Sure enough….our weather service is calling for RAIN this coming Sunday! Enough already?!
But….look at this week unfolding with sunshine, blooms, and grass to cut (?). And, looking back who hasn’t appreciated some of the Winter beauty and the gift of rain for crops, lakes, and streams. Fishing and boating anyone? Hiking and walking and playing anyone?
This Sunday’s worship reminds us that “the earth is the Lords, and the fullness thereof….” Psalm 24:1. We have been given a bountiful earth with forests and lakes, mountains and wilderness, land for planting and harvest. These gifts do provide for humanity, and God’s people, in response, commit to be good stewards of the gifts.
In worship we praise the Creator, Sustainer, and ultimately Redeemer of all that is. We will hear the scriptures and other voices commending to us to remember and be glad, to conserve and pass along to future generations.
So, our agricultural and rural heritage is to be celebrated this Sunday and our task to be good stewards is ever before us. Join together in praise and wonder!
Worship services on Sunday are not usually a full hour of laughter! But it might be a long hour if humor was totally absent! The Bible is not noted for jokes or material for standup comedy but it DOES have humor. We should rejoice and be glad for that! Much of the Bible IS about “trials and tribulations” and it does contain numerous accounts of suffering and death, but there seems to be a strong tilt toward joy and gladness as it progresses from Genesis to Revelation.
Reading the texts for April 15th (no tax humor though!), one can see the subtle humor that jumps out at us. In the startling appearance of the resurrected Jesus to his disciples, the words fear, terror, troubled, doubts, and ghost describe the feelings of the disciples. The Lord lightens the mood by dryly saying, “Do you have anything to eat here?” I imagine that may have cracked up some and helped them shift to “joy and wonder (v.41)”. And the passage in Acts, has been the source of many a joke about long winded sermons and a captive audience in the pew….or on a window ledge!
Indeed the Sundays after Easter are meant for us to reflect on joy and wonder in spite of what troubles we have had or are going through at the moment. So, a joke or two is not inappropriate. In some churches, Bright (Merry) Sunday is observed the Sunday after Easter with very intentional fun and humor present. Some practice harmless pranks while sense of festivities often abound. We may not come close to an out and out “party” but we may have more jokes from the congregation than we are accustom to!
“Did you hear the one about the minister, priest, and rabbi who walked into a bar?”
Join the Resurrection Party this Sunday then cast your vote for the source of all Final Laughter where all tears are finally wiped away~~~+
We get together for about anything! Sports, birthdays, anniversaries, politics, yard sales, and just about any parade. Turn on a yard light at night or set out a table in daytime and you get a crowd! We are gatherers.
After Jesus’ died there was to have been a prescribed time of family mourning. Together but immeasurably sad that time was definitely cut short. Cut to the Resurrection gatherings! Disciples here in a room, at a meal, traveling on the roads, fishing at the lakeshore, you name it…..Jesus shows up! Unexpectedly, for the most part. Together again!
These moments certainly reflect our Old Testament reading: “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity.”
Instead of a time of grief and mourning when the disciples and Jesus’ kin met together it is instead a time of amazement, joy, and often a meal! It’s hard to cry when you are with friends and everybody is eating!
We will gather at The Lords Table this Sunday April 8. There is a certain solemnity and seriousness when we receive the bread and the cup… and rightly so. It reminds us of both Sin and the cost of dealing with Sin. But, back of that is great joy in the salvation work of God! Keep that in mind when we gather this Sunday. Good Friday had to be, but Resurrection Sundays have a way of reminding us that such Fridays of Death must give way to a Big Get Together of the Family Of God on Sunday! And an Eternal Sunday at that!
Confess your sins (I John 1:9) and then just sit down with friends to eat well and have a great time!
Invite a neighbor! See you Sunday!
Easter Sundays come and go and each one is likely to catch you in a different place in life; Child, Youth, Twenties, Thirties and….you get the drift! Each life season a different way of seeing and hearing the remarkable answer of God to the puzzle of death and injustice, tragedy and sin.
I remember going to a sunrise Easter service at Lee Memorial Gardens in Virginia with my parents when I was about 8 or 9. I wanted to go back to bed! It was nice and all but REALLY! 6:00am!!
