The first pig was killed and hung by its back legs, but Sarah had forgotten the container in the car, and she ran to retrieve it. I wondered what this was all about. I quickly learned what the container was for as she cut the pig’s throat and collected as much blood as she could. I was horrified! What in the world was she doing?
In the heat of an argument, when tempers are flaring, you wonder who's going to go first.
Who's going to break first?
Who's going to say they are sorry first?
Who's going to say I forgive you first?
Who's going to cross that line first?
Not me… not me.
It is easy to get confused into thinking church is mostly about us, and that the supreme test of a good worship service is that we get something out of it. In actuality, it is not about us at all. We are not here to be entertained. We are not here to perform. We are not here because it makes good business sense. We are here for one reason and one reason only.
Clay pieces of a communion chalice lie scattered on the floor after a heated debate at the United Methodist General Conference in 2004 over its stance on homosexuality. A clay chalice had been shattered. A cup of forgiveness had been deliberately broken as an act of protest.
I was sitting in the office when the phone rang. The woman on the other end started screaming at me… “If you think you are going to bring those people into my church, you better think again.”
What a friend we have in Jesus… For most days, it’s enough for Jesus to be our good friend, our wise teacher and counselor, an inspiring example, but for times when the storm clouds gather, and there’s not one thing we can do to save ourselves by ourselves, it’s then that we need the one whom the wind and sea obey.
We see the wind and the waves, but can we focus our eyes on Jesus, the One whom the wind and the waves ultimately obey? When the ship is tossed, we can only think of our doom. Can we instead imagine the calm and hope of a new creation?
To believe that God is the great Creator of the universe is some consolation, but not much when the storm clouds gather and the waves begin to crash. It’s then that we need to know that God truly cares. This is a word about God that the world is literally dying to hear.
There are three boat stories in Mark’s Gospel. Each paints the disciples in times of their fear and unbelief. As we deal with the first boat story, we will do so in a four part sermon series.
In these 7 short verses, we find 4 questions. Two are asked by Jesus, and two are asked by the disciples. This Sunday, we begin with the question, “Why are you so afraid?”
You perform your small acts of kindness, do your bit to show up with the pie when there is sadness in some family, or write a short note to someone who is going through a tough time, or offer to pick up the kids for someone after school; nothing big, not carefully planned or brilliantly executed. You're sowing the seeds.
How hurtful it must have been for him to be rejected and labeled as “crazy” by his own family. Jesus didn't strike back—he simply redefined family. He enlarges the concept of family. Our definition of family is too small and inadequate for the embracing, expansive love of God.
Suddenly, he heard loud rock and roll music. Coming around the edge of a meadow, a dreadful sight came into view. About a hundred teenagers had gathered beneath a picnic pavilion. They were moving to the rhythms of the music. “My God,” the pastor thought, “this is church camp!” What would John Wesley think?
He came upon a platform carved out of stone. In the center was a modest pulpit also carved from stone. He stood behind the pulpit and looked out over hundreds of graves; a congregation of the dead. It was the quietest, most attentive congregation he had ever stood before. But he didn’t have anything to say to them.
Back in the 1960’s, the folk singing group Peter, Paul, and Mary made popular Bob Dylan’s folk song that asks some questions about important issues. He then answers the questions with this line: “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.” On this Pentecost Sunday, what is the Spirit, that moves like a mighty wind, saying about the issues of our time to the followers of Jesus?
On Mother’s Day, the youth and children in the church family will use the story of Tabitha (Acts 9: 36-43) to explore the impact of strong women, church family, and a listening, loving God.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.
John 14: 18-21
The United Methodist Church was officially formed on April 23, 1968 with the unification of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, along with the dissolution of the Central Jurisdiction, a segregated group of African American congregations.
Psychologists tell us it’s one of childhood’s greatest fears. Where was he now? Crucified. Body stolen from the tomb. Absent from them in flesh and in spirit. There they were—sheep without a shepherd—children whose parents had abandoned them and left them to face the cold cruel world on their own.
These were not atheists or agnostics that Jesus had recruited. They were not religious scholars by any means, but they surely had some familiarity with the Psalms. They probably grew up reciting, “The Lord is my shepherd . . .” in their synagogues. They were familiar with Joshua and Moses and the other heroes of the Old Testament. They knew that the Lord was the Rock of their Salvation who would never forsake them.
Where was their faith now—the faith that had sustained them from the time they were infants?
There were other doors that were shut in those allegedly golden days of old when many of us were growing up. There were doors, for example, that were shut against people of other races. And sadly many church doors continue to be shut to certain folk. How tragic it is when fear, which is at the heart of any prejudice, shuts the doors of a church.