Monthly Archives: October 2013

Prayer in Daily Life

For the last few weeks in worship, we have been asked to pray about our income and how much God is asking us to give as an offering.  As the leadership of Faith UMC has prayed and discussed this period of time in our church life, we have held our focus on the importance of prayer.  Prayer in planning, prayer before and after meetings, prayers individually – but more importantly than the prayers of the leadership, was the request that every member of Faith UMC pray themselves.  Not just in worship but all throughout the week, praying about our relationship with God, with the resources we have been given, and our response to God’s work in the world through our congregation and denomination.

At a recent gathering of moms of young children, there was discussion about how hard it is just to find a few moments of quiet to be still with God.  It can be difficult in our harried, traffic jammed, rushed get-the-homework-done-and-get-to-practice-on-time (and don’t forget dinner!) suburban world to make time for prayer.  So how do you pray?

Here is a brief interview with Phyllis Tickle about Christian prayer in our busy lives:  https://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week331/belief.html

She says that her regular prayer is not petitionary – it doesn’t ask for anything.  Are you familiar with that kind of prayer?  Is it hard or easy?

Later she says that regular prayer is like growing a spiritual muscle.  Do you think you need the discipline of regular prayer like Phyllis Tickle?  Is that kind of “spiritual muscle” meant for all Christians?  She also says that this kind of prayer is usually practiced by monks and nuns, but is being practiced more and more by regular people.  Do you think you could practice this kind of regular prayer throughout your day?

Tickle’s prayer books are available on Amazon, and you can have a look inside the book without buying it here:  http://www.amazon.com/Divine-Hours-Two-Prayers-Wintertime/dp/038550540X/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383146382&sr=1-3&keywords=phyllis+tickle

Perhaps your prayer time is in the car during your commute, or while you are driving your children or while folding clothes after everyone is asleep – whenever you pray, I know the Spirit is with you and that God hears your prayers.

 

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Second Helpings

Typically this blog gets one post per week, but this week, you get a second helping!  🙂

What if we thought of church as a culinary school?  If you’re thinking “whaaaa?” then take a few minutes and read this blog:

http://thegospelside.com/2013/09/30/the-church-isnt-a-restaurant-its-culinary-school/

The author makes the argument that we often use church in the same way we use restaurants.  I was taken aback by this argument, but at the same time, felt convicted by the truth about myself I saw in his words.  Do you agree or disagree with the author?

If church is to be a place where we are given skills and tools to experiment and then to go out and feed others, does Faith UMC fit that description for you? 

How can you help make Faith UMC a culinary school instead of a restaurant?  What is your role in the school of Faith?

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Baptism and the Body of Christ

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and we were all made to drink of one Spirit…. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”  1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 26-27

This past Sunday we had the privilege of baptizing a baby at the 9:30am worship service.  At Faith UMC we are blessed that so many babies and children have been baptized recently.  United Methodists understand that in baptism we are adopted into the family of God.  As this article says, we “put on Christ” in baptism: http://www.umc.org/site/c.lwL4KnN1LtH/b.1697379/

Another way of talking about baptism is to say that we become part of the body of Christ, as the scripture above describes.  Baptism is about personal salvation but more than that, in baptism we are called to live as part of the body of Christ.  We are baptized into one body – Americans or Mexicans, Zimbabweans or Egyptians, Indians or Koreans.  1 Corinthians 12 reminds us that in baptism, we must pay attention to the whole body of Christ, because if one part of the body is honored, we all rejoice, and if one part of the body suffers, we all suffer together.

On Sunday September 22, as a worship service was concluding in Peshawar, Pakistan, a bomb went off, killing 80 worshipers.  Established in 1883, All Saints Church is one of the oldest Christian churches in Pakistan.  Christians make up between 2 – 4% of the population in Pakistan. 

Sometimes in the U.S. it is hard to remember that gathering to worship might be risky.  We have such freedom that gathering to worship can fall down our priority list.  But for one of our Faith UMC families, gathering to worship and remembering that in baptism we are called to be the body of Christ has taken on particular importance.  One of our Faith UMC families has family members who live in Peshawar and several who were killed in the attack on All Saints Church.  Now their family suffers grief and loss, and we suffer with them.

As much as we rejoice when one of our Faith UMC families has a baby, or suffer when someone has a family member who dies, we must remember that as the body of Christ we are part of a global body.  Rejoicing and suffering with Christians in other parts of the world is part of our responsibility when we take the vows of baptism.

How does being part of the body of Christ inform your prayers?

Thinking about the global nature of the church, how do you learn about Christians in other parts of the world?

Have you ever worshiped outside the U.S. – and if so, did it change how you think about being a Christian or how we worship?

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What Are We Doing When We Worship?

Faith UMC is blessed to have a lot of creative people who give of their time and talent to our worship services.  Our 11:00am worship service used to have a couple guys play their brass instruments and now we have 10 or more junior and senior high students playing brass, woodwinds, and string instruments along with the adults.  We have with recent sermon series had intriguing altars.  The questions for the Faith Challenges series captured so many of our difficult questions for God.  During a sermon on “doors” we had a Hobbit door on the altar. 

Many people in our community think carefully about worship – music selections, colors and other visuals, slide preparation for the screens.  But exactly what are we doing when the whole community gathers in the sanctuary – that thing we call “worship”?

An article on UM Connections talks about “contemporary worship” and “worship” in general and raises some good questions:  http://umcconnections.org/2013/09/30/contemporary-worship-really-mean

The author raises a number of questions about contemporary worship.  Did any of those questions capture your attention? 

The author also asks “What are the needs of 21st century Americans that can be addressed through worship?”  What needs do you, as a 21st century American worshiping at Faith UMC think can be addressed through worship?

Later the author says “worship is not something that we attend and watch, it is something we DO”.  Do you agree?  Is worship at Faith – at 9:30am, 11am or 5pm – something that helps you get your priorities straight and worship God?

Thank you for reading, and be sure to leave a comment!

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