Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sabbath Keeping

My sermon from last week on Luke 13:10-17, "Sabbath Keeping".

It was a deep text to be in ministry with last week, a passage from Luke that brings together many of the threads of the Luke's story.

How do you observe your Sabbath?  Do you rest?  Are you busy?  Are you shouting out your liberation through Christ?

August 25, 2013 - Celebration from FUMC of Arlington on Vimeo.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Everything Changes

Sermon from last week on Luke 12:49-56, a tough text, for sure.

What is Christ calling on you to leave behind and follow him?

August 18, 2013 - Celebration from FUMC of Arlington on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Little Lectionary-Based Inspiration

For those of you preaching the Gospel reading from the Lectionary for this week, a little inspiration via United Methodist Memes:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kindling the Fire?

“I came to cast fire upon the earth. How I wish that it was already ablaze! I have a baptism I must experience. How I am distressed until it’s completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, I have come instead to bring division."  Luke 12:49-51
It was kind of a dark and stormy Jesus today in our lectionary passage ... Quite contrary to the stern but reassuring Jesus we've been traveling with during our summer series on the Gospel of Luke.

Today's Jesus was frustrated.
He was fiery.
He was miffed that the people who were supposed to be prepared to meet the Messiah were neither prepared nor listening.

This was table turning Jesus.
Jesus on a mission to turn the world around.

This Jesus wasn't afraid to tell it like it is - following him was going to necessitate making some hard choices, doing a lot of self inventory.

Makes me wonder if this is what our beloved UMC is going through right now ... Have we been avoiding making the tough choices for too long?  Have we been worrying about the wrong things all together?  Have we been so worried about maintaining the status quo in our churches we've been missing our chance to have a real impact on planet Earth for the Kingdom?

What would Jesus think of our  UMC churches today?

I'm just wondering.

I think a lot of our churches behave as if they've arrived.
Would Jesus say that we have?
Are we so afraid to fix our problems?

I feel we might be so afraid of the potential divisions that Christ prophesied in the 12th Chapter of Luke that we're in danger of fading.  This isn't new news.  But it is a lack of faith.

It's easy to be cynical.

But ...

I just had a blast this weekend leading worship for 25 youth workers at the Central Texas Conference Youth Worker Sabbath.  For three days I sat back as colleagues commiserated with each other, prayed for one another, and played games with one another.  Like youth.

There's the hope in the Connection.

The UMC isn't done yet, because it hasn't yet arrived.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Call to Keep Things Small?

Have you read Bishop Wililmon's 'procacative' piece for Ministry Matters "The Truth About Small Churches"?  You should.  I'll pause while you follow the link back and do so ...

What do you think?

I myself get more than tied up in the comments on articles like these, comments full of frustration and people that are super offended by the article - which usually means that they didn't read it.  Or that they didn't read it for meaning.

We have a real problem in the UMC.  And I'm not saying that small churches are the problem - and I don't think that the Bishop is saying that necessarily either.  The problem is with churches that aren't bearing fruit.

What is the fruit?

New disciples.  Stronger disciples.  People going out into the world to fish for others, reaching hearts for Christ.

The Kingdom of God is built on multiplication, not addition.

I have many friends working as licensed local and supply pastors in very small churches.  Some of them go against the grain of Bishop Willimon's experience and are changing hearts and opening doors all over town.  And they aren't just in the rural fringes ... They are also in urban and suburban environments right next door to the church I work at.  They are winning the race and running it with perseverance.

But still others aren't.  We aren't closing big churches, are we?

We closed five faith communities last year in Central Texas.  It's a tragedy.  We launched four new church starts.  That's a blessing - full of hard work.

But we can't build our way out of this with new churches.  We have to fight the decline, or we're playing with the Enemy.

We can't justify a lack of bearing fruit.  Seriously, the comments on the Bishop's article ... So much justification.

I'm just choosing to be excited about being in ministry in our day and age.  Our church's lack of growth is an opportunity to try new things to reach new people.  And that's crazy awesome.  I just refuse to justify.  A lot of folks in the Gospels went to Christ for him to justify the way they'd always done things.

Name one time when 'we've never done it that way before' worked for Christ.  We need to fight the call to keep things small.

(Dropping the mic, walking away.)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Fun, Since January 2012

I know I can be behind the times, but I've never been to before ... I know, I know.  It's fun to see those word clouds related to various subjects and conversations.

My wife pointed me towards it as a way to check word emphasis on my sermons, which is a cool idea.  But I though, hey, why not run this blog through the ringer and see what comes up?

So, for fun, here it is:

Wordle: 8/5/13

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

My sermon from 7/28, on the Lukan setting of the Lord's prayer.

Considering that the Lord's prayer is a part of our common liturgy, how did Christ intend for us to use this prayer when he taught it to the disciples?

July 28, 2013 - Celebration from FUMC of Arlington on Vimeo.