‘G’ is for Generative

Sunday’s Scripture ~ John 6:1-14.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We know this statement as The Golden Rule. It is based upon the words of Jesus found in both the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7 and the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6.

In studying Scripture I frequently employ the practice of lectio divina, which is a sacred listening to the text. A lectio divina practice includes:

  1. Reading a Scripture passage.
  2. Pausing in silence (one to three minutes).
  3. Rereading the same Scripture passage, listening for any word or phrase that lingers with you after the second reading.
  4. Journaling on why you think that word or phrase lingers with you.
  5. Closing in prayer.

After completing lectio divinaon the passages that give us The Golden Rule, I am caught by the word do. Such a small word. Such a short word.

Such a powerful word.

Do.

Act. Create. Execute. Initiate. Move. Produce. Serve.

Do.

Jesus does not call us to wait for someone else to do. Jesus calls us to do, and not just once, but consistently.

In our Scripture passage for this week, the little child did in offering his small lunch to Jesus. His gift became the catalyst that fed the multitude. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, doubted asking, “But what are [five barley loaves and two fish] among so many people” (Jn 6:9)? It appears Andrew sought a bigger solution – a bigger repository – from which to produce a meal. And here is this child – what he could, he gave – what he could, he did.

And there was not just enough. There was more than enough. This is the abundance of the Kingdom of God. This is the abundance that Jesus welcomes us to create with him when we become doers with heads, hearts, and hands united in serving others.

Join us this Sunday as we commission the school supplies collected for A Gift for Teaching that will help students and teachers in Seminole County have a successful 2018-2019 school year. We will also gather for a special time of prayer and blessing for the students, families, and teachers in our church family. See you in worship!

Prayer: “Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices, who wondrous things has done, in whom this world rejoices; who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.”* Amen.

*”Now Thank We All Our God,” The United Methodist Hymnal 102.

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‘Check’ None

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Romans 1:16-17 and Luke 10:29-37.

A week ago while out running errands I stopped at a local alterations place to pick up a blouse that needed mending. On the way out of the store, I saw a young woman – maybe high school or early college – sitting at an outdoor table with her face in her hands. Her shoulders were up by her ears. She was quiet or perhaps striving to stifle cries.

And what did I do?

I walked right on by…

I know well the story of the Good Samaritan. And I like to think that I am the Samaritan…but in this moment I was the Levite. This young woman was in need and I did not stop. The rest of my errands took precedence.

Friends, I got it wrong. And so, I ask for forgiveness.

It is a challenge to put feet to our faith. It is a challenge to live the words of Scripture that we read in our daily study and hear proclaimed in worship. It is a challenge, but it is not a challenge that we cannot fulfill. It takes practice. And the more that we put feet to our faith, the more consistent our behavior becomes.

The invitation to put feet to our faith is not a one and done. It is an invitation before us each moment of each day. It is a challenge, but it is not a challenge that we cannot fulfill. It takes practice. And the more that we put feet to our faith, the more invitations we will receive to do it again.

Last Sunday before Morningsong I had to privilege to share with a guest to that service what United Methodists believe about Holy Communion – specifically the transformation we believe occurs through praying that the bread and the cup be for us the body and blood of Christ that we may be for the world the body of Christ redeemed by his blood. By receiving the grace of the sacrament we believe we are transformed by that grace so much so that we – because of and with God’s grace – will transform the world to God’s glory. Our transformation will be noticed by others – it will witness to them – and through God’s Holy Spirit working through us – our witness may stir up a curiosity in them to seek what is different about us…that it might become what is different for them.

I am confident of humanity’s deep need for God’s grace. I am confident that humanity’s transformation by grace is what caused the Samaritan to stop on that Jericho road. I am confident and hopeful God’s grace will hold me accountable and remind me to stop when the next invitation comes my way.

Be sure to join Rev. Kate Ling and members of the Quest Sunday School Class as they lead worship on these Scripture texts this week. Thank you, friends, for your leadership in worship and service to the TUMC Family!

Prayer: “I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus – no turning back, no turning back.”* Amen.

*“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, The Faith We Sing 2129.

Joined Together

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Ephesians 2:11-22.

When I think about unity I picture a massive dining room table – one where anyone and everyone can gather, sit down, and share a meal. There was a commercial last summer about the “biggest back yard barbeque” where the table went on and on; as more people arrived, more tables were added. There was always room. There was always space. Everyone was welcome. What they brought was gratefully received and added to the spread. And there was laughter. And there was joy.

This idea is why Andrew and I have a massive dining room table.

In the Gospel of Luke Jesus shares the Parable of the Great Dinner. Jesus said, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his [servant] to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the [servant] returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his [servant], ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room’” (Lk 14:16-22).

