The Activity Decks on the Mother Ship I Corinthians 2:1-5

It has been one of the more difficult weeks in ministry for this pastor.  It has been complicated by familial matters, which I will share at another time.  Some of you have felt sincere concerns about the church as we deal with staff vacancies, differing ideas about direction and the usual uncertainty in trying to be the church in the 21st century.  I recognize the fragility these circumstances and others create.  I thank for the many of you who work faithfully to keep the light of Christ shining from this hill in south Irving.

The challenges this week has wrought bounced me between preaching the sermon I planned and a new sermon that addresses current events.  I could make a case for either message.  I reviewed my collected notes from July from the original message and my heart said “Yes!”  This passage captures the activity of the church, which has the power to hold us together.  What Paul writes in the 2nd Corinthians defines those who go by the name Christian, and live in the house of the Jesus.  The apostle captures what happens on the activity deck; where lives are touched and changed.

Paul had difficult weeks.  Paul was forever trying to convince his own kind, the Jews, he had not forgotten them by including the Gentiles.  Paul equally had difficulty communicating to the Gentiles, simply because he was Jewish.  Paul is addressing a church he helped to establish, but he is not among those they called their teachers.  By his own admission he had to overcome a lack of eloquence and fearful emotions.

Paul overcame his challenges in verse 4 saying, “My message was not in the persuasive words of wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”  Some suggest he meant he demonstrated the power of God by miraculously changing their lives.  He did some of this, but it was only a small part of his ministry.  What Paul meant was he ministered in the character and in the name of Christ, not depending on the wisdom of his own words.  He allowed the spirit of Christ to work through him in such a way that God’s power was demonstrated as he touched people’s lives in a personal way, which is the power that changes a person’s life.

If a person only hears and never sees good news visibly portrayed they could conclude the essence of the message is a preacher talking on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.  The faith of the first disciples wasn’t completed by the teaching of Jesus.  His message was understood as he lived the story of their lives together as they traveled all the way to the foot of Christ, so they might realize how much he loved.  Their comprehension wasn’t complete until after Jesus spent forty days personally meeting their needs after the resurrection.  God’s grace didn’t come clear in hearing it, it became clear when they saw and felt his touch in their lives.

What happens on the activity deck of the Mother Ship is that people’s lives are changed as the passengers and crew lift up the message of Christ’s grace by touching a person’s woundedness and patching up a person’s brokenness.  Activity comes alive on the Mother Ship by going beyond verbal expression, to actively living it within the circle of our influence; encountering people and meeting their needs, making their faith complete.

It must have been difficult to see the potential in the people of Corinth.  They weren’t Old Covenant folk; and some practiced a morality that would make Sodom blush.  One man was living incestuously with his mother-in-law; while others recklessly fought in civil court.  Paul could’ve confronted them with righteous indignation.  But, Paul saw their potential, believing in them, so he loved on them, in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.

I have no persuasive words of wisdom but I can speak of times when I witnessed the demonstration of the Spirit and power.  As I read over my sermon this morning, I recalled the first sermon I preached.  I was a junior in college.  My home church asked me to preach on a Sunday night.  I preached the creation story and how God saw the potential that lay in the garden.  I recalled the demonstration of the Spirit and of power on the night as I lifted up the potential of God in each person’s life.  So, asking the people of FUMC, Irving, to touch someone’s life or meet a person’s need because every child of God has potential is rooted in the core call in my life.

My first church position in southeast Dallas was driven by my fundamental call that every child of God has potential, and if I was willing to touch lives, God could change their lives.  Some of that work came to mind recently when Buddy, JD Points, stopped by the office a few months ago to ask me to officiate at his son’s wedding.  My first wedding was Buddy’s wedding.

Buddy grew up in the house across the street from the church.  Buddy’s dad was a plumber who preferred other activity than church.  I gathered up Buddy, Clay, Donald, and James from the neighborhood and met weekly with those boys, training little neighborhood terrorists as future leaders.  Buddy would grow up to learn the trade of Heating and Air Conditioning, and now owns his own company and lives on the lake in Rockwall.  He is not only a member of a church; he is their volunteer education director.  He is working to complete Doctoral studies in Christian Education in seminary.

