A Special Treat

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 19:1-10 (Morningsong) and 1 Samuel 17 (11am Blended Worship)

On Monday Andrew and I took his brother, Josh, a pumpkin. Josh is interred at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell and Halloween was (is) his favorite holiday. Oh the mischief Andrew and Josh would cause on Halloween.

One Halloween they kept changing their costumes – full wardrobe changes at first and then only minor changes towards the end – as they revisited the same house again and again. Why that house? Four words: full.size.candy.bars.

Andrew and Josh did not start out as friends. They started out having a fist fight…and then they became friends. And once they were friends, the two were instantly brothers. If you were to ask my in-laws or Josh’s parents, I am sure they would say that a common phrase between Andrew and Josh was “I am coming to your house today!” To hang out, to sleep over, to build something in the garage, to scheme the next prank, to plot resistance against “the man” (whatever or whoever “the man” was that week), to laugh, to live. “I am coming to your house today.”

Wherever Josh was, there Andrew would be and vice versa.

My heart breaks because Andrew cannot have those experiences with Josh right now…but that will not be the case forever. We trust, we believe faithfully that God is bringing us all – bringing them – together again.

Jesus shocked the crowd when he announced that he was going to Zacchaeus’ house. Perhaps some hoped that Jesus was going there to “clean house” or spare Zacchaeus the public ridicule and shame of being rebuked by the Savior before his peers. But that was not Jesus’ intent. Jesus’ intent was to build community and include rather than further exclude the tax collector. Jesus wanted Zacchaeus, who had been so far from Jesus as evidenced by his behavior, to come near to him. Zacchaeus, this tax collector, this culturally despised man, this swindler, this con – Jesus had so many reasons to come to blows with this man. And yet Jesus does not throw a fist, but offers a hand. “I am coming to your house today.”

Jesus said, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Lk 8:21). Through his repentance and reconciliation – through admitting his wrong and repaying his neighbors – Zacchaeus turned his will towards the Father’s and embraced his kinship with Jesus.

We visit Josh to remember. We visit Josh so that Andrew and Josh can hang out. We visit Josh so Andrew can tell him what has been built in the garage, report on completed pranks, update resistance plans, and laugh. We visit Josh as an act of living and leave Josh’s side with a renewed sense of calling: Who will we invite to our house today? What homes will we ask to enter? What new and continuing relationships will we nurture? How will we see Christ in others and invite them to see Christ in us?

Remember this Sunday’s treat: Join me for the 8:30 Morningsong Service and then plan to stay for worship at 11am as Andrew preaches on David and Goliath from I Samuel. I am looking forward to my time at both Tusakwilla and Azalea Park UMCs this weekend! The Millers are excited to see you in worship on Sunday!

Prayer: “Called forth from every nation, yet one o’er all the earth; our charter of salvation: one Lord, one faith, one birth. One holy name professing and at one table fed, to one hope always pressing, by Christ’s own Spirit led.” Amen.

*”The Church’s One Foundation,” The United Methodist Hymnal 546.

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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.