EVER SINCE I FIRST READ THE BOOK 35+ YEARS AGO, there has always been a part of me that secretly desired a chocolate river in my life much as I found in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Alas, the closest I have ever come to such a glorious thing is a chocolate fountain at various social events over the years.

Motorists out in Arizona got a glimpse of what such a scene might look like this past Monday, as a tanker filled with liquid chocolate detached from its hauler and dumped a river of the chocolate across the westbound lanes of I-40. I must admit I was a little heartbroken to hear that 40,000 gallons went to waste as it had to be drained so as to haul away the detached trailer.
I've always dreamt of what a river full of chocolate might look like, but never thought of it coming to pass as a result of an unfortunate incident involving a trailer on a highway. I have a feeling that if I had seen it in person, I would have been most disappointed.
Thinking about this incident has gotten me to think about the hope we have in the Christ child, and how my reaction to this unfortunate accident reflects a great deal about why we sometimes struggle in our journey with Christ. I wonder sometimes if we miss some of Christ's grace and peace in our world and in our lives because we have never allowed for the unexpected to occur. Are we too busy looking for and dreaming about what we expect of Christ's presence that we either miss where Christ is or wind up profoundly disappointed that Christ is not working in or through what we think are appropriate channels?
Yes, the story of the chocolate tanker is sweet. May it also be another way to remember that we worship a God who shows up in the most unexpected of ways. After all, the world got to see a river of chocolate, but who would have thought it would come as the result of a most unfortunate highway accident?
Grace and Peace, Lamar
P.S. You may download an electronic version of our January newsletter now from this page on our website.


Whether physical or rhetorical, there is no denying that violence seems to be pretty prevalent in many parts of society, including those spaces that we thought were off-limits like schools and churches. There are times it seems we get hit day after day with some sort of hatred at work - and may begin to feel as though we are either powerless to stop it, or that we have played no role in the corrosiveness of our culture. Over the next couple of months, we are going to wade through some of the wisdom shared with the Christian community in the first generations of church. We will learn a little bit more about our responsibilities in the world in which we live; how our thoughts, actions, & attitudes towards ourselves, our fellow church members & others within the Christian community, those who may have differenting political, social, & moral views matter more than we realize; and how we are called not only to not participate in this corrosive mindset, but to be and to set an example of how to live as people who truly love God with everything they have and their neighbors as themselves.

Grace is Given, Not Earned • Ephesians 3:1-12 (PODCAST)
The Holy Spirit is to be Shared • Acts 8:14-17 (PODCAST)
It’s About the Giver, Not the Gift • 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Get Over Yourself • 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
What is Love? • 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Tell the Story. Period. • 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
It’s Not About You - Stop It! • Luke 6:27-28
Don’t Be ShyAbout It • 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2


In our November newsletter, you saw an article concerning the Council of Bishops’ Commission on A Way Forward along with a notice about a conversation that our Resident Bishop, Cynthia Fierro Harvey, was hosting at FUMC-Lake Charles. The evening with Bishop Harvey was most informative, and those who went learned a great deal about the specifics of General Conference 2019 and the implications of various scenarios that will be under consideration.
As promised in that article, we will be hosting a congregation-wide conversation led by our pastor to explore the who, what, when, where, and why of the special session of General Conference that will be held in St. Louis at the end of February. Understanding there is no possible way in which every concept and every proposal could be covered in a no-more-than-90-minute gathering, our goal for this local conversation is to give an overview of what is going on with respect to these issues, along with a personal word from our pastor, as you, the people of FUMC-DeRidder, deserve to know where your pastor stands on the major issues many are allowing the church to be consumed with these days.
You may have or you may yet read some things online or see things in the media concerning these matters. Please understand NO ONE - not a bishop, not a pastor, not any one individual or special interest group - speaks for The United Methodist Church EXCEPT the General Conference at its regular and special sessions. This is vital because it may be easy to see a particular bishop, pastor, church, or other body take stands or make proclamations about this or other issues. 
To close, let us remember that anyone who has been part of our congregation since before 1968 has not been a lifelong member of First United Methodist Church - DeRidder. We were founded as part of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South; in 1939 we became First Methodist Church; in 1968 we became First United Methodist Church. Whether anything changes or not as a result of the work of 2019, our work remains the same - to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We have been around through the War to End all Wars, the war that came after that, the great depression, the great recession, the civil rights era, and a whole host of other changes...and God continues to use us to do the Lord’s work to this day and beyond, no matter what might be thrown our way. 
TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2019 @ 6:00PM
For more information:
Bishop Harvey's Address from the Listening Session held at FUMC-Lake Charles this past November -
General Conference 2019 -
About the Council on a Way Forward - 
Council on a Way Forward Final Report - 
Council on a Way Forward Videos - 
Council on a Way Forward News -

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