Posts Tagged forgiveness

John 15:9-17 “Friends First” RSUMC 20150510 Youth Sun Mothers Day

JesusAsFriendAs the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. [NRSV]

You are my friends. Jesus has given his life for his friends, “that’s what friends do.”

Social Media: Examine the name, the communication and promotion of our social lives. It is a commercial website. It’s purpose is to make money and to be the popularity of discussion. It would be much more helpful and accurate if the ‘friends’ on Facebook were known as “connections” or “links.” Friendship is so much more than selecting a button to indicate we are, or are not, friends. And, yet, people allow this to determine their social success and identity based on the people who have clicked a virtual button that says, “we are now FRIENDS.”

Jesus is defining friendship ask someone who shows unconditional love. Jesus loved us as friend long before we click the words, “I accept you.” “I believe in your.” Or “I want to be your friend.” Jesus’s love for us has been shown to us before we were born, through his taking our place on the cross for our brokenness and sin.

He didn’t say, “Love me first and then I will love you back.” “‘Like’ my photo and I will be your friend.” That is conditional world of social media. It is contractual and requires no love, minimal trust and relatively no commitment. Now don’t get be wrong I enjoy a fully video, a beautiful photo, or sharing an meaningful moment through social media, but it is not the measure of our friendship.

It’s a fun tool to be connected with friends, but the basis of the relationship is best not be based on the terms of FB, for as your know they change ever six months, if not sooner.

The commandment is for us to LOVE like we are loved. Friend as Jesus has friend-ed us First.

As Jesus’ friends we are Chosen and Appointed

  • To Bear Fruit in my name
  • “I want to see some love’n.”
  • Mother’s Day: For the 90 person of mothers who love unconditionally

Love God, by..

  • Loving your family
  • Love your enemy
  • Love your neighbors
  • Love the stranger/foreigner
  • Start by being friends: Start the relationship first…

It Ain’t Easy to Love

  • Christ’s friends make the first move. Show grace and forgiveness first.
  • Loving is not always easy, simply or pretty.
  • Go First, Lead by example
  • Open the door
  • Start the conversation

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Luke 24.36-48 “What’s For Lunch?” RSUMC 20150419

broiled_fishWhile they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself ! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish,  and he took it and ate it in their presence.  He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses,the Prophets and the Psalms.”  Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. [NRSV]
Jesus is not just an idea, a theory, a collection of stories, Jesus was a real, person, human, like us: a spiritual being in a physical body.
  • Ideas don’t get hungry
  • theories don’t need to eat
  • collections of stories and moral teaches don’t need physical nourishment.
The resurrection Jesus is a physical person freed up, by the resurrection to affirm we are more than our bodies.
  • We are more than our physical needs
  • We are more than our material posessions
  • We are more than the health of these bodies
  • We are more than the suffering of this present age
  • We are Spiritual people, child of God, joint heirs, brother/sisters with Jesus, God’s people, God’s family.
Jesus continues to show the faithful the signs of the struggle and proof of the resurrection.
  • Jesus keeps showing up, directing us to OUR purpose.
  • We need the signs just like everyone else.
  • We need reminding and encouragement
  • We need Jesus to show us the same old story because our doubts and fears are real.
We need proof of the resurrection because we:
  • forget
  • let go
  • look away
  • taste other fruit
  • wrestle
  • break the commandments
  • are unfaithful individually AND collectively
  • THESE are the FAITH STRUGGLES in the OT, NT, and today.
The old testament is not to be forgotten, rather stands to say that Jesus is not an after-thought. But God has been at work since the beginning.. for our purpose, our foundation… our base..
Yes, it’s all about the base: the basis for God’s work of creation to this very day and beyond is LOVING RELATIONSHIP.

The base and foundation of our relationship is expressed in the Gracious give and take of

REPENTANCE: God loves us so much we know we can ask and God will forgive.

FORGIVENESS: God loves us so much, when we ask, God sees our change of heart and forgives.

We mess us… See list above… and offers of Forgiveness when we repent, turn around.

of repentance and forgiveness. The corrective and creative renew of relationship.
RESURRECTION PEOPLE can turn around, 180 degree.
In the power of Jesus Christ our lives can turn around,
God gives us the power to change, the freedom to choose, no matter what world, family, politics, etc. We can choose to follow God,
So do a 180, eat lunch and get to work sharing the signs the Christ is living in you.

