinar series with the authors to learn more about each of these new options. Read more about these titles below. These webinars begin on January 12th but will be recorded and available to watch later.
Cokesbury offers a helpful comparison chart that breaks down the details of their more recent Lenten studies.
Discipleship Ministries offers this helpful article on Tips for Ash Wednesday during COVID-19. The Candler School of Theology has produced a longer Guidance for Ash Wednesday for 2021.
The Ecumenical Consultation on Protocols for Worship, Fellowship, and Sacraments produced a document on Resuming Care-Filled Worship and Sacramental Life During a Pandemic specifically for Holy Week and Easter 2021.
NC Conference Devotions
The NC Conference will be posting devotions online for the 40 days of Lent as well as a short Ash Wednesday service with Bishop Hope Morgan Ward. This worship experience will be live and interactive. You can subscribe to receive the devotions in your email or view them on the Lent 2021 website.
The Bishops of the UMC will also be offering weekly video devotions on dismantling racism.
New for 2021
For Online Groups: The streaming videos for these studies are included in an Amplify subscription, or they can be purchased from Cokesbury.
Words of Life: Jesus and the Promise of the Ten Commandments Today by Adam Hamilton. Hamilton brings modern eyes to the most important set of ethics in history. He considers the commandments in their historical context, considering the meaning of each commandment in Hebrew, unpacking how Jesus reinterpreted them, and showing how every thou-shalt-not was intended to point to a life-giving “thou shalt.” He also explores how the latest research in science and psychology illuminates these commandments, rightly understood, as a way of ordering one’s life beautifully in the present day.
Savior: What the Bible Says about the Cross by Magrey R. deVega. You’ll be introduced to several biblically based ways of understanding Jesus’ death on the cross that may go beyond the explanations you’ve heard before. By exploring the mystery of salvation through the cross, you’ll find a deeper love for God and others while strengthening your commitment to follow Jesus.
Seven Words: Listening to Christ from the Cross by Susan Robb. Robb looks at Christ’s final words from a biblical and historical perspective, showing how we can find life and hope in them. As Jesus draws his final breath and utters his last words, it is then that his deep trust in the Father and his divine glory are revealed.
Book Studies & Devotionals
Atone: The Difference the Cross Makes by Wil Cantrell. Cantrell explores the great mystery behind all the theories of how Jesus’ sacrifice enables us to be at one with God, ourselves, and others. Readers will be challenged to move beyond solely intellectual discussions to atonement and to experience for themselves the transformation made possible by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. A leader guide and a sermon series outline by the author and based on this book are available as a free download.
Lent of Liberation: Confronting the Legacy of American Slavery by Cheri L Mills. This Lenten devotional invites readers to learn more about the brutal institution of slavery and its impact on Black people in America and discover how its evolution and legacy continue to harm their descendants in the United States today. Each of the forty devotions includes the testimony of a person who escaped slavery through the Underground Railroad, a Scripture passage, and a reflection connecting biblical and historical themes to challenge modern readers to work for liberation. A collection of digital resources to use with this book, including a small-group guide, can be downloaded for free.
Journey to Transformation by Bishop Sharma D. Lewis. This book is a new version of Bishop Sharma Lewis’ best-selling Lenten study for 2021. Sharing her individual journey, Bishop Lewis (Virginia Conference, United Methodist Church) invites readers to observe Lent by introspection, repentance, forgiveness, renewal, prayer, fasting, and Biblical study.
Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God during Lent by Beth A. Richardson. We spend 40 days in the wilderness during Lent–days in which God calls us to self-examination, repentance, and making room for the Holy One in our lives. Our task during Lent is to clear away the clutter from our hearts so we can be fully present to God and our neighbors. This book includes daily reflections for Ash Wednesday through Easter. A spiritual practice is introduced each Sunday of Lent: Being Present, Lament, Lectio Divina, Trust, Compassion, and Hospitality.
The 40-Day Social Media Fast: Exchange Your Online Distractions for Real-Life Devotion by Wendy Speake. This “screen sabbatical” is designed to help you become fully conscious of your dependence on social media so you can purposefully unplug from screens and plug into real life with the help of a very real God. Disconnect in order to reconnect with the only One who said “follow me.”
More DVD Studies for Lent 2021
The Walk: Five Essential Practices of the Christian Life by Adam Hamilton. Discover five essential spiritual practices rooted in Jesus’ own walk with God. Hamilton’s engaging teaching style will help you explore each of these practices, its New Testament foundation, and its potential effect on our personal lives and our lives together as the church.
