Punctuation and Other Life-giving Gifts.
Have you noticed how much communication has changed over the last decade or so? Through email, social media posts, and texting, we have lost the formality and even rules of grammar that once dominated our written communication. One of the most telling signs of this change has been the near extinction of the simple period. Write a text, a short email, or a post, and how do you end it? Most likely not with a period. An exclamation point - perhaps! An emoji - likely😀 A hashtag - #aslikelyasnot Nothing at all - probable
But a period - absolutely no way. A recent study has shown that people now see a period in digital communication as passive aggressive. To use a period, you had to choose to use a period, and that must mean there is a hidden message behind it. Yet a period serves a very useful purpose in the written word. In an article I recently read, the author defended the importance of using periods in written communication, not because of any traditionalist argument about what is grammatically correct but simply because periods are a gift to the reader. The author believes this because a period says to the reader, "Take a breath, process what you've just read, and then prepare for what's coming up." It doesn't take long, but the short rest it provides between sentences is life-giving.
I believe that Sundays are a lot like the period that divides this sentence from the next one. Sunday lies on that boundary between the week behind us and the week ahead. When we spend time with God on Sunday, it is the chance to take a little bit of time to reflect on where we have been and where we are going. Sundays punctuate our weeks and give us the break we need between the completion of one and the onslaught of another. It gives us the time to take a breath, reflect on what we have just experienced, and prepare ourselves for what is coming up. On Sundays, we remember who we are to God, we rejoice in the triumphs of what we have done over the past week and accept grace for our failings, we discern who God wants us to become, and we dedicate ourselves to doing what God is calling us to do in the new week. Like replacing periods with exclamation points, emojis, and hashtags, it may be tempting to replace Sundays with something more exciting yet ultimately exhausting!!!!!!!!!!!! Or we could just do away with them altogether and make Sundays no different that any other day Either way, we miss out on the much-needed life-giving gift of Sunday: a time to rest, reflect, and prepare for what's ahead.
May Sundays be a gift of rest between your weeks. (No passive aggressiveness intended)
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Sunday's Sermon Snippet
Promises to God: Prayers (Romans 15:30-33)
Last week, we began exploring our vow to participate in the ministries of the church through our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. We are each of us a minister of the gospel of Jesus and are called to do our part to further his work to change the world. Over the next few weeks we are going to look at these five ways we have committed to participate, and we begin this week with the first - prayers.
Prayer is simply having a conversation with God - sharing our hearts with God and listening to what God has to say to us. We often think of prayer as telling God what we want to have happen and hoping that God will do it, but there is more to it than that. When we participate in ministry through our prayers, it is not just giving God our wishlist and hoping to change God's mind. God presumably wants the ministries we have been called to do to be successful as well. So what does participation through prayer do? The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome about this very thing. He asked that they join him in the struggle of his ministry through prayer. Prayer unites us and helps us to share the burdens of ministry. Surely there are those will bear the brunt of ministry as the hands and feet carrying it out, but those who support it through prayer share the stress, worry, and weight of it all so that those serving are not alone. Paul recognized that the simple idea of being able to be present one day with this church would be refreshing to him. Leaders can take encouragement from knowing that they do not work alone but have the support of prayers from others. Participation through prayer means praying for our ministry leaders (see article below for ideas on this).
All the while, Paul told them what he would like for them to ask God for, but he recognized that what mattered was God's will. This brings us to an important point about prayer. Some see prayer as easy, and it is. They say it is an easy way to start participating in ministry, and perhaps it is. Prayer is easy in that anyone can do it and there is no need for anything special to do it. Yet just because prayer may be easy does not mean that it isn't dangerous. In fact, prayer is one of the most dangerous things we do in our faith lives, because when we pray well we don't just tell God what to do but also listen for what God wants us to do. It is easy to pray for another person - whether for their healing and comfort or for their leadership in ministry. What happens when we listen to God in return? Often God changes us, and the answer to prayer becomes us. When we listen, God often tells us what we need to do to help those we pray for, and sometimes that means changing our lives. Prayer can be a dangerous yet wonderful thing.
We are called to share the burdens of ministry through our prayers for one another and our church. Through our prayers, God changes us so that in ministry we will change the world!
Praying for Our Church Leaders
As I shared in Sunday's sermon, I recently encountered an article published by UMC Communications on "15 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor." While I certainly welcome any of those 15 ways of prayer personally, I think that by and large they apply to how we should be in prayer for all of the servant leaders in our congregation. While we may need to think a little more broadly on a few of them - preaching, for instance, could be thought as worship leadership or how we proclaim the gospel in general - the vast majority are areas in which I believe any of our leaders could benefit from encouragement and prayer. On Sunday, we had everyone take a slip of paper with the name of a leader or group of leaders to pray for for a few minutes each day in the coming weeks. If you weren't able to get one, more slips will be available this upcoming Sunday as well. You can email Pastor Jim, and he can draw one and let you know who it is. As you pray for the one(s) you chose, check out the article on praying for leaders, and lift them up in prayer each day for a few minutes.
Charge Conference, November 12
We are busy preparing for our yearly Charge Conference here at Port Church scheduled for November 12 at 7 pm. Charge Conference is the time in we meet with our District Superintendent to review the ministries of the last year and make plans for those in the year to come. Church leaders make reports on what their ministries have done, we approve the budget to fund ministries for the next year, and we elect leaders for the next year. While the Charge Conference deals with some of the formalities of business, at its core is a time of reflection on who have been this past year and who God is calling us to become. I hope you will be able to join us!
Living in Community
Thank you, Chris, for an amazing dinner of pulled pork and macaroni last Wednesday! We appreciate your sharing your gift with us!
Thank you, Courtney, Tina, Jason, and Brenna,
for keeping the praise band going this week!
Don't forget to bring your items for the Harvest Table
to benefit the food pantry.
This Week at Port Church
Wednesday, October 24
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
6:00 pm - Wednesday at the Port
6:45 pm - Cantata Practice
Thursday, October 25
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Sunday, October 28
9:30 am - Worship: "Promises to God: Presence"
11:00 am - Sunday School
Wednesday, October 31
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
No Wednesday at the Port
Happy All Saints' Eve!
Christmas Shoebox Packing Party - November 11
Charge Conference - November 12, 7 pm
Drive-thru Nativity - December 14 & 15
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!
8525 Water Street
Port Republic, VA 24471