L.I.F.E. Downtown: Summer Camp

This week our church sent high schoolers to summer camp in Leesburg, FL as we do each year. The Warren W. Willis camp has been providing spiritual growth and fun for youth throughout Florida since 1948! It is so fantastic that our youth are able to go and enjoy this beautiful, enriching place.

As we were preparing the youth for this adventure, I found myself thinking back to my own years in summer camp. As a youth I attended a camp on the campus of Baker University in Baldwin, Kansas. It was during that experience that I had the opportunity to preach a sermon to my peers at one of the evening worship services. Already in high school I knew that I wanted to pursue pastoral ministry as a vocation. The adult leaders at the camp knew that and asked me to preach at the evening service.

I remember what I wore on that night in the summer of 1990. I remember the room where worship was held. I remember my friends who were sitting on the front row in support. I remember that I talked too fast and went on far too long (that won’t be hard for any of you to believe)! It was a significant evening for a young person about to go to college and enter, in earnest, the journey toward fulfilling a childhood dream.

I don’t know if any of the young people we send to summer camp will eventually become pastors. I do not doubt that God has a strong call on each of their lives and that this call will be lived out in a variety of ways. Ultimately, each of us is called to live into the dream and purpose God has for our lives. As we have learned over the last weeks in studying Isaac, Rebekah, Esau and Jacob, God’s dreams for us are abundant and not easily broken. Each of us is called to serve God and humanity by using our special gifts and abilities.

I want to encourage you to take a moment to consider a time in your life when someone encouraged you to grow in your gifts. Are you a musician? A teacher? Are you good with numbers or are you known for your gifts in hospitality? Who encouraged you and gave you opportunities to shine? Take a moment to give thanks for that person today.

I also want to issue this challenge. Consider how you are intentionally encouraging a young person to fulfill their God-given gifts. Can you identify someone in your professional field that could use some encouragement and support? Can you identify a young person in our church who could be mentored or encouraged in discerning God’s gifts in them, and how they will be used? Each of us is not only called by God for a great purpose in this world but we are called to nurture those around us to live into God’s vision for their lives too. Won’t we share together in this awesome task?

Coming Up

Mark your calendars for Sunday, August 17 when we will have a Back-to-School Blessing in worship and celebrate with ice cream sundaes afterwards. All students and teachers will be prayed over during worship with an ice cream celebration after. Plan to attend this special day!

Many blessings to all!

Pastor Cynthia

L.I.F.E. Downtown: Did You Know?

Did you know that 35,000 new apartments have been built downtown since 2003?  A good 80% of those are now filled with new residents.  Did you know the total number of people living in downtown Miami now is 70,000 and new development plans to double that number in the next ten years?  Perhaps you, like me, grew up in towns that were much smaller in population than the number of people now living in the few miles considered “downtown.”

Since congregations are called to minister to their community and since United Methodist pastors are appointed to serve a community (rather than a specific congregation), these things are important for us to know! 

I have said it before and will say it again. There has never been a better time to be in downtown Miami.  Downtown has never been this safe, this alive, this bustling with energy.  Even with superstars like Lebron James leaving town, Miami is still the place to be!

Our church is in a pivotal position.  On the one hand, many of you reading this e-mail do not live downtown and likely never come downtown except to attend church.  You are most connected to downtown as the center of your spiritual home.  Others of you are only too familiar with the statistics listed above.  You are one of the newcomers to downtown.  You live in one of those new or renovated apartments and you walk to church on Sunday morning.  You know downtown is safe, alive and bustling with energy. 

Centuries ago, the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed, “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city…pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”  I believe it is this kind of time we are living in as a congregation and community.  The Lord knows that our future is in our ability to love and nurture and build up the city in which we live.  The beauty and wisdom of our history blends together with the energy and vitality of today’s Miami to allow us to grow and change for this community. 

I believe our church has something to give to this “new Miami.”  For all of us, whether we live here or not, we are part of a beautiful calling to share the love of God in downtown Miami and the now 70,000 people who live here.  What an amazing challenge and opportunity.  I encourage you to pray for the work of God in this place and in the life of our congregation.   It is a truly exciting and Spirit filled task for us all.

Coming Up

Many thanks to all who assisted with the Children’s Adventure Day last Saturday.  It was a great success!

And our song leader, Gerard Ortega, sends a special thanks to all who attended the concert on Saturday night. It was a wonderful evening, and all of the support is greatly appreciated.

