A Ministry Entrusted to Us
These are trying times. It seems that any given morning we can turn on the TV, unfold the newspaper, or load the news on our computer or phone to discover yet another disturbing act of violence somewhere in the world. Whether these things are happening more than they used to or we are just hearing about them more often with the flow of information in the current age, it is heart-breaking nonetheless. The problems we are facing are so much larger than we are. Seeing so much violence in so many places so much of the time, it would be easy to throw up our arms in defeat and hole up hoping that it will all just go away. After all, what can we possibly do?
Yet to give up is to abdicate the ministry that God has entrusted to us: reconciliation. Through the power of Jesus Christ, we have been remade and reconciled to God and to one another, and we are called to share the gospel of reconciliation with others. The problems of this world may be huge, but they can only be met by those who are committed to pushing through the dividing walls of violence and blame that are so easily built among us. It begins with how we treat one another. If we cannot break down the dividing walls of hostility among those we love, how can we hope to challenge a world built upon hatred and division. Who in our lives do we need to be reconciled with? A brother or sister? A co-worker or boss? A friend or an enemy? What would happen if we made an effort to reconcile with someone in our lives? I wonder how much it might grow in time if the church of Jesus took this ministry seriously today.
Blessings on the journey, Jim
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. - 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, NIV
Summer Book Club
Sunday's Sermon Snippet: Paul's Favor (Philemon)
Paul's Letter to Philemon stands out among the many letters of the New Testament as unusual because it was written to a person rather than a church or community. At first glance, the book appears to be simply a personal correspondence between two people with Paul, the writer of the letter, asking a favor of Philemon. Paul has encountered Onesimus, a slave who has fled from Philemon, and taught him about Jesus. Onesimus converted, became a Christian brother, and aided Paul in his work. In writing the letter, Paul is sending Onesimus back to Philemon while asking that the slave be freed and released so that the can continue in his work with Paul for the sake of the gospel. Paul notes that he could write demanding the favor as an act of obedience to him as a leader of the church. He also notes that he could guilt Philemon with the fact that he owes him his own life because of the gospel of Jesus that Paul shared with him. Yet Paul simply asks for this as a favor because he does not want to deprive Philemon of the opportunity to choose it freely. In this way, Paul models something for us that may teach us something about how God works in the world. God does not force a path upon us but invites and calls us to follow those paths instead. God does not force us to choose the good, because then it would no longer be a choice we make. God frees us to make decisions on our own. While this runs the risk that we may not obey what God desires, it creates room for us to find joy in choosing good and working with God. When we wonder why God does not just fix the problems of this world, we would do well to remember that God does not force even the good on us. While God could fix all the problems of this world by force, that would deprive us of the choice we were made to make. Instead we are called to join with God and make a difference in the world.
This Sunday in Worship
This Sunday, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of our sanctuary with a special service starting at 10 am! As we celebrate our holy space, we will explore how God's people have found and celebrated holy spaces in generations past. How has our sanctuary been a holy space to you? How have you experienced God in our sanctuary? The service will be followed by a potluck dinner in the park, weather permitting. Please bring a dish from one of the recipes you submitted for the cookbook. You will be invited to fill out a card to put with your dish to include the dish name and page number in the cookbook. That way, we can all sample a lot of the recipes in our wonderful cookbook! Invite family, friends, and former members for this special day!
Living in Community
Please pray for Bishop Sharma Lewis who will be our new bishop beginning September 1! Bishop Lewis comes to us from the North Georgia Conference where she has served as a District Superintendent.
Please pray for Bishop Cho as he prepares for his retirement.
Please remember all those families affected by the recent spate of violence across our nation in your prayers.
Please lift up our local law enforcement officers and their families, especially those who are a part of our congregation.
This Week at Port Church
Tuesday, July 19
6:45 pm - Children's Christian Education Meeting
Wednesday, July 20
10:00 am - 12 noon - Office Hours
Thursday, July 21
10:00 am Sunshine Seniors
Sunday, July 24
10:00 am - Worship: "To This Very Point"
100th Anniversary Celebration of the Sanctuary
12:00 noon - Potluck
Wednesday at the Port begins September 14!
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!