Tag Archives: Missouri Methodists

Reflecting on changes since 9/11


Yesterday I tried to gather thoughts for sharing, but I just could not find a thread to bring them together. Today, this day especially, a thread begins weaving thoughts together.


As an American, one cannot escape the memories of 9/11.  But there are other days that are cemented in my memory that have bound us together: JFK’s assassination, the OKC bombing, the Challenger tragedy, not to mention the natural disasters such as the hurricanes, earthquakes and forest fires that keep us spellbound to the news.


Throughout all these historical events, I am constantly reminded about how key a faith system is to the way in which we manage these experiences.


The denomination is irrelevant.  The common element is—GOD.


I recognize that many of our younger generations—note the plural—struggle to understand the ‘need’ for a faith system, but I also know that there is an underlying curiosity about why faith is so important to their parents and grandparents.


On Saturday, the Missouri Methodists held a kick-off event for the three priorities the conference has established for the current year:

  1. Pathway out of poverty: to deepen & grow partnerships between schools & churches
  2. Creating new places for new people: introducing church (faith) to one person not involved in any church for at least one year
  3. Missional leaders: to identify & mentor new leaders in the church


Today’s churches are facing the global community that continues to be rocked by disasters whether at the hand of humans or at the mercy of nature.  The challenges each person faces has the potential to destroy one’s security, one’s family, one’s confidence to wake up each morning and start fresh to live a new day.


During the kick off event, the question Roger Ross presented sums up the concern the long-established churches must consider:  Why on earth do we start new churches when so many existing ones are struggling?


The United Methodist Church is recording losses in membership, but I propose those losses signify a shift in the demographics more than anything.  The denomination has not adapted well to the cultural changes that began in the 1960s when Vietnam was the primary news story shortly after JFK was assassinated.


Ross went on to explain why the conference has decided to emphasize the need to reach out to new people in new places:


“. . . Over the last 10 years, the Missouri Conference has started 40 new churches—30 of them are still reaching people today.  We’ve found that new people, younger people and more diverse people show up in disproportionately higher numbers in these new churches than our existing ones.  . . . “


Today, as we remember the horrific events of 9/11, I cannot ignore the enormous effect that faith has had on the generations that lived through that attack.  Look at all those who raced into the horror to do all they could for all they could reach in any manner that they could—with no regard for their personal safety.


These people were images of God incarnate.  They were moved into action by training, yes.  By a sense of purpose, yes.  By an unseen force those in the faith community know as the Holy Spirit, yes.


I suggest that every single person has the foundation of faith within his/her psyche.  I suggest that God is within each individual, waiting, struggling, and anticipating to be acknowledged


God’s church is not a denomination, but all denominations.  Any church who identifies its purpose and works together to become the arms and legs of God in any way that it can, will shine the metaphorical light to those still searching to know God personally.


For Missouri Methodists or any denomination to succeed in making disciples of Christ (remember Jesus’ greatest commandment), the purpose must be defined, and the current disciples must reach out to others to develop relationships with others.


The methods to reach out to others should not matter.  Whether meeting at a local restaurant or coffee house or gathering in a cathedral, establishing relationships with one another is the key to others learning about how God operates within their lives.


I have walked through the tragedies of life, but I have my faith.  I know that I can manage anything as long as God is my partner in this life. I know that doing all that I can for others—whether in a classroom, within my family, or as I walk in and out of stores.  God is my operating system.


This does not mean I am perfect.  I am human. But as long as I keep my eye on God and follow the teachings of Jesus, I should be alert to the power of the Holy Spirit within me equipping me to manage in this life.


With my faith system in place, I see glory in the sun’s morning rays shining in my eyes.  I hear the hymns sung by the birds and even the evening insects.  I feel the warmth of the sun, the hug of a friend or family member, or even the warmth of a sweater wrapped around me.  I taste the sweetness of honey created by the bees or the strength of the beef and pork raised by the farmers.  I smell the perfume of the sweet autumn clematis or the spring’s lilacs, the freshly mown grass of summer and even the snow’s freshness as it blankets the grey world.


