Tag Archives: wholeness

The Face of Evil, part 4

Read Exodus 34:1-7

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:21 NLT)

Finally, we come to the last era…well, probably not…but we finally come to the latest era in the Halloween franchise. For this iteration, David Gordon Green took the helm at co-writing and directing Halloween, released in 2018 (aka Halloween 2018). It was written for and released on the 40th anniversary of the release of the original film directed by John Carpenter. In it, Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, a woman who is faced with the reality that Michael is on the loose again.

This film was envisioned to be a direct sequel to the original film. John Carpenter signed on to be an executive producer and also cowrote the soundtrack with his son. The truth is that Carpenter wasn’t happy with the direction the Halloween films had taken following his exit from the films back in 1982. He signed on to contribute to making the scariest sequel of them all and to recalibrate the series, putting it back on track with the oritinal intent.

You guessed it, that means that this iteration of Michael Myers was much more like the original. He was the walking embodiment of evil that has no reason, let alone moral justification, for what he’s doing. People fear what they don’t understand or know, and Carpenter (as well as David Gordon Green) understood that. To make Michael horrifying again, he had to be brought back to that realm of the mysterious. Why is Michael doing what he’s doing? Simple…he’s evil. There need not be any other reason but that.

With that said, this particular film also delves into the horrific impact that evil can have on its victims. Forty years aater the original film, Laurie strode is living alone in the woods, estranged from her family. Following the events of 1978, Laurie never fully recovered. She had a daughter, but ended up having the daughter taken away by Child Services. Why? Because she turned her entire house into an armed compound and trained her daughter to shoot to kill. The fear of one night forty years ago, had clearly overtaken her life.

To make matters worse, her daughter hates her and thinks she is completely insane, to the point where she is avoiding inviting her mom to dinner to celebrate. The relationship with her granddaughter is also strained, because of the the granddaughter’s mother has on her. She wants a relationship with her grandmom and does not understand why grandma cannot just let Michael go.

Of course, we all know that Michael escapes…AGAIN…and comes to where Laurie and her family are living. On Halloween night, her family realizes that Laurie’s fears were quite real and, those who survive, are quite thankful for her readiness, without spoiling anything. What I love about this film is that it totally takes a look at victims of horrific trauma. It shows us what being a survivor is all about and the horror that unfolds in their life well beyond the actual events that triggered it.

Plenty of people suffer from PTSD and other trauma related illnesses. When we commonly think of PTSD, we think of veterans who served in the military; however, that is one of many groups of people who suffer PTSD. Rape victims, bully victims, car accident victims, police officers, first responders, pastors, and plenty of others can experience PTSD from their own trauma or from experiencing the trauma of others.

Sadly, the church has caused PTSD in others, and I don’t mean just in the sexual abuse cases. I mean that there are a whole host of people who no longer attend church because they no longer view it as a safe place. Perhaps they were burned by people who saw themselves as better or were too selfish to consider another’s feelings. Perhaps they were rejected or treated differently because of how they dressed or whatnot. As Christians, we are being challenged by God to pay attention how we treat people and to avoid being a PTSD inducing people. Let us test ourselves, continually, to make sure we are bringing people to Christ…NOT crisis.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
As much as we can spot evil in others, we had better be doubly quick to spot it in ourselves.

PRAY
Lord, use Scripture and other means to show me how I need to change for the glory of the Kingdom. With your help, all things are possible. Amen.

The Face of Evil, part 3

Read Romans 12:19-21

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NLT).”

Continuing on with the Halloween Franchise, we come up to a whole knew era of the Michael Myers Saga, where he gets a fresh new look from an metal icon turned film director, Rob Zombie. As was mentioned previously, Halloween was based on the film Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock, based off of the novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. In that film, we follow Norman Bates, a deranged, mentally ill man who murdered his mother and assumed her identity. It was scary, and Norman did monstrous things; however, you can’t help but pity him because he cannot help himself.

