Just a Thought or Two


God Be With You

By Mark Fenstermacher
August 19, 2022

During the past week, one of my favorite writers -Frederick Buechner- left this world. His words, the way his prose often danced into poetry, and his faith both shaped my own journey in so many ways. Buechner in “Whistling in the Dark” once wrote about those moments ...

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A Letter to a Young Christian

By Mark Fenstermacher
July 29, 2022

Note: The other day I was blessed to be able to sit down with a young Christian. He is in the middle of a new beginning with God, and he asked me about next steps. So I promised him a short note and this is an edited version of what I sent his way. I thought that you might find i...

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Accidental Mountain Climbing

By Mark Fenstermacher
July 22, 2022

It was a gentle trail—I thought—to an overlook in Denali National Park.  But the trail turned into a challenging, demanding climb to the top of Mt Healy. We didn’t read the trail guide before going up but the National Park Service says this is one of the st...

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Which Way Will You (We) Go?

By Mark Fenstermacher
July 08, 2022

There’s an argument going on out there between two friends. It’s heated. Things get bad enough there is name-calling. Simon Peter pulls his friend and teacher, Jesus, aside. Peter “rebukes” his teacher and friend. Jesus, who we think of as mild-mannered, ...

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When the Holy Spirit Surprised

By Mark Fenstermacher
June 10, 2022

It was the last place I would think the Holy Spirit might show up: a church conference. A church business meeting. As a child, I associated the Holy Spirit with loud songs and the sounds of tambourines coming through the walls of the small Pentecostal Church on the edge of town....

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Teach Us to Number Our Days

By Rev. Nikki Brown Rice
May 27, 2022

There is a song that has been stuck in my head of late, and it goes like this: “Teach us to number our days,  that we may apply our hearts to your ways O! Teach us to number our days With wisdom and grace, wisdom and grace Wisdom and grace, wisdom and grace.&rdquo...

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The Inside-Out Church

By Mark Fenstermacher
May 20, 2022

As I walked down the sidewalk after having lunch with my brother, a construction worker on the other side of the street shouted my name. I stopped. “You got a minute?” he yelled. “You in a hurry?” I had a minute. My buddy (he doesn’t attend our chu...

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The Nose of the Tractor

By Mark Fenstermacher
May 13, 2022

Carlton was our next-door neighbor when we lived on the edge of the country, just south of Mishawaka. He was a small, red-faced, bald, retired farmer who was a pure soul. Every chance he got, he would sing whether in the church choir or a country and western trio. When he would s...

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Pro-Life Jesus

By Mark Fenstermacher
May 06, 2022

A young friend has a favorite place. It’s a place she visits when she wants to be renewed, and recover from the stresses of life. So, now and then, she makes her way back to Arches National Park outside Moab, Utah. There are passages of the Bible that, just as Arches Natio...

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Married to Amazement

By Mark Fenstermacher
April 29, 2022

The late poet, Mary Oliver, was a true gift to many.  I thought of her poem, When Death Comes for Me, as we travel through the current sermon series (“God’s Easter Community”). Last Sunday we came face-to-face with God’s call to refuse to let fear co...

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Love Loudly

By Mark Fenstermacher
April 22, 2022

Outside the Lviv train station, where civilians were gathering to catch trains to the relative safety of western Ukraine, a female pianist sat and played “What a Wonderful World” as people raced by.  At the same train station, a man named Alex played Hans Zimmer&...

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God in Reverse - Easter

By Mark Fenstermacher
April 15, 2022

When I was a boy, our family lived on the edge of the Bering Sea in northwest Alaska. The town, a place called Nome, sprang up when missionaries found specks of gold on the beach. Soon after gold was discovered, the town grew to the point where it was larger than San Francisco. ...

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The Way is Narrow

By Mark Fenstermacher
April 08, 2022

The invitation Jesus gives the world seems wide and without limits (Matthew 11:28, RSV): “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” This sounds about as open as a Kansas wheat field or the wide plains of Montana. So I’ve always b...

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Doxology

By Mark Fenstermacher
April 01, 2022

Elkhart, Indiana, was once known by some as “the band capital of the world.” Several different companies turned out everything from pianos to high-end flutes.  Many of those factories are now closed. My first appointment out of seminary was to a large congr...

