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: http://www.soc.duke.edu/natcong/Docs/NCSIII_report_final.pdf  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.

Monday, April 4, 2016

WMTRBW 34: The Uprising of Fellowship

Our next five weeks of readings from We Make the Road by Walking (technically, I guess, the next six) help us explore what the early church found to be the impact of the resurrection. As Jesus’ followers began to move forward into this new reality that had been created when it was discovered that God had said yes to Jesus’ way in raising him from the dead, what would the fact that Christ is alive mean for them? How would it shape their life together?

As I looked at these chapters, I was amazed first of all by how the things McLaren talks about mirror the five ministry groups that are at the heart of our life together as a congregation. Check it out:

Fellowship--Outreach/Evangelism
Discipleship--Spiritual Formation
Worship--Worship (duh!)
Partnership--Helping
Stewardship--Support

The second thing that amazed me is how much these chapters' themes matched up with the themes of what we said as a congregation is important to us and life-giving to us at Broadneck. I mentioned that I made word clouds of our responses to these questions, and here are our replies. Where do you see the themes of the butterfly above in the word clouds below?

I feel most alive and encouraged at Broadneck when...
 I think the most important thing going on in our congregation right now is...

This is going to be a fun post-Easter journey, and we began this week with fellowship and considering this challenge: who needs to be included in our fellowship? To whom have we been sent? I look forward to these weeks of exploration together!


Monday, March 14, 2016

WMTRBW 31: The Choice is Yours

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock."
Matthew 7:24-25

We have come to the end of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and now we hear it's all about action. Will we actually DO the things Jesus has spoken of and showed us with his life? 

Yesterday in worship we actually built a foundation that helped us look at what Jesus has said to us in this amazing block of teaching:

At the end of worship, this was the challenge: "Choose one—just one—of these foundational words to not just hear this week, but do. Choose not the one that feels easiest to you, but one that you think may be hard. Ask how you can make doing this thing part of the bedrock on which you stand every day, how you can not just hear these words but live them."

Lots of people took home a rock with some of Jesus' words on it to try to live out this week. Look at the big picture and consider: where does your house need to be founded more firmly on the ways of Jesus?

I took home "Keep heart free from cynicism" (my translation of the beatitude "Blessed are the pure in heart"). As I watch election coverage in particular these days, I find it hard to imagine anything good coming out of all our political divisiveness and ridiculousness. I realize that my jadedness can keep me from doing what I can to be a positive voice for the things that matter in Christ's kingdom because I feel like nothing is ever going to change. This week, I'm trying to leave those shifting sands of cynicism behind. But golly it's hard.

Which words did you choose, or would you like to choose? How are things going as you try to live them?

Monday, March 7, 2016

WMTRBW 30: Why We Worry, Why We Judge

In our sermon on Matthew 6:22-7:12 yesterday, I made only a passing reference to one of the most famous parts of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, the last verse of our reading better known as the Golden Rule. So, I thought our blog could focus on that!

I want to encourage you to watch this short (less than 10 minutes) TED Talk by Karen Armstrong, which calls not just Christians but followers of all world religions to center their lives on this teaching--one espoused not just by Jesus, but by many faith leaders throughout history. How might our world be transformed if we actually did to others what we would like them to do to us?

Note: if you receive the blog by email, you probably will need to go to the blog website to watch the video, or just click this link: https://www.ted.com/talks/karen_armstrong_let_s_revive_the_golden_rule?language=en

Share any comments below!