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Genesis 50:15-21 “Grudge Match” RSUMC 20140921

GrudgeHand 15 Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?” 16 So they approached Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this instruction before he died, 17 “Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.’ Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, “We are here as your slaves.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20 Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. 21 So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them. [NRS]

The Leverage of the Grudge:
This passages is the point of reversal in the Joseph story. Joe, in an act of restitution, at best and getting even, at worst asks his brothers to bring his father to see him.

There is a fine line between teaching a lesson and passive aggressive attempt of getting even. On one hand the hiding of treasures in the food supply bags and asking for the journey of his youngest brother and then father, together are delicate examples of learning from punitive responsibilities. Joseph was captive, rejected, sold into slavery. The brothers are afraid but never in actual danger.

Fear and Avoidance
The power of fear is a great force. Think of those things, people, relationships, and feelings we fear: Name three: (Not: Fear of sharing, fear of talking in church, fear of being to close to someone else)

  • We are afraid of embarrassment, failure, weakness that we avoid the truth, avoid conversations, avoid confrontation.
  • We are afraid of what might happen, and make little allowance for what has actually happen. There is a healthy level of fear that keeps us respecting fire, electricity and causing harm to others.
  • But when fear keeps us from relationship, then we give in to the power of fear and allow it greater strength than God, grace and mercy (forgiveness)

Shared Love, Shared Grief
When the brothers confront Joseph and confess their father’s death, the are joined in their grief. Fear melts in their common loss and common love.

Some funerals remind us of our own frailty, But our grief is shared because we share love for the person who died or we love those who are dealing with the loss.

Do Not Be Afraid
The common words of assurance are “Be Not Afraid.” It is the same encouragement that angels announce to Mary and to shepherd and to Disciples after the resurrection.

When we find the core love that binds our relationship, we have the foundation for what it means to be a Christian.

This is the homework: Last week it was easy to eat, this week we step things back up. Be attentive and alert for someone who is afraid: Starting with the love that unites us in Christ then speak the truth in that love. Because being in that relationship is better than being right.

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Matthew 3:13-17 “I Need to be Baptized..” JUMC 20140112

baptism3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.  And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” [NRSV]

Baptism Text: The text from Matthew focuses on the relationship between Jesus and John and the fulfillment of scripture. It also describes the humanity of Jesus and affirms that baptism is not simply a cleansing ritual, but rather a presence and claim experience between us and God.

We celebrate and practice communion on a monthly basis. Each month we have the visual and tangible experience of finding Christ’s presence and it is a refresher or booster of our baptism.

Our communion table is Christ’s table and it open to all persons, for we are all in need of that grace and power of God’s claim on our lives.

Baptism is not a hoop to be checked-off as a membership requirement, although baptism is a sign that we are indeed members of the faith and joint heirs with Christ.

In Jesus’ baptism, it was not proof of his divinity, it is affirmation that we all need to be claimed by God.

Have you been baptized?

Do you remember?

I do not as I was only three months old and wore a linen dress on a hot south Georgia Sunday. Some strange man took me from my mother’s arms and poured cold water on my head and dress. Messed up my hair and caused me to scream and cry my eyes out. Finally I was returned to my father’s arms and was soon blinded by flash bulb from my grand parents who were then scolded for taking pictures in the sanctuary.

When I was thirteen I wore my sued chuck-a-boots, lime green leisure suit and parrot-paisley knit shirt to gather at the alter with my confirmation class lead by Sergeant Elizabeth Smith. I don’t know if she was ever in Uncle Sam’s army but she was certainly in the Lord’s Army and she prepared us to answer the perfect answers to the questions of examination of the faith. I don’t know if anyone at that altar that morning had a Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus experience, but we were well dressed, well prepared and knew exactly where to stand.

It was more likely that I felt the presence of God’s Spirit in a recognizable way, for the first time, while a camper at Camp Glisson a year after my confirmation.

Divine Divide of Grace and Time

In the Matthew Text the timing between the human-to-human conversation and ritual of coming to John at the river is not about a confession of sinfulness for Jesus.

