Depending on the religious tradition you come from, you may be more or less familiar with the ancient creeds of the Church. Some may remember having to memorize The Apostles Creed in a Confirmation class. Others have attended churches where creeds are recited regularly in worship (including in this church over the years). Still others have likely not had much exposure to the creeds if you hail from a tradition that does not place as high a value on their significance (for example, the Baptists).
Creeds became an important part of the work of early Christian leaders as they sought to both unify the movement of Christ followers as well as clarify and set boundaries on a wide variety of beliefs. Issues like the virginity of Mary, the role of the Holy Spirit, where Jesus spent the time between his death and resurrection were life or death issues for the early Christians. It was imperative for the Christian movement to have unity of belief in these core concepts of our faith, the leaders felt. You may feel differently today about what is "imperative" to your faith.
Over time, the creeds have helped the church to remain faithful to these core beliefs. And, as I mentioned earlier, some Christian denominations give greater weight to the creeds than others.
The word creed comes from the Latin word credo which means “I believe.” Creeds are statements of beliefs. Some seminaries require graduating students to write a credo, or statement of personal beliefs. You may remember that our recent Confirmation class wrote its own creed that represented its beliefs and we recited it together on Confirmation Sunday. One part of that Creed states this, “We believe Jesus came to show us what God is like.”
In worship this weekend we will reflect on the history of the creeds and hear from some little known creeds from around the world. I will also challenge you to consider your own personal creed about your faith and values. The early creeds were intended to give shape to the life of early Christian believers. What is it that gives shape to your life? Come and explore with us this weekend!
On Sunday, July 13 we will celebrate the final game of the World Cup with a soccer jersey and soccer ball give-away in worship. Be sure to come and claim your ticket (a verse of scripture) and win! After worship we will enjoy ice cream and Popsicles to beat the summer heat.
On Saturday, July 19 there will be a second Children’s Adventure Day with a water theme. Mark your calendars now for this fun day.
Many blessings and see you Sunday!
As you know, I spent last week in Lakeland, FL with three others from our church at the Florida Annual Conference’s annual meeting. This meeting is “very Methodist” in that it has been a part of our Methodist life together for more than 200 years. Our United Methodist churches in Florida are connected to each other in many ways and each year we gather to make decisions, converse, share ideas, and worship as a way to renew that connection.
This year’s conference was slightly longer than prior years, Wednesday afternoon to Saturday noon. When our current bishop was assigned to Florida almost two years ago he discovered that our annual conference had the shortest meeting of any in the country (48 hours from start to finish). I have heard him liken it to a family reunion where a family knows it has to get together each year but really doesn’t want to spend much time together – in fact, just enough to grab a fast food meal and be on its way. I found this interesting and have been pondering the metaphor in light of our ministry context.
We are a downtown church. There are certain characteristics, historically, to downtown churches that make them unique. For example, our congregants reside in a variety of neighborhoods around the city and travel in to worship downtown. We have a strong ministry with the homeless. Our historic organ and music ministries have long been a central point of focus for ministries. The church building can often feel “closed up” by gates due to security concerns in a downtown setting. People living in urban areas are often transient, and do not live long in one place. These are just to name a few. Another characteristic to downtown churches, which stems from the aforementioned list, is our tendency to assume people live far away and lead busy, urban lives and have little time for church activities. Unlike churches that sit in the middle of large residential communities where it is (perhaps) easier for people to stop in several times a week, downtown churches often struggle with the difficulty of coordinating distance, schedules, traffic, and commitment when building community.
This (re)occurred to me as I experienced our extended conference last week in Lakeland. The three day conference allowed more time for me to see and fellowship with other pastors and church members as well as hear and understand the business of the conference and worship with some really awesome music and preaching. It was good for my soul, and I came away feeling like it was well worth the extra time.
I want to encourage us, FUMC of Miami, to continue to grow in our commitment to one another and our life together. It is hard to build community, or a church family, when we don’t get together very much. The more we see of each other, and experience the work of the Spirit together, the more likely we are to grow in our life of faith and love. Sunday morning worship is the most likely time we will all encounter each other. I encourage you to recommit to regular worship attendance unless you are sick or out of town. I also want to hear from you.
Aside from weekly worship, what is the one thing you would personally commit to at our church that would help you grow in your faith journey? Simply reply to this email now with your response.