I love God.


I love life that God created and gifted to us.


I love others, too, and want to love them as I want to be loved.


I pray that as we continue to face the evils of this world, that The Church continues to transform into the body of Christ whether it finds a home inside a church or whether it moves into action along the sides of people in need anywhere within our global community.


Dear God,

We certainly do not understand everything

     within this enormous world you created.

We certainly struggle to understand the disasters

      that challenge us at any time in our lives.

Open our minds so that we may hear, see, taste,

     smell and touch all that you have created.

Open our hearts so that we may share in the joys

      of our lives and the pain, too, so we move

      to love one another in all the ways we can.

Open our doors not only of our churches but

       of our homes and businesses so others

       may come to know your love above all else.

Thank you for all that you have given to us.

Thank you for continuing to love us when we err.

Thank you for the promise of eternal life

       because you stepped on this earth with us,

       taught us how to love one another,

       and then died so might live eternally.

In your name,

In the name of your son Jesus Christ.

And in the name of the Holy Spirit,



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In the end, no dry bones. . . just the lion, the wolf and the lamb

This is the final sermon after 10 years in the pulpit.  Sunday, June 24, will also be the last sermon that I have threaded together the images of the Church of Resurrection’s stained glass window (Leawood, KS).  This has been such an interesting six months as I have studied the window and considered its creation as a visual sermon.  There is so much to share concerning God and his story that the ideas never seem to run out.  Ending 10 years does not mean an ending to ministry, just an ending to this pulpit at this time.  I will do my best to rest for a bit, but my mind continues to spin out ideas.  Thank you for reading and following these sermons.  I do not plan to end blogging, just the postings may be different.  Only God knows what will appear on this site at this time.  Please be patient and continue to follow.


Sitting at the desk with the funeral of the two KCK police officers in the background, I struggle to pick up the task of writing this final sermon.  I am reminded that evil lurks in every community and that as Christians we are to be God’s eyes, hands, and feet.

Looking at the COS window, there is one more image that cannot be overlooked:


#31  THE LION, WOLF AND THE LAMB—In the Restored Paradise, all of God’s creatures live together in peace and harmony.  The healing salve of God’s kingdom extends beyond humanity to include all of creation, raised to its highest pitch of existence.  (Read Isaiah 65:25)


I was familiar with the image of the lion and the lamb and was surprised to see the wolf included still the scripture does include all three animals.  Understanding the significance of all three broadens the message even though most religious art includes just the lion and the lamb.

The window’s image is based on the ultimate goal God has where evil is overcome by good; where all live in harmony.  God’s ultimate goal needs to be the same for each of us.  The concern is how do we reach that goal, even if just in our own church, our own community.

Reading the lectionary provides a structure for all Christians regardless of denomination, nationality, age, gender, or any other identifying label.  Even though I have used the images in the window to prepare sermons since Christmas, the lectionary provides a foundational connection to all Christians and often fits right in with the images in the window.

Reading the lectionary included Ezekiel 37 a few weeks ago, and that scripture provided me the foundation for today’s reflection. It does not connect directly to the image of the lion, wolf and lamb, but it does speak to this church family facing the next transition in leadership.

Let me share Ezekiel’s story.  The Israelites were captives of Babylonia, and Ezekiel was a trained, young priest and a contemporary of Jeremiah.  Jeremiah ministered to the Israelites in Judah, but Ezekiel prophesied to those exiled in Babylonia.

Consider the exiles.  They were forced out of their homes and living in a culture that was foreign to them.  They must have felt hopeless.  They must have felt abandoned.  And Ezekiel was a “street preacher,” as study notes labeled him.  He was a prophet who had to feed hope to the Israelites.  He had to guide them through prophecies and scripture to remain faithful to God.

Ezekiel’s words recorded in the Old Testament were written about 571 B.C., yet the words are timeless and his message is as important today as it was 2,500 years ago.  Hear his vision of “A Valley of Dry Bones”:

The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”

“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”

    Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

    So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.

    Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”

    10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.

    11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone.Our nation is finished.’12 Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live againand return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’”


Continuing the reflection:

Certainly we do not live in exile as the ancient Israelites did when Ezekiel was prophesying, but the truth is that we are living in a valley of dry bones.  We live in exile because evil continues to thrive.  We cannot ignore how close evil is, especially this week as we have lost two more police officers to evil and as we watched children ripped from their parents in the name of federal law enforcement.

Evil places you in exile in your own community.  And you become tired.  You become the dry bones Ezekiel saw in that valley.  You lose hope.  Yet, you return to worship each week because as Christians that is part of your lifestyle.  But, even sitting right here in your very own sanctuary, in your own spot on the pew, you are at risk of being the dry bones Ezekiel saw in that valley.

God asked Ezekiel if the dry bones could be brought back to life.  Ezekiel, the priest, answered, “O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”  He placed full faith in God.  Do you?

Today, even I feel like dry bones.  I stepped into the pulpit ten years ago with a vision. The community is not a valley of dry bones, but it is a valley of lives who desperately need to know God.  God can breathe new life into the dry bones, but it takes a community of faithful who can see the community through God’s eyes and rely on God to breathe life back into dry bones.

Ezekiel’s vision of a valley filled with dry bones did not end his story.  He was encouraged by God’s demonstration of bringing the dry bones back to life.  Can you say that God’s Holy Spirit is keeping your bones alive?  Or do you feel that you are nothing more than dry bones?

As you make the change from one pastor to another, remember that God can bring a valley of dry bones to life to continue the work he assigned to the faithful.

God told us to be good stewards of this earth.  God told us to love one another as we want to be loved.  These are not commands that can be ignored.  These are the simple instructions God has to keep evil away, to keep peace, to keep the lion, the wolf, and the lamb lying peacefully together.

As this month closes out, July brings a new beginning for this community of faithful.  God lives within each and every one of you, but you must do your part to keep it alive.  To avoid becoming a valley of dry bones, you must follow the discipline of the faithful.

  • You must read scripture.
  • You must pray.
  • You must participate in a community of faith.
  • You must remember your baptism.
  • You must serve one another in love.
  • You must see the world through God’s eyes—all the world, not just your own household.
  • You must listen to the Holy Spirit as he guides you to serve as God’s arms and feet in this community, part of God’s entire world.

If you do not, evil will win and the valley will be filled with nothing more than dry bones.

Concluding the reflection:

            In the book of Ezekiel, God assures Ezekiel that he is able to revive the dry bones:

    11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone.Our nation is finished.’12 Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again. . .

Today I tell you, God does reside within you as the Holy Spirit.  You do not have to be dry bones.  You must follow the discipline of the faithful and God will keep you alive.

The Church continues its work.  It depends on the entire network of congregations to serve as God’s agents defending against evil, seeing to the needs of all God’s children, and finding ways to keep dry bones alive.  In our denomination, the United Methodist Church, we have so much to do, so many tools to use, such a faith community to serve in so many ways.

Today we follow the Methodist tradition of serving in ministry, too.  We change roles as we are called to do.  We stand together to serve as we are called to serve.  We know that there are lions, wolves, and lambs surrounding us, but if we do our job the best that we can, they, too will be able to lie down together in peace.

In Isaiah 65:25, we hear these words:

The wolf and the lamb will feed together.
The lion will eat hay like a cow.
But the snakes will eat dust.
In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain.


Each community that fails to love one another as they want to be loved needs God.  My prayer for the community, here and globally, is that with the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s work can lead to all working side by side to minister to others in need.


