It's been a blast having the church full each day as we celebrate Vacation Bible School this week. And I've loved listening to conversations and how folks have been feeling about the assignment to pray for our enemies.
I thought I'd take a chance to be clarify a couple of things about loving and praying for our enemies.
That God would come to work in our lives and in our hearts is a great mercy. We are not promised instant change or sudden transformation. We open ourselves because God has given us this great gift!
Loving this journey with all of you!
In the sermon several weeks ago I talked about how the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives makes us more like Jesus, and I promised that we would talk about real, practical ways that we allow the Holy Spirit to do that work.
Well, here we are. This summer we are focusing on building Christian character as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives to produce the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Each week as we talk about one of the fruits of the Spirit we are also going to talk about a particular spiritual practice that opens us up to the work of the Spirit as we become more like Jesus.
Yesterday the fruit was love (thank you, preschoolers, for your awesome representation of love!) and the practice was prayer. The scripture that we focused on was Matthew 5: 43-48 in which Jesus tells the people to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." There is a direct connection between loving our enemies and becoming perfect (or more like Jesus, or sanctified, or however else you think of it).
Our assignment yesterday was to think of someone that you don't like, or someone that you find very unlovable, and to pray for them. Here's the excerpt from my sermon:
Right now I want you to think about a person or a group of people who you dislike. Someone who you let yourself indulge in disliking. The person that, when you’re at home alone and no one is looking, you practice telling off.
I've already heard stories about how this assignment has challenged people, and how people have already--ALREADY!--had the chance to act in loving ways toward people that they'd rather not love.
Starting next Sunday there will be a box on the kneeling rail where you can share your stories all summer of how these practices have given the Holy Spirit room to work in your life. I will be the only one to look at them unless you give me permission to share. You can sign your story or keep it anonymous. If you give me permission to share it without your name attached, that's great. Or if you want to keep it only between me and you that's perfect, too.
I am trusting that as we practice these things together that we will hear stories of the Spirit working powerfully throughout the church. And what a glorious gift that will be!
If you attended the 10:50 service or didn't attend Medina FUMC on Easter Sunday, my homily is attached.
The irony of Palm Sunday is nearly overwhelming. That people would pull branches off of palm trees on Sunday to hail the arrival of King Jesus, and in only a few short days call for his crucifixion.
Palm branches were a sign of political victory, which I also find overwhelming given our current political landscape. As presidential candidates attack and insult each other, and as supporters of these candidates become more and more polarized from each other, I am struck by how very badly the people in our country want someone who will "fix it."
This Sunday I will ask you to consider a question: What part of the current state of affairs in the world do you hope the next president of the United States fixes? If you're reading this post, maybe you'll want to give it some thought before Sunday.
You might also want to read John chapter 11. It's the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. If you have young children, you can also ask them what they remember about the story since it's been part of their curriculum recently. The story, particularly the reaction of the Pharisees to Jesus's miracle, sheds some light on the political landscape of Jerusalem and the reason that the Pharisees felt that they had no choice but to stop Jesus in his tracks.
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday!
And join us on both Maundy Thursday and Good Friday for our worship services, both at 6:00pm.
Actually it's Maundy Thursday.
Maundy Thursday (or Covenant Thursday) is the Thursday before Easter when we remember Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples and his surprising act of washing their feet.
The English word "Maundy" comes from the Latin word mandatum which means "commandment." And the commandment that Jesus gives his disciples after he washes their feet is that "Just as I have loved you, you should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
And his example for how the disciples should love one another is washing their feet...becoming a servant to them.
Medina FUMC will celebrate Maundy Thursday on Thursday, March 24 at 6:00pm in the sanctuary. We will be remembering Jesus service to his disciples, and we will celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion together as we remember Jesus' final meal with his friends.
We will also observe Good Friday on Friday, March 25, at 6:00pm in the sanctuary. We will remember the story of Jesus' great sacrifice for us and strip the sanctuary as we remember the three days in which Jesus lay in the grave.
Both of these service promise to be powerful. Please join us!
Jesus can't seem to make up his mind in this week's text, which is John 10: 1-10.
In verses 1-6 he implies that he is the shepherd of the sheep of Israel. This, of course, was an image that the people would understand. Many of the Old Testament images of the Messiah involved sheep and shepherds. (For extra credit, read Ezekiel 34.) Then Jesus makes this image explicit in verse 11 when he says "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."
