It is all Christ, Christ is all in all, every material, every physical thing is Christ and that includes you and that includes every person and plant and species on this planet. My favorite definition of a Christian is this: A Christian is one who can recognize Christ in every one and everything.
Dr. Sheron Patterson, pastor of Hamilton Park UMC, begins our series “Grace and Grit” - Two characteristics of three women in the Bible who show us how to live and lead faithfully in the midst of difficult situations. Experience the stories of Deborah, the Syrophoenician woman, and Hannah in our worship series Grace and Grit.
Jesus has overcome death, he has overcome the death-dealing things of this world...and so death no longer fills the space of our lives, it no longer clutters our vision or our thinking and being in this world, Jesus has tidied it up, he's made a path through it for us so that we can go from life through death to life again just like he did.
Have you ever asked the question of why did Jesus die on the cross? Maybe this is something that you have let go of in your deconstruction or maybe you haven’t ever given it much thought. Pastor Blair sits down with Dr. Gary Fox to talk through the differing atonement theologies and how they play out in our lives in this episode of “Practicing The Presence.”
Jesus says: focus on loving God and loving others and your joy will be complete. The Greek root of the word joy is the same as grace--joy is a gift from God, joy is a gift of knowing you are connected to the divine and this connection is not something you earn or win…it is always present with you, if you will just see it, in moments of stress, see your connection with God and with others and your joy will be complete. Joy comes in, fear goes out when we see ourselves as connected.
If you do not read the Bible, you place yourself at the mercy of those who do. The discipline of wrestling with scripture frees you from people who want to impose their reading on you.
A prominent pastor here in Dallas thinks we should build a wall at our southern border. He told the news the Bible says heaven has a wall around it. That’s Revelation 21:12. He didn’t mention there are twelve gates in that wall that never close. That’s Revelation 21:25. If we want to build a wall at the border like the one in the Bible, we’ll have to put big holes in it every few miles.
Many of us Christians have collected a lot of beliefs we’ve been taught and told and even repeated…this season of Lent is a time to sort through what we believe or have been told for so long and decide: which ideas about the faith do we need to keep and which do we need to throw out? This week we are tidying up our clothes or the things we put on God.
We are a congregation full of prophets. Together we are a prophetic community—we know what God has done in the past, we know how God has consistently worked through people to end evil, injustice, and oppression—we know now is our time. Now is our time to share God’s dreams for a better world. Thy kingdom come.
We must see on the cross our call to action and our responsibility. We must see on the cross the people who are suffering today, those with whom Christ identifies with today. Can you see who is there today?
I see the migrant children who are separated from their families and I see LGBTQ+ persons who have been marginalized by the church and I see children who are starving to death in Yemen because of war and I see the poor who cannot afford to go and see a doctor, and I see those who are discriminated against because of their race or their gender or their religion and can you see who is on the cross with Christ today?
To say yes to Jesus and yes to His kingdom is to say 'no' to the standard behaviors and standard operating procedures of the kingdoms of this world which means we will stand out a bit. I have been returning to this question again and again as I have been thinking about what it means to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God, from Ginger Gaines Cirelli:
If churches are seeking to live as citizens of God's Kin-dom, then why are so many Christian people barely distinguishable from anyone else in their values and priorities?
For a while now, spiritual leaders have been saying that the greatest spiritual problem of our time is busyness. Some have pointed out that the Chinese character for being busy is made up of two elements: heart and killing. Busyness kills the heart. That is a violent image...busyness kills the heart. Thomas Merton says that our overwork is a pervasive form of violence today.
We are the ones to see and treat each person and each encounter as holy, to go out of our way to love our neighbors as ourselves, we are all connected. Do you hear Christ even now?
I am being bullied, stand up for me.
I am separated from my children, help me.
I am failing in school, tutor me.
I am Muslim, welcome me.
I am homeless, listen to my story.
When Moses notices the burning bush he could have said, “oh wow look at that,” and just kept going with his sheep. Or “that’s interesting but I don’t have time to check that out, I have an agenda to keep, I’ll come back later.” Or he could have been busy looking down at his phone and glanced up and thought, meh, and gone back to the captivating cat video he was watching.