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.

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The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss ~ How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 19:1-10.

If you had the opportunity to eat lunch with Jesus, what would you discuss?

(*I would probably start with “why can’t we end sentences with prepositions!? I spent too much time devising a way to ask this question without ending the question with a preposition! … and then I would segue to a much deeper, more reflective topic… I hope!)

I asked this question on social media this week. The answers – like the song from my childhood Sunday School days – were deep and wide. Some wanted to know about certain biblical figures, teaching methods, and characters we meet in Scripture. Others said they would sit in the silence of the sacred moment to listen…hoping that moment would last a lifetime. Still others said they would ask Jesus what he wanted them to do next.

One person wondered if he would know Jesus was his lunch partner before the breaking of the bread!?

(I smiled…I like when bigger kids (*ahem* – adults) overhear the Children’s Moment.)

One response from my informal poll continues to linger with me – much like a word or phrase in the sacred listening of Scripture practiced in Lectio Divina. A friend – that said on the day we met, “you are a pastor and a girl; how cool is that!?” (And it is very cool, if I do say so myself!) wrote, “Did you ever think you wouldn’t do it?”

Did you ever think you wouldn’t do it?

When I first read this question, my mind immediately jumped to Jesus’ death and resurrection. But as I reflect on it further, I realize that Jesus could have backed out at any moment.

I tried; they didn’t follow, so I’m done… 

No…I do not feel like teaching today…

You want me to heal you!?…

Ummm no…I do not associate with folks like that…

Leave heaven for earth? For them? Now why would I want to go and do that?…

Ever thought about that?

No? Me neither.

(Thank you, Patricia.)

The Gospels share a common theme – Jesus’ pursuit of us in and because of love. There is no place he would not and did not go. There is not one thing he did not do. Folks heaped ridicule and scorn upon him until eventually they heaped Jesus up on the cross…

There was that moment in the garden where Jesus asked if the cup might be passed from him…it was the cup he shared – received and gave – again and again at countless meals throughout his life. If he passed that Gethsemane cup, how might that change the efficacy of all the other cups he shared in and because of love throughout his ministry – including the cup shared with wee Zacchaeus after he descended from the sycamore-fig tree?

If you had the opportunity to eat lunch with Jesus, what would you discuss? What cup would you receive from him? And what cup would you share?

Prayer: “As Christ breaks bread, and bids us share, each proud division ends. The love that made us, makes us one, and strangers now are friends, and strangers now are friends.”* Amen.

*”I Come With Joy,” The United Methodist Hymnal 617.

The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss ~ The Cat In The Hat

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Revelation 21:1-5.

The Warren Willis Camp in Fruitland Park will always be a special and holy place for me. It is the place I first received my call; God said “Follow me,” and I am continually amazed by where following God leads me.

The Maggie Brown Dock overlooks Lake Griffin. It is a weathered and wise structure bearing up generations of campers’ hopes and dreams, worries and confessions. The dock is an incredible place to watch the sunrise. The way the colors dance across the sky is truly incredible.

My friend Malinda Rains is a talented artist across a number of mediums – including Taylor Swift dance moves! She snapped a photo one morning of the sunrise from the dock. It captured the colors in the sky as the backdrop to the camp cross that floats in the lake. Adjacent to the cross was a fishing boat and a fisherman attending to his work. Upon seeing her photo I commissioned this watercolor from Malinda.

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(Upon receiving the watercolor, I commissioned the frame from Andrew!)

When I think of New Creation, Malinda’s image – first painted by God’s own hand – comes to mind. The night has passed and the day lies open before me. Light breaks and embraces me. And I am called to serve – to attend to the responsibilities God places before me – keeping always near the cross.

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people’” (Mt 4:19).

Today. Tomorrow.

Always.

What is your image of New Creation? How does it inspire you to attend to the responsibilities God places before you? Share your thoughts with a family member or friend. I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday.

Prayer: “There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody; there’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me. From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”* Amen.

*“Hymn of Promise,” The United Methodists Hymnal 707.

 

 

The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss ~ The Sneetches

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Galatians 3:23-29.

