A New Discipline for Lent*  

You’re never too old to do something dangerous.  The youth group is going skiing over spring break.  Abby is in the youth group.  They needed chaperones.  So I am signed up to go snow skiing—for the first time in 40 years!

Therefore I have added some additional exercises to my usual gym routine.  I have been doing squats and lunges to try to get my back, hips, and knees in shape for the slopes.

As we begin the season of Lent, we normally add some exercises to our faith routine in order to get our spirits in shape for Easter.  We have a prayer card for everyone this Lent.  These Lenten disciplines go back to the days when those preparing for baptism made a 40-day intensive effort at spiritual cleansing.
The traditional Lenten disciplines come from Matthew 6.  Jesus tells his followers to give, but not to make it public.  He tells them to pray, but to pray in secret, not for show.  He tells them to fast, but not to go all pitiful about it; just fast and go about your business.

Extra giving, praying, and fasting are still good and relevant disciplines.  Fasting in particular is a practice we are not as familiar with.  Lately, some of the most interesting discussion around fasting has been about eliminating two distractions that are the most destructive of community: electronics and social media.

Related to that, I would like to propose a new Lenten exercise: the discipline of listening.  There is so much noise in our world; it hardly ever gets quiet enough to really hear. What would happen if we took 40 days to really listen?  There may be a “still, small voice” that is speaking to us.

We need to listen to God.  This is a vital part of prayer that is often ignored, as we present our long lists of intercessions and supplications to God.  We need so much, and we want God to take care of it all.  But prayer is a conversation, and conversations go two ways.   This Lent, listen!  Get still, quiet, and undistracted before God.  Somehow God will speak.

We need to listen to our family and friends.  They have something to tell us.  Sometimes their message is a cry for help.  Our kids—even teenagers—want us to know what is going on in their world.  Recently I saw a story (yeah, on Facebook!) about a day care center that put up a sign asking the parents to turn off and put away their phones before entering the building.  The director said it was common to see a child crying for attention while the parent paid reverence to the electronic god.

We need to listen to our enemies.  We are deeply divided over social, ethical, and political issues.  Social media makes it worse, because it is not really a conversation.  We just spew our hostility onto the internet, and whoever reads it can just deal with it—or spew back!  Until we can understand what our opponent thinks and why he or she thinks that way, there will be no steps toward reconciliation.  As St. Francis prayed centuries ago, “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek …to be understood, as to understand.”   

The good thing about Lent is that it ends.  After 40 days, the burden of discipline and the shame of the cross give way to the joy and glory of Easter.  (After spring break, I plan to let up on the squats, too.)  The exercises of Lent are hard, but they are also productive: “Now discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)  If you make the effort to really listen this Lent—to God, to your family and friends, even to your enemies—I believe you can expect to experience the peaceful fruit of the Spirit in your life.

*Also published in Arkansas United Methodist.

Rev. Bud Reeves
Senior Pastor
Minute of Prayer
Reminder of the Lenten Discipline

God on the Cross: Understanding the death of Jesus

Welcome to Lent. Our sin is before us as we draw our eyes to the ugliness of the Cross. What a strange religion we practice in that the primary symbol of our faith is in fact a weapon of torture and even murder. Though it is often used as an item of decoration, the Cross is hardly a thing of beauty. But for a few weeks each year, we force ourselves to consider the death of Christ including the days and scenes leading up to his crucifixion. The Cross, though unpleasant, is at the center of our faith. Christianity hinges on the Cross - the death and resurrection of Christ.

We have all heard countless times, “Jesus died for our sins.” The common line of thinking is that we are sinful and deserve punishment by God for offending God’s holy laws. Of course we cannot afford to pay such a punishment. So, by God’s grace, God intervenes on our behalf. God’s own self becomes human and dies on the Cross in our place. Jesus died for our sins so that we might be forgiven and reunited with God in love. In this sense, Jesus’ death is a “substitute” for our death and punishment. Fair enough.

