It’s Movie Monday! Join us on Rightnow Media to watch the following selection.
Book of Job for Kids
Do you have times when you don’t understand or trust what God is doing in your life? Does it make you not want to believe or be happy with God? Our Bible Character Job was in this same situation. Let’s watch the movie and see what happened with Job. What would you have done? Would you still trust in our God?
We believe you will find the FUMCWP new member classes to be informative, invitational, and engaging. From its first to last moments we felt a part of a caring community and came to know our new classmates as partners in shared learning. Our pastors provided us with easily understood explanations of the deep core principles of Methodism. Additionally, their guided “walkthrough” of the Bible renewed and reacquainted us with all the resources it provides for personal study and prayer. Perhaps the most meaningful moments of the three-night series were those spent with congregational lay leaders. Their stories demonstrated one of the main reasons we chose to join this church. To be sure, our church feeds our spirits in worship and through its family ministries. However, it is a vibrant family because we are invited to involvement and service. We are a multigenerational community with countless opportunities to be in fellowship with other members on an ongoing basis. Simply put, each of us may choose to live out our faith with a fellowship group most meaningful for us. And there are countless multigenerational options for us to do so. We think you’ll find the new member program will prepare you to go deeper in your faith journey and invite you into a welcoming fellowship community.
~Lloyd Jaeger and Beth Ann Miller
Are you interested in becoming a member? We would love to invite you to our next set of new member classes this July via Zoom!
“Lord, I want to be a Christian… inna my heart, inna my heart…”
That’s how we sang that old Black spiritual at Howard University, my alma mater.
These days, those words present a personal struggle and a challenge. How to be a Christian? Events of the past few weeks have removed a scab from my people… a scab that has covered wounds that have pained us for over 400 years. My hearts aches.
Growing up, our children experienced numerous incidents of racism: questions regarding their competence in swimming (two of our sons were nationally ranked swimmers)… “Black people do not know how to swim” was the underlying message. Though accomplished academically, athletically and professionally, throughout their lives they have continued to experience racially motivated challenges. While a graduate student at University of Virginia in Charlottesville, my son was threatened by a policeman who placed a gun in my son’s mouth. He was the only Black among a group of white students celebrating the end of the semester at a party in the white students’ apartment. A neighbor had complained about the noise at the party. While a student at West Point, another son and his friends while stopping at a rest stop, were challenged/harassed by state patrolmen, for no apparent reason.
“Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart…”
“Lord, I want to be more holy inna my heart, inna my heart…”
Events of recent weeks present personal challenges. Throughout my life, I have benefited from the encouragement, support and friendship of whites… “Betwix and between…” Knots. We have always lived in integrated neighborhoods, often in neighborhoods where whites clearly did not want us as neighbors. Our children had/currently have white friends. Professionally, my husband’s best friend was a white man who supported my husband when others did not. I currently live in a white residential community. My sons are runners. When they come to visit, my heart skips a beat when they go for a run in my neighborhood… I know there will undoubtedly be questions/concerns whether they ‘belong’ in my neighborhood. One of my daughters-in-law is white. When she and my grandchildren come to visit, there are ‘stares.’
“Lord, I want to be like Jesus, inna my heart, inna my heart…”
“Lord, I want to be like Jesus, inna my heart.”
I need your prayers. You need my prayers, too. Let us pray for one another. Amen
So, the other night I was flipping through the channels on the TV, and I came across a theological masterpiece. It was about a clownfish who wanders away from the Reef and gets captured and taken to a fish tank in Sydney, Australia. Finding Nemo is a must-see for those who are serious about their doctrine.
Anyway, Nemo’s father Marlin is heartbroken. And he goes looking for Nemo. And as he does, he runs into someone very special. A Royal Blue Tang fish named Dory. Dory is very different than Marlin. She is fun and adventuresome. She is happy. And she is forgetful. Marlin on the other hand is serious. Marlin is a deep thinker. And Marlin is focused. They are very different. And yet they are a part of the same ocean. And when they come together, they overcome sharks and jellyfish and a whale and eventually find Nemo. Together they are stronger, greater, more capable than alone. They build up and add to the other.
