Sunday, May 31, 2009

Is it Eternal?

In worship this morning Helen invited us to ask the question, is it eternal? I began to think about how this question could invite discussion about the work and ministry of our church. Are there places our work is not meeting the "eternal" standard?
The first place that came to my mind was our building and the current landscaping project. Bricks and mortar are an interesting piece of the church. We know the bricks and mortar are not eternal. They will deteriorate and need to be repaired and at times they will need to be demolished or abandoned.
But what about the eternal work that goes on inside the brick and mortar? Is a $1.2 million building worth it to bring just one person into a relationship with God? If that is what it takes then I would be satisfied with that. If our trees and bushes that will be planted soon would just lead people to Jesus then I would not need to worry so much about their cost.
Maybe I am putting more thought into this then necessary because it would probably be difficult to have a church without a building. However maybe the "eternal" question does apply when we fall into making decisions to protect or preserve the build over using it for ministry. Not that we have done that, but something to always keep in mind.
I do appreciate the work of our Trustees to be flexible and willing to do whatever it takes to make our property and facility beautiful, inviting, and a major tool for making an eternal difference in this world.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Remembering Memorial Day

Last week as I was looking for a prayer to use in our worship service this Memorial Day Weekend I found some discussion on whether or not Memorial Day should be observed in a church worship service. It is not a part of the Christian Calendar meaning it is not a religious holiday. It is more of a civic holiday.
So there are some who feel it has no place in a Christian worship service. It should be left to celebrate on Monday in a community setting. Others might go to the opposite side and create their whole Sunday service based on Memorial Day. I also saw suggestions to go in the middle and include Memorial Day remembrances in a time of prayer.
I went more in the middle and we had a nice little time to remember those who have served our country. I also used an illustration from military life in my sermon because it connected to the Scripture and to tie in this special weekend.
What are the thoughts of others out there about the role Memorial Day should play in a Christian worship service? Share why you lean one way or the other? If you choose the middle ground then tell me why you would make that decision?
P.S. I also went to the Memorial Day Service in our town square and thought the speaker did a wonderful job of calling out my younger generation to know our past and respect those who came before us.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I thought we had a wonderful service yesterday to honor our graduating seniors. There was a wonderful slide show of our graduates that was very well done. It was an emotional time as I realized this graduation group is part of our first confirmation class here in Williamsburg. So we have been close to these kids ever since we got here. We have watched them grow in their faith and it is hard to believe they are moving on to that next stage in life.
It can be tough to let them go off to college because they will be out on their own making their own decisions. (As if they were not already doing that.) You worry about the decisions they will make. At least I do because I made some bad decisions, but I also saw the bad decisions of others.
At the same time I believe God has some big plans for this group. I see great success in their future because this group is bright and they have been well connected to our church family. So they really should never be out on their own. We are still called by God to be praying for them and supporting them however we can. I hope that as a congregation we can continue our care of our college students to remind them of God's presence.
Join me in remembering these students during their college years, especially during finals, but each and every day. Let's pray God's love and grace is evident in their lives.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fan the Flame

I talked on Mother's Day about the way mothers fan into flame the sparks that are inside people. They nurture and help their children grow. We are called as the church to fan into flame the faith that is in others. I also want to remind us to fan into flame a specific spark, and that is a call to full time ministry.
I was thinking back to my call to ministry. It first came from a former Sunday school teacher who said I would make a good pastor. Of course, I had bigger and better plans for myself, but that little spark was fanned by others. Eventually by the time I was 17 I knew God was calling me to enter full time ministry and become a pastor. I did have other options like becoming that great accountant I always dreamed about being, but my family and church family fanned my flame and encouraged me into ministry.
The Church, and especially the United Methodist Church needs more gifted and called pastors. We need to keep our eyes open for people with gifts that can be used to lead God's Church today. My hope is that as our church grows we will have people who are called into full time ministry and we can encourage them in that direction. We can give them practical experience in ministry and help them get the training they need.
We can be a congregation that sparks an interest in full time ministry in people and that we can fan that spark into a flame that will burn bright for Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Everyday Confirmation

Yesterday we confirmed 16 youth into our congregation. They were confirming the vows made at their baptism. Some of the youth made their original baptism vows themselves, but a majority of them had their vows made on their behalf by their parents.
I also happen to go back to my home church in the afternoon for a handbell concert and on the wall they have pictures of past confirmation classes and I went back to the class of 1991 and there I was. I was standing next to one of the pastors. That day does not stand out in my mind at all. In fact, it wasn't until a few years later that I truly personally accepted Christ as my Savior.
I shared yesterday from John 21 where Jesus asks Peter three times if he loved him. Three times Peter had to say, "You know that I love you." This made me wonder how often Jesus has to ask me if I love him? Another way to look at it is how often do I have to confirm my love for God? Most of the time it is every day.
Last week a couple had their car break down in Williamsburg. They called looking for some money for food. I was in a meeting and when I came out I had a message from this couple, but also one from the Presbyterian Church. I called the other church first and the pastor and I discussed the request of this couple and where to get the assistance they needed. The pastor said he was planning to help them get some food, but this was the most difficult part of his job.
I agree that it is tough to have someone come asking for help and our human minds begin to wonder if we are being taken advantage of. Many of the stories I hear are hard to believe because it seems like every bad thing possible has happened to this person in one day in order to bring them to this point of needing assistance. I know I have been taken advantage of, probably on more than one occasion.
However, I have decided I will not just allow myself to be taken advantage of, but I will more often error on the side of compassion. I doubt when I meet Jesus face to face that he will scold me for being too compassionate. But when I withhold compassion he will ask me, "James, son of John, do you love me? Take care of my sheep."
Each and every day I need to confirm my love for Christ. It is the reason I do what I do. On some of those tough days it is even more often that I need to remember my love for God and God's love for me.
Don't forget to confirm your love for Christ and care for all of his people every day.