January 6, 2022

JLuke 3:15-17, 21-22 (NRSV) 

15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16 John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." 21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." 
A prominent attorney was rushing through Chicago's O'Hare Airport trying to make a connecting flight back to his West Coast home. What happened to him as he pushed and shoved his way to the plane would change his life forever.
As he rushed through the airport, he suddenly found his way blocked by a group of children. He fussed, fumed and even cursed a little because of the delay that threatened to make him miss his flight. All at once, his frenzied efforts were completely halted by one child, a boy with blond hair and excited blue eyes. The boy had wrapped his arms around the attorney's leg. As he squeezed, he looked up into the attorney's face and said, "Who do you belong to mister? Can I go with you?"
Upon retelling the experience, the attorney confessed: "My heart melted. It had been some years since I had felt a child's arms around my leg. I put my hand on his head, tousled his hair, and told him I wished he could go with me. It was then I noticed that he and the other children wore identical T-shirts with the name of some children's home on them. I guessed it was some kind of orphanage. When I was aboard my flight and headed west, the little fellow's question would not go away. And I began to ask myself, "To whom do I belong? Do I belong to my profession, my clients, my social status, my investments, to everything but those who love me, or to God who once was real to me?”[1]
When our identity and purpose in life is found in God, in His love and grace, all other things in life fall into place. That's the reason why our service of Baptismal renewal says, "Remember your baptism ad be grateful." In other words, remember who you are and whose you are. Think about it. 
See you in church this Sunday when we will remember our baptism and be grateful.

[1]Donald J. Shelby, Who Do You Belong To? As told in a sermon on 1/8/1989.

January 13, 2022

1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NRSV) 

17  As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18  They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19  thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life. 

Matthew 6:21 (NRSV) 
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


Eugene Peterson tells the following story in his book, Run With the Horses: Three young swallows were perched on a dead branch that stretched over a lake. The mother swallow got alongside the chicks and started shoving them out toward the end of the branch. The first one fell off. Somewhere between the branch and the water four feet below, its wings started working. The fledgling was off on its own. Then the second one took off the same way.


The third chick was not going to be bullied. At the last possible moment his grip on the branch loosened just enough so that he swung downward, then tightened again. The mama bird was merciless. She pecked at the desperately clinging talons until it was more painful for the poor chick to hand on than risk the insecurities of flying. He let go, and the inexperienced wings began pumping. The mother bird knew what the child did not—that it would fly—and there no danger in making it do what it was perfectly designed to do.


Peterson says, “Birds have feet and can walk. Birds have talons and can cling. But flying is their characteristic action, and not until they fly are they living at their best, gracefully, and beautifully.”


There are two points I want to make. First, giving is what we do best. It is what we were designed to do. Some try desperately to hold on to themselves, what they have, and are miserable. We don’t think we can live generously because we have never tried.


Second, there are people out there who are desperately hanging on to a troubled life. They can only let go if we are here to provide guidance and support through the love and fellowship of this community of faith. The two work together. 


There is our need to give and the desperate need of those in the world to know of Christ. It’s a match made in heaven and I believe you want to be a part of it. Please help us continue God’s Kingdom work at First United Methodist by filling out an estimate of giving card. You can fill out the card sent to you in the mail, on line, or in church this Sunday. Let go and make a difference. Please think about it.