Pastor's Ponderings

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Did You Love God?

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This week I want to point to the words of Hannah Adair Bonner who posted on www.ministrymatters.com on September 27. The article is shortened somewhat to fit here.

“One of the greatest temptations that we bear as Christians is allowing our focus to become narrowed upon our own perspective, our own needs and our own wants….

Just a week ago as #WhiteChurchQuiet trended on Twitter, it could not be any more clear that the wound many were feeling in their soul was being ignored by the majority of white Christians in the United States… many took to social media to challenge their white friends who were silent about this wound to speak up in a variety of ways, with a variety of responses.

At moments like this, as white Christians, we do not need to have all the answers: that is unnecessary. We do not need to take charge: that is dis-empowering. We do not even need to fully understand: that is impossible. All we really need to do is be Christians; by that I mean listening to the cry, believing it expresses a real need, and caring enough to do something.

Is it any wonder that that was how Jesus divided the sheep from the goats, those who belonged to him from those who did not belong to him? His determination was based on how did you treat others. When they were thirsty, did you seek to end their thirst by giving them something to drink? When they were in prison, did you seek to end their loneliness by visiting them? When they were hungry, did you seek to end their hunger by giving them something to eat? When they were racially profiled, did you seek to end their dehumanization by speaking up? When they were stopped & frisked, did you seek to end their criminalization by demanding reform? When they were shot in the street, did you seek to end their endangerment by demanding accountability?

Did you stand when they stood, kneel when they kneeled, mourn when they mourned, rejoiced when they rejoiced? Did you listen when they spoke to you; believe what they said to you; do what they asked of you? Did you live like their life mattered just as much as yours; like their truth mattered just as much as yours; like their children should live just as long as yours?

All of this could really be summed up with one question: did you love God?

See you in church!
Rev Steve

Things to pray about this week:
• Those who live in fear of the police and racial profiling.
• The families of those who have lost loved ones from gun violence of any kind.
• For those who serve in law enforcement that they may be able to do their jobs well and return home safely each day.

in Faith

Baptism

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Baptism

This week in the worship services we had the occasion to celebrate three baptisms. This is always a celebration! It represents the intentional desire on somebody’ part to make the community of faith bigger that it previously was. It means that our arms of welcome are stretched out to include someone new.
United Methodists baptize both infants and adults. It’s not that one way is correct and the other is not. Some churches, such as our Baptist friends, baptize individuals when they are able to make the decision to follow Jesus Christ. When an infant is baptized, it’s the parents that are proclaiming their faith and making a promise to raise the child so that faith may be passed on to the child. Later on, the child will still be invited to make a decision about faith in Jesus Christ and membership in the church. That’s what we call “Confirmation”. What the Baptists do all at one occasion, we often separate into two acts, or rather one act with two parts.
By having a young child baptized, the focus shifts a bit from the individual to the parents and the church that take on a role of raising up the child. It’s a wonderful promise we make:
We will surround this child with a community of love and forgiveness, that they may grow in their service to others. We will pray for them, that they may be true disciples who walk in the way that leads to life.
A church needs to be reminded regularly of that promise that stands at the heart of the Sacrament of Baptism. Saying the promise reminds us of the kind of life we are called to live together. It’s great to see the baby and the hope and joy she or he brings to the family, but it is even more wonderful to see a church that takes those promises seriously and lets them shape its life.

See you in church,

Pastor Steve
Things to pray for this week:
• For children who have been baptized. For youth starting confirmation classes, for parents and sponsors living out their promises they made in baptism.
• For Sunday School classes for children and youth, for Youth Fellowship, for Kids for Christ and Veggie Tales/Movie Night.

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