Sharing of the Missouri Methodist’s 2018-2019 mission goals:

            During annual conference, three mission goals were identified through special offerings.  I have asked Sharon, Vada and Tamera share them with you at this time. When the local church is tired and at risk of becoming a valley of dry bones, connecting with others in mission is one more way to be alive:


  1. Mozambique Sustainability Reboot (Sharon)

This offering will relaunch the Mozambique Initiative’s efforts to create opportunities for church-going entrepreneurs through sustainability projects. In 2012, the Mozambique Initiative added sustainability as a key component to our partnership. After reviewing projects completed during the 2012-2017 program, we believe the best way to reboot is by focusing on smaller projects ($400 or less) for individual entrepreneurs. Our goal for this offering is to provide microloans for at least 25 entrepreneurs in Mozambique.


  1. Pathway Out of Poverty (Vada)

Gifts shared in this offering will be distributed for the work of administering our Pathway out of Poverty initiative focused on literacy. Your gift to this initiative will help us equip local churches to connect with schools in their communities and provide them with relationship-building resources. Research shows that children who struggle to read in first grade are 88 percent more likely to struggle in grade four. And those who struggle in fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school. Give generously today as we seek to break cycles of poverty by connecting with our schools.


  1. Puerto Rico Disaster Response (Tamera)

The Methodist Church of Puerto Rico continues to rebuild following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in the fall of 2017. Thirty-eight churches were damaged with 10 nearly destroyed. Yet, the people of Puerto Rico have remained strong. Your gift will help rebuild a Methodist health clinic on the island of Vieques. This clinic will be the primary point of care for the island’s population of 12,000 people – care that is desperately needed as residents wait a projected two years for electricity to be fully restored. Join us in standing with the people of Vieques; your donation will make a difference today!


The United Methodist Church is not a valley of dry bones. The church is an army of Christians who are equipped to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world.

You are part of God’s army here in this community, but you are part of a global community, too.  Let the Holy Spirit loose to serve here, but also to join with others in any way that you can so the lion, the wolf and the lamb can live peacefully together.

Closing prayer:

            Dear God Almighty,

You created a world filled with good,

And evil found its way in.

You commanded each of us

To take care of this world and each other

Yet evil continues to exist around us.

Breathe into these dry bones

New life, new energy to do your work.

May the Holy Spirit fill up your children.

May your children see dry bones come alive.

In the name of you the Father,

the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.

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How does this church continue its legacy? God said: Do something!

Just a reminder:  Every time I re-read the sermons, I find different ways of wording things.  The story of Joseph from Genesis needed fuller explanation, so I added it extemporaneously.  There may be times that I have to make a quick adjustment while presenting the sermon.  Thank you for reading and especially a thank you to Matthew West for such an important song.

given on Trinity Sunday, May 31, 2015

God created this world to meet the needs of all living things that exist. No one or no thing should ever have had to worry, but mistakes were made and the Garden of Eden was lost.

All is not lost, though! God never gave up hope in his creation and all he asked is that we humans take responsibility. We were told to “do something!”

Genesis 1:26, 28– 26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings[a] in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth,[b] and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” . . . 28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

The words of the creation story are so familiar that we can recite it from memory. We know that God was pleased with his creation and after six days of creating this delightful setting, he took one day of rest. Remember those final words:

1:31Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day. 2:1So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested[a] from all his work.

God created, but he also left the responsibility for this creation to Adam or [a dam], the Hebrew word for humanity. Humans were not to just sit around and enjoy what God created; humans were to be responsible for maintaining this creation.

Humanity’s legacy is the well being of God’s creation. Each individual has a personal responsibility not only for the care of self, but for others, for the soil, the air, and the water, too. That responsibility expands, too, to all regions of this earth. Our legacy depends on how well we respond to God’s direction to care for his creation.

How does one do that? Certainly not alone! One can indeed make a difference, but working with one another to do all that we can for all we can. Obviously we cannot imagine that responsibility alone, we know it takes the church.

When I first heard Matthew West’s song, “Do Something,” I could only agree with that first statement:

I woke up this morning

Saw a world full of trouble now

Thought, how’d we ever get so far down

How’s it ever gonna turn around

Our world today does seem such a mess, but reading the Bible, the same can be said about the world over 5,000 years ago. The world is a mess, and that mess is evident right here in our communities.

