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Pastor Darlene’s Page

Pastor Darlene (right) receives her Certified Lay Servant Speaker Certification from Rev. Dr. Sung Ah Choi
at Marcellus United Methodist Church
Sunday, February 6, 2022

Still He Walked – A Poem
By: Author Unknown

He could hear the crowds screaming “crucify” “crucify”…
He could hear the hatred in their voices,
These were His chosen people.
He loved them,
And they were going to crucify Him.
He was beaten, bleeding and weakened… His heart was broken,
But still He walked.
He could see the crowd as He came from the palace.
He knew each of the faces so well.
He had created them.
He knew every smile, laugh, and shed tear,
But now they were contorted with rage and anger…His heart broke,
But still He walked.
Was he scared?
You and I would have been.
So His humanness would have mandated that He was. He felt alone.
His disciples had left, denied, and even betrayed Him.
He searched the crowd for a loving face and He saw very few.
Then He turned His eyes to the only one that mattered
And He knew that He would never be alone.
He looked back at the crowd, at the people who were spitting
At Him, throwing rocks at Him and mocking Him and He knew
That because of Him, they would never be alone.
So for them, He walked.
The sounds of the hammer striking the spikes echoed through
the crowd. The sounds of His cries echoed even louder,
The cheers of the crowd, as His hands and feet
Were nailed to the cross, intensified with each blow.
Loudest of all was the still small voice inside His
Heart that whispered “I am with you, my son,”
And God’s heart broke.
He had let His son walk.
Jesus could have asked God to end His suffering,
But instead He asked God to forgive.
Not to forgive Him, but to forgive the ones who were persecuting Him.
As He hung on that cross, dying an unimaginable death,
He looked out and saw, not only the faces in the crowd,
But also, the face of every person yet to be,
And His heart filled with love.
As His body was dying, His heart was alive.
Alive with the limitless, unconditional love He feels for each of us.
That is why He walked.
When I forget how much My God loves me,
I remember His walk.
When I wonder if I can be forgiven,
I remember His walk.
When I need reminded of how to live like Christ,
I think of His walk.
And to show Him how much I love Him,
I wake up each morning, turn my eyes to Him,
And I walk.

Pastor Darlene’s 2021 Easter and Lenten Season Message
I want to share this poem with you because of its relevance to the season. The message is important year-round but somehow seems to affect us on a different level now. Perhaps it’s because we are already thinking about sin and penance. Maybe it is because we don’t feel worthy of the sacrifice being made. But how could we? How could we dare to think our lives are any more important than the life of God’s only son?
In the Old Testament, God required Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Despite his love for the boy, Abraham led him to the altar. Abraham was a Godly man and fully intended to follow God’s word. As he walked, he prayed. No one knows what Abraham prayed except him and God. I imagine Abraham talked to his God about the love he had for his son, the plans he had for the boy’s future. Abraham may have said he didn’t understand why God wanted his son, but God’s will would be done. The altar loomed closer and still Abraham continued to walk with his son. This might be his last walk with the boy but it wasn’t a stroll to look at the flocks, it was much more somber. There was a rustling in the bushes near the altar; Abraham heard God say, “You are truly righteous and a loyal servant, I will spare your son. Go and fetch the ram from the brush and make it your sacrifice.” What courage and faith it must have taken to continue walking when the outcome would be so costly?
Jochebed put her precious son in a basket of reeds and set him afloat in the bulrushes where he was sure to be found by Pharoah’s daughter. Moses was her first son, and she did all she could to protect her son. She kept him hid for three months and when that was no longer safe, she put him in God’s hands. Like Abraham she trusted God and let her faith guide her actions. God saw what she had done and permitted her to be Moses’ care giver since Pharoah’s daughter was unable to nurse the child; she needed someone who could. What was she feeling as she nursed her son knowing that he would be taken from her and given back to another woman?
There are other examples of women giving up their children never to see them again. Hannah was unable to have children. She expressed her feelings to God in prayer. She said she would have the child dedicated to God if he would just let her have a child. At the appropriate age, her son, Samuel, was taken for religious training and dedication to God. How did Hannah do it?
Why would Jesus walk? How could Abraham, Jochebed and Hannah even consider parting with their children? There are two reasons that jump right out at you. One is love. The other is faith. They loved their children and had tremendous faith in God to care for their Children. Jesus tells us in the poem that it is love that kept him putting one foot ahead of the other. Jesus knew that God the father would take care of the ones he loved enough to die for. God is righteous and keeps his promises. If you have to leave the things that matter to you, there is no better place to leave them than the hands and heart of the Almighty.

Who’s Your Pastor?
Rumor has it that there are some inquiring minds who would like to know a little bit about me and how I ended up in the pulpit at Little Utica United Methodist Church. First off, let me tell you if there were something you would like to know, just ask. I am a pretty open person and have no problem talking about myself, the issues I’ve dealt with over a lifetime or how I found myself lay speaking at church.
As an infant I was baptized in a Baptist church. Church was never a big part of my childhood. When I was thirteen my mother and stepfather began attending a Baptist church in Phoenix, NY. One Wednesday evening, I answered an altar call and Jesus became my Lord and Savior. Once again, we fell away from the church. It would be twenty years before I went to church again.
I come from a long line of alcoholics, back as far as my great-great grandfather. During those twenty years, I carried on the family tradition. Most weekends found me drinking with friends. I tried drugs once, but they weren’t my thing. Just before my twenty-first birthday I got married to my first and only husband. On May 1st we will be married thirty-nine years. We have two children. Our daughter is thirty-seven, married and has two daughters of her own. Lauren is eleven and Lillie is fifteen. Our son is twenty-one. He is the proud father of a tortoise cat named Garnet. Both kids live in the Ithaca area. It wasn’t long after I got married that the drinking stopped.
While I was in Florida, my father became the substitute minister at a small church near his home. He and my grandmother would play the special music for the services from time to time.
When I returned to the Marcellus area, some friends kept inviting me to various church activities. Then I started attending Sunday services and becoming more involved in the church. I taught first and second grade Sunday School and graduated to occasionally doing the children’s sermon. When I felt more comfortable, I served as liturgist. I eventually joined the church, and my son was baptized there. The church I joined was the same one my great-great grandmother went to. She had my dad enrolled in the Cradle Club. I didn’t know that when I first joined. Reverend Richard Barton was a big influence on both myself and my son. I took four Disciple classes with Reverend Barton. I attended Mission U for several years with my son. I have been Vice-President of the church’s UMW. I spent four years as President of Crossroads District UMW and Vice-President for two years before that. I have also taught adult classes as well as participated in them. I also spent some time on the missions committee. I have taken all but two classes to be a certified lay speaker. All that stuff looks good on paper, but the instances that mean the most to me are the ones I have interacted with my Lord.
At one point in my life, my grandmother, who was more like a mom, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and told she had less than six months. My mother was living in Florida and my aunt who was here was functionally illiterate. She didn’t understand much of what the doctors were trying to explain. That responsibility fell on me. One night I had to call my mother and tell her she was going to lose hers; that was tough. Within a week or so my father was told he had cancer and would need to begin chemo. The evening my dad told me his news I was devastated. How was I going to care for them, my toddler and everything else? I laid in bed that night and spoke to God like he was my best friend. We talked for hours before I fell asleep that night. I shared everything that was in me. When the morning came, I was filled with an incredible peace and calm. The anxiety and the feelings of being overwhelmed were gone. I was different after that night; my mother said I was filled with a kind of peace, and she was right. It takes a lot to ruffle my feathers.
How did I end up in the pulpit at Little Utica? I’ll try to keep this short. During one of Don’s classes, we had to plan a service and a short sermon. One of my classmates said to me, I should be in a pulpit. Joking I said, from your lips to God’s ears. Several months later I got a call from Don asking if I had ever considered filling the pulpit in a church. I admit I had fantasized about it. We talked and I just wasn’t sure about doing it. The drive in the winter was distressing and I doubted my ability to come up with meaningful sermons week after week. Initially I declined, letting fear have control. God doesn’t like to hear “I don’t think so.” I prayed about it, wanting to be sure it was God’s plan and not mine. He gave me several small clues that I didn’t pay attention to. God had enough of my indecision and helped me make a choice. The place I worked for sent me a letter saying they could no longer pay me. There you have it – I am here because at this moment it is where God wants me.
On a personal note, I love to draw. I can knit and crochet, but I prefer crochet. I am a big fan of Italian food. I also enjoy watching and photographing birds.

Pastor Darlene