[Beyond Sunday] What’s Up With Simplicity

Then the ruler said, “I’ve kept all of these things since I was a boy.”

When Jesus heard this, he said, “There’s one more thing. Sell everything you own and distribute the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me.” When he heard these words, the man became sad because he was extremely rich.

When Jesus saw this, he said, “It’s very hard for the wealthy to enter God’s kingdom! It’s easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.”

-Luke 8:20-23

Do we own our stuff or does it own us?  While Jesus never passes judgment on either wealth or poverty, he does point out that the accumulation of things usually indicates attachment to things.  And we are not meant to carry things with us into the kingdom of God.  [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:

  • When have you let possessions define who you are to yourself or to others?
  • How many things in your house have not been used in the last 6 months?  The last year?
  • How does your relationship with stuff affect your relationships with others?

Do and share:

  • Take a less stuff challenge:  Try to go 1 week without buying anything other than food.  Keep track of the things you think you need and how you got around buying something. #lessstuff
  • Choose an area of life you need to simplify.  Give away unused clothes, Stop eating out,  Give up coffee shop coffee.  Share your story in our Facebook group or on Twitter (@dpumc). #lessstuff

 

[Beyond Sunday] What’s Up With Politics

2 Keep the king’s command because of your sacred oath. 3 Do not be terrified; go from his presence, do not delay when the matter is unpleasant, for he does whatever he pleases. 4 For the word of the king is powerful, and who can say to him, “What are you doing?” 5 Whoever obeys a command will meet no harm, and the wise mind will know the time and way. 6 For every matter has its time and way, although the troubles of mortals lie heavy upon them. 7 Indeed, they do not know what is to be, for who can tell them how it will be? 8 No one has power over the wind to restrain the wind, or power over the day of death; there is no discharge from the battle, nor does wickedness deliver those who practice it. 9 All this I observed, applying my mind to all that is done under the sun, while one person exercises authority over another to the other’s hurt.

-Ecclesiastes 8:2-9

Where there are people, there will be politics.  How do we as the people of faith navigate our relationship to the state and to each other.  [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:

  • How does your faith inform your politics?
  • Do you find your politics informing your faith?
  • Do you ever see us as a people trying to “restrain the wind”?

Do and share:

  • Listen to 30 minutes of a quality news source different from your typical leaning.  Note the feelings that come up in you.
  • Find a story of faith positively impacting politics.  Share it in our Facebook group or on Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] Reaching Out

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. 41 Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house, 42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying.

As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. 43 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians,[l] no one could cure her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. 45 Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter[m] said, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.” 47 When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

49 While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.” 50 When Jesus heard this, he replied, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.”

-Luke 8: 40-50

We heard from Rev. Jim Bankston about what it takes to reach out to our neighbors.  This is part of our church’s 2 year Vibrant Church Initiative [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:

  • How many of your neighbors are like you? (age, race, income etc)
  • How often do you come into contact with people who are unlike you?
  • The woman who was healed had suffered long with a bleeding, odorous illness.  When you come into contact with people like that, how do you respond?

Do and share:

  • Journal each night about every person you talked to that day.  Note how they were like you and how they were unlike you.  Based on your notes, how well do you deal with those outside your comfort zone?
  • Visit a sick friend or elder this week and share a story or picture in our Facebook group or on Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] It is Well With My Soul

38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing.[a] Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

-Luke 10: 38-42

Everything about our culture encourages us to side with Martha.  We are told that if we work hard we will succeed.  We are told everyone should do their fair share.  We are told that if you don’t have something it is because you didn’t work for it.  Yet God’s favor cannot be earned by our work.  Grace is given and calls us to rest at the feet of the Lord.  Our lives should balance both activity and contemplation in their turn. [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:

  • Describe a struggle you encountered that you could not work yourself through.
  • How do you spend time resting with God?
  • What happens to your soul if you do not rest?

Do and share:

  • Set aside a whole 24 hours for rest this week.  Document how keeping a Sabbath changes your week.
  • Find a video of your favorite praise music and share in our Facebook group or on Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] Covenant of the Heart

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

 

-Jeremiah 31:31-34

[hear sermon audio]

In 1663 Richard Alleine, a Puritan, published  Vindiciae Pietatis:  or, “A Vindication of Godliness in the Greater Strictness and Spirituality of It”. In 1753, it was again published in John Wesley’s  A Christian Library. Wesley used one chapter, “The Application of the Whole,” on Monday, August 11, 1755, in what probably was the first real celebration of the Covenant Service in the Methodist movement.