  • 1. John’s invitation to believers and followers was to turn toward God, repentance. It is a spiritual alignment.
  • Placing ourselves aimed toward God, from where ever we are and face where we are going and becoming in God’s grace.
  • 2. There is the response of Jesus accepting the ritual and practice of belonging to those who need God’s claim of their lives.
  • There is a transformation from John’s invitation to get cleaned-up to Jesus’s choosing to commit his life to the ministry of God’s choosing. So the water becomes not only cleansing; it also is a preparing for part two of our lives.
  • 3. Is God’s claim of our willingness to place our lives and trust in God’s hands and heart.
  • This is my child. When we are baptized, we also become child of God.

This is My Child

The most powerful part of the text is the claiming part of baptism. God declares, this is MY child. This person that John baptize is claim by God, not by John. Baptism is not so much a church ritual as it is a divine parental defining of our identity and relationship with God. We are the kids, God is the parent. We are the family together.

Questions and More Questions:

So are we not Children of God before we are baptized?

The simple answer is no, but that is not a completely helpful answer.

Yes we are children of God’s creation, filled with grace and hope of becoming one who chooses God’s heart to guide our lives. But God does not force the inheritance upon us. But it is ours for the taking.

The Door is Open

Think of Baptism as a doorway. You can walk in and see the life God has prepared for us. And once you have seen it you know what life God has for you. It is reflected in the life and teaching of Jesus.

We might think we can walk through that door, but the only way to undo awareness of coming of age is to choose rejection or apathy. But the Door of Baptism never closes.

There are those who would teach that you better utter the magic words, “I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior” before we draw out last breath because then it is too late. But they does not actually follow with a Gracious Parent who crosses the chasm of death to make a way for us.

A View from the Lap of God.

If you are seated in God’s lap, embraced in arms of love and mercy, kneely at the feet of the one who breathed breath from your first and last, if you look into God’s eyes and say: “I want no part of you, let me go.” I believe God lets us go.

If you are face to face with God in judgement and God asks, “Do you love me” and we reply “I hate you.” God does not force us to love.

If we are faced with the full picture of our life filled with failures, fears, sins and struggle and we say “Lord have Mercy” Why would God of Grace revert to the ways of the Law? God will have mercy

SO WHY NOT WAIT UNTIL THEN?

It is the power, life, claim, assurance, comfort, peace, grace, love that we live without if we wait.

God wants for each of us to be part of the family, why would someone want to just be a guest when they could be kin?

Salvation is a process. (Baptism is the start)

We are claimed and saved so that we can grow in relationship with God and God’s people.

This is why we are a church.

To claim the outsider, the orphan, the widow, the forgotten, the rejected, the proud, the hard-hearted, that together we grow together toward God.

When there are those outside the family, how can we celebrate in the house?

(The unwritten part of the Prodigal Sons story: The father can’t be in the party when there are those on the outside looking in with anger, jealousy, fear, division, confusion, hate, etc.)

Baptism is our entrance into the party of salvation.

Come on in, the Party is on!

 

 

 

Notes from UMC.org and GBOD.org

In all forms of Christian baptism, God claims those being baptized, whatever their age or ability to profess their faith, with divine grace. Clearly an infant can do nothing to save himself or herself, but is totally dependent on God’s grace, as we all are — whatever our age.

Most traditions that practice or recognize as valid the baptism only of believers — those who have professed faith in Jesus Christ for themselves in some public way — practice baptism not as a means of grace by which God saves and claims us, but rather as a further act of public profession and/or an act of obedience to the command of Christ that his followers be baptized. That is why these “believer’s baptism only” traditions generally refer to baptism as an ordinance — an act ordained or commanded by Christ — rather than a sacrament. The term sacrament means “an oath” and refers to God’s covenant with us (first of all) and ours in response to God’s gracious provision of salvation in Jesus Christ.

United Methodists recognize the baptism of “believers only” traditions, provided those traditions baptize people in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as generally understood in historic Christianity. We offer baptism to people of all ages who have not previously received Christian baptism in any form. We do not rebaptize those who have already received Christian baptism in any form. Even when the people being baptized are believing adults and are ready to profess their faith, our first emphasis is upon the gracious action of God who establishes the covenant of baptism with us rather than upon the individual’s decision.

Who tells you who you are?
We receive our identity from others, from the expectations of friends and colleagues, from the labels society puts upon us, and from the influence of family.