Clay was a brick layer’s son whose father was absent.  Brick-laying was his lot in life, just like his two older brothers.  I remember him telling the group, he wanted to go to college.  We worked to get him the scholarships to go to Baylor.  He graduated with a degree in international entrepreneurial ship and took off as a missionary to the Siberia, sharing Christ while helping young adults start new businesses.  He returned to the states to finish his PhD in linguistics and is now a professor of linguistics at Baylor.  He continues to be a missionary catalyst for young adults.

I could tell of others in that group whose lives were changed we took time to meet their needs.  Let me tell you about another little boy who grew up in a two-story home and had everything his heart desired.  His parents loved and nurtured him.  However, his life was shattered when his father died.  This little boy became a confused, not understanding his father’s death.

This boy’s neighbor saw his confusion and began to touch his life and meet his needs.  In the summertime, they took him with them when they traveled the country.  He sensed their love and concern as they filled the void in his life.  However, later this young boy became a rebellious teenager.  But, this same neighbor arranged for him to get a job that changed his life.  While working at this job, this confused teenager gave his life to full time ministry.  He went on to college and seminary and now he lives in a nice house and is the pastor some of God’s special people.  He stands before you today.

Where did this begin?  It began in 1968 when a neighbor family on Ivy Drive saw a nine-year-old boy who would disappoint them and use them.  They persistently touched my life with love and met many of my needs.

We can probably think of fifty reasons why we need not go to the activity deck of the ship.  Our schedule is full, our family needs us, or we have other plans.  Those may be important and necessary things.  Don’t let your life go by without regularly coming to the activity deck of the Mother Ship, ready to touch a life or meet a need.  This is the place where God’s love is recognized; as we take time to be in relationship with persons in need.

There are thousands of children who are needy.  There are thousands of rebellious teenagers who will drive us crazy.  There are thousands of families that have more needs than we have resources.  There are thousands of adults in circumstances we prefer to not think about.  While it can be overwhelming taking care of the Mother Ship, we will never find nothing as rewarding than spending time on the activity deck of the Mother Ship where lives are changed by offering a demonstration of the Spirit and of power through touching a life or meeting a need in a personal way.

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Published in: on September 30, 2012 at 2:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Engine Room of the Mother Ship I Corinthians 1: 18-25

The engine room of the Mother Ship is fueled by the message of the cross.  We humbly lift up this foolish symbol of our faith, so it may draw others to Christ.  The harsh emblem prevents us from being too proud of our words that convey the message; so we don’t confuse persons from whence power comes.  Thus, we should discard unnecessary anxiety that wrongly thinks the message is dependent on what we craft to say or how we portray it.

The Bishop told a young minister without warning he wanted him to speak before the gathered convocation.  The young man shyly replied, “I have nothing prepared.”  The head of the church encouraged “Let the Holy Spirit guide.”  The young man went to the back of the stage to contemplate.  He saw the Bishop’s bible and decided to take a peek.  Finding the bishop’s notes for tomorrow night, he looked closer; thinking they would inspire him.  He was called to the podium before inspiration came.

He rushed out with the bible and stepped to the pulpit.  He opened to the place where notes laid and looked at them again.  He related the first point of the Bishop’s sermon.  It went so well he preached the whole message.  When he finished, the congregation was spellbound.  He sat down and the Bishop complimented him.  He said “I am amazed how you have been inspired to say exactly what I was going to say tomorrow night.’  He then added, “I am not sure what I am going to say now since I have nothing else prepared.”  The young minister looked with a smug grin and said, “Don’t worry, just let the Holy Spirit guide.”

Paul says, “The message of the cross is foolishness to the perishing, but to us being saved it is the power of God.”  It is a wise message, but it is not dependent on knowledge.  We worry in declaring the message of the cross we will appear as dupes in a world where, bigger is better, we look out for number one, and might makes right.  It seems foolish in our world to claim we receive grace from a purported criminal hanging on a cross, who is our source of life and the hope of our salvation.  The spirit is ever-ready to guide us to speak this foolish, but powerful message.

