First United Methodist Church

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Christ-like Servants Update

Check out today’s update to hear about the ministries within our Christ-like Servants Pillar! To learn more and to get involved email Pastor Rachel at

Devotion: Manna

Half- Year Financial Update

Devotion: The Greyhound Bus

I want to tell you a story; so grab your morning coffee or afternoon cup of tea and see if you can picture where God was at work in this experience.

This past weekend I had a little adventure. One of my dear friends from seminary is getting ready to get married and once she gets married, she will move down to Florida to join her husband. In seminary, we had a Covenant Group of 7 women, all young United Methodists, all on either the deacon or elder track and we have seen each other through a lot. I was the first one of us to get married and the first to become a mother. Each of us has been at or in each other’s weddings and we have thrown countless showers in support of each other over the years even though I am in Florida, four are in North Georgia, one is in California, and one is in England. My seminary sister Brittany is the last of us to get married, and so the rest of us wanted to throw her a Bridal shower. We decided on having it in Alpharetta right outside of Atlanta and so began the quest of getting there at 8 months pregnant. I immediately vetoed driving myself 16 hours this close to my due date and flying didn’t seem like a possibility either, so I bought a roundtrip bus ticket on the Greyhound.

Yes, you read that right. I headed out Friday morning and came back at 1:30am on Sunday morning. People thought I was CRAZY! Maybe you do too while reading this but let me tell you all of the ways Jesus showed up on the Greyhound bus this past weekend.

First, this idiot pastor of yours thought there was such a thing as “long-term” parking at the Orlando Greyhound station. (I clearly didn’t do my research). When I arrived Friday morning and realized that there were only Tow-Away zones on the property, I immediately began to pray for a solution. I found a woman in an official uniform and explained the situation. I told her that this was my first time at Greyhound (obviously) and did she know of another property within walking distance that I could park at? I explained that my husband is a pastor and we had two small kids and so coming to pick me up in the middle of the night early on a Sunday morning wasn’t ideal. She stopped what she was doing, asked me where my car was parked and wrote down my plate details. Then she told the Security Guard, while pointing at my car, “You see that black car with the Florida plates and the missing hubcap, don’t tow it. This pregnant woman will be back for it early Sunday morning!”

I was in awe of this and asked her how she was able to pull such strings and she said, “Sweetie, I’m the manager here!”

…Okay, thank you Jesus!

When it was time to board, I vigilantly watched my blue suitcase to make sure it got loaded onto the bottom of the bus, which it almost didn’t, but at the last minute a handler retrieved and threw it on right before we backed away from the station.

…Okay, thank you Jesus!

I managed to secure a seat all by myself and keep a seat to myself which gave me much more room than I would have gotten even on an airplane. And every time we made a stop and more people got on, I silently prayed, “don’t pick the seat next to me, please” and for 8 hours there and back, I kept a seat to myself.

…Okay, thank you Jesus!

When I returned to Orlando early on Sunday morning, low and behold, my car was still there, but right beside it was a giant branch that had fallen and broken apart and had I parked one spot over, would have cracked my windshield.

…Okay, thank you Jesus!

I share this story with you because I saw God show up a whole lot more this past weekend because I was in an uncomfortable situation. While I will choose faster travel means in the future, I marveled at the opportunity it presented me to see a different part of God’s people. Don’t get me wrong, I have traveled extensively across Europe and have always been open to new adventures. I usually travel with others though and never at 8 months pregnant. What God reminded me so clearly this weekend is just how much God loves His people. Not just the people I interact with at First United Methodist Church of Winter Park or my children’s school or in the Central Florida region. God loves the Haitian man that sat behind me and the man with face tattoos and the woman with a broken cell phone and the family who had to carry their belongings in a plastic bag. God loves me as much as God loves them. They may never have other means or resources to be able to travel as I do, but they are no less light bearers in this world. The woman from New York who was trying to get to Brunswick who had been on a bus for 30 hours offered me part of her meal because she could see I am pregnant. You see, God’s light and grace is all around us if we have the courage to look into its eyes and see the face of Christ.

What I am beginning to see more and more, is that the rest of the world does not live like you and me. Most of us are living in a privileged state and comfortable with our resources and means. This is not a state of judgment, only observation. And I would say that when we live with means, we need experiences like I had this weekend to be reminded about the vastness and wide diversity of God’s love. I think there is also something to be said about when we are uncomfortable or in less than comfy situations, it CAN open us up to seeing God at work in ways we never expected.

And so my prayer for you and my challenge for those in this faith community is to never turn down the opportunity to be in less than ideal situations because, in my experience, that is when God shows up in mighty ways. If you don’t believe me, look at a majority of the stories of transformation in Scripture and you will see a God that came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. I believe Jesus came to shake things up in our lives with people not like us to show us just how high, how deep and how great is His love for us…for all of us.

…Okay, thank you Jesus!

August Sermon Series: Overview

Watch this update to learn more about our upcoming sermon series on the Book of Amos from Pastor David! For more information about how to join a small group during this series, email

Vibrant Family Update

Check out today’s update to hear about the ministries within our Vibrant Family Pillar from Pastor Rachel & Lynn Striepe! To learn more and to get involved with this pillar, email Pastor Rachel at

Explore the album below to see more from the ministries within this pilar.

Devotion: Choosing the Way of Jesus