Monday, November 24, 2014

A Gift and a Dance

As I reflected on Thanksgiving I thought about a conversation I overheard at one of the fellowship tables at the Community Thanksgiving Service.  A couple was asked why they moved to Abbeville from their previous location.  They gave a simple answer ... peace.  I knew the people and know they are very involved in many community activities.  They work hard in  their church and they are generous in their giving of time and energy and talents.  Many of you would not call that peace.  But I agree with them ... this community called Abbeville is a bit of peace in a world full of turmoil and conflict.  The passage I shared at the Community Thanksgiving Service was from Psalm 133.  It basically says that God (and we) are blessed when we live together in harmony.  This could be called "hard-won" peace, because peace, harmony, love and fellowship is a dance anointed by God. The old Shaker Hymn (which was also a call to dance) is, I believe, a musical gift reminding us of the gift that is life.  This dance reminds us that simplicity, freedom and "coming round right" are all wonderful gifts from God as we join in God's dance.  Do you hear the movement, structure and motion in this dance tune (yes, Christians dance)?  Do you grasp that dancing is structured and patterned turning till we "come round" to the right place in the dance ... our place?  Do you see that life is a turning around (the Bible call this repenting) till we come around to the place in the dance God has created for us?  To this end I wish you joyful dancing and the ability to find peace in this place of simplicity and freedom ... tis a gift from God!
Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Mission

The more I read the story of Jesus sending out His disciples (Matthew 10) the more I realize how true it is to say ... "We are the mission."  Jesus imparts the disciples with visual training of what He has done ... He teaches them ... He demonstrates what He is like... then he does something very Hebrew.  The Hebrew method of teaching involves telling, dialogue and then hands-on doing.  Matthew 10 is Jesus telling the disciples to "go out and do it."  The mission is caught up in the people and the process ... because Jesus wants it to stick!

Sunday evening, at the Community Thanksgiving Service, I will be speaking about how God has given, in Psalm 133, an equation for harmony.  He tells us that harmony is desired.  He expresses that harmony flows from God (from whom all blessings flow).  and He tells us that we are traveling toward a place and time of ultimate harmony in eternity with Him.  But harmony is a blessing that requires work, effort, struggle, trail and error and successes and failures.  When Jesus sends out the disciples to do the work of the Church He knows all of these "discomforts" will happen.  He even tells the disciples they will not be accepted everywhere, they will be brought before political and religious authorities and they will walk away disheartened by their lack of success.  So ... what do we and they do?  Go anyway, because we have been "sent out" by the Master.  We will never be alone and people cannot take any eternal thing from us.  We are in harmony with God and with those who are part of God's great mission!  Randy

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Over the next two weeks we will be doing a Bible study primer.  I have always found it valuable and productive to revisit the Bible study tools I learned over time (especially those learned in Seminary) because these are in a sense the tools of my trade.  As I thought about this cliche' I realized that study of the Bible is something that every Christian should have in their tool box.  How do we know what the Bible says if we don't study?  How do we appropriate God's word into daily life if we don't know what it says?

Here is my idea ... we will study a short passage.  We will look at context, meanings of terms, language, structure of the writing and how this passage relates throughout the body of Scripture.  I think this is always a good start and it will be fun examining this passage with you.  Here it is ... Matthew 10:5-8 ...

"Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep. Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!"

Why did I choose this passage?  First, it challenges the literalist. When we look at Scripture and take it as literal, 21st Century English,  we make a grave interpretive mistake.  If we are to avoid the Gentiles and only go to the lost sheep of Israel, why are we even here talking about this?  We ARE gentiles ... I preach to a gentile congregation every week.  Am I spinning my wheels or being disobedient?  We will talk about this Sunday.

The second reason I chose this passage is it reflects much about the work of the Church.  We get off on so many rabbit trails.  Some say our mission is to get people in our doors and grow our congregation.  The Bible says if we do what we should be doing the Holy Spirit will add to our numbers (growth is God's work).  Some say we should primarily teach God's Word.  I agree, but we teach from a platform.  That platform is built on loving those we are teaching, being heralds of God's kingdom, healing, helping people be rid of life's demons and giving of (not holding onto) what we have received.

So ... I plan to have fun and immerse myself in this passage over the next two weeks.  I hope you will do the same!  Randy

Monday, November 3, 2014

Noble Character

10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?  She is more precious than rubies.
11 Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
13 She finds wool and flax and busily spins it.
14 She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
    and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.
18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.
19 Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.
20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.
21 She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes.
22 She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
23 Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders.
24 She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.
28 Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Proverbs 31 says it all ... this Sunday is United Methodist Woman Sunday.  It is our way of thanking the faithfulness and persistence of some amazing workers in the "Field of Souls" we call the Church.  Come and enjoy!  Pastor Randy