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No Need to Leave This Party: Where We Are as a Denomination

By Mark Fenstermacher
March 25, 2022

There have been major stories in the news about a start-up denomination called “the Global Methodist Church.” What is going on? The Wesleyan movement—which we at First United Methodist Church are a part of—began out of a passion by a small group of people...

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Peacemaking When Bombs are Falling

By Mark Fenstermacher
March 18, 2022

I found myself worrying about you last night. After enduring the challenges and uncertainty of COVID, after holding on through a political season that pulled friendships, families, and churches apart, now we are exposed to the images and stories coming to us every day as Russia c...

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Getting Dressed

By Mark Fenstermacher
March 11, 2022

As a blue jeans guy, I generally don’t have to think very much about what I am going to wear the next morning. As someone who shrugs in the face of whatever happens to pass for clothing trends, I’m a blue jeans, loafers, sweater (winter), or golf shirt (summer) guy. ...

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The God Who Provides

By Mark Fenstermacher
March 04, 2022

“Are you temporary?” someone asked a few weeks ago. With a twinkle in my eye, I responded, “We’re all temporary.” There was a moment of silence. “Oh,” they said as they realized that we all—one way or another—move along.&nb...

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Spiritual Claustrophobia

By Mark Fenstermacher
February 25, 2022

When I saw the title of the book by John Pavlovitz, If God is Love- Don’t Be a Jerk, I knew I had to have it. Near the beginning of his book about the spiritual hunger of people that is no longer met by old assumptions about God, worship styles, and denominations, the auth...

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The Girl With the Purple Hair

By Mark Fenstermacher
February 18, 2022

ol li{ list-style:none; } The girl with the purple hair was waiting on me as the storm came our way. I asked how she was doing. She had not slept for two days, she said. And she is supposed to pick up a truck so she and her boyfriend can move. Two months preg...

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Sending Out Roots

By Mark Fenstermacher
February 11, 2022

Standing on the top of Mount Nebo, looking west down across the Jordan Valley to the rolling hills of the Galilee in the distance, the great valley floor looked dry and lifeless. But, taking a second glance, you can see a ragged line of green running from north to south. There, i...

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A Lesson from the Birds

By Mark Fenstermacher
February 04, 2022

One of the most amazing things in nature is the swarming of birds. It’s called “murmuration,” Susan Beaumont points out in her book How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going. I’m no expert in these sorts of things but it appears that f...

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Beneath the Snow

By Mark Fenstermacher
January 28, 2022

Heading west, I not only kept my eyes on the road as the sun sank beneath the trees to the south, but I kept noticing the outside temperature reading on the dashboard of my car. When I began the trip, it was 11 above zero. Then, a half hour later, it was 7 degrees. In the half-li...

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Starting at Go

By Mark Fenstermacher
January 14, 2022

Most games start at go. Most car races start with the…start. What if the change God calls us to make in the world starts with simple things? Basic things? Everyday things? I thought of that the other day as I watched several drivers accelerate through a red light. I tho...

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Helped Along

By Mark Fenstermacher
January 07, 2022

Worship can be full of surprises. (Which is surprising, in and of itself, since worship patterns seldom vary from week to week.) You never know when God is going to show up unexpectedly. A dear friend, the late Ted Blosser, once commented that you may plan the service down to th...

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Surprised at the Manger

By Mark Fenstermacher
December 31, 2021

When you hear talk of the birth of Jesus in a stable, spare room, or cave, how do you picture the scene? I think most of us see it as a small room, barely able to contain a few sheep or a donkey and cow. Somehow, though crude, small, and ordinary, that was the place where God st...

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Making Room

By Mark Fenstermacher
December 24, 2021

Few moments in history have captured the human heart and imagination as has the story of the birth of Jesus. This event, which took place in a rebellious, backwater province of the Roman Empire, has inspired countless painters, poets, and musicians. Interestingly enough, only tw...

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Room?

By Mark Fenstermacher
December 17, 2021

A friend failed to make a hotel reservation on the first night of his honeymoon. He and his bride were going from central Indiana to central Tennessee. They made stop after stop, and every hotel had nothing. Finally, at a rest stop, the woman dug around in her luggage, retrieved...

