Imlay City United Methodist Church
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Urgent Message: By direction of our Governor, all services and meetings are cancelled until further notice due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
You may view the Good Friday message on the Imlay City United Methodist Church Facebook page or click on this link: Good Friday Message
You may view the sermon for 4/5/2020 on the Imlay City United Methodist Church Facebook page or at click here
You may view the sermon for 3/29/2020 on the Church Facebook page or at March 29 Sermon
You may view the sermon for 3/22/2020 on the Church Facebook page or at
For 03/15/2020 on the Church Facebook page or at https://www.dropbox.com/s/pmv87gxxeiw56y3/rev%20marcel%20lamb%203-15-20.mp4?dl=0
We are a church that is wonderfully connected with God and with each other. Come and be part of the rich study of the Word of God, the meaningful service for God, multigenerational and inspiring blend of contemporary and traditional music in worship, and fulfilling and rewarding fellowship.
Sunday School and Jr. Church are opportunites for small group growth and fellowship. These are safe and welcoming classes where you can not only learn about faith, Bible history, and a host of other subjects, you can get to know our people as individuals and families within the family of God.
Pastoral Thoughts 4/7/2020: On Stress.
As the more restrictive mitigation efforts continue we find ourselves living in constant adaptation, concern, and new demands upon our resilience. Some are laid off due to these restrictions and some are working from home, while others are out putting themselves at greater risk. And of course our medical workers are also under extreme demands as the COVID-19 conditions worsen. Families are being pressed into unfamiliar routines and may be getting on each other's nerves. And, of course, there is the growing compulsion just to get out of the house and go somewhere the longer these conditions continue. Financial pressures are mounting on business owners and on those paid by them. All of these things and the uncertainties and the sense of insecurity and lack of control are elevating the stress of most people.
When prolonged stress is endured, not only do people become more irritable, moody, sullen, or even depressed, but physiological changes occur within us as well. This kind of stress actually weakens our immune systems. So, you may be wondering what you can do about it.
First we have to admit repeatedly that we can't just push through this kind of stress because that actually tends to make the stress more pronounced. Instead, we need to acknowledge the stress and discern the triggers or causes of that stress. Identifying those causes may help you defuse some of them. For instance, if you feel unsafe and out of control, you should acknowledge these feelings. Especially worries over the health of yourself and others. I recommend journaling and praying. In journaling you give voice to emotions that you may be trying to stuff down. Many things are more awful in our imagination than in reality. Then, in prayer give those feelings to God and ask for His comfort, peace, and place your hope in the truth that He is always more powerful than whatever is leeching away your resilience.
Second, you may be worried about the real impact of the economics of this crisis on you particularly and on the country in general. Here, I recommend the wisdom of Philippians 4:6 "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done." (New Living Translation). Some misunderstand this as a command not to worry, and then are even more frustrated when they can't force themselves not to worry. But really, this is a strategy regarding worry. If I were to reword it in my own paraphrase I'd render it: "When worried, don't give more energy to the worry, instead understand what it is that you are lacking that makes you feel nervous and then take those needs to God along with things for which you are thankful. Particularly, be sure to thank God for what you know, believe, and trust that He is handling. We see this very pattern in a great many of the Psalms in the Old Testament. A crisis, problem, or woe is lamented before God for part of the Psalm, then comes some praise and acknowledgement of God's amazing faithfulness, and the Psalm ends with a high note of confidence that God is good and that He will do what needs to be done for us. This ancient formula really works, though it may take us a bit practice to enable us to do this naturally.
And finally, if you are stressed by constant proximity to family members, I commend to you an excellent strategy, choose to do something loving that serves them with no thought to notice or thanks. Actively finding ways to increase the flow of love out of yourself to those immediately around you has the powerful effect of bringing peace and joy not only to yourself, but also to those around you. It may take a little time, don't focus on results, focus on the loving service. The power of selfless love is greater than any of us really understand.
Now, if your stresses get out of hand too much, you may need to consult with your doctor in the event that too much too quickly and too inescapably has triggered some kind of chemical imbalance.
May the loving Lord God be your peace, your anchor, your source and supply in these times. You are not abandoned, you are not hopeless.
