It has been awhile since I have made the time to edit the audio recordings of the Sunday messages. Is this something that is worth making the time to do? Are there folks out there who wish they could take a listen during the week in the podcast/audio format?
This week, I had a young man come to see me who had some questions and some simple needs. He was hungry, his backpack was too small and coming apart, and he needed batteries in the lights for his one form of transportation (a bicycle).
I listened to his story and struggles; we talked about God but not in righteous platitudes. We wondered together about where God is in the pain and struggles of life; my work as your pastor lets me have time available to do that. After we talked, we got in my car and drove over to Target. I got him batteries and a new larger backpack. I gave him a Giant gift card. He thanked me and, through me, you. By giving to our ministries, you made this story possible. Thank you.
The last year has been a wonderful experiment and opportunity in gathering together for conversation around what any given Bible passage means for us; that conversation and communion have been the center of Sundays at 9:30.
Sundays are in transition now. We will offer a series of short term topical studies/conversations at the 9:30 time slot. What are the upcoming topics? Prayer (beginning February 9 for six weeks), What Do I Believe (beginning March 30 for three weeks), and Forgiveness (beginning April 27 for four weeks) are just the start of many chances to commit between 3 and 6 weeks to thinking together about matters of importance to our faith.
John 4:1-42. The story of Jesus and his encounter with a woman at a well in Samaria is a great story. He asks for water and she’s surprised. He offers water and she’s surprised. Just who is really thirsty in this story? What are we thirsty for and can Jesus quench that thirst for us?
We knew when we began the Forgiveness Series that there was simply too much to cover. This week we “bring home” the series with some final thoughts about forgiving. What are your last questions about forgiveness?
Matthew 18:21-35. Having talked a bit about what forgiveness is and is not last week, this week we move on to the hard work of figuring out how to forgive. What steps can we take in the direction of forgiving? Against the backdrop of Jesus’s parable about forgiving, we will talk about it for ourselves.
This Sunday, January 12, we begin the Forgiveness Series with a look at what forgiveness is and is not. There are many misconceptions about what it means to forgive. This Sunday we’ll start with a wide brush and talk about what I think forgiveness is and hope I’ll dispel some myths about forgiveness as well. Come and listen, bring a friend, or join us online. We’ll get this conversation started…
This year we are inviting folks to take time regularly to pray. (More about that in another article, http://sjumc.net/?p=7) Some folks have indicated a wish to know more about how to pray and what prayer is. We are offering two classes: one on Wednesday nights at 7:30PM beginning January 15 at Panera Bread on Edsall Road and the other on Sunday mornings at 9:30AM beginning February 9.
The required reading material for the class is a book by Roberta Bondi entitled To Pray and To Love.
In 2013, Bishop Young Jin Cho challenged the Virginia Annual Conference (the larger United Methodist grouping of which we’re a part) to enter more deeply into a life of spiritual discipline, especially into the discipline of prayer. I considered the challenge and took it up in my daily life. By the end of 2013 I found myself losing myself in my time of prayer daily; I also found that prayer was no longer something I ought to do but indeed was something I must do. My life and sense of God-connection has been deeply enriched, my sense of personal peace even in times of chaos has been heightened.
As 2014 begins, I challenge all of our Saint James folks to the life of prayer. Many folks initial response is about how busy their lives are and how challenging it is to find time to pray in the midst of already jam-packed schedules. I agree it is a challenge; it is not an insurmountable one. Begin with just a few minutes a day. Close your eyes on the Metro for a few stops while listening for and talking to God. My friend Tony told me some years ago that he let every stop sign and stop light be a reminder to pray.
Prayer is a life changer. Let prayer become part of your everyday life. I triple-dog dare you to give it a try. We will be offering several prayer learning opportunities in the coming months. Look for more information soon about those classes/groups.
Beginning on Sunday, January 12 we are taking up one of our core values as Jesus-followers: forgiveness. In a world more focused on retribution and revenge, we are called out to a life of forgiving and receiving forgiveness. There are, however, a number of misconceptions about forgiveness, about what it is and what it is not, about how to give it. We even imagine that withholding it keeps us in the power seat. We imagine giving forgiveness is a sign of weakness and can lead to continued destructive behavior toward us.
We will spend three weeks on what forgiveness is, the beginnings of learning to forgive, and even talk a bit about forgiving ourselves and receiving forgiveness from God. Join us January 12, 19, and 26 for window into forgiveness.