New Surprises

New Surprises

Author: Mark Fenstermacher
January 01, 2021

On Christmas morning, I was down on the floor playing with a 4-year old grandson when I noticed several books nearby. One of them was the children's book, "The Little Island."  I've read a relatively large number of children's books to children, grandchildren and pre-schoolers over the years, but I had never heard of "The Little Island." I was stunned to see that the book was written by one of my favorite authors, Margaret Wise Brown ("Goodnight Moon", "The Runaway Bunny" and other books). I thought I had seen everything she had written, but here was something new!

The book's simple story is about an isolated, small island. The island learns that it is connected to the rest of the world, despite the wide ocean, and this needs to be taken on faith.

Now, there are several ways this brief email devotion can go. I could remind you that in a time of isolation due to a pandemic, you are not alone. You are connected to a larger world, you are connected to others, and this is something that may require faith to believe. Over and over again, Paul uses the image of a body to describe our life in Christ: we are connected to one another.

Or I could talk about how life has surprises for us even when we thought we could no longer be surprised. How surprising, at this stage of life, to find a beautiful small book by someone whose writing I love! So maybe the point of the devotional could be that we should keep our eyes, ears, mind, heart and soul open to new discoveries. God has a way of surprising us with new truth and new chapters. God speaks through Isaiah 43:10, and says, "Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." 

Maybe the book -and my discovery of it- teaches us two important lessons as we step into a New Year:

You may feel like a small, isolated island but you are connected to a larger world and to others. Trusting that is so comes down to faith!
You may think you have seen it all, or you may think you know it all, but there is more God has to show you...teach you. Keep your eyes, ears, mind, heart and soul open as we step into 2021 to new lessons, new discoveries, new truth, and new ways of living life.


We are so thankful for each of you: your faith, your service, your gifts and your very life makes a difference! We are praying for you and we are looking forward to the day when we can begin a new chapter together in person!

On January 3rd, we will share in a worship experience that features a message from our resident Bishop, Julius Trimble. Join us on-line or via the web site for worship on January 3rd to hear this timely message from our Bishop.

January 10th, we begin a new series of messages titled "By Another Road." The visitors from the East go back home by another road, and so we will spend three weeks exploring how the Jesus community we call the Church is uniquely shaped by the teachings and life of Jesus of Nazareth. We are different, we are a community always turned towards grace, and we are called to live in him and share him with the world.

In Christ and for Christ,
Pastor Mark


First United Methodist Church
1203 E. Seventh Street | Auburn, IN 46706 | 260.925.0885