Woman in the Night: Fellow Travelers

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 8:1-3.

Many people – many women – were fellow travellers with Jesus. In him they found their Savior. In him they found a generous friend.

These are two of my generous friends – Mr. Joey and Miss Alice.

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They attended the Morningsong Service for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Morningsong follows its own liturgy – meaning work of the people – that has many consistent worship elements week to week. The “variety” in the service comes in one song of praise, the three Scripture readings, and the sermon.

(Let us pray there is variety with the sermon…)

It is also a more intimate worship experience, with a smaller attendance, that supports worshippers passing the peace to each of their neighbors every Sunday. It is awesome to watch the people that gather for Morningsong truly behold one another – and in so doing – behold the true and living presence of Christ in his and her generous friend with Christ.

Morningsong celebrates weekly Holy Communion and I invite one or two persons from the congregation to join me in sharing the elements. That day I asked Mr. Joey and Miss Alice if they would come. Of course, they sprang from their pew and bounded towards the altar rail. After inviting them to use the official unofficial third Communion element – otherwise known as hand sanitizer – I moved them into position.

“Miss Alice, when people come forward, offer them a piece of bread, and when you give it to them say, Jesus loves you.”

“Mr. Joey, when people come to you, offer them the cup in which to dip their bread, and say, Jesus loves you.”

Y’all, the gift of Holy Communion was so sweet that day. Watching these two serve the congregation, including their mother, is an experience I will never forget.

We all join the journey with Christ in different places and at different times. And yet – blessedly – we are all headed in the same direction – towards God’s preferred future for us.

Take notice this week of the travellers near you. Offer them a word of encouragement. Receive from them a word of wisdom.

Be a generous friend.

And give thanks. Always give thanks.

I am so proud of you, Mr. Joey and Miss Alice! Thank you for serving your church family. You did a wonderful job! See you Sunday!

Prayer: “Woman on the hill, stand when men have fled! Christ needs loving still, though your hope is dead. Come and join the song, women, children, men; Jesus makes us free to live again!”* Amen.

*“Woman In The Night,” The United Methodist Hymnal 274.

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The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss ~ Horton Hears A Who

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Romans 8:18-25.

One of my favorite moments of liturgy in our weekly 11 o’clock worship services is when I sit with the children of our church and sing Jesus Loves Me. They sing sweetly with smiles full of promise and hope. They sing confidently – even if they are still learning the words. I hear some pretty inventive and entertaining refrains from time to time! This is a beautiful ritual we share with the children of our church each week; it communicates that we value our children. Jesus loves them and so do we.

Recently I preached at Westminster Winter Park, which is the home of one of TUMC’s long time members named Grace. I always look forward to visiting with her and listening to stories of TUMC in the early days. She always asks how she can pray for the church. And she assures me that even though she is not able to attend as often anymore that our church is never far from her heart.

The day I preached the Westminster Tower Ringers – a chime choir – offered their spring concert in the worship service. I played bells and chimes during high school and college – Andrew and I met in that bell choir! – so those instruments and that music will always hold a very special place in my heart. Their final piece in worship that day was Jesus Loves Me.

The chime choir began chiming. Sitting in the midst of the congregation I listened as the music washed over us. As the sound of the chiming rose in the air, so did the quiet singing of the congregation. A congregation full of the Greatest Generation singing a song I am sure many of them learned as children – the same ages as those in the TUMC Family…

Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus love me. The Bible tells me so.

Romans 8:19 reads, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.” We are God’s children for we have received God’s Spirit. And it is incumbent upon us to raise up the generations of God’s children – all of God’s children. We do so by speaking and singing God’s truth. That Jesus loves them – loves us. That Scripture is trustworthy and true. That by God’s gift of grace we are a part of God’s eternal promise.

Give thanks for God’s children in your life. And trust that whatever your age or ability that God can and does use you as part of God’s plan. The way you serve God may be changing…it may be different than it once was. However your service to God changes, ensure that you continue serving God! In doing so you offer encouragement and an example for all generations.