The same is true for us. We are each unique. And yet, we belong to the same human family. We have different interests and different talents. But we are a part of the same body. We are stronger, greater, more capable than alone. And when realize that, really cool stuff happens!
I think this is the premise behind Paul’s writing to the church at Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 12:12 he writes, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
Paul goes on to say that God has even placed the parts in the body just as God wanted them to be. And therefore, we cannot say to one another – you are not wanted. We don’t need you. In fact, Paul says that those parts of the body that seem weaker are actually indispensable (1 Cor 12:22).
Where am I going with this? Well, one of the things we are going to be talking about over the next month is lay-led ministry. You may have heard that term before. It’s not new. It’s used a good bit in church circles. And yet, it’s rarely defined.
When I talk about lay-led ministry, I mean a shared leadership of the church by both church staff and laypeople. Specifically, its lay people and staff people working together collaboratively to live out the calling God has given to us as a church family. Each having a different part to play in the body. But each being necessary.
It starts with the premise that church isn’t something we DO. It’s a way of BEING. Paul says we are each a PART of one body. In other words, we are not just participants in church programs. We are not just attendees at the church services. We are part of the owners. In other words, it’s not about what I want the church family to do for me. It’s about how will I be a part of the church family.
This is Scriptural. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given – for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7). We tend to stop at the first part of that verse. Each is given a manifestation of the Spirit. We think for our own personal relationship. But Paul says that the reason we are given the Spirit is for the greater good! It’s scriptural. And it’s counter-cultural to our consumer-oriented society. Because it calls for a different set of values. If Paul is telling the truth – being a follower of Christ comes with a huge relationship responsibility. Part and parcel of being a disciple of Jesus is being a part of one body of Christ. A body with many parts.
And this has implications. For one – personally. Rather than trying to figure out how to fit the church into my schedule, I need to figure out how my schedule facilitates life together. And this has implications for leadership. If we are all a part. If we are all necessary. If we are all given the one Spirit for the common good, then leadership doesn’t belong to only one group. In lay lead ministry, the lay people don’t work for the staff leaders. And the staff don’t work for the lay leaders. It’s a shared collaboration.
We are going to talk about this more next week. For now, as we celebrate this Juneteenth holiday 2020, ask yourself – how can we do life together better? If we are greater and more capable together. If we strengthen and build up each other. If in the Body of Christ, we are all necessary and all placed as God wants. How can we better recognize the indispensable nature of each other?
I suppose Marlin could have kept looking for Nemo on his own. But I doubt it. He needed the gifts and presence of Dory to experience the fullness of joy in finding Nemo. I suppose we could have faith individually. But I doubt it. We need each other’s strengths and presence to fully experience the joy of life with God. IN the name of the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
So, I have been chewing on something since Sunday. Not with my teeth. In my mind. Gnawing on it mentally. In this particular case, I’ve been ruminating on a podcast by award-winning journalist Krista Tippett called, On Being. In it, Tippett is having a conversation with author Resmaa Menakem. They are talking about racism and Tippett’s quest for wisdom in light of the horrific killing of George Floyd. And as they are talking the topic of white supremacy comes up. And as it does, Tippett shares that she feels herself physically brace. She says she has this experience of tensing up. She feels uncomfortable and reacts physiologically. To which Menakem says – noticing such bracing is exactly where we have to begin to live differently. In other words, change starts with recognizing where we are uncomfortable. And being willing to stay in that discomfort. We may want to walk away. We may even have a physical reaction. But if we leave there is zero chance of growth or reconciliation.
