Sep 30, 2016

World Communion Sunday


Observed on the first Sunday in October, World Communion Sunday calls the Church to be the universal, inclusive Church. The day was first observed by Presbyterians in 1936, adopted by the Federal Council of Churches in 1940, and shortly thereafter observed in Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren churches. Perhaps, it is fitting on this week, when we celebrate the unity of the worldwide church, that we address one of the most important issues in our world today—or any day—forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of the Bible’s substantial subject matters. For this reason, we address when considering World Communion Sunday. Realistically, we all know that the topic of forgiveness is one that begins long before the Christian faith developed in the New Testament. Indeed, in the Hebrew Bible, almost from the beginning of God’s relationship with God’s covenant people, the idea of forgiveness occupies a prominent place.

One memorable story recounts the haggling between Abraham and Yahweh over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18). In this account, Abraham sounds similar to an auctioneer. By asking for mercy on the evil city of Sodom, Abraham asks God, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” To which the Lord answers, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” Abraham then barters with God as he might an open-market hawker of merchandise. In due course, the divine voice declares, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” 

Forgiveness is the key element.  Genesis recounts that Yahweh cannot find ten righteous people. The chronicle concludes: “Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord; and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the Plain and saw the smoke of the land going up like the smoke of a furnace” (Genesis 19:27-28).

Perhaps forgiveness can pave the way to abundant life?


Come, Worship
Stay, Learn
God, Serve

Sep 23, 2016

Noah’s Ark


In an article titled, All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Noah’s Ark, I was amused, but also struck by how the elements on the list below help how we look at life. So, you decide which ones are worth pondering—and then ponder!

1. Don’t miss the boat.
2. Don’t forget that we’re all in the same boat.
3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.
4. Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone might ask you to do something REALLY big.
5. Don’t listen to critics, just get on with what has to be done.
6. Build your future on high ground.
7. For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.
8. Two heads are better than one.
9. Speed isn’t always an advantage; the snails were on board with the cheetahs.
10. When you’re stressed, float awhile.
11. Remember that amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic.
12. Remember that woodpeckers inside are a larger threat than the storm outside.
13. No matter the storm, when you’re with God, there’s a rainbow waiting.


Come, Worship
Stay, Learn
God, Serve




Sep 16, 2016

Perspective


Perspective is a position or standpoint from which something is considered or evaluated. Or, we might say it is the place from which we observe or understand something. John Green wrote almost exactly four years ago about the perspective of being college educated:

When I was in college, I remember fearing that the dreary grind of adulthood would feature infinitely more existential dread than frat parties had, but the opposite has been true for me. I'm much less likely to feel that gnawing fear of aimlessness and nihilism than I used to be and that's partly because education gave me job opportunities, but it's mostly because education gave me perspective and context.

In a similar vein my friend, Tom Long, once wrote of this kind of perspective (a story related in Play the Ball Where the Monkey Drops It). Long was in a grocery store and it is important to know that for Long, grocery shopping was nothing but a painful experience.

He was in a somewhat foul mood when he ran into a couple of people who were actually enjoying grocery shopping. It was a mother and her young son, and they had learned how to make a game out of grocery shopping. She would read him the first item on her list—paper towels, aluminum foil, whatever—and he would hear what she said, and race around the store until he found what she needed.

Then he would bring his trophy back to her shopping cart and place it inside. She would applaud him for what he had done, give him another item and off he would go. They were laughing and having a great time with it all. Well, you know how it is when you meet somebody going down a grocery store aisle—you’re going to meet them several times before you finish your shopping. It was about the third aisle over when it dawned on him that the little boy had a mental disability. The mother caught him staring at them.  He said, “I was just admiring your relationship with your son.”  “Yes,” she responded, “he is a gift from God.”

It is all a matter of perspective.


Come, Worship
Stay, Learn
God, Serve

Sep 9, 2016

Fall Kickoff: The Power of Community


Our First United Methodist Church Fall Kickoff will be this coming Sunday. It will include a cookout in the North parking lot, a live DJ, an ice cream truck, bounce houses, a Connection Fair, and fellowship for all.

Our very own Arlington Police Chief, Will Johnson, will speak in worship and we have made certain to invite law enforcement officers to come eat and mingle with our congregation. The Mission Team will have a booth to sign up for prayer partners with individual officers of the APD.

Being proactive to unite churches and communities is something that we should all strive to be a part of—especially in these days when tensions seem to run so high. Being upbeat and optimistic with respect to our communities is something that we can all do to add our little part to the harmony of the places where we live. This kind of attitude reminds me of a story I once read about President Abraham Lincoln.

During the War Between the States, a young teenage boy enlisted to be a soldier for the Union army. But he was not ready. He was much too young, and when the time came for his first encounter with the enemy, he became terrified and ran away. He was caught, arrested, judged guilty of desertion and sentenced to be shot by a firing squad.

His parents wrote a letter to President Abraham Lincoln, pleading for mercy, pleading for a pardon for their young son. Touched by their letter, President Lincoln called for the facts and when he realized the situation, he overruled the death sentence and granted the teenager a full presidential pardon.

In his official statement explaining his action, Mr. Lincoln wrote these words: “Over the years . . . I have observed that it does not do a boy much good to shoot him!” (James Moore, When All Else Fails…Read the Instructions, Dimensions for Living, Nashville, 1993, p. 55).

Come, Worship
Stay, Learn
Go, Serve


Sep 2, 2016

Labor Day


As the late John Claypool reminds us on this Labor Day: “When we offer up our daily work to the glory of God and the benefit of our families and communities, we proceed to play our roles in the daily struggle to make God more visible in the world and bring God’s realm into fuller realization.”

Labor Day is a day to celebrate the work we do in the world. Often, our work is one of the ways we define our lives and thereby celebrate our lives. I suggest that this week, and in preparation for Holy Communion, we use the following prayer from Reinhold Niebuher, who offered it up to God and for us:

O God, you have bound us together in this life.
Give us grace to understand how our lives depend
on the courage, the industry, the honesty,
and the integrity of all who labor.
May we be mindful of their needs, grateful for their faithfulness,
and faithful in our responsibilities to them;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May this Labor Day be a day of thanksgiving for our honest work in God’s Realm.

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P. S. Our Lectionary Bible Study begins this Tuesday night with a covered dish meal at 5:30 pm and then the study will begin at 6:00 and end promptly at 7:00. If you would like a lectionary sheet they are available in the office or you may get one on 6 September 2016 from Rev. Kay Lancaster.

Come, Worship
Stay, Learn
God, Serve

 
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