News: Come on out!

Washington Crossing United Methodist Church ~ Ladies Night Out:

On Friday, May 9th, Kate McCord will be our guest speaker at the Spring Ladies Night Out!

  • When: May 9, 2014. 7-9 pm
  • Where: the Crossing Worship Center
  • Refreshments will be provided.
  • Ticket Cost: $10

http://www.crossingumc.org/ministries/women/

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Mosaic

Back when the first English missionaries headed off to Africa, they thought the Africans had to become English before they could become Christian. They introduced the English language, church buildings, bells and ties. Yes, even ties.

Today, the African church flourishes as a uniquely African church. Our African brothers and sisters have shaken off much of the English culture imposed upon them, and kept Christ.

Good on them.

Today, when the missionaries go out to the world, they watch with delight as Tunisian churches are born, as Iranian believers worship in their own language with their own songs, and Kazak pastors interpret the Scriptures for their own culture.

Christ worship is no longer bound to English forms.

And what do we see? We see a beautiful mosaic of Christ colored in the unique gifts of each culture in the world. We are wealthier for the sight.

Someday, we’ll see people from every tribe nation and tongue gathering together before the throne of God. We’ll see the full mosaic of Christ in his people. Can you imagine it?

Glory!

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Just some simple thoughts about the Lord’s prayer

“Our Father in heaven, holy is your name.”

God is good, better even than the best person in the world. He loves us so much.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

God’s wants all of us to live his way. He is our true king, government and identity. We are first God – followers, then Americans, Muslims or Christians.

“Give us this day our daily bread”

God supplies all our needs. He uses people and economies and science, but He is the true provider. He knows what we need and takes care of us.

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

We’re not perfect. We fail with our hearts and our hands. We can’t hide our sins from God. We can’t do enough good works to clean our sins away. We can take our sins to God receive his forgiveness.

We can also forgive the faults and offenses of others. God does not want us to judge one another, nor punish or to seek to destroy one another. He wants us to forgive one another.

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

God can protect us from temptation and show us the right path. We ask God to protect us from evil; the evil other’s do and the evil Satan creates in the world.

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.”

We recognize God as our God and Heaven as our eternal home.

What do these simple lines in Jesus’ model prayer mean to you today?

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Koinōnia

I love that word. Listen to it; koinōnia. It feels so sweet on my tongue. Fellowship.

I thought it might be fun to think about what fellowship is and isn’t. I’ll share my thoughts, but imagine you have your own. Perhaps, as you read, you might consider what fellowship looks like in your own community.

Fellowship isn’t empty hands stretched out near one another, but rather full hands sharing treasures with one another. Perhaps the treasure is peace, perhaps a smile of welcome, perhaps a ride to the store or a few dollars to help a neighbor with an electric bill.

Fellowship isn’t a group standing shoulder to shoulder looking outward, but rather circles in clusters laughing, dancing, weeping, holding one another, looking into one another’s faces, seeing one another’s hearts and welcoming one another with all our grace and failure.

Fellowship isn’t a concert where the members of the audience sit quietly while the orchestra performs its greatest work. No, fellowship is more like a block party with hot dogs and hamburgers, kegs of soda and maybe beer, a rock ‘n roll band, laughter, stories and catching up – a messy cacophony celebrated in shorts and T-shirts.

Fellowship is the interlocking of people in love, grace and interdependence. It’s holding hands, sharing a cup and a loaf of bread. It’s like an Ethiopian meal, all hands; some old, some young, some soft, some calloused, some stained, some tattoos, some clean – all dipping into the same bowl.

Fellowship is community, a gift from God. It’s not something we create with a program or build with brick and mortar. Still, a program, a time set aside, a warm space in a roofed building can allow us the opportunity to experience the gift.

Fellowship?

How do you see it today?

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Telling breaks the secret

I got myself into quite a state. The details are private but the outline sufficient. There was something I wanted, or actually someone. I was working on obsession.

Of course I prayed. I prayed like crazy. I prayed everyday; “God, please take this temptation from me.”

I also did all the right things; limited contact, prepared myself before we were together, reminded myself of who I was.

