August 2020 Connection


“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife.” Matthew 1:18-24 (CEB)

“God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. When the angel came to her, he said, ‘Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!’ She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. The angel said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.’…Then Mary said, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.’ Then the angel left her.” Luke 1:26-33, 38 (CEB)

You can rest assured that you didn’t miss anything, and that the calendar did not just jump from summer to winter with an unannounced celebration of Christmas. It’s just that these passages of scripture have been on your pastor’s mind lately. At the time of writing this (July 20th), there is just one month remaining until Stephanie and I will wake up on the expected arrival date of our soon-to-be baby daughter (but who’s counting, right?). In the scriptures noted above, Joseph, in the blink of an eye, became an earthly father to Jesus, the incarnation of God. Mary’s life was turned upside down as she experienced the miraculous pregnancy and the labor pains of childbirth, delivering a wiggly little boy known only as Emmanuel, “God with us.” Nothing will put pressure on you as a parent like parenting the Son of God, right?!
Now, before you think I’m comparing myself as a parent, to the parenthood of Joseph or Mary, it’s extremely important for me to say that while my children are wonderful – and believe me, I have a unmistakable parental bias which allows me to believe that they are extraordinarily remarkable children – they are not the incarnation of God on earth. Nor am I. Nor are you.
But, we are all children of God, created in the image of God, and vivified by the very breath of God! We are all beautifully and wonderfully made by the same God that proclaimed in the beginning that “it was good.” We are formed like clay in the hands of the masterful Potter. We are knit together in the womb, and called into a life of grace and abundant joy by the source of life, God’s-self.
You. Yes, you! You were created as a child of God, and no matter what people, the world, or even the church says (yes, the church has a history of getting it wrong), you remain a beloved child of God. If you didn’t know that before, please read this paragraph over and over again until it is engraved upon your heart and mind.
So, what does any of that wonderful reminder have to do with Mary and Joseph? For some, we are called to be parents to children, however those children become part of our myriad families. For others, we are called to be, in many ways like parents for children. But, parents or not, for each one of us who call ourselves Christians, we are called to nurture, love, comfort, challenge, and embrace all those in our midst, as if they are family (because they are). I know that this may sound so very sweet and idealistic – like something from a TV drama, this is, in fact, a commitment we make to one another in the Christian church. Read these words, likely familiar, from the United Methodist baptismal liturgy:
Question to the Congregation: “Will you nurture one another in the Christian faith and life and include these persons now before you in your care?”
Congregation’s Response: “With God’s help we will proclaim the good news and live according to the example of Christ. We will surround these persons with a community of love and forgiveness, that they may grow in their trust of God, and be found faithful in their service to others. We will pray for them that they may be true disciples who walk in the way that leads to life.”
As people of faith and as disciples of Christ, we are called, like Joseph and Mary, and like all those who have faithfully served God since, to care for, nurture, and love those who God has placed among us. Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is with love for my great big church family, and with a passion for those whom this church has yet to meet, that I share in this responsibility with you.
Pastor Brian
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July 2020 Connection

Greetings in a Strange Time

Greetings, church!
It’s hard to believe that it was nearly six months ago that I received a call from the East Winds District Superintendent, Rev. Hice, letting me know that I’d been appointed to Grand Blanc UMC on July 1st. Well, that time has come, and I trust that these last six months have been just as much a whirlwind for you as they have for me. While some of that whirlwind has been joy-filled, it’s still hard to ignore that much of what has taken place since March has been devastating for so many. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all had to quickly learn how to do much of church in a new way. We’ve all had friends and family – or perhaps you, yourself – lose jobs, experience pay cuts, and certainly many have faced the insecurity of essential needs such as healthcare, transportation, or even things like food. Personally, I am currently awaiting the details of memorial services for the grandparents of a close friend, both of whom passed away from COVID-19. I suspect that many of you are experiencing a similar grief. Add to all of this, we’ve all witnessed through video the death of George Floyd on May 25th in Minneapolis, exposing and magnifying for the whole world the all-too-common reality faced by our brothers and sisters of color here in the United States. The anger and hurt felt by so many has rightfully placed a pall over an already suffering world.
In moments like these, its all that I can do to maintain Christ as my firm foundation. But just as it seems that I’ll lose my footing, I’m reminded of these words: “Now, know that I am God” Psalm 46:10 (CEB). In the midst of COVID-19, we have much work to do to care for our neighbor, conveniences to lay aside, and sacrifices we’ve never anticipated that we must now make. Globally, as we’ve also become witnesses to the plight and suffering of our brothers and sisters of color, we have a long hard road of growing and learning, repentance and healing that we must accomplish and own. But in the midst of the calamity all around us we can remember this assurance:
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:7-12 (NIV)
As Stephanie and I move into the parsonage and I receive the baton that is being graciously and faithfully handed to me by Dr. J, I come to you with the sincere desire to come and serve alongside each one of you, walking with you in our journeys of faith and discipleship. While the circumstances surrounding this pastoral transition are less than desirable, especially with respect to our continued need for social distancing, online worship, etc., I am trusting that the same God who has compassionately and faithfully guided us all through the last six months will continue to guide us as we continue the good work that God has begun in this beautiful body of Christ!
I’ll have the chance to share more about who I am in the coming weeks and months, and to share with you what my journey of faith and ministry has been thus far. But for now, let me simply say that Stephanie and I, along with Matthew, Micah and a little baby girl arriving in August, are excited to be welcomed here in Grand Blanc, and we look forward to getting to know our new church family in the coming days!
With peace and joy,
Pastor Brian
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goodbye friends