Simon Peter: Flawed but Faithful Disciple by Adam Hamilton. Peter was just an ordinary guy who heard and followed God’s extraordinary call. Discover how you, too, have special gifts, talents, and abilities that God can use to make a difference today.
Entering the Passion of Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Week by Amy-Jill Levine. Levine explores the biblical texts surrounding the Passion story. She shows us how the text raises ethical and spiritual questions for the reader, and how we all face risk in our Christian experience.
The Grace of Les Miserables by Matt Rawle. Rawle dives into six ideals found in the story—grace, justice, poverty, revolution, love, and hope—each represented by a character in Hugo’s story. He draws parallels between the iconic story and musical and our Christian calling, inspiring us to both understand our faith and live it out in the world.
Restored: Finding Redemption in Our Mess by Tom Berlin. Berlin encourages us to reflect and meditate through our own brokenness, showing us that it is only when we focus on the cross as a place to surrender control that we can leave our mess and find true redemption.
More Books for Lent 2021
Embracing the Uncertain: A Lenten Study for Unsteady Times by Magrey R. deVega. deVega invites readers this Lent to engage and wrestle with life’s uncertainties, not ignore them. The first six chapters focus on six post-Transfiguration, pre-Passion stories in the Gospels. Each of these stories are signposts in the gospel narrative, pointing down at a world filled with uncertainty, but pointing us forward to a cross that can show us how to follow Jesus with courage, hope, and obedience. A devotional based on this study is also available.
A Resurrection-Shaped Life: Dying and Rising on Planet Earth by Jake Owensby. Bishop Owensby leads us through a re-examination of the biblical concept of resurrection and illustrates how it can influence us as Christians every day. A resurrection-shaped life finds hope through honest reflection on the past, moves beyond shame and blame toward self-acceptance and compassion, and draws strength from the hope of life after life.
Wind in the Wilderness: A Lenten Study From the Prophets by DJ del Rosario. del Rosario calls our attention to the issues of justice in today’s world. You’ll explore the continuity between prophetic emphasis and Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God.
Plenty Good Room: A Lenten Bible Study Based on African American Spirituals by Marilyn E. Thornton with Lewis V. Baldwin. This unique short-term Bible study combines an in-depth look at Scripture, American history, and the music and lyrics of six African American spirituals. It provides biblical, social, and historical analyses of the songs.
40 Days of Doubt: Devotions for the Skeptic by Eric Huffman. Huffman helps us understand how we can deal with our doubt and provides candid, insightful answers for those times in our spiritual journey when our minds and souls are fighting. You’ll not only find solace in these wonder-filled reflections; you’ll also discover that you are aren’t abnormal, after all, for having doubt.
Interruptions: A 40-Day Journey with Jesus by Jacob Armstrong. Armstrong provides a chance for you to set aside your stress for a bit and refocus on God. He looks at the life of Jesus and gives insights on how you might respond to all the interruptions in your life.
More Lent Resources for Adults
View our pathfinders on Lent and Easter DVDs for Adults and Lent and Easter Books for Adults for additional small-group studies, devotionals, books, movies, and worship resources.
The General Commission on Religion and Race offers Roll Down, Justice! A Lenten Biblical Reflection. This is an online study with video clips that can be used for free.
The Baltimore-Washington Conference has posted a free Lenten study that can be done with any adult small group on your own time, Reclaiming and Living Covenant: A Lenten Experience of Scripture, UMC Social Principles and Antiracist Action to Build Beloved Community.
For Youth & Children
Words of Life: Jesus and the Promise of the Ten Commandments Today, Youth Study Book by Adam Hamilton. This book is a youth version of Hamilton’s newest Lenten study for adults. Youth versions of many of our adult studies are available. View the links in “More Resources” below for a complete list.
Words of Life: Jesus and the Promise of the Ten Commandments Today, Children’s Leader Guide by Adam Hamilton. This book is the children’s version of Hamilton’s newest Lenten study for adults. It contains session plans for younger and older children (grades K-2 and 3-6) including games, activities, craft ideas, and reproducible handouts. Children’s versions of many of our adult studies are available. View the links in “More Resources” below for a complete list.
Fathom: The Passion, The Death and Resurrection of Jesus by Katie Heierman. This 4-session youth study will explore the events surrounding Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion and their meaning for believers today. The lessons are a blend of narrative and traditional theological approaches to understanding the Bible story. Each lesson will focus on one passage that will launch into the larger context of God’s story, and how that story is meant to be theirs.
Children’s Dramas For The Church Year: Reproducible Dramas for Lent, Easter, and Pentecost by Linda Ray Miller. This reproducible resource consists of very simple Easter dramas that can be performed by kids of all ages. Short poems are also included for use in programs. Selections take no more than 10 minutes to perform and the number of children can vary as needed by the size of the church. Props and scenery are minimal and selections can be performed with little rehearsal.
Easter-rific! Teaching Kids…It’s More than Just One Day! by Tina Houser. This book includes nineteen stories that occurred during Holy Week, four more stories that occurred before Christ’s Ascension, and between two and four activities per story such as games, crafts, snacks, science experiments, storytelling ideas, and object lessons.
Sharing the Easter Faith with Children by Carolyn C. Brown. Being sensitive to the developmental maturity of children from ages birth to 12, Carolyn Brown provides materials, activities, and resources for congregations and families.
More Resources for Youth & Children
View our pathfinders on Lent and Easter Resource for Youth and Lent and Easter Resources for Children to find more resources including curriculum, animated films, picture books, activity ideas, and worship resources.
Sparkhouse is making available a free youth Lenten devotional app. Each day will include scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a pop art image. Sign up to view a sample and be notified when the app is available.
Featured image by congerdesign from Pixabay
Pilgrimage 2021 To Be Held in Rocky Mount, NC
Pilgrimage will move from its home of many years at the Crown Coliseum to the Rocky Mount Event Center in Rocky Mount, NC.
It is with bittersweet excitement that the Pilgrimage Ministry team shares that Pilgrimage 2021 will be held at the Rocky Mount Event Center in Rocky Mount, NC on November 12-14, 2021. The Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, NC has been a wonderful home to the annual Pilgrimage event, and the Rocky Mount Event Center will allow the connection of the NC Conference to continue to gather in-person, amongst each other for years to come.
The power of the Pilgrimage event is the connection it provides youth of the NC Conference. The large-scale nature of the event creates a dynamic and inspiring experience — and that will not change. High-energy and youth-led worship, thought-provoking speakers and Pilgrimage traditions will continue at Pilgrimage 2021 and in years to come.
We, the Pilgrimage Ministry team, are excited about this new opportunity to serve you in Rocky Mount and we are humbled you are joining us in our excitement for Pilgrimage 2021.
As with many of the NC Conference Youth Ministry activities, it is the goal of the Pilgrimage Ministry to create an opportunity for youth of the NC Conference experience and bear witness to the transformative love of Christ. The Pilgrimage Ministry team does this by upholding the core values of the Youth Ministry:
- Create meaningful and Christ-centered learning, mission and worship experiences for youth of the NC Conference
- Empower, equip and nurture youth to become leaders in the local, district and conference levels of the church
- Practice Wesleyan traditions while embodying the spirit of Christ in uniting diverse members of our community
More information about Pilgrimage 2021 — to include logistics, participation opportunities and more — will be made available starting March 1, 2021 at nccpilgrimage.org.
From the Bishop: An Epiphany Prayer for the United States
Arise, shine, for your light has come. (Isaiah 60:1)
I give you as light to the nations that my salvation shall reach to the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)
O God of Epiphany light and love, we pray for your light in our country. As we watch with dismay images of all that is unfolding in Washington, D.C., we turn to you with longing hearts. We are a people who love our country and deeply desire to see healing in our land.
The Light of Christ shatters the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it. We believe this as we pray for the cessation of violence and the halting of insurrection.
We pray for all those elected to public leadership and all those in public service in Washington, D.C., this night. We pray that they will be safe from harm. May self-serving ambition not have its way among them or among us. May they and we do what is right and good and honorable in your sight.
We pray for a peaceful transition as Congress certifies the election and as President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris soon take the oaths of office. We pray for those who are deeply disappointed as we pray for those who are greatly heartened in this season of local, state and national elections.
We thank you for your brilliant and eternal light, loving God, and for your powerful presence in our lives and in our life together. Grant to us all the peace that only you can give, and use us as witnesses to your love this night and always.
In the name of the Triune God, we pray.
Announcing the Next Creation Care Book Study
Have you ever thought of your yard as a sanctuary—for birds and other creatures, or even for yourself?
Join us for our first Creation Care Book Club. We’ll be reading Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard by Douglas W. Tallamy. Together, we’ll imagine what each of us can do in our own backyards to make the planet a better place. This New York Times Bestseller is full of color pictures that may spark your imagination to transform your own yard.
We will be meeting virtually to discuss the book starting Monday, January 25 from 10:30-11:50 a.m. on Zoom.
You can register for the book discussion here.
More information about the book here.
Purchase the book from Amazon here.