Simple Rules

Religion is complicated. I won‘t try to argue it any other way. After two thousand years of Christian tradition, after scriptural canonizations, theological disputes, adoption of creeds and Christological formulations, after dogma, canon law, Reformation, disputation, and development of denominational hierarchy and polity, including conferences, annual conferences, general conferences, board, agencies, and so on and so on, it would be hard to claim that religion was anything but complicated.

But what we are called to do in faith is not. Every time we wonder about that we keep getting told in direct language: do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with our God. Or “love God” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” Simple. To the point.

But while such charges are indeed simple, they are also difficult. Working for justice, embracing true covenant loyalty and love, walking with God, and love of neighbor are not easy. It might be why we keep trying to add all kinds of extra stuff that, while complicated, is easier in the long run to do. Checklists of belief or rote practice always are.

But as hard as authentic faith can be, it is also the most meaningful. It is the faith in which we truly come to follow the One who told us that the weightier matters of the law were “justice, mercy, and faith.” It is the faith in which we follow the one who lived true to his commitment to that justice, mercy, and faith even when it cost him everything. And it is the faith in which we, like him, will be vindicated and raised to new life. Far more than any faith built on rite, ritual, or assent to doctrine alone could ever do, it is a faith that can change the world.

Rev. Mark Schaefer, Pastor


Thanks to everyone who participated in worship services Sunday. Thanks to Jeff Griffith for leading us in worship, to Lu Lawrence for reading our scripture lessons, to Taylor for helping to serve communion, and to Chiara, David, Carole, Don, Perry, and the Choir for providing our beautiful music.
         Sermon: “Keeping It Simple,”  Rev. Mark Schaefer
         Sunday’s attendance: 39
         Collection: $ 3,415.00

Sermon: “Salt and Light,” Rev. Mark Schaefer
Scripture Lessons: Isaiah 58:1–12; Matthew 5:13–20

Want to help out in worship? Use our online sign-up to be a greeter, usher, liturgist, lector, or communion server.

Community Events & Information

Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m., Cheltenham UMC
Rev. Schaefer continues the weekly Bible study this week and every Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m.  We will be doing a deeper dive into the lectionary texts used on Sunday during worship. Everyone is welcome to attend. No prior experience required!
Contact: Rev. Mark Schaefer,
Wednesday, February 5, 2–4 p.m.

Rev. Schaefer’s “office” hours in the community this week will be Wednesday, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dunkin' Donuts in the Osborne Shopping Center. Feel free to stop on by!
Contact: Rev. Mark Schaefer,
Link:  Google Map 

A Joshua tree in the Arizona desertMarch 1–April 12, 2020

When you’re in the wilderness of want, fear, despair, tragedy, death and loss, or betrayal—where is God then? Beginning next month, we will be embarking on a Lenten Sermon series exploring the experience of journeying through the wildernesses of our lives. 
Contact: Rev. Mark Schaefer,

Regular Weekly Calendar

  • Monday
    • Monday Methodists, 9 a.m.
    • Knitting Circle, 10 a.m.
  • Tuesday
    • Cheltenham Academy, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
    • Pastor’s Bible Study, 9:30 a.m.
    • Pastor’s Office Hours, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
    • AA and Al-Anon, 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday
    • SLOGGS Meeting, 11:30 a.m.
    • Pastor’s “Office” Hours, 2–4 p.m.
      • Dunkin, Osborne Shopping Center
    • Band, 6 p.m.
    • Choir Rehearsal, 7 p.m.
  • Friday
    • Pastor’s Sabbath
  • Sunday
    • Sunday School, 9 a.m.
    • Sunday Worship, 10 a.m.
    • Fellowship, 11 a.m.

Prayer List

Crystal's friend, diagnosed with Parkinson's
Clark's friend Jeff, suffering from a difficult UTI
Logan, hospitalized and suffering complications with medication
Marlice, suffering heart problems
Alice Roberson, mourning the death of her son Jeff
Elsie and Chuck Taylor, in the hospital
Liane and all those returning to college for the semester
The friends and family of Ronnie Carroll, mourning his death
Joanne, going in for a heart stent test
Nancy, recovering from surgery
Melissa, recovering from a car accident
The Werner family, facing illnesses
Linda, recovering from a car accident
Richard, undergoing chemotherapy
Traveling mercies for Sarah and Aiden
The people of Australia experiencing wildfires
Those in the armed services soon to be deployed abroad, and their families
The friends and family of Jennifer Creech, mourning her death
The Sawez family, mourning the death of their father Ehsan
Michael Kidwell, in need of surgery after a fall
Ellie, in need of a hip replacement
Marilyn, recovering from a heart attack
The family of baby Lindley, at St. Jude's
Yousef, in need of physical healing

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