The film Hidden Figures tells the powerful story of black female compute-ers that were integral to the United States’ success in the 1960s Space Race. Two of the most impactful scenes in this film for me feature bathrooms.

You read that right – bathrooms.

In the first scene, Katherine Goble, recently assigned to NASA’s Space Task Group, stands soaking wet in the middle of the Space Task Group’s Command Center – the lone black woman surrounded by white men, including her supervisor, Al Harrison – and defends why she is away from her desk forty minutes a day. Cold and embarrassed with her mascara running because of the rain and her anger, she responds, “There is no bathroom for me here. There are no colored bathrooms in this building or anywhere outside the West Campus, which is half a mile away. Did you know that? I have to walk to Timbuktu just to relieve myself…so excuse me if I have to go to the restroom a few times a day.”

The scene ends with Al Harrison breaking the Colored Restroom Sign off the wall on the West Campus with a crowbar and telling Katherine, “Use whatever bathroom you want, preferably one closer to your desk.”

In the second scene, Dorothy Vaughn finds herself in the women’s restroom – not white restroom or colored restroom just the women’s restroom – with Vivian Mitchell. Dorothy, a black woman, functions as the supervisor for the West Campus compute-ers without the title or the pay while Vivian, a white woman, is the supervisor of the East Campus compute-ers with all the rights and benefits that entails. Earlier in the film viewers see inside the Colored Restroom – dismal and gray, lacking in essential supplies like soap and paper towels – whereas the White restroom is rosy, warm, stocked and sparkling. Dorothy pauses, not taking for granted that there is soap in the dispenser and paper towels awaiting her use. Vivian comes toward a sink and her eyes lock on Dorothy’s. Vivian says, “Despite what you think, I don’t have anything against y’all,” meaning persons of color. Dorothy, without missing a beat, responds, “I know you probably believe that” and exits the restroom.

Scene One communicates the message that we are all one.

Scene Two asks if we really are all one…do we say it, believe it, and act it or do we say it but believe and act otherwise?

This week in worship we will study Paul’s words to the Galatians that affirm, “For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith…There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:26 and 28). We will explore what it means for us to all be one, especially in light of the challenges that seek to chip away at the unity God desires us share, through the lens of Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches. I look forward to worshipping with you. 

Prayer: “In Christ shall true hearts everywhere their high communion find; his service is the golden cord close binding humankind.”* Amen.

*”In Christ There Is No East Or West,” The United Methodist Hymnal 548.

The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss ~ The Zax

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 15:11-24.

Joshua Emory Andrew’s arrival ushered in numerous changes to my and Andrew’s life – and we would not have it any other way. For example, house cleaning now only occurs during morning naps. Eating now resembles the sport of juggling. And evenings spent reading theology books have been replaced with reading storybooks.

Become a parent – graduate back to books with pictures.

I consider that a win.

I am grateful for all of the books Joshua received from the showers celebrating his arrival. We have enjoyed reading so many already and I look forward to the days we can talk about what we read as a family. So many books draw their themes and main ideas from Scripture. They may not quote Scripture directly, but their lessons remind us of words and truths shared in the greatest story ever told.

This Sunday the Tuskawilla UMC Family begins a new sermon series inspired by some of the books on Joshua’s shelf, “The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss.” We will study the Parable of the Prodigal Child through the eyes of Seuss’ The Zax. Many of us know this parable well; I hope studying it alongside The Zax will deepen our knowledge and understandings in new ways.

And so as we start our six-week journey with Seuss, let us frame our adventure with words he would use,

Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never foget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…

be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off the Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!*

We hope you will join us in 11:00 Worship this Sunday to celebrate Joshua Emory Andrew’s baptism and to highlight your favorite Scripture verse in his Bible so as he begins learning the greatest story ever told, he will know you journey with him. If you will not be in worship this week, I welcome you to share your favorite Scripture passage with me to be highlighted in his Bible. A lite reception will follow worship in the Family Room.

Prayer: “High King of heaven, my victory won, May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun! Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.”** Amen.

*“O The Places You’ll Go” – Dr. Seuss

**“Be Thou My Vision,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 451.