What brings the crew and passengers together on the Mother Ship is our common faith that chooses to live in a relationship of trust with the one who hung on the cross.  We have come to know its life saving power by simply speaking of it boldly and simply listening to it intently.  In choosing to speak and listen, we are acting on our belief the message of the cross fuels the Mother Ship; activating endless power for the journey.

The engines of the Mother Ship are propelled forward when we simply and boldly speak the message of the cross.  The speaker of the message keeps the ship on course when her or his words simply support the message of the cross; not letting their words take away from the Word.  Keeping it simple is hard for those who have a passion for the message.

Erin, our daughter, who we went to see this weekend in Chicago as she begins her first semester of seminary once, told a parishioner whom she sat by, “All my dad does his talk, talk, talk.”  The adult tried to admonish her by saying, “That’s what your daddy does and I like it.”  Erin reinforced her opinion by saying, “Well, I don’t!”  That could hurt my feelings and cause me to add words to make her and others happy.  But, the responsibility of the speaker is to “talk, talk, talk” of the message that fuels the Mother Ship.

There is no need to dress up the message, so we look good on the Mother Ship.  We need not act teen-like, who object to reasonable purchases because they won’t be caught dead in certain apparel that only kids that are nerds wear.  When we speak the message of the cross, we don’t want to be nerds either.  We want to be stylish, popular, and well-liked as the next person.  So, we keep up with the latest trends, speaking words that pass for cool.  In our effort to not be something, we can end up denying our shadowed self with window dressings, and robbing ourselves of the opportunity to be made whole by the message of the cross.

The cross is the engine that makes the Mother Ship sail.  The badge of belief for every passenger is an ancient instrument of execution, which makes us whole.  When the engines of the Mother Ship throttle up; we are speaking boldly of love and law; life and death, as we speak of the message of the cross.  When the Mother Ship is out at sea, she speaks of resisting evil and repenting of sin, and other less than desirable matters, as we speak of the message of the cross.  These are parts of its message.

The Mother Ship can lose her way, if she forgets there is real power in that simple message that fuels her engines.  We must not stifle our words; fearing we will appear as fools, worrying we will cause budgets to be reduced or crowds to thin.  Passengers and crew must not give into temptation, thinking we can escape these realities by dancing around the essence of the message.  We are to simply and boldly speak it’s message; knowing in doing so, we speak of the truth that sets people free.

A forebear of King Gustaf, the King of Sweden, was also known as King Gustaf.  He stopped for Sunday service at small church.  The pastor was so flustered that in every prayer and throughout the sermon he carried on about the king.  Later a gift of a large cross arrived along with a note from the king.  He instructed it be hung at the back of the sanctuary, so speakers were forced to look upon the cross as they spoke.  This was to insure that the King of Kings, who is the true subject, would not be forgotten when anyone speaks boldly of the message of the cross.

The engines of the Mother Ship are propelled when the hearer listens intently to the message of the cross.  Listening requires effort in perfecting the skill of understanding what is really being said.  Organic listening in our world is difficult where we prefer words processed; squeezed, sliced, diced, mashed, or pureed, so they are easier to digest.

The discomfort the message of the cross creates is it reminds us of the person we pretend to be is always shadowed by the person we really are.  So, we keep this difficult message at arm’s length, tuning out the harder parts of it.   We must be careful to not be caught in the trap of not listening intently enough; lest we remain untouched by needed words of change that only the cross can provide for our world and lives.

Listening and engaging the unadorned words of this message of the cross; is an act of trust that we will be filled with energy needed to travel to the places God calls.  Thus, we should resist thinking the words that make up the message of the cross are over our heads.  This can keeps our heads too low, making it more difficult to hear deeper meanings of words spoken.  Hearing the message of the cross allows us to experience the needed power for living.  Passengers and crew, raise up your heads, listen intently to the message of the cross, so we hear the news that is good.