To become Christian is to receive a new identity. You no longer allow others to tell you who you are. Christ now claims you and instructs you. A Christian is one who has “put on Christ.”

Baptism celebrates becoming that new person. That is why the church’s ritual begins with putting off the old, renouncing sin and the evil powers of the world, and pledging our loyalty to Christ.

God Initiates the Covenant
We also believe that in baptism God initiates a covenant with us, announced with the words, “The Holy Spirit works within you, that being born through water and the Spirit, you may be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.” This is followed by the sign-act of laying hands on the head, or the signing of the cross on the forehead with oil. The word covenant is a biblical word describing God’s initiative in choosing Israel to be a people with a special mission in the world, and Israel’s response in a life of faithfulness. The baptismal covenant calls us to a similar vocation.

God Has Chosen Us
Christians have also understood the baptismal covenant in light of Jesus’ baptism. At Jesus’ baptism, God said: “This is my son.” While Jesus’ relation to God as Son is unique, for Christians baptism means that God has also chosen us as daughters and sons, and knows us intimately as a parent.

So the most important things about us, our true identity, is that we are now sons and daughters of God. That is why the introduction to the United Methodist Baptismal Covenant states, “We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit.”

The introduction also says, “Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are initiated into Christ’s holy church.”

Baptism Is the Door
From the beginning, baptism has been the door through which one enters the church. It was inconceivable to many that one could respond to God’s grace by reciting the renunciations, affirming one’s faith in Christ and loyalty to the Kingdom, without joining the fellowship of those who are committed to mature in that faith. As the “Body of Christ” in the world, baptism commissions us to use our gifts to strengthen the church and to transform the world.

Why Baptize Babies?
From the earliest times, children and infants were baptized and included in the church. As scriptural authority for this ancient tradition, some scholars cite Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me…for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14). However, a more consistent argument is that baptism, as a means of grace, signifies God’s initiative in the process of salvation. John Wesley preached “prevenient grace,” the grace that works in our lives before we are aware of it, bringing us to faith. The baptism of children and their inclusion in the church before they can respond with their own confirmation of faith is a vivid and compelling witness to prevenient grace.

Baptism Is Forever
Because baptism is a sacrament of God’s grace and a covenant that God has initiated, it should not be repeated. However, God’s continuing and patient forgiveness, God’s prevenient grace, will prompt us to renew the commitment first made at our baptism. At such a time, instead of rebaptism, The United Methodist Church offers the ritual for the reaffirmation of baptismal vows, which implies that, while God remains faithful to God’s half of the covenant, we are not always faithful to our promises. Our half of the covenant is to confess Christ as our Savior, trust in his grace, serve him as Lord in the church, and carry out his mission against evil, injustice, and oppression.

Baptism Is the Beginning, Not the End
You have heard people say, “I was baptized Methodist,” or “I was baptized Presbyterian,” which could mean that in baptism they got their identity papers and that was the end of it. But baptism is not the end. It is the beginning of a lifelong journey of faith. It makes no difference whether you were baptized as an adult or as a child; we all start on that journey at baptism. For the child, the journey begins in the nurturing community of the church, where he or she learns what it means that God loves you. At the appropriate time, the child will make his or her first confession of faith in the ritual the church traditionally calls confirmation. Most often, this is at adolescence or at the time when the person begins to take responsibility for his or her own decisions.

If you experienced God’s grace and were baptized as an adult or received baptism as a child and desire to reaffirm your baptismal vows, baptism still marks the beginning of a journey in the nurturing fellowship of the caring, learning, worshipping, serving congregation.

What Is a Sacrament?
The word sacrament is the Latin translation of the Greek word mysterion. From the early days of the church, baptism was associated with the mystery that surrounds God’s action in our lives. That means that at best our words can only circumscribe what happens, but not define it. We cannot rationally explain why God would love us “while we were yet sinners” and give his only begotten Son that we should not perish but have eternal life. That is the most sacred and unfathomable mystery of all. We can experience God’s grace at any time and in any place, but in the sacrament of baptism we routinely experience that amazing grace.

From A United Methodist Understanding of Baptism by Mark C. Trotter.

Q. Does The United Methodist Church now have an accepted understanding of baptismal theology and practice?

A: Yes. Our church’s position is expressed in the services of the Baptismal Covenant (especially Baptismal Covenant I) in The United Methodist Hymnal, 1989, and The United Methodist Book of Worship, 1992, and in By Water and the Spirit. All of these have been approved by the General Conference — the only body that can speak for the whole denomination.

