Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Big Month, Straight Ahead!

Wow! October is full of things to be involved in at Morris UMC. To help you remember, here is a picture collage:

Coming this Saturday (Oct. 3), clean out your house and get a table at the Garage Sale! By the way, the trustees voted on Sunday the 25th to sell the old heavy folding tables, old orange children's chairs, and old free standing chalkboard that are currently cluttering up the storage room, so if you want them, come buy them at the garage sale!

Then, Sunday (Oct. 4), we'll dedicate our pledges for the stewardship of the church on World Communion Sunday.

Oct. 10, the UMM will have the annual fish fry fundraiser.

On Sat. Oct. 17, the Boy's Ranch will have their annual rodeo near Gore, OK.

On Sunday Oct. 25, we'll have a big day at church--we'll be led by the worship team at NSU Wesley Foundation. Andy Henson, the director there, will offer the message. Right after church, UMW will be hosting a wedding shower (with punch and cookies) for Yvonne Holland and Terry Guthrie. Then at 3pm we have our church conference (aka charge conference)! What a day!

Fri. Oct. 30, the Family Life Committee will host its annual Chili Supper before the last home football game. Sign up to bring your best pot of chili or a dessert, or just come and enjoy the food.

On Halloween, we'll put on our costumes and make our trunks or tailgates spooky for the annual "Trunk or Treat!" Hope to see you at all these great events! (That picture is a good idea if you need one :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sermon: The Prayer List

James 5 and Ephesians 3

Scripture study on Intercessory Prayer

Confounded by response to prayer list idea.

What are we doing when we pray? When we pray for the health and well-being of others, that is called an “intercessory prayer.” We are asking God to act on behalf of those we name and lift up to God.

There are many scriptures that affirm this method of prayer.

There are also many instances that I’ve heard of where God or children of God are abused because of the reality that not everything we pray for is granted.

We may lose people we love and are holding onto hope that they will recover. We may see our loved ones’ suffer terribly from illness or injury.

If you only go by some proof-text for the un-qualified power of prayer, like And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive.Matthew 21: 22, you will be faced with options that seem to me to be quite troublesome: that there actually is no God, that this God doesn’t actually care about you or your prayers anyway, or that you aren’t faithful enough.

I have heard and imagine you have too, stories that make me want to go back to scenarios and slap people in the face, such as when someone is suffering from grief at the loss of a loved one, someone uses that as a “teaching point” to try and convince them that their faith is lacking. “Well, if only you’d had more faith, if only you’d prayed harder, maybe this wonldn’t have happened.”
If someone said that to me with the intention of increasing my faith, I can assure you that they would have the opposite effect.

That kind of insensitive and blasphemous comment has the effect of destroying faith and faithful people, not enhancing faith or building people up.

I don’t see any merit in that kind of behavior. Jesus wasn’t “holier than thou,” Jesus made himself low for our sake.

There’s also all sorts of “Prayer of Jabez” and “The Secret” kinds of mumbo jumbo out there that takes such scriptures as that from Matthew and Mark 11 and other scriptures that seem to say, “You want it? You got it!” and uses them for the sake of assuring people that if you only do things “our way, (the right way),” then God will reward you with everything you ask for.

Preachers in this tradition typically buy all sorts of expensive cars and suits and helicopters with their parishioners money as a testament to the false truth they are proclaiming. “You can be like me if you only believe!”

This is the Gospel of Jiminy Cricket, not of Jesus Christ. No, “when you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires will come to you,” isn’t scripture, it is Pinnochio.

Jesus spoke and embodied the idea of suffering with, standing up for, the lost, broken, sick, outcast, and oppressed, not chastising them for being those things. Prayer isn’t wish-fulfillment. Prayer is “entering into the suffering of others.”

\First paragraph of Christian Century

Prayer may not bring us what we want. We may not see an improvement in the health of our loved ones when we pray for them. There is scientific evidence that prayer does have some effect on recovering people who know they are being prayed for, and even those who don’t know they are being prayed for, but how this all works is simply a mystery.

One thing that we can be assured of is that prayer works on the pray-er. Prayer opens our eyes to the good things that God is doing in all kinds of situations. Prayer strengthens our belief. “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief,” said the man being healed by Jesus in Mark 9:24.

Prayer, as Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus, helps us “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

This is the truest purpose of prayer. It gives us and those for whom we pray the assurance that no matter what besets us, we are loved and cherished by God to an unfathomable degree.

And so when we pray, may we pray to be reminded of this wholeness toward which God is pulling us. This wholeness that can become manifest regardless of our physical condition.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sept13 Sermon: The Bit

Sermon on Speaking the truth in Love

Texts: Matthew 15: 10-11, 16-20
James 3: 3-12

I drew quite liberally from this article in the sermon.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Aug 30 Sermon: I and Thou, Relationships in the Family

Texts: Hosea 11: 1-4, 1 Thess. 2: 5-12

I and Thou. Martin Buber

Society of Friends referred to everyone they met as Thou. One of the things that people in the culture made fun about…they also called them “Quakers” because of the way they would “quake” when they worshipped, caught up in a holy ecstatic experience.

