First Christmas at First

Everyone knows the joy on children’s faces as they experience their first Christmas. What joy as they squeal with delight! Lights! Music! Hearing the story read to them!  It adds a whole new dimension to the meaning of Christmas.

Since this is my First Christmas at First, I too am delighted at what I see and hear during my first Christmas. The sights, the sounds, the joy, the generosity . . . what wonderful reminders of what Christmas is all about.

The sanctuary is simply gorgeous!  It looks and feels like Christmas. It is a great place to go, be still and know that God is God.  The artwork from Amazing Grace is beautiful. Christmas gatherings are heartwarming. The children’s play was enjoyable.  The Vivaldi music, with the harpsicord providing a special touch, was a delight for the soul and and the ears.

Even as I celebrate and relish my First Christmas at First, I am reminded that Christmas can be a very sad and lonely time. The amazing thing about Jesus, whose birth we celebrate, can meet us wherever we are on our spiritual journey. If we are rejoicing, he rejoices with us. If we are weeping, he weeps with us. He is, indeed, the Good Shepherd.

Christmas always seems to come too soon and then is over too soon for me. That’s why I’m glad that Epiphany extends the holiday and gives us a few more days to reflect and rejoice. By then, I am ready to take down any Christmas decorations I’ve put up and settle into the New Year.

Take time to enjoy this holiday season.  Whether this is your first year or you’ve been here many years, enjoy Christmas at First. God’s best to you!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dr. Alfie Wines

Associate Pastor of Connections

 

Thanksgiving Connections

It never ceases to amaze me how much human beings need one another. Somehow, God created us in a way that we are not complete without a variety of relationships, good relationships, that make a difference in our lives.

As we enter the holiday season, I wonder, “What’s your favorite holiday?” For me, in terms of gathering, I prefer Thanksgiving because there’s less preparation and more time to enjoy.

The Thanksgiving Weekend is a breath of fresh air for all. I love spending extra time with family, friends, catching up on reading and a few chores (just a few!!)  as well. I also enjoy having time for paying more attention to any new connections that I may have made throughout the year.

Of course, since I’m in my First Year at First, I am blessed with many new connections. I am grateful for each and every one.

I am reminded how one of my new connections, Janet Godsy, is making her own new connections at First. Janet is a perfect example of what connecting at First is all about. Returning to church, currently, she is exploring various small groups, i.e. Sunday School classes. The challenge, she says, is that we have some many, each unique and enjoyable in its own way. I will be interested in knowing where she lands.

As we enter the holiday season, give thanks for your connections, including your Connections at First. Find a way to love God, others, and yourself even more as we prepare for the New Year.

Happy Thanksgiving one and all!

God’s best to you!

Dr. Alfie Wines, Associate Pastor of Connections

 

Connections Can Make a Big Difference

Sometimes we think it takes a lot to make a difference in someone’s life. Yet, the truth of the matter is that little things mean a lot! Sometimes, even little things make can make a big difference in someone’s life.

A smile, an invitation, an encouraging word may not seem like a lot, but these little things can make a difference in a person’s day, in a person’s life. As I listened to First stories this week, I was amazed at how many people are here simply because someone invited them to church.

Thinking about my own journey of faith, I realize that once I decided to return to church (after a 10 year hiatus), it was a coworker’s invitation that got me through the door. I had no idea that responding to that invitation would be the beginning of my journey toward ministry.

This one connection, this invitation made a difference in my life–far more than I realized at the time. As we continue thinking about gratitude, I encourage you to give thanks for your First Connections and to share your connection with someone else.

Know that connections make a huge difference in the quality of our lives. At home, at church, at work, wherever we are, connections make the difference. Who connects with you? With whom do you connect?

Between now and the next time we get together, be sure to thank God for your First Connections!

Blessings,

Dr. Alfie Wines, Associate Pastor of Connections

 

The Power of Connections

Generally, we know that relationships play an important role in our lives. In fact, relationships are so important that the connections we make very often change the very course of our lives .

As I met with various groups over the last couple of weeks, I was struck by by not only the power, but the depth of connections among congregation members here at First United Methodist Church, Arlington. For example, I met several couples who met and married here. I met people who have been friends since their days in kindergarten. I met people who have been friends for too many years to count. I met people whose lives were changed by listening to Dr. Mosser teach and preach. Yes, the connections at FUMCA run deep!

As I listened to the stories, I was reminded of the power of connections in Jesus’s life. Of course there were many people who were part of his public ministry (crowds, leaders, recipients of miracles, etc.). However, as I listened to FUMCA stories, I thought of the variety of close relationships Jesus had. A summary of his close relationships includes:

  • a close circle of coworkers (including two groups of disciples numbering 12 and 70)
  • an inner circle of three disciples (Peter, James, John)
  • good friends (Martha, Mary and Lazarus)
  • family members (who misunderstood his ministry)
  • supporters (a group of women who followed him).

