A Prayer for Unity in Restless Times

One of the joys of being a United Methodist pastor is leading my congregation towards a deeper appreciation and understanding of the sacraments of communion and baptism. I firmly believe that each time we celebrate the sacraments of communion and baptism that it gives us a time to reflect on what they mean for us and how they call us to live today.

Our liturgy helps us in this. Each time we gather to celebrate communion, for instance, we do so through a prayer we call “The Great Thanksgiving.” It is a beautiful prayer that reminds us of God’s faithfulness, Christ’s passion, and the power of the Holy Spirit that equips us to be the church today.

There is one portion of the prayer that always seem to move me. A portion that reminds me of the difficult and challenging life that God calls us to in this time we find ourselves.

By your Spirit make us one in Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet. Continue reading “A Prayer for Unity in Restless Times”

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Sermon: How Do We Respond?

In my office, I have a list of sermon topics for the next few weeks. Topics that have been prayed over and approached with a hope of seeking what God desires to say to us for that specific Sunday. That list has sermon topics and passages through the end of the summer.

Sometimes, though, plans need to change. Today is one of those Sundays. If all things were the same, we would continue our series on the “Life of David” by looking at the story of David and Goliath from 1 Samuel 17. We would have marveled at David’s ability to defeat Goliath and, perhaps, say something about how God enables us to overcome the overwhelming challenges we face.

That would have been a nice message, but it would not be appropriate for this Sunday. We’ll get back to David next week, but for now I think it is important for us to reflect upon the events of this past week.

On Wednesday evening, nine people were killed at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., following a Bible study. Among the dead were pastors, parents, and people who had their whole life before them. The accused shooter, Dylan Roof, has been arrested. In the days since the shooting stories have come out that suggest this was a targeted event because of their ethnicity. Continue reading “Sermon: How Do We Respond?”