There is no ultimate explanation on what happened on the cross.  There have been volumes written explaining the phenomenon and they all fall short to some degree.  It defies logic that Christ the captain of the fleet had to die in darkness and thirst, so we may sail in light and feast at the grand buffet of grace, while sailing the open waters of our life.  I know this much about the message of the cross, it introduced me to ship’s captain, who wooed me aboard, gave me a undeserved berth to see God’s world, provided passage throughout the days of my life, and helped me every time I hit the rough seas.  Though, I cannot explain it, I have experienced it.

The Mother Ship engines are fueled by the foolish message of the good news of Christ.  We will have power for our voyage as we speak and listen to the foolish wisdom of the cross.  Paul said the same thing another way in Romans, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe.”

Published in: on September 30, 2012 at 2:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Captain and the Crew on the Mother Ship-1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Kathleen Norris tells about a monastery in her book Cloister Walk, where she spent time retreating.  We would think a monastery is a place where all the brothers were of singular devotion to Christ’s unity, ‘same mind and same purpose‘, as Paul put it.  Monks are people too.  One monk said, “There are people who meditate all day and others who can’t sit still for five minutes; monks who are scholars and those who are semi-literate; there are those who are chatter-boxes and those who say few words.  Our biggest problem is each one had a mother who fried potatoes differently.”

Our homes are no different.  We say we love each other in the family room, but our kitchens and bathrooms can become battlegrounds, where little things become big things.  Marriages can be divided over how our mothers basted a turkey.  Churches have similar struggles.  We join a family of faith, answering the same ritualistic questions; trusting the people with whom we associate are our sisters and brothers in the faith.  When we get to the classroom or committee room we discover we fuss over little matters; treating others as if they really don’t belong in the family of faith.

The church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is a site; dating to the 4th century when Emperor Constantine’s mother Helena built the church on a spot where she also is said to have found the actual cross, which Jesus was crucified.  It is purported to be the gravesite of Jesus, though most Protestants point to the garden tomb toward the Mount of Olives.  The church accommodates Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Egyptian Coptic, and Syrian Christian services.  Each group battles with the others for supremacy and its rights of ownership.  So, for 800 years, since Christian groups cannot get along, a Muslim family has held the keys to the door of the church.  The doorkeeper today is one Wajeeb Nuseibeh.

On the mother ship, we get stuck over matters; having to do with who controls the keys.  We have names for each other: old timer and newcomer, conservative and liberal, hymn people and praise song persons.  We fuss over these little things and more, though there’s no quarrel whether Jesus is the Christ.    The captain and the crew on the mother ship are primarily responsible in holding high the cross, so the passengers are or the same mind and the same purpose, as Paul said.

People lament “If only we could be like the New Testament church.”  I always want to know, “which one?”  I don’t want to be like the church at Corinth, who Paul says, “I hear there are quarrels among you.”  The Corinthians were divided based on whether a group was following the wisdom of their teacher Paul, Apollos, Cephas, or Christ himself.

We have had quarrels in the church since the beginning; reflecting we’re imperfect humans, not in heaven yet.  At times, divisions are part of the human predicament; circumstances that making getting along hard.  Other times, they happen because of our unwillingness to get along with others.  Paul’s commends the captain, crew, and passengers, “to be of one mind and purpose” so we may navigate the seas God calls us to sail together.

Captain and the crew know that “being of one mind and purpose” cannot be achieved in uniformity of thought.  People wonder about their pastor’s position on, (fill in the blank).  If you ask, you will get an honest answer; trusting you want to dialogue about a matter meaningful to you.  But, belief is individual, so I say this is what I believe; then I acknowledge others can decide their own position about the same belief.  That’s the rub; people will incite political coercion if we don’t have uniformity of thought, we can’t have unity of mind and purpose.  The captain and crew refuse to insist on unity of mind and purpose by uniformity of thought. 

