The Old, Old Game...
Recently our boys have really gotten into the old playground game of Four Square. You may remember from your own school days that it is a simple game: four squares, four players; hit the ball into another square and keep it from bouncing more than once in your own square; hit it out of bounds or on a line, or let it hit twice in your square, and you're out and every one else moves up towards the fourth square. Such a simple game... At least, it was. Kids these days have added so many new rules that the game has become utterly complicated. Catch the ball before it hits your square, call out "Jackpot" before five seconds is up, and the person who hit it is out. Name a kind of pizza before you hit the ball, or you are out. The new rules go on and on.
I have to admit that, when Zach and Hunter first asked me to play Four Square with them, I was excited. I loved the game as a kid and was pretty good at it. Then I found out about all these rules. Why did we need all these new rules when the simple game was good enough? I teased the boys a bit about how silly their rules were and how they didn't know how to really play the game - that is, the way I used to play it. One of our neighbors, a few years older than me but still a kid at heart, came over and agreed with me on the purity of the simple rules we grew up with. Together, we showed the boys how to really play. And the boys just watched in disbelief at how boring our game was. Our neighbor left, and the boys jumped back in. I gave in and played by their rules. To my surprise, they played better than they had before having seen the boring yet strategic game being played.
Over the last few weeks, we have spent many an evening on the front sidewalk playing, and I have come -in spite of myself - to enjoy playing by some of these new rules. The game is more fun now than it was to me before. I couldn't imagine going back to the old rules I had loved the game for as a kid. It makes me think about how we so often do things in the church. We are creatures of comfort, and we easily become accustomed to doing certain things in specific ways. We want to keep doing things the ways we always have. Trying new things or doing old things in new ways can cause us to grow uncertain and worry about the outcome of such changes. While the changes sometimes fall flat (and hopefully we learn from them), at other times we grow to enjoy them and cannot imagine going back to our old way of doing things. I pray that, as God continues to unfold a vision for us here at Port Republic, we (myself included) will be willing to take the next faithful step to, as the old hymn says, tell the old, old story with a new, new song.
Blessings on the journey, Jim
We are continuing our worship series "Meeting Jesus" - a look at some of the stories that Luke tells of people encountering Jesus along life's journeys. Over the next couple of months, we will explore how we meet Jesus and what difference it makes in our lives.
Sermon Snippet: Carried (Luke 5:17-26)
The scene is set: Jesus is teaching, a crowd has gathered to hear him, and a paralyzed man is carried forward by his friends to meet him. We know what to expect - a miracle - and Jesus does not disappoint. He first forgives the man of his sin (a miracle in and of itself) and then heals him. While these may not surprise us, what is surprising is that Jesus performs these miracles not because of the paralyzed man's faith but because he sees the faith of the man's friends. From this encounter, we see the importance of carrying each other to Jesus when we cannot get there ourselves. When we meet Jesus, he may heal and forgive others because of the faith that he sees in us. When we see someone struggling with doubts, fears, hurts, or tears, we have a choice - to act as a barrier through judgment like the crowd that questions Jesus' authority or to carry our brother or sister in grace back to Jesus, letting our faith lift them up.
This Week's Challenge
Who in our lives needs to be carried to meet Jesus for the first time? What is one way you can show them grace rather than judgment this week? Who in our lives is struggling and needs the strength of our faith to carry them through? How can you lift them up?
As we enter the town with Jesus, the elders of the local synagogue approach with a surprisingly odd request - a Roman centurion (of all people) is seeking Jesus to heal his servant. As we follow Jesus to the centurion's house, what this man seeking help does next amazes even Jesus! Join us this Sunday in "Seeking" Jesus together!
August 16 - "Seeking" - Luke 7:1-10
August 23 - "Pouring Out" - Luke 7:36-49 - Back-to-School Blessing/Promotion Sunday
August 30 - "Reaching Out" - Luke 8:40-54
Contact Information Update
We in the church office have been working over the past several months to update and enter our membership records into the church computer (a huge thank-you goes out to Dianna for her work on this project!). In the coming weeks, we are asking for your help to check over what we have entered, correct any mistakes, update any changes, and add any missing information for your family. Dianna will set up a table in the fellowship hall this week and in the church office next week during the coffee time following worship. She will have a print-out of the information we have for you and your family for you to look over, update, and return to her. This is an important step in our work of updating our membership records, so we ask that you plan to see her one of these two weeks to update your information.
Living in Community
This Week at Port Church
Tuesday, August 11
6 pm - Wednesday at the Port Meeting
7 pm - Administrative Council Meeting
Thursday, August 6
6:30 pm - Trustees Meeting
Sunday, August 9
9:30 am - Worship: "Meeting Jesus - Seeking"
11 am - Sunday School
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!