It could be outreach, bible study, gardening, praying – you name it. I want to hear from you! Be in touch, and be present. Speaking for myself, you are a church family I want to spend more time with!
Mark your calendars for two upcoming events: this Saturday, June 21 is the Children’s Adventure Day beginning at 9:00 a.m. here at the church. The petting zoo returns this year!
Also, this Sunday, June 22 at 2:00 p.m. our song leader Gerard Ortega and friends will offer Songs with Harp including Gerard Ortega, Tenor, Charlene Connor, Harp, and Nathalie Avila, Soprano. Tickets are $10 at the door.
Many blessings and see you Sunday!
As many of you know, our church became what it is today after the merger of two Methodist congregations that were both founded in the same year our city was chartered, 1896. In those days, our denomination was still (shamefully) divided over the issues of slavery and race. There was a Methodist Episcopal Church North and a Methodist Episcopal Church South. Representatives from both churches arrived in Miami in the early years and sought to create congregations where Miami settlers could worship. They did so, and built two churches mere blocks from each other in downtown Miami. They both flourished to several thousand members over the decades that followed. The Methodists reunified in 1939, nationally, and over the years that followed the two congregations in Miami, White Temple and Trinity, would casually discuss and consider the possibility of merging. Ultimately, one event would prompt the eventual merger.
In 1964 a juvenile from up north came to Miami and set fire to more than one church building in the city, White Temple Methodist Church being one of them. The fire started at the organ and engulfed most of the sanctuary. The pastor of the church was called to the scene. As the story goes, the pastor left a large wooden sign the next morning with painted letters that read, “Burned Out but Fired Up. Church as Usual.” They would worship in the parish house for some time and then, eventually, begin worshiping with the congregation at Trinity Church under the leadership of one pastor. Just a few years later, when the city needed Trinity’s land to build Miami Dade College, the merged church would use that money to buy the property at 400 Biscayne Blvd. and rename itself, “First United Methodist Church of Miami.”
As you can imagine, I have heard variations of this story over the years that I have been here. You are getting my variation in this email! But the first person to tell me this story after I arrived here added this commentary. “It has been said that on the day of that fire, the Spirit did what the people couldn’t do.” Merger looked slow and, perhaps, unimportant to the members of those two churches before a fire tore through one of them. It was a devastating and tragic fire, yet an open door for opportunity to build Methodist unity in our city.
This Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost Sunday with fire red in the sanctuary and a birthday cake (“the birthday of the church”) for the kids. We will examine the Pentecost story found in Acts 2:1-21 as it relates to Genesis and the original story of division that set off a wave of languages, cultures and interests around the world. Is it that God continues to send the Spirit in a wave of wind and fire to re-inspire our lives and fill us with hope, reigniting our own spirits to unify us in the one Spirit? Might it be that the Spirit is able to do things in and through our lives that we would likely not do under our own power? “Yes!” we exclaim as daughters and sons of the Pentecost fire. Yes! Through the Spirit our lives are transformed and unified with new vigor and energy. Come and worship this Sunday for a rekindling of your own spiritual fire.
First, a big thank you to the Marietta First United Methodist Church Youth Choir that sang for us in worship on Sunday. For all in attendance, their music was a gift to heart and soul. And a special welcome to our Confirmation class of 2014 that joined the church on Sunday and led a special worship service. Please continue to lift up and thank God for Julien Bacon, Leah Brooks, Adrien Covarrubias, Justin Lambert, and Seth Lewertow.
Mark your calendars for two upcoming events: Saturday, June 21 is the Children’s Adventure Day beginning at 9:00 a.m. here at the church. The petting zoo returns this year!
Also, on Sunday, June 22 at 2:00 p.m. our song leader Gerard Ortega and friends will offer Songs with Harp including Gerard Ortega, Tenor, Charlene Connor, Harp, and Nathalie Avila, Soprano.
Many blessings and see you Sunday!
This Sunday we will celebrate what most pastors would agree is one of their absolute favorite events of the year – not Christmas or Easter, nor a wedding (although all of these are great too). It is Confirmation Sunday! Perhaps some of you remember when you were confirmed in a church as you entered adolescence.
In traditions where infant baptism is common, a process of “confirmation” is common. This is a time when a young person, typically during middle school years, has the opportunity to make a personal declaration of faith. When a child is baptized, his or her parents make the declaration of faith for them. At Confirmation, the time arrives when the young person claims the grace of Jesus Christ and chooses to be a follower. The process leading up to this Sunday is a delight for pastors (and the youth, we hope!).
