From The Pastor’s Desk

Last month, during worship I shared a story about an unexpected encounter Joy, and I had with someone we met while at an airport while on vacation.  I mentioned how the gentleman we met, kindly followed up our encounter by mailing two books to us, ones he has found helpful on his spiritual journey.  One of these books contains a story I particularly enjoyed.  It goes like this:

“There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in a remote Alaskan wilderness.  One of the guys is religious, the other’s an atheist and they’re arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer.  And the atheist says, ‘Look, it’s not like I don’t have actual reasons for not believing in God.  It’s not like I haven’t ever experimented with the whole God-and-prayer thing.  Just last month, I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I couldn’t see a thing, and I was totally lost, and it was fifty below, and so I did, I tried it:  I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out, ‘God, if there is a God, I’m lost in this blizzard, and I’m gonna die if you don’t help me!’ 

And now at the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled; ‘Well, then, you must believe now,’ he says, ‘After all, here you are, alive.’  The atheist rolls his eyes like the religious guy is a total simp: ‘No, man, all that happened was that a couple of Eskimos just happened to come wandering by, and they showed me the way back to the camp.’”

(As told by David Foster Wallace in his book “This is Water.”)

Obviously, this story points to how the exact same experience can mean two very different things to two different people.  Indeed, this is often the dynamic of faith.  It is connected to how people “see” and interpret what is happening around them.  This story also certainly reminds us that we need to be open to how God answers prayer.   Often, our prayers are answered through the actions of those around us, people who knowingly or even unknowingly become instruments for God’s will and purposes in life.  There are additional things to consider in this story as well.   An important one for me is whether we choose to live in a world where we are open to the possibility of grace.  Are we willing to live with a deep sense of gratitude in life, or are we going to take for granted the many gifts we receive, as if we deserve them, have done something to “earn” them, or are simply entitled to them?  It is a matter of which approach is the more life affirming and life-giving one.

I recently received an interesting article that was in the Washington Post, called “An Illustrated Guide to Feeling Happier Every Day” by a Richard Sima.  Among the things mentioned in this article is the fact that living a life that is meaningful isn’t about “creating meaning in your head.”  Rather, it’s about “detecting meaning that’s already out there.”  The article makes the point that there is a growing body of scientific evidence connecting gratitude to joy.  Studies have shown that the more grateful people are, the more likely they are to feel joyful in the future.  When we live aware of God’s grace which runs throughout life, and are  grateful, it can make all the difference.

As we move through this season of Lent, may we become even more aware of how God answers prayer, and how God’s grace abounds.  May we grow in gratitude for all God’s good gifts and indeed realize that all the “Eskimos” may be much more than they seem!


Pastor John

New Study on “The Chosen”

“The Chosen” is the first ever multi-season series about the life of Christ.  Although every piece of artwork, including film, is an interpretation, this series is done very well.   The stories stick close to scripture and give a fairly accurate historical view of the life and times of Jesus.   Some members of the congregation have been watching this series and after discussing the possibility of having a class based upon it with some, I thought it would be valuable to view the first season together. 

This study is being offered on Tuesdays, both in-person and on-line.  For the first part of the class, we watch an episode together.  Then, for the rest of the time, we have a discussion, using the Bible to reflect upon the episode.  This series can prompt some good conversation and reflection upon the life of Christ and is a fun “twist” to studying scripture together.

It’s not too late to join in if you would like to do so.  The in-person class is held in the Parish Hall at 12:30 PM.  The on-line at 6:30 PM.  The dates and remaining episodes of the classes are below:

             March 7th                       “Jesus Loves the Little Children”

             March 14th                     “The Rock Upon Which It is Built”

             March 21st                     “The Wedding Gift”

             March 28th                     “Indescribable Compassion”

              April 4th                          “Invitations”

              April 11th                        “I Am He”

Calling All Readers

Our congregation would benefit from a couple additional regular liturgists for our Sunday services, as well as a few folks who would be willing to be called on an “as needed” basis.  A meeting on Sunday, March 12th , after worship, will give all liturgist information and allow people to give reading scripture during worship a try!  No commitment then is required.  This is a very valued and necessary part of our Christian experience, conveying the Word of God, for the people of God.  Thank you for considering this opportunity.  You can contact Eve Hoffman, our Lay Leader, by phone at 508-398-0096 or call the church office at 508-398-9482 if you would like to join in.  We will be blessed to hear from you!