Q: What does United Methodism fundamentally believe about baptism?

A: Baptism is a sacrament. In a sacrament, God uses common elements — in this case, water — as means or vehicles of divine grace. Baptism is administered by the church as the Body of Christ. It is the act of God through the grace of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Q: What is the difference between infant baptism and believer’s baptism?

A: In all forms of Christian baptism, God claims those being baptized, whatever their age or ability to profess their faith, with divine grace.Clearly an infant can do nothing to save himself or herself, but is totally dependent on God’s grace, as we all are — whatever our age.

Most traditions that practice or recognize as valid the baptism only of believers — those who have professed faith in Jesus Christ for themselves in some public way — practice baptism not as a means of grace by which God saves and claims us, but rather as a further act of public profession and/or an act of obedience to the command of Christ that his followers be baptized. That is why these “believer’s baptism only” traditions generally refer to baptism as an ordinance — an act ordained or commanded by Christ — rather than a sacrament. The term sacrament means “an oath” and refers to God’s covenant with us (first of all) and ours in response to God’s gracious provision of salvation in Jesus Christ.

United Methodists recognize the baptism of “believers only” traditions, provided those traditions baptize people in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as generally understood in historic Christianity. We offer baptism to people of all ages who have not previously received Christian baptism in any form. We do not rebaptize those who have already received Christian baptism in any form. Even when the people being baptized are believing adults and are ready to profess their faith, our first emphasis is upon the gracious action of God who establishes the covenant of baptism with us rather than upon the individual’s decision.

Q: May we have our baby dedicated instead of baptized?

A: No. The theological understandings of the two services are very different. Dedication is a human act — something we pledge or give to God. Baptism is a divine act, a pledge and gift God gives to us. Baptism of infants includes the reaffirmation of the vows of the baptismal covenant by parents, sponsors, and the congregation; but chiefly it celebrates what God is doing and will do in the life of the infant.

Q: Isn’t it better to wait until they are older and let our children decide for themselves whether or not they want to be baptized?

A: No. We no more wait for our children to decide about being in the family of God than we wait for them to decide if they would like to be a part of our human family. As parents, we make many decisions — in matters of health, safety, education, for example — for our children. Of course, they may later reject what we have done for them. But this possibility does not relieve us of the responsibility to do all that we can for them spiritually, as we do in other aspects of their lives.

Q: How about christening?

A: Christening is not a separate ritual, but rather historically part of the ritual of baptism. The use of the term christening for the sacrament probably comes from two sources: chrism is the word for the anointing oil traditionally used in baptism as a sign of the sealing by the Holy Spirit; second, in the past, children were sometimes actually given their (Christian) names in baptism. In our current ritual, parents are not asked for the name of the child, but the pastor does baptize with that name and without using the family or surname. This meaning of christening is expressed, for example, in a ceremony for the naming of a ship. Unfortunately, the term christening has been used sometimes in our history as a way of diminishing the significance of infant baptism or of indicating that it is something different from and less than the baptism of an adult. This view is completely inconsistent with the Wesleyan understanding as expressed in By Water and the Spirit, the Services of the Baptismal Covenant in our hymnal and book of worship, and The Book of Discipline.

Q: Is sprinkling the only way that United Methodists baptize?

A: No, our church has always offered to people being baptized and to the parents of infants the choice of sprinkling, pouring, or immersion.

Q: May I be baptized again if I feel the need?

A: No, baptism is an act of God, and God does it right the first time.Our side of the covenant relationship with God will need recommitment and reaffirmation, but God always remains faithful to the divine side.

Q: How can I “remember [my] baptism and be thankful” when I was baptized as a baby?

A: What we are called to remember in reaffirmation is the gift of God’s grace, not a particular event. Through appropriate remembrances and celebrations, our children can be enabled to “remember” their baptism as much as they “remember” their physical birthday.

Q: May a person who has not been baptized participate in Holy Communion?

A: Yes, our church does not seek to close God’s Table, although the historic and normal Christian order of the sacraments is baptism first — as birth into the family — and Communion following, as continuing nurture at the family table. Pastors and congregations reach out and encourage those who partake at the Table to share fully in the life of God’s people, including coming to the font after appropriate preparation.