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A Song in the Dark

By Mark Fenstermacher
December 10, 2021

Some of the purest memories I have of Christmas involve music. One took place in Brussels, Belgium at the International School. Located in an old chateau, the student body included students from all over the world. Almost all of us were living in a land far away from our home. Th...

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Seeing Further in the Cold Season

By Mark Fenstermacher
December 03, 2021

I'm a seasonal guy: that doesn't mean I am here today and gone tomorrow, but it means I savor the seasons of the year.  A friend posted something on Facebook after a long walk on a cold morning, and she said, "I love Winter!" Not everyone feels that way, I know. And I know...

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The Power of Giving Thanks

By Mark Fenstermacher
November 24, 2021

There is a black and white photograph of a Greek boy holding a pair of new shoes he had been given in the hard days following the end of World War II. That photo comes to mind every time I think about living a life dominated by gratitude and thanksgiving.  One of the most p...

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First Things First

November 19, 2021
What really matters to you? As we decide how we will express our love and gratitude to God, as we make a decision about the path we will take to a generous life, one of the questions that we’ll be asking is this: What really matters to me? (Note: if you wonder what really...

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Whitewater Rafting and Church

By Mark Fenstermacher
November 12, 2021

We were about to raft the Snake River outside Jackson Hole. The good news was that we would be traveling with an expert guide. The surprise was that we each were given a paddle. We were given a paddle not to hold, study, and give back but we were given a paddle to use. If someone...

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Meta, Zuckerberg, and Reality

By Mark Fenstermacher
November 05, 2021

I’m puzzled. We’re still not yet beyond a pandemic which required us to maintain a safe social distance from one another and yet Facebook is trumpeting the advent of something they call “virtual reality.” This will, it seems, allow each one of us to live ...

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Love as Accountability

By Mark Fenstermacher
October 29, 2021

One of my high school football coaches was an offensive lineman at IU. One of the stories about his time as a player had to do with a time when the team needed about 7 or 8 yards to pick up a first down. The coaches on the sideline sent in the punter, calling for a kick, but our ...

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Disagreement as a Door

By Mark Fenstermacher
October 22, 2021

Some comments you don’t forget. Ruth, a retired librarian, had been in a Bible study that afternoon. We were standing near the entrance of the church where I served and she was a member.  I can’t, for the life of me, remember what we were talking about but I hav...

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Blessed Open Conflict

By Mark Fenstermacher
October 15, 2021

I was raised in a home where open conflict was almost always seen as a failure of character of faith. So there was a tendency not to say what we were really thinking, feeling or wanting. It may be helpful for you to know that as you try to understand why I, as a middle aged man ...

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Some Things Don't Change

By Mark Fenstermacher
October 08, 2021

I’m a fresh air kind of guy. Whether that means driving my small, very old sports car with the top down or having the windows open at home, I’m a fresh air kind of guy. With the windows open, I can hear the voices of the children at nearby J.R. Watson Elementary as t...

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Overcoming a Lack of Trust

By Mark Fenstermacher
October 01, 2021

I looked down at my feet. I was standing on animal skins, pulled tight over a framework of wood or whalebone, and I could see the cold water of the Bering Sea bubbling along beneath the boat as we moved west towards Cape Nome. The boat flexed with the force of the water, as the o...

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Traveling Together Makes All the Difference

By Mark Fenstermacher
September 24, 2021

We can know someone for a long time and not really know them. We can move through the same spaces and moments, and not really know one another. We’re about to start a series of messages on the Gospel of Mark. Really, these sermons are designed to be a time and place where ...

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Turbulence - To be Expected When You Fly

By Mark Fenstermacher
September 17, 2021

Over the last month I’ve taken a trip West to visit two cousins in Oregon, and then more recently a quick trip to Alexandria, Virginia to visit my son and 4-year old grandson. To save some money, I flew to Portland by way of Las Vegas, and came back to Indianapolis by way o...

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The Window Fight

By Mark Fenstermacher
September 10, 2021

As we worked on the new sanctuary we were building, we got to the design stage of a bold, rather modern-looking, circular stained-glass window. We agreed that the text for this rose window would be Revelation 22: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, ...

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Job #1 for Parents

By Mark Fenstermacher
September 03, 2021

I’ve heard young parents (and some older) sag under the pressure of trying to be the perfect parent. A friend who is an attorney in another city posted a cry of exhaustion after trying to do it all: not miss any of her kids’ special events while she built a legal prac...

