This Sunday is Heritage Sunday. We look back to remember what we have inherited as Christians, Methodists in particular, and from whom we have inherited e.g. the founding Wesley brothers, circuit riding Francis Asbury, and even our parents and those before.
We are not self-made men and women nor, as people of faith, can we say we “pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps.” We are who we are by the grace of God and the varied gifts we have received from generation to generation.
This Sunday our scriptures celebrate the doors of the church being thrown wide open in the first century (Acts 11:1-18) inviting all peoples and nations to be grafted into the people of God known as Israel. Love will be the key (John 13:31-35) and the final home a New Heaven and a New Earth (Revelation 21:1-6).
The endless line of splendor ends in the fullness of God’s love! By faith, let’s jump in line and by faith stay in line! We might be surprised who you are walking with and amazed at the life stories of each. We will retell this Sunday some of those faith filled stories e.g. John Wesley’s experience at Aldersgate Chapel on May 24, 1738. We may well hear of great moments coming out of Kedron and Locks Memorial. Better yet we hope to remember that in God’s unfolding work in history we will STILL see “Gods spirit poured upon all flesh….sons and daughters shall prophesy….we will see visions….we shall dream dreams…..” Acts 2:17 quoting Joel 2:28-32!
See you soon in worship as we commune with all the Saints, The Church Triumphant At Rest and the Church Still At Work!
This Sunday worship will highlight Mother’s Day, Good Shepherd Sunday with a word about herding cats as described by several angels in conversation! Not something you will get in worship just anywhere!
Delann Dunbar has brought her creative gifts again to our hour of worship with a fresh presentation on the work and care of mothers and those others who display the qualities of caring parenthood.
Good shepherds abound in every age and culture. And they need not be just about herding sheep! Or cats for that matter! Call them by many a name, Mom, Grandma, Aunt, or Dad, Gramps, Unc, coach, “teach,” leader, friend or buddy, they will usually be around when you need “herding,” need an angel, need a hug and guidance, need “a table set before you.”
May 5th worship will have an international “flavor!” With Vicki Brown and Carol Fare present to share with us their missionary ministries in Thailand we will be half way around the globe! And since it is also Cinco de Mayo our thoughts and prayers will include our Methodist churches and witness to our immediate South!
Even the scriptures in Revelation and John speak to “all creatures everywhere” praising their Creator and Lamb of God” and disciples of the Lord feeding the flock wherever the apostles would evangelize and minister to the world wide church.
And given it is a Holy Communion time at the Lords Table we will be joining millions of the faithful who will also “do this in remembrance of Jesus” throughout every nation under heaven. International indeed!
Buenos Dias indeed! Vaya con Dios to each and all!
Wear your best “international” attire and we will celebrate God’s people and creatures everywhere!
Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! The call and response Christians use to greet each other on Easter is always punctuated by exclamation points! There is meant to be some excitement communicated! And joy and happiness as well!
One of the ways we remind ourselves of Christ’s victory over Sin, Death, and the Devil is to be light hearted about things even to the point of humor. In essence, Christ’s Resurrection is a joke on the Devil who thought he had won by seeing Christ buried. On the third day…..surprise! Humor works because the punch line is usually a surprise of sorts. Something you didn’t see coming!
Our scripture this Sunday certainly is exciting with exclamation points in both Psalm 140 and John 20:19-31. And in between we get some different excitement in Acts 20 but also some subtle humor. Or at least this passage has been used for humor from the pulpit for generations!
The Sunday after Easter has often been known as Low Sunday as attendance always seems to fall off as the previous Easter attendance is a worship Sunday that brings in many regulars and “occasional regulars (!)” Some don’t come back after Easter and others seem to lose some of the anticipation and emotion of Easter Day. But that following “low” Sunday is also known as Bright Sunday or Holy Humor Sunday with an emphasis on jokes such as “jokes on the Devil!”
We certainly will continue a degree of Easter rejoicing with a look toward some holy humor, a light heartedness in contrast to the heavy heart the reality of life often brings to all. Bright Sunday at the very least is a reminder that the final look of the Christian is a smile not a frown, tears of laughter not tears of sadness.
Join us in the ongoing, never stopping Season of Easter this Sunday! Turn that frown upside down!
The fullness and richness of Resurrection faith invites a wealth of readings this Sunday; as well as different expressions in worship! So, each congregation will bring the Message in song, The Word, and our creativity since we are “made in the image” of the Creator. Thanks be to God!
Like an unexpected appearance of a tender flower emerging from a crack in a concrete walkway, so is the Resurrection! It’s power is subtle since we begin only with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This we profess. This we trust.
Ours is yet to be…..and “…it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” I John 3:2. A promise that gives the struggling body and mind of each and all a hope and strength to “keep keeping on.” And even this keeping on is not done alone!
Come to worship this Easter and keep your eyes open for flowers coming through where you might least expect in a hard, fallen world where Death is all around……but not the final winner!
Isaiah 50:4-9a, Philippians 2:5-11 and Luke 22:14-23:56
Jackson Browne had a popular hit back in 1978 with Running On Empty. The rock musician both celebrates and bemoans life on the musical performance road perhaps at the loss of enduring relationships: you keep going as tho you are just “running on fumes” as when a gas tank is about empty. Going on when your resources or sustenance is about gone is also a definition.
In our texts today, we hear of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem at Passover with his full intent to fulfill his mission in life. Paul goes into depth in the Philippians passage telling us that Jesus was “self emptying himself” of all his strong divine attributes for his mission. He would, so to speak, empty himself of Godhood for this divine saving mission. Running on empty indeed!