Q: Should every baby be baptized?

A: No, the baptism of a baby assumes that the child will be nurtured and formed in the faith at home and at church.

Q: How do we express our own decisions to be Christian disciples if we have already been baptized as infants?

A: In services of profession of faith and confirmation before the congregation, we respond to God’s grace by repenting of our sins, declaring our faith in Jesus Christ, and becoming professing members of the church.

Q: Does baptism mean that I am saved?

A: No, salvation is a lifelong process during which we must continue to respond to God’s grace. Baptism offers the promise that the Holy Spirit will always be working in our lives, but salvation requires our acceptance of that grace, trust in Christ, and ongoing growth in holiness as long as we live.

Q: Do I have to be baptized in order to be saved?

A: No, but baptism is a gift of God’s grace to be received as part of the journey of salvation. To refuse to accept baptism is to reject one of the means of grace that God offers us.

Q: How can I recommit myself to Christ when I have had a powerful spiritual experience?

A: Confirmation and profession of faith are only the first of our affirmations of faith. As we experience God’s work in our ongoing lives of discipleship, we can express our commitment through participation in services of baptismal reaffirmation (Baptismal Covenant IV).

Q: Does baptism make me a member of the church?

A: Yes, baptism is the act of initiation and incorporation into the universal church of Jesus Christ, The United Methodist Church, and the local congregation, as our ritual makes very clear.

Q: Is there more than one category of church membership, according to By Water and the Spirit?

A: Yes, all people who are baptized become baptized members. Those who are baptized at an age at which they are capable of professing their faith must do so and become professing members as well (they cannot choose to be baptized members only). Those baptized as infants or young children do not become professing members until they are able to profess their own faith.

Q: Does this mean that little children can vote and hold office in the church?

A: No, the governance of the church and other such matters will be the privilege and responsibility of professing members. A similar distinction operates in secular government: Children become American citizens when they are born, but they cannot vote or hold office until later in life.

Q: Will our church start counting baptized members and regain the membership numbers we have lost in the last several decades?

A: No. While other records will certainly be kept, only professing numbers are to be counted in statistics of church membership.

Q: How will our system of rolls and record keeping be changed?

A new system of record keeping designed by the General Council on Finance and Administration went into effect in January 2005. These new records and forms are in accord with actions of the General Conference regarding our theological understanding of baptism and membership. The most salient changes are the development of a “Record of Faith Journey” for each member and of a “Permanent Church Register. ”

Q: What is the difference between “full member” and “professing member”?

A: The difference is the distinction between an institutional orientation and a communal orientation. To be a “full member” is something anyone can be in any secular (or volunteer) organization. Being a “full member” usually means simply that “I have joined the institution; I have paid my dues.” To be a “professing member” is to make a statement of commitment and participation in a community of disciples. Being a “professing member” expresses continuing action both within the faith community and in the world. It is a statement about an individual’s ongoing relationship and commitment to God and the church through Jesus Christ.

Q: Is a “baptized member” and a ” preparatory member” the same thing?

A: No. “preparatory members” are people the church views as candidates for membership. That category includes “baptized children and youth of the church eighteen years of age and under who are not full members, and other persons who have been enrolled in confirmation preparation.” (2000 Book of Discipline ¶ 229.2 ) “Baptized members” communicates our sacramental understanding that in baptism people ” are initiated into Christ’s holy church.” (“Services of the Baptismal Covenant,” Service I and II)

Q: Why does The United Methodist Church so understand baptism, membership, and salvation?

A: United Methodism stands in the historic heritage of the Christian faith through the ages and, specifically, in the legacy of John Wesley.Wesley was an Anglican priest. As a result, United Methodism has inherited a “high” understanding of the church, the sacraments, and other aspects of worship. Wesley was also an evangelical revivalist. As a result, United Methodism emphasizes the necessity of conversion, personal relationship with Christ, and witnessing to others. Neither of these aspects alone represents who we are. As United Methodists, we hold the two together in our baptismal theology and practice and in our broader understanding of how God works in our lives for salvation.

Worship Resources with The General Board of Discipleship.