The captain and crew tolerate tension as the passengers seek to be of the same mind and purpose.  We are not like your grandmother, uncle, or sisters, who pretend to get along even if they don’t; making, just be nice their mantra.  People will insist on niceness because someone means so much; after all we are civil folk.  It does no good to act as everything is fine, when it is not.  The captain and crew are not just nice people; they directly encounter issues in love, working hard for the sake of all the passengers on the Mother Ship.  There are times when being clear is needed more than being nice.  Not having the stomach for addressing disagreements; can be a sign of disrespect, an indication the other person doesn’t matter enough to work with them.  The captain and crew refuse to ignore or patronize, but lead by contending for relationships that work at staying connected.

Paul took his own advice.  Paul and Peter squared off at the Jerusalem Conference and went their separate ways; accepting their differences.  Paul and Barnabas split over a disagreement, concerning John Mark as a missionary; multiplying the missionary effort.  Paul too had to figure out how to share the same mind and the purpose with those he partnered.

Paul confronts the Corinthian church because he loves and respects them; they mattered and he wouldn’t let things be.  So he directly challenges their integrity in Christ.  He appeals to them to come together around their common baptism in Christ.  This might not sound like much since some churches take the position the only authentic baptism is one they administer; suggesting we’re baptized into some name other than Christ.  Unity in baptism in Paul’s mind identifies with the death of Christ.

Baptism is about dying to our ways and committing to Christ life-giving ways.  Dying to Christ means we take people serious enough that we don’t demean them with our niceness.  We engage our baptized sisters and brothers on the ship in respectful relationships and holy conversations in order to stay connected; refusing to use politeness as a pretense for agreement.  So, dying to Christ means letting go of our wisdom of how to make things work.  Dying to Christ means giving up political power mongering that intimidates other passengers to adopt our point of view or be excluded.  Dying to Christ means we reject aggressive ways by making ourselves vulnerable, even at the risk of self sacrifice. 

Jesus prayed for unity in his last will and testament.  He would demonstrate what he prayed through the foolishness of the cross.  He suffered there out of genuine love to be in relationship to all of God’s children.  The Jesus way of unity doesn’t insist everyone agree on every point with everyone else.  Christian unity accepts disagreement in some things as we work hard to maintain agreement in spirit.  In that spirit of agreement, we rally around Christ and affirm love for one another as members of the same body.

God blesses people carrying out the purposes of God when they are together.  One of the major responsibilities of the captain the crew is not to get all the passengers to agree on every point.  We are to point you to Christ, reminding you of your baptism, so each one of us are mindful enough to show respect to each other.  The captain and the crew are to create spaces where we can speak our differences in love while working together for the broader purpose of reaching out to those edge.  Captain and the crew hold high the cross; knowing the power to work all things out for the sake of Christ and the church can be found if we will kneel at the foot of that cross, which levels the ground of all differences.

A Benedictine monk says this about his community, “The basis of community is not that we have all our personal needs met here, or that we find our best friends in the monastery.  What we struggle to preserve is a shared vision of the why we live together.  The reason we live together is we share a vision of the coming reign of God.”  In order to live the words of the Lord’s Prayer, that God’s kingdom be known on both earth and heaven for all members on the Mother Ship, FUMC, captain, crew and passengers be of the same mind and purpose in Christ. 

Published in: on September 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Words for Today from 9/11/2001

This was the Call to Worship used on Sunday after 9/11.  Good words for this day, eleven years later.

May the Lord be with you

And also with you

We gather in the name of God our Creator, Jesus our Savior and The Holy Spirit who gives us faith.

We gather in shock and horror at the events of this week.  We have come together to pray for those who have lost loved one in these attacks and for those who were injured.  We gather to acknowledge our anguish and to support one another in our sorrow.  We are here to pray for peace as we ask God to remind us of the hope we have in the power, peace and love of Christ.