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Trying New Things

By Mark Fenstermacher
August 27, 2021

The owner of a clothing store in the small town where I went to high school didn’t like change. She didn’t update the styles of clothing she was trying to sell. So when people went into her store, it was like stepping back in time. The store became a kind of “cl...

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Life Goes On

By Mark Fenstermacher
August 20, 2021

As I watch the video of Afghans surging onto the Kabul Airport property, and filling USAF Globemasters, I remember a night long ago when our family stood in the darkness of an African night waiting to board a Globemaster. Fleeing violence, we each held only the 5 pounds of person...

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Let Them Come to Me

By Mark Fenstermacher
August 13, 2021

Do you remember the time(s) when an adult blessed you as a child? Do you remember when an adult listened to you, spent time with you, or thought your life mattered enough to teach you how to hold a paintbrush, fly rod or handsaw? One of my best friends in middle school had a mot...

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Porch Life

By Mark Fenstermacher
August 06, 2021

I've been sitting on a porch. The porch is on the front of a big, old house that sits on the near southside of Fort Wayne. The reason I am here is because my brother and his wife, with whom our 94-year old Dad lives, are in Alaska for a week and a half. Someone needed to be here ...

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New Wineskins

By Mark Fenstermacher
July 30, 2021

People who didn’t like change often had a problem with Jesus. Jesus always seemed to be doing things a little differently if doing things differently helped him reach people with the love and truth of God. In the 5th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus sees a tax collecto...

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All Kinds of Music for All Kinds of Lives

By Mark Fenstermacher
July 23, 2021

For three of my years in college, I lived in a dormitory (Wilkie South) in Bloomington. There are a lot of stories I could tell you from that time in my life but they’re not going to get told here. Now. Or later. (Honestly, I was a rather boring guy living a rather tame lif...

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Unplanned Moments

By Mark Fenstermacher
July 16, 2021

I was an hour early. You read that right: I was an hour early. I had agreed to meet a friend at a local coffee shop at 2 in the afternoon, but I was an hour early. So I read. I jotted down some things on my “to do” list. And then I heard a voice. One of the young ad...

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Giving Walls

By Mark Fenstermacher
July 09, 2021

God has an amazing way of using—or redeeming—even the rough chapters of life. Two people this afternoon told me how good had come out of the COVID-19 pandemic for them. I believe many of us discovered our relationship with God taking on new meaning and power during t...

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Freedom

By Mark Fenstermacher
July 02, 2021

Every time I leave the country, I’ve felt a sense of excitement at the adventure ahead. I’ve also felt a twinge of regret at leaving home behind. The Bible tells us that as children of the covenant we have another homeland, and we are sojourners on this earth. But ...

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Rebuilding the Foundation

By Mark Fenstermacher
June 25, 2021

Starting over can be exhausting. You know that if you have moved, started a new job, gone through a divorce, or lived through a disaster that destroyed your home. Starting over can be exhausting. But there is this one thing about rebuilding: you get to do things in a new and bet...

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Mid-June Update

By Mark Fenstermacher
June 18, 2021

Dear Friend, I don’t know what it is but it’s growing out of the bushes in the backyard of the parsonage. After eying it for a week or so, I finally went out and decided to do battle with the weed that threatened to become a redwood. One came out of the ground easily...

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Love Appeal

By Mark Fenstermacher
June 11, 2021

People in marketing (and everyday conversation) talk about sex appeal but I have been thinking about love appeal this week. It’s easy to demand from others what we think we have coming to us. I remember a summer evening in North Carolina when a friend and lay leader asked ...

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Lost and Found

By Mark Fenstermacher
June 04, 2021

(NOTE: We would like to hear what you have lost and what you have found during the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years. When you arrive at church this Sunday, please go to the front of the sanctuary. You will find “Post-It” notes, pens and an easel on both sides...

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After the COVID Exile

By Mark Fenstermacher
May 28, 2021

We had been in Estes Park, Colorado for a week. That area of the world is a special place in our lives. On the day we were leaving, heading back to Denver to catch a plane home, I remember driving out of the valley. The road wound around the mountains, climbing higher and higher,...

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Is It Safe?

