xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Mid-Week Message: September 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

Anne Frank, the Chestnut Tree, and a Mustard Seed

September 30, 2014

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

This Friday, the Cherokee Community Theater begins its two-weekend run of the Pulitzer Prize winning play “The Diary of Anne Frank.”  My older daughter Grace has been heavily involved with the show, having been given the privilege of being a student director, an important role rarely given to an eighth grader.  It has given her great experience working with terrific directors and an amazing cast, including some of her best friends.  I hope you’ll take some time to see one of the productions, purchasing tickets either through the box office or cherokeect.org. 

It is likely that we are all familiar with the basic story of Anne Frank and her family, who were Jewish residents of Amsterdam during World War II.  Forced into hiding from the impending arrival of the Nazis, they took up residence in the upstairs annex and attic above the office of Otto Frank, the family’s patriarch. 

Eventually, the family was discovered by the Nazis and sent to the concentration camps.  Otto Frank, the sole survivor, returned to discover Anne’s diary, which vividly chronicled their more than two years of hiding.

The girls and I had the incredible privilege of touring the Anne Frank residence when we visited Amsterdam back in 2010, as part of my Lilly Endowment-funded sabbatical.  The rooms were small and worn, and the walls seemed to speak of both somber tragedy and steady tranquility, as the family braved the unknown with relentless and tender companionship.  


One of the things I best remember from that tour was looking out through the window in the attic, at the branches of the same chestnut tree that captured Anne’s attention in her diary:

Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs, from my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. As long as this exists, I thought, and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts I cannot be unhappy.

The tree is referenced in the stage production, as it played a significant role in sustaining Anne’s hope and imagination during her toughest times.  For her, that tree represented freedom and nature, a kind of liberty that she longed for in the face of oppression and darkness. 

In a speech he gave in 1968, Anne’s father recounted his surprise upon reading Anne’s diary and learning of her attachment to that tree:

How could I have suspected that it meant so much to Anne to see a patch of blue sky, to observe the gulls during their flight and how important the chestnut tree was to her, as I recall that she never took an interest in nature. But she longed for it during that time when she felt like a caged bird. She only found consolation in thinking about nature. But she had kept such feelings completely to herself.

But there is more tragedy in the story.  Just weeks after the girls and I visited Amsterdam in July, 2010, an August windstorm blew through the city and knocked down the 150-year old tree.  Little did we know that when we saw the tree that summer, we would be among the last to see it alive, as it had apparently been suffering from an incurable disease for the past several years.       


But here’s the good news.  Prior to the tree’s death, skilled botanists worked tirelessly to extract several healthy saplings from it, in order to preserve it after it died.  Since then, thanks to an initiative called The Sapling Project, the same chestnut tree that sustained Anne Frank during her harrowing months in the attic is now being shared to sustain Anne’s legacy, as saplings have been planted in locations all over the world.  That includes eleven locations in this country, from the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. to the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis.

Two things converged for me as I read about The Sapling Project in preparation for this weekend’s opening night.  The first is the parable of the mustard seed, which Jesus shared in the gospels to describe the Kingdom of God, and is our scripture passage for this Sunday as we move through our “Kingdom of God” sermon series. 

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and planted in his field. It’s the smallest of all seeds. But when it’s grown, it’s the largest of all vegetable plants. It becomes a tree so that the birds in the sky come and nest in its branches.”  (Matthew 13:31-32)

One need not be a botanist or a biblical scholar to get a sense of what Jesus said here.  Sometimes, the work of God in this world starts out small, natural, and seemingly insignificant, but it grows big enough to change the world.  From a tiny sapling from the seed of chestnut tree, or from the tender words of a teenage girl pouring her heart into her journal, the work of God takes ordinary efforts and exacts an extraordinary impact.  Anne herself said it best: 

“I don't want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living even after my death!”

I think we can all agree that Anne Frank has succeeded in that regard, influencing the world long after her death.  All of us can do the same, with the faith of a mere mustard seed.