June 2020 Connection

goodbye friends

To God Be The Glory

I can think of no better way to say goodbye than through the words of a song by Andre Crouch.  The song is called MY TRIBUTE! Here it is! 
 “How can I say thanks for the things you have done for me? Things so undeserved. Yet, you give your love for me.  The voices of a million angels could not express my gratitude – all that I am and ever hope to be, I owe all to thee. To God Be the Glory. To God be the glory, to God be the glory for the things he has done.  With his blood he has saved me. With his power he has raised me. To God be the glory for the things he has done. Just let me live.  Let it be pleasing Lord to thee. And should I gain any praise, let it go to Calvary.  With his blood he has saved me.  With his power he has raised me.  To God be the glory for the things he has done.”  
It’s all about gratitude. You have been the most loving, helpful and supportive congregation I have experienced since my arrival in Michigan in June of 1998. I have every reason to believe that the best days are ahead for Grand Blanc United Methodist Church. Reverend Laurie is very grateful to the staff, the prayer group, lay leadership and congregation for the love she felt from all of you.
Julius E. Del Pino, your Minister and servant leader  
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passion 2018

March 2018 Connection

passion 2018
The Lenten journey is a season that invites us to speak to God and to receive the Easter experience into our
lives. As we prepare to make that journey in 2018, I would remind us of what happened at that first Easter. Because of Easter, Jesus Christ is alive in the world, present in every heart, ready to transform lives, and opens the gates of eternity; that is the foundation and conviction of the Christian faith. To be sure, without the resurrection of Christ there would be no Christian church. 
The longer I live with the Easter narratives, the more I believe they become blurred by the very brightness of that experience of the living Lord. My faith tells me the countless ways that there was not the slightest doubt, in those early Christians, about the central truth they lived and proclaimed. Death could not defeat Jesus. The greed and political mockery could not destroy his faith. Hate could not break him. Christ lives! Scholars and
preachers alike agree to a miraculous event following the crucifixion that radically changed the lives of the disciples.
My own belief is rather simple. I believe that something happened that changed the disciples from cowards into young men of grace, power, and faith. How did they change? They changed through their encounter with the living Christ.
The religious scene has changed over the years. I am amazed by the increasing number of Christians who claim to have all the answers to perplexing questions of our time. To offer neat, shallow, pat answers to the
ultimate mystery of religion is not faith at all, but an affront to all that is sacred and holy.
I do not have all the answers to what happened inside the tomb on that Easter morning. I don’t think anyone else does either. If you have to know every single detail and have all the facts about the tomb and the dead Jesus, and what eternity is like in minute detail….with complete accuracy, then you are encouraged by this pastor to return to those passages that detail this amazing story for new insights and learning.  Easter is not about what happened to the corpse of Jesus in a tomb, but what happened in the life of Paul and the other disciples and apostles afterwards, and what can still happen in you and in me because Christ lives. Easter is not magic but miraculous, not chemistry, but mystery.
As we take that journey to the cross, may we come to truly believe that Easter happens in us when we believe that the future is still open. The resurrection is God’s stand against despair, greed, dishonesty, and helplessness – the resurrection says God’s tomorrow is not confined to yesterday’s tragedy, but is open, free, moving and alive.
Please believe me. The Easter experience is filled with profound mystery as well as with deep commitment to the reality of Christ’s miraculous resurrection. Believe it! Celebrate it! Live it! Come to church during Lent so that you can genuinely celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday morning.
Yours in Christ love,
Julius E. Del Pino
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vision tiles 2018

February 2018 Connection

vision tiles 2018
Next Steps for Church Revitalization
First, I wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.  I am so thankful to be able to lead you in this new year as we become more faithful in our discipleship walk.  God has blessed us beyond measure, and I believe new and abundant blessings will be showered on us in 2018. By now many of you have read or heard about our meeting in homes to hear from you what your hopes and dreams are for your church. Questions for discussion will include, but not limited to the following: Why do we need Christ?  Why do we need the Church?  Why do we need this church, GBUMC, in particular?  Your answers will help us form a vision statement that will be a light for the future.  Please make every effort to attend one of these zone home gatherings. What you believe is the driving force behind the ultimate vision. 
The purpose of the Vision Workshop is to create a vision statement unique to GBUMC.  Once crafted, the vision statement will function as the basis of all decision-making and ministry assessment for this congregation. While at the workshop, participants will be encouraged to do the following:
    1. Pray and Listen to God about the future
    2. Dream together about what God wants this congregation to be in our community
    3. Develop the seeds of God’s vision for the church’s future
    4. Learn to understand the difference between mission and vision
    5. Identify church values
    6. Become familiar with life cycle of a congregation
The church leadership and your pastor are encouraging every person to please be a part of sculpting your church’s vision by attending these events on Saturday, February 24 and Saturday, March 24th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Patty Dennis, who trained at the Lombard Institute and has been mentored by Naomi Garcia, will lead us.  Please be prayerful from now up until the workshop times as we prepare to be involved in this visioning process.  Your spoken dreams and hopes are needed as we are lead by the Spirit to transform peoples lives. 
Faithfully and lovingly,
Your Pastor,
Julius E Del Pino, Ph
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