In Halloween, John Carpenter removes the sympathetic side of the killer out. The film starts with what we believe to be a human being…a six year old boy. We then find out that all humanity has left that little boy as he brutally murders his sister. When he finallyreturns to Haddonfield fifteen years later following an escape from a Mental Health facility, he is no longer a “human being.” Rather, he is a “shape”. The mask he wears is a ghostly shape of a face, and he lingers in the dark, awaiting for someone to pass by him in the shadows. In the original 1978 film, and subsequent sequels, Michael Myers is a rage-filled, unrelenting killing machine with no soul, no moral compass, and no awareness of self even. He is evil incarnate.

Rob Zombie, on the other hand, rebooted the original and took it into a different realm. Instead of dismissing the notion that evil is an evolution, Zombie challenges our understanding of what is evil and how it develops. In his film, we see a young Michael Myers, who is ten years old in this version. We see him at first playing with a rat and then we pan downstairs to see his mom ccoking dinner for her husband and kids. You can tell that they are a lower income, working class, and somewhat dysfunctional family.

When we see young Michael again, he’s washing blood off of his hands and a sharp instrument. He had killed the rat. Clearly, this young child is mentally ill. As we learn more about his home and school environment, it becomes clear that Michael’s behavior is a result of surviving abuse and neglect. His step father is abusive and his mother, who is also an exotic dancer, does her best, but that is not nearly enough for her children. Alcholism, sexual debauchery, and abuse exist in the Myers house.

At school, Michael is bullied and is constantly getting into trouble for writing and drawing distrubing things. The point is, the first third of the film were spent establishing Michael’s back story. The second third of the film is spent showing an adult Michael in the hospital as an adult, his eventual escape and his return to Haddonfield, the final third fo the film is spent the usual way, people running for their lives, blood, guts, mayhem and, eventually, Michael is defeated…but not really. There’s always a sequel, and there was a sequel for Zombie’s film.

In this, Rob Zombie is taking us beyond just sympathizing with a sick person and he is taking us beyond seeing evil as just this unpreventable, unstoppable force that we could never participate in or become; rather, Zombie is reminding us that, while evil does exist, human evil does not exist in a vacuum. Things aren’t always so black & white and, frankly, evil begets more evil. Had Michael grown up in a functional, loving, nurturing environment, his mental illness might not have taken the violent turn it did; what’s more, the household he lived in was so eroded by sin that evil was the natural result…and once evil is unleashed, it becomes a nearly unstoppable force that MUST be eradicated.

This should challenge us to not only avoid being so quick to make judgments, but it also should challenge us to really reflect on the ways we might be contributing to the sin and evil in the world. That is not to say that such mindfulness will result in nobody slipping through the cracks, but it would help us to ensure as few do as possible. Let us be a people who not only avoid being overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Let’s reverse EVIL and by turning to God and beginning to trust him to help us LIVE the lives we were created to live.

PRAYER
Lord, help me to avoid evil but also help me to confront and resist it when it presents itself. Give me the courage and the strength. Amen.

October 17, 2021 – Newton UMC – Sunday Worship Livestream

JOY Fellowship Service: 9 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 9:00 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Traditional Service: 10:30 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Welcome to our Sunday Worship Services for October 17. Today we learn the importance of and risk involved in going ALL IN for Jesus.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.

A LOOK BACK: The Masks We Wear

Read Psalm 139

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10

The Masks We WearAh, I can smell Halloween in the air! I love this time of year, the leaves are falling like heavy feathers from the trees. The crisp cool breeze rustling the leaves on the streets; the hollow rattling sound the trees make as they brace themselves for another wintry slumber. The smell of burning wood beginning to emanate from rooftops wafts to the noses of little ghouls and goblins as they dress up in their costumes and masks, getting ready for a night of being on the prowl for the world’s cheapest, and yet greatest, sugary delights. Yes, I love Halloween.

One of the things I always loved about Halloween was dressing up! I have been many things for the holiday over the years. I have been a hobo, Cousin It, Moses, Dracula, the wolf-man, Jack Skellington, a zombie and many, many other things. I always looked forward to being able to dress up and be whoever it was I had decided to be. Halloween was the one night, all year-long, where I didn’t have to be me…it was the one night, all year-long, that I could be whatever I wanted to be and not worry what others thought about it.

