May 21, 2017
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We are drawing near to the end of this season of Easter. Next Sunday, we will celebrate the Ascension, and the week after that will be Pentecost, the birthday of the church. But today, it is still Easter, the season when we’ve been learning what it means to follow the risen Christ.
It is also Aldersgate Sunday, the day we remember how John Wesley’s heart was “strangely warmed” as he suddenly felt sure of his own salvation. This event in his own spiritual journey led him to develop a way of discipleship that would become the United Methodist Church.
Throughout this Eastertide, we have been examining what discipleship looks like through the theme of Awakening. Thomas awakened us to the realization that doubt is a necessary element of real faith. The disciples on their way to Emmaus, maybe Mr. and Mrs. Cleopas, awakened in us the need to be together: to break bread together, to examine God’s Word together.
Jesus awakened us to recognize him as the Gate to salvation, and last week, we were awakened in the Upper Room to the realization that following Jesus means surrendering ourselves completely to him, just as he surrendered himself completely to the Father’s will, and for the Father’s glory.
Each of these awakenings has highlighted a different element of discipleship: Continue reading
June 11, 2017
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Do you like a good mystery? Summer reading lists always include a section on mystery novels, and some authors, like Agatha Christie, have made a career of writing them. We usually associate “mystery” with fiction, but we aren’t so comfortable when it comes to talking about true mysteries. In fact, the Protestant church through the centuries has played down any interest in the mysteries of faith, beyond reciting “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
And yet, every time we receive Communion as Methodists, we give thanks for “this holy mystery” of Christ’s body and blood being shared with us, so that we might be for the world the body of Christ redeemed by his blood. Like it or not, following Jesus means engaging in things we can’t explain. Faith means buying into what you can’t prove, because if you could prove it, you wouldn’t need faith, would you! Sometimes, what moves us into deeper, more profound trust is our willingness to believe in the mystery.
We celebrate one of the holiest of mysteries today, on Trinity Sunday. It would be easy to get stuck in a bunch of poor analogies, trying to explain the unexplainable aspect of God’s identity as Three Persons in One God, trying to “de-mystify” the mystery. To understand the Trinity, we’d want to go first to scripture, and we’d run into a problem right away. You see, the Bible doesn’t use the word “trinity” or any kind of explanation for the Triune God – at all. Continue reading