When you hear the name Rodney King, our minds swirl with memories of what took place in Los Angeles between … Continue reading Can We Get Along?
Every book written, every movie ever produced, every television show ever to make it onto a streaming service has a pivot.
That moment when the story, and its cast and players, have been introduced, the plot line has been developed, but now the action will turn towards its climax and final moments. No longer will the story be focused around developing themes and introducing you to who and what is taking place. With that important work accomplished, the focus can turn towards setting a course to the final chapters and how the story will come to its end.
This is where we find ourselves, this morning, in the Gospel of Matthew. Everything from Matthew 1:1-16:20 has introduced us to the players in the gospel. We’ve read the long genealogy that introduced us to the story. We’ve been with Joseph as he welcomed, along with Mary, the newborn Jesus. We’ve gone to the Mount of Beatitudes and heard Jesus teach. We’ve seen him gathering around him followers who would learn deeply and passionately from him what it meant to follow the Father. We’ve seen him heal people who were sick. We’ve seen him be challenged by the religious elites of the time. Continue reading “It’s Not About Me”
We make a lot of assumptions. I’m not sure if we are always aware of how many assumptions we make on a regular basis.
We assume people know what we are talking about when we share about something we are interested in. We believe everyone is aware of the background when we talk about a past moment or a reality that defines who we are or, even, our connections with one another. We believe everyone is on the same page, so we don’t take the time to define the background or to give the information that people need to truly make people aware of what we are talking about.
If we do this in our conversations with one another, imagine how much we do this within the church? Have you ever noticed how many assumptions we make about our shared life with one another. We drop more acronyms than I care to admit and assume everyone knows that UMCOM is United Methodist Communications or SPRC means Staff-Parish Relations Committee.
More than that, we’ll assume that people understand what different areas of the church mean or represent. We put out a green cloth on the altar and expect everyone to know what the color signifies. Quick question: Do you know why we have a green color on the altar table? It’s not a trick question. The green symbolizes creation and recognizes how we are called to live for Christ in the ordinary moments of life.
We don’t give a lot of attention to these things in our shared connection. Perhaps we should focus time on explaining these things. Maybe, though, that just scratches the surface of a deeper conversation about assumptions in our shared connection that we need to have with one another. How much time do we really spend talking about what the church is all about?
Don’t get me wrong, we spend plenty of time talking about the church in different context. We’ll talk about the church as a mission. We’ll talk about the church as a family. We’ll talk about the church as a place of discipleship. In many of our expressions about church, we veer upon an understanding that could be, at best, described as a voluntary organization of like-minded Christians who have gathered together. Continue reading “Building the Church”
My family and I are planning a trip to the old homestead of Shady Spring. We are wanting to go to my old home one last time before my grandmother moves and we sell the house.
It is going to be a weird experience. The home has memories of family gatherings, Christmas celebrations, and moments spent on the porch with my grandfather. Not to mention the fact that it is my last real connection to where I grew up.
I know that when we go down to the house, as I like to say, that I will do what I often do on our journeys to Shady Spring. I’ll make constant references to what was and what is not.
I’ll bemoan that Rick’s Friend Chicken has long been closed and that the building is in disarray.
I’ll get upset that the car wash is barely recognizable.
I’ll get frustrated with homes that were once pristine that are not a shell of that former beauty. Continue reading “Stop Looking Backwards”
Worship, today, is modified from what we’ve been familiar with, but it is still worship.
We’ve moved to different expressions of worship – from parking lots and online services to some in-person activities – as a response to the current health crisis affecting our community and world. Worship is not what we are used to, but that doesn’t make it less holy or impactful to our walk with Christ.
At its core, worship has never been about us or what we like. It’s not about the music, the style, or the oratory skills of the pastor. Worship has always been about a community coming together to give praise and adoration to God for all that the Lord has done. It centers us as a community, but also calls us outward to continue the worship through our acts of love and grace in the world.
In leading in this modified time, we have all made difficult choices on how to give honor and worship to God in a safe and healthy manner. There are aspects of worship that are central to who we are that we have refrained from in this time. There are other aspects that we have continued doing.
No matter what the function of worship may be, we have to remember that worship is never about us. It is always about God. When our administration and, even, evaluation of worship is based upon our preferences and desires, then we are missing the true nature of worship. In this way, worship becomes a form of entertainment that is about pleasing the masses and not celebrating the name of God.
How do we keep the focus on God in worship, regardless of whether we are in the parking lot, online, or in-person? Continue reading “Ways to Engage Worship”