 

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Hebrews 10:4-10 “God’s Not Pleased with our Bull” JUMC 20120401:0900

1 The old plan was only a hint of the good things in the new plan. Since that old “law plan” wasn’t complete in itself, it couldn’t complete those who followed it. No matter how many sacrifices were offered year after year, they never added up to a complete solution. 2 If they had, the worshipers would have gone merrily on their way, no longer dragged down by their sins. 3 But instead of removing awareness of sin, when those animal sacrifices were repeated over and over they actually heightened awareness and guilt. 4 The plain fact is that bull and goat blood can’t get rid of sin. 5 That is what is meant by this prophecy, put in the mouth of Christ: You don’t want sacrifices and offerings year after year; you’ve prepared a body for me for a sacrifice. 6 It’s not fragrance and smoke from the altar that whet your appetite. 7 So I said, “I’m here to do it your way, O God, the way it’s described in your Book.” 8 When he said, “You don’t want sacrifices and offerings,” he was referring to practices according to the old plan. 9 When he added, “I’m here to do it your way,” he set aside the first in order to enact the new plan – 10 God’s way – by which we are made fit for God by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus. [The Message]

1 Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who approach. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased being offered, since the worshipers, cleansed once for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sin? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God’ (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).” 8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10 And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. [NRSV]

In the Old Testament, the practice of offering God animals has shown conflicting reviews rather than answers and faithfulness.
On one hand, from earliest of stories, [Gen. 4], it is Cain and Able bring offerings to God. Cain is the farmer brings grains that he has plucked, baked or even brewed and God declares that his gift is pleasing and appropriate. Able is the herdsman brings an animal that he has butchered and brazed or barbecued and God declares that Able’s gift is dis-pleasing and inappropriate.

Able’s response to doing what God does not approve or displeased God leaves Able hurt, disappointed, feeling rejected and after internalizing all this, he becomes angry and seek revenge on Cain.. who is later killed by Able. There is a great mis-placed and mis-directed response of Able to go after Cain. Feeling rejected for doing what displease God, Able feels Cain has showed him up. Cain didn’t bring grain to make Able look bad. Able didn’t necessarily know God would be please or dis-pleased.

God makes it clear. I don’t want your animal, Able I. A nice wool sweater would be just fine or some goat cheese. Rather than Able asking God, for instructions or help or forgiveness. Able seeks revenge and resolution by his own judgment. This is his sin. (Not so much bringing the wrong gift.)

What does God want from us this Palm Sunday? Do we need to be waving palm branches high in the air? Is that what God wants from us? Maybe, but probably not if we leave the leaves by the way-side and resume speaking ill of each other. God is probably not pleased if we are interested in getting even with those who hurt us. God is not so happy when we kill someone’s spirit and joy. God is not happy when we don’t learn from our mistakes.

The Old Testament gets confusing, because several generations later sacrificing animals becomes the focal point of seasonal celebrations for God’s people. Did God suddenly change the rules and expectations? The grain, oil, perfume offerings along with the fellowship of sharing meals seems to be approved by God. The next thing you know there is an entire priestly family clan and tradition with rules that are kosher or not. There are offerings of animals for the community, the family and the individual.

Later the people are exiled in foreign lands and cannot come to the temple to worship and the animal sacrifice seems to be the exception and not the rule.
Jesus comes along and becomes the final passover lamb sacrifice that God finds pleasing.. this is my son, listen to him.

In the letter to the Hebrews, God is saying, I’ve come not only to complete my part of the work, I’m going to do it from your perspective. Jesus becomes for us the sacrifice that we need. Jesus becomes our bridge to the no-where we have created out of our sin and detachment from God.

If you look back to the Gen 4 passage, God neither asked for an offering, nor gives any instruction. Only after seeing how we respond, does he correct Able. God doesn’t want us to fix what we cannot repair.
God does not want us to play God’s part in the drama of our own lives.
God doesn’t need our blood, God has given us that life in the first place.

What does God expect, want, need, ask of us? “See I have come to do your will.”
God wants us to trust God’s system
God wants us to follow God’s lead
God wants us to ask for help and direction
God wants us to come to God first and not after we’ve tried all our other options..

But hear the Good News! God has a preference for our life. God has patience for us to find God, if we will patiently continue to seek God.
So often, we try something once or twice, if we fail we give up on it.
Try asking for help again.
Try reading the scripture with a fresh set of questions.
Try coming to the table and finding an invitation, even though we have not done what was asked.

