Joining the Covenant
This past Sunday we welcomed three families into our congregation. It is always a joyful time when we have folks become members and join the covenant of our congregation. But what does it mean to be a member of a congregation? What does it mean to be a part of the covenant of the church?
When we are baptized into Chirst's Church (not the local congregation but the whole church of God), we make vows or promises of what we will do: repent of our sin and turn away from evil, accept the power God gives us to resist and defy evil wherever we encounter, and trust Jesus as our Savior and serve him in union with the rest of the Church. We make these promises to God, and then the congregation that is gathered makes promises to God - to care for these new members of God's family and help them grow. Then we make a promise together to serve God through our support of our specific congregation through our prayers, presence, gifts, and service. This is our covenant with God and one another. When we become a member of a church, we are committing to living our these promises as best we can.
But can't I just come to worship and serve Jesus without all of that? The simple answer is, of course, that you can. There is nothing that stops you from following Jesus without becoming a member of a church, but these promises of the covenant are important. Think of it this way: there is nothing that stops a couple from living together, having children, and living in every way as a family even if they have not taken the vows of marriage. So why get married? Because the promises that make up the covenant of marriage - that we will stick with each other through thick and thin - are important. Without these promises, it is harder to trust one another as completely as we want and need to. And it is important that these promises and vows are made publicly. The community of friends and family that gather for a marriage make their own promises to support us and care for us especially when things get tough. They are there to help hold us accountable and remind us of the promises we have made when we threaten to break them. The same is true of baptism and church membership as of marriage. The public promises are important for us to be able to live together in trust and in mutual accountability.
I think this is what becoming a member of a church and joining its covenant is about. It's not like becoming a member of a civic club. We are not just saying we want to work together for a common cause; we are saying we want to live together as family - as brothers and sisters. When we join a church, we make promises to God and to one another that makes us just that kind of family - the best of what family can be. Family that will do anything for anybody, family that accepts us as we are - faults and all - but wants the best for us, family that sticks with us through thick and thin, family that doesn't give up on us just because we disagree or had an argument. After