The image of there still being room, of inviting others to come in, and most importantly, inviting folks – as I have heard described – that no one else wants or no one else sees – is the reason why Andrew and I have a massive dining room table…and is the reason why I think the tables in churches should be even bigger. Our tables remind us that Christ’s table was not just for the healthy, the financially sustainable, the intelligent, the talented, and the successful. Christ’s table is for all people. And thank God for that because as much as I would like to think of myself among the healthy, the financially sustainable, the intelligent, the talented, and the successful, I am among the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. And Christ welcomes me – welcomes us – welcomes all so that “[his] house may be filled” (Lk 14:23).

When you think about unity, what image do you see? And what feelings accompany that image? Take time to reflect on that question and your response this week – and share your image with someone you cherish.

Prayer: “Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed, for I am thy God and will still give thee aid; I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.”* Amen.

*“How Firm A Foundation,” The United Methodist Hymnal 529.

 

 

Jesus Said What!? ~ Sell What You Have

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Mark 10:17-22.

If you ever visit the parsonage, watch your step just inside the front door. Why, you may ask? Because there is always a pile of donations by the front door.

Always. Ask Andrew.

While serving New Horizon in Haines City/Davenport I was introduced to “31bags” – not the company, but the concept. Ladies in the church told me that on the first day of the month they went around their homes and placed one item in the bag for everyday of the month – so 28, 29, 30, or 31 items depending on the month and the year. Once the items were collected they would place their 31bag in a closet. If they returned to the bag during the month to take hold of a particular item, they would keep that item. All undisturbed items were donated by the month’s end. And on the first of the next month they would repeat the process.

Why did the ladies do this?

  • To de-clutter.
  • To simplify.
  • To help their families so that their loved ones would not have to de-clutter and simplify later.

The practice of de-cluttering and simplifying feels natural to me. If I cannot use something, maybe someone else can. And if I am not using something, do I need to hang onto it? Itinerancy also helps with the discernment to keep or to donate; on more than one occasion I have asked myself in a store – “do I like this enough to move it?” – and more often than not, I leave whatever it is on the shelf.

Donating items and clearing out what is not being used is also a spiritual practice for me. These acts are acts of stewardship. I am making room – physical, spiritual, emotional – for what is really important. I feel like letting go of stuff here – on this side of eternity – further prepares me for what awaits in the fullness of eternity. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Mt 6:19-20).

I do not want to be bogged down. And I do not think there is “baggage check” where we are going. It is like the wonderfully poignant Polk County bumper sticker reads, “Ye who dies with the most toys…still dies.”

Take a look around your home. Are there places you could de-clutter and areas you could simplify? Is this the time for you to create your own 31bag? These are big tasks and they can quickly become overwhelming, but doing a little bit at a time is better than doing nothing at all. It’s for you. For your family. For your stewardship. For your preparation for eternity.

Prayer: “Take my will, and make it thine; it shall be no longer mine. Take my heart, it is thine own; it shall be thy royal throne. Take my love, my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure-store. Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for thee.”* Amen.

*”Take My Life, and Let It Be,” The United Methodist Hymnal 399.

 

Jesus Said What!? ~ Let Him Who Has No Sword Buy One

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 22:35-38.

The Tuskawilla UMC paraments – the cloths on the altar and the pulpit – are now green signifying we are in a period of “ordinary time” in the church year. (Ordinary Time technically started the first Sunday after Pentecost back in May…but the red or Pentecost paraments are my favorite and I like to enjoy them for more than just one Sunday.)

The Ordinary Time that follows after Pentecost is known as Kingdomtide. This period continues until the Season of Advent begins. During Ordinary Time we study Scripture texts that encourage us to mature in our daily expressions of faith so that we become more holy and whole persons.

To seal our Ordinary Time intention – to mature in our daily expressions of faith so that we become more holy and whole persons – I offer this blessing from one of my mentors and colleagues, Rev. Jan Richardson.

“Blessing the Ordinary”

from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

(Orlando: Wanton Gospeller Press, 2015)

Let these words lay themselves like a blessing upon your heard, your shoulders,

as if like hands they could pass on to you what you most need for this day,

as if they could anoint you not merely for the path ahead

but for this ordinary moment that opens itself to you –

opens itself like another hand that unfurls itself, that reaches out to gather these words in the bowl of its palm.

You may think this blessing lives within these words,

but I tell you it lives in the opening and in the reaching;

it lives in the ache where this blessing begins;

it lives in the hollow made by the place where the hands of this blessing meet.

See you in worship on Sunday, friends! May sweet blessings be upon you and bring our hands to meeting throughout this Ordinary Time.