September 23,2021

2 Timothy 2:2 (NRSV) 
and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well.

 

There is a scene in the movie, American Gangster, when the Harlem drug boss Frank Lucas confronts his nephew. Frank has gone to a great deal of trouble to get the young man a meeting with Billy Martin and the New York Yankees but the nephew fails show up at the appointment. The young man tells his uncle that he doesn’t want to play baseball. This upsets Frank who exclaims, “you’ve been playing since you were a little boy. You’re ready to go into the pros. What are you talking about?” Frank then asks the young man, “What do you want.” The nephew replies, “I want what you have Uncle Frank. I want to be like you.”

 

The young nephew wants to be like his uncle. He wants to be in the drug business because by all appearances, it will bring him wealth, position, and power. Ultimately, it leads to destruction, death, and jail. The moral of the illustration is that someone is looking up to you. Without even realizing it, your teaching someone about what you think is important in life. 

 

Deuteronomy 6:1-9 reminds God’s people that we have a responsibility to teach those who look up to us about the commandments and loving God:


1 Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that the LORD your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, 2  so that you and your children and your children's children may fear the LORD your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long. 3  Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. 4  Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. 5  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6  Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7  Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 8  Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, 9  and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. 

 

So what are you teaching to those who are looking up to you? Think about it.

 

Matthew

September 16, 2021

Matthew 9:9-13 (NRSV) 
9  As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. 10  And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. 11  When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" 12  But when he heard this, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13  Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners." 

 

Every now and then Hollywood gets it right when it comes to spiritual issues and faith. Henry Poole is Here is one such movie. Without being preachy or too saccharin, it tells the story of one man’s healing and the miracle of faith, hope, love, and mercy.

            Henry Poole moves back to his childhood neighborhood after being told he will die soon. He buys a house and waits. Something special begins to happen, though, when his neighbor sees the face of Christ on the wall of his newly stuccoed house. Poole proclaims that it is just a stain and tries to wash it off with soap and bleach.

            When a woman’s eyesight improves after she touches the wall, Poole tries to write it off as a coincidence. He continues to resist when the neighbor’s young child , who hasn’t spoken in over a year, speaks after placing her hand on the face in the stucco.

            Watching the movies in its entirety (spoiler alert), you learn that the real issue for Henry is the demons from his past—his parent’s bad marriage and his father’s alcoholism. Like so many in the world today, Henry needs healing. He needs the touch of Christ so that he can be whole and experience the fullness of life.

            Honestly, claims of a miracle make me uncomfortable. Henry Poole’s position that “it’s just a stain on the wall” would be my explanation. As someone once said, “we live inside a cause-and-effect machine of a world in which if you do this, you will get that.” In other words, cancer, heart disease and other maladies are caused by our diet and the environment. If there is to be a cure, then we need to change these things that cause sickness and disease.

            We can’t have a first century Jesus striding into our twenty-first century world and curing people, raising them up to new life! It is an affront to our modern way of thinking. On the other hand, maybe what we really need is a Jesus that will stride into our closed, rigid, rational world and unsettle us with something unexplainable. If God is God, creator of the universe, then maybe God can do that.

            I’m not smart enough to convince you of any of this but I can point you to some miraculous stories and I can also say there are things that happen in the world I cannot explain. My uncomfortableness and sometimes wavering faith can say to you that it is the unexplainable hand of God. The other thing I’m sure of is, we all need the healing hand of Christ in our lives. Think about it.

Matthew

September 9, 2021

Acts 6:1-7 (NRSV) 
1 Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. 2 And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, 4 while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word." 5 What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. 

 

Help, I need somebody, help, not just anybody, help, you know I need someone, help.

                                                                                                Paul McCartney and John Lennon

 

In today’s passage from Acts, the Apostles are concerned that they are neglecting their responsibility as prophets and preachers of The Word. The widows need food, but the Apostles need help in order to provide their needs. As representatives of their church, they recognize the importance of spreading God's word and of their Christian responsibility to the widows. They call a meeting and seven are appointed to look after food distribution. The scripture tells us, "The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith." Here we see the early church working through the needs of the Christian community in a healthy and productive way.