Sunday Evening Eating Outers (Suneos) will be gathering this month at the Sea Dog Pub in South Yarmouth. Connie Swedlund is coordinating this outing.  We plan to meet  at 5 PM for an early dinner on Sunday, March 26th.  Sign up in the Parish Hall, contact the Church Office, or Connie if you are interested in attending.  These dinners together are always a nice way to enjoy a good meal, support a local restaurant, and enjoy each other’s company.

Let’s Take A Hike- Together!

Our next church hike will be held on Saturday, March 18th.   Joy, Bailey, and Pastor John will meet all who are interested at our church’s parking lot at 10 AM.  This time we hope to go to the Spruce Hill trail in Brewster, off Route 6A.  This trail is about a mile in length, out and back.  It takes walkers to Cape Cod Bay.  Once we are there we can decide if we want to walk along the beach some as well, or not.   All ages are welcome and again, feel free to invite a friend. 

Grace Notes

Call for Sopranos and Tenor

The choir continues to rehearse at 9am on Sunday mornings prior to the service. If there are any Sopranos and Tenors (women and men, respectively) who enjoy singing the high notes) or Altos (ladies who can sing the low notes) that are interested in joining the group, please speak to me after the service or write me at No musical experience is necessary. We will be rehearsing anthems in two and four-part harmony for Lent and Eastertide in the coming weeks.

You’ve seen it in the bulletin before, but what is an anthem?

Anthems and motets are two of the most common forms of vocal music used in Christian worship. A motet is a choral setting of a paraliturgical or didactic text sung in Latin. The anthem is analogous to the motet. At their core, anthems are choral settings of religious or moralizing texts that are sung in English. As a result of the English Reformation, it was forbidden to use Latin during worship in the newly-established Church of England. Thus, composers such as William Byrd (c. 1540-1623) were tasked with writing new music to which English translations of religious texts could be fitted. However, Byrd was a clandestine Catholic who wrote music for both Catholic and Anglican Masses. His motet Ave verum corpus was sung in Catholic services while his anthem Sing Joyfully, an English-language paraphrase of Psalm 98, was sung as part of Anglican worship. Catholicism was outlawed in England for much of Byrd’s career yet the composer found favour with Anglican authorities because of his contributions to the Church’s musical repertoire.

Women’s Prayer Group

The women’s prayer group meets on Wednesdays at 9 AM in our sanctuary.   Please make note of the earlier meeting time.  This opportunity is for all women of the congregation who are interested in joining with others for prayer, spiritual nourishment, and fellowship.  If the public schools are closed or if the weather is inclement, the meeting will be cancelled until the following week.  If you have any questions, feel free to speak with Kathy Furey, the facilitator.

Holy Week and Easter at SYUMC

Sunday, April 2nd—10 a.m.— Palm Sunday Worship Service with Communion

Thursday, April 6th—6:30 p.m.— Holy Thursday Communion and Tenebrae Service

Good Friday, April 7th—12 p.m.—2 p.m.—Sanctuary Open for Quiet Prayer

Saturday, April 8th—10 a.m.—Easter Egg Hunt at the Mueller’s

Easter Sunday, April 9th— 6 a.m. Sunrise Service at Smuggler’s Beach

                                                 10 a.m. Worship Service in our Sanctuary

Thought for the Month

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods. 

  -Albert Einstein

(Courtesy of SYUMC member)