The second thing I thought about is the significance of World Communion Sunday, which we will also observe this weekend.  It is our annual opportunity to celebrate our connection with the people of God all around the world.  It is a time for us to take down the denominational and interreligious barriers that divide us and acknowledge that, together, we are part of one family. 

And what a critical time it is for us to come together.  With violence, brokenness, and division coursing through our news feeds, demeaning human dignity and destroying communities, we can affirm our mutual mission of putting God’s love into action and inject some basic goodness into the world again.

The girls and I have made a donation to The Sapling Project, in honor of the upcoming production of Anne Frank, and as a tribute to her amazing resilience and hopeful challenge to all of us.  She had the faith of a mustard seed, and modeled for us a steadfast belief in a worldwide communion of peace:

In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”

Let’s believe those words together, and work to make it happen.  See you Sunday.

Grace and Peace,


The Rev. Magrey R. deVega
St. Paul's United Methodist Church
531 W. Main St.
Cherokee, IA  51012
Ph:  712-225-3955

Email:  mdevega@sp-umc.org

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Marketing Proposal to Nicodemus


Marketing Proposal

Dear Nicodemus,

As one of the premier marketing and advertising agencies throughout Jerusalem and the wider Judean metropolitan area, we pride ourselves in effectively communicating the message of our customers with creativity and quality.  We are keenly interested in signing a certain Jesus of Nazareth as one of our clients; however, thus far he has not returned our emails or voicemails.

It has come to our attention that you were able to have a private conversation with him during the overnight hours of last Thursday morning. Our sources suggest that your discussion elicited several intriguing phrases and sayings, which we believe can make a memorable and immediate impact on the lucrative religious cliché market.  

We are asking you to consider hiring our firm to capitalize on the growing popularity of this teacher from Nazareth and take this message to the next level.  With our expertise, you are certain to become a household name, and popularize this Jesus to a mass market that is infatuated by celebrities.

First of all, the phrase “born-again,” which he apparently used to describe one’s entrance into the kingdom of God, is brimming with marketing possibilities. We propose targeting the fundamentalist demographic, who are looking for a phrase to distinguish themselves from believers they consider to be lukewarm and inferior.  Imagine the phrase, “Have you been born again?” as a handy way for them to discern the true believers from the mere wannabees.  We are prepared to saturate the culture with this new vocabulary through a new line of t-shirts, pencil toppers, can koozies, and yo-yo’s, all bearing that phrase.  

The possibilities of the phrase “born-again” are endless.  Imagine television and movie stars, dragged down by their past misdeeds, immediately rehabilitating their image simply by saying they were “born again.”  Imagine politicians using the phrase to galvanize their base, merely by claiming that they were “born-again believers.”  By trademarking that phrase and giving you a generous cut of the royalties, we believe we can make you a very rich man, Nicodemus.  And everyone knows that riches are the real key to entering the kingdom.

We believe that the other phrase of interest is in the statement, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”  This has all the makings of a dynamic game-changer in the spiritual aphorism business.  It has all the ingredients that the culture looks for in its popularized proverbs:  something about God loving them, something about having sole claim to right belief, and something about living forever.  It has been a clear winner among our focus groups.  The added benefit is that it is written in the old king’s English, which gives it instant credibility and an aura of divine authority.  Everyone knows that when Jesus really wants to get a point across, he speaks Elizabethan English.  And in all red letters.

The one adjustment we would suggest is in abbreviating the statement, to make it more portable, and more handy.  We are working on shortening it down to just a few syllables, but for now we have assigned it a working code name of “John316,” for reasons that may be apparent down the road.  Imagine going to a football game and seeing “John316” in big letters behind the goal posts.  Imagine a chart-topping music artist tattooing it on their biceps and “praising Jesus” whenever they flexed on stage.  Imagine the phrase becoming the catch phrase for the born-again generation.  It will take the religious world by storm.

We believe we can take your message to the next level.  We can elevate your public profile to unforeseen heights, and vastly improve your status among the other Pharisees.  No more secret rendezvous at night, no more hiding from public view.  Hire us, and we can make you a star.  After all, you know what they say:  the first will be first and the last will be last.  

