Laity and clergy from around the Northern Maine District gathered at Orono United Methodist Church on June 4, 2016 to celebrate the ministry of the Rev. Dr. Pat MacHugh as she ends her tenure as District Superintendent.
Speaking of the district that Rev. MacHugh has served for the past eight years, Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar said, “She knows this territory.” And, he said, those in the district have told him she “has brought great pastoral healing” there.
In his sermon, the bishop preached on Luke 5:37 the admonition against putting new wine in old wineskins, and said:
“The journey with Pat in these last few years has always been an experience of tasting the new wine for the glory of God. It is always Pat’s ministry to find a new wine container filled with the love of Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit.”
He told the pastors that Rev. MacHugh has “a great heart and passion for you,” and to the laity, he said: “She appreciates your gifts and hard work.”
The bishop also spoke of Rev. MacHugh’s “great desire and great power to reach out to all people,” something that came through in her sermon.
Rev. MacHugh began by introducing the Northern Maine mascot, Periwinkle, a giant stuffed frog that sat in front of her as she preached, and the acronym it represents; F.R.O.G. stands for Fully Rely On God.
Rev. MacHugh went on to describe frogs as “dumpy, pudgy, sluggish” creatures, not much engaged in the world around them. Then she told a story that had been told to her in the Orono UMC years ago.
"After talking about what it’s like to be a frog, (the pastor) asked the young people: Do you know what the task of a Christian is? Why to kiss frogs, of course," she said.
“To help those who are feeling down in the dumps, stuck on the old lily pad, going nowhere in life, and give them the chance to be transformed by a kiss to being all that God created them to be. To the abundant life God intends for us all,” she said.
Preaching on what she called her favorite Bible verse, Jeremiah 29:7: “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the?Lord?on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
After a brief pause for a spontaneous singing of the opening verse of Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World,” which features a bullfrog named Jeremiah, she said:
“In some ways, we who do our best to follow Jesus Christ are also being exiled, and how we got here is not the point; what we are doing now that we are here is the point,” Rev. MacHugh said. “I am absolutely convinced with all my being that when we allow ourselves to be equipped for ministry, when we follow our passion and trust that God will be with us every step of the way, when we fully rely on God, God does and has and will continue to fill our lives with peace and use us to transform the world.”
Beginning July 1, Rev. MacHugh will serve the Church on the Cape in Cape Porpoise, ME.