Upbuilding: Determined to Share

Sunday’s Scripture ~ I Thessalonians 2:1-8

This year I am participating in a new mentoring program initiative at a local high school.  This program matches students in the local high school to volunteers in the community that want to come alongside these students and support them in their educational success.

I have met with my mentee three times so far.  For the first two meetings we talked sports – I talked about football and my mentee is continuing my education about basketball – I may understand it eventually!  We talked a little about our families and what we want to be when we grow up.  The conversations skimmed the surface, which is normal.  We were getting to know one another.

This week the conversation increased in depth.  My mentee shared a goal with me, but my mentee’s heart was not happy.  It was downcast.  The goal was before my mentee and the path to achieve that goal presented itself like walking across broken glass on hot coals up a mountain both ways without shoes.  So, we circled the wagons.  We strategized.  We came up with a plan.  We even role played the conversations that would need to happen and possible outcomes that could result depending on what was shared in those conversations.  And slowly but surely my mentee’s downcast heart became hopeful.  The frown on my mentee’s face started to turn up at the corners.

I cannot wait to see my mentee this next week and follow up on the progress towards his goal.

I am confident that my mentee and I were able to share in that conversation because we had intentionally laid the ground work of getting to know one another.  Sharing about ourselves took time.  A relationship had to be built.  Trust had to be established.  Showing up incarnated my commitment, incarnated my care, incarnated my investment in his success.  I am in my mentee’s corner.  I will hold him accountable.  I will celebrate his successes and I will help craft plans for greater acheivements so his goals will become his reality.

I also have a goal of understanding basketball by the end of all of this.  I am pretty sure my mentee will make that part of my reality.

This mentee/mentor relationship is not a one way street.  Just because I am the mentor does not mean that I am not being guided, and learning, and being formed and transformed by the conversations shared with and insights gained from this intelligent mentee.  We are both giving.  We are both receiving.  We are both committed to sharing about ourselves, learning about one another, and learning together.

Sharing ourselves with others is a way to share Christ with them – to love our neighbors, to serve our neighbors, to care for them, to comfort them, the challenge them, to congratulate them.  This is what living life is about.  This is the life that Paul lived with the Thessalonians.  He was a mentor to and a companion of the Thessalonians.  He was also a mentee of the Thessalonians.  They lived life together.  He was dedicated to sharing with the Thessalonians and rejoiced over the sharing the Thessalonians did with him.  Together, they incarnated that “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Mt 18:20).  Christ is there with them.  Christ is here with us.

As I was leaving our mentoring time this past week my mentee asked where I was headed.  “Back to my office.”  “Where is your office?”  “At a church.  That’s where I work.  I pastor a church.”  “What!?  You’re a pastor??”  “Yes, I am.”  “Could…could we talk about that sometime?”  “You bet.  You just let me know.”

Where two are gathered…

Amen.

Prayer: “Draw us in the Spirit’s tether, for when humbly in thy name, two or three are met together thou are in the midst of them.  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Touch we now thy garment’s hem.  All our meal and all our living make us sacraments of thee, that by caring, helping, giving, we may true disciples be.  Alleluia!  Alleluia!   We will serve thee faithfully.”* Amen.

*”Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 632.

Plot From The Plain: Firm Foundation

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 6:46-49

This Sunday Reeves’ concludes our sermon series Plot From The Plain that subjected the texts of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain from the latter part of Luke 6.  Our passage for this week focuses on Jesus’ prescription for sturdy foundation formation…and I can’t help but be propelled back to my Vacation Bible School days and sing…

The wise man built his house upon the rock.  The wise man built his house upon the rock.  The wise man built his house upon the rock and the rain came a tumblin’ down.  The rains came down and the floods came up.  The rains came down and the floods came up.  The rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the rock stood firm. 

The foolish man built his house upon the sand.  The foolish man built his house upon the sand.  The foolish man built his house upon the sand and the rain came a tumblin’ down.  The rains came down and the floods came up.  The rains came down and the floods came up.  The rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the sand went SMASH!

That song – though somewhat juvenile and not as inclusive as I would like it to be at this point in my life – is very true to the teaching of Jesus.  For our foundations to withstand the trials of life they must be built on firm support…and if not…SMASH.

As I reflect on this Scripture – and the upcoming celebration of Thanksgiving – I am reminded of those persons that have helped create a firm foundation on Christ in my life and I would like to share a bit about them with you.

(Note: names have not been changed so I can properly celebrate these people!)

One – my sweet mama who read me Bible stories every night as a child, who continues to pray for me and my ministry every single day, and who has an infectious desire to keep exploring, deepening, questioning, and expanding her relationship with the God she loves – the God she taught me to love.

Two – my beloved Andrew who is my constant support, strength, and security.  His belief in me is unfailing.  He truly is my hero.

Three – my Becky, Melissa, and Melanie – these incredibly strong women speak truth into my life, they call me on my stuff in good times and in times when I need an adjustment, and constantly peel back the veil from my eyes so I truly embrace and celebrate my own gifts and accomplishments.

Four – my Sara(h)s and Dan – amazing friends from my Candler days.  Though we live and serve in different parts of the country, they are my covenant family and we share the timeless gift of picking up right where we left off.

Five – my clergy mentors Tim, Jenn, Lisa, and Riley – your wisdom is pure gift.  You allow me to ask questions, you give me the space to try on something new and then to digest the process.  You have dried my tears and made me laugh till my ribs ache.  Your presence has and continues to shape me so much.

Six – my dear friend Lisa who has opened my eyes and deepened the love in my heart for the development, resourcing, and true connection within and beyond the beloved inclusive community.  Thank you for being my guide and including me.

Seven – the United Methodist congregations that have had hands in my formation ~ First UMC Lakeland, FL; Northside UMC Atlanta, GA; Inman UMC Fayetteville, GA; New Horizon Church Haines City, FL; Reeves UMC Orlando FL; St. Luke’s UMC Orlando, FL.

Eight – the incredible camping and retreat ministries of the Warren W. Willis United Methodist Camp and Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park, FL – both as a participant and a leader

Nine – a shout out to John Wesley.  Yes.

Ten – a place to honor those that will help firm and form my foundation in Christ in the days, weeks, and years ahead.

Relfection: Who are those persons in your life that have helped strengthen your foundation?  Who are those persons you could seek out to either firm up your foundation or aid them in firming theirs?  This is our work in the Kingdom – so it is also our joy.

Prayer: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.  I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus’ name.  On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.”*

*”My Hope Is Built,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 368.