 

The Church is at its best when gifted people share in the responsibilities of ministry and service. It's not the flamboyant that make the world go around. It's those who work quietly and faithfully in the service of Jesus Christ. The Apostles were the early leaders of the Church, but they could not have succeeded without the help of others in supporting roles. It takes all of God's gifted servants to make the Kingdom work. What would Moses have done without Aaron? Would there have been a King Saul or David without the support of Samuel who anointed them to the task? Would the Apostle Peter have survived without his brother Andrew working in the shadows? And what about Barnabas, who quietly ministered at the side of Paul? We all need help, even the pastors among us. Think about it.

 

Your Supporting Roles

 

  • What supporting roles do you perform in your home, church, or community? 
  • How do your supporting roles help grow and expand God's Kingdom work?
  • When have you been a recipient of the service of others? What did it feel like to be on the receiving end of service?

 

Prayer

 

O God, help me to identify those places where I can play a supporting role in your Kingdom. Help me to be receptive to your strength and grace as I support others and also when I receive their support. 

 

Matthew

September 2, 2021

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3(For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) 5So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

        ‘This people honors me with their lips,

        but their hearts are far from me;

        7in vain do they worship me,

        teaching human precepts as doctrines.’

8You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”

14Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” 21For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

 

            Years ago, the American pastor Harry Emerson Fosdick told a story about a church in Europe where the worshipers bowed regularly before a special spot on the wall. They had been doing this for several hundred years, bowing at that one spot in the sanctuary, but no one could remember why they did so. One day, as the church was undergoing renovations, some of the paint was removed from the walls which revealed a beautiful image of Mary, the mother of Jesus, beneath. The congregation had become so accustomed to bowing before that image that they continued to do so for more centuries, even after it was covered. 

            Tradition is a powerful thing. It can mold, shape, guide, and teach. However, as Jesus indicates to the Pharisees, scribes, and disciples, tradition itself is never the highest good. There is a time and a place for asking why we do what we do.  For this European congregation, the answer would have been “because we have always done so.” The religious leaders gathered with Jesus might have said that they felt hand washing was important because it was a form of reverence and an effort to bring every aspect of human life under the umbrella of God’s Law.

            At their best, the traditions and rituals of our faith point us to the One we worship and further enable us to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. While Jesus does not suggest that we do away with all such traditions, he does invite us to examine our hearts to ensure that first and foremost they honor God. I look forward to seeing you Sunday, in person and online, as we worship God together.

 

In Christ’s Love,

Avery

August 26, 2021

Luke 10:1-3 (NRSV) 
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2  He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3  Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 
 
            “Evangelism” is a churchy word that we don’t use much anymore. Unfortunately, we associate evangelism with tent preachers and unwelcomed doorstep visits from individuals promoting their brand of church or faith practice. It’s regrettable that evangelism has taken on such a negative meaning because evangelism is a key part of who we are and what we are supposed to be doing as the Body of Christ. Simply put evangelism, as one theologian put it, “. . . is like one beggar finding a piece of bread and sharing it with another beggar.”  As authentic followers of Jesus Christ, we should intentionally seek ways to share the love and grace of our savior.

            I remember an old story about a man named Charlie who worked as a crossing guard back in the days when the railroad didn’t have automatic signals to warn vehicles of an approaching train. At night Charlie would wait for the train and then as it was approaching, light a lantern to alert motorists.

            One night, Charlie fell asleep on the job. Suddenly, he was startled awake by an approaching train. He saw a car headed for the intersection right into the path of the train. Charlie grabbed his lantern and began waving it but the driver didn’t see it and drove across the tracks just as the train was coming to the intersection. Everyone in the car was killed.

