Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Here are a couple of opinion pieces by two bishops in the United Methodist Church about the value of small membership churches. The first is by Bishop Will Willimon who leads the episcopacy of North Alabama. He feels that small churches are more of a drag on the United Methodist Church than are large and mega-churches. The second is by Bishop Scott Jones who leads the Great Plains Episcopal Area which comprises Kansas and Nebraska. He argues that small churches are the presence of Christ in urban and rural areas that are not served by the mega-churches. (Ginghamsburg UMC is the exception: a mega-church in a town the size of Grey Eagle.) The two articles are:

The Tough Truth about Our Small Churches by Will Willimon

Why Willimon is Wrong about Small Churches by Scott Jones

What do you think? How are our two small churches serving Christ by serving our community? If you don’t have an answer then what should we be doing? Is there a ministry you want to do? Are there people who might help you? If so, when can you start? If you serve on one of the councils, what can they be doing to encourage invitation, outreach, and faithfulness?

Our readings for church this week continue the theme of “A Place at the Table: Blessing the Table”.

Joel 2:26-29 – God will bless the people and they will never be put to shame. Young or old, women and men, slaves and free will witness to the blessings of God’s Spirit.

1 Corinthians 10:16-17 – We who are many are one body because we partake of the one body.

Luke 24:44-53 – Jesus’ final appearance to the disciples in the Gospel of Luke.

Our Lectionary Texts assigned for this week are:

Isaiah 5:1-7 – An Old Testament parable of the unfruitful vineyard. Have you ever tasted wild grapes? If you have then you probably understand the concern of the Lord. You might just as well plow it under and start again.

Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19 – The first part of this Psalm, verses 1-7, is a plea to God for restoration as is verse 19. Verses 8-18 reflect the imagery of Isaiah 5.

Jeremiah 23:23-29 – God speaks against the prophets who tell lies, calling them prophesies, in God’s name, for God sees and hears what they are doing and speaking.

Psalm 82 – The first verse, and the entire Psalm, understands God to be the greatest God of the gods. It is God who admonishes the other gods for ignoring the plight of the weak and the orphans.

Hebrews 11:29-12:2 – After discussing the faith of Abraham and Moses, the writer touches upon the faith of many others who died for the faith yet never got a chance to see the coming of the Messiah. This cloud of witnesses are the example by which we “run with perseverance the race set before us.”

Luke 12:49-56 – This is a difficult reading. Jesus comes not to bring peace but to divide families, friends (and churches?). If we can interpret the signs of the weather, why can’t we interpret the signs of the times?

Have a great week serving God by serving neighbor!

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

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