On the horizon

February 10, 2021

This coming Sunday, Valentine’s Day, is on the event horizon. According to the BBC, Valentine’s Day is thought to have originated from a Roman festival called Lupercalia. This festival was celebrated in mid-February and marked the beginning of Spring. The first Valentine’s Day was in the year 496 CE. Saint Valentine is a saint of the church thought to have died around 270 CE. Eventually, the church wanted to Christianize the previously Roman holiday and associate the celebration with Saint Valentine.

Here’s what I know, I need to get busy on a gift for Ms. Penny. Valentine’s has always been one of those yearly markers on the calendar that help us remember how much we love one another. After 41 years of wedded bliss, we need to take every opportunity to remind each another of our love and continued commitment to the relationship. The first Valentine’s present I ever got Penny was a little grey miniature poodle. She loved that little dog so much. It made me happy to make her happy.

The Wednesday following Valentine’s Day, February 17, is Ash Wednesday and marks Lent’s beginning. Ash Wednesday begins the forty days of spiritual preparation that gets us ready to observe Holy Week and the celebration of Easter. By observing Lent, Christ-followers replicate Jesus’ withdrawal into the desert for 40 days.

Lent is marked by fasting or abstinence from certain foods or activities. Typically people observe Lent by giving something up (a favorite food or TV show) and taking something on (think spiritual disciplines).  Ash Wednesday will likely be different this year. One thing is for sure, we will find a way to make it memorable. Lent is vital for us to reconnect with our spiritual selves and develop new habits and step into making healthier choices.

Forty-one years of marriage have taught me a thing or two. Love has its own ebb and flow. When that infatuation stage of love begins to wain, something much more substantial and durable takes its place. Love is having the best interest of the other person at the front of your thinking. Love goes further by acting to make those thoughts a reality. Loves calls us up to become better versions of ourselves and help us achieve what we could not or would not be capable of alone.

I would have never been able to get a degree without Penny supporting my effort to get an education. It required the courage and sacrifice of both of us. Last year I reciprocated by encouraging and supporting her efforts to obtain additional education as well. In each case, the student decided to put in the work. The other partner each chose to act in loving ways to offer the necessary time and attention to allow the endeavor to succeed.

Lent is about making a choice to reaffirm a commitment to follow Jesus. We hope during these forty days to be reminded of God’s love for us and recall the deep feelings we had when we first came to Christ. Lent is an ongoing act of our will. It’s a conscious choice to put our relationship with God first.  All of Jesus’ life was an act of love toward humanity; shouldn’t we be ready to reciprocate that love.

Valentine’s Day is a reminder to let that special someone in our lives know that we are thinking of them. When we respond to the love of another person, we say in effect, “I choose you, all over again.” That is precisely what God did for us. He chose to love us when we were unlovable. Even when humanity brought its very worst against the Son of God, Jesus chose to give himself for us. Let’s approach Lent as a way to say to God, “I choose to spend this time with you and to give up something important that I enjoy to make more time to nurture this ongoing love relationship.”

God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.-1 John 4:9 NRSV                                                                                                   


Pastor Kenny


A New Year's Here

January 5, 2021

We all need to cultivate the ability to see the positives in our lives. 2020 was undoubtedly a year that none of us will soon forget. Yet even amid a whole host of challenges, we have emerged as people who can muster the resolve to face whatever is before us with hope.

It goes without saying that we are all hoping for a better year and that some semblance of normalcy will return in 2021. It is also essential that we remember the lessons we learned in 2020. If 2020 taught us anything, it was...

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A word to the wise

November 17, 2020

Growing up, I remember that older people continually urged me to enjoy my childhood and youth. Like many of you, I longed for a time when I could chart my own destiny and engage the world independently. Marrying young allowed that to happen much faster than I thought.

When you are young, it seems like everyone feels a need to offer-intentioned advice that never quite seems to fit. Those same adults that counseled patience and presence at the moment said something that I always found confusi...

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October 20, 2020
Approaching this article every week is a two-edged sword. Writing is both an opportunity to communicate as well as a responsibility to be a truth-teller. On my best days, a piece is a combination of both. Perhaps this will be one of those times.

During my weekend, I spent some time at my sister Loretta's house. Currently, her new job as a mortgage processor supervisor allows her the flexibility to work from home. Because of the pandemic, she opted for her -year-old to attend classes virtually....

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October 12, 2020

The first four years in ministry were spent as an associate pastor. This role gave me a lot of flexibility and served to prepare me to be a pastor. Often I was surprised at the cynicism of senior staff members towards an annual reporting/meeting known as charge conference.

When we finally launched out into fulltime ministry at Berryville UMC, I began to understand for myself why they dreaded it so much. The report itself is fairly comprehensive in nature. It is designed to ensure that building...

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Back to normal-ish

October 7, 2020

Last week I wrote my newsletter article from home. Our entire family was tested last Monday, and gratefully everyone tested negative for the virus. When the results came in on Wednesday, there was a collective sigh of relief and hugs all around. Honestly, the whole episode was a severe shock to our sensibilities.

Leigh Ann Guest went above and beyond, helping us navigate the complexities of preparing to address the testing. She called with our test results, answered all of our questions, an...

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September 29, 2020

Oxford Languages defines empathy as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Up to this point, we’ve been on the outside looking in. Our faith community is more than empathetic towards those who have been adversely affected. You don’t need to watch the news to know that people who lost earnings, employment, businesses, personal liberty, and peace of mind during the last six months struggle to recover their equilibrium.

Persons who have lost a loved one to COVID-19 or...

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Are we there yet?

September 24, 2020

This nostalgic phrase in the American language came into common usage when cars became an accepted mode of transportation in this country. Its been so much a part of my life, it probably made the top-ten list of all-time worst questions to hear from anyone in the passenger seat. There are emojis, memes, gifs, and even a movie made by the same title. These four words, apparently the perpetual question, make frequent appearances in cartoons, books, and yes, even church newsletter articles.


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The mantle of leadership

September 15, 2020

Passing the mantle

Looking at the book of Exodus over the last couple of weeks, we hear about the actions of God as he delivered the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt. Exodus provides the story of Moses, giving an account of his life from infancy to end of life. God not only saves Moses as an infant, but his becoming an adopted member of the royal family means that Moses receives the best education Egypt could offer. Little does he know how much he will come to need every ounce of educatio...

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Labor Day

September 8, 2020

Looking out of the backdoor, I can see that the September sun is making heat distortion that makes my view of the church look a little wavy.  A slight breeze ripples through the yellowing stalks of a quickly drying field of soybeans. Soon the combines will be stirring up dust in that field, bringing in the harvest for another year.

Saturday, Penny and I went to Stuttgart via St. Charles and State Highway 153, where farmers were busily cutting corn and rice. Tractors pulling grain hoppers wer...

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Pastor Kenny Lee

Minister of the Gospel Loving God, and loving people