Easter was different at about 11 after my grandfather died, the first family member to die that I was very close to. Then at 14…my father. Then for all the years since….well most of you have had something akin to what I just said. One DOES “grow in wisdom and in stature” in the face of reality both harsh as well as happy.
Yes, many an Easter Sunday is just bright and cheery with a hundred things in your life to go on about in joy and thanksgiving. You could leap for joy if your knees work well! Some Easter Sundays….nothing, “nada,” it hurts too much in either body, mind, or spirit.
What we are ultimately given from first to last, regardless of the time or condition on earth we have, is the Final Word from our Creator: “I have made you, I have provided a Way for you in Jesus raised from the dead, and what I began in you I will bring to completion.”
It’s what we have on any Easter Sunday. Or any day of the week for that matter! Sometimes it catches us with a hearty laugh and sometimes with a face all tear stained. If laughing, our faith reminds us that the best joke is finally on the Devil; if crying, our faith tells us “this too shall pass….”
For most of the Gospels there is mostly walking. On Easter morning Biblical people pretty much RUN! Breathless! Something has happened! Is happening! And will happen! If you can’t run anymore…SOMEONE will still get you up and moving! Then you will only cry tears of joy!
Thanks be to God~~!
See you Sunday! Easter!
On this Palm Sunday March 25, 2018, we are blessed to have Carol Fare and Vicki Brown share with us their ministry through Thailand Methodist Missions. They bring to us a perspective that broadens our sense of “for God so loved the world.”
Carol and Vicki work with Thai people who are often on the margins of society e.g. handicapped and/or abandoned children. They will describe how through Methodist missions people are loved in Jesus name and how needs of body, mind, and spirit are being met.
If you would, prepare for their visit by praying and then bringing a love offering for their work far from our Middle Tennessee but connected through our worldwide United Methodist Church. And you may want to connect on line by looking up Thailand Methodist Mission. There are photos and stories of their ministry in northern Thailand in places such as Blessing House Islan.
Join us this Sunday as we shout Hosannas to God who brings the Kingdom amongst all peoples in all times and in all places!
As I write this, I am aware that the famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has died at age 76. His mind explored the Universe although his body was extremely incapacitated by a form of the neurological disease ALS. It is strange that he dies on Albert Einstein’s birthday March 14!
These two gifted thinkers helped us better understand God’s immense and complex creation giving us more awareness of how things exist and the apparent direction the universe is headed toward! Yet, neither was any better than anyone else in explaining WHY we exist or what OUR ending means. For those answers, we are like the Greeks in John 12:20 who ask Phillip, “Sir, we would see Jesus.”
For we who believe and follow Jesus, we trust that life’s deepest and most meaningful questions find their answer in the mystery of “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.” And none of us are saved by knowledge. The great content of knowledge helps us but finally the core of life is to trust and to act upon that trust in love of God and neighbor.
It is most always a good thing to ask throughout the week, “Sir, I would see (hear, experience, serve) Jesus.” In this discipleship, we will find the Center of the Universe, the heart of the Cosmos, and…..ourselves. Jesus says in John 12:32, “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people unto me.” That includes Greeks, Asians, Africans, Europeans, even all…..and you and me. Thanks be to God, Maker of Heaven and Earth!
See you in worship!
What is it about snakes?! Is it the fact that they bite and some are poisonous?! They hide really well? They look threatening? They have no legs or arms?! Whatever the reason, people and snakes tend to not get along.
Two of our scriptures have to do with the danger of snakes and the odd fact is if “a bronze snake is lifted up on a pole and looked at it will lead to healing(!).” And both John and Ephesians passages are about our salvation by grace through faith not by any good works we do! Although we are “saved FOR good works!(?)”
All I can say is the “Bible makes you sit back and be amazed!” It comes from a distant time and place with “bronze snakes lifted on a pole” but comes together to tell us about how God brings healing, wholeness, and salvation. Even if it astounds us, amazes us, and includes snakes! Please note I will NOT be inclined to observe Mark 16:18 regardless of my “strong” faith, so that should ease your mind in the pews during worship!
Come to worship and be reminded of your salvation, your faith, the community of faith, and how that makes ALL the difference both here and forever!
Blessings on your preparation for worship!
Exodus 20:1-17, I Corinthians 1:18-25 and John 2:13-22.