The song continues:

I thought, “God, why don’t you do something?”

Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of

People living in poverty

Children sold into slavery.

So, I shook my fist at Heaven

Said, “God, why don’t you do something?”

How easy it is to say to God, “Why don’t you do something?” All too often we even add that to our prayers. We want someone else to fix the problem. We want someone to stop the poverty. We want God to fix the natural disasters. We want the police to stop crime—all kinds. The lyrics speaks the painful truth:

So I shook my fist at Heaven

Said, “God, why don’t you do something?”

He said, “ I did, I created you”

As God’s children, we have a responsibility.

In Genesis 43, the story of Joseph revealing himself to his own brothers who had sold him into slavery in Egypt, includes another reminder of our responsibility. Jacob took his brother Benjamin back to ask for more supplies to survive the famine. He had to accept responsibility for his brother:

I personally guarantee his safety. You may hold me responsible if I don’t bring him back to you. Then let me bear the blame forever.

A study note for this verse adds the deeper meaning to this simple promise:

Accepting responsibilities is difficult, but it builds character and confidence, earns others’ respect and motivates us to complete our work. When you have been given an assignment to complete or a responsibility to fulfill, commit yourself to seeing it through.

The Old Testament repeats this theme in stories throughout the books of The Law and of the judges. Scriptural references to our responsibility continue in the New Testament, too.

How does this church leave a legacy? We simply must do something. That is what God has tasked us to do, and what we do establishes the legacy of this church. Stop and think about what the church last became totally invested. Was there a specific project that members felt it was up to them to do? Did the reach of a project stay only inside the church, or did it involve serving beyond the walls of the church? Was the outreach even beyond the geographic boundaries of this church?

In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) Jesus did not define any limits. Instead. . .

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[b] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The Apostles didn’t get mad and say to God, “Why don’t you do something?” They did it.   Reading the letters in the New Testament, we learn that there was no boundary prohibiting the work of the newest disciples. The word was spread, and new disciples carried the message around the world.

John Wesley, too, did not ask God why he did not do something; he just found ways to meet all the problems he identified in his community. He saw poverty, and he found ways to fight it. He saw poor health, and he found ways to teach about healthy practices. He believed that he had a responsibility to do all the he could for all he could in any way he could. Do we?

Returning to Matthew West’s lyrics:

Right now, it’s time for us to do something

If not now, then when

Will we see an end

To all this pain

It’s not enough to do nothing

It’s time for us to do something . . .

A church that does not do something is a church that dies. A church that can no longer do something as disciples, then there is no legacy for that church, there is no responsibility for the well being of God’s creation.

Today, we must do something. The decision has to be what do we do at this church. Is there a local ministry that has gone untouched? Is there a conference initiative that needs this church’s help? What can this church do?

Locally, there are the food pantries and the clothes closets. Maybe they need workers more than they need items donated. Should the money sitting in the bank be allocated to special needs in the area?

The Missouri conference has identified three ministries for the UM churches to receive conference special offerings: the Church in Ferguson, the Mozambique Imitative, and the Haiti Clean Water Project. Does this church feel called to send a donation for one or all of these projects?

Maybe this church decides to buy a heifer for the Heifer Project. Another possibility is to find ways to help the local schools who are battling low funding, large populations of low income families, or even special needs that cannot be provided for the students such as counseling for non-school related issues.

As the lyrics say:

It’s not enough to do nothing

It’s time for us to do something

I’m so tired of talking

About how we are God’s hands and feet

But it’s easier to say than to be

Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves

It’s alright, “somebody else will do something.”

A legacy does not come from somebody else doing something; it comes from accepting our Christian responsibility and doing whatever we can for whomever we can in whatever way we can.

Closing prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for words that express

how Christians accept responsibility

caring for this world you created.

Thank you for the stories how others

manage life’s various challenges

to serve one another.

Guide us in accepting responsibility

to do whatever we can to care for each other.

