Sunday Sermon: Sowing Discipleship

Sunday Sermon: Sowing Discipleship

I was here at the church the day after it was announced I was your new pastor. That was one of the unique aspects of this particular move. Our covenant team meets each week in the parlor, at least we did until the pandemic began, to talk about life and ministry.

On this particular day, however, I walked up the ramp to the sanctuary entrance, to go through the same door I walked into each time we met. I was with a couple of other pastors and we were talking about the uniqueness of walking in knowing I would be coming here to serve in a few months. It was at that moment I noticed something I had never noticed before. I looked down and I saw a row of bricks, each with the names and dates of service for the pastors who have served faithfully here with love. I looked down and couldn’t help but wonder if, one day, I would be placed along that row of bricks.

Lots have changed since that day. I am still walking up that same ramp, but this time to serve as your pastor. I will admit that this particular transition is not what any of us imagined back in March. I didn’t believe for a moment that on our second week together we would be gathered in our cars and online to worship. I never imagined we would be socially distant from one another unable to really meet and get to know one another except for the use of technology, which I am appreciative to have. None of us imagined this would be life, but yet we press forward with the hope of Christ knowing that God is with us, even when it is hard and challenging.

While this transition may not have the normal components to it, we still have the same hopes and desires for God to bring forth a blessing in this new season together. We still have the same questions of where will God lead us and what am I about as a pastor. You’re starting to get a sense of me, in a way, already. I am someone who loves the liturgy of the church. I believe in the connection of the Methodist movement and working together as one body. I believe in having a good laugh, even as we do hard and serious work together. I believe in being a servant leader who shows the way by my example, which I pray is one of humility, grace, and hope in all things.

In all of that though, there is one overarching thing about me that really guides me as a follower of Christ and a pastor. Our passage, this morning, from Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23 gives us an opportunity to reflect upon that and that is discipleship. Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: Sowing Discipleship”

What Do I Believe?

What Do I Believe?

I love the movie Bull Durham. The classic movie centered on the Durham Bulls is a go-to movie for baseball fans, like myself. It is one that needs to be watched, perhaps, in this season of being absent from our national pastime.

There is a scene that I love in the movie. Crash Davis, played by Kevin Costner, goes into a monologue about his beliefs and values, while trying to win the interest of Annie Savoy, who is played by Susan Sarandon. While crude at times, Davis expresses his beliefs about everything from when presents should be opened at Christmas to the need for a Constitutional amendment banning the designated hitter.

I agree with that last one.

What I have always admired about that speech is how free flowing Davis is with his belief statements. He knows who he is and how he will live them out. There is a firmness in foundation upon his core beliefs, regardless of how unique they may be, that defines who he and how he lives out his life.

Can we say that as followers of Christ? Do we know what it is that we believe and what it means to live them out? Continue reading “What Do I Believe?”

Sermon: Yoke of Christ

Sermon: Yoke of Christ

I remember the day I received a stole in worship for the first time. It was in 2017 and I had just been ordained by Bishop Leonard Fairley. For me, ordination was a long journey of starts and stops. It seemed like it would never happen for me to be ordained. When it did happen, I felt like an enormous weight had been taken off my shoulders.

So, when Kevin Burney placed the stole on me it felt like a victorious moment. I had made it. The mission had been accomplished. I could breathe easily now.

Or so I thought. The following Sunday, I wore a stole Abbi had made for me in worship. It is one you will see, from time to time, that includes elements of both West Virginia and Kentucky. It doesn’t weigh much, but the moment I placed it on me I felt a weight I had never felt before. I felt the responsibility, in a deeper way, of the call to pastoral leadership and the authority entrusted to me by God. Continue reading “Sermon: Yoke of Christ”

Confession Needed As We Seek Justice

Confession Needed As We Seek Justice

One of the difficult responsibilities for a pastor is to know when to speak on situations that are affecting our community and nation. It is one I take seriously and prayerfully. The desire is to respond with words of faith and compassion as we wrestle with major issues and crisis points. Throughout my ministry, I have offered pastoral prayerful guidance following school shootings, contentious elections, and denominational struggles. All with the hope and prayer to offer some words from God that can help my congregation and community to process the moment and to enter into a deeper state of prayer.

Lately, I have found myself having to speak more often with words of pastoral hope and guidance in response to difficult moments. Right now, we are dealing with three major boiling points as a nation: the coronavirus pandemic, how 40 million people are currently unemployed, and the increasing racial tensions. Continue reading “Confession Needed As We Seek Justice”