Our relationship with others is rooted in our relationship with God.

Not everyone has the same experience of God, and we don’t usually have a constant relationship with God because we have different understandings of God. King, Creator, Source of Life.

Most of us probably think of God as a Friend and a helper, so while this isn’t a sufficient understanding of God by itself, let’s dig into that relationship, and how that friendship can influence our relationships with the people in our family.

I think our friendship with God inspires hope, humility, and hospitality.

These three qualities are also modeled by the figure of God in the parable of the Father with two sons, which is perhaps our most striking image of parenthood in the Bible.

The father shows hope in that he honors his son’s request for his inheritance. He gives the prodigal son his inheritance in the hope that it will be put to great use, but when it is not, the Father’s hope isn’t squelched. He hopes for his son’s return, and he hopes for his son’s future.

Relationships, in a way, are all about hope. Building a relationship with someone else is an expression of hope

Fr. 1st Thess. With each of you we were like a father with his child, holding your hand, whispering encouragement, showing you step-by-step how to live well before God, who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life.

Using beautiful images of wonderful parenting, the Apostle Paul
describes his first visit to Thessalonica. Like a mother “tenderly
caring for her own children,” Paul and his colleagues, Silas and
Timothy, gently shared “our own selves” with those who “have
become very dear to us.” With “pure, upright, and blameless
conduct” they approached the Thessalonians as a father loves his
children individually, “urging and encouraging you and pleading
that you lead a life worthy of God” (2:7-8, 11-12).

A similar image of good parenting emerges in the instructions
that go with the “greatest commandment” to love God: parents
should not only love God in their heart, but also teach and
practice that love daily before their children (Deuteronomy 6:6-

What Jesus pinpoints as the greatest commandment is followed by the injunction to what? Teach them to the children.

Perhaps this is why in Mark 10, when the disciples are complaining because so many people are bringing their children to Jesus to bless, Jesus reprimands not the children, or the parents, but the disciples for having such a negative attitude. He says, “‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

parents do may very well be the best teaching tool of the gospel,”
“If we want our children to possess virtue, then we must be serious students of our own souls…. If we pray that our children mature to dream dreams worthy of the Kingdom, then we must allow a Kingdom vision to guide our lives.”

A consistent practice of godly virtues does not leave parents
unchanged. “To parent with Christian intentionality opens us to
vulnerability, change, and being forever marked by the habits
we practice,” Johns reminds us. “By parenting with Christian
integrity we can be shaped into new creations and advanced in
holiness by our children.”
the Second Vatican
Council offered a high
view of the contribution
of children to the spiritual maturity of their parents: “as living members of
the family, children contribute in their own way to making their parents
holy.”3 Instead of assuming women and men must attain a high level of parental
competence or a depth of holiness before welcoming children into
their home, the assumption here is that growth in holiness is, in part, one
of the gifts children give to their parents. Parenting can be a context for
Christian spiritual growth and it presents innumerable opportunities for
women and men to increase in virtue by practicing everything from love to
patience, sacrifice, and courage.

He describes three parenting virtues:

􀀗Hope—grounded in God’s grace and love, rather than in us or
even our children—is foremost among parenting virtues. If
we “hope in the Lord” (Psalm 39:7; cf. 65:5), “our perspective
on our own life and our children’s lives elongates,” Johns
writes. “This present moment does not contain all meaning;
and … we realize it is premature to give up on any child,
because their final chapter has not yet been written and God
continues to build ‘a way in the wilderness’ (Isaiah 43:19).”

􀀗Humility challenges the persistent temptation in our materialist
culture to regard children as “consumer items to acquire”
to display our success, provide ‘meaning’ to our lives, or even
help reunite a couple drifting apart. To be “clothed in humility”
(Colossians 3:12 and 1 Peter 5:5) is to understand “that
meaning, significance, and worth are not attainments awarded
to the most industrious, but that these—like children themselves—
are gifts to us from God.”

􀀗Hospitality, or a willingness to welcome the stranger (Romans
12:13 and Hebrews 13:2), may seem like an odd virtue in
regard to our children. Yet parents welcome one who is not
them, but an other, into their lives. Our children are persons
who are always different from our images of who they are
and should become. Moreover, “notions of blood, kin, and
seed are no longer adequate to account for the many ways
that we are in parental or parental-like relationships with
children. Cultivating hospitality will help us learn to embrace
those who do not share our DNA: adopted children, stepchildren,
nieces, nephews, and cousins.”