February 2019 Streams of Thought
In a few weeks a special session of the UMC General Conference
will convene in St. Louis with hundreds of delegates from all
over the globe. They'll do their best to address the impasse
we've reached concerning ministry to LGBTQ persons.
All LGBTQ persons are of sacred worth, created in God's image, but like all of us are scarred by the awful reality of sin. Human sexuality is, like so much
else in life, broken and marred by sin. Scripture very clearly delineates what is out of bounds and in bounds when it comes to sexual behavior. However, there are
some within the Church that do not believe this.
I don't like describing the impasse as which "side" we're on, but the truth is there are two major worldviews and theological persuasions at work. Time and
space don’t permit a thorough exam of each, but as we've discussed in open dialogue this previous fall, wherever we stand on this issue one big
concern is "What’s the future of the UMC?"
The short answer is "I don't know;" what I do know is whatever happens February 23 -26, the changes that might take place will happen over time. But Jesus Christ will still be King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Head of the Church (Ephesians 5).
I do want to express a note of caution: depending on how things land or play out, clergy and congregations might be compelled, to one degree or another, to pick a "side." Again, I don't like using that terminology but, regardless of how it's phrased, I strongly suspect that will be a real possibility.
Prayerfully consider GC 2019, whatever the results are. In March I would like us to have another dialogue after the service. By that point there will be some idea of the effects of whatever happens in February. But above all, pray, pray, pray; for the UMC, our Conference, and our churches.
Grace and Peace,
January 2019 Streams of Thought
A new year brings new hopes, ideas, dreams, and goals. The
goals might be improving our health, trying new things, improving
hobby or job skills, or reconnecting with a friend or relative.
For Christians the primary goal is growing in faith. An old hymn
says, "More about Jesus would I know/More of His grace to
others show/More of His Kingdom's sure increase/More of His
coming, Prince of Peace/More, more about Jesus/More, more
about Jesus/More of His saving fullness see/More of His love,
Who died for me."
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would "guide us into all truth" (John 16:13) and Jesus' own words from John 14:6 say He is "the way the TRUTH, and the life."
If God is the source of all truth it follows that through Jesus we
receive the Truth; about the world, ourselves, and a relationship
with the Living God. A recent contemporary song says "There's no wall You won't kick down/No lie You won't tear down/coming after me." God's loving and relentless pursuit of us means, among other things, facing up to the truth He brings into our field of vision. For example the world says, "Follow your heart" but as one of my clergy colleagues said, "That's lousy advice; our hearts can be a real mess."
On one level our hearts often make more decisions from selfishness than we like to admit. On a whole other level people have "followed their hearts" and the results were some of the most murderous regimes in history.
Following Jesus and letting Him and the Holy Spirit reveal God's Truth to us reduces the tendency to "follow our hearts." Letting Him guide our hearts, minds, motives, and actions lessens the chance we'll fall into the trap of living according to the fickle and unreliable passions generated in our hearts.
Our upcoming sermon series will focus on "Living the Life" as a follower of Jesus so we reflect His glory, peace, love, mercy, grace, and holiness. In
following His perfect and holy heart we find the abundant life He spoke of in John 10. As we strive grow in our faith this year let's give glory to God who leads us into the
Happy New Year 2019!!
Grace and Peace,
December 2018 Streams of Thought
The Season of Advent is the highlight, along with Easter, of the Christian calendar. It celebrates the anticipation and excitement of His coming, His Advent.
That anticipation was even more intense in the years leading up to His birth. The original Christians were Jews who inherited a centuries-old hope that M'schiach (Messiah) would come and re-establish Israel's power, glory, and honor.
There were strong political elements but there was also a powerful faith side. By the time Jesus was born, politics were emphasized over faith because of Roman occupation. From Europe to Arabia to North Africa the Roman Empire was the Big Kid on the Block.
The Romans allowed Jews to more or less freely practice their faith and life but they were still controlled by a foreign power and subject to the whims, laws, and taxes of that power. The Zealots were one reaction to this and their movement sparked uprisings often led by men claiming to be M'schiach.
Some Jews decided to "go along to get along;" others hoped the real M'schiach would come soon and the sooner the better! These earliest Christians, all Jews,
came to the conclusion that the one called Jesus of Nazareth was the true M'schiach. They saw Him from the faith side of Messianic hope. He did not come to conquer
Rome but to conquer hearts and connect people forever with God.
What He offered had less to do with politics and more to do with living in a world of shifting alliances, human failings, and uncertain futures, trusting Him without reservation as the Incarnation of the Living God who is with His people no matter what.
In these uncertain and turbulent times we invite Y'shua Ha M'schiach, Jesus the Messiah, to come to us in power, grace, love, and glory. Let Him revive and rekindle a holy fire within us as we wait for Him in this Advent Season.
Grace and Peace,