We look forward to hearing from you soon.


The Zion Creative Labs Advertising Team

The Rev. Magrey R. deVega
St. Paul's United Methodist Church
531 W. Main St.
Cherokee, IA  51012
Ph:  712-225-3955
Email:  mdevega@sp-umc.org

John 3:1-18
1 There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a Jewish leader. 
2 He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could do these miraculous signs that you do unless God is with him.”
3 Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born anew,[a] it’s not possible to see God’s kingdom.”
4 Nicodemus asked, “How is it possible for an adult to be born? It’s impossible to enter the mother’s womb for a second time and be born, isn’t it?”
5 Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. 
6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 
7 Don’t be surprised that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ 
8 God’s Spirit[b] blows wherever it wishes. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. It’s the same with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said, “How are these things possible?”
10 “Jesus answered, “You are a teacher of Israel and you don’t know these things? 
11 I assure you that we speak about what we know and testify about what we have seen, but you don’t receive our testimony. 
12 If I have told you about earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 
13 No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Human One.
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so must the Human One[d] be lifted up 
15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. 
16 God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. 
17 God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 
18 Whoever believes in him isn’t judged; whoever doesn’t believe in him is already judged, because they don’t believe in the name of God’s only Son.

Join us as we continue our sermon series on the Kingdom of God with a closer look at this famous passage from John 3.  We’ll dig through the usual pop-Christianity associations with this text, and discover a new and fresh way of participating in God’s kingdom on earth.  

Once again, we are hosting our annual pork loin dinner (and the first since our return to the dining hall!) this Sunday, September 28.  It will take place after the morning service, and it will feature delicious pork loins from the Parker family.  You are invited to bring a salad to share, and desserts will be provided.  A free will offering will be taken to put towards our recent renovations.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Grace's Second Opinion

September 16, 2014

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

Once again, an illustration involving one of my daughters.

After worship last Sunday, I asked the girls what they thought of the service.  They have become my most honest critics and, despite their age, often give me my most helpful feedback.  And this time, Grace really dug deep with her wrestling over the scripture text.

“I think there’s another way to interpret the Bible verse other than the way you talked about.”



Before I tell you what she said, read the text again for yourself:

Then Jesus said, “This is what God’s kingdom is like. It’s as though someone scatters seed on the ground, then sleeps and wakes night and day. The seed sprouts and grows, but the farmer doesn’t know how. The earth produces crops all by itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full head of grain. Whenever the crop is ready, the farmer goes out to cut the grain because it’s harvest time.”

You might remember how I interpreted the parable:  I suggested that we were the farmers, and we were called to plant the seeds of God’s love throughout the world.  The story suggests that the process of transforming lives and the world is ultimately a mystery, and that our responsibility is simply to pay attention to the signs, and be ready to act in love and service to others at precisely the time God calls us.

“But what if we aren’t the farmers in the parable?” she said.  “What if God is the farmer?  And what if we are the seeds that God has planted?” 

There was a lot of silence in the car after she said it.  I initially wanted to dismiss what she was saying.  (Please.  I have three years of formal seminary training, for pity’s sake.)  But as my mind spun through the implications of what she was saying, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. 

The seed sprouts and grows, but the farmer doesn’t know how.  C’mon.  God doesn’t know something?  But wait a minute.  Isn’t that a potential by-product of human free will?  As Wesleyans, we believe that God’s prevenient grace operates in all of us from the moment we are born, wooing us and empowering us toward acceptance, but individual free will means that ultimately we must choose to respond to that grace.  I’ll let Grace slide by this one. 

The earth produces crops all by itself.  Okay.  Here’s another problem.  Wouldn’t Grace’s interpretation suggest that God plays a pretty passive role in the maturing of a person’s faith?  It’s the “earth” rather than the “farmer” which does the growing.  That’s a problem, right? 

