Where and when are you church?
Picking up where we left off last Sunday, the next Paragraph (121) in our current Book of Discipline says, with my highlights,–
“The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by proclaiming the good news of God’s grace and by exemplifying Jesus’ command to love God and neighbor, thus seeking the fulfillment of God’s reign and realm in the world. The fulfillment of God’s reign and realm in the world is the vision Scripture holds before us. The United Methodist Church affirms that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and the Lord of all. As we make disciples, we respect persons of all religious faiths and we defend religious freedom for all persons. Jesus’ words in Matthew provide the Church with our mission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (28:19-20), and “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. . . . And you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (22:37, 39).
“This mission is our grace-filled response to the Reign of God in the world announced by Jesus. God’s grace is active everywhere, at all times, carrying out this purpose as revealed in the Bible. It is expressed in God’s covenant with Abraham and Sarah, in the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, and in the ministry of the prophets. It is fully embodied in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is experienced in the ongoing creation of a new people by the Holy Spirit.
“John Wesley, Phillip Otterbein, Jacob Albright, and our other spiritual forebears understood this mission in this way. Whenever United Methodism has had a clear sense of mission, God has used our Church to save persons, heal relationships, transform social structures, and spread scriptural holiness, thereby changing the world. In order to be truly alive, we embrace Jesus’ mandate to love God and to love our neighbor and to make disciples of all peoples.”
— So…when and where are you church?
He said, “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son.
“And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed.
“By believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.”
That’s how The Message version of The Bible presents John 3:16.
And then in the very next verse Christ Jesus continues, “God didn’t go to all the trouble sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” (John 3:17)
If we’re Christ’s people, we should also be about the business of trying “to help, to put the world right again.”
He didn’t stop at John 3:16, and neither should we.
I was reading an online discussion among church leaders about our upcoming national election.
This comment stopped me cold:
Makes me glad I left church,
hearing how you all are talking to each other.
Is there an echo in here? I recall reading something about this in that big leather-bound book —
We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (James 3:2-10)
— Whoa now.
As some people used to say, “May the words of my mouth…be pleasing to you, O Lord.” (Psalm 19:14)
Maybe we need to start praying that again.
Please permit me to repeat what I posted on social media about last night —
I’ve been honored to serve many excellent congregations…but I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of a church than I am right now sitting in this Town Hall Meeting on Recycling with some of the people who are Effingham Centenary United Methodist Church — powerful presence and witness, and the community support and appreciation is overwhelming. Good stuff!
— It’s an honor to be in ministry with you, Centenary. Thank you!
Justin Gatlin recently won a silver medal in the 100m race at the 2016 Olympics, finishing second to Usain Bolt. No disgrace there at all.
Earlier in his atheltic career, however, there were allegations and suspensions related to some performance enhancing drug issues. Chris Collinsworth interviewed Gatlin in Rio and asked him what had been the lowest point in that chapter of his life.
Gatlin’s answer: “When people treated me like I didn’t exist.”
You and I know people experiencing that right now.
Maybe you’ve been there yourself.
Maybe you know what God promises in Isaiah 49:15, I will never forget you.
But maybe you need to be reminded of that today.
And maybe you need to remind someone else today that God remembers them, and that you do, too.
Maybe the time to do that is right now.
I thought we were finished with our intergenerational small group time.
Then a six year old spoke up to correct me: “We haven’t gone around the table, Joe.”
Confused and replaying her line in my head, I was glad when her mom interrupted the awkward silence to explain. She said, “We have to do this every night at dinner now. You started it. Right here, a long time ago.”
Still confused and now replaying what both of them had said, I was really happy to hear her mom continue, “You know, we go around the table and everybody tells what they’re thankful for.”
My six year old friend then announced, “I’ll go first.”
And lemme tell ya: we had church then. We shared celebrations. We were thankful.
Yup, we went around the table.
And it’s become another of my favorite memories of ministry and life in the real church.
With whom and when have you gone around the table lately?