But there is much more to the story. Christ’s death is one of the most interesting, challenging concepts in all of Christian theology. The death of Jesus which leads to the resurrection is the center of our “good news.” And yet, many people only understand the death of Jesus in terms of substitution. The death of the Son of God as a substitute for our punishment is only the beginning of the depth of the work of salvation achieved in and through the Cross.

I want to invite you to give special attention to your spiritual life, including worship attendance, during this season of Lent. Each Sunday our sermons will seek to uncover the good news of the Cross through a different scriptural lens. We will consider the death of Jesus in all its complexity and beauty. In the Cross, God redeemed our sin, healed our sickness, recreated our life, judged us worthy, defeated the powers of sin and death, and loved us through our worst moments. The Cross is far more than a one-dimensional get-in-to-heaven ticket. Come and taste the goodness of the Lord as it is revealed in the oddity of the Cross.  “See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down!”
Rev. Dane Womack
Executive Associate Pastor

Ash Changes Everything       

On the way back from the Guatemala Mission Trip this year, we arrived at the Guatemala City airport to find ourselves with canceled flights due to volcanic activity.  Volcanic ash had exploded from one of the three active volcanoes near the Guatemalan Airport, and we were left finding hotels for another night with the chaos of rebooked flights. I learned that volcanic ash will erode jet engines, so the airlines were playing it safe. As I was thinking about the ash that delayed our fight, I thought too that I wanted to get back to the United States, and to church, before Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday reminds me that we are all humans, from dust we were created and to dust we shall return. The ashes we put on our foreheads remind us that we have no control over our human lives, just like airlines have no control over volcanic eruptions. The ashes we put on our foreheads reorient our lives towards God in this season of Lent, just like volcanic ash reorients travel plans. The ashes we put on our foreheads remind us that we are being transformed by God’s grace, just like volcanic ashes are a sign of travel plans being transformed by the airline’s mercy.

In the chaos of volcanic ash and travel delays, I found that God is at work. In the ashes of this Wednesday, may we be reminded that God is a God of all the ashes. Throughout these forty days of Lent, may we be reminded that God is in control, transforming our lives, reorienting us deeper into God’s grace.
Rev. Sara Bayles
Associate Pastor


 UMW Circles Meeting March 14 at the following locations:

 Hannah-Elizabeth-Aldersgate Room

 Ruth-FLC 101

 Deborah-Home of Lynn Coleman

 Rebekah-Home of Martha Paris

 Naomi-Home of Judy Staggs

Recent Memorials

In Memory of:

  • William Randall Womack by Patty Payne
  • Jane Atwood May by Jan & Rick Beauchamp, Colby & Courtney Beland, Warren & Cynthia Giss, Kimberly & Phil White, Dick & Ann Appleton
  • Ted Skokos by Gene Staton, Rick Pruitt & Baxter Sharp, Marilyn & Kelly Newton, Fred Kirkpatrick, Bonnie & Mike Smets, Peggy & John Brandebura, Rick & Jan Beauchamp, Sue Cooley, June & Jim Hays, Charles & Lucy Neal, Janelle Ware, Wes, Wes II, & Caroline Kemop, Dick & Ann Appleton, Aldersgate Class
  • Ms. Bob Thomas by Dave & Cynthia Galloway
  • Tommy Fleri by Ed & Kathy Walck, Aldersgate Class, Byron & Linda Ware, Shirley Cothren, David & Joanne Phillips, Mary Booth, Anna & Philip Brown, Nancy Baker
  • Marion Thomas by Jack & Louanna Green
  • Wilberta Spears by Janice & Bob Powell
  • Judy Donaldson Massey by Lynnell & Tony Leraris
  • George Pollan by Patty Payne
  • Bill Hutcheson by Jerry & Jane Hartfield, Kent & Nancy Blochberger, Shirley Cothren, Jack & Louanna Green, Sandra Edwards, David & Joanne Phillips, Lori Hardin & Mike Willis, Mr. & Mrs. Albert Newton, Charles & Jeanne Ledbetter, Becky & Joe Chancey, Liz Garner, Rick & Karen Schoonover, Maggie Malloy, John Mays Jewelers, Thelma Carter, Rick & Jan Beauchamp, Robert Dawson, Gladys Whittenberg, Jim & Wanda Foster, Janice & Bob Powell, Marilyn Harris, Brantly Buck, Mike & Terry Cialone

