A Night for All Ages

You’re traveling down Waldron road in Clarkston after a long hard day at work, just another day in a busy Holiday season, when suddenly you look to your left, and what do you see but a gigantic camel under a large tent, with a bunch of shepherds and angels around a tiny baby in a manger. This is not just another day…….

Such was the sight this past Wednesday night at Clarkston United Methodist Church. Family Advent night was celebrated this year by displaying a live nativity. This included sheep, a sacred cow, a donkey, a llama and of course everyone’s favorite Gunther the camel. Then there were the true stars of the night, the angels, shepherds, Joseph, Mary and tiny baby Jesus. Although the animals remained the same age, the characters in the scene changed from the very young to the well-seasoned about every twenty minutes. Whole families were able to act out the nativity scene together to put on their halos, grasp their shepherd hooks and truly celebrate the birth of our Savior as a family in Christ. We had high school small groups, Wednesday night youth dinner groups, choir members, Joyful Jogger groups, random we love Jesus groups of all ages; all take part in the greatest story ever told. What a beautiful blessing!
Continue reading “A Night for All Ages”

How To Use A Parking Lot

Sunday, October 27, was not officially Halloween, but you would never have known it if you looked in the Clarkston UMC parking lot; Over 50 decorated trunks and somewhere around 350 people not only from our church but from our many surrounding communities came out to trunk or treat! What an awesome night. Mother Nature was kind to us this year and brought cool but clear weather. There were several returning families who I have enjoyed seeing each year, as well as, some newcomers who decorated their trucks for the first time. Guest were able to enjoy a hot dog, make a s’more, wrap each other up as mummies, decorate a pumpkins and most important enjoy each other’s company all in a short hours’ time.
Trunk or Treat, if you ask the young kids, might be about the candy or dressing up in your favorite costume. I cannot deny these things, especially when you are young, are high priorities. However, for me Trunk or Treat offers more than yummy candy, it offers our church the opportunity to welcome everyone in to a time of fellowship and community. In one simple, quick hour we are able to act out the importance of welcoming and acceptance that Jesus calls us to do to all we come in contact with. The benefits of Trunk or Treat extend further then that one hour. Participants are encouraged to donate their left over candy that will be packaged up by Angels in Training and delivered to the homeless people in Flint, when our church participates in the sleeping bags for the homeless on November 16. Each participate received a goody bag that had flyers that welcomed them back to our church for service, advent night, and Sunday school. Jesus calls us to be fisher of men. Trunk or Treat allows our church the opportunity to do just that, while looking kind of funny, dancing really silly and handing out some yummy candy. CUMC lets keep fishing and welcoming.

To God be the Glory!

Michele Ettinger

Family Ministry Coordinator

All In

Last night while running around between programs I had the pleasure of hearing a great story of hospitality regarding our church.  Kathy Gleason shared with me the story of her first experience at CUMC.  She and her family attended one Christmas Eve and right before the service started an announcement was made that there were plenty of costumes leftover for any child who wanted to participate in the children’s Christmas pageant that was about to take place.  Her son who was four years old at the time was excited by the idea that he could participate.   Continue reading “All In”

Gratitude and Community

Last week I had the pleasure of talking with a new family visiting Clarkston UMC. I spoke and listened for several minutes after a worship service. They needed to know what was available for their children. I answered their questions, smiling and after our conversation, I was left with a good feeling.

Why this Church?

Our family came to Clarkston UMC less than five years ago. Being a family with young children, we naturally fell in love with and became involved in many of the programs offered for families with young children. As others have done before me, I felt the need to volunteer to help with some of these programs and events. Eventually I volunteered for a few more. Then one day I realized I was more excited to take the girls to choir practice than they were to go there.

Each Wednesday, I would leave for home from Clarkston UMC after children’s choir feeling great. No matter what was causing stress, or how tired I was, I just felt better. The same thing happened after each day of vacation bible school, after church picnics and even after waking up at 5am to help put signs up for the trunk or treat trot. When I first realized this, I assumed it was because I was around positive influences. I though I was lucky to be part of something that was “good”. I continued to be a part of this “good community”.

I had unknowingly become integrated in a powerful and active community of faith. It was not just that each of these groups of people I was with were positive influences, it was that they were genuinely caring. They cared about me and my family. I was spiritually nourished by my weekly interactions with others, even if those interactions were outside of worship or bible study where we normally expect nourishment.

We talk with each other often about how we like this (knowing each of us might have a different this) program at Clarkston UMC. We talk about what we might make better. We talk about what we wish we had. But we do not lift up the community that comes out of these programs often enough and I think we are doing others a disservice by not acknowledging that. That little feeling I left the building with each week, that little feeling that made me anticipate going back, that feeling was not the residual memory of a well delivered sermon or assurance of knowledge gain in a bible study. That feeling was something much more powerful. That was the feeling of purpose, of belonging, of caring. That was the feeling of grace being poured into the lives of everyone, even if they have yet to realize it.

I am grateful.

After I had talked with the new visitors to the church last week, I was left with a good feeling. I may or may not see them next week. I can only pray that they will have left here feeling cared for. But I went home grateful to be part of community whose members have taken to heart the mission of “connecting people to people and people to God” so well that people feel cared for, sometimes even before they know they are cared for.

Collen Godfrey