As a pastor, and previously a youth pastor, who has served in ministry over the past several years, I have come to recognize that the ritual of mask wearing extends far beyond the annual holiday of fun and goodies. Most people, if not all of them, put on masks every morning and don’t take them off until late at night as they are slumped over from another day in a year full of not being themselves. The kind of mask I am talking about is not one made of latex, or face paint, or any other kind of removable synthetic substance; rather, this mask is a metaphor that represents the reality that most hide who they really are and only display what they believe people want to see.

Perhaps you are wearing a mask. Perhaps every day you wake up and paint a smile on your face. Perhaps you dress your best and head off to work like you are at the top of the world, when deep in side you feel like a child who’s been lost in the darkness of the forest for hours. Perhaps you find yourself constantly seeking to please others, constantly trying to live up to the expectations that bosses, colleagues, friends and family members are placing on you. Perhaps, you are trying live up to the image that you think others have of you, and each day you wake up and put that mask on you feel further and further from who you really are.

If this is you, if you are a bearer of masks, if you wear a thousand fake faces in order to hide the real you, know that there is hope. There is a God who knows you. There is a God who loves you. There is a God who sees through your mask and accepts you for who you are regardless of what you have or have not done. There is a God who is calling you to remove your mask and enjoy the beauty of God’s handiwork. There is a God who has forgiven whatever it is you feel you might have done. There is a God who LOVES you unconditionally. There is a God who continues to give up everything just to be with you. And there is a community of God’s people that God is calling you to be a part of, a community of people that God is calling to be a part of you. Regardless of where you find yourself, know that God is calling you to be nothing more than who you are, and that you are already loved and accepted!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“It’s just better to be yourself than to try to be some version of what you think the other person wants.” – Matt Damon

PRAYER

Lord help me to see myself as you seem me. Remove my mask and help me to shine in the ways you created me to. Amen.

October 17, 2021 – Newton UMC – Sunday Worship Livestream

JOY Fellowship Service: 9 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 9:00 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Traditional Service: 10:30 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Welcome to our Sunday Worship Services for October 17. Today we learn the importance of and risk involved in going ALL IN for Jesus.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.

The Face of Evil, part 2

Read Romans 3:1-20

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:21 NLT)

Now that we’ve looked at Norman Bates in the movie Psycho, we move now to another person who is known as a face of evil. His name, of course, is Michael Myers and his movie franchise is the Halloween series, which was first written and directed by John Carpenter in 1978. For horror fans the world over, Michael Myers is one of the three most iconic slasher film villains of all time, along side Jason Vorhees and Freddy Krueger. For horror film fans, those three make up the unholy trinity of bloody mayhem and murder.

Michael, however, was the OG. He was the original. Both Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street Series came after and were influenced by John Carpenter’s Halloween. Also, as was mentioned in the last devotion, Halloween was heavily influenced by Psycho. That makes Psycho the granddaddy of slasher films, and Halloween the daddy of the genre. Halloween, in fact, was so influenced by Hitchcock’s film that Carpenter even named one of his main protagonists, Dr. Samuel Loomis off of Marion Crane’s boyfriend, in Psycho.

Halloween was a fan’s ode to Psycho, but it did change the direction of Hitchcock’s antagonist in order to fit the time within which the film was being written. By the end of the 1970s, the wishful dreaming of the flower power generation was an after thought. We had been through the Cuban Missile Crisis, assassinations, Vietnam, Richard Nixon, the Civil Rights Movement, and a host of other huge, earth shattering events. The generation that was born in the early to mid 60s, the beginnings of Generation X, would by the late 70s be much more cynical than their baby boomer predecessors.

So, as great as it was to view the killer as a human being, John Carpenter was directing his film in a different time than Hitchcock and took it in a bit of a different direction. In this film, Carpenter starts off by introducing us to little Michael Myers, a 6 year old boy, who is left home with his older sister on Halloween. We don’t know this yet, though. At first we think that his older sister is home alone with her boyfriend. They obviously have sex and then the boyfriend leaves. Meanwhile, a hand is shown reaching into the knife drawer. From this point on we are seeing this from a masked person’s point of view.

