Parable of the Dragnet

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Matthew 13:47-51.

The summer of 2004 Andrew served as a lake interpreter at a Boy Scout camp in the Boundary Waters area of Northern Minnesota. He spent the summer taking different scout troops on 10 to 14 day paddle trips…and loved every minute of it.

I also think he wanted to have a summer where he did not have shower the.entire.summer.

And he did not…for 81 days…

He knew to shower before he boarded the flight home to see me.

Smart guy.

In regaling me with stories about his summer on the water, he would laugh the heartiest about the groups that showed up to the base with food to take with them on the water – canned food, snacks, MREs and more! And Andrew…being the stingy interpreter he was…would not let them take any food! None of it!

Why? Because if the boys were not paddling canoes, they were carrying canoes along with everything else they needed for their daily use and campsites. Andrew learned after his first trip that summer that if the scouts could not (literally) carry the weight brought with them, then he would have to carry it…and he did not sign up for that. So while inspecting the scout packs before departure, Andrew would make them pile up all their food to be left behind. They would spend the next 10 to 14 days on the water…and they would fish!

Some boys were fishing experts while others had a steep learning curve. They fished with rods and cast nets. Sometimes they caught fish…other times they caught whatever was in the lake that day…a coffee carafe was the most interesting item!

What I found most encouraging – after I recovered from the thought of Andrew denying the boys access to all the food they brought with them! – was how the boys applied themselves to the work and task of fishing. Fishing was essential for survival on their trip. If one scout had a hot line in the water and another scout was struggling, they took care of one another. Everyone ate. Everyone enjoyed his experience. They learned the value of teamwork, hard work, and being their brothers’ keeper.

The Kingdom of God is like…

This week we celebrate Pentecost – the birth of the Church – in the Christian year. On the day of Pentecost a great gathering of God’s people were gathered together in one place. The Holy Spirit descended and together God’s people worshipped. And from their worship many were convicted to repent and be baptized. And in response – in ownership – of their baptism they served together, ate together, affirmed their commitment to God by caring for and keeping their sisters and brothers together.

Together.

I truly believe that God intends us all to be together. And that when we are all together as the Church – worshipping, serving, sharing, affirming – we not only have enough; we have and are more than enough. To be the Church is hard work. From time to time we may have to leave things behind that we desperately want to bring forward with us so that we can make room to learn new skills, be adventurous in new areas, and blossom further into the people that God desires us to be.

I hope such great hope for the Church, for The United Methodist Church, and for Tuskawilla. God is bigger than all our challenges and God is so so faithful. God asks for our faithfulness. God asks for us to fish even when we are scared…even when we do not know how…even when we think we know a better way. God will and is taking care of us. We are the Church. We are God’s Church. And God is leading us into God’s preferred future.

Please plan to join us for a Congregational Meeting following our 11am Worship Service this Sunday, June 4 to receive an update about the work and continued work of your Tuskawilla UMC Leadership Team. We will meet in the Sanctuary immediately following the Benediction.

Prayer: “Wind who makes all winds that blow, gusts that bend the sapling low, gales that heave the sea in waves, stirrings in the mind’s deep caves: Aim your breath with steady power on your church, this day, this hour. Raise, renew the life we’ve lost, Spirit God of Pentecost.” Amen.*

*“Wind Who Makes All Winds That Blow,” The United Methodist Hymnal 538.

Community Charge

Sunday’s Scripture ~ I Timothy 6:6-19

One of my greatest lessons – and continuous lesson! – from God is the lesson of contentment. Since moving into our first apartment in January 2007 God has sown and is persistent in sowing this question of discernment:

Do you cherish it enough to move it?

Now that question may cause some to laugh, but for folks in professions and vocations that relocate with great frequency, this question that prompts a reflective pause is so valuable. I am able to appreciate something in a shop window, on a hanger, or in a display and with great joy leave it right where it is because the thought of finding a box to move it in causes my guts a great deal of distress. And then, of course, there are other items for which I will absolutely secure a safe mode of transportation for relocation.

And for the record not all of them are shoes.

Promise…

Through the practice of contentment – and yes it is a practice – God shifts my heart away from the desires of this world and towards the desires of Kingdom.

  • In the Kingdom it is not about what I have, it is about what we share.
  • In the Kingdom it is not about what I want, it is about what God desires.
  • In the Kingdom it is not about my will be done, it is about God’s will be done.

I truly believe a huge part of God’s will, a huge part of God’s justice is to live in the world of enough rather than in the world of excess. When I live within enough

  • I am able to live within rather than beyond my stewardship.
  • I am able to share God’s riches with all people rather than hoard them to myself.
  • I am able to keep my commitments, which helps me keep to my word, which helps me keep my integrity.
  • I am free.

In this world of enough I do not feel without or less than or lacking; I feel whole and focused. I feel less distracted by stuff and more centered on faith. I feel empowered to keep the first things first – faith in God and faith with family.

I am so grateful to begin my third year of ministry with the Tuskawilla Family in just a few days. Even though I am not packing as some of my friends and fellow pastors are currently, I continue to be mindful of our culture’s message to collect and consume while Jesus impresses the message of contentment and healthy stewardship. I want less so God’s family can have more. And when God’s family has more, we all are truly blessed.

Please join me in welcoming and thanking Vanessa Schuchart and Rev. Kate Ling for their leadership in worship this Sunday. Both of these ladies are such gifts to me. Thank you, Vanessa and Pastor Kate, for serving this week!

Prayer: “Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet,  sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.”* Amen.

*”Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” The United Methodist Hymnal 400.