L.I.F.E Downtown: Reconciliation

To conclude this portion of our “First Families of the Old Testament” series, we will focus this week on reconciliation.  We went from birthright to ladders and now to a bridge of sorts. Jacob’s life has come full circle.  He anticipates a potentially volatile reunion with his brother Esau (the one he tricked out of a birthright and a blessing) and is surprised to find in Esau an immense amount of grace.  If you have experienced this kind of grace in your life, you know how relieved Jacob must have been.

We often spend our lives climbing toward goals – our own or the goals others have put before us.  In that climb, we find ourselves struggling to make wise decisions, stay true to ourselves, and achieve what has been set before us.  In this, we all have experienced times where bridges have been burned, feelings have been hurt, bad decisions were made, and the end result is a broken relationship where we are at fault.  It hurts.  And if you are like me, a great deal of guilt sets in when I finally realize the damage I have done.

I can name a few specific times in my life when people who should have held a grudge against me, or resented me, responded to me with grace, love, and forgiveness.  It has happened on several occasions in my own sibling relationships.  When I read Genesis 33:1-11 and imagine the anxiety Jacob felt as he prepared to encounter his brother, I can relate.  And when scripture tells us Esau saw Jacob and “ran to meet him, threw his arms around his neck, kissed him, and wept” I am deeply moved.  I have felt the kiss of forgiveness, as you likely have too, and it feels good!

As we prepare to worship around this powerful story this Sunday, I invite you to pray for places in your life where reconciliation has not yet come.  Are you the one holding a grudge?  Are you the one who has been wronged?  How might you ask for God’s help in setting aside ill feelings for the freedom of grace and forgiveness?  If you are the one who has wronged another, how might your prayers continue to be lifted up for the grace and love of another?  This weekend in worship we will allow an opportunity to lift up these prayers, seeking to build a bridge of reconciliation in our own hearts and lives.  Join me, won’t you?

Coming Up

This weekend is our second Children’s Adventure Day!  Join us on Saturday, July 19 for a day of fun with water.  The day will last from 9-2 and include lunch.  Toddlers through 5th graders are welcome for the fun.  Bring swim wear and a towel!

Also, this Saturday, July 19 is another wonderful concert by our song leader Gerard Ortega.  Unrequited Love will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 19 at FUMC.  It is a concert co-sponsored by the Hispanic-American Lyric Theatre and will feature an event featuring the talents of Nathalie Avila, Soprano, Theresa Jewett, Soprano, Stephanie Newman, Mezzo-Soprano, Gerardo José Ortega, Tenor, and Armando Naranjo, Baritone accompanied by the Metropolitan Opera’s very own Caren Levine on Piano and narrated by George Mattox.  Tickets can be purchased at the door for $16 or online for a discount.  Go to www.unrequitedlove.bpt.me and use promo code “john316” to receive $10 tickets.

Many blessings and see you Sunday!

L.I.F.E. Downtown: Ladders

Last week we began a sermon series on the First Families of the Old Testament. We are learning these families are as complicated as our own modern families! Each week there will be a way for us to see into the lives of the characters in the scripture stories as well as see into our own lives and how the Lord remains at work in the midst of our own complexities.

In this week’s scripture, Jacob is running for his life. You can read the scripture, Genesis 28:10-22, here. On the run, Jacob rests for the night in an ordinary place and while there, has a dream. The dream includes a ladder where he sees heavenly beings moving back and forth from earth to heaven. He also hears the voice of God, confirming his call as the father of many people and the ancestor to a nation.

Some of you may suffer from fear of heights. The talk of ladders may sound more like a nightmare than a dream. Others like to climb, to see what’s “up there” and the view that awaits after ascending a ladder, staircase or even a mountain. In Jacob’s dream, he does not make his way up and down the ladder but heavenly beings do. It is a clear image that the separation of the realms of divine and human are not as clear and defined as we might think. Then, of course, the voice of God confirms that God is very much present with Jacob, not a distant being.

There are times when we think the only place we can find God is in church, or at a holy place. We find ourselves thinking about God as far away and distant, unconcerned with much of what is happening in our lives. At times this may be consoling, as we are living a life we’d rather God not know much about. At other times it is frightening as we want nothing more than a sign that God is present with us in our struggles and worries. Surely Jacob, our long-ago ancestor, was in the same boat. He had been testing the limits with deceitful behavior and surely knew this would catch up with him one day. Yet he also seemed aware of his need for God, and God’s favor. When he stretched out to rest, with his head on a rock, he became more aware than ever of God’s presence and God’s plan for his life. Jacob came away from that experience a changed man, more determined than ever to fulfill God’s call on his life.