We see his (our) hand reaching down and pulling out a large kitchen knife, much like the one in Psycho. This killer (us…as this is in the first person perspective) stalks through the house, goes upstairs, and finds the teenage girl sitting naked at her vanity  brushing her hair. That is when she notices him and screams, “Michael”, as he repeated stabs her to death.

He (we) then run(s) outside and a car pulls up. A mom and a dad get out, say the name, “Michael” as they pull off his/our mask.  At that point we leave the first-person perspective and can see that his parents have pulled a mask off of their 6 year old boy, who is bloodied and holding a bloody knife. The screen goes black, the killer has been revealed and the stage set.

So, we start off with a human being, but we quickly learn that this dude ain’t human. He’s super human. He is the walking embodiment of evil. He is evil incarnate and there is literally NOTHING you can do to stop him. Dr. Loomis shot him 6 times and he still got up and was able to kill several more people in the sequel.

This switch in the killer’s identity from human to MONSTER, fueled the rest of the series and, honestly, makes perfect sense in the light of the late 70s and the 1980s. There was much cynicism to be had. The “Moral Majority” was on the rise, as were so-called family values as the Christian response to the counter-cultural movement of the 60s. Of course, the Church is always at least a decade behind the world anymore, and so alongside this Moral Majority comes these horror films that both affirm the family values, but also question the morality of the majority and their ability to really stop evil. After all, had religion stopped evil? Did church stop Hitler during World War II? What evil was thwarted by good? And even if it looks like good won out in the end, did it really. Evil seems to just keep coming back, and back, and back.

The point of this is that while the 60s aimed to tone down focusing on evil…or even deny the existence of evil at all, the 70s and 80s began to embrace the fact that evil exists. The Halloween series showed the moral failings of the previous generation, but also the moral and societal failings of all generations. It reminded the world that the Bible is right in the fact that EVIL EXISTS and it doesn’t have a face. Michael Myers was the human being, but that part of him died. Al that remains is faceless mask over a skulking body; he’s a SHAPE consumed by relentless evil.

The fact of the matter is that EVIL does not need a face to exist. It can exist in any one of us and, truth be told, it can consume and destroy anyone of us. The FACE OF EVIL in this case is a denial of the evil that exists within us. The Bible reminds us of that, which is why today’s Scripture is exactly the same as the last devotion. Michael Myers is not the cause of evil, but a symptom of it. We, too, can become a symptom of evil, or we can choose to turn to Jesus Christ for the cure. Faith in Christ, and his redeeming sacrifice for us on the cross, will certainly deliver us from evil.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
EVIL is LIVE backwards. Learn to LIVE FOR JESUS and AVOID EVIL.

PRAYER
Lord, lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Amen.

The Face of Evil, part 1

By Rev. Todd R. Lattig

Read Romans 3:1-20

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:21)

One of my all-time favorite horror films is John Carpenter’s Halloween, which was inspired by another one of my favorite horror films, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The two films have been monumentally impactful in the horror genre. What’s more, the two films are connected to each other because the two lead actresses are literally related to each other. That’s right, Janet Leigh, who starred in Psycho, is Halloween star, Jamie Lee Curtis’ mother. In fact, in 1998 for the 20th anniversary of Halloween, both Jamie Lee and Janet Leigh starred together in Halloween: H20.

Trivia aside, there’s a lot we can learn from Halloween; however, before we do, we need to look at it’s predecessor, Psycho. In that film, Anthony Perkins plays a seemingly kind but socially awkward motel owner who incidentally meets Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) as she stops for the night due to the rain being so bad. Seeing that the Bates Motel had vacancy, she pulls in and meets Norman (Anthony Perkins) who checks her in and offers her food.

