Continued to be Amazed!

About one year ago, Red Valley UMC began a journey of setting out to seek God’s mission for us. And we prayed, we studied, and we had holy conversations/retreated. And by God grace came to understand our mission strategy as: We are a community of faith Called by God, to Learn, to Befriend, and to Send Forth! Since the beginning of this mission strategy though we have continued to learn what it looks like to live into this mission. Though time and time again I am amazed as to how this mission strategy is nothing new to the church, but have found the tradition of the church (2000 years of it) continues to support it. So let me share with you my most recent finding.

I have been reading a book by Marva Dawn Reaching Out without Dumbing Down: A Theology of Worship for This Urgent Time. As you can probably infer from the title of this book it is about worship and the purpose of worship. Dawn begins chapter 5 with a title “God as the Center of Worship: Who is Worship For?” And then she begins with a poem written by 4th century church father Augustine of Hippo. He writes:

Too late have I love You, O Beauty so ancient, O Beauty so new, too late have I loved You!

You were within me but I was outside myself, and I sought You there! In my weakness I ran after the beauty of the things You have made. You were with me, and I was not with You. The things You have made kept me from You— the things which would have no being unless they existed in You!

You have called, You have cried out, and You have pierced my deafness. You have radiated forth, and have shined out brightly, and You have dispelled my blindness. You have sent forth Your fragrance, and I have breathed it in, and I long for You. I have tasted You, and I hunger and thirst for You. You have touched me, and I ardently desire Your peace.

Augustine of Hipp0, 354-430

As I read this poem these words, “You have called” stuck out to me. And as I continued to read just a few sentences into the beginning of this chapter, Dawn hit the nail on the head as to why these words stuck out, “Augustine’s poem makes clear this most crucial criterion for assessing our worship: True worship arises because God calls us.”

In our mission strategy at Red Valley United Methodist Church “Called by God” represents to us our mission of being the church in worship. It is through worship do we come to know that God calls us up out of the depths and into relationship with God. I am just simply amazed by how the Spirit continues to move from the time of Augustine to our little congregation out in the country. Thanks be to God who continues to move and shapes the life and mission of the Church.

What Does the Lord Require? pt. 1

Date:  10/4/2015

Summary:    Today’s message has a central thrust of trying to understand, “What does the Lord require for salvation?” Too often, we like those in Scripture get caught up in secondary issues and we miss the whole point that salvation is given by grace through faith. And God’s grace is an unmerited, undeserved gift and work in our lives. Jesus teaches us this so clearly through the use of these blessed children.

Psalm 26
Vindicate me, O Lord,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
2 Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
test my heart and mind.
3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in faithfulness to you.[a]
4 I do not sit with the worthless,
nor do I consort with hypocrites;
5 I hate the company of evildoers,
and will not sit with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands in innocence,
and go around your altar, O Lord,
7 singing aloud a song of thanksgiving,
and telling all your wondrous deeds.
8 O Lord, I love the house in which you dwell,
and the place where your glory abides.
9 Do not sweep me away with sinners,
nor my life with the bloodthirsty,
10 those in whose hands are evil devices,
and whose right hands are full of bribes.
11 But as for me, I walk in my integrity;
redeem me, and be gracious to me.
12 My foot stands on level ground;
in the great congregation I will bless the Lord.

Mark 10:2-6
Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Humble Servant

Date:  9/20/2015

Summary:  This week we focused on our call to service as we face justice issues in our world.

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

Mark 9:30-37

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it;31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.”32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. 33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

Healing and Salvation

Date Given: Sept. 27, 2015

Summary: This past week we focused on the significance of Sin and the relationship between salvation and healing.

James 5:13-20
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 14 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
19 My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, 20 you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Mark 9:38-50
John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 Whoever is not against us is for us. 41 For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
42 “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
49 “For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

15-09-13 Fully Committed

This week’s sermon focused on our commitment to God and Christ’s command to take up our cross.   If you missed the message, or simply would like to listen to it again, please click play below. Also, the Scripture Reading is below:

James 3:1-12

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

Mark 8:27-38

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”  And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

15-09-06 Table: All Are Welcome

This week’s sermon focused on our current Sermon Series “Table” and how at the Table of God all are welcomed.  This Sunday, Bishop Cho of the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church called for every pastor and each local church to observe this day as a day of “Confession, Repentance, Prayer, and Commitment to End Racism.”  If you missed the message, or simply would like to listen to it again, please click play below. Also, the Scripture Reading is below:

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