I’ll tell you, I fought the good fight, but I wasn’t winning.

Finally, I called a friend. “Look, I want to tell you something…” And the secret was out.

My friend was none too pleased and genuinely worried about me. She prayed, too, and that was nice. But the truth is, the very telling broke the power of that temptation.

I was surprised. I thought I was just eliciting help. I didn’t realize how the secret held me captive. I suppose that’s why James advised us to confess our sins to one another. There’s just something in the secret that the telling breaks.

Can you relate? Do you have a secret? Does it have a hold on you? Tell it. Find someone safe, someone who loves you, someone you trust and tell it. Break that power. Walk away free.

Have you told it yet?

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More than Son

For the record, I don’t believe that God had sex with Mary and so produced Jesus. The very idea is appalling.

Why do I write this?

Because when I tell my Muslim friends that I believe Jesus is the son of God, they often assume a very human conception. And yes, they’re appalled. They should be. Mary was a woman and God is, well, God.

If we don’t explain ourselves, then how can we expect our Muslim neighbors to be anything but appalled?

So what does it mean that Jesus is the son of God?

Here, our Muslim neighbors can help us considerably.

The Bible calls Jesus the “Word of God” and so does the Quran. In Sura al-Nisa 4:171, “Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, is God’s messenger and His word.” Our Muslim neighbors recognize that God’s word is eternal, uncreated and is made of God’s very essence. Muslims recognize that God created all that is through his eternal word.

A word, of course cannot be separated from the speaker of the word or the breath with which it is spoken. And here, we see the triune God; Speaker, Word and Breath. Jesus, son of God is the eternal spoken word of the Father, not a son born after the flesh. To honor Jesus, the word, is to honor God, the speaker. To see Jesus, the word, wrapped in human flesh is to see the father who is spirit.

From Scripture, we understand Jesus as the Son of God and the Son of Man. He is the son of God by the breath of God and the son of man by the seed of Mary.

So in this, Muslims are correct; God does not beget, nor is he begotten, nor is there anyone like unto him.

Son is our metaphor to express the closest relationship a human being can have; a son to his father. We don’t understand that very well anymore because our society has shifted and sons no longer walk in unity with the will and authority of their fathers.

If anything, Jesus is more than “son”. And certainly more than our understanding of what it means to be a son. Jesus is God’s very word eternally spoken, uncreated, the exact representation, the essence of God the father.

Jesus is the son of God.

How do you explain what it means that Jesus is the son of God?

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We all belong to God

We sat on a swirling red carpet laid across a concrete platform beneath a thick grape arbor in a small town hidden in Afghanistan. We drank our tea and traded our stories. I said, “We are all children of Father Adam and Mother Eve. We are one people, the extended family of God.”

My Afghan friends smiled and nodded. “Yes. We all belong to God.”

Some have heard this story and objected. “No. We’re not all God’s children, at least not until we’re born again.”

I recognize the logic. My Afghan friends had yet to put their faith in Christ. Still, if I believe the Scriptures, and I do, the words are clear. We have all descended from Adam and Adam is the son of God (Luke 3:38).

There is more for us, to be sure. More for us to understand the parenthood of God. More for us to understand our identity as God’s children. More for us to recognize and love one another. Still, we all belong to God. We are his creation, his people, his delight and his desire.

When I spoke those words on the backside of Afghanistan, I was telling my neighbor; you are my family. You are precious to me and I ought be precious to you. You and I both belong to God and to harm one or the other of us is to insult the God who created us.

This is the starting point, the foundation, the most basic understanding necessary to enable each one of us to love the others around us.

Sometimes, especially when people are difficult or very far away, we need to remember this. We need to remember that the hungry and frightened Syrian refugee children are our children. The fighting men in Crimea are our brothers. The sex slaves stolen from their homes and Thailand are our sisters.

They belong to us and we belong to them.

If we recognize that each person who walks the face of the earth is precious to God, and belongs to us, then we have every reason to love them.

That doesn’t mean we’ll always do the right things by them. But perhaps, if we remember, we’ll at least try and if we try, sometimes, we’ll succeed.

What do you think?

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