            Weeks later there was an investigation and hearing where Charlie was questioned and eventually cleared of any wrongdoing. Following the trial, Charlie became despondent and aloof. One of his friends tried to encourage him to get on with his life: “What wrong Charlie? You were cleared and you know you told the truth. What’s troubling you?”

            Charlie said, “You’re right. I answered every question truthfully, but there was one question that they never asked. They never asked me if the light was on in my lantern.”

            Our lives are a flurry of activity and involvement but as followers of Jesus Christ we must ask ourselves, “Do people see the light of Christ in all that I do?” In my thinking, that is the focus of evangelism, allowing people to see the light of Christ in all that we say and do. Think about it.
 
Matthew

August 19, 2021

Luke 22:25-26 (NRSV) 
25  But he said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26  But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves.
 
            The pastor and motivational speaker John Maxwell says that
 
Achievement comes to someone when [they are] able to do great things for [themselves]. Success comes when [a person] empowers followers to do great things with [them]. Significance comes when [a person] develops leaders to do great things for [them]. But a legacy is created only when a person puts his organization into the position to do great things without [them].
 
            Long before Maxwell was making speeches, Jesus knew how to make followers successful. He taught His disciples how to do things without Him. Jesus also left a legacy, the church. The church has survived for over two thousand years because there were so many after Christ’s life and death who understood that it was not about achievement or significance but rather God’s kingdom.
 
            Your willingness to help First United Methodist be successful, to leave a legacy of good will and love makes you a leader. The mission and ministry of the church is not about you or me, our personnel egos or needs. It’s about the love of Christ and His call on our lives to “go into the world.”
 
            Please join us this Sunday as we begin our Gifted for Ministry series. The emphasis will be faith and Leadership in the church. I hope to see you in person or on-line.
 
Matthew

August 13, 2021

John 6:51-58 (NRSV) 
51  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." 52  The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 53  So Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54  Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55  for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56  Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57  Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58  This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever." 
 
     When the Hebrew people left Egypt and escaped to the desert, they complained that God brought them out of slavery and bondage only to have them die of hunger and thirst in the desert. God, hearing their cries, caused manna (bread) to reign down from heaven so that the people would have food for their journey. Bread became a symbol for the Torah (Scriptures), it was part of God’s covenant with God’s people.
 
     Jesus took this understanding and elevated it to a new place when He celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples—“This is my Body broken for you.” Just as God sustained the Hebrew people in the desert with manna from heaven, God wanted to nurture and sustain our spiritual lives with bread from heaven. It’s the reason Jesus referred to Himself as the “bread of life.”
 
     The English theologian and Methodist pastor Leslie Weatherhead tells the story of a friend who attended a communion service. During the sermon the preacher gave all kinds of lofty and high-minded explanations for Holy Communion. After the service, Weatherhead’s friend asked one of the worshippers if he understood anything that was said during the service. The worshipper, whose roughly calloused hands and bent body indicated a life of hard work, answered this way:
 
When I come to worship, I cannot always follow all that is going on up front. I just kneel down and think about Jesus. I think of that last week with His disciples and the Last Supper, how He knelt in agony in Gethsemane, how they arrested Him and tortured Him all night, how He died . . . And when I receive the broken bread and the cup, I get very near to Jesus, and then sir, when I go home, I feel He comes with me.[1]
 
     Jesus said He was the bread of life because He wanted people to take home more than just the miracle of multiplying the loaves and fishes. Jesus wanted the people to take Him home in their hearts. He wanted those who had been physically fed to incorporate God into their everyday lives so that they would never be spiritually hungry again. Think about it.