Guide us in working rather than bickering

to find the ways to minister to others.

Guide us to think beyond the problem

finding solutions that spread your love.

Guide us to simply do something

continuing the legacy of your son Jesus Christ.


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Serve? Grandparents did Parents did. Do we?

given on Sunday, September 8, 2013

         Watch the news tonight and see what lime green shirts show up.  Churches across Missouri and beyond are sporting them and stepping out of the norm to serve.  Today is also Grandparents Day.  [The impetus for a National Grandparents Day originated with Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia. Her primary motivation was to champion the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. President Jimmy Carter, in 1978, proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.   Accessed on September 7, 2013 at http://www.grandparents-day.com/]  In fact, both events are clearly labeled on many calendars and both share a key ingredient—the servant heart.

Reading through the Old Testament the last few months, the emphasis seems to be on taking rather than serving.  But let’s consider the concept of service as an action rather than just another church term.

First of all, serve is the base word and originated in

Origin: 1125–75; Middle English serven  < Old French servir  < Latin servīre,  equivalent to serv ( us ) slave (cf. serf) + -īre  infinitive suffix


Looking at that first, turn to the actual definitions of the term as listed in dictionary.com:


[surv] http://dictionary.reference.com/help/luna/Spell_pron_key.htmlShow IPA verb, served, serv·ing, noun

verb (used without object)

1. to act as a servant.

2. to wait on table, as a waiter.

3. to offer or have a meal or refreshments available, as for patrons or guests: Come early, we’re serving at six.

4. to offer or distribute a portion or portions of food or a beverage, as a host or hostess: It was her turn to serve at the faculty tea.

5. to render assistance; be of use; help.

Relevant Questions

How To Serve

What To Serve With Crab …

What Is A Serving?

What To Serve With Salmo…


verb (used with object)

12. to be in the service of; work for.

13. to be useful or of service to; help.

14. to go through (a term of service, imprisonment, etc.).

15. to render active service to (a sovereign, commander, etc.).

16. to render obedience or homage to (God, a sovereign, etc.).


32. the act, manner, or right of serving, as in tennis.


33. serve one right, to treat one as one deserves, especially to punish justly: It will serve you right if she never speaks to you again.


I am sure that some of these definitions do not fit the focus for Serve 2013, some might not fit as descriptors for what our grandparents did, but some do fit quite well.  Therefore, combining the discussion of serve and of Grandparents Day makes sense.

I am sure that each one of us can close our eyes and picture our grandparents reaching out to serve someone in some manner.  Even if that picture includes us as kids, teens, young adults, middle aged adults, or even as their caretakers, I expect there was always a giving of self in one way or another.

My own experience includes two sets of grandparents who were weekly role players in my life.  My mom’s parents lived six miles northeast of us and my dad’s parents lived eight miles southwest of us when they left the farm and moved in town.  Typical Missouri farmers, my grandparents were active in and around their farms, our farms, and even our cousins’ homes.

Never did I find my grandparents without chores to do.  Never did I discover that going to my grandparents meant sitting down and simply watching TV.  Even as they aged, the fingers and the minds of these four individuals were busy serving family, friends, and churches.  Not one of the four followed the same path or even had similar styles, but each one served in one way or another.  And each one of them served to the glory of God.

Serve 2013 in the third annual Methodist corporate event.  Anything new is challenged and the practice of church members stepping outside the church building on a Sunday morning to “worship” through acts of serving challenges our paradigms of Christian worship.  Where is the scripture?  What hymns are being sung?  How can we learn without a sermon?  What about the weekly offering?  The challenges can create a barrier for the church to step outside its walls and serve.

Now think about this:  How many of our grandparents or possibly great-grandparents did not even have a church building in which to worship?  My grandparents did, but they, too, were small rural churches that were supported primarily by the founding fathers who established their farms around that community.  At least that is the history of my dad’s parents.

