First United Methodist Church

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News & Devotions

Devotion from Pastor Rachel (Sept. 10)

Preschool Update and God’s Faithfulness

This week, I saw the face of God. Sometimes I see the face of God in an individual, or in a situation or in an answered prayer, but on this week, I saw the face of God in the parents, teachers, and especially the little students of our MSEE preschool. Many of you know by now that our church’s preschools, TCA and MSEE, are ministries of First United Methodist Church of Winter Park. Many of you have already told me stories about how your children or grandchildren attend these schools, but you probably don’t know how much has gone into reopening them over these last few months.

I am privileged to be the Clergy leader for the Vibrant Family Pillar and I have jumped in the deep end since arriving July 1st with all that is happening in this COVID world when it comes to educating and keeping safe these beautiful children. My husband Ryan and I were thankful that as we started work at our new appointments, that our two children Emmaline and Charlie could be taught and loved on at TCA (Trinity Christian Academy) from our first week here. We have loved dropping them off each day and watching them love on their teachers and show off their artwork and tell us all about the fun they have had in school. While we were apart of the first group of families to return back to TCA, our part-time families returned this week as well and we are thankful that this ministry is available to serve the community. It wasn’t until this week that MSEE reopened, although much planning and prayer have gone into this work. Shortly after I arrived, I began working with an incredible group of individuals to hire an Interim Director (Ashley Finfrock) and reopen MSEE by September 8th. Our Transition Team has worked hard to help support the MSEE Administration, teachers, and parents to begin again. On Tuesday morning, I saw the fruit of our labor.

I had the opportunity on Tuesday morning to watch parents walk their children up to our three drop-off locations to start their new school year, some for the first and some were returning. The parents took pictures, signed Health surveys, gave hugs and kisses, and ultimately watched as their children left their loving care, and entered our church’s loving care. I was humbled to meet the parents and watch this unfold. Now, anyone who is a parent knows that some children handle change well and some do not. But while there were some tears and lots of smiles and tentative waving goodbye, all the parents left with a sense of deep trust and love for this preschool. What a gift that is, Church! What a legacy that we get to live into once again!

I also watched later that morning during the pick-up time how the few children that cried through their first hour of school, had a big smile on their face at the end. There was a sense of accomplishment, both for the child and the parent because of the love that they had received and the care that they were given. And if seeing all of this wasn’t enough, I was reminded once again of the faithfulness of God through the morning rain and a beautiful rainbow that stretched across the sky over the Winter Park Golf Course. On my drive home, I almost started to cry because I was reminded that in all of the hard work and transition and unknowns; God had never left us. God will never leave us. And just as I witnessed this with the crying children at the beginning of the school day to the joy-filled faces at the end, God’s faithfulness seeks to turn our sorrow into joy and our mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11-12).

Maybe it has been a long time since you had young kids, but oh how they teach us daily about God’s love for us. Maybe it is hard if you are not on campus witnessing the joy of both TCA and MSEE for yourself, but I can tell you, that God is there.  And so, if you are like me and you need to be reminded of God’s faithfulness in the midst of this hard reality and you want to see the face of God, I invited to pray with me for the teachers, the staff, and the beautiful children of both of our preschools. I invite you to pray with me for their parents who trust us enough with their most precious thing in the whole wide world. And I invite you to pray for God’s faithfulness to remind you that in all seasons, in all situations, that God is WITH us and will see us through. And after you pray, I invite you to close out your time of meditation with the singing or humming of this most powerful hymn:

“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”