Monday Meditation – September 3rd, 2018

Proverbs 17:17

‘A friend loves at all times, and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.”

***

Friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts. Friends increase our joy, help us reduce stress, affirm our importance in God’s kingdom, and inspire us to be our best.

We have an innate need for friendship. As children of Christ we are called to be in relationship with each other as we seek to be the church that the world needs. We are reminded in 1 Corinthians 12 that as the body of Christ, there are many parts – each one of us has a place in the ministry of all Christians.

Our challenge this week from Pastor Michael was to recognize a true friend in our lives. A few weeks ago, I mentioned my friend Christopher who has been a friend for many years. As I consider the number friends that I have, I see qualities in one friend that may not be present in another friend. Having many people in our lives who can support us and spur us in our quest to be good people, follower of Jesus.

Who would you recognize as a true friend? Have you shared with them how important they are to you?

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Monday Meditation (Friday edition)- August 31st, 2018

Self-care is not just something Jesus gives lip service to in the Gospels, he actually practices it:

Mark 1:35

“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.”

Mark 6:31-42

He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.

Rather than go and go to the point of exhaustion, Jesus knew what is limitations were and honored them. He set an example for the disciples in how they should take care of themselves. It can’t be just 5 minutes here and there, but intentional, consistent, and thorough.

For me, sabbath time is very hard to schedule as I serve in multiple roles as a pastor and as a case manager in a very busy industry. As a result, I cannot set aside a full day for sabbath. I split my sabbath time over two days. Your sabbath may look differently, but I invite you to explore what God may be calling you to.

Monday Meditation – August 13th, 2018

John 6:35 (CEB)

35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

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Good Morning from beautiful Federal Way, Washington!

I offer this Monday Meditation/Thursday Edition….

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As I offered during the sermon on Sunday, Jesus Christ is the bread of life to all. Why does Jesus use the metaphor of food to claim his role in the healing of the world? It’s because bread was a common staple in society – something that all of society needed.

I think that we have our own bread that we offer as people of Christ called to bring the same healing to our world. An example of this for me is the annual Strength For The Journey camp, held each may at Mingus mountain. This is a retreat for men and women who are survivors of HIV/AIDS, many who are LGBTQIA.

One of the main issues we face as staff who are primarily church members is not just the issues surrounding survival from this once life threatening, now chronic disease. We also deal with the alienation and damage caused to them by many in the Christian faith who see HIV beyond just a chronic illness. They have felt shame for their identities and as a result avoid any discussion of religion.

As we prepare for this event each year, it’s exciting to see how much joy surrounds our gathering. For many of our campers, this retreat is the only part of their lives where they can just be their genuine selves.

We come together as a team of laity and clergy to offer them hope and a promise that Jesus Christ’s bread of life is open to all. We celebrate their part in creation and honor their lives. We help them be the bread of life to others. SFTJ is truly a celebration of love.

I invite you to consider in your life the times where you can be the bread of life to others. Look for the small spaces where you can be an example of mercy and hope!

Monday Meditation – August 6th, 2018

“I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible… To those not having the law I became like one not having the law… so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”

— 1 Corinthians 9:19-22

***

During the sermon on Sunday, Pastor Michael talked about our differences and how we don’t all believe the exact same thing. The Church does not share the same beliefs about many topics.

As a pastor, I don’t share the beliefs that some of my colleagues have on a variety of topics. Looking at the UMC Clergy Facebook page, I am not alone. We as clergy throughout the UMC do not agree on certain topics. That’s why clergy who are in process have multiple opportunities to express and discuss their theology. That’s what makes us different. It helps our theology evolve as we wrestle with topics that are important to the church. We celebrate those differences as it gives each of us a unique space in ministry.

One of the songs we sing from time to time at FUMC Is “Draw the Circle Wide” by Mark Miller. It speaks of the inclusivity that we all seek for our church, where we all have a place at God’s table, offering our different beliefs as ways to come together and be the diverse body of Christ:

Draw the circle

Draw the circle wide.

Draw the circle

Draw the circle wide.

No one stands alone.

We’ll stand side by side,

Draw the circle

Draw the circle wide.

May we draw our circle wide so that all beliefs and practices are honored within our community at Faith.

Monday Meditation – July 30th, 2018

Ephesians 4:1-6 (CEB)

Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God. Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.

***

One of the things I have come to appreciate about our faith community is the bond we hold. Some may say it’s “in spite of our differences” which in essence discounts our uniqueness as diverse children of Christ.  I would strive to say that we are bonded together because of our differences.  Each of us at Faith is a unique child of Christ.  We have been blessed by God with skills and traits that, in combination with the gifts and graces others hold, makes us at FUMC the body of Christ, a notion that God’s Word goes at great lengths to unpack, explore and emphasize.