By Mark Fenstermacher
May 21, 2021

I’ve seen the man around town. We’ve never talked. He always seems absorbed in what he is doing, and I am moving down the hallway at the Y.  I don’t stop. He doesn’t look up. We don’t speak. Little do I know that he is the man who called month...

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Stop It

By Mark Fenstermacher
May 14, 2021

It never made much sense to me. My Dad, a fairly reasonable and enlightened person, became inflexible on Sundays when I talked about doing homework. Doing homework on Sundays was not an option unless I had worked on it most of Saturday and not been able to finish. Sunday was sabb...

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Respect

By Mark Fenstermacher
May 07, 2021

One of the great singers of the last century was—in my opinion—Aretha Franklin. Hearing her 1968 Atlantic release Aretha in Paris was a pivotal moment in my young life. Aretha’s voice and the passion she brought to her music stunned me. She had a way with a song...

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The Patina of Real Freedom

By Mark Fenstermacher
April 30, 2021

Bronze and copper, after they are exposed to the elements long enough, take on a green film which is referred to as a “patina.” I used to think the presence of this patina indicated a need for cleaning or a sign that something was well past its prime. But I’ve c...

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What Will Change?

By Mark Fenstermacher
April 23, 2021

Will anything change? Will there be any movement in breaking free from the unhealthy and dysfunctional patterns of the past, for example, after our time in worship and our focus on the texts that tell us God wants to give us a new name? Will we “step out of our boots&rdq...

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Mid-April Update

By Mark Fenstermacher
April 16, 2021

.square { list-style-type: square; margin-left: 2em; } Dear Friends at First, This morning I began my day talking with a farmer about planting soybeans. He told me that some seeds are designed for a short growing season and some are intended for a longer ...

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Holy Week

March 31, 2021
Dear Friends in Christ, We wanted to invite you—again—to some wonderful worship opportunities at First United Methodist Church here in Auburn. Won't you invite a friend or two, and family members, to join you in worship this week?  (We continue to practice socia...

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The Parade into Jerusalem

By Mark Fenstermacher
March 26, 2021

There are all sorts of parades. My hometown manages to have a 4th of July parade with fire trucks, high school bands, classic cars and restored tractors. The parade is fun but it doesn’t last long. My Mom told me that when I was a child, in Brussels, I was in the crowd when...

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Real Church

By Mark Fenstermacher
March 19, 2021

Have you noticed those large serving trays of desserts that are on display in the front of some restaurants? Those tasty looking delights are almost always made out of rubber and for display purposes only. One Monday, when I was taking the church staff in another congregation ou...

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Variations in our Walk

By Mark Fenstermacher
March 12, 2021

As we walk through Lent with God, I’d like you to think about your soul life as music. Sometimes planned and structured works...it is what we need. And sometimes what we need is more spontaneous, extemporaneous and free-flowing. This afternoon, in my office, I had Bach&rsq...

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The Mystery & Power of Prayer

By Mark Fenstermacher
March 05, 2021

Dear Friends, Prayer is one of the keys to being fully alive, I believe.  Scripture shows us that prayer was something Jesus did often even though (John 1 and Philippians 2) we're told the Carpenter was God in the flesh. If Jesus slipped away to pray, then surely there mus...

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The First Week of Lent

By Nikki Brown Rice
February 26, 2021

Mark 1:12-15 reads, “And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the goo...

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The Starting Point

By Mark Fenstermacher
February 19, 2021

When I ask the navigation app on my phone to help me get from here to there, it often asks me what the starting point is going to be. As we enter into this season Christians call “Lent” what is our starting point for our walk with God? In Polish households in South B...

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Hinkle's Hamburgers and Jesus

By Mark Fenstermacher
February 05, 2021

One of my friends teaches at the Kelley School of Business at IU. He was gracious enough to listen to my sermons, week after week, and we talked about getting together for lunch or coffee. Keith and I shared a love for Jesus, a passion for IU basketball and a deep commitment to m...

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"'Tis a Gift to be Simple"

By Mark Fenstermacher
January 29, 2021

Life seem too complicated? Yep, I think so, too. When I moved to Auburn, I needed help setting up my tv. (I remember a black and white tv with four channels and metal rabbit ears)  I'm making the transition from a PC to an Apple computer: nice machine but the progress is ...

