(February 7, 2016) The revelation of Jesus being *more* in the moment of the transfiguration roots and grounds us in the calling to go beyond in living out our faith. Truly, it is not enough for us to simply be nice, but we must live lives transformed. How would you color outside the lines of the church? (Matthew 17:1-9; Matthew 5:38-48)
Children’s time at church is such a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I dislike that the kids seem paraded up front on display, where their unabashed curiosity, evolving faith, and sweet antics entertain the watching adults like an adorable weekly installment of “Kids Say the Darnedest Things.” On the other hand, give me half as many adults who exhibit so much excitement and curiosity about their evolving faith. Pretty sure, to paraphrase John Wesley, they alone could prevail against the gates of hell.
We’ve experienced an interesting shift at the church where I serve. Children’s time has gotten younger, with middle school and even most elementary school kids staying in their seats during the children’s message, and a gaggle of small toddlers, preschoolers, and very early elementary kids surrounding me. This only serves to heighten the tendency for unabashed curiosity, evolving faith, and sweet antics. And they do say the darnedest things.
This week, while I was trying and failing miserably to draw their attention to the coloring book in my hands as encouragement to draw outside the lines or color Jesus with purple skin, a preschooler pointed at the altar behind me, set for communion (which we serve by intinction, that is, each person takes a piece of bread, which they then dip into the cup of grape juice).
“Oooh!” she exclaimed. “Are we doing the dipping part? That’s my favorite part!”
Mine too, kiddo. And may we all be so excited about it.
Later, when I began the communion liturgy, I paused to make sure that someone was getting the kids from children’s church. “We don’t want them to miss the ‘dipping part’,” I said, to the titters of the rest of the congregation. “No one who is that excited about communion should ever be hindered from coming to Christ’s table.”
With the children back in the sanctuary, this also gave me more wiggle room, I felt, to tell the story and say prayers for communion in a more kid-friendly way, connecting to their excitement as best I could. Later, adults would tell me that they really “got” communion this week, and felt it was connected to the message of faith that goes beyond the basics.
All because, really, of a child with simple, exuberant faith, and a love for the dipping part.
(January 24, 2106) One part of our baptismal and membership vow as members of the Methodist Church is to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. So, that could be quite a lot, really… (Luke 4:14-21)
What’s your life verse?
(January 17, 2016) Jesus calls the disciples to step out of their comfort zones, yes, but not to do something totally alien to them– for a group of people who know fishing, he invites them to fish for people. When God calls us, it’s usually to use gifts that we already have, just to use them in a different way. What gifts and joys do we have, and where do they intersect with the needs around us, so that we may find Frederick Buechner’s definition of our vocation: “the place where our deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet”? (Exodus 3:1-12; Matthew 4:12-22)
Our theme in our worship and community life as we start 2016 is “Who Are You?”
The beginning of a new calendar year is a time when we often reassess direction and ask questions yet again about who we are and where we are going in life. This New Year we are taking a deep journey into the question, “Who Are You?” not only in our worship services, but in our spiritual practices and in our work as a congregation to discover where God is calling us as a church. We will discover that “who we are” is indelibly linked to “Whose we are.” What amazing things could happen if you lived into your best, most passionate, loving self? What if we lived into our best, most passionate, most loving beloved community?