Also, the wholeness of the body of Christ that we see in our church is found in the example Jesus Christ set for us while here on earth. He wasn’t just a “high and mighty” leader – he actually offered servant leadership and demonstrated to us what being the body of Christ looks like – the bond that we hold. This servanthood is not something that is new. In his book, “No Longer Servants, but Friends” Edward Zaragoza offers us a glimpse into the intentional servant leadership from Jesus Christ:

“Jesus is the Servant Lord who, according to the Gospel of Mark, “came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)….it is Jesus’ call, ministry, suffering and death that shape the paradigm of servant ministry for the church.”

And so, as we continue to explore the bond that we hold as children of Christ serving at FUMC, let us remember that each of us has unique talents, a call, and an example on how to be the body of Christ, using Jesus’ example in service to others.

Monday Meditation – July 23rd, 2018

“Train children in the way they should go; when they grow old, they won’t depart from it.”

***

During worship on Sunday, Pastor Michael discussed the roles, responsibilities and qualifications of leaders in the church – including both clergy and lay leaders that serve the church and the community, bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to the world.

There’s also another kind of shepherd – the shepherd of the family. As parents we are called to be leaders of our children – helping them mature and grow in their contributions to society and to grow in their faith. Of all the roles we hold in our lives, it seems to me that being a parent is the most important.

And what is our example? Just as Jesus Christ is the example of a good shepherd of the church, Jesus is also the ultimate example of a parent, who loves us all with unconditional love, guiding us through the Holy Spirit to be the best we can be.

Monday Meditation – July 16th 2018

Ephesians 4:15

“Speak the truth in love”

A few weeks ago, I had probably the most difficult conversation in my work history spanning since I was 16 when I entered the workforce. I accompanied the department of child safety DCS to tell a mom that her son was being placed in foster care and was not coming home. 

While the reasons for the action were legitimate and their were genuine concerns for her parenting, my heart broke as I saw the tears streaming down her face when we talked. The kid’s mom has developmental delays so I came to interpret the “legalease” of what was happening. My heart sank as I went over the letter that she received and signed for. I wanted to make sure that she understood what took place but also have hope that this wasn’t forever. That moment that she and I spent together created a bond of trust. She knows that everything I do for her and her son is meant to bring them back together. 

Although that story continues,  it is an example of the brutal honesty that sometimes we have to offer others. It’s sad when we have to deliver difficult messages that cause pain for others. It is,however, our intent and our position that makes the difference.

God calls us all to be honest and caring even when it’s hard. Saying things out of spite is not only harmful to others but is harmful to ourselves as well. When we build each other up, we are building up the body of Christ.

***

 

Monday Meditation – July 9th 2018

1 Corinthians 14:1-4

“14 Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy. For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, those who prophesy speak to other people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church.”

***

This week, Pastor Michael spoke of the prophetic voices we find in the Church. From our Hebrew Scripture, we find Ezekiel’s experience of calling to speak truth to the people of Israel – to a “nation of rebels who have rebelled against me….the descendants are impudent (not showing respect) and stubborn…whether they hear or refuse to hear..they shall know that a prophet has been among them.” (Ezekiel 2:3-5)

We also see prophetic voices throughout the New Testament, from John who “will be called the prophet of the Most High” to the life of Jesus Christ who was rejected for His prophecy, people speak out regardless of whether or not they are received.

The same holds true in our personal lives. There are many times where we are called to speak our truth to others who may not be very welcoming of what we have to say. 

When I work with parents who are challenged by their child’s behaviors and are at the “end of their rope,” delivering a difficult message on additional efforts they must use to reconcile with their children is tough. Many times it is not received well.

What are the areas in your life where you need to speak the truth in love? I invite you to consider this as you go about your week, for we are all called in our ministries to speak out.

Monday Meditation – July 2nd 2018

“After the death of Moses the servant of God, God spoke to Joshua, Moses’ assistant: Moses my servant is dead. Get going. Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I’m giving to the People of Israel. I’m giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon east to the Great River, the Euphrates River—all the Hittite country—and then west to the Great Sea. It’s all yours. All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” (Joshua 1:1-9)

***

In this passage, God calls Joshua to a lead the Israelites into the promised land. God asks Joshua to:

  1. Cross the Jordan River with all the Israelites
  2. Give it all: heart and soul
  3. Carry out the Revelation that Moses had commanded
  4. Don’t get off track
  5. Don’t let my (God’s) word leave your mind. Focus on it day and night
  6. Don’t be timid; Don’t be discouraged

That’s quite a laundry list of commands that God gives Joshua as he prepares to lead God’s people to the land He had promised. That’s all well and good. However, God also promises many things to Moses and Israel. He says:

  1. I have given you every square inch of land you set your foot on
  2. It’s all yours
  3. No one will be able to hold out against you
  4. I’ll be with you.
  5. I won’t give up on you
  6. I won’t leave you
  7. I am with you every step you take

I think the same holds true for our faith walk. God calls us into new journeys and leads us down different paths. God calls us to give it all we got, to focus on God’s word and not be discouraged. However, God promises to be with us every step of the way, to never give up on us or leave us – to persevere! 

There is a newness in our church as we welcome Pastor Michael to lead us into the future as we seek to serve others in the 19 North Community and beyond. As God promised Joshua, God is with us every step of the way!