A New Beginning

A New Beginning

It is hard to believe that in a few short weeks we will be greeted by the year 2020. Many of us are already thinking about the coming year and, perhaps, who should greet us into the year. I recently saw a photo shared on social media advocating for Barbara Walters to host the celebrations in Times Square. Why? So that she can announce at 12:01 a.m., “I’m Barbara Walters, and this is 2020.”

When I think of 2020, though, my mind goes to visionary concepts that focused on 2020 being the ideal year to set a long-term goal. I can remember hearing leaders talk, especially on infrastructure needs, about projects that needed to be in place by 2020. Now, at least in my hometown in Beckley, we are seeing some of those long-term visions lived out, as the city has opened up its long-desired bypass around the original bypass.

Today, though, is a good day to talk about vision – the picture that God paints for us of a near or distant future – and purpose – of how we live that out. We do so, though, realizing that preparing for the coming year may have us a little on edge. That is because we might feel some anxiety going into 2020. We will participate in an election, both on the state and federal level, that has the potential to further our partisan divisions, which is already tearing us apart from one another. As the United Methodist Church, we will approach General Conference in 2020 knowing that there will be major decisions made about the future of our denomination. There are other anxieties, as well, which we will all face. Continue reading “A New Beginning”

Clinging to Christ’s Love

Every book of the Bible, especially the New Testament, has a niche to it. A specific aim or purpose that is used as a focus point in order to express the Good News of Jesus Christ. For instance John writes a theological explanation of Jesus’ life and mission. Romans is Paul’s attempt to introduce himself to the Roman church while also offering some perspectives on how he understood God’s grace. As well, 1 and 2 Corinthians are letters written by Paul that address ongoing issues in the church in Corinth.

Hebrews is no different. It has a specific niche or purpose to it, yet it is also a book that is unlike any other. It is more of a sermon than it is a letter. A sermon preached to an audience that is an attempt to express Jesus’ mission in terms they could understand and, ultimately, lead to a deeper faith and trust in Christ. Continue reading “Clinging to Christ’s Love”

The Story of Exodus: Five Women and a Baby

Of all the books in the Bible, of all the books in the Old Testament, none tell the story of Israel quite like Exodus. Through its pages and chapters, we are surrounded by an intriguing story that is filled with danger, political intrigue, a massive rescue effort, and internal conflicts. It is the story of God’s effort to redeem the people of Israel out of slavery.

Those reasons, and others, are why the story of Exodus has held a central place in understanding God’s ways of redeeming us through the Lord’s grace and love. It is the story of Moses. It is the story of Israel. It is the story of us. For the story of Exodus reminds us of how God continually reaches out to us and seeks to redeem us.

Over the next few weeks, we will look at this fascinating story of faith and see what Exdous has to say to us today. My hope is that we will find ourselves in these narratives that are important to our faith. As we do, perhaps we will see how God continually seeks to redeem us and how the Lord gives us a new hope through faith everyday. Continue reading “The Story of Exodus: Five Women and a Baby”

The Journey to Golgotha

It is almost ironic.

Here we are on this day where the imagery, symbolism, and tradition takes us to the city gates of Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago. It is the day we remember Jesus’ arrival at the start of that fateful Passover week proceeding his betrayal, death, and resurrection. Yet, our passage takes us beyond the gates and to the courtyard of Pilate’s headquarters. On this day when we want to join the crowds in their exaltation and shouting of “Hosanna!,” we find ourselves in the midst of Jesus’ pain and anguish.

It is ironic, however it is also appropriate. As we have seen throughout our current sermon series, Holy Week is about more than palms and celebrations. It is about finding ourselves in the midst of Jesus’ journey and experiencing the stories in a way that opens our eyes to the depths of God’s love and our need of Christ in our lives. Our tendency, though, is to stay among the crowd and shout “Hosanna!,” and rush through the pain of the week and what it teaches.

The reason is that we want this day of Palm Sunday to be both the beginning and ending to the story of Jesus’ narrative in Jerusalem. We want to stay in this place where Jesus is heralded as the beloved Messiah. Doing so gives us the “Hollywood” story and ending that we desperately desire. Where everything is neat, tidy, and comfortable. Yet, life is never a “Hollywood” story and neither is the journey Jesus has been on throughout his ministry. Continue reading “The Journey to Golgotha”