In Honor of:

  •  David & Connie Adrion by Ted Goodman
  •  David & Carol Matlock by Ted Goodman
  •  Chosen Few Sunday School Class by Linda & Marvin Mumme
  •  Bill & Paula Williams by Lois Burgess


**This Sunday 3.5.17
8:30 am - Roebuck Chapel - Rev. Bud Reeves
“In Communion”, organ solo
Linda Chapman, Guest Organist
11:00 am - Sanctuary - Rev. Bud Reeves
Offertory Anthem “Lesson for Lent”
Communion Anthem “Bow Down Low”
Chancel Choir
Gaye McClure, Chancel Choir Director
Linda Chapman, Guest Organist
Acolytes: Sydney Sengel, Kate Lanier, & Meg Norton
11:00 am - Connexion FLC - Rev. Dane Womack
“Come As You Are”  “Lead me to the Cross”
“Just As I Am”  “40” “Sweetly Broken” 
5:00 pm—Youth Meal/Devo/Games, Loft
First Kids

From my office, I can often hear children playing on the playground below.  The sounds of their exuberant joy and abundant laughter always make me smile.

We have three childcare programs on our FUMC campus.

The Weekday School is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.  In 1956, this church opened a half day Kindergarten class. Ministering to more children and families, the Weekday School was born.  Through these 60 years, the WDS has touched over 2000 children’s lives.  The WDS is for children three years old through accredited kindergarten.  Christie Jacobs is the Director.

The Children’s Day Out program is for infants (three months) through two and half years olds.  The CDO program boasts that they have teachers who have been with us for up to 35 years, with the average being 10 years.  Tiffany Null is the Director.

The Child Enrichment Center is approaching its 13th year of operation.  It is our full time childcare center, with newborns through 4 year olds.  The CEC takes care of children for working parents who want their children to be in a Christian environment.  The CEC has received the Best of the Best for Fort Smith, childcare centers.  Roshondra Graham is the Director.

All three programs are licensed and accredited by the State of Arkansas and all three have received the Better Beginnings Certification.

I believe God is smiling on the children and the staffs that care for these Gifts from God! 
Sally Ware
Director of Children's Ministry

Weekday School

It’s not too late to enroll your child or grandchild at FUMC Weekday School~

Your child must be 3 by August 1st to enroll in our 3 year old program, which has limited spots available.

We also have 4 year olds classes & half day Kindergarten available for next school year.  We are an accredited state licensed program.  Our hours are 8:45 – 2:15; Kindergarten begins at 8:15. 

If you would like tuition information please call 782-8855 to discuss with the Director, Christie Jacobs.  
T he Chancel Choir has to stay 6 or 8 weeks ahead in its rehearsals.  Next Wednesday night we will begin Palm Sunday and Easter music. Some people think that Lenten music is terribly sad. It does focus on Christ’s suffering and death, which is agonizingly sad. However, we are so blessed to know the glorious end of the story.  We get to sing about His triumph over death! Our resurrection music, which always combines trumpets, trombones, organ and many voices, would not be as meaningful if we had not first acknowledged Christ’s unfathomable sacrifice. Now would be a particularly significant time to join our choir.  Come sing with other committed Christians about the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, including our own. Be sad, prayerful and penitent for a while, knowing that JOY is coming!