-- Rev. Marcel Allen Lamb
Pastoral thoughts March 27th, 2020:
Today I am moved to speak an encouraging word to all of those at greater risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus because they are essential workers necessary to keep the country functioning at all. You are making a greater difference than you can ever guess, you are heroes and we appreciate you!
Let us pray for them, but also let us be mindful of their families who perhaps feel even more keenly the potential costs of their loved one's exposure. Take a minute and think about those you know near and far who are Doctors, nurses, custodians, truck drivers, utility workers, store employees, police, EMT's, pharmacists, cashiers, gas and repair service people, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, aid workers, food pantry volunteers, support staff in hospitals, warehouse workers, and I'm sure the list is ever so much greater. How can you encourage and support them and their families? Get creative but stay in the social distancing guidelines.
I'm reminded of the time when the Israelites wandering the wilderness on their plodding way to the promised land fought a mighty battle against the Amalekites. You see the Amalekites had earlier snuck in behind the weary and thirsty Israelites just as they let down their guard because they had come to a place with fresh water in the desert. They killed in cowardly ways without cause or provocation which angered God so that He told Moses to fight them. The battle was long and Moses was on a high spot looking down on the battle. As long as he held up his rod the Israelites were winning. When he tired and lowered the rod, the Amalekites were winning. So Moses' brother Aaron and a man name Hur, brought a stone for Moses to sit on and they stood beside him on both sides and helped Moses hold up his arms until the battle was over and the Israelites won. (See Exodus 17).
May God help each of us to be the Aaron or Hur, that (figuratively in our case) stand beside our essential worker heroes and their families in this time. We need them or things will be so much worse, but they need encouragement and prayers. They are putting others ahead of even their own families to care for ours. Let us strengthen them in the name of Jesus Christ!
-- Rev. Dr. Marcel Allen Lamb
Pastoral Thoughts March 25th, 2020: "What can I do to help right now?"
Truly we are experiencing phenomenal events in these times and as such we find ourselves challenged and stretched. In the long history of the world and even of Christianity there have been other incidents where people have needed to overcome plagues of various intensities. God has blessed us such that we live in a time when our understanding of the mechanisms of spread, containment, and slowing the rate of spread are better understood and more easily communicated to the general public.
In times past the Church has rallied and marshaled its resources selflessly and even sacrificially to help anyone in need. May we be named among those who so lovingly shined as examples of Christian virtue in times of pandemic. I've composed a list of some proactive ways you can serve Christ and your community durning this time.
1) Comply with the social restrictions to limit the rate of spread.
2) If you are healthy and strong, still offer to elderly and at risk persons your help in shopping for them or running to the drug store. Drop off those things at their home but do not linger there.
3) Find out who you know that is an essential worker in this time and make a special prayer list praying for them by name. I'd like to create such a list, so respond here to let me get their names on the list. I will then be sharing that list electronically with the prayer group that normally meets every Wednesday at our church (Elder's Prayer Group, as we call it.)
4) If someone lets you know that because they are not considered an essential worker and have therefore been laid off without pay at this time, create a list of those persons and pray for them and their families. Call them occasionally to see if they have food and other necessities. Help them if you can. If you can't let me know and I will see what the church can do either through other individuals or through our limited benevolence funds. (This is part of why it is essential for those who can to send in your offerings to the church through mail: Imlay City UMC 210 N. Almont Ave. Imlay City MI 48444 -- or -- use the giving link to donate electronically at imlayumc.org .)
5)Pray for our leaders to have supernatural wisdom in these times.
6) Encourage others through any electronic means at your disposal. Share Bible verses, devotionals, affirming and loving words. Listen to each other. Sometimes this can help a person wrestling with anxiety more than anything we can possibly say.
7) Find and share only accurate news and information. Help end myths, conspiracy theories, and risky self-medication.
8) Pour out your love and thankfulness to God and among your family whether present or those you must reach electronically.
9) When shopping practice control and restraint so that you do not buy more than a reasonable amount.
10) Some are sewing masks. You could do this, or your could provide materials needed. Joann Fabric's has put up a resource on this: https://www.joann.com/make-to-give-response/ If you are sewing masks and wish to be on a list I'd like to have for donations from others in materials, let me know.
