Sunday is World Communion Sunday. This day we are reminding ourselves we have brothers and sisters in Christ around the world! We know this in our “head” but often we tend to act as though our church family is just where we gather each Sunday worship and weekly fellowships.
Here is simply where “we are planted.” The goal is to both bloom here but scatter “seed” to all the reaches of earth. In turn, we receive and learn that cultural and language differences actually enrich us saints and sinners here in Middle Tennessee!
For example, I cherish my early, brief 1979 missional time in Haiti and preaching in tiny Montserrat. I marvel at how at “home” I felt in attending alone a UMC service in Burlington, California (a state often thought by many to be a “world” unto itself!).
And how much joy I received, while being at home in the mid-Eighties on Christmas Eve with sleeping 1 and 3 year olds in bed, catching the Pope in Italy celebrating Midnight Mass.
Another time of experiencing our international Faith was when I helped serve communion with a student hospital chaplain from Romania, a Pentecostal minister studying in the USA.
We have been given a Great Commission to “go into all the world…..and make disciples.” And the faithful from all around our globe help make ME a growing and maturing Christian who happens to reside in Murfreesboro TN!
To God be the Glory as we receive the Bread of Life and drink from the Cup of a New Covenant this Sunday worship knowing millions do the same “planted and blooming” from Australia to Zimbabwe, nations A to Z and all in between!
Bring a neighbor this Sunday!
Each Sunday worship is considered by Christians to be a “little Easter.” Of course, every Sunday’s sermon, hymns, and scriptures are not specifically about Death and Resurrection, even so, the unspoken awareness of most is that we are present together to affirm both our mortality and God’s promise to overcome mortality.
I had a pastoral care professor who quoted Leander Keck, NT professor at Yale, saying that all teachers of classes on Scripture should be sure to tell students that they were in that class to always hear what these scriptures say about Death and/or about Life.
September 24 follows a week filled with news of death and destruction, threats about death and destruction, and even one more prediction about the End of Earth and Christ’s return coming on Saturday the 23rd! My experience in such predictions is that I will be conducting worship on the following Sunday and the End is not yet!
As brother Travis at Kedron is fond of saying, “I can be sure Christ is NOT coming back on THAT day whenever anyone predicts a certain day of His coming back!” I agree! Nevertheless, we, of all people on earth, should not shy away from hearing of both OUR end or of God’s promise about an End!
So, Jesus in Matthew 20 speaks to the First and the Last and Paul at the church in Philippi yearns to be with the Lord but stays here for “our sakes.” And the Exodus narrative has the Israelites grumbling about “dying in the wilderness.” But, whichever verses you focus on there will still be found Good News to cheer us about God’s Grace and Providence in spite of our Human Condition.
Come on to worship this Sunday! It’s a “little Easter” happening kind of day!
Our two churches have their respective Homecomings on September 17 (K) and October 8 (LM). As of now I have not been given the power to bi-locate I.e. be in two places at the same time. This capacity has been attributed to a few saints, but so far…..not me! So, I will only be at Kedron this coming Sunday and Bill will bring the message at Locks.
We have spoken about the texts and Bill is focusing on the message of Grace in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant in Matthew 18:21-35. I am drawn to Romans 14:1-12 and Grace given to help people live together as though Church was the best living example of a “home” for many very different people to live in!
As we worship relatively free from destructive hurricanes, our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as all God’s creatures, are struggling to return to their homes and churches in other areas of our country. We will pray for them as our many churches send both supplies and volunteers to assist in helping thousands return to homes and communities in recovery.
We are all on life’s journey to be safe and secure in homes made by human hands and ultimately in God’s home where love lives forever and every tear is wiped away. In worship we celebrate both as we pray for Gods will to be “done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Join Bill and me in worship this Sunday! You are welcome at both and if you can bi-locate…..more power to you…..and thanks be to God!
As Groucho Marx once said: “I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have ME as a member!”
Church belonging is another matter. Church takes all kinds. And only later does the church deal with matters of misbehavior or interpersonal conflict. “Drinking problem? Come on! God accepts you!” Struggling with lust and pride?
Come on in! God loves you!” “Battling old wounds from someone in your family? Come on in, God will help you!”
As Steve Brown (amongst others) said, “God accepts you just the way you are; but God doesn’t leave you just the way you are!” So, what happens with the congregation when there are “issues?” What about misbehavior that affects some if not all? Discipline is one way as is counseling another way. Resolution and reconciliation are the goals. Does that sometimes require “shunning” or “excommunication?” What exactly do these words mean?
The United Methodist Discipline is quite specific on the disciplining of its clergy and uses counseling and even trials for remedial courses of action or even removal of clergy if deemed necessary. This is not spelled out quite as clearly for laity, members of a local congregation. Some guidelines but not as many.
Our scriptures for Sunday help show us how Moses, Paul, and Jesus spoke of situations where conflict arose or misbehavior was affecting how people got along and how this reflected upon their relationship with “God and neighbor.”
All in all, pretty good scriptures to read, study, and apply (if need be) as we head toward coming back together after Summer and Holidays and…well…being absent from the fellowship…for whatever reason! We are all in this together. Let God show us how to keep on “keeping on” when the way gets rough together!
God bless! See you Sunday!