Tag Archives: Love

The Dark Freedom of Feeling Powerless

We read or watch the news, and we feel overwhelmed and helpless.  What can we do in the face of senseless violence, or oppression in communities that we are not a part of?  In the face of such struggle, our actions could not possibly make a difference.  In seeking justice, we are frustrated at the feeling of powerlessness.

But, here’s the thing:  we are not powerless.  The dark truth is choosing to believe we are powerless gives us the freedom to do what we want, rather than what God would have us do.  There is a difference between being powerless, and not seeing immediate results from our actions.

At the end of his earthly life, Jesus Christ appeared to be powerless as he fought for justice, leaving this world crucified on a cross.  Jesus set aside his power to be in solidarity with those harmed by sin in this world, and was arrested, tortured and killed.  And what was the immediate result?  Was the emperor overthrown?  Did Pilate lose his job?  Nothing appeared to change, but we know everything did.

It might not appear to make much of a difference, but we always have the power to love our neighbor, which Jesus defines in the parable of the Good Samaritan as actively engaging ourselves in the life of someone who is hurting – showing mercy.  The battle for justice is long, but it can begin for you with acts of mercy.  Who is hurting in your world?  You have the power, and Christ calls you, to cross the street and enter into their hurt with them.

From Benedict of Nursia:  “However late, then, it may seem, let us rouse ourselves from lethargy.  That is what scripture urges on us when it says: the time has come for us to rouse ourselves from sleep.  Let us open our eyes to the light that can change us into the likeness of God.  Let our ears be alert to the stirring call of his voice crying to us every day: today if you should hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

Put on Your Best Smile for New Photo Directory!

We are very excited to partnering with LifeTouch for a new photo directory!  You can click on the link below to schedule your appointment.  It is FREE to get your portrait taken, and every group  or individual that gets their portrait done with get a FREE 8×10, and a FREE copy of the new directory.  You will have the opportunity, of course, to purchase pictures, but there is no obligation.

https://www.securedata-trans14.com/ap/oxfordunitedmethodist/index.php?page=10

Family Feud?

If you are reading this, it might be because you are looking to learn more about our church before you come visit. Or you might be a regular reader of our updates because you find our pastor an amazing writer.  Maybe you’re here because the United Methodist Church is in the news again, as we are just finishing our General Conference in Portland, Oregon.

Not to sound anti-media, but good news is not usually the first thing that the media likes to report on. What attracts the most interest these days is irony.  So, while a lot of good news was celebrated in Portland, what drew the most attention was the disharmony among people who all claim to believe the same things.

For United Methodists, most of the disharmony revolves around matters of human sexuality, and the General Conference has moved to let our Council of Bishops take a broad and deep look at the issue, with the hope of bringing the United Methodist Church to a just resolution that allows us all to move forward in the task of sharing Jesus Christ with the world.

I know this lack of resolution is painful to many, and puzzling to others, who can’t understand why we haven’t just decided already (one way or another) like many other denominations. But just as every family resolves its issues in its own way, the United Methodist family is resolving it in its own.  So if you aren’t a United Methodist, why not learn a little more about us before being too critical of the puzzling (even to ourselves, sometimes) way we work to resolve disagreements.  And if you are a United Methodist, pray for our bishops as they begin work on this commission, and trust that, though we might not be where we want to be, we are where we need to be.

People who know me, know that the story of Jacob wrestling with God is one of my favorite metaphors for the church. Like Jacob before us, the United Methodist Church continues to wrestle with God and Humanity, and I believe like Jacob before us, we will ultimately receive God’s blessing, even if it comes with a dislocated hip.

And in the meantime, won’t you join us in serving God and serving the Oxford community?

Schedule for Holy Week

Thanks for checking in, friends!  Here is a brief rundown of upcoming events here at Oxford United Methodist Church

March 24 – Holy Thursday Service at 7:00pm.  Includes the opportunity for foot- or hand-washing, and Communion.

March 25 – Good Friday Service at 7:00pm.

March 26 – Monthly Buffet Breakfast – 7am-10am.

March 27 – Community Sunrise service at 7:00am on the green (in center of town)

– Special music at the 10:55am service with the Quarter Ringers handbell choir.  And our children’s choir.  And our senior choir.  And our band.

 

I Could Be Wrong

(Or:  We Certainly Have to Live with Some Uncertainty)

I like certainty.  Don’t tell me my frozen pizza is going to take 23 to 28 minutes – give me an exact number!  I don’t want to have to check the oven again and again.  And speaking of numbers, nothing makes me more anxious than being at the deli counter when they’re not using their take-a-number machine.  How will I be certain to get my turn when I should?

Because we believe in an all-knowing God, I think we Christians believe that the answers for all our questions are there for us to find somewhere.  But I think we need to manage our expectations when it comes to getting clear and definite answers from God.  After all it was the tree of knowledge that God warned us against eating from.  In all his covenants, God never says, “I want you to follow me, and I will tell you everything.”

God is an ongoing revelation to us.  In Psalm 19 it says “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.”  There is always new learnings for the community of believers.

So, there are certain things we can be certain of, yet other things we should expect to remain uncertain about, even if certain people say we should certainly know.  And even what we think we are certain about, we need to take care how we demonstrate our certainty.  There was only one person who could know all things with some certainty, and how did he act?

When Jesus encounters Zacchaeus, he knows that Zacchaeus is misbehaving – maybe not by the standards of his society or profession, but by God’s standards.  And this is what Jesus does to convince him he’s wrong:  he invites himself over for dinner.  There is no scriptural recording of a lecture that Jesus gives him.  All he does is be present with him.

We seek tangible knowledge of all things, definite answers to life’s thorny questions, when seeking knowledge rather than trusting in God is the original sin.  We cannot set people right by telling them they are wrong, when we may be wrong ourselves.  We can only bring Jesus Christ to them, and let the presence of Christ convince them of what they need to do.

Oh, and let the presence of Christ convince us of what we need to do, too.  Because we might not be doing the right thing, ourselves.

So, the next time you are convinced you need convince somebody of anything other than the basic fact that Jesus Christ loves them, begin by telling yourself “I could be wrong.”    Seek to be Jesus for them, and let Love’s revelation, God’s wisdom guide them.

When I went to VBS as a kid, one of our craft projects was an ashtray.  An ashtray!  To encourage smoking!   We Christians do not always know what’s right.  All we know for sure is that God loves everyone.  Everyone.