I don’t think I could ever follow and serve God if God required ONLY a mere human to die for our sins. Why this prophet/man from Nazareth should die for us seems a cruel plan…..unless God is also involved in the suffering in the Son of God, or God the Son! It is therefore a hard to explain notion of the Wholly God and Wholly Human on the Cross. But what is being said is that God is in this atoning Suffering fully as much as the fully human man Jesus!
Having said that (as scripture does) I have hardly reached a clear reasonable understanding! But the response is finally gratitude and joy as Easter later confirms that God does not abandon the Savior who Suffers for us!
Palm Sunday celebrates the fact that we were on the right path to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah, but not quite on the right road when most everyone abandoned Him at the Cross and lost all hope for a few days.
Such is the human condition. Faithful but flawed, believing but unbelieving when we ourselves often find that “we are running on empty.” Jesus completed his journey without the divine attributes of power to avoid pain and suffering. The Rest of the Story comes later! And in power!
Join with millions this coming Holy Week to prepare and follow a Suffering AND Risen Savior!
Isaiah 43:16-21, Philippians 3:4b-14 and John 12:1-8
It sure looks like Spring! And the odors in the air begin to change don’t they? Less the smell of cold, damp, and decay; more of green life coming around and even the sunshine brings new smells!
In our John text we have the extravagance of Mary with fragrant oils to anoint Jesus who has raised her brother to life; and that sad other sad smell that Judas gives off with his bad attitude and hidden deceit. Someone has been brought from death to life and extravagant celebration seems in order! Oils indeed! And Paul can only reflect on how the death of Jesus has left him changed and wanting to share the fragrance of the Gospel!
Yes, something new is in the land as Isaiah recalls what God is up to even if God’s people look the other way. God is making the desert to bloom, making a new way through the wilderness. Things are looking up! Don’t be so grumpy Israel, my chosen ones! Don’t be like Judas! And like Paul, put some old ways behind you. God is doing a new thing!
If nothing else, Spring is promise! Look forward not backward! God is still at work!
See you Sunday for the Word of New Life and for the Lord’s Table of abundant grace!
Joshua 5:9-12, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 and Luke 15:1-3b; 11-32
It would be difficult to either wander in a wilderness for years or to leave home, blow your inheritance in a foreign country and starve. The Joshua text and the Luke text tell us of familiar bible passages many have heard throughout a lifetime. Great human moments of change and transition under the Providence of God. At the very least these are stories about God’s long term care plan! And Paul in 2 Corinthians goes about reminding everyone of this and celebrating the ultimate coming to fulfillment of God’s “care plan!”
The parable of the Two sons has lots of drama and a twist or two! We should wonder a bit how it was heard by first century hearers and how it is heard today some 2000 years later!
Read ahead and ask yourself, “What is God saying to me and to others around me?” And which passage says the most about the course of your life, your attitudes, your hopes up to this day? Wilderness Manna or produce from the Promised Land? A Prodigal Son or the Angry Brother? An Old Creation or a New Creation?
Consider as you worship God this last weekend in March 2019!
Isaiah 55:1-9, I Corinthians 10:1-13 and Luke 13:1-9
WC Fields was a comedian in the first half of the Twentieth century known for his juggling, insult comedy, and movie roles. He often played scoundrels and had said of him (in jest) that “someone who didn’t like dogs and children wasn’t such a bad fellow!” One of the memorable lines he said was when someone found him reading the Bible alone, Fields famously noted he “was looking for loopholes.”
Excuses about and neglect of God’s wisdom and guidance for the church is what our texts speak about this Sunday. Deliberate neglect of walking in faith has consequences say both Jesus and Paul. They both site destruction as the possibilities and outcome of continuing to live as though God had not had mercy upon them and always intended a better life than the one people tended to pursue. We all look for loopholes when we catch ourselves taking a good hard look at the life we are living; a life often of spiritual neglect and lack of commitment.
Gods unmerited favor (Grace) does rest upon us by faith. How often though is our response one of taking such Grace for granted? Or worse one of open rebellion in spite of Grace?! Let us keep in mind that of the three scriptures cited it is the Old Testament prophet Isaiah that encourages us sinners most by emphasizing the mercy of God in spite of our misbehavior! And certainly Grace is present in the Luke and Corinthians texts, but just not as apparent in contrast to the deep seated sin we find ourselves continuing to give in to.
Perhaps difficult scriptures to address, to hear, to accept, but still we learn from them for our very good, for the constant “renewing of our hearts and minds.”
May it be so! Blessings in our time together in worship and fellowship!
Genesis 15:1-18, Philippians 3:17-4:1 and Luke. 13:31-35
Interestingly enough, this Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. Tradition has us wearing green and thinking about the Saint running the snakes out of Ireland. But our Luke text has more to do with a fox, a hen and Jesus almost “seeing red” in anger over Herod and Jerusalem’s treatment of prophets. Where power accumulates, such as in cities, God sends prophets and finally a Savior to address the issues of misuse of power. God’s promise to “deal with” that which opposes Gods rule or reign over all things goes back to even the Genesis text where God promises Abraham there is a future of descendants for him even though he is childless at an old age.
In a Fallen world God has to be about making good on the “bad” and on our misuse of freedom and power. God allows bad things to happen to people but provides a way of healing, recovery, and new hope.
Yes, St. Patrick had a rough start being kidnapped out of Britain into slavery in Ireland but after escaping he returns to Ireland years later as a missionary making good out of a bad beginning.
Our hope is that God is always about a better future when the present and past make us doubt and lose hope. Abraham, Paul, and Jesus are all recipients of God’s promises. We here today are also claimed by the God who goes about making promises to make “all things new.”
Be blessed whether an Irish Blessing or some other blessing!