You reveal the presence of God’s children in creation. You reveal the presence of God’s children to one another.

You reveal the presence of God’s children to me.

Prayer: “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how he could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean. How marvelous! How wonderful! And my song shall ever be: How marvelous! How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!”* Amen.

*”I Stand Amazed in the Presence,” The United Methodist Hymnal 371.

Once Upon A Cross

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Matthew 21:1-11.

TUMC celebrates Holy Communion weekly at our Morningsong Service and at each service I ask different worshippers to help serve Communion.

(This may cause anxiety in some folks…I hope not!)

One Sunday I invited John Rothrock and his daughter, McKenna, to serve communion. McKenna is in first grade and full of life. She skipped up to the table with the world’s biggest smile on her face. I served her communion, telling her that as she ate the bread and tasted the juice that Jesus loves her so much. I then carefully handed her the ceramic chalice. She looked at me with eyes half full of wonder and half full of uncertainty. I knelt down again, “As people come to you, tell them what I told you, ‘Jesus loves you so much.’”

Our worshippers came forward for Holy Communion and had to bend down a little bit more than usual to dip their bread into the cup. They all returned to their seats with the glory of God upon their faces. Seeing McKenna serve Holy Communion with her father is a memory I will cherish forever.

At the conclusion of the service I met McKenna in our church’s Family Room, knelt down, and thanked her for serving with her father and me in worship. I opened my arms to her and she ran for me with such joy in her hug that she knocked me to the floor! It suddenly became one of those moments where everything went silent in the Family Room until our shared giggles filled the room to a roar.

“Jesus loves you so much, McKenna.” “I know…because you tell me.”

It is so important to proclaim God’s good news to one another. Proclaiming God’s good news is a sign of our maturing discipleship, our growing in faith and in love of God. It is equally important for us to hear God’s good news proclaimed. When we feel alone or afraid, when we feel lost or ashamed, recalling God’s good news proclaimed can comfort and reassure us. We do not have to be a certain age or have certain skills in order to proclaim God’s good news. God invites all of us to share, to tell, to proclaim.

In the week ahead we will celebrate with Jesus as he enters Jerusalem, weep with Jesus in the garden and at the cross, and hope for our own resurrection as we witness Jesus’ empty tomb. On some of the days of Holy Week it is easy to proclaim God’s good news while on others it is more challenging. Be encouraged to speak God’s good news even when it is difficult. They are words that definitely need to be said. They are words that we definitely need to hear. Through proclaiming God’s good news others will know…because we tell them.

Morningsong will gather this week and hear a sermon entitled, “A Little More Than HeeHaw” and celebrate Holy Communion. Our 11:00 service will worship alongside the leadership of our Sanctuary Choir as they offer their cantata Once Upon A Cross. We welcome you as we begin our Holy Week journey together.

Prayer: Holy God, who gives good news, help us to proclaim your good news so that all may know your love and establish their hope in you. In the power of your name, we pray. Amen.

Holy Week at Tuskawilla UMC

Saturday, April 8 – Easter Egg Hunt

9:00am in Fellowship Hall

Sunday, April 9 – Palm Sunday Worship

8:30am – Morningsong in the Sanctuary

11am – Once Upon the Cross Cantata in the Sanctuary

Monday, April 10 – Prayer Stations

5:30-7:30pm in the Fellowship Hall

Tuesday, April 11 – Prayer Stations

5:30-7:30pm in the Fellowship Hall

Wednesday, April 12 – Prayer Stations

5:30-7:30pm in the Fellowship Hall

Thursday, April 13 – Maundy Thursday Experience

A Taste of Seder concluding with Holy Communion and Prayers for Anointing

6:30pm in the Fellowship Hall

Friday, April 14 – Good Friday Service of Light

7pm in the Sanctuary

Sunday, April 16 – Easter Sunday

7am Sunrise Morningsong Service with Holy Communion in the Courtyard

10am Breakfast in the Fellowship Hall

11am Worship in the Sanctuary

Monday, April 17 – TUMC Offices Closed