OnLine Enews - May 24-31, 2023
Rev. Tom Willetts
Saturday Worship 4:45pm - Sanctuary
Sunday Worship 10:00am - Sanctuary

THURSDAYS at 1pm -Mysteries of the Bible Study
THURSDAYS at 3pm -Choir Rehearsal/Chapel
Wednesday, May 24th - 7pm Pastors Zoom Study-Matthew
Friday, May 26th at 10am - Alzheimer's Caregiver Support mtg - Conf A
Sat & Sun, May 27 & 28 - PENTECOST
Opening Prayer

Come upon me, Spirit of the living God. Melt all hardness of heart. Use me for your own purposes wherever you are sending me now. AMEN.

1 Corinthians 12:1-13 and Acts 2:1-21 will be our texts for worship this weekend. Please read them before worship and be ready to share them during worship. Pentecost is not as well understood as the other major Christian celebrations as Christmas and Easter. Some people are even afraid of it because of abusive experiences. I found this explanation of the significance of Pentecost helpful.

Next to Easter, Pentecost is the most important day in the Christian calendar. Without Pentecost, the incarnation of God in Christ would be just a story told through the centuries. At Pentecost, that story was internalized and became personal; God in Christ became incarnate in ordinary disciples. Wind and fire shook, transformed, and filled those very human and ordinary believers with the divine Spirit of God, thus giving birth to the church. The faithful continue to receive this gift of God-dwelling-within to provide direction, courage, comfort, hope, companionship, and peace.

Through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost God in Christ became available to every believer. Christians now had firsthand experience with God in Christ. From Pentecost on, the good news was not held only by a select few who had been with Jesus, felt his hand upon their lives, and sought to follow him throughout his earthly days. Now everyone could experience that touch of the Savior’s hand; everyone could know the healing and saving presence of Jesus Christ. No Christian need ever walk alone, for now God was present with every believer who chose to accept this holy presence.

Pentecost was no ordinary experience, but it happened to and within ordinary people as God’s Holy Spirit appeared among and within them. Ordinary men and women became full of faith and fearless. Fearful men and women became courageous witnesses of God’s mighty and saving acts. Weak and timid disciples became strong and powerful witnesses to the Good News of God’s saving acts in the world. Each disciple received comfort, assurance, and hope as each was companioned by God through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. From that day until this, those who repent and are baptized receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, God with us always and in every circumstance of life (Acts 2:38).

From The Day of Pentecost “A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God” ed. Norman Shawchuck and Rueben P. Job Upper Room Book Nashville, TN. 2003 pg. 217.

Pentecost is the celebration which marks the eternal and personal presence of God among all believers, not just those who met, walked, listened to, or were healed by Jesus. No other world religion claims that our God is available to us now as to the first disciples. Every other world religion is simply repeating experiences or insights from a dead leader or extinct band of first followers. Christian disciples today can experience Jesus just as powerfully and present as the first disciples of Jesus. By our baptism we are initiated into the presence of the Holy Spirit. We must claim that baptism and permit that baptism to dominate or lives and seek the presence of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior – not just some famous and helpful figure in the past. As we seek Jesus today, the Holy Spirit will reveal him to us in unimaginable ways. That is the purpose of the dramatic wind and fire images. The old sinful, fearful, and doubt-filled lives of the disciples was blown away and consumed. Their full potential as disciples was revealed to all. These are the Spiritual Gifts and blooming of the Spiritual Fruit which marked Christians.

Closing Prayer

Almighty God, send your Holy Spirit upon us so that we may perfectly love you and faithfully follow you today and always. In the name and spirit of Christ. AMEN.

Pastor Tom

A distressed church attender came to me several weeks ago and said, “If you don’t get busy changing worship around here, we’re all going to be dead and no new folks will take our place.” Then another church attender told a church leader, “Things just aren’t the same. We are upset because no one talks to us anymore. We don’t know these new people.”

This brings us to the question – WHOSE JOB IS IT TO GROW THE CHURCH? Because of Pentecost that “job” belongs to all church members and attenders. YES – the pastor is the leader and sets the “tone,” “delivers the message,” and administers the Sacraments. That is a huge responsibility. Those who attend and are members are to invite neighbors and friends to “come and see” (John 1:46), extend hospitality and welcome and trust that the Holy Spirit will resonate with their spirits.