Please plan to attend the concert on Sunday, March 12, 3:00 p.m., in the sanctuary, featuring Timothy Allen, organist, and Christine Westhoff, lyric soprano.  Tim is the Hendrix College organist and accompanied their Lessons and Carols here in December. He was so pleased with our organ and acoustics that he wanted to bring his “beautiful wife” back for a concert. You may read all about them here: http://www.arkansasarts.org/aot-artists/timothy-allen-and-christine-westhoff  . They are both very accomplished musicians and will present Lenten, operatic and fun selections.  You will enjoy their music!  We try to link all our musical events with a mission endeavor. Our concert is free, however, a Love Offering will be taken for The Next Step Homeless Services. Their executive director, Kim Wohlford, will make brief remarks before the offering is taken.  Invite your friends. 
Nancy Vernon
Director of Music Ministries

Veritas 2017  

“When we move in obedience, we become a movement unleashed, unquenched, and unending.” – Sam Yun, Veritas speaker

Last month, FIRST YOUTH gathered in Rogers, AR with over 1,300 youth from all over our state for a worship conference called Veritas. This was my first year to have attended Veritas, and I left the conference totally amazed by what God can do in a weekend. God is continually stirring up new things in the spirits of our youth!

Veritas had a truly phenomenal line-up of worship leaders, speakers, and one very talented Christian illusionist (Who knew that you could present the gospel with card tricks?). When you combine spirit-filled worship with relevant messages and sleight of hand tricks, you get something very special. Check out what our students had to say about Veritas!  
  • “What an awesome weekend full of praise & fellowship with the best youth in AR”–Caitlin
  • “I had an amazing time getting closer to all my church friends and learning so much about God. The band was amazing and it was an all around great weekend!” – Ashley 
  • “I loved it!!!!!” – Luke   
Between all the loud music in the church van and every laugh, it was evident from our God-given joy that the Holy Spirit was pleased to dwell among us. I believe that God was honored by our intentionality to go out of town to worship Him. When our youth, our congregation, and the Church intentionally seek the Lord, we will surely find Him. My prayer is that FSFUMC would feel the reverberation from a very impactful Veritas 2017!
Michael Mings
Director of Youth Ministries

April 2-3, we will have the privilege of having Bishop Ken Carter from the Florida Annual Conference on our campus. He will preach & teach on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, & Monday noon. You won’t want to miss this dynamic leader of our church!
Sunday, March 5
8:30am Worship, Roebuck Chapel
8:45am Holy Grounds, Narthex
9:45am Sunday School
11:00am Worship, Sanctuary
11:00am Worship, Family Life Center
4:00pm Confirmation, 3rd Floor
5:00pm Youth, Loft
Monday, March 6
11:45 am Lenten Lunch, St. John’s Episcopal
6:00pm Women’s Bible Study, Fireside Room
6:30pm Boy Scouts, 3rd Floor
Tuesday, March 7
8:45am BSF, 3rd Floor
9:30am Staff Meeting
Wednesday, March 8
9:15am Women’s Bible Study, Fireside Room
10:00am Prayer Group, Prayer Room, 2nd Floor
3:30pm Children’s Choir, Various Rooms
5:30pm Holy Communion, Roebuck Chapel
5:45pm WNL Meal, FLC
6:30pm Wednesday Night Life Groups
7:00pm Chancel Choir Rehearsal
Thursday, March 9
7:00am Youth Breakfast Club, Chick-fil-A
10:00am Knitters & Knotters, Narthex
12:00pm UMM Bible Study/Lunch, Fireside Room
Friday, March 10
6:30am UMM Bible Study/Breakfast, Fireside Room
March 3 at 10:00 am in the Fireside Room. The CEC Children will visit and Susan Chaney will do blood pressures. Patty Clark, Director of Education, UAMS, Don Reynolds Institute on Aging & WCCOA will give the program. Menu: Beef Stroganoff with noodles, roasted vegetables, croissant, and dessert.
March 17 at 10:00 am in the Fireside Room. NO St. Pat’s Celebration at Kibler UMC. Susan Chaney will do blood pressures. We will have a presentation on Ireland. Menu: Beef & vegetable soup, grilled cheese sandwich, birthday/anniversary cake.
Call 782-5068 for a ride. Ask a friend or two to come. Remind folks that St. Pat’s Day Celebration at Kibler UMC has been cancelled.
Love, Mardell & Herschel

FIRST UNITED METHODIST NEWS published weekly except the last week of the year by First United Methodist Church 200 North 15th Street, Fort Smith, Arkansas 72901.