First, for those interested in the United Methodist Church and our Annual Conference it was announced yesterday that our North Star District Superintendent Alan Bolte has been appointed to Grand Rapids UMC after serving 8 years as superintendent. We wish him the best and pray for the Spirit to work through him in Grand Rapids. Also announced, the lead pastor at Coon Rapids UMC, Rev. Mark Miller, has been appointed as our new District Superintendent.
For those who are a part of the United Church of Christ, the Minnesota Conference is still in the search process for a new Conference Minister to replace the retiring Rev. Karen Smith Sellers.
We begin a sermon series for our Wednesday Evening Lenten Worship titled “I AM”. I just got off a video conference workshop with Marcia McFee at Worship Design Studio who asked us to write a “topic poem”. Here is what I came up with to use with our Lenten Worship:
Giving, Connecting, Loving
I give to you
Worship is at 6:00 PM at PUC (with Soup & Sandwiches at 5:15 PM) and 7:30 PM at GEUMC. I hope to see everyone there.
Our reading for tomorrow night is John 4:1-42, Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well.
Our readings for this coming Sunday are:
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 – God’s covenant with Abram (later Abraham) that Abram’s descendants will be numerous and that a later generation will possess the land. The covenant ritual enacted here involves sacrificing animals, splitting them in two, passing between the carcass sides, and promising, in effect, “If I don’t do what I promise, may I be treated like these animals.” God makes this promise to Abram. How do we signify our promise to keep our covenant?
Psalm 27 – This Psalm seems to be schizophrenic. On the one hand, the Psalmist knows that the Lord will protect and conceal him from all enemies and therefore the Lord should be praised. On the other hand, the Psalmist seems to also say that he doesn’t feel the Lord’s presence while his enemies are attacking and is pleading for the Lord’s return. In the very last verses, 13-14, the Psalmist calms himself with the hope that the Lord never abandons. Are there days when we don’t feel the Lord’s presence despite our knowledge that God’s Spirit is always with us?
Philippians 3:17-4:1 – “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” I don’t think Paul is looking for flattery here, but he does understand that we imitate others. The big question is “Whom do we imitate?” If we unknowingly imitate those around us we become like them and become enemies of God (“the cross of Christ”). The goal of Christian life is the imitation of God and God’s love. Jesus’ entire life was in imitation of God’s love even if it meant going to the cross. So, if it is hard to imitate God then try imitating Jesus. If that is too hard, the Paul urges his readers to imitate him as he imitates Jesus who was the perfect imitation of God’s love. By loving as God love our lives (humble bodies or the body of our humiliation) are transformed to Jesus’ glory. Who do you imitate each day?
Luke 13:31-35 – Jesus is headed toward Jerusalem. Chapters 11 through 18 are primarily the teachings of Jesus with a little bit of movement and actions such as healings. The Pharisees, who have been challenging Jesus, warn Jesus of Herod’s intentions. Since Jesus is intent on going to the seat of political and religious power in the area, he is aware of what will happen. Jesus’ way of peace and love will be rejected by the powers, as it always is (the killing of the prophets). This rejection of peace will eventually lead to Jerusalem’s destruction in 69 CE. How do we, as the Body of Christ, help to transform society without rejecting peace? Can societal transformation happen without violence?
May the Lord Bless you in all that you do as you serve God by serving others.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor