Parable of the Yeast

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Matthew 13:33.

The seasons of Lent and Easter have been a “proofing” period for the TUMC Leadership Team in the discernment of God’s vision for Tuskawilla’s future.

Proofing refers to the final rise that dough undertakes before it is baked. The ingredients are together. Their active ingredients – the yeast, sugar, and salt – catalyzed chemical reactions for the dough to rise. The dough has space to rest. The baker kneads the dough, to ensure its desired texture and consistency. And then the dough rises one final time before baking.

The TUMC Leadership Team met in early Lent to share their hearts on our church’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. They believe

  • Our congregation’s greatest strength is our family-friendly feel.
  • Our congregation’s greatest weakness (growth area) is how we value and to express the value of each person in relationship with our church family, especially our children and youth.
  • Our congregation’s greatest opportunity is to connect in service with our neighbors, especially the schools that are next-door neighbors with the church.

Since that meeting in February, I have lived with our named strength, weakness, and opportunity. They are with me as I shop for groceries and walk in our neighborhood, as I travel to district and conference events, as I watch the transformation of our church campus and dream about the future. They are with me as we continue to be God’s people in what seems to be never-ending seasons of change and flux.

And the longer they are with me, the more they speak to me that this is exactly who we are and exactly the path we need to pursue as a congregation in this time.

God brought us together. God continues God’s work with us and in us. God is leading us into God’s preferred future.

God calls us to be faithful. God calls us to follow. And like the woman in this week’s parable, together with God we will make the bread of life that will nourish this part of God’s world.

The Leadership Team gathers this coming Tuesday, May 16 to finalize the first phase of our action plan to further enhance our congregational strength, improve our congregational weakness, and pursue our congregational opportunity. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend a Congregational Meeting following worship on Sunday, June 4 to hear and discuss the first phase of our action as a church family.

The Leadership Team deeply appreciates your prayers and support during this time of discernment. And we look forward with joy, hope, and faithfulness to what God will reveal in our future.

Prayer: “The care the eagle gives her young, safe in her lofty nest, is like the tender love of God for us made manifest. As when the time to venture comes, she stirs them out to flight, so we are pressed to boldly try, to strive for daring height. And if we flutter helplessly, as fledgling eagles fall, beneath us lift God’s mighty wings to bear us one and all.”* Amen.

*”The Care the Eagle Gives Her Young,” The United Methodist Hymnal 118.

Advertisements

Collect Moments With God: Who

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Psalm 139:1-6

I think name tags have super powers.  Yes, they reveal the names of the people who wear them – as long as every person is wearing their corresponding name tag – but they also have the power to make people forget their names.

And by people…I mean me.

Inevitably when I am wearing a name tag on a lanyard around my neck and I meet someone I do not know, I look down at my name tag to confirm what my name is before I say “Hi, I’m Sarah.”  Uhhhh…how is it that I have forgotten my name?!  Obviously, name tags have super powers.

After meeting someone new and exchanging salutations the conversation shortly turns in the direction of “Tell me about yourself.”  This is a who question…yet many of us – myself included – interpret this question as a do question.  “Tell me about yourself” = “Tell me what you do.”  And so we respond with a litany of tasks we complete or roles we fulfill.  At times throughout our litanies we will reveal who we are…but we need to be sure we do not collapse who we are into what we do.

Our Scripture text for this week affirms that God knows every bit of us – our comings and our goings, our thoughts and our feelings, our joys and our sorrows, our strengths and our growing edges, our trials and our triumphs.  God knows our faithfulness and our waywardness.  God even knows my utter disdain for water chestnuts.  God knows what we do and God knows that what we do has an impact on who we are…but what we do is not in totality who we are.

Who are we?  First and foremost we are God’s children.  We are beloved.  We are precious.  We are known individually.  We are treasures.

At times, though, we forget who we are because of what we do.  When we sin we cloud, mask, hide, and possibly even forget who we truly are.  God’s truth that we are God’s children, beloved, precious, known individually, and treasures becomes obscured.  We forget, but God does not forget.  Our God is so faithful.  Our God continues to provide witnesses in our lives to remind us who we are by recalling for us God’s faithfulness through the ages.

Scripture tells these stories.  We tell these stories.  Brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends, neighbors, and fellow pew sitters – we tell these stories.

Our God is faithful.  Our God knows who we are – blemished by sin and redeemed by grace.  We are not what we do.  We are who God created us and calls us to be.

Recently I was introduced to the song “Never Once” by Matt Redman.  This song sings to God’s faithfulness.  “Never once did we ever walk alone.  Never once did God leave us on our own.  You are faithful, God.  You are faithful.”

I am assured that when we forget who we are because of what we have done, that God is quickly drawing us back to God’s side, whispering into our hearts and confirming in our minds, “I know who you are.  You are mine.  And I am with you.”

Prayer: Lord, “refresh thy people on their toilsome way; lead us from night to never-ending day; fill all our lives with love and grace divine, and glory, laud, and praise be ever thine.”* Amen.

*”God of the Ages,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 698.