Catching the Spirit
This past Sunday, Ralph shared with us his experience of our Virginia Annual Conference that was held last month. While there was business to be attended to, he told us that the highlight of the conference came for him in the preaching of our Bishop Sharma Lewis and Bishop James Swanson of Mississippi. To be present in those worship services was to be anointed by the Holy Spirit, to be sure.
Bishop Lewis shared with us her vision of discipleship for our conference over the coming years. She said that disciples are lifelong learners who influence others to serve. In this short statement, she captured three aspects of what she hopes we will be about in our churches and in our outreach to others. First, disciples are lifelong learners. We should always be learning more about God and God's love. This means being intentional in seeking opportunities to grow. Second, disciples influence others. It is not enough for our faith to be just "Jesus and me." We are called to reach out to others we know and influence them to grow in a relationship with God. Third, disciples serve - and they serve together. As we learn more and influence others, we join together to serve the world and make it a better place for all God's children. We will be hearing more from our bishop on what this looks like in her vision in the coming months.
If you need a blessing today, you can see Bishop Lewis' message from the closing worship here.
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Sunday's Sermon Snippet
Love Is... (1 Corinthians 13:4-13)
Waiting is an inevitable part of life. The prophets tell us repeatedly about the need to wait upon the Lord, and so many of the stories of our faith tell of people who had to wait years - even decades - to see the promises of God fulfilled. We not only wait upon God, but we also wait with and for each other. We wait with each other for our life circumstances to change. We wait for one another in the small daily things as well as in the larger, life-changing things. Waiting is an inevitable part of life, so how we wait truly matters. Is it with manipulative words, seething resentment, overwhelming anxiety, or patience? The apostle Paul famously talks about love in his first letter to the Corinthians, and he lists patience first among his descriptors. This is no mistake - patience is a key to love, and it is difficult, especially when we are forced to wait for one another. Patience is defined as the ability to tolerate unpleasant or difficult circumstances without growing upset. This, however, is a narrow and negative view of what patience truly is. It is true that Paul tells us that love bears all things, but he does not stop there. It trusts all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. A patient love does not merely tolerate the tough waiting in life - it thrives even in those days because it trusts in the process of growth, hopes in the days to come, and endures although today may be harsh. Patience is about embracing the gift from God that this moment is although we may be forced to wait in it. So how can we grow to be more patient in our love and in our relationships with one another, especially with our spouses? Paul talks about being a child and thinking like a child but having to put away childish ways once he grew up. The same is true for our view of love - especially in romantic relationships. A childish view of love is one that is selfish, self-serving, and focused on how it makes me feel. An adult view of love is one that is focused on the other and is willing to sacrifice for the sake of the beloved. If we are to grow more patient in our love for one another, we need to grow up and adjust our view - the view that our culture elevates - of love. Falling in love is easy, but staying in love takes patience and strength - the kind we see in Jesus upon the cross. May God bless you with a patient love that bears all things, trusts all things, hopes all things, and endures all things!
This Week's Challenge
How patient are you with others? How patient are you with those close to you? What causes you to grow impatient?
In what ways do you need to grow up in God’s love?
Start and end each day by reading 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and offering a prayer for God to help you grow up in divine love. Try to memorize it. Whenever you find yourself growing frustrated and impatient with those you love, take a deep breath and remember these words and ask for God’s help. How does this change your interactions with others?
Living in Community
Thank you, Ralph and Kelly, for representing our church at annual conference
and for sharing your experience with us this past Sunday!
Thank you, Susie, for getting together our quarterly giving statements!
This Week at Port Church
Tuesday, July 18
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Thursday, July 20
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Sunday, July 23
9:30 am - Worship - "What Are We Fighting For?"
11:00 am - Sunday School
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!