Tag Archive: unity


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

 

Sunday night I had the chance to teach a little of our Methodism in America history along with a little bit about Millbrook UMC’s own history. It was an interesting experience for me to weave a story that covers hundreds of years in 50 minutes. Telling the story of history is interesting because you really have to work hard at being faithful to the story. You can’t say everything. You have to tell a story. So what things do you emphasize? What things do you leave out? Then come the questions about the motivation behind those choices. These questions I have dealt with has made me more keenly aware of the voices I listen to that are narrating the world around me.

IMG_1117Remembering the story this time I was struck how the Methodist church in America didn’t start as just another split in the long line of dissenting voices arguing about doctrine, money, or practice,  but out of a situation where the people participating in the Methodist movement had limited opportunity to participate in the sacraments like communion after America claimed independence from England. The other thing that grabbed my attention was how our faith family tree looks. While we didn’t start as a typical split we Methodists have had our splits, however there is something beautiful about seeing the lines come back together. Reconciliation between individuals is hard enough, but at an institutional level…. something tells me the Holy Spirit had to be involved in this. Even after one of the splits was over issues as intense as slavery there were efforts early on after the Civil War toward reconciliation.

There is still reconciling work to be done across racial lines today, and in this generation our Methodist movement faces a potential split over differences of understanding scripture in regards to sexuality. My hope is that we would remember the great moments of reconciliation that we have participated in before and our prayer at communion: “By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other and one in ministry to all the world.”

That’s the story I hope I am weaving.

Lord Jesus, you who taught us to pray ‘Our Father’, help us to understand the depth of significance of being apart of the ‘our’ together with those who differ from us so that together we find ourselves moved by your Holy Spirit in reconciling all things so that we reflect your kingdom and your will being done on earth, in us, as it is in heaven. Amen. 

Thick As Blood

Christ-THe-KingThe Christian Year is wrapping up. Today we celebrate Reign of Christ. So as the Christian Year wraps up I found myself looking at THE END.

When Jesus tells stories of the end we are given a glimpse of the kingdom come where there will be no one hungry, no one thirsty, no strangers, no one naked and ashamed, no one sick, no one left alone and imprisoned. I found myself reflecting in joy that there are no strangers, no outsiders, no outcasts in God’s good future. This is a kingdom of friends. Better yet this is a kingdom of blood brothers and sisters. There are no strangers because through the power of the Holy Spirit by the blood of Jesus Christ we are closer than even what happens naturally in our earthly family. Through the blood of Christ the King all the barriers that could separate us are being brought down. All of our wonderful bonds of family and friendship in a beautiful glorious fashion provide only a glimpse of the peace and unity we are invited into  through the blood of Christ the King.

There is good news. Christ has prepared a table of grace for you. This great and glorious king, Jesus Christ, the son of God, by the power of the holy Spirit, reigns over all creation, The one who will come again to judge the living and the dead, and come in final victory is the one who calls us His blood sisters and blood brothers . In His life, death and resurrection, God has offered grace so that we can enter into his glorious kingdom and enjoy eternal life, and we are invited to live like that great end has come and participate in God feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, and visiting those in prison. We are invited to live together as blood brothers and sisters and not treat each other, or anyone, as strangers.

As the new year begins I look forward to living into the reign of Christ with you and surrendering to the ways of His peace and unity with God and you.

God of new beginnings and God of eternity, King of all creation, you hold the end of the story. Help us live, today with you as our great king, remembering the glorious end of the story. Inspired by the end, may we participate today in your destruction of strangers as we welcome each others and live in your peace and unity. Thanks for calling us your brothers and sisters.

More Connections

This past Tuesday I sat across a table from a team of UM clergy and responded to their questions about my calling to be a pastor. As I continue further in this process I am coming to really appreciate how we United Methodists do things. There seems to be this deep understanding that pervades the way we do things: we try to do things in community. I, from the beginning, haven’t been allowed to do this thing by myself. When I first perceived God calling me to be a pastor the calling had to be affirmed by my local church:Trinity UMC in Ruston. Now, as I’m participating in this step of the journey I am reminded again that I am not doing this alone. That team of people who sat across from me have committed to join with me to further discern this calling of God to be a pastor. I am thankful that I can’t stand up proclaiming this call by myself. So in the future when those glorious days of ministry happen and all seems to goes amazingly well I can’t say it was me. When that day of ministry happens that goes so terribly rough that would question if God really called me into this I can stand confident that I didn’t discern God’s will on my own.

Maybe this is a glimpse of how we should do things as a the people of God. Discern God’s will together. Pray together. Support each other in doing God’s will together. Equip each other to do God’s will together. Be a people of God – not a collection of individuals.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who does everything in perfect unity of community, Thank you for inviting us and providing opportunities for us to live into doing things in community that reflects the unity you desire. 

Amen