Monthly Archives: January 2021

Mark Your Calendar

Return to Church

January 31, 2021

10:30 A.M

Pastor’s Ponderings

God’s name is important. It has power. It has meaning. We must be careful when we use it. A couple weeks ago angry, armed people carrying many different flags, including Confederate flags and Jesus flags forcibly overpowered capital police forcing Congress members, aids and others working in the capital to flee for protection and their lives. Some of these people carrying flags, Bibles and crosses beat police officers and lives ended. They removed many items from the walls of our government building, broke glass, beat down doors and dishonored many of the sacred places and items that our capital building held in trust for we the people.

We all saw what happened. I do not need to retell the whole story. Except for this part: as I continue to look at the footage and read about what happened I see gallows, crosses erected, carrying of crosses and Christian flags, I see people caring Bibles and then the prayer that was offered by some inside a chamber by those who laid siege on the building praying in the name of God.

There is much more than just a political point of view that disturbs me from that day. From my Christian point of view I found it incredibly dismaying and asked myself, “How can people do these things?” How was it, “That many people could do these things in the name of God”?

What happened on that day will go down in history and was an accumulation of many things that have gone wrong in our country. Christianity has taken on a nationalism and the Christian faith for too many people has become American and America is only a Christian Nation. Many organizations have hidden behind a, “Religious” banner to justify what they are doing.

Jesus did not come for a few or one particular nation. Jesus came for all people. For us to believe that Jesus is only, “An American” which has become the theme of so many groups as, “American Nationalism” which really goes against everything that Jesus has taught us through scripture. The heart of Jesus would have had nothing to do with hatefulness and violence that we have seen become part of our life in America today. Jesus would have nothing to do with disenfranchising millions of people because of the color of their skin, the country they may have come from or their religion. The discrimination that we allow to grow in our country today is not, “WWJD -What Would Jesus Do”. To do this or allow this is racism. When someone attacks another person because they are somehow different than themselves it is racism. When someone sees themselves as privileged and others as not having worth it is racism. All of what our Jesus stood for is summed in LOVE FOR ALL. 

There were many individuals and different groups that stormed our capital on January 6, 2021. It is only recently that I have become aware of one such group and philosophy and that is “America First”. This group or belief comes from white Christian nationalism who see themselves coming from white demographic supremacy over others. 

For me as I view much of what we have before us in video and see protesters kneeling at a cross before they entered our capital building, carrying signs that say, “Jesus 2020”, a Bible held at the chest of an invader as they push through the capital doors and the person next to them carrying a poster that says, “Jesus Saves” I have to question the role that we as a church and as individual Christians have allowed with acceptance and become, “These things in the name of God”.  They are not of God. All of God creation is in His image and likeness and that includes His heart.

Join me in continual prayer for our nation, its people, our leaders and our religious institutions as instruments of peace.  AMEN!

​​​​​Pastor Gary

Announcements and Stuff


Hey folks!  It won’t be long before our congregation will be back together, and our regular duties will again be necessary.  One of those duties we have is the honor of working together on the annual church clean-up/hot dog roast.  Weather permitting, we have scheduled Tuesday, April 20th (with an alternate date of April 27th) around 4 PM as the day we will do this.  This is not only a chance to do some work for God by beautifying our church, but to also gather for some socializing and a hot dog roast around the campfire.  Please put the date on your calendar. The more people that come, the less work for all and the more fun we will have at the campfire. Hope to see you there!                          

Dave G. and Konnie G.

Upcoming Worship

February 7,2021
Isaiah 40:21-31 / Mark 1:29-39
Followers of Jesus Are to be Healers Too

February 14, 2021
Transfiguration Sunday
Psalm 50:1-6 / Mark 9:2-9
God Speaks from the Heavens

February 17, 2021
Ash Wednesday
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 / Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
The Prayer Room

February 21, 2021
Psalm 25:1-10 / Mark 1:9-15
Forty Days

February 28, 2021
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 / Romans 4:13-25 / Mark 8:31-38
Living in the Forty

Claybanks United Methodist Mid-Month Update

January 2021

Good News Breaking – given the relatively lower rate of Covid-19 infection and the continued vaccination in Oceana County and our Claybanks Community with much prayer and discussion the Worship Design Team and the Administrative Council of Claybanks United Methodist have decided that we can return to in-person worship on Sunday January 31st at 10:30 am.

The Claybanks Family did a very good job last fall in following the guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19. We will continue to wear face coverings, do social and physical distancing and clean facility diligently. More good news; because we have done a good job of distancing in our facility we will return to singing softly during worship while wearing face coverings. As we return please be aware of all safety concerns and look for possible new guidelines. For those who are not quite yet ready to return to in-person worship please know that you are loved and welcome when you feel most comfortable in returning.

Lent begins on Wednesday February 17th and we will have an Ash Wednesday Service at 7:00 pm at the church.

As understandable with not meeting during November, December and now for most of January our giving support to meet the needs of the church has fallen off. We ask that you give some prayerful thought in assisting your church as we continual to meet church expenses. Donations can be sent to the church P.O. Box 104 or placed in the Offering Plates when we gather once again on January 31st.