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To Heal We Must Remember

By Mark Fenstermacher
January 22, 2021

It caught me. When the lights went on around the Reflecting Pool, a feeling of overwhelming grief rolled over me. Like so many of us, I was watching the simple ceremony on the Washington Mall on the evening of the 19th to honor the coronavirus victims. Four hundred lights were s...

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When (We're) the Crowd Gets that Gets It Wrong

By Mark Fenstermacher
January 15, 2021

Sometimes the good guys (and good women) turn out to be the bad guys (and bad women). Acts 7 tells us about a gathering of learned, scripturally literate, faithful-in-worship folks who are outraged by the passionate preaching and powerful miracles of a young, first-generation Ch...

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The Auburn Open

January 08, 2021
Earlier this winter I was walking down a street where a row of shops were flying red, white and blue flags that said "OPEN." I walked up to each store, on that cold day, and found a smaller sign on each door that said "Closed." They said they were open but the lights were out and...

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New Surprises

By 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-sch...

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The Speechless Preacher

By Mark Fenstermacher
December 24, 2020

What do you do at Christmas when you're a preacher and you can't speak? I faced that challenge for three or four of the eight years we were at New Haven United Methodist. About the time the Christmas trees arrived in a semi-trailer, for the annual United Methodist Men's Christma...

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An Act of Resistance

By Mark Fenstermacher
December 18, 2020

It was as she drove cross-country at night, through eastern Ohio, that Heidi Haverkamp fell in love with the idea of putting a light in the window as an act of resistance. She writes (Christian Century, 12-16-2020) that the tradition of putting a candle in the window is traced ba...

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You Never Know Who May be on an Ice Flow

By Mark Fenstermacher
December 11, 2020

The hunters had been on the pack ice south of the coastal village where we lived in Northwest Alaska the day before, looking for walrus and seal. Pack ice is a strange thing: one day people can be driving their cars around on it, people by the hundreds can be out on it ice fishin...

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Through the Branches

By Mark Fenstermacher
December 04, 2020

I'm a seasonal guy: that doesn't mean I am here today and gone tomorrow, but it means I savor the seasons of the year.  A friend posted something on Facebook after a long walk on a cold morning, and she said, "I love Winter!" Not everyone feels that way, I know. And I know...

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Thanksgiving in a Minor Key

By Mark Fenstermacher
November 26, 2020

These are strange days. I'll not dance around that in an attempt to put a positive spin on things: these are strange days. Many people are feeling a sense of loss since they cannot be with the family and friends they love, and our hearts ache to be around a table we can't joi...

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A Perfect Time to be the Light

By Mark Fenstermacher
November 19, 2020

We had lost everything. Well, not quite everything. Each of us had been allowed to take 5 pounds of personal possessions when we were loaded onto the small twin-engine C-47 and flown out of the jungle in the war-torn Congo.  For a brief period of three months, we were welco...

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The Narrow Way

By Mark Fenstermacher
November 11, 2020

One of my favorite verses in one of my favorite hymns says "There's a wideness in God's mercy, like the wideness of the sea." The lyrics by Frederick William Faber are a comfort to me because I'm pretty sure that I am one of those EGR people (Extra Grace Required)–even in t...

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Beyond a City Divided

By Mark Fenstermacher
November 05, 2020

*(This article is being written on the afternoon of November 4th, when ballots are still being cast and the winner of the Presidential election has not yet been announced. It is important for you to know that so you understand this call to unity is not written in response to the ...

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The Set Free Season

By Mark Fenstermacher
October 29, 2020

A few months ago I was walking through a park in suburban Virginia with my grandson, Grant. We came to several wooden cages in the forest preserve, just a few yards from the nature center. Each wooden enclosure was about six feet tall and four feet wide. Inside each there was a ...

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When the Earth Moves

By Mark Fenstermacher
October 23, 2020

We were lying on the beach at Warren Dunes State Park on a perfect summer day. Suddenly, the beach began to shake and move. I looked up to see if a large truck was driving across a parking lot about two hundred yards to the east, but there were no large trucks going by. I asked, ...

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How Not to Give Up

By Mark Fenstermacher
October 15, 2020

One night on Mackinac Island, I had the opportunity to talk with a young sailor who was standing watch on a small Great Lakes cruise ship. A ex-Navy man, he had served on an aircraft carrier in the North Atlantic. Sailing on the Great Lakes was more challenging than deep blue oce...