 Wesley found the service rich and meaningful, as expressed in his Journal: “Many mourned before God, and many were comforted” (April 1756); “It was, as usual, a time of remarkable blessing” (October 1765). “It was an occasion for a variety of spiritual experiences … I do not know that ever we had a greater blessing. Afterwards many desired to return thanks, either for a sense of pardon, for full salvation, or for a fresh manifestation of His graces, healing all their backslidings” (January 1, 1775). In London, these services were usually held on New Year’s Day. Around the country, the Covenant Service was conducted whenever John Wesley visited the Methodist Societies.

This week, consider John Wesley’s 4 admonitions for covenant renewal.  How might you keep each of these in 2018?

First, set apart some time, more than once,
to be spent alone before the Lord;
in seeking earnestly God’s special assistance
and gracious acceptance of you;
in carefully thinking through all the conditions of the covenant;
in searching your hearts
whether you have already freely given your life to Christ.
Consider what your sins are.
Consider the laws of Christ, how holy, strict, and spiritual they are,
and whether you, after having carefully considered them,
are willing to choose them all.
Be sure you are clear in these matters, see that you do not lie to God.

Second, be serious and in a spirit of holy awe and reverence.

Third, claim God’s covenant,
rely upon God’s promise of giving grace and strength,
so you can keep your promise.
Trust not your own strength and power.

Fourth, resolve to be faithful.
You have given to the Lord your hearts,
you have opened your mouths to the Lord,
and you have dedicated yourself to God.
With God’s power, never go back.

From Wesley’s covenant service of 1890 as found in the United Methodist Book of Worship found online at: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/covenant-renewal-service

 

[Beyond Sunday] The Life of Christmas Present

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

 

-1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13

Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol is a timeless tale of holiday redemption.  Ebeneezer Scrooge follows the Ghost of Christmas Present on his worldwide mission to spread the spirit of Christmas.  Scrooge sees not only the power of love to sustain people in difficult circumstances, but also the impact it might have on his own life…if he would only allow  If it is possible for love to transform Scrooge, then we are not beyond its power.   [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on the meaning of Advent for your own life.

Texts to read:

  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-12
  • Luke 15

Questions to ponder:

  • What makes you fearful during this time of year?
  • How might God transform that fear into redemption?
  • What are some ways you continue the Christmas spirit all year long?
  • How do you share the Christmas story with your family through the gifts you offer?

    Rawle, Matt. The Redemption of Scrooge: Connecting Christ and Culture (The Pop in Culture Series). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

Do and share:

  • Take a Black and White picture that embodies the gift of love at Christmas and share it on our Facebook or Twitter (@dpumc) with #AdventLove
  • Get a copy of The Redemption of Scrooge (available in paperback and kindle) and learn along with us.

 

[Beyond Sunday] The Remembrance of Christmas Past

The Lord God’s spirit is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me
    to bring good news to the poor,
    to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim release for captives,
        and liberation for prisoners,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
        and a day of vindication for our God,
    to comfort all who mourn,
    to provide for Zion’s mourners,
    to give them a crown in place of ashes,
    oil of joy in place of mourning,
    a mantle of praise in place of discouragement.
They will be called Oaks of Righteousness,
    planted by the Lord to glorify himself.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins;
    they will restore formerly deserted places;
    they will renew ruined cities,
    places deserted in generations past.

 

-Isaiah 61: 1-4

Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol is a timeless tale of holiday redemption.  Ebeneezer Scrooge is forced to confront his past.  The journey is painful but also reignites a spark of compassion in his heart.  If it is possible for hope to reach Scrooge, then we are not beyond its power.   [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on the meaning of Advent for your own life.

Texts to read:

  • Isaiah 25:6-10
  • Ephesians 2:1-10

Questions to ponder:

  • Do you keep a journal?  Do you reflect on your past? What about reflection is difficult?
  • When you consider the places you’ve fallen short, who was there to help restore you to faith or relationship?
  • How would you describe the hope of Christmas to someone who does not attend church?

Do and share:

  • Be a part of Christ offering hope to the world by finding a place to serve others this week.  Take a picture and share it on our Facebook or Twitter (@dpumc) with #AdventHope
  • Get a copy of The Redemption of Scrooge (available in paperback and kindle) and learn along with us.

