Tag Archive: Love of God


Race and the Gospel

There is something in the air. It seems like everywhere I turn issues of race are stirring all around. I find myself being challenged and wondering what does this mean for me as a follower of Christ, and a pastor in His church. How am I to participate in God reconciling all things? In these recent years I have been experiencing the freedom and healing that comes through repentance in regards to this area of my life. God’s sanctifying grace that refines continues to shine light into places of darkness I previously wasn’t aware of before.

Race-Gospel-IssueI feel like I am being primed to listen to God in a deeper way in regards to myself, the church, and culture in general about racial healing. In January, apart of my RIOM (Residency in Ordained Ministry) journey, I will be able to join with my fellow provisional members of the NC Annual Conference to explore North Carolina through the lens of race asking questions about where the church was present throughout our history and where has it been faithful. Then to add to the mix  I was recently listening to the Seven Minute Seminary podcast where Lisa Yebuah challenges us as a church to talk about race in a different way from the world. It is episode 192: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/seven-minute-seminary/id979597268?mt=2&i=355046558  These are just a couple of the conversations and experiences that are swarming around me, not counting the TED talk or the readings I am doing. I pray that I am willing to listen well to what God has to say, and by the power of the Holy Spirit I would have the courage to respond.

 

Today I am reminded that there is one baptism. As Christians we are people who swim in one and the same waters of baptism. When we come out of the waters of baptism may our ears be clean and our eyes opened to love each other and live into the unity that Christ prayed for.

Lord Jesus, help us turn from the ways we talk, think, and act that divide and separate us. Actually help us to take the power you have given us through your Holy Spirit to knock down the dividing walls of hostility, not through force of violence, but through loving resistance to the forces that tear us down. Through these loving acts of rebellion against the evil forces of this world may we all find ourselves in love calling the LORD God Almighty: OUR one Father.  Continue your redemptive work in me even if it means light shining in shadowy places I am still unaware of.  Amen

 

80 Pages – Thankful for Words

[sorry, it has been a while since I last wrote, but I was busy doing some other writing. I thank God for all of you who have supported me through this amazing time.]

Jesus-Is-LordLast week I turned in my commissioning papers to become a Provisional Member of the Ordained Elders in the United Methodist Church. While I am not saying that 80 pages was easy, or that that I am chomping at the bit to write 80 more it was an interesting experience to reflect on God in this way. For example one of the questions was “How do you interpret the statement ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’?” I wrote two pages in response to this one question. I also had several moments, including a moment with this question, which felt like an answer could have been a book in and of itself. I began to appreciate more and more that this glorious, wonderful God revealed in Jesus Christ who we encounter through the ever-present Holy Spirit is beyond our words. There is not enough ink, paper, Terabytes of data, or time in all creation to adequately give space toward depicting in words the infinite God of all creation. There are not enough words to explore the WORD. So I am thankful that I had the opportunity to reflect on God for 82 pages, but I am also thankful for the gift of eternal life in which we get to spend the never-ending depth of love expressed in our savior Jesus Christ.

Word of God, thank you for expressing your love to us in Word made flesh. May our words give you praise and speak of your glory until your kingdom come.

Amen

Asterisk hymnalWe celebrate Holy Communion during our Community Worship Service weekly, which is on Wednesday nights at 6:30pm. In preparing for a sermon I sometimes intentionally connect the sermon to the communion liturgy. So that the message ends up pointing to the meal which in turn points us to God revealed in Jesus Christ. However, I don’t always intentionally work this out, but more than not as we enter into the sacrament the words of the liturgy have come alive and reaffirm and even magnify the things I had attempted to share in the sermon.

I love that the United Methodist Hymnal has put asterisks * all through the liturgy. The hymnal says the * is for “words appropriate to the day, season, or occasion may be added at these points” I was talking to my brother last night about communion and it struck me that we actually anticipate Holy Spirit to speak. Not only can we highlight our journey through the Christian year by drawing imagery from Easter, Pentecost, or Christmas into the liturgy, we are given the * because God himself is meeting us at the table and it was the Spirit of Truth that has led us in worship, guided the sermon, and spoken through the scriptures and can now interject in the liturgy of communion.  We put the * because we actually anticipate the Holy Spirit to speak.

Recently I experienced this. I did not intentionally work out a connection to communion, but I preached on love and keeping the commandments of Jesus and emphasized the command to love and that God loved us first. Then we entered into communion and before you know it we were reading “Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; that proves God’s love toward us.”  My soul wanted to shout with joy – “That is what I tried spending 15 minutes saying!”  Then the first asterisk came after “Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.*”  I couldn’t help but remember out loud that God the Father is Love. The sacrament came alive in the words and in the meal as we shared the love of God in the flesh and blood.

I praise you God that you speak. I pray that you help us to place an asterisk not only in our liturgy, but in our lives trusting that you are going to break in and speak. I thank you for the intimate rhythms of communion and communing with you!