It is not often that I confess in writing. Most often, I confess verbally.
There is something different about putting your sins down on paper. Seeing the words on the page makes them more tangible and seem more ugly. The sheet of paper is filled up with things of which I am not proud in my life. Yet, it is also cleansing. There is something powerful in naming the places where I have messed up and am in need of God’s grace.
I have written a prayer of confession on Ash Wednesday for thirteen years. Sometimes, it seems, that I find myself writing some of the same things from year to year. All too often, I seem to cling unintentionally to some of the thoughts, words, and actions which separate me from God and other people. There are areas where God has been at work to help me make progress and there are new areas which I have not found necessary to confess in years past. All of this is part of the journey of going on toward perfect love of God and neighbor.
Each of the years that I have written my prayers in this way, I have also had the opportunity to place them in a fire to be burned. This is a cleansing ritual and helps me begin the journey toward Easter. I am so glad to be on this journey again.
Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
At a recent bedtime, I read Bulldozers (Mighty Machines) to our children as one of our stories. After reading, my son stood up and said excitedly,
“One day, I going to drive the biggest bulldozer in the world!”
I replied with a smile, “You sure could.”
In those brief moments, I was struck at how wide the possibilities are for him at three years old. He really could drive the biggest bulldozer in the world one day. Then I considered this possibility for myself. Would I ever drive the biggest bulldozer in the world? It seems a bit little less likely that I would ever would. The reality is that the choices that we make open some possibilities in the future and close others.
Part of the amazing power of the gospel is that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Even, one day, drive the biggest bulldozer in the world.
Like a local church, an annual conference and denomination with a mission (Why do we exist?) and a vision (Where are we going?) are more likely to contain vital congregations. The clarity of purpose and direction helps shape the life of the community in both subtle and significant ways.
The United Methodist Church has a mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the World. The annual conferences where I am currently connected have a mission or vision statement:
Kansas East – The Kansas East Conference’s mission is to connect and empower people and churches in living out the Gospel‘s call to invite, nurture, equip and send forth disciples of Jesus Christ.
Kansas West – “As we make disciples of Jesus Christ, the Kansas West Conference calls God’s people to invite through radical hospitality, excite for intentional faith-sharing and unite in risk-taking mission for the transformation of the world.” – Kansas West Conference vision adopted May 2008
“The task of witnessing to the Gospel in the digital era calls for everyone to be particularly attentive to the aspects of that message which can challenge some of the ways of thinking typical of the web. First of all, we must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its “popularity” or from the amount of attention it receives. We must make it known in its integrity, instead of seeking to make it acceptable or diluting it. It must become daily nourishment and not a fleeting attraction. The truth of the Gospel is not something to be consumed or used superficially; rather it is a gift that calls for a free response. Even when it is proclaimed in the virtual space of the web, the Gospel demands to be incarnated in the real world and linked to the real faces of our brothers and sisters, those with whom we share our daily lives. Direct human relations always remain fundamental for the transmission of the faith!”
Here are a few points that I particularly appreciate from this short paragraph:
The reminder that the truth of the gospel is not based on how many Likes or Retweets that are received.
The good news of Jesus Christ is not something to be consumed, but rather something that calls for a response
Meeting people face to face is important.
Will you please share your thoughts, feelings or opinions about this selection? I commend the entire message to you.
Truth is reality as it actually exists. Ultimately, truth is the Triune God in which all creation lives, moves and has being. I believe that the clearest written depiction of truth is in the entirety of the Bible, which includes the story of God’s work and God’s people across time. Scripture contains the clearest picture that we have of Jesus Christ in the four Gospel narratives of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Jesus Christ is the best picture that we have of God. Jesus recognizes himself as the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).
I recently met with a congregant who shared some deep questions with me. I asked for permission to share them on this blog to more broadly share my response.
How’s this for an “About Us” page on church website?
First United Methodist Church (First UMC) brings you a fresh adaptation of the most classic faith concept around. The gospel of Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem and bred across the world as a way of reconciling people to God, but it’s grown up a bit, and has become an active part of bringing the kingdom of God on earth. Imagine the original gospel from early house churches, recreated using 21st century methods, and you have First UMC’s gospel presentation. First UMC (the forerunner denomination’s initials) is bringing “the gospel of Jesus Christ” into the neighborhood. Considering the current economy and the popularity of the burger, the founders Nicole and Andrew, decided to bring you a value-oriented church experience for the grown-up lover of God. At First UMC expect to get great worship made with fresh ingredients, focused service, and a little reverence for the classic gospel of Jesus Christ.
This was inspired a few days ago when Nicole and I were in the Corinth Square shopping center to get a couple pairs of Nicole’s shoes repaired at a great shop. It was about lunch time and we decided to eat at a new restaurant – B.R.G.R. Kitchen + Bar. We split the BRGR burger and it was the best burger that I have had in a long time, yes, better than Five Guys. In addition, the restaurant was an excellently designed space. When we arrived home, I checked out their website. This is where I was really impressed – their about us section reads:
BRGR KITCHEN + BAR brings you a fresh adaptation of the most classic restaurant concept around. The hamburger was born and bred in America as a convenient way to eat on the go, but it’s grown up a bit, and has become our country’s favorite food. Imagine those original burgers from classic burger joints, recreated using 21st century methods, and you have BRGR’s modern burger. BRGR (the owners’ initials) is bringing “the modern burger joint” into the neighborhood. Considering the current economy and the popularity of the burger, the owners Gaylin and Roberts, decided to bring you a value-oriented culinary experience for the grown-up burger lover. At BRGR Kitchen + Bar expect to get great food made with fresh ingredients, focused service, and a little reverence for the classic American burger.