My mom’s grandparents were not so fortunate to be within the immediate reach of their families.  In fact my grandpa had been widowed when he was just 33 and had a toddler daughter.  He lived in one community working at a brick plant.  He moved into the country during the depression but struggled.  And somewhere along the early years of his second marriage, he had a son and eventually bought a farm in another community about 15 miles east.  Never, though, did he quit serving God, even though he changed communities and churches.

Grandparents modeled God’s commandment for many of us.  Granted not every grandparent did, but here we sit in 2013 and we are in a relationship with God in part to our grandparents, who modeled for our parents, who modeled for us.  Living a God-centered life does not mean we are free from the trials in our earthly life, nor does it mean we are automatically sin-free.  We can honor our grandparents, and our grandchildren can honor us today, but to honor God we must serve.

This may feel as though I am using circular logic, but consider how we learn most of our skills.  We learn by watching, we learn by practicing, we learn by doing, and we pass it on to the generations yet to come.  If God had given up on the Jewish people, would he have sent Jesus?  If God had given up on the earliest Christians, would we have had more contemporary disciples like John Wesley?  Finally, if God had given up at any time, would we have had our grandparents, our parents, our children and our grandchildren?

Each generation is challenged with the trials and tribulations that an earthly life creates.  Some of the situations are strictly acts of nature.  Some are the result of horrific crimes of humanity against humanity.  Some are the failures to teach a generation about God, about loving one another, about serving one another.

The Bible tells us over and over how to treat one another.  Even in the Old Testament the stories share the positive outcomes when one person serves another to the glory of God.  The New Testament is entirely focused on loving one another at the expense of all other earthly actions.  And today, we are refocused one more time as our corporate church, the Missouri Conference asks all Methodists to serve.

Is there any better way to honor our grandparents than to serve?  Is there any better way to share God’s love than to serve one another?  Is there any better method to teach our children and our grandchildren about God’s love than to demonstrate serving?

During the next week, or even yet today, look around and see how God’s children are serving one another.  Watch the news.  Look for the green shirts wherever you are today.  Look at how people serve—even if there are no green shirts.

Make a list of the ways you serve.  Last week, we served right here in our own community.  Did we serve in love?  Did we serve as a ministry?  Do our kids and our grandchildren know why we serve?  Do they join us in our efforts to serve one another in love?

Each and every way that we serve one another, we honor God.  For many of us, we also are following the examples of our parents and grandparents who knew God’s grace and wanted to serve others as an outreach of Christian love.  In order for the world to be transformed, we must serve one another in Christian love.

While searching for today’s hymns, I found one was unfamiliar, “Help Somebody Today.”  Here these words and consider how many times you witness someone crying out for God’s love and how many different ways there are to serve.

Help Somebody Today

Mrs. Frane A. Breck, lyrics & Charles H. Gabiel, score

c. 1932, Renewal.  Rodeheaver Co., owner.

the Upper Room Hymnal, no 60

Look all around you, find someone in need, Help somebody today!

Tho’ it be little—a neighborly deed—Help somebody today!


Many are waiting a kind loving word, Help somebody today!

Thou has a message, O let it be heard, Help somebody today!


Many have burdens too heavy to bear, Help somebody today!

Grief is the portion of some ev’rywhere, Help somebody today!


Some are discouraged and weary in heart, Help somebody today!

Some one the journey to Heaven should start, Help somebody today!



Help somebody today,

Somebody along life’s way;

Let sorrow be ended,

The friendless befriended,

Oh, help somebody today!


Closing Prayer:

Dear Gracious God,

Thank you for the gift of our grandparents, our parents

who have guided us in our spiritual journey.

Help us honor them for the servant life they lived

by the different ways we serve today.

Thank you for the gift of grace and the servants

of the past who demonstrated how to give grace.

Help us use grace, too, to meet the needs of others

whether hungry, unclothed, unsheltered, or more.

Thank you for the skills and the means to serve

one another in love whether here or around the world.

Help us to serve and to share our blessings with others in need

so they may become disciples of Christ

for the transformation of the world.         –Amen

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