[Beyond Sunday] We Had Hoped…

image: Emmaus Door

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread

-Luke 24:13-34

Worry, doubt, shame and grief can all rob us of our hope.  On the road to Emmaus, two disciples find themselves unable to rationalize all that has happened.  But then a strange encounter with a teacher opens there eyes to the new thing God is about.  When hope fails in our lives, how might God show up in unexpected ways to renew our hearts?    [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • Have you ever hoped for something that did not happen?  How did it make you feel?
  • How might small habits help us regain our hope in difficult times?
  • What habits are you currently cultivating in your life?

Do and share:

  • Take a short video of yourself describing a time when hope was difficult and what helped you see God at work. Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Share your hopeful prayer request on Facebook or Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] The Way We Thrive

Thus says the Lord,
    who makes a way in the sea,
    a path in the mighty waters,
17 who brings out chariot and horse,
    army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
    they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18 Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
19 I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
20 The wild animals will honor me,
    the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21     the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.

-Isaiah 43:16-21

The language of Isaiah 43 all indicates God’s ongoing action of salvation and renewal.  We are a part of a long story of being made new.  Even if we seem to be in the wilderness now, God is always ready with the next thing; ready to bring life into places we thought dry.  Celebrate what God is doing right now. [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on where God is leading you.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • When has God been active in your life in a way you didn’t immediately recognize?
  • What practices help you discern how God is moving when you need direction?
  • What of the past do you need to forget in order to embrace a new way forward?

Do and share:

  • Do a 20 min journal exercise.  On one page, spend 10 minutes listing the questions you are wrestling with right now.  On the next page, spend 10 minutes listing the way’s you’ve seen God at work in the last few months.  Compare the two lists to see if they overlap anywhere.
  • How do you want Deer Park to be different because of this church?  Share your answer on our Facebook or tweet @dpumc with #Wayfinding

 

 

[Beyond Sunday] The Way We Thrive

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

-Matthew 28:16-20

Even in the times of greatest turbulence, God remains the same.  Though means and methods might change, our call as believers and churches remains constant as well.  We thrive by making disciples of Jesus Christ.  Because where disciples are made, lives are changed. [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on where God is leading you.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • How focused is our church on making disciples?
  • What have you done so far this year to make disciples of Jesus Christ?
  • How could lives in our community be changed if we made 10 new disciples this year?

Do and share:

  • Consider how you could help someone else become a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Write a challenge to yourself, seal it in an envelope and put away and work on it till the end of the year.  Open it on New Year’s Eve and see how you did.
  • Tell us the story of how discipleship has changed your life.  Share on our Facebook or tweet @dpumc with #Wayfinding

 

 

[Beyond Sunday] The Way We Grow

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.

Gal 5:22-26

When we find ourselves disoriented or unsure where God is leading next, we need to pause, assess and read the signs to find our own way forward. It is to easy to get caught up in the latest trend or recommendation for finding your best life now.  We get tempted into treating discipleship like a path to self-improvement.  Discipleship is not a method for curating a perfect life; it is the hard work or tending our garden so that God might bear good fruit through us.  [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on where God is leading you.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • What fruits come most easily for you?
  • What fruits seem like a struggle?
  • How might God be calling you to grow as a disciple?

Do and share:

  • Make a list of 3 people who you look up to for their discipleship.  Make a list of 3 people who might look up to you.  Ask God how these relationships can help you grow.
  • What kind of sacrifice are you prepared to make to further the work of DPUMC?  Share on our Facebook or tweet @dpumc with #Wayfinding

 

 

[Beyond Sunday] The Way of Expectations

My spirit abides among you; do not fear. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts. The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts.

Haggai 2: 5b-9

Wayfinding refers to a class of ancient arts that allowed our ancestors to navigate seemingly impossible expanses.  Today, when we find ourselves disoriented or unsure where God is leading next, we too can pause, assess and read the signs to find our own way forward. Sometimes the biggest obstacle we face is ourselves.  As individual and communities, we go the way of our expectations.  God has promised great things; are we prepared to embrace them? [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on where God is leading you.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • What do you expect of God?
  • What do you think God expects of you?
  • How are you investing in God’s kingdom right now?

Do and share:

  • Track how you spend your time for a week.  What do you do that provides for basic necessities?  What is about leaving a legacy?  What of your time reflects your faith?
  • What do you hope for our church over the next 5 years?  Share on our Facebook or tweet @dpumc with #Wayfinding

 

Bonus:  Check out this graphical overview of the book of Haggai

haggai-chart

It’s only the end of the beginning

Huge thank you to all the Deer Park United Methodist folks who have gone above and beyond this week donating to and packing flood buckets, serving in shelters and helping to clean out houses. You have found so many ways to show your faith to others in the midst of this storm.

Thank you to all our brothers and sisters in faith who have partnered together formally and in formally. It is both humbling and inspiring to see so many people go out of their way to help one another.

At the end of this week, I’m tired and I know many of you are as well. I pray you rest tonight for there is so much work ahead. I pray also that the spirit of unity and service that has carried us throughout this week might never be exhausted.

Months from now, when we all look back, I hope we remember the pride and solidarity of this week as much as the tragedy. And I hope it fuels in us the will to keep going long after the cameras are gone and some places are back to “normal”. Because normal is a long way off for some. But if we hold together the way we have this week, perhaps we can do more than return to the way things were.

May we find in these first days the seed of a better future; and however long it takes, may we carefully tend it to fruition.

See, a king will reign in righteousness,

and princes will rule with justice.

Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,

a covert from the tempest,

like streams of water in a dry place,

like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.

-Isaiah 32:2