Let's not be idle in such a time as this, but work at being salt and light to a world desperate for answers and godly examples.
I am confident in you and am praying hard.
May God bless you, encourage you, protect you, and use you for the cause of Christ!
-- Rev. Dr. Marcel Allen Lamb
Pastoral response to the question, "Is cancelling services at church forsaking the assembling of ourselves together?"
Some people in our culture who are Christians (though none in our church) are asking whether by not having services together during this pandemic we are forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the body of Christ. Good question and some of you may hear others asking it, or less helpfully accusing churches of forsaking the right practice of the faith. Let me offer a pastoral response.
First, let us look at the passage of Scripture being cited. However, it is important that we take it in the context of the passage and not merely one verse.
Here is Hebrews 10: from the NASB (a very accurate interpretation version of the Bible) 19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Notice that in context this passage deals with our supreme confidence of acceptance by God based on the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus' work for us is perfect and therefore we have full assurance of our salvation. Then the passage reminds us to hold fast -- that is -- to live out faithfully what we believe through the power of Jesus Christ. Living faithfully calls upon us to stimulate each other to doing loving and good deeds for others in Christ's name. Then it joins that thought to essential benefit of belonging to a local fellowship of believers for it is from such a Christian group that we are resourced to stimulate each other to works of love. This benefit is what comes from belonging to your local church. When the English word "forsake" is used, it comes to us from the original Greek that means, "to leave in the lurch, abandon (one who is in straits), desert."
From this we can see that foregoing our group gatherings at this time for the wise purpose of trying to keep others from getting sick or dying is exactly the kind of acts of love and good deeds we should be encouraging each other toward. Moreover, we have absolutely no intention to abandon, leave in the lurch, or desert altogether the assembling of ourselves together. When we read the Bible in context we clearly see that our precautions are exactly the kind of thing to which Christians and churches are called to do.
Do not be easily unsettled by such questions, but check out the Scriptures thoroughly. Check out the definitions of words so that their actual meaning is in view. God will continue always to accept us based on the blood of Jesus Christ!
-- Rev. Dr. Marcel Allen Lamb
A pastoral word on the COVID-19 virus:
Friends, everywhere we turn the alarm is being raised and much fear is being incited. I want to distinguish between fear and caution. Fear becomes an irrational and often overpowering response that does not help in situations like this. On the other hand, caution is the practical application of wisdom with regard to potential problems. Caution is a wise, good, and helpful approach to COVID-19, or any other contagion for that matter. Caution would have us work at washing our hands thoroughly, touch our faces much less, and take measures to keep other people from infection if we are ill. Caution informs the decision of an elderly and/or person with a compromised immune system refrain from attending large gatherings or mixing with the general population. Caution and compassion compel us to check in on each other via phone and other electronic means. Caution instructs us to adopt forms of greeting that do not involve touching or breathing into other people's faces. These are also responses compatible with our Christian faith.
Fear leads to unChristian conduct in hoarding supplies in vastly unrealistic amounts, irrationally isolating ourselves from the outside world, and placing the highest level of care and concern on us and ours to the exclusion of the others Christ calls us to love. Please keep these things in balance and remember to pray for those who are ill, for those working to care for the ill, and for those working to develop a vaccine. Every Christian should be imploring God for a cure or other intervention that removes the lethality of this and all other diseases.
Now, I have been seeing where some who claim to be Christian leaders in some sectors are advocating that Christians needn't be concerned because God will protect them from any plague or pestilence. While God can do anything, it seems wiser to listen to the wisdom Jesus cited when the devil tempted him to jump from the temple roof because Scripture promised that"God would give His angels charge over thee, lest you dash your foot into a stone." Jesus replied, "It is written, do not put the Lord your God to the test."
I am troubled that some would counsel rash behavior because they declare that we just need to have faith. I am confident of God's care and provision in all things, but I also know that God has purposes higher than we can know and understand. If it serves the cause of Christ and God's glorious purposes for something to happen to me, then may God's will be done. I am not my own, but His. Trusting in God does not mean testing God, so please use the wisdom God has given you to take sage precautions but never let anything so terrify you that you decide to behave in an unChristian way.
-- Rev. Dr. Marcel Allen Lamb