Are you at a place where you could use a confirmation of God’s call on your life? Are you ready to recommit yourself to God’s dreams for you? This Sunday in worship, I won’t make you climb a ladder. I won’t make you sleep with a rock under your head. But I will invite you to recommit your life to God – our God who meets us in the ordinary places and calls them sacred. Our God who lays claims to our lives and does not let us go. Won’t you come and hear anew the story of Jacob’s ladder and experience God’s renewed presence in your life too?

Coming Up

This 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, 9-2, for toddlers through 5th graders.

Also on July 19 is another wonderful concert by our song leader Gerard Ortega. Unrequited Love will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 19 at FUMC. It is a concert co-sponsored by the Hispanic-American Lyric Theatre and will feature an event featuring the talents of Nathalie Avila, Soprano, Theresa Jewett, Soprano, Stephanie Newman, Mezzo-Soprano, Gerardo José Ortega, Tenor, and Armando Naranjo, Baritone accompanied by the Metropolitan Opera’s very own Caren Levine on Piano and narrated by George Mattox. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $16 or online for a discount. Go to www.unrequitedlove.bpt.me and use promo code “john316” to receive $10 tickets.

Many blessings and see you Sunday!

Pastor Cynthia

L.I.F.E. Downtown: Birth Order

Due to the fact that my siblings live in other states, most of you have been spared the unflattering details of my role as the second born, eldest sister in my family of four. I have often thought it is a very good thing that none of them are preachers. They have lots of material on me that would fit any sermon!

You see, I think there was a mix-up with the birth order in my family. I have an older brother by only 20 months. It seems scientifically impossible, but surely I was meant to be the eldest of four siblings – the wiser (bossy), more mature (opinionated), and expert (know-it-all) big sister that everyone can rely on. Because I was so sure of this mix-up at a very early age, I felt the need to spend my childhood proving it. Whatever my (barely) big brother could do, I could do better. If he could stay up late, so could I. If he could climb trees, so could I. If he could play football, so could I. If he could mow the grass, so could I.

Well, kind of.

Once at my grandmother’s house (on 56 acres, with lots of grass to mow around her house), I made a grumpy, bossy, know-it-all scene when my brother was asked to mow the lawn. I put my hands on my hips, furrowed my brow, and asked incredulously why I couldn’t mow the grass! My parents said that I most certainly could if I felt so strongly about it. [Well, of course, I didn’t feel that strongly about the grass. But I did feel strongly about the birth order mix-up and the grass was just one more way to prove it!]

I got behind that push mower (did I mention I was eight years old?) and pushed and pushed. Boy, that lawnmower was really heavy. It had always looked so easy from a distance as I was pouting from the front window of the house. And my grandmother’s yard didn’t seem so big until I had pushed that mower about two times the length of the front yard (in very crooked lines) and decided that I actually did not need to mow the grass and would prefer to give that opportunity back to my “big” brother.

Birth order is an interesting thing. And this week’s scripture about Jacob and Esau will allow us to see inside one of the most complex family systems in the Bible. Jacob also thought there was a mistake in birth order, and he took action to reverse the blessing of his father. Jacob ended up learning, not unlike I have learned over the years, that birth order is best not to be messed with. To read the scripture lesson for this week, Genesis 25:19-34, click here.

I invite you to make worship a priority this summer as we worship with the “first families” of the Old Testament and the complex webs of relationships they weave. Perhaps you, too, will see yourself in scripture and come away with a new understanding of your own life and purpose.

Coming Up

Happy July 4th! Have a safe and relaxing holiday tomorrow and I will look forward to seeing you on Sunday in worship.

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!

Pastor Cynthia

L.I.F.E. Downtown: Creeds

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!

Coming Up

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!

Pastor Cynthia

L.I.F.E. Downtown: Short Family Reunions

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!

Coming Up

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!

Pastor Cynthia

L.I.F.E. Downtown: Pentecost Fire

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.

Coming Up

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!

Pastor Cynthia

L.I.F.E. Downtown: Confirmation

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!

Coming Up

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!

Pastor Cynthia

L.I.F.E. Downtown: The Heat Three-peat

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.

Coming Up

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!

Pastor Cynthia

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