God will teach, correct and straighten out our brokenness.. that may not be pretty no easy.
But don’t give up, Don’t judge or get even with those who have found faithfulness
God doesn’t want our bull, God wants us. Not a stand-in or replacement. God stand in the way of sin, to find us where we are.
Don’t hurt our sister or brother, just because we are able.

Easter is about raising cain… and raising all of us.
So celebrate! Now and through the Maundy and the darkness of Friday… Sunday is coming. Don’t’ give up now.

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Matthew 2.1-12. Epiphany: Home by another way. JUMC 20120109

1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage. 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: 6 And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel. 7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage. 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. -NRSV Image

The season following Christmas is Epiphany. It both commemorates thetime when the wise men arrive bringing presents, at the home, where Jesus, Mary and Joseph are living and secondly, for us is a time to witness what it means to live know the gift of have Jesus in our home and hearts.

  • If you go to the Grand Canyon, you have a new reference of what it means to dig a big hole in the back yard or how to compare a pot hole in the road.
  •  If you have a ticket for a moving violation, an NSF at the bank or failing grade at school you cross a line in the sand that has quick consequences; how you respond in the future when driving, spending or studying.

Citizenship: Vital to our identity is our right to vote: I’m not ever going to tell you HOW to vote from the pulpit, but I will always tell you, if you don’t vote, you are throwing your citizenship away. It is evident with each election that only a small percentage of ‘registered’ voters turn out, and that does not include those who have not registered in the first place.

 We have a heavenly citizenship. An old Gospel favorite hymn of mine is, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passn through and I cant be at home in this world anymore. But the truth is, as alone as you and I have breath and opportunity we have both a right and an obligation to tell others, show others, feed, clothe, and inspire others with what gives us life eternal.

Hear Reports of Sharing New Testaments: I gave mine to a young man named Phillip. He seemed genuine in the moment to receive the gift. I don’t think he threw it away. I know he read the inside cover with my name and the church name. I know he heard that God loves him and we read the verses John 3.16-17. He said, “Yeah, I’ve heard that.” I asked him, “Do you think that is true for you?” He said, “I do today.” 

Epiphany is sharing the gift, of being gifted.

  • Think what gift you could give if you would forgive someone’s past.
  • What if you would forgive a debt?
  • What if you would seek out someone, a stranger, start of friendship
  • What if you asked God to open your gifts and show Himself through you. Go Home knowing Christ loves you and lives through you!

 

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Someone Scatters the Seeds Mark 4.26-34

26 He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” 30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” 33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

How many kernels of corn come from one ear? 600
How many ears grow on one stalk? conservative (1)
How many stalks can you plant in one acre? (13000)
conservatively 5000  commercially 35000  (Avg 22K)
How many kernels can you produce on one acre?

a)An acre of land is 43,560 sq. ft. √43,460 = 208.71 ft per side.
b)If the rows are 2.5 ft. apart,  # rows  208.71 ÷ 2.5 = 83.48
c)corn plants will be in each row if there are 22,000 plants in a square acre?  22,000 ÷ 83.48 = 263.54    22,000 x 600 + 13,200,000 kernels

Here is the ease math problem for the summer student:
2.3 acres, 200 members, 365 days, 24 hours
and NO one plants the first kernel,
WHAT IS THE ESTIMATED YEILD in Number of Ears?

What is the possibility of forgiving one person in Jesus?
What is the possibility of love one who is unloved?
What is the possibility of serving one who is not our own?
What is the possibility of witnessing faith to 1 searching?
What is the possibility if we DO NOT?

The earth produces of itself… the farmer can improve the lot, with water, fertilizer, herbicides, crop rotation, etc. But the Good Lord, has the earth does the work

Do you have to tell or teach a seed how to grow?
Do you have to understand how it works to plant it?
Do you have to have experience for the ground to host?
Do you need to think someone else will do the planting?
CAN YOU WORK FOR SOMEONE OTHER THAN SELF

3) purpose is to bear fruit, if the fruit is all for the farmer to eat and be fed and filled, then neither the farmer nor the butch, baker, or candle stick maker will have things to eat next season.
a)CERTAINTY of harvest in the call to plant
Q:    b) If all we are called to do is scatter the Good News
with out responsibility on where it lands or roots…
c) why not try and see what God will do.

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