 

 

 

Published in: on September 11, 2012 at 8:36 am  Leave a Comment  

The Passengers on the Mother Ship 1 Corinthians 1: 1-9

Some might say the most important piece in the sanctuary is the pulpit in good reformation form.  Others might suggest the altar, where the means of grace are dispensed.  Others might point to the lectern, which holds the words that point to the Word of God, Christ.  Some might speak of the stain glass or high nave that lifts our heads up.  No architectural feature can draw persons closer to God than the pew, where the passengers sit for this is where the action is.  But the word of God has never forcibly implanted itself into any person sitting in the pew.  Passengers on the mother ship must come ready, willing able to know the joy of life on the boat.

Paul was concerned about the passenger’s in the Corinthian’s pews.  The people in those ancient pews were not playing well together; they were a divided church.  Yet, in the letter’s opening, he thanks God for them, telling them they were always on his mind.  He goes on to call them saints; believing they are called.  Yet, they were cantankerous, bickering, litigious, fornicating and selfish folk, just like us 21st century folk.  Paul rebukes them later about their harmful attitudes and behaviors.  Here, he acknowledges, like us, they are a God’s children, made of sacred material.  Paul begins with this high idea; speaking to a partnership in the work of God.  These are good words as we think about the passengers on the Mother Ship, FUMC, Irving.  Passengers, all aboard, take your seat on the deck, we are set to sail!

Every passenger is equally needed and important on the Mother Ship.  Paul addresses the value of each part of the body later.  In the opening words, Paul says they’re saints with a calling.  Each passenger has a calling and a purpose on the ship. The passengers must not allow anyone to rob them of the joy of contributing to their journey, which God has called.  Knowing you’re called here makes a big difference.

The ship is not complete when someone is missing either by their choice or by our discrimination.  If a person chooses sets aside their call and chooses absence, they make it more difficult for the mother ship to stay on course.  If persons on the ship are less than hospitable; making it more difficult for some to feel welcome, we exclude needed parts, making it more difficult to keep this ship afloat.  Each passenger is needed and important in helping the mother ship sail into the seas of challenge ahead.

The first reformation of realizing we did not need a priest, but we could assure our own salvation with our personal confessions was never completed.  We rested in our salvation, and continued to selectively decide who is worthy to be a passenger on the boat based on our preferences of people rather than the purposes of the grace of God.

One of the major contributors to the stalemate of the reformation is we maintained an invisible wall that separated clergy and laity; harboring the notion clergy and staff does the ministry of the people, to the people, and for the people.  And, persons of the cloth like it that way, thank you very much.  In our hearts, we know we’re not the church; nor are we up to doing it alone because it exhausts us even if we are called by God and buoyed by passenger’s prayers.  Yet, we try.  Passengers are equally complicit, they have secular responsibilities that are demanding, and so they will just pay their tithes and go along for the ride, expecting good service from the crew.

A new reformation is underway.  It is taking place out on the edges of faithful passengers, doing the ministry of the church without the help of the church.   New signs of hope are springing up among laity and clergy who are not fearful letting go of old ways, and in faith embracing this new day.  It will gain strength as paid Christians celebrate the ministry of the unpaid instead of doing it.  It will grow as passengers stop defaulting the work of the ship to the crew.  We are to help each other in fulfilling our calling in making this vessel more sea worthy so we have many places to sit together and can invite new passengers aboard.

Passengers sit together on the Mother Ship.  Being passengers on the mother ship unites us, simply because we sit together.  Sitting by someone makes us prone to treat others with dignity and respect, even more so than a passing stranger, for strangers become friends when they sit together. 

Last year, I was sitting on my front porch as it began to rain.  I noticed a person standing under a tree to stay dry.  I invited him to the porch to wait.  It began to rain harder, so I invited him to sit down.  Terri brought a towel and we sat together.  I learned he lived in a nearby halfway house and had gone for a walk to escape the mayhem.  He did not feel as threatening as he might have in another situation because we were sitting together.  The rain was not going to stop soon, so I offered to drive him home.  This stranger would become my friend because we sat together.

The real action happens when passengers sit together in strategic ways.  It happens when Evangelism Committees sit together thinking how to make others feel welcome.  It happens when Finance Committees planning budgets that are offered to God for the sake of building the kingdom.  We need to sit together in Sunday School classes, praying each week we hear the Spirit’s call.  We need to sit together in worship, belting out another hymn to their creator, redeemer and sustainer.  These are some of the ways God-things happen when passengers sit together.