I’ve been thinking about that in light of all that is going on in our country right now. And how as a follower of Jesus Christ, I am called to do justice. Micah 6:8 – “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
How do I that? Where do I start to act justly? I can’t speak for others. But for me, I confess that as a privileged white man, it is easy to let myself off the hook. To claim confusion or plead ignorance about how. The truth is, there are many ways to act justly. Everything from giving credibility to the voices of those who suffer discrimination, to standing in solidarity with them, to calling for reform, to voting for legislation of equality, to seeking greater diversity in my workplace, neighborhood, and circle of friends, to working with non-profits that fight for justice, to educating myself about racial justice, to teaching our children and grandchildren about the reality of racial injustice. To name a few. There are many hows. But it starts with paying attention to our own uncomfortableness. It begins with the willingness to stay in a difficult conversation.
In a large part, this is why I called our church family to fast this week. Fasting is often associated with food. Which makes some of us reluctant to practice it as a spiritual discipline. I love what Christian author Brian McClairen says about fasting. He says that when he fasts, he doesn’t feel closer to God. He feels closer to pizza. And tostado chips. But fasting can take a variety of forms. From fasting from media to fasting from discretionary spending. The power of the fasting is not in the specifics. The power is found in creating space in your life to listen and recognize what is going on.
This week, I am fasting from the news. This may not seem like a big deal for you. But I am a news junkie. I read the news feed first thing in the morning. And I read it throughout the day when I have a moment of downtime. Already I have started to pull up a news website at least 72 times. I am discovering that knowing the news plays into a false sense of control over what is happening my the world. It fires me up when I read about political news and keeps my adrenaline pumping. So that life constantly has this frenetic feeling. And it distracts me from interacting with other people. With the news constantly at my fingertips, I don’t have to ask others what it going on in their lives or our world.
By eliminating a constant stream of news, I have created space to listen. And in particular to listen to what is going on in my heart. And to listen to what God has to say about it. Including those places that I am uncomfortable. And there is a lot to feel uncomfortable about right now.
As you think about what is happening in our country. And particularly what our brothers and sisters in the Black community have experienced and are experiencing. Where do you tense up? What makes you physically brace? I suspect that it is only as we stay in that discomfort that we will finally start to lay the foundation to act justly. Noticing such bracing is exactly where we have to begin to live differently.
Won’t you join me in listening? How can you create the space in your interior life to hear God and to hear yourself? Are you willing to set aside and give up in order to live differently?
Next Wednesday evening we will be hosting a zoom conversation about our experiences of fasting. And what God has called our church to do to act justly. I pray you will join us. Until then keep chewing! In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
You don’t have to join the church to attend. In fact, you can stake out your pew and sit there for years without joining. God still knows the number of hairs on your head, whether you’re a member or not. But for me, becoming a member of FUMC felt like a return home.
See, I’d been a member in years past, when my children were small. I served as a confirmation mentor and watched them both take their vows as Christians. I also served on the Finance Committee, a role I decided to tackle so I could learn something about finance, not because I had any experience or aptitude therein. And may I add, it wasn’t the best decision. Financial terms were Greek to me.
Then, after a move to Asheville, North Carolina, and subsequently 12 years living there, my husband and I moved back to Winter Park and rejoined FUMC. The staff had changed some in the time we were gone, and while we had loved Bob Bushong, we heartily embraced David Miller.
Which brings me to our decision to re-join FUMC. I don’t remember attending a New Member Class when we originally joined, but if there had been any instruction on spiritual gifts, I doubt I would have joined the Finance Committee. Having that instruction through the New Member Class we attended in 2019 was a great benefit. It helped us hone in on the gifts we’d been given by God as Christians, and it pointed me in directions that were more appropriate to my experience, my aptitudes, and my expertise. Plus, I made some new friends.
So, here’s my plug. JOIN. It’s a commitment that bridged the years for me. Thomas Wolfe once said, “You can’t go home, again,” but in my experience, you can.
~Susan Blexrud, Lay Member
Are you interested in becoming a member? We would love to invite you to our next set of new member classes this July via Zoom!