What Norman doesn’t know is that Marion had stolen $40,000 from her employer’s client and was on the run. Her boyfriend didn’t know she was going to pull this off, nor did her sister. So, no one knows that Marion is at the Bates Motel, let alone where she might be. What Marion doesn’t know is that there’s more than meets the eye at the Bates motel and, as a matter of fact, we find out that not only is Norman a perverted peeping Tom, but his “mother” is super jealous of other women.

That last fact, sadly, cost Marion her life. While taking a shower, Norman’s “mother” came into the bathroom slowly and silently, ripped open the curtin and stabbed Marion to death with a large kitchen knife. The scene was more than memorable, it literally scarred some people enough that they refused to take a shower again. Of course, Hitchcock being the brilliant director he was, the scene was pulled off without ever showing the knife connect with the body and, in pure Hitchcock fashion, the blood shown going down the drain was actually Bosco Chocolate Syrup because Hitchcock discovered that it looked more red in the Black & White format. Even shooting in B&W was purposeful, as Technicolor was widely available at the time and Hitchcock chose not to shoot it that way.

Of course, I put the word “mother” in quotes because we learn that Norman’s mother is really dead. Norman was into taxidermy and, after poisoning her, he preserved her well and kept her in the basement. To compensate for the loss of his overbearing mother, Norman dressed up like her, imitated her voice and assumed her identity.

As it turned out, Norman was a very sick man who had Dissociative Identity (formerly known as Multiple Personality) Disorder. He was Norman some of the time, he was Mrs. Bates the rest of the time. As Norman, he was a frail, lonely, insecure, awkward boy in a man’s body. As Mrs. Bates, he was cold, demanding, cruel and, as we find out in the film, jealously murderous.

The beauty of this film is how forward thinking it was in terms of mental health. It’s shocking conclusion, with Norman completely gone and Mrs. Bates being completely the dominant personality, really forces the viewer to come face-to-face with mental illness. One cannot hate Norman at the end of the film. Sure, he horrifies you, but there is a level of pity you have for him. His victims should not have died, not even his cruel mom, but he is a victim in all of this too and he cannot help himself.

In our society, we often look at killers such as Norman Bates as being the “Face of Evil”, but Psycho challenges this. Was Norman evil? I mean, yes…what he did was evil, but was Norman Bates, the man, evil? Or was he a sick individual who slipped through the cracks only to turn up when it was brutally too late? Psycho was a very 1960s way of looking at what we call “evil” and trying to put the humanity back into it.

Overall, that is a great thing because, as easy as it would be to view Norman Bates as less than human or a monster, he really is not much different than you and I. The only difference is how his mind works and, truthfully, all of our minds work a bit differently. Norman Bates was a man who was created and loved by God. No, God did not wish for Norman’s life to go down the path it did; however, since when did that give us the permission to BE GOD and judge?

In fact, one of the many faces of evil is JUDGMENT. People who think they are God enough to pass judgment are putting on evil as their way of life. That does not make THEM evil, but their judgmental attitudes are evil for sure. So, before we start getting all self-righteous, we really do need to take a back seat to God. Let us remember that, no matter how awful a person may be acting, they are still a child of God and we are called to love everyone…not judge them.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Evil is as evil does.

PRAYER
Lord, lead me away from temptation and deliver me from evil. Amen.

October 10, 2021 – Newton UMC – Sunday Worship Livestream

JOY Fellowship Service: 9 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 9:00 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Traditional Service: 10:30 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Welcome to our Sunday Worship Services for October 10. Today we learn about the powerful instrument the tongue is, and how it can be used to cut down and destroy or it can be used to heal and build up.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.

Bad Day

Read John 5:1-15

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 NLT)

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Dog – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 21 – Photo Credit: Eli Ade/AMC

As a fan of the TV series The Walking Dead on AMC, I am thrilled at the direction they brought the show through season 10 and season 11. Prior to that, it had felt like the show had dried up a bit, as if they lost their desire to keep the audiences thrilled anymore; however, since they announced that Season 11 would be the last season for the series, it was as if that had sparked the passion once again. Let me tell you, Season 11 has been as good as the original seasons and it so great to see them go out on a high note.