These three texts are packed! Ten Commandments, The foolishness of God, and Jesus getting upset with the Temple “marketplace.!” All will speak to the Holy and how we are likely to both overlook and misuse the Sacred! And what is sacred to one is NOT to the next guy! Or should it be?!
Lent is emphasized in some churches and not so much in others. Most all Christians observe Christmas and Easter (and sadly that is the only time for some to attend church!). There are congregational habits and practices and observations that honor the sacred…and some that may not!
The John passage is the most “physical” we get to witness Jesus honoring the sacred! I hesitate to say “violent.” But I suppose it may have felt violent to the oxen, sheep, and pigeons(!). But there is a symbolic point to the animals being removed. Not just a matter of too much trading and selling in the Temple. Hope you will read up on that before Sunday.
I could get off on a rant here but I will only say that Sunday, our Sabbath, is not observed in the way it was when I was growing up! (That is probably a generational observation that is said each new generation, so take that with a grain of salt).
So, what is sacred to you?! We will look at least at the first Four Commandments, the “foolishness of God,” in I Corinthians and “tearing down this temple” in John 2 this coming Sunday worship. If I bring a “whip of cords”…..I promise….I will not use it!
See you Sunday~~†
The season of forty days before Easter is Lent. We are challenged to prepare during those forty days with both renunciation of some habit or pleasure or earthy good as well as “take up” some new practice or at least renew an old discipline e.g. specific daily prayers.
It’s an agreement we tend to make between ourselves and God. It’s a “mini-covenant” so to speak. It reminds us of the ongoing experience of covenant making with God. From Abraham we see the offer from God of a covenant to bless Abraham and Sarah and countless generations afterwards. Jews and also Gentiles inevitably fail on their end of this agreement!
Jesus brings a New Covenant and, just like Abraham, faith is the requirement. And once again, even when we fail God does not fail us! Peter in Mark 8 is the perfect example of all of us asserting our resistance to God’s way and thus “acting like the Devil” to go in the way WE think! It’s the old old story which hearkens back to that Serpent in the Garden, the same Tempter in the wilderness of Jesus, and the same Adversary in the End in Revelation.
The same voice of Peter as Satan that comes at us during our Lenten commitment: “Hey, you don’t need to keep your discipline” and again as the Accuser, “Hey, you failed didn’t you!” The answer is always, “Get behind me Satan!” Or even better, sing the words Keep Your Eyes Upon Jesus! Ultimately, it really is the work of God in Christ….in you….through the power of the Holy Spirit! God, who began a good work in you, will see that it gets finished!
Blessings in Lent!
Lent has begun. A journey of Forty Days heading toward Good Friday and Easter. We all know the End of the Lenten Season is Good News. It’s the getting there that can be a bit rough, a bit less-than-good. No sooner than I was marked by the ashen cross on my forehead last Ash Wednesday service, I was ready to wash it off! No more reminders of how bad I can be! Or what I am made of and where I will wind up~~
But it’s not just about me! It’s about the whole sweep of the Bible story that includes old man Noah, Angels, Spirits in prison, Water rescue, and being tempted. Christian or not, all people, if they are honest, know they are tempted! Tempted to the bad in life. Tempted to give in, give up in all the rough spots in the Journey before they get to the safety of Easter Home.
So, Lent’s 40 Days is a miniature of each and everyone’s life: ashes to ashes, dust to dust, but Good News in spite of being marked by a ashen cross on your forehead! Who hasn’t thought “it’s Friday…but Sunday’s coming.” Actually it’s more like “it’s Monday…can’t wait til it’s Friday! Weekend is coming!”
However we count the days it’s a spiritual journey from the point of view of the Bible. And that point of view is ultimately full of Light not all of Darkness. It’s a struggle as our texts show us; but whether from The Genesis or Mark or Peter text the message is Good News: God IS at work to bring us through!
There are a lot of “players” in the journey. Let’s get to know more about some of them this Sunday in worship! Don’t be “tempted” to skip out just because it’s supposed to rain(!). Remember, Noah got through a whole lot more water than we’ve had lately! Jesus made it through temptation! Peter’s fellow Christians made it through their trials. So, if the “creek don’t rise”…..see you soon!
Pray for each other~†