There is always room for more passengers on the Mother Ship.  There are those who feel they don’t belong on the ship.  Life has caused them to feel apart from the or their choices have ostracized them from the mainstream.  They think they need to be worthy to be on the boat.  There are those who thinks what happens on this ship is irrelevant.  So we have made a deal, those who don’t think they belong stay away and we don’t think about them.  All are needed, particularly those who don’t belong.

The star of Free Willy was Keiko, a killer whale.   After retirement, he was flown back to his natural habitat near Iceland.  When they released Keiko back into the ocean, he wouldn’t go.  He was attached and dependent on his handlers, so he kept returning to human companionship.  They would lead him out to a school of killer whales and he would follow the boat back.  Four years after training him to live in the wild, he makes a break for it with a school and travels 1000 miles to Norway.  Once he reached Norway he followed a fishing boat into a fiord, where he didn’t want to leave.  Within months, Keiko died of pneumonia with human companionship by his side.  Keiko died because he was dependent on the ways things were.

The church that sails well into the 21st century will need to break its dependency on the old system that limits the grace of God based on personal preferences and cultural beliefs.  The purpose of God’s grace, which has been extended to us, is so we will extend that same grace to an ever growing circle of new passengers.

Some passengers are gifted at making room for other passengers.  They recognize the differences life has brought to some, justly because of things they have done, some unjustly because of things done to them.  They come along assure those who think they don’t belong they are needed.  They know this is Christ’s Ship, not theirs.  They throw open the doors, declaring there are no classes of passengers on this Mother Ship.  They know the ship is not full and everyone is needed for this journey.

We’re with family at the lake and their dog Romeo escaped after her owners left the house.  Terri and I feeling responsible began the pursuit.  She ran one way and then the other way until she finally made it to the road and headed up the hill.  We jumped in the car to continue the chase.  We soon realized we were not going to find her in the car, so we returned to the house.  We stepped out to the backyard, which looks over Possum Kingdom Lake, two fishermen were pointing to the whereabouts of Romeo.

She had jumped into the lake and swam to the other side.  These two fishermen had parked their boat on the cliff; trying to catch her as she danced through the rock overhangs.  Terri jumped into the car to find Romeo’s owners and to go to the other side to help in the search.  I remained on binoculars shouting encouragement from the other bank.  Soon neighbors joined the search.  Finally, when his owner arrived, the chase ended as he willing followed the one he trusted.  My post reflection on this harrowing experience was what if the church pursued the frightened and fleeing as vigilantly as we pursued a runaway canine?

A word to possible new passengers-Don’t deny the creative genius of God by hiding the gifts God gave you.  Worry not about what God wants you to do.  God calls you according to your gifts, so you may flourish rather than be frustrated.  Your status on the ship is based on who you actually are, not on what others think you should be.

We will ignite this new reformation if we fill this ship with new passengers needed as we set out to sea.  It will take a reforming faith that may feel unnatural, but it is what is uniquely needed for these coming days.  Pastors, staff, and leaders of this church will need to be engages in helping people be equipped for sailing these seas of service to the world.  We need you to put your name down on the passenger log and report here each week, taking a seat on this ship beside other passenger, ready, willing and able to offer your gifts of service to the world.  All hands on deck; we are setting sail!

Published in: on September 9, 2012 at 7:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Mother Ship Takes Sail!

Off we sail!

The Mother Ship sends out excursions to touch the lives of the under-reached and under-served.

For those who have not seen the presentation I have been making to groups throughout the congregation, here are the slides.  I plan to video soon and share it.  In the meantime this Mother Ship is ready to send excursions out to the edge to offer the love of God to  the under-reached and under-served.  Let’s keep talking about how we can better be the church.

Click below to see the slides:

The Mother Ship- 9-6-12 draft

See you Sunday as we begin to look at the passengers on the Mother Ship.

Published in: on September 6, 2012 at 10:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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