It definitely is an iconic show that has brought horror, and the power of using the horror genre as social commentary, to the mainstream. Those elements were always a part of horror; however, only horror fans exposed themselves to it to know that. The truth is, nowadays, there isn’t a single person who doesn’t know the show The Walking Dead, and they know full-well that Walkers are not a metal frame used to stablize you while walking. Zombies are everywhere!

Toward the end of Season 10, there was this episode where one of the OG (original) characters, Carol, was supposed to be making soup inside her house and she ends up having a complete nervous break down. It started off with her inability to really find any food that would be suitable for soup. Still, she grabbed what she could, but there was no meat to be had. *scurry* Wait a minute, or was there. *scurry scurry* A mouse! There was a rat in the wall. She had heard it and so had Dog (that’s right, she has a dog named Dog…well, it was Daryl’s but she was dogsitting Dog.). There he was, his head cocked, his earsed perked, and he was just waiting for that rat to come out! *scurry scurry scurry*

Oh, he came out and the dog nearly broke everything in the kitchen trying to catch the rat, who survived. So, Carol set a trap to catch the rat and she did catch him, but he escaped and ran back into the wall. Carol was not having that! She took out a knife and started stabbing in all the places she could hear the little rat feet pitter-pattering on the wood in between the walls. She stabbed at that wall until she could put her hands in and tear the wall down and, when she was done with that wall, she proceeded to disassemble her entire house…trying to catch the rat.

Well, needless to say, she did not catch the rat, but she had destroyed her home and had one of her friends come over to do a wellness check on her. When he found her there, he asked her if everything was okay. At that point, Carol was resigned, exhausted, emotional and just beginning to regain her sanity. She looked up at him and said, “Bad day. I’ve had a really bad day.” The tears rolled down her cheeks and her friend stood silent, just nodding his head and just being a silent presence for her.

Indeed, she had had a bad day. Let’s be honest, in the Zombie Apocalypse every day goes from bad to worse! But inwardly, Carol had a really bad day. Why? Because she’s grieving. She lost her daughter all those years ago when she was a battered wife at the outset of the pandemic. Her group had been to hell and back with all of the dangerous groups out there with tribal mentalities. She had witnessed the brutal deaths of her friends and family and she was grieiving the fact that another decision of hers made earlier on in Season 9 had left people dead and missing. She had become a liability to her people, and she didn’t know how to cope with that.

Indeed. Carol had a really bad day. We all can have really bad days. I have had my share and, in those moments, we say and do things that we later come to regret and lament. Throughout the pandemic, I had a really bad couple of years. I had heightened depression, unruly anxiety, worked around the clock, gained a ton of weight, passed out and broke my teeth, got into an accident that ended up resulting in meniscus surgery, and went through an extended period of time with no teeth and only a “flipper” or denture to where aesthetically. When I ate…I had to pull that thing out and eat with two missing front teeth.

I had had a really really bad couple of years. During that time, my mood swings and my anxiety really made my family concerned for me. Thankfully, I am a rather self-reflective person and I was concerned for me too. I got the help I needed because I had a family that was there for me. I had people who were a silent presence in my life and that helped me carry on to much better days.

Friends, this is what it means to be a Christian. When one falls, we all fall. When one rises, we all rise. All for one and one for all. We all have really bad periods of time where we are not at our best and people really need to stretch to love us; however, those who do love you will stretch and let you know they are there. That is what we are called to do in the lives of others as well. When we need help, Jesus sends others to help us. When others need help, Jesus sends us to the rescue. Let us open our hearts to being present in the lives of those who are suffering and having really bad days.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Being a Christian means BEING PRESENT

PRAYER
Lord, help me to be present in the lives of those around me. Help me to empathize with people and be a friendly, compassionate ear for those who need. Amen.

October 3, 2021 – Newton UMC – Sunday Worship Livestream

JOY Fellowship Service: 9 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 9:00 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Traditional Service: 10:30 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Welcome to our Sunday Worship Services for October 3. Today we will learn about and explore our relationship with God.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.