Monday, May 23, 2016

WMTRBW 41: Moving with the Spirit

In worship yesterday, we reflected on two scripture passages about bearing fruit that grows from the presence of the Holy Spirit--John 15:1-8 and Galatians 5:13-26 (with an emphasis on verses 22 and 23). We talked about how bearing fruit takes a long time--it's a slow process, requiring us to mature and develop.

First, I love the art created by Denise Cotter that was on the front of our bulletin this week, that brings these two scriptures together:

Second, here is the poem I read at the end of worship yesterday. I would highly recommend, as you reflect on what it means for you to move and grow in God's Spirit this week, printing it off and posting it somewhere. Read it often. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

WMTRBW 40: The Spirit is Moving!

Our Pentecost blog is going to be a picture blog, with images of our kite flying at our Pentecost Picnic yesterday afternoon. Everyone was entranced watching these kites dance and twist and soar in the wind. What if we were that open and attentive to the Spirit's movement?

Enjoy these--the ones of all the kids sitting on the wall watching the kite way up high are my favorite! See if you can spot the kite waaaaaay up there.

Monday, May 9, 2016

WMTRBW 39: Whatever the Hardship, Keep Rising Up!

This morning, Nancy Lively sent me an email that made me realize something I've never thought about before: the word "Pentecost"--the day we will celebrate this coming Sunday, the day the Holy Spirit is poured out on all people and the Church is born--has the word "cost" in it. Yesterday, we talked a great deal about the cost of following Jesus--the hardships we will inevitably face if we walk in The Way of Jesus. So, as we move toward Pentecost this week, it seemed right to read this prayer/poem that Nancy sent this morning, by Maren Tirabassi (

God, I understand part about fifty days,
but it’s the “cost”
hidden in the holiday
that worries me on Pentecost.

It costs my anonymity as a Christian,
all my pet preconceptions
of who belongs,
the loan of my mouth,
my reputation for sobriety,
towels for the baptisms of strangers.

And for all of these,
I come away with something
oddly sweet –
bright feathers and shook foil.

This seemed a good prayer/poem to hold in hand and heart and mind this week as we read the We Make the Road chapter on hardships this week, and as we continue reflecting on these very challenging questions, slightly adapted from the ones with which we finished worship yesterday:

What has following Jesus cost you in the past?

What is following Jesus costing you in the present?

What cost are you willing to pay to follow Jesus in the future?

Monday, May 2, 2016

WMTRBW 38: The Uprising of Stewardship

This week, in our scripture reading from 2 Corinthians 8:1-15, we hear the Apostle Paul talk about his desire for churches to share from their abundance so others will not have to be in need, so "that there may be a fair balance. As it is written,‘The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.'" Imagine it--a world where the one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little! And Paul--like Jesus before him--saw Christians as able to help make this happen by the way they cared for one another and shared freely of what they had.

These words are of particular challenge for us as Christians in this time when there seems to be so little fair balance in our society or our world in terms of opportunity and resources. As you are reading Brian McLaren's thoughts on stewardship from We Make the Road by Walking this week, check out some of these infographics that share a picture of the economic inequality that plagues our immediate area, our nation, and our world. What do you think our proper response and action should be as Christians to help there be fair balance?

Monday, April 25, 2016

WMTRBW 37: The Uprising of Partnership

Yesterday in worship we talked about the importance of partnership. Partnership is so central to the life of our congregation, especially when it comes to mission and ministry to the wider community and world. Do you realize how many people/places we partner with as a church? Here are just a few of our partnerships--if there are any you don't know much about, click the link and take time to learn more!

Intergenerational West Virginia Mission Trip (join us and volunteers from several other partner churches this summer--August 1-6!)
Winter Relief (we partner with Cape St. Claire UMC to host guests experiencing homelessness every year--our next hosting week is January 2-9, 2017!)
My Brother's Pantry (join with us in packing and delivering on Saturday mornings May 14 and 21!)

And there are so many more--our Thanksgiving service project and Easter Sunrise partnerships with other churches in the Broadneck Ministerium, our Good Friday Journey with Jesus with Asbury-Arnold UMC, Backpack Buddies with Cape UMC, partnering to host AA groups in our church building, the list goes on. And these are just official partnerships--think of all the more informal ways we partner with others to do God's work!

But I hope this week as you read the stories of partnership and the chapter from We Make the Road by Walking, you'll keep reflecting on the questions issued at the end of Sunday's sermon: 

What new partnerships might need to rise up in our future? 

Who might be wanting to come alongside of us to do something transformative?

Who might be waiting for us to come alongside of them? 

What unlikely people or groups could be our partners as we continue to live out the great commission Jesus has given us? 

I'd love to hear your thoughts--leave them in the comments section below!

Monday, April 18, 2016

WMTRBW 36: The Uprising of Worship

Two things for your consideration this week as you reflect on Sunday's sermon on worship and
Chapter 26:

First, for those of you who asked, here's a link to the National Congregations Study I referenced:  Pages 9-11 and 34-35 in particular deal with changes in worship practices in American congregations.

Second, I found this explanation by Brian McLaren of the idea that Jesus gave himself "for us" and "for our sins" to be really compelling:
We say the words Jesus said about the bread being his body given for us, and the wine being his blood shed for us and for our sins. Those words “for us” and “for our sins” are full of meaning for us. Just as we take medicine “for” an illness, we understand that Jesus’ death is curing us of our old habits and ways. For example, when we ponder how he forgave those who crucified him, we are cured of our desire for revenge. When we see how he trusted God and didn’t fear human threats, we are cured of our fear. When we remember how he never stopped loving, even to the point of death, we are cured of our hatred and anger. When we imagine his outstretched arms embracing the whole world, we feel our hearts opening in love for the whole world, too, curing us of our prejudice and favoritism, our grudges and selfishness.
What do you think of this description of what Jesus might have meant when he said his blood was shed for us? How might this change the way you think about breaking bread and drinking the cup around the communion table?

Monday, April 11, 2016

WMTRBW 35: The Uprising of Discipleship

This week's reading focuses on Jesus' appearance to the disciples along the Sea of Galilee/Tiberius in John 21:1-19. The end of the story involves Jesus asking Peter three times to feed his lambs/sheep. We talked in the sermon about how the challenge of discipleship is that it's not just about being fed ourselves; it's about our call to feed others, to nurture others in their lives of faith.

In our recent congregational survey, there was one question that people seemed to struggle to answer: the question of what you, personally, feel like you can do to help Broadneck move in the direction you hope it will go. Almost half of our survey respondents left this question blank or responded with "I don't know" or "I'm not sure." It makes me wonder if you all realize how amazing and capable you are, what bounty you have to give even if you feel like you've got nothing! Jesus realized it; it's why he didn't just feed the disciples with his own fish from the fire, but had them add the ones they caught themselves. It's why he told Peter, "Feed my sheep"--there are others out there longing to know my forgiveness and acceptance, to know my words. You go tell them! You teach them! Take what you've received and pass it on! This is what it means to follow me.

What gifts do you bring to Broadneck that you can use to help others grow in their faith--either those already part of our church family, or those not yet part of it? What lessons have you learned in following or struggling to follow Jesus that you could share? What might you have to teach a child? A youth? A young adult? A middle-aged adult? An older adult? As we each recognize our ability to offer spiritual food to one another, we will continue to grow as a family of faith. Seriously...take some time this week and consider what fish you can bring to the table to help feed those hungering for something much deeper than food. Because we all have something to share. Even you.