 

[Beyond Sunday] Bah! Humbug!…

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord…

 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,

and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,

and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,

in remembrance of his mercy,

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,

to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

 

-Luke 1: 46-47,52-55

Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol is a timeless tale of holiday redemption.  Ebeneezer Scrooge is a greedy miser so frozen by loneliness and fear that the warmth of Christmas seems like a threat.   If he can be redeemed and experience the peace of God, then so can we.  [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect on the meaning of Advent for your own life.

Texts to read:

  • Isaiah 9:1-7
  • John 14: 1-4, 15-24

Questions to ponder:

  • Marley had everything and winds up a restless spirit.  Mary had nothing yet her soul magnified the Lord.  Reflect on your own soul; where are you on that continuum?
  • What holiday tasks or activities cause you anxiety?  Are they necessary?
  • How are you making space for rest and peace during this busy time?

Do and share:

  • Make your own Advent wreath.  Take time each night to light the candle(s) for the week and say a prayer with your whole household.  If you’d like extra resources, check out: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/2017-advent-home-worship.
  • Get a copy of The Redemption of Scrooge (available in paperback and kindle) and learn along with us.

Bonus:

 

[Beyond Sunday] Children’s Sunday

Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. When he was 12 years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to their custom. After the festival was over, they were returning home, but the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t know it. Supposing that he was among their band of travelers, they journeyed on for a full day while looking for him among their family and friends. When they didn’t find Jesus, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple. He was sitting among the teachers, listening to them and putting questions to them. Everyone who heard him was amazed by his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were shocked.

His mother said, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Listen! Your father and I have been worried. We’ve been looking for you!”

Jesus replied, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he said to them.

Jesus went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. His mother cherished every word in her heart. Jesus matured in wisdom and years, and in favor with God and with people.

-Luke 2:41-52

We want our children to grow up as good faithful people.  But as they past from childhood to adolescence, faith can manifest in surprising ways.  [hear sermon audio]

This week, pray for the children and youth in your life.  Ask yourself if you are really prepared for them to be the people you’ve taught them to be. Read and reflect on these scriptures and questions.

Texts to read:

  • Deuteronomy 6:4-9
  • Proverbs 22:6

Questions to ponder:

  • What things do you think are most essential to teach to children?
  • Have you ever been surprised by how someone lived out their faith?
  • How did that experience help you grow?

Do and share:

  • Ask a child how they see God.  Pray about what you can learn from them.
  • Share a story of how you invested in the next generation on our Facebook (dpumctx) or Twitter (@dpumc)

 

[Beyond Sunday] The Good Samaritan

But the legal expert wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied, “A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He encountered thieves, who stripped him naked, beat him up, and left him near death. Now it just so happened that a priest was also going down the same road. When he saw the injured man, he crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. Likewise, a Levite came by that spot, saw the injured man, and crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. A Samaritan, who was on a journey, came to where the man was. But when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. The Samaritan went to him and bandaged his wounds, tending them with oil and wine. Then he placed the wounded man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day, he took two full days’ worth of wages and gave them to the innkeeper. He said, ‘Take care of him, and when I return, I will pay you back for any additional costs.’ What do you think? Which one of these three was a neighbor to the man who encountered thieves?”
Then the legal expert said, “The one who demonstrated mercy toward him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

-Luke 10:29-37

This week we heard several versions of the parable of the Good Samaritan.  In God’s kingdom, “neighbor” is not defined proximity or by affinity but by the capacity to show mercy.  [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Talk with God about how this story challenges you to grow as a disciple.  Read and reflect on these scriptures and questions.

Texts to read:

  • John 13:31-35, 14:15-21
  • 1 Kings 178-24 (Elijah stays with a Phoenician widow)

Questions to ponder:

  • Who could be your modern day Samaritan?
  • What would it mean to accept their help?
  • Our country is currently wrestling with divisions over politics, race, and faith.  How do you read this story differently than in the past?

Do and share:

  • Go out of your way this week to offer mercy to someone you don’t know.  Do it without any recognition.
  • Check out this story of two Good Samaritans from the concert bombing in Manchester, England. Share another story from the news or your own life on our Facebook or to @dpumc on Twitter.  #jesusstory