Matthew

August 5, 2021

John 6:35, 41-51

35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 41Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. 44No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

 

            One day a woman walked through the front doors of a department store. To her surprise, a band began to play and the store manager walked over and pinned a corsage to her dress. He also handed her a crisp $100 bill. “Congratulations! You are the store’s one-millionth customer!” The local news station was on site to cover the celebration with their camera crew. They zoomed in on the woman, who was still in shock over what was happening, and a reporter began to interview her. “Tell me, ma’am, just what did you come here for today?” The customer hesitated for a minute and then, looking down, she answered sheepishly, “I was on my way to the complaint department.”

            As we continue in John 6 this week, we find Jesus dealing with some complaints and grumblings. After he has fed the multitude; after he has walked on water; after he has told them that he is the source of life and nourishment sent from God, the crowd begins to complain about his claimed identity. How could Jesus say that he came down from heaven when these folks had literally watched him grow up in their neighborhood, in the home of Joseph and Mary? It was a bold theological claim, and one that required them to reconsider who Jesus is. As one writer has said, “Either Jesus was someone they had never encountered before, or he was in need of the services of the mental health clinic.”

            The one whom they thought was simply their neighbor and a gifted teacher is in fact so much more. Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is eternal.  Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is their savior. Jesus is the source of abundant life. If someone were to ask you, “Who is Jesus?”, how would you answer? I look forward to worshiping with you on Sunday as we ponder this question.

 

In Christ’s Love,

Avery


July 29, 2021

John 6:24-35

24So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 25When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”
28Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

     Each year since 1927, TIME Magazine has published an issue featuring their official “Person of the Year” (updated in 1999 from Man/Woman of the year). In doing so, they recognize someone who has “done the most to influence the events of the year.” The list includes people like:  Charles Lindbergh, Queen Elizabeth II, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., Pope John Paul II, Good Samaritans, Peacemakers, and even non-humans such as “the computer” and “the earth.” In 2013, TIME sought the most significant people in history. Using a variety of data sources and algorithms, they ranked the top one hundred people. Guess who was number one on the list? (HINT: He is the only one on the list who is fully human AND fully God!)
     For over two thousand years, we have been studying the significance of Jesus. People in the first century had the same questions that we continue to ask today:  “Who is Jesus?” and “What does it mean to believe in him?” In John 6, the crowd follows Jesus after the miraculous feeding of 5,000+ people, seeking to understand him and seeking more of what he has provided.
     Jesus teaches them by using a metaphor – bread.  “I am the bread of life.” As they seek to understand Jesus, they learn that he will not only satisfy their physical needs, but also the deepest longing of their souls. It is him – the physical presence of God – for which they are truly hungry.
     I look forward to worshipping together with you on Sunday and, in preparation, invite you to consider how you have been sustained by the Bread of Life.

In Christ’s Love,
Avery

July 22, 2021

John 6:1-21 (NRSV) 

1 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?" 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, "Six months' wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, 9 "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?" 10 Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost." 13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world." 15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. 16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20 But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." 21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going. 

 

Most of you are probably familiar with the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books. In volume 2 of the original series, Ben Burton tells of a childhood experience that haunts him years later. Andy Drake is a 5th grade classmate that everyone teases and harasses. They taunt Andy with:

 

Andy Drake don’t eat cake,

And his sister don’t eat pie.

If it wasn’t for their welfare dole

All the Drakes would die.

 

Andy tolerated the ugliness because he didn’t want to risk being completely ignored. Andy’s father was in prison. His mother took in washing and men. Andy often came to school without a bath and his clothes were hand-me-downs from the Salvation Army.

 

One weekend the boys in his class planned a camp-out. Some of the mothers fixed an extra pack of food for Andy Drake. As they waited for everyone to arrive for the camping trip, one of the boys said, “Andy’s different, don’t you think? We don’t really want him to go with us, do we?” It was left to Ben to tell Andy. Ben writes:

 

I can still see Andy as he came toward us down the long, dark tunnel of trees—Andy was on his rusty one-of-a-kind bike—a girl’s model with garden hose wired to the rims for tires. He appeared excited and happier than I had ever seen him, this frail little guy who had had to be an adult all of his life. I knew he was savoring the acceptance of our group, the first chance to belong, to have “boy fun,” to do “boy things.”