As you can imagine, we have lots of fun as we meet to learn the basics of the faith necessary to make this kind of personal declaration. Our meetings over the last three months have consisted of pizza, conversation, games, and lots of questions. The Confirmation class learned about why the Church split in 1054 into an Eastern and Western church that remains today. They learned about how our Trinitarian God is a little like water, steam, and ice. They learned about our mission opportunities around the world – and how international and local missionaries have often sacrificed their lives to share the message of Jesus with others. The class, upon asking about the drawings of our former church buildings that hang in the church library, learned that a juvenile from up north burned down one of those church buildings in the early 1960s leading to the merger of two Methodist congregations to form our current church.
Can you see why pastors love Confirmation classes? It is a wonderful way to share and learn. It is a magical time of entertaining questions from our youth, and answering only some of them. It is a time to reinforce our proud Methodist heritage of using heart, mind, experience, and scripture to inform our lives and decisions. This Sunday we will share in the very special experience of each of these young people as they declare their faith in Jesus Christ. We will also reaffirm our own faith and share in Holy Communion as a reminder of the grace of God that is given as a gift to each of us.
Will you join me in praying for Julien, Leah, Adrien, Justin, and Seth as they prepare for their Confirmation this weekend? Might we all re-confirm our own faith as well!
An additional treat this Sunday will be a visit from the Marietta First United Methodist Church Youth Choir who will offer several pieces of music during the service of Confirmation. You won’t want to miss this special worship.
And mark your calendars for Sunday, June 22 at 2:00 p.m. when our song leader Gerard Ortega and friends will offer Songs with Harp including Gerard Ortega, Tenor, Charlene Connor, Harp, and Nathalie Avila, Soprano.
Many blessings and see you Sunday!
Many of you were present on Palm Sunday when I made the confession that I would not be rooting for a Heat Three-peat of their championship run this year. Yes, many of you have yet to forgive me for that confession! And, many others of you have reminded me that I have a pretty poor record of helping my cause when I let my sports preferences be known in worship (the two times I have worn jerseys to church my teams have proceeded to lose!). It is quite possible that the Heat will, indeed, win their third championship in a row this year. Of course, for many reasons, that would be very cool for our city and for our block on Biscayne Blvd. that we share with the Heat’s home arena. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of reasons why a three-peat would be awesome.
However, as I continue to stay up way past my bedtime to watch these playoff games, I am confronted with that gnawing feeling of wanting to share the championship excitement just a bit. Being from the Midwest, I think it would be great fun to see the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Indiana Pacers win their first NBA championship. No, please don’t delete this e-mail just yet! (I promise I will not, under any circumstances, root for the San Antonio Spurs who have also already won their fair share of championships!)
Listen, as Christians we place great value in the principle of sharing. The earliest Christians, as they gathered to worship the risen Christ, took very seriously the need to share their possessions in a common life together. Why should one have a cupboard full of food when another is hungry? Why should one have three coats when another is cold? So one might argue that too many championship trophies is down-right greedy and we should share the opportunity of winning a championship with another great city.
I can tell as I write this that very few of you are buying my argument. Fair enough. I gave it a try. But, as I prepare for this weekend in worship around the themes found in Acts 17:22-31, I can’t help but pick up on a larger, even more important issue, in this conversation. In Acts 17, Paul is addressing a crowd in the Greek city of Athens. He is attempting to make the case for God in the midst of people who already have plenty of gods. In fact, it was common practice for those wishing to have their god recognized in Athens to come and publicly make a case for why this god is significant and why this god wants to reside in Athens. You can imagine the task before Paul! It can be hard, can’t it, to proclaim the greatness and significance of your God to those who worship their own gods?
I won’t make more of the Miami Heat’s (potential) Three-peat than need be. However, I will offer a simple reminder to us all (me included!) that the one most worthy of our praise is not wearing red, white or black – or any other color – and does not dribble a basketball. We worship the Lord, the one who calls us to be a champion of justice, mercy, peace, and love. I believe we can all agree on that – no matter who wins this year’s NBA Championship.
This Sunday, May 25, we will recognize our high school, college, and Master’s graduates at the 11:00 a.m. worship service. And, mark your calendars for next Sunday, June 1 – Confirmation Sunday – with leadership by this year’s Confirmation class and a special worship of music and blessing.
Many blessings and see you Sunday!