Or, wait….maybe it isn’t. When you think about it, if we believe that “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof,” then in reality, all of what happens in our lives is under the full reign and rule of God.  God has established this kingdom on earth, which includes the work of the church and the community of the faithful, to be the fertile soil in which tender souls are cultivated into full bloomfollowers of Jesus.  When it is at its best, the Kingdom of God does produce “crops all by itself.”  Okay, Grace.  I’ll give you these first two points. 

...first the stalk, then the head, then the full head of grain.  But here’s where Grace’s interpretation really kicks into high gear.  The work of God in our lives really is a lifelong process.  It is not necessarily relegated to a single moment in time, when we “are converted,” or “accept Jesus into our lives,” or “become a Christian.”  Maturity in the faith is a journey, which demands our participation, in the context of a community through which God’s grace can bloom to full fruitfulness.

Whenever the crop is ready, the farmer goes out to cut the grain because it’s harvest time.  And then it occurred to me the real value of what Grace was saying.  Grain is worthless until it is harvested, processed, and used to feed the hungry.  Otherwise it is just pretty decorations on the landscape.  So until we allow ourselves to be utilized by the farmer, and yield our lives over to God’s highest intentions, we haven’t fulfilled our truest purpose. 

She’s a smart girl, that Grace deVega. 

Well, I don’t know what you do with all of this.  It’s certainly possible that there is truth in both of our interpretations.  You might even find greater value in Grace’s explanation, over Reverend-Three-Years-Of-Seminary-Training.  And you may come up with one that works for you.  But my conversation with Grace is a good reminder that certainly children like her have the capacity to wrestle, accept, and incorporate even the deepest mysteries of the faith into their lives.  Their capacity to wonder and imagine truths beyond themselves must have been the reason that Jesus spoke the words that are the subject of worship this Sunday, as we continue our sermon series on theKingdom of God:

“Allow the children to come to me,” Jesus said. “Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children.” Then he blessed the children and went away from there.  (Matthew 19:14-15)

Grace and Peace,


The Rev. Magrey R. deVega
St. Paul's United Methodist Church
531 W. Main St.
Cherokee, IA  51012
Ph:  712-225-3955

Once again, we are hosting our annual pork loin dinner (and the first since our return to the dining hall!) on Sunday, September 28.  It will take place after the morning service, and it will feature delicious pork loins from the Parker family.  You are invited to bring a side dish to share, and desserts will be provided.  A free will offering will be taken to put towards our recent renovations.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What is Our Why?

September 9, 2014

Dear St. Paul’s Family,


According to business and management consultant Simon Sinek in his book Start with Why, that is the most important question that any company or individual can answer.  He cuts through the “WHAT” and the “HOW” and goes right to the heart of why a company should exist: 

WHAT:  Every single company and organization on the planet knows WHAT they do.  This is true no matter how big or small, no matter what industry.  Everyone is easily able to describe the products or services a company sells or the job function they have within that system.  WHATs are easy to identify.

HOW:  Some companies and people know HOW they do WHAT they do.  Whether you call them a “differentiating value proposition,” “proprietary process” or “unique selling proposition,” HOWs are often given to explain how something is different or better.  Not as obvious as WHATs, many think these are the differentiating or motivating factors in a decision.  It would be false to assume that’s all that is required.  There is one missing detail:

WHY:  Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do.  When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money – that’s a result.  By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief?  WHY does your company exist?  WHY do you get out of bed every morning?  And WHY should anyone care?  (p. 39)

His primary example is Apple Computers, one of the most valuable companies in the entire world.  They succeeded, where other computer companies have failed, because they built their company on more than just the WHAT (We make well built computers) and the HOW (by making them beautiful and user-friendly).  They begin with the WHY:  “In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, and thinking differently.” 

That, Sinek says, is the WHY that connects to the consumer at a deep level, and turns nominal computer buyers into participants in a movement:

Apple’s WHY is so clear that those who believe what they believe are drawn to them.  As Harley-Davidson fits into the life-style of a certain group of people and Prada shoes fit the lifestyle of another group, it is the lifestyle that came first.  (p. 48)

I’m drawn to Sinek’s book and his concepts because it pushes me to ask this fundamental question:  What is our WHY as a church?  The WHAT is quite easy to define:  (to put God’s love into action through worship, education, fellowship, missions, etc.) and so is the HOW (we do it in love, with joy and excellence). 