Everyone chooses to attend or join a church individually. No one can be forced or coerced. Sometimes tricks and gimmicks can cause a temporary bump of attendance and excitement – free food – free cars – free trips – instant healing – surprising prosperity – loud music – slick marketing, but none of these has endurance or is Biblical. Worship styles and practices change over time. They change as culture changes and reflect people’s preferences and comforts. To worship “biblically” is to follow Jesus’ admonition to “worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

Good Shepherd does have a tradition of worship style and practice and it has evolved over the years as leaders and participants have changed. It will continue to evolve. The enduring characteristics are that WORSHIP is PARTICIPATORY, WORSHIP is WELCOMING and

WORSHIP is PARTICIPATORY because Christians worship in community – we gather. Worship is not a show or entertainment for people to consume. An encounter with the living God is expected. Heaven coming to earth is the hope, not that we are pleased or thrilled. The congregation is invited to be engaged and involved by singing, serving, receiving, and welcoming. It takes 10 people serving in a variety of roles for worship to flow smoothly. Fewer people can “operate” worship, but then people are doing double or triple duty. Worshipers can be spectators or V.I.P.S. but they will be disappointed or feel left out because everyone else is engaged.

WORSHIP is WELCOMING. The most important people in worship are the door greeters and ushers. These are the first people encountered as attenders enter the building. Research shows that the first 10 minutes of any encounter with any group is the deciding factor. The clock begins when people enter the parking lot – not 10 minutes into the sermon. Sitting among welcoming people reinforces the first impressions. What is “overheard” and “body language” observed also impacts perceptions of welcome. If complaining and bickering is noticed, the perception is negative. If frowns and crossed arms are noticed, the perception is negative. Attentive listening, gentle conversations shared and smiles with hands extended are very positive.

WORSHIP is BIBLICALLY grounded. Each worship service is designed around a Biblical theme or scripture lesson. Usually, the scripture lesson for the sermon is the core. All the hymns, anthems, prayers, and liturgical elements support the theme verses. The DEVOTION in the
enewsletter is the starting point of the weekly Biblical theme. The intention of the Devotion is to open the weekly Bible theme and explore key points of emphasis. The Bible themes are selected months in advance, yet always seem to be relevant to the day.

Certainly, there has been lots of change in the last three years. Covid 19, Hurricane Ian, economic uncertainty, and aging are being felt by us all. The area around Good Shepherd is in great transition. Yes, people are leaving, but more are coming. New communities of homes are being built and we are reaching out to these new movers through a FACEBOOK and internet-based advertising introduction. Our ONLINE Worship will continue, and we will “boost” it to surrounding FACEBOOK viewers. It can also be shared with friends and neighbors by church members. Many of the new visitors say they “found” us through the internet. We are going to be rebuilding our trailer sign to be parked on US 41 to help people find us on TRAIL DAIRY CIRCLE. We will continue to serve the North Fort Myers Community and respond to the needs of our neighbors. There are many opportunities to discover a “faith story” to share with others by serving with our Outreach Team.

“WHOSE JOB IS IT?” Because of Pentecost the responsibility belongs to all of us who call Jesus Lord and Savior. Everyone can do something – pray – smile – welcome – serve – lead – share. Disciples follow Jesus and Jesus is always leading us into the world to share his Good News.

Pastor Tom
P.A.W.S. (Pets are Working Saints) - News
We have 7 individuals and pets signed up for our PAWS Outreach program (Pets are Working Saints.) We currently have joined Grace Church in Cape Coral and are going with them to the Assisted Living facilities. I would like to extend this program to our good Shepherd members and family members who may not be at the facilities visited by Grace. If you have a family member or friend in a facility or are homebound and they would like a visit from us and our pets, please contact the church.

I would like to personally invite you to sing in the choir for the month of June. I know that committing to weekly choir rehearsal is hard for some folks, so for the month of June, we will have only one rehearsal on Thursday, June 1st at 3pm. We will sing through all of the songs for the month and then meet weekly at 9am on Sunday mornings to sing for the 10am service.

The choir is full of super nice folks that would love to get to know you better.
We hope that you'll join us! If you have any questions, you can reach me at
JOIN US - Online - Sunday Morning on Facebook & YouTube.
Find us at:
OR on YouTube: Good Shepherd UMC NFM.

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please call us at 239/543-2686.
Good Shepherd United Methodist Church | 239/543-2686
2951 Trail Dairy Circle, North Fort Myers, FL 33917