 

Andy waved to me as I stood in the camp clearing awaiting him. I ignored his happy greeting. He vaulted off the funny old bike and trotted over to me, full of joy and conversation. Why won’t he get serious? Can’t he see that I am not reciprocating his feelings? Can’t he see that I am not responding to his babblings?

 

Then suddenly he did see! His innocent countenance opened even more, leaving him totally vulnerable. His whole demeanor said silently, “It’s going to be very bad, isn’t it, Ben? Let’s have it.” Undoubtedly well-practiced in facing disappointment, he didn’t even brace for the blow.

 

Incredulously, I heard myself say, “Andy, we don’t want you.”

 

Hauntingly vivid still is the stunning quickness with which two big tears sprung to Andy’s eyes and stayed there. Vivid, because of a million maddening re-runs of that scene in my mind. The way Andy looked at me—frozen for an eternal moment. Finally, a fleet little tremor broke across Andy’s lips and he turned without appeal, or even a question, to make the long, lonely trip home in the dark.

 

It was days later before Ben Burton worked through his shame and decided to apologize to Andy Drake. But Andy had moved. Ben never saw him again.[1]

 

The disciples came to Jesus as the day was drawing to a close and complained that there was not enough food to feed all of the people who had come out to hear Jesus speak. They wanted to send the people away. It was a large crowd made up mostly of the am haretz, people of the land—the poor, the religious outcasts, the rejects, the curious, the political opportunists, the wishful, and those who wanted a miracle. The disciples, who were operating from a scarcity mindset, thought there wasn’t enough food to feed them all nor was there enough compassion, love and grace in their hearts to understand the many needs within the crowd. 

 

How many Andy Drakes have we sent away because of a scarcity mindset? How many times have we selfishly held on to what we have and failed to share with others? How often have we thought that there might not be enough and have held onto or grabbed what we thought was ours without considering the needs of others? When have we withheld grace, compassion, and love because the “other” was not like us?

 

Think about it.

 

Matthew



[1]From Chicken Soup for the Soul, 2 as told by Donald Shelby in “Bring Us Together,” A sermon preached on July 26, 1997.

July 15, 2021

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 (NRSV) 

30  The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31  He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32  And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33  Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34  As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 53  When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54  When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55  and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56  And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. 

 

          After fifteen months of pandemic, restricted travel, carry-out only restaurants, and a limited ability to visit family and socialize, everyone is ready to hit the road for a vacation. We can finally return to old haunts, book or rebook planned trips, and reunite with family and friends.

         Our daughter Taylor and her husband Derek arrived from California on July 3 and we spent a week with them at our Lake Junaluska Home. We hiked, ate good food, kayaked on Lake Junaluska, and enjoyed other activities together. That’s what I call a vacation. Everybody needs one!

         Even Jesus needed a vacation every now and then. He told His disciples that they needed to allow time for recharging their spiritual batteries and resting their physical bodies. “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest,” Jesus said to his disciples. So they climbed onto a boat to sail away for a little R&R. Unfortunately, when they arrived at their destination, the crowd they were trying to avoid was waiting on them.

          From a Biblical and spiritual point of view, we have to take care of ourselves if we are going to continue to do God’s work. We all need a break but allowing our engines to idle for a while is much different than completely shutting down. Even while on vacation you can look for God’s presence. God time is more than just one hour of worship, Sunday school, and small group time. All time is God’s time. Vacation is God’s time, work is God’s time, being with family is God’s time.

          Evidently, Jesus’ short trip in a boat was enough God time to prepare Him for the crowd. Jesus didn’t leave God behind in the boat, God was there to get Him ready. When He stepped onto the shore, He was ready to preach, heal, feed, and be a God presence in their lives. So, how will your time away prepare you to be a God presence in other people’s lives? Think about it.


Matthew