But right in the middle of his teaching (verses 7-9) he says this: "Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep... Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture."
What does that mean? Is Jesus the shepherd? Or is he the gate? And what do those images tell us about the God we can know?
I look forward to exploring this with you on Sunday.
If you are a regular attender of the 8:15 service, or if you just like good music, make sure to listen to this song this week. We'll be singing it in the 8:15 service and want you to be prepared!
During the season of Lent, as you may already know, we are exploring The God We Can Know, the God who first revealed God's Divine Name to Moses in Exodus, and the God who put on flesh to dwell among us in the person of Jesus.
Last Sunday we explored what it means for Jesus to claim that he is the Bread of Life.
This Sunday we will explore what it means for Jesus to claim that he is the Light of the World.
My invitation to you this week is to read the seventh and eighth chapters of John. You'll notice that in all of those verses Jesus only says, "I am the light of the world" one time. So why all this reading? In order to understand the full meaning of Jesus' claim to be the Light of the World, we need to know what's going on around him.
So pull out your study bible, make notes in the margins, underline the things that are confusing, and we'll talk about it all on Sunday!
And if you have a particular question about the passage, be sure to text it to me at 293-8837 or email it to me at email@example.com
The United Methodist Church is a church of acronyms. The GBOD is the General Board of Discipleship. The GBHEM is the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. These acroynyms don't crop up too much in our day to day activities, but I want to introduce you to one that does.
The United Methodist Women have a rich history of missions and outreach in the United Methodist Church. It began in 1869 as the Methodist Woman's Foreign Missionary Society, and its first project was to provide schooling and medical care to young women in India. Other Foreign Mission Societies began in other denominations, and they became powerful, indepedent, women's organizations that sent hundreds of missionaries all over the world and supported many projects.
All of these foreign mission societies combined when the United Methodist Church was formed in 1968, and the United Methodist Women were born. United Methodist Women continue to be a force for justice and the aid of women and children all over the world.
Their mission statement is "United Methodist Women shall be a community of women whose purpose is to know God and to experience freedom as whole persons through Jesus Christ; to develop a creative, supportive fellowship; and to expand concepts of mission through participation in the global ministries of the church."
I want to invite you to be a part of the United Methodist Women at Medina FUMC. We will meet tonight (Monday, February 15. You can DVR the Grammys) at 6:30 at the church. If you can't make it tonight, please watch your bulletin and newsletters for announcements of future meetings!
No Life Untouched by Christ's Love
Our Lenten sermon series is called "The God We Can Know" and in it we will look at the "I am..." sayings from the Gospel of John. I'm hoping that during this sermon series you'll be willing to do a little bit of homework by reading the upcoming Sunday's scripture in advance.
This Sunday the "I am" saying is "I am the Bread of Life" and it's located in what scholars call "The Bread of Life Discourse" in John 6: 22-59. "Discourse" is just a fancy word for conversation, and these 37 verses show us the dialogue between Jesus and the people about what Jesus means when he tells him that he is the bread of life.
It's a really interesting conversation, and it ends with the people grumbling against Jesus (kind of like the people grumbled against Moses when they were traveling through the wilderness) because he says that he is the bread that came down from heaven and yet they know that he is the son of Mary and Joseph. They're aggravated because they don't understand. For me, that's a familiar feeling...being aggravated because I don't understand everything I think I ought to understand.
But for our purposes, this is what seems to be most important...Jesus tells us that he is the bread of life, and if we partake of him we will not die...we will know life in all of its abundance.
How often do we try to fill ourselves--literally and figuratively--with things that just leave us wanting more. There's a difference between feeling full and feeling satisfied. Many times we settle for feeling full when what Jesus promises is that we can be satisfied.
I invite you to read the Bread of LIfe Discourse this week (John 6: 22-59) and wrestle with it a little bit. Make notes in the margin of your bible where you have questions, and read the notes from your study bible. Let the scripture overwhelm you a little bit. At the same time, don't be worried if it doesn't make complete sense. Just enjoy the questions and challenges that it raises.
And don't forget to come to the Ash Wednesday service! 7:00am for silent meditation and/or 6:30pm for a full service with the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
No Life Untouched by Christ's Love!