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Unplanned Miracles

By Mark Fenstermacher
October 08, 2020

Have you ever heard someone mention "the law of unintended consequences?" Recently, I began reading through the sermons of John Wesley. John was a short, Church of England priest and first-rate scholar who—with others— set the renewal movement known as Methodism in m...

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Letting Go

By Mark Fenstermacher
October 01, 2020

I like the seasons. I like living in a place where the heat of summer suddenly cools. I like living in a place where the world turns white as snow falls, where the grip of winter is broken by an unexpected gust of warm wind and the appearance of the spring sun, and where trees an...

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A Chapel Unlike Any Other

By Mark Fenstermacher
September 24, 2020

When I think of chapel time, I think of quiet prayers, lighted candles, readings from scripture, light coming through stained glass, a choir loft with choir, antiphonal singing, hymns and a sermon. When I was asked if I would lead "chapel time" in our Early Learning Center, I kn...

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"Is Help on the Way?"

September 17, 2020
Driving up the interstate late in the evening, my phone lit up and I realized I needed to send a text. So I pulled off at the next exit, drove onto the shoulder, put the transmission in Park, and bent over my bright phone to send a note. My emergency flashers were blinking even t...

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Gracious Words

By Mark Fenstermacher
September 10, 2020

As the November election approaches and as the United Methodist General Conference looms on the horizon, the wildfires of California seem to reflect the increasingly hot rhetoric of this season. The fires, in the superheated air and in this dry season, burn up hills and down int...

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Blue Moon and the Bible

By Mark Fenstermacher
September 03, 2020

I can't tell you who was singing the song "Blue Moon" when I first heard it but I suspect it was by Bobby Vinton. It was a nice enough song with lyrics that spoke to an adolescent's heart: "Blue moon, You saw me standing alone, Without a dream in my heart, Without a love of my o...

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A Sunday Afternoon Picnic and Learning to See God in the Bible

By Mark Fenstermacher
August 27, 2020

If you want to find meaning and truth in the Bible, it may be helpful to use the very same strategies a visitor to the Art Institute in Chicago uses in viewing Georges Seurat's magnificent (and large!) painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Using a ver...

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Stumbling Block or Stepping Stone

By Mark Fenstermacher
August 20, 2020

Stones can get in our way and cause us to stumble. Or stones can be a stepping stone that allows us to stand where we want to stand and see what we want to see. It's the same thing with the Bible: read one way it can be a stumbling block and read another way it can be a steppi...

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When Things Aren't Where They're Supposed to Be

By Mark Fenstermacher
August 06, 2020

Moving is a strange experience. You pick up your things, pack them away, carry them a distance, and then start opening boxes. I find moving exhausting and -literally- unsettling. Developing a new normal during times of transition and change requires thought and intentionalit...

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Somewhere Between Corn and Tobacco

By Mark Fenstermacher
July 30, 2020

We were young. A secure job with a recent promotion had been left behind. I was driving a U-Haul truck, headed east on I-40 out of Knoxville, Tennessee, and my wife was following along behind in our car with our 9-month old son. The clouds were low and dark as evening approached...

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The Chocolate Cheesecake Lesson

By Mark Fenstermacher
July 23, 2020

One of the first things I’ve been doing is meeting small groups for “meet and greet” sessions. These have been wonderful and down the road I’ll share some general observations about what I have heard...what people are thinking. People are working to ...

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A Different Destination

By Mark Fenstermacher
July 16, 2020

Sometimes life sends you off in an unexpected direction. The Bible is full of those sorts of stories, and I hunch your life is as well. When our family was quite young, we had returned from Africa to Indiana unexpectedly. We assumed we would be heading back to the Congo. To prep...

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Getting Started

By Mark Fenstermacher
July 09, 2020

There is a curious mixture of excitement, anxiety, and raggedness when we are about to begin something new.  Over the last two months or so I have been "stepping into" the life and ministry of Auburn First in small ways (with the knowledge and blessing of your previous ou...

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First United Methodist Church
1203 E. Seventh Street | Auburn, IN 46706
office@auburnumc.church | 260.925.0885





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