Sermon: True Christian Community

This was one of those weeks that brought forth all the emotions of life out of me. I’ve been sad. I’ve been happy. I’ve been nervous. I’ve been pleased. I’ve been anxious. And I’ve been relaxed. That seems to be the state of a Methodist pastor during General Conference season.

If you followed my posts or seen the news, this week, our tradition of faith has seen better days. The world unfortunately saw us at our worst. We focused on our divisions between conservatives and progressives. We became disinterested in doing ministry together. We lost our way. Yet, in the news of the discord over issues that have defined our nation – such as human sexuality, which we will talk in more detail about on Wednesday – came word that approximately 70 percent of our congregations did not have a profession of faith or a baptism in recent years.

We are a church that is struggling. We are a church that has lost its purpose. We are a church that is dying. Continue reading “Sermon: True Christian Community”

Sunday Sermon: Hallowed Be Your Name

One of my favorite things about parenting is finding out about all the new things Noah can do. It seems like every week there is something new he is doing, new words he is saying, and new facial expressions that bring a smile to our faces.

Sometimes, though, I do not see these new developments. When you are around someone as often as you are your own child, you don’t always see things like how much bigger he is or other developments. That’s why I am thankful for Sunday mornings. The time before church is often when I really get to see the new developments, because many of you lovingly point them out to us. I’m thankful when you tell us that he is getting taller, or when it looks like he has a new haircut when has never had one, or that he is interacting with some of you in new ways. That is a blessing to us, and it helps us to see how our little buddy is growing. Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: Hallowed Be Your Name”

Sermon: Teach Us to Pray, Our Father

It was a busy time for Jesus and his disciples. Since Peter, James and John experienced a glimpse of Jesus’ glory, Jesus and the disciples were traveling with a purpose. They were on a mission to get to Jerusalem. When they get there, the disciples believe Jesus will lead a revolution to overtake the religious authorities and Roman Empire. Instead, Jesus is on a journey that will take him to the cross.

This season of Lent allows us to experience what took place on this journey. As Luke describes it, this journey to Jerusalem featured a lot of different ministry. Previously, Jesus sent out two groups of people – the 12 disciples and a larger group of followers – into the mission field. He also taught the Parable of the Good Samaritan and visited Martha and Mary.

We join the journey at a place where we will remain for this season of Lent. It is here where we find Jesus after a time of prayer. It was typical for Jesus to spend time in prayer after a time of intense ministry. The disciples listened to Jesus as he prayed. They are curious. They want to have the same kind of prayer life Jesus has. Continue reading “Sermon: Teach Us to Pray, Our Father”

Soul Prayers

One of the television episodes ever, at least in my opinion, is the second season finale of “The West Wing.” The episode was entitled “Two Cathedrals” and centered on President Jed Bartlett, played by Martin Sheen, as he dealt with the presidential crisis surrounding the disclosure of his multiple sclerosis and if he would seek re-election, as well as the death of his long-time assistant, Mrs. Landingham.

Some of the episode’s most moving moments occur at the National Cathedral following Mrs. Landingham’s funeral. The part that is most interesting, for us, comes after the funeral. It is then that Bartlett talks with his chief of staff, Leo, who wants him to return to the White House. Leo wants Bartlett to focus on the final preparations for that night’s press conference where Bartlett would answer questions about his condition and possible re-election. Bartlett, instead, wants a few minutes alone in the sanctuary. Once the cathedral is cleared, Bartlett, a Catholic, begins to express his frustrations towards God. The frustrations focus on the events surrounding his life and if God was punishing him. After a few choice words spoken in Latin, Bartlett walks away from the church, in anger, and returns to the crisis at hand.

For many of us, this is a type of conversation with God we find uncomfortable. We sometimes believe that we’re not to get angry at God, even though there are plenty of examples in Scripture of saints of our faith who expressed their frustrations towards God. We want to believe that God only desires prayers of praise. Part of this is that we believe that if we have hurts, pains, or frustrations that it is an expression of “God’s will” or that we are not strong in our faith.

None of that is true. It is not God’s will for us to experience pains, frustrations, or hurts. It is not God’s will for us to experience evil. God wants us to talk to the Lord about what is going on in our soul. God can handle our pains, our hurts, and even our anger. It doesn’t make us less of a follower of Christ to share these feelings. In fact, our willingness to share and express these feelings towards God is an expression of our desire to seek after the Lord’s own heart. Continue reading “Soul Prayers”