Dear Church Family and Friends,
As we have watched the news this week, a question has formed in my mind that has caused two differing responses in my heart that call for two different actions. The question that comes to my mind fits well with our In Focus sermon series. Where is God in this? The news of mass shootings, immigration raids, armed gunmen at Walmart stores (one less than two minutes from where I used to live in Springfield), violence, and the rhetoric of anger and hate troubles my heart. How long will this continue? What am I to do? When will you act, God?
I know justice belongs to God. I know timing belongs to God. Yet I also know that people are hurting now, and I believe God is present now even when I cannot see or understand how. I also realize that these are not legislative problems, though legislation might assist. These are heart and mind problems. These are relational problems. So, while I look for God’s justice to become realized, my role, our role, is to pray in very fervent ways. Pray for an outpouring of the Spirit to change hearts. Pray for the Spirit to raise up leaders. Pray for the Spirit to nudge me, to take the steps I can to change my community towards a just end. My conversations, my community involvement, and my encouragement of others, are all part of what I can do to seek justice.
I know this appears simplistic, but history reveals that change and God’s intervention are all brought about by prayer and God’s people humbling themselves before God. That can begin with me. How about you?
The second response has been what might seem the opposite. Despite all the news, despite all the trouble that enters my heart, when I look around my life, COS, and my community, I see signs of God’s amazing activity. When I am looking and listening for God, I see amazing stories of life change, hope, celebration, and life. These remind me of God’s goodness and His presence in the world, despite what anyone else may tell me. These are the stories worth telling over and over again. This is the hope to point people towards, that we might discover the new thing God is doing and begin to live into it.
Two very differing responses that God has placed on my heart to live out. While I pray for change and transformation in my heart and the hearts of many others, I will celebrate the goodness and presence of God and what He is still doing in our midst. In this way, I not only pray for the gospel to be made real, I celebrate the gospel message that has already come and is the hope for what is yet to be.
Let us be active in bringing the gospel of Christ into our community through our prayer, our witness, and our service to others, and be part of the transformation of the world that our God is bringing.
Ministry Celebrations & Opportunities
As school begins, we have an opportunity to bless our teachers, administrators, and all the support staff, as well as the students through prayer this weekend in worship. I hope you will join us for a Blessing of the Backpacks.
In addition to this act of prayer and affirmation, we will be kicking off our Operation Backpack partnerships. We anticipate sponsoring 200 students at our three partner schools by providing food assistance for the weekend for these students. You can become a partner for one of more of these students each week by becoming a monthly ($12 a month for 9 months) or yearly sponsor ($108), or by making a one time gift. Find out more by joining us in worship this weekend or contacting our Director of Missions, Denise Spalding (email@example.com)
This Weekend in Worship
United Methodists are thinking people. We do not check our minds and thoughts at the door when we come to worship or when we begin to follow Jesus. In fact, we are called to love the Lord with our whole mind. With the rise of scientific thought and technology, our thinking minds begin to grapple with just how science and faith come together, or if they even can. We begin to wonder if miracles really still happen. If God is at the center of our worldview, how do, or how can, these two thoughts come together? As we continue our In Focus series, I look forward to unpacking God’s word as we engage both God and science this weekend in worship. I’ll see you then.