As we continue in our church wide study, The Gratitude Path, we can be grateful for our FUMCA connections and the power of these connections in our lives.

Yours in Christ,

Dr. Alfie Wines, Associate Pastor of Connections

Making New Connections!

Fall is in the air . . . almost! Things are definitely moving here at First United Methodist Church Arlington (FUMCA). There’s joy and excitement. I can feel it, can you? I certainly hope you do!

I enjoyed the Fall Kickoff. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! I met some new people there and I hope you did too!

As I noted in the previous blog, people often wonder, “How can I get connected? Where do I start? What if I’m already connected and want to try something new?”

Jesus is our best example. He met new people everywhere he went. If we are to follow him, we need to meet new people too. Meeting new people is an important part–a very enjoyable part– of the journey of faith.

For me, meeting new people is about more than just exchanging pleasantries. It is about making room for new people and new experiences in my life. It’s an approach to life that entails an openness of heart and mind, soul and spirit.

Perhaps what I enjoy most about meeting new people is hearing their stories. Listening to people’s stories helps me remember names. At FUMCA there are lots of people and lots of stories!

Whether you’re new to FUMCA or you’ve been here for many years, I invite you to make a new connection with someone here at church. Then share your story, your joy about that new connection with me. Send me an email. I want to hear your New Connection story! My email address is: awines@arlingtonnmethodist.org. Can’t wait to hear from you!

Meantime . . . here’s what I’ve learned in the last couple of weeks:

    • I was reminded that the Christian life is to be lived in community. I attended the Beginnings class. The class was an example of of the importance of being in community and sharing our faith journey with one another.
    • During the last two weeks I was also reminded that great things can come from small beginnings and that new connections can start just by spending five minutes with someone. It’s amazing to watch and see what the Holy Spirit will do with just five minutes. Jesus fed 5,000, but he started small–with just five loaves of bread and two fish. What new connections can you make when you start small? What new connections can you make in just five minutes?
    • I was delighted that several members of the Beginnings class have attended for several years. That’s quite a testimony to the power of connections. Hats off to Dennis and Debbie Lange for leading this ministry!!

Yours in Christ,

Dr. Alfie Wines, Associate Pastor of Connections

P. S. Be sure to click on the CONTACT tab. Complete the CONTACT form. Fill in your contact information, comment and let me know your FUMC Arlington connection story! If you prefer, you can send an email to: awines@arlingtonmethodist.org.

 

 

 

 

Something New!

The vacation days of summer are a thing of the past. At FUMC Arlington it’s time to start new things. Small groups that took a summer break are just getting started. Committees are organizing to get the work done. Ministries are exploring and meeting needs in the church and in the community.

The theme of this year’s Fall Kickoff, The Power of Community, reminds us that many blessings are in store when we get connected! With so much to do and so much to choose from, it sometimes leaves one wondering, “How can I get connected? Where do I start? What if I’m already connected and want to try something new”

If you’re asking those questions, I want you to know that you are not alone. As one of your new pastors, I too am asking some of those same questions. Since this is my First Year at First, I thought it might be good to share my journey with you. Also, I want to hear from you! What are your FUMC Arlington connection stories and how have they made a difference in your life?

Here at the Get Connected blog, we will spotlight some of the many opportunities for worship, learning, service, and fellowship available at FUMC Arlington. We’ll talk about the joys and blessings of connections and the difference they make in our lives.

I will check in with you twice a month to let you know what I’m learning about being connected here at FUMC Arlington. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • FUMC Arlington is a great place to be. With so many opportunities to choose from there’s something here for everyone!
  • Dr. Mosser’s Bible Study is bursting at the seams!
  • Beginnings is a great place to start! Led by Dennis and Debbie Lange, this group focuses on the enjoyment of meeting new people while growing in faith. Dennis explains the impact that Beginnings had on their lives: “Beginnings helped us find church to be more than just a Sunday ritual.” The Beginnings brochure further notes: “Beginnings has room for everyone no matter where you are in your faith journey. If you’re just starting you’ll find out more about what it means to be a Christian. If you’re further along, you’ll be inspired to continue on your way.” Beginnings starts Thursday, September 15th at 6:30 pm and will meet  Thursday  evenings for 12 weeks, excluding Thanksgiving. Meals and childcare will be provided. Everyone is welcome!

Let’s share the journey together! I look forward to hearing from you!

Yours in Christ,

Dr. Alfie Wines, Associate Pastor of Connections

P. S. Be sure to click on the CONTACT tab. Complete the CONTACT form. Fill in your contact information, comment and let me know your FUMC Arlington connection story!