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E-Circuit Rider

A publication for making disciples of the family and friends of
Courthouse Community United Methodist Church in Virginia Beach, VA.


Friday, September 3, 2021
Dear <<First Name>>,
This week, my friend Hill Carmichael, a pastor in Birmingham, Alabama shared the following devotion on his Facebook page about a story that is familiar to many of us. 
I wanted to share it with you; I found it inspiring and timely.  



A few years ago, a seminary professor of mine decided to use the parable of the Good Samaritan to make a point about how fear influences the decisions we make. He turned to Luke chapter 10 and began to read. I zoned out for a few minutes. I know – best seminary student ever and something you never want to hear a pastor say. But it’s a familiar story. One we’ve all heard a million times. In fact, it’s become somewhat of a cultural norm to point to the Good Samaritan in everyday life. I use it regularly with my boys. I imagine you’ve used it as well in an attempt to convey what it means to be kind in a hurting world. So, I took a little mental break in class. No harm, no foul, right?

After my professor finished reading, he looked up and said, “This is not a story about being nice. This is a story about the transformation of the world.”

All of a sudden, I was paying attention again.
And then he went on to explain that Jesus is responding to a question by sharing that there are three types of people along the road between Jerusalem and Jericho.

The first type
The first type are the robbers, whose ethic suggests that “what is yours is mine at whatever cost”. And the robbers will take whatever they need through violence, coercion, and whatever means necessary. These are the people who will leave us physically, mentally, and emotionally beaten and bruised along life’s road with nothing left but our shallow breath.

The second type
The second type of person to walk along the dangerous road between Jerusalem and Jericho is represented by the priest and the Levite, whose ethic suggests that “what is mine is mine and I must protect it even if it means you get hurt in the process”. They aren’t bad people. Both the priest and the Levite are deeply respected in their communities. They very likely follow all the societal rules and norms. They sit on local boards. They pay their taxes on time and likely coach their son’s or daughter’s teams. They also show a great deal of love to those within their immediate communities, but because of what crossing the road to help might cost them, they put their heads down and go about their business. So, without even recognizing it, they do more harm than good. Their focus is inward toward their needs and the needs of those who are most like them. It’s an ethic that leads the good and decent priest and Levite toward a life of valuing their reputations instead of relationships. And it often results in them choosing their own individual rights over the health and well-being of their neighbors. Unfortunately, this is the category where I fall most often throughout my life. And if we’re all being honest, I’d say it’s the category that most of us fall into more than we care to admit.

Then there is the Samaritan
Then there is the Samaritan, whose ethic is love. And along one of the most dangerous roads in all of history seems to live by a code that says “what is mine is yours…if you have need of it”.
My safety is yours…if you have need of it.
My security is yours…if you have need of it.
My resources are yours…if you have need of them.
My health is tied to your health.
My well-being is tied to your well-being.

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. preached on this text often and once said that the real difference between the priest and the Levite from the Samaritan is the question that each must have asked. The priest and the Levite likely asked, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?”.
The Samaritan likely asked a very different question - “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

Fear has a way of making us all behave badly. It was true for the priest and the Levite, and it is still true for us today. When fear is the ethic of our lives, we tend to cling to our own safety and our own individual rights. When fear is the ethic of our lives, we retreat, mind our own business and rarely cross to the other side of the road to help. 

It doesn’t take looking out the window for very long to know that we are all on a road somewhere between Jerusalem and Jericho right now. It’s dangerous out there. The heartbreak and exhaustion are real. It’s not just the virus. It’s everything. It’s layers and layers of being beaten and bruised along a dry, hard road these past 18 months.

So, we have some choices to make.
We can choose to make our decisions with an ethic of fear. And for a time, choices based on fear have a way of making us feel safe, but that is fleeting at best.
The other choice is to cross the road to help our neighbor. We can choose the ethic of loving God and neighbor over an ethic of fear. 
When we cross to the other side, we’ll get a glimpse of something Jesus talked an awful lot about. We’ll see what transformation looks like. We’ll finally understand who we are called to be. And best of all, we’ll finally encounter the Kingdom we’ve been longing for.


This Sunday we begin a new sermon series called "Finding our Way." 
 We all want to get somewhere in life.  
We want to be stronger in our faith.  
We want to experience God's love and presence.  
We want better relationships, good health, enough money to take care of our family.  

How do we get there?  Who and what leads us?  What are the guideposts along our way?  How do we make sense of it all?  What does God want for us right now?  And where is God leading us?  These are all questions we ask when we are trying to find our way.  

Together we will find the guideposts signs from God to move in the direction God is leading us. 

We begin this Sunday with our first sermon, "Greenlights"  based on Ephesians 4: 1-32 and  Matthew 28: 16-20.  

I look forward to seeing you for worship online at 8:30 am or 9:45 am or in person at 8:30 am, 9:45 am, or 11:15 am.   Click here to see this Sunday's bulletin. 

In God's Love,
Pastor Beth
We will have five opportunities to worship this Sunday!  

You can worship ONLINE for the Traditional Service at 8:30 am

You can worship ONLINE for the Contemporary Service at 9:45 am

You can worship IN-PERSON Indoors for the Traditional Service at 8:30 am and those who are Fully Vaccinated may worship without masks. 

You can worship IN-PERSON Indoors for the Contemporary Service at 9:45 am and those who are Fully Vaccinated may worship without masks.  

You can worship IN-PERSON Indoors for worship at 11:15 am.  Those who are Fully Vaccinated may worship without masks. 

We will continue to utilize our Health Acknowledgment Screening whereby we ask for an affirmation to the following statements: 
1) I am not experiencing two or more symptoms of COVID-10. 
2) I have not been in contact with anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. 
3) I have not tested positive for COVID-19, nor am I awaiting test results. 
4) If I have tested positive for COVID-19 I have complete resolution of symptoms OR (if asymptomatic) I have completed 10 days of self-isolation. 
5) I will immediately notify the pastor if within 5 days after attending this event I develop 2 or more symptoms of COVID-19. 

We will not be asking people to show proof of vaccination, we will rely on the mutual trust we hold in one another as sisters and brothers in Christ and children of God in this worshiping community to love and care for another. We ask that if you are not yet fully vaccinated, that you wear a mask for the care and protection of those who are most vulnerable.
To view the bulletin for this Sunday, click here!




Last week we had 169 people worship with us in-person, and 39 people worshiped with us on Facebook Live*! The church also received a total of $7,507.55 in giving both electronically and in person.

95 individuals were helped by the Storehouse Food Pantry this week, and Midweek Meals returns for in-person dining on September 8th! Praise God!

Thank you for joining us and for your continual support - see you on Sunday!


*The way we are collecting online views has been updated.

After breaking for August, the Leadership Board will be meeting on Tuesday, September 7th at 7 pm. The meeting will be held both in-person in room 407 and over Zoom. Links to the minutes, financial reports, Zoom meeting, and agenda are available below.





After a well-deserved break over the summer, the Praise Team will be returning to the 11:15 contemporary service starting September 12th!

Do you play an instrument? Would you like to join the Praise Team? Contact our Choir Director Donna Smith at donnas@ccumc.net!
During this time when we are physically distant from one another, we are still joined together in prayer.

Click on the image to the left to open our current prayer list!
The deadline for submissions to the E-Circuit Rider is Wednesdays at 10 am. Please send any submissions to stepht@ccumc.net. Any submissions received after that time will be added to the following week's email.
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