Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thoughts on Being a Pastor

I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect, with all of you, about being a pastor. I have to say that being a pastor has been, and continues to be, one of the most rich experiences of my life. I absolutely love the opportunity that the Lord has called me to be a part of. This is utterly humbling ---- because I am amazed that God can use a person like me to proclaim and share the good news that Jesus Christ is Lord. I have fallen in love with the church, and I have found the local church to be the place the Lord has called us to live into the prayer "thy kingdom come, thy will be done." When I get to serve beside people that the Lord has sent my way ---- I realize that I have been given an opportunity to serve beside Jesus. The Lord uses ordinary people to be his instruments of grace in this world. And we get the opportunity to say "yes" to Jesus' calling. As a pastor I get to be with people through birth and death, through the baptismal waters and partaking of the Lord's Supper, through weddings and funerals, through singing and scripture reading, through prayer and confession ---- and this is an awe inspiring position to be in. And I want to say thank you to all of you, for allowing the Lord to use a person like me to share the good news that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

John 4.5-42

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on John 4.5-42. In this passage Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well. But this wasn't just any ole' well ----- this was a well that Jacob had built hundreds of years before. Jesus asks her for a drink and there is an uncomfortable interchange that transpires. There were so many cultural inhibitions that go on in this interchange. First, men and women didn't really talk in public. Second, Jesus was a Jew and she was a Samaritan. Third, this was going on in the middle of the day ---- when most people would try to stay out of the sun. This conversation culminates with Jesus saying in verse 13: "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life." Jesus would have never had this conversation with the Samaritan woman if he had allowed himself to be relegated to the cultural norms. I wonder if we would have these "spring of water", conversations if we could get over some of our cultural inhibitions? Where do you think you could go this week to engage in meaningful conversation?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Matthew 4.1-11

Click this link if you cannot see this video. This coming Sunday we will be starting a lectionary sermon series that is called "Fearless, the Courage to Question." We will be engaging in questions that revolve around the biblical passages through the lenten season. I would encourage you to follow along through this time by checking back at the blog or on facebook. This week we will begin with Matthew 4.1-11. This passage has to do with Jesus being lead by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. It is interesting that Jesus is actually tempted. To get our conversation started ----- What do you think is the best way to resist temptation in your own life?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ash Wednesday - March 9th at 7pm

During the forty days leading up to Easter the church traditionally observes a time of penance and fasting. This time of preparation for Easter is commonly called Lent. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (which is March 9th this year) and ends on the Saturday before Easter. Ash Wednesday is a day that is set aside for us to remember that God created us out of the dust of the earth. While at the same time, it is to dust we shall return, like it says in Genesis 3.19: “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

An early church father, named Gregory of Nyssa, would take his students into the catacombs and show them the decaying bones. In Homilies on the Beatitudes, he wrote: “Have you not seen in the burial ground the mysteries of our existence? Have you not seen the heap of bones piled on each other, skulls stripped of flesh, staring fearsome and horrible from empty eye-sockets? Have you seen the grinning mouths and the rest of the limbs lying casually about? If you have seen those things, then in them you have observed yourself.” Ash Wednesday creates space for us to deal with our mortality. To stare into the eyes of death and see Jesus' passionate arms reaching for us from the cross.

What the church offers us on Ash Wednesday is not some quick fix—it is not some miracle drug—it is not some hair dying kit. Instead, what the church offers us is the opportunity to embrace our mortality. To look at the bones decaying and realize that we are dust—and to dust we shall return. We are not offering a picturesque stained glass Jesus or promises of the picture perfect family. Instead, the church is offering you what is real. That we all face our death, and that we all face our sin. God is the one who will make us clean—even in the midst of our death and sin. Let us find our hope in the one who overcame death and sin. The one we follow as we carry our crosses through this Lenten journey.

During Lent last year we celebrated Palm Sunday. During that Sunday we remember Jesus' triumphal entry where people waved palm branches and shouted Hosanna! For Ash Wednesday we take those same palm branches and burn them—saving the ashes that are left. Then we apply them to our foreheads—reminding ourselves of the sins that so easily ensnare us. How we participate in celebrating Jesus, while turning our backs on him when the going gets too tough. This is our calling to repent of our sins and embrace our crucified savior and Lord.

I would encourage you to attend an Ash Wednesday service this year. For it is an opportunity for us to remember that we are dust and to dust we shall return. While at the same time it helps us to remember that our hope and power come only from Jesus' victory over sin and death.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

An Exciting Weekend

We are in the midst of an exciting weekend. It is called the Lay Witness Mission Weekend. We invited missionaries from all over North Carolina to come and share with us what God has done in their lives. This has been an awesome opportunity for us to share what we feel like God is doing in our lives. Any of you that have not had an opportunity to come out ---- I would encourage you to do that. We are having a free lunch today [Saturday, March 5th] at 12noon and at 6pm today the United Methodist Men are cooking. If you have any questions let me know.