Our Nomination Committee is working on filling a number of open volunteer positions of the church. Should you wish to fill a specific positon or know of a church family member that would be willing to serve please contact one of the Nomination’s Committee members or Pastor Gary. Openings are: Church Secretary (Preparing bulletins and newsletters), Financial Chair, Christian Education Director, Chair of Missions, member for Trustees and a member for Nominations. We continue to look for someone to assist in worship with our audio and visual presentation. Our Nominations Committee will be meeting on Sunday February 14th after worship to consider your nominations.

We have received letters of appreciation for our mission support of Trinity Lutheran Community Food Pantry (we assisted in feeding 220 families during the holiday time with the canned good you provided and the pantry was able to purchase 1400 pounds of food from Feeding America with your financial contributions), Love In The Name of Christ and Child Evangelism Fellowship in 2020. These missions will be supported once again in 2021. Even with Covid-19 we as a church have been able to make a positive difference in people’s lives in 2020.

Prayer concerns: Inge Dalbke Family, Our Nation, those touched by Covid-19, Food Banks and our church.



Pastor’s Ponderings

Looking To Find Grace

Almost all of 2020 is behind us and in just a few days a new year will begin- 2021. 2020 has had its long shadows which at times have been difficult to overcome. Early in 2020 we began to hear the term “Covid-19” and we did not fully understand how it was going to affect our lives so dramatically and take so quickly the earthly lives of so many. Covid-19 created much sickness for so many and lingering effects on health which are still being measured and sought out. Our daily routines have been affected and adjustments have been made. As our life continued on with many alterations we still feel the many obligations that must be satisfied and standing on the sidelines at times has been very difficult. Many in our community, country and around the world have felt the losses of lives near them, loss of employment, and the struggles of putting food on the table, paying the rent or mortgages and the utility bills. Our social life has changed dramatically as we only gather in small groups, social and family pods, wear face coverings, keep a social distance and practice many other health-related activities to protect our families, loved ones, friends and our community. We interact in new ways such as in Zoom meetings and Facetime. We spend much more time with our phones in conversation, checking our messages, working with email and spending more time in Facebook than ever before. While all these possibilities for interaction have allowed us to stay in touch with each other, we miss the personal direct human contact that we have experienced throughout our lives which now has become very limiting.

It is possible that the absence of these things has limited the inertia that we bring to a new year and may be sweeping away the excitement we have when a new year approaches as it does beginning in January of every year. Let us not forget what Scripture tells us – that “God’s grace is sufficient” and that is essential in our lives. God’s grace is transformative in the renovation of our hearts and minds as we look to fulfill the expectations of a new year. We know as followers of Jesus Christ that He will never leave us alone or forsake us. Let us not dwell so much on what we have lost during 2020 but look at how 2021 can move us to the better places for our lives. May we learn to respect and appreciate life lived more fully, appreciating the small things that we see and do, thanking God for what has been provided to us by recognizing that God’s grace was sufficient to get us through this past year and we will experience the abundant sufficiency of God’s grace in 2021. Yes, we all know life will be different as we go forward.

Our families may be somewhat different, for sure our gathering in church worship as we enter a new year will be different for a period of time, other activities will still need to be adjusted. Yet, it is through the love that we have in our Lord Jesus Christ that we recognize the grace that Jesus will provide us is more than enough grace for the living of our lives more fully in the upcoming year.
Blessings and stay safe until we can gather together once more safely in community and let’s stay in contact with each other. Happy New Year!

Pastor Gary

Announcements and Stuff

Thank You

Suzanne, Reba and I want to thank you for the gifts and cards we have received from you during this Holiday Season. May the joy we share with each other be a lasting greeting of love for all to appreciate and remember.

Pastor Gary

Scriptures on Hope

Fill in the Blanks! (self-correcting quiz!)

Job 13:15
Though he _ me, yet will I ___ in him: but I will maintain mine own ____ before him.

For there shall be no reward to the ____ man; the candle of the ____ shall be put out.

Romans 8:24-25
For we are saved by ___: but hope that is not seen is not ___: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with _ wait for it.

1 Corinthians 15:19
If in this ___ only we have hope in ____, we are of all men most _____.

Hebrews 11:1
Now __ is the substance of things ____ for, the evidence of ____ not seen.

1 Peter 1:3
Blessed be the _______and Father of our Lord Jesus _____, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the _____ of Jesus Christ from the _.

1 Thessalonians 5:8
But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a ______, and the hope of salvation as a _.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep

New Year’s Traditions and Celebrations

In many countries, New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of December 31—New Year’s Eve—and continue into the early hours of January 1. Revelers often enjoy meals and snacks thought to bestow good luck for the coming year. In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes-symbolizing their hopes for the months ahead-right before midnight. In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success; examples include lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the southern United States. Because pigs represent progress and prosperity in some cultures, pork appears on the New Year’s Eve table in Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and other countries. Ring-shaped cakes and pastries, a sign that the year has come full circle, round out the feast in the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece and elsewhere. In Sweden and Norway, meanwhile, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve; it is said that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune.

Prayer To Begin The New Year

Lord, grant me a joyful heart and a holy sense of humor. Please give me the gift of faith to be renewed and shared with others each day. Teach me to live this moment only, looking neither to the past with regret, not to the future with apprehension. Let love be my aim and my life a prayer.