But WHY?

Naturally, we turn to the Bible for guidance.  We can easily name those things in the gospels that comprise the WHAT of Jesus (his life, death, and resurrection) and the HOW of Jesus (sacrificial love and humility). 

But why?  Well, if the very first words that Jesus spoke in his ministry are any indication, his WHY is pretty clear in Mark 1: 

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

Now is the time, Jesus said.  The Kingdom of God is here.  That’s WHY.

Jesus would go on to preach about the Kingdom of God more than any other sermon topic. 

·      He would illustrate it with parables about mustard seeds, leaven, pearls, weeds, and treasure.

·      He would offer it to children, subversively claiming that it belonged to them.

·      He would talk about it with people in private (Nicodemus) and public (Zaccheus) and instruct them on how to become a part of it.

·      He would make it a stumbling block to some (the rich man), and a gift to others (the poor in spirit).

·      He said, time and again, that it would require repentance, a transformed life, and a participation in justice and compassion for others. 

But here’s the big question.  What exactly is the Kingdom of God?

If the Kingdom of God was the WHY of Jesus – and evidence in the gospels strongly suggests that it was - why do we have so much trouble defining it, let alone practicing it, building it, and sharing it?  How can we make this critical component of Jesus’ mission a central part of our life as a congregation?

In other words, how can the Kingdom of God become a part of the WHY of St. Paul’s UMC?


I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I would like for us to discover them together.  That is why I am inviting all of us to take a journey this fall through the many scripture passages in the New Testament that speak about the Kingdom of God.  This, after all, is the liturgical season of Kingdomtide, when our theological emphasis is on the mission and outreach of the church.  Of all seasons of the year, this is the time when we focus on seeing God’s “kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”

So I am hopeful that by the time we make it to Commitment Sunday on November 23, we will all be able to know what the Kingdom of God is, and how it can answer the question that Simon Sinek says is important for every individual and corporate entity:

What is our WHY?


Jesus' Favorite Sermon Topic

“The Kingdom is Near”
(John the Baptist)
Mark 1; 4:26-29
September 14

“Children and the Kingdom”
(“Let the children come to me”)
Matthew 19:13-15
September 21

“Entering the Kingdom”
(“Unless you are born again, you cannot enter the kingdom”)
John 3:1-18
September 28

“The Global Kingdom”
(Parable of the Mustard Seed and Leaven)
Matthew 13:31-35
October 5
(World Communion Sunday)

“Growing the Kingdom”
(Parables of the sower and the tares and weeds)
Matthew 13:1-17, 24-29
October 12

“Living the Kingdom”
(Sermon on the Mount)
Matthew 5:1-11
October 19

“Children’s Sabbath”
October 26

“Inheriting the Kingdom”
(All Saints Sunday)
1 Corinthians 15:50-58
November 2

“Investing in the Kingdom”
(Parable of the Treasure and the Pearl)
Matthew 13:44-46
November 9

“Giving to the Kingdom”
(Parable of the Rich Man)
Matthew 19:16-30
November 16

“Building the Kingdom”
(Commitment Sunday)
November 23

Together, let’s build the kingdom of God, and discover our WHY!

Grace and Peace,


The Rev. Magrey R. deVega
St. Paul's United Methodist Church
531 W. Main St.
Cherokee, IA  51012
Ph:  712-225-3955

For the first time in three years, we celebrate the return of our annual pork feed!  Join us after worship on September 28 for a delectable grilled pork meal provided by the Parker family.  You are invited to bring a salad to share, and dessert will be provided.  Invite your friends to join us for this great fundraiser, to raise money for the renovation of the kitchen and dining hall.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


September 2, 2014

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

A few weeks ago, Keith Fee, a member of our church, dropped off an interesting item for me and the girls to read.  It was a collection of questions that his wife, Bu, had to study in order to earn her U.S. citizenship many years ago.  My older daughter Grace is taking civics at school this year, so we had a good time going through the questions to see how many of them we could answer.

While I’m relieved to say that we could answer most of them correctly, I have to admit that some of them were real doozies.  Can you name one of the four writers of The Federalist Papers?  Do you know in what year the Constitution was written?  Or how many amendments it has?  Can you define “rule of law”? [1]

If you can’t, you’re not alone.  I came across a video on the internet that was both humorous and depressing.  It was a street interview with several American-born citizens trying to answer basic questions from the naturalization test.  They didn’t do very well.  [2] 

Maybe it’s too easy to take our citizenship for granted.  For those of us who were born here, it’s possible to get by with minimal knowledge of civics, and marginal participation in civic life.  Just looking at voter turnout for off-year elections is ample proof of that.

And the preacher in me wants to take it one step further.  Consider that Paul calls us citizens of a different kind in Philippians 3:20:  we are citizens of the kingdom of God.  I would dare say that as easy as it is to take our national citizenship for granted, it is even easier to neglect our responsibilities to the Christian faith. 

Look at the nationwide decline in worship attendance, the drop in church membership, and the general illiteracy of scriptural and theological basics, and you’ll find that the church is full of people who could use a remedial course in kingdom citizenship.

One of our core convictions as Wesleyan Christians is that salvation is not marked by a finish line, but a progress line.  We need to always be working on deepening and maturing our spiritual knowledge and practice so that we can never lapse into a complacency of apathetic citizenship.  That process, governed and nurtured by the Holy Spirit, is called sanctification.  It’s what keeps you from taking your kingdom citizenship for granted.

Consider this witness by Richard Graves, an 18th century American Methodist who described his descent into spiritual complacency:

It has been about twenty years since I have been acquainted with the goodness of God, and nearly the same time since I had reason to believe that I stood in a state of acceptance with God…My faith was strong, but, though I saw believingly such a fullness in God’s word and had such a taste and relish for spiritual things, yet I was not established in the faith.

Eventually, Richard Graves began to awaken from his spiritual slumber, with a thirst and hunger to grow deeper:

The language of my heart was, “Give me love or else die.”  Indeed God did create in me such a hungering and thirsting after perfect love that nothing could satisfy but God himself.  For near four weeks I felt such keen pain within, that I could almost say, I prayed without ceasing, but with little joy. 

And then, a breakthrough:

It was on Monday, the second day of July 1799, that the Lord poured down his blessing into my heart.  In the evening my happiness increased till I went to bed, with raptures of joy unknown….In a few days my rapture of joy abated, and I had some temptation and struggle.  Not that I had any reason to doubt of the work being wrought, but if it was consistent with such a work of grace for me to have such feelings, but I soon discovered the device of the enemy to rob me of my confidence, and the Lord multiplied my peace.  I now, notwithstanding temptations, feel the abiding witness.  My mind is stayed on God.  Christ is my object.  I am willing to take him for my portion.  He is the fairest among ten thousand.  He is altogether lovely.  [3]

That remarkable moment of transformation took place in 1799, when Graves was 85 years old.   After decades of being a minister himself, and a mere five years before he died. 

If it wasn’t too late for Graves to renew his passion for God, it’s not too late for you. 

Regardless of where we each are in our faith journeys, we could all use a refresher course in kingdom citizenship.  As we start the fall season and resume our regular morning schedule this Sunday, I hope you’ll make an extra effort to reaffirm your vows to support the church through your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.  Worship with us regularly.  Become involved in a small group Bible study or Sunday school class.  Realign your financial priorities around the kingdom.  Reach out in love and concern to others.  Read your Bible with both heart and mind.  And develop a daily pattern of prayer.

May your mind be “stayed on God,” and may you discover how “altogether lovely” it is to be a citizen of this kingdom.

Grace and Peace,


The Rev. Magrey R. deVegaSt. Paul's United Methodist Church
531 W. Main St.
Cherokee, IA  51012
Ph:  712-225-3955
Email:  mdevega@sp-umc.org

[3]  Early Methodist Life and Spirituality:  A Reader.  Lester Ruth