Wedding Officiant

I am happy to serve as a wedding officiant for those who are looking for a wedding officiant in Northern Virginia. Please feel free to contact me through to check my availability for your ceremony. We will meet to plan a personalized ceremony for your wedding to celebrate with great joy!

Pastor Sarah

Pastor Sarah

by Pastor Sarah

Wedding officiant who will work with you to plan a personalized ceremony to celebrate and can also help you prepare for marriage! I am an ordained United Methodist minister who is registered to…

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IOH UMVIM Clergywomen trip to Mozambique, Index of Blog posts


Thanks for your interest in reading about your trip! Below is an index of our journal entries, photos, and videos.

IOH UMVIM Clergywomen team

Journal Entry Day 1

Photos Day 1

Journal Entry Day 2

Photos Day 2

Journal Entry Day 3

Photos Day 3

Journal Entry Day 4

Photos Day 4

Videos Day 4 – Jerusalem house in the morning

Videos Day 4 – Widows at Massinga

Videos Day 4 – Neighborhood kids in Chicuque

Journal Entry Day 5

Photos Day 5

Videos Day 5 – worship in Chicuque

Journal Entry Day 6

Photo Day 6

Videos Day 6

Journal Entry Day 7

Photos Day 7

Journal Entry Day 8

Photos Day 8

Final Reflections from Mozambique

Final Photos from Mozambique

Book Review: “First Time Dad: the stuff you really need to know”

I was given two free copies of “First Time Dad: the stuff you really need to know” by the publisher in order to review it. This is a great book and I encourage you to stop by the WUMC library to check it out! I appreciate a book written from the perspective of an experienced dad looking to mentor new dads.

This is full of practical advice (including good suggestions for tending to one’s marital relationship as well as investing in one’s child). Written from a Christian perspective this is a wonderful asset that I’m happy to add to our church’s library and hope to see lots of new dads checking it out!

Exciting news to share

Just in case you missed the announcement at worship on Sunday I’m excited to share the news with you that Greg Harrison and I are engaged to be married! He enjoyed meeting so many of you on Sunday. Greg is Episcopalian and attends St. James here in Warrenton so he won’t be at worship every week, and looks forward to seeing you again in the future at some of our ministry events.

Perks of Ministry

I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from the blog as of late because I don’t want to write out of obligation but of inspiration and today’s “RevGalBlogPals Friday Five” question inspired me: “What are 5 perks/gifts of ministry for you?”

Ranked in no particular order:

1. The privilege of being invited into some of the most private family moments – sitting with a family as they await the time for their loved one to leave this world and enter into life eternal, or holding the hand of a young woman as she delivers her still-born child only to have her ask me moments later to say a prayer of thanksgiving for her beautiful daughter who awaits her in Heaven.

2. The thoughtfulness of a great community through the various cards I’ve gotten over the years and the very personal “this small gift made me think of you because…” items that people have brought me shows that I have a community that knows, loves, and cares about me in ways I never could have imagined. Just this week I was blessed to be given a photo of a beautiful sunrise framed with a quote from scripture, “This is the day that God has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” () because those are the words I quite often say in my worship greeting. That totally warmed my heart so see that picture!

3. The freedom to be creative! I spend hours thinking, dreaming, and praying about what God might be calling me to do as a leader through preaching, teaching, and serving. I’ve been part of worship in ways that I never dreamed of five years ago, and I know that I’m only just beginning a life-time of freedom exploring God’s creativity in order to share it with others and proclaim Good News to all who seek to find hope!

4. Intellectual stimulation. I’ll admit, sometimes my brain goes a little numb when I get bogged down in finance reports or our annual statistics, but the vast majority of the time I’m blessed by challenging questions posed to me by people working out their faith. Some people spend their life wrestling with concerns that have never even occurred to me, and I love when someone asks a question that sets me down a new path of research, pondering, and prayer!

5. Fun! Where else can I laugh through meetings, eat snacks with silly teenagers, have elementary students come up to tell me knock-knock jokes, have 60 costumed pre-schoolers trick-or-treat through my office, play pranks on my co-workers, or howl at certain church members who sing loud and high-pitched songs while decorating the Living Christmas Tree in our sanctuary? I’m convinced that our church has the most fun of any church in our conference.

A Christmas story from days gone by

“Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities.  But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors.  It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881.  I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas.  We did the chores early that night for some reason.  I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible.  I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn’t worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.  Soon Pa came back in.  It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see.  We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this.  But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told  them to do something, so I got up and put my boots  back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens.  Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house.  Something was up, but I didn’t know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled.  Whatever it was we were going to do wasn’t going to be a short, quick, little job.  I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load.  Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand.  I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me.  I wasn’t happy.  When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. “I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said. “Here, help me.”  The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood – the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing?  Finally I said something.  “Pa,” I asked, “what are you doing?”  “You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?” he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road.  Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight.  Sure, I’d been by, but so what?

Yeah,” I said, “Why?”

“I rode by just today,” Pa said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.” That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him.  We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it.  Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait.  When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand.

“What’s in the little sack?” I asked.  Shoes, they’re out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a little candy.”

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen’s pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing.  We didn’t have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it.  We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy?  Really,  why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn’t have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked.  The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, “Who is it?” “Lucas Miles, Ma’am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?” Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in.  She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders.  The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

“We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Pa said and set down the sack of flour.  I put the meat on the table.  Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it.  She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time.  There was a pair for her and one for each of the children – sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last.  I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks.  She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.

“We brought a load of wood too, Ma’am,” Pa said.  He turned to me and said, “Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let’s get that fire up to size and heat this place up.”  I wasn’t the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood.  I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too.  In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy that I’d never known b before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference.  I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone’s spirits soared.  The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn’t crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. “God bless you,” she said. “I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us.”

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again.  I’d never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth.  I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others.  The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes. Tears were running down Widow Jensen’s face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug.  They clung to him and didn’t want us to go.  I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine. At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, “The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow.  The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We’ll be by to get you about eleven.  It’ll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn’t been little for quite a spell.” I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.

Widow Jensen nodded and said, “Thank you, Brother Miles.  I don’t have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will.”

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn’t even notice the cold.  When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know something.  Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn’t have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square.

Your ma and me were real excited,  thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do.  Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.”

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again.  I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it.  Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities.  Pa had given me a lot more.  He had given me the look on Widow Jensen’s face and the radiant smiles of her three children.

For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.”

November 15 – Hospitality “home” edition, guest

This weekend I traveled to North Carolina to see the opening night of the Upper Room Theatre’s production of Oklahoma. On Friday night I was a guest in the home of the female lead of the show. She had a busy weekend with a show on Friday and Saturday, and an obligation to volunteer on Saturday morning for another organization, yet she made the time and space to host me in her home!

Hospitality is gift I might take for granted because I know so many people, like this woman, who make it a point to welcome others in their home, whether they know them or not! I did not take this night for granted though, because in planning the travel arrangements my traveling companion was told we would not be welcome overnight in another home because I was a stranger to those folks. I would be welcome for a meal, but not overnight. I can certainly understand some might reluctant to host strangers in their home, but this was the first time in my life that I was ever denied hospitality of an overnight stay when it was needed! So, even though this young woman hadn’t met me either she welcomed me into her home with open arms. And, made a delicious gluten-free breakfast the next morning as a wonderful surprise!

I think being turned away from that other home made me appreciate her hospitality even more than I would have normally. It also makes me realize how blessed I am that I’ve never been denied a place to stay before! Even when driving to Colorado a few years ago and staying with the friend of a friend, I’m blessed to know a lot of folks who actively practice radical hospitality in their home. Thanks be to God who encourages us to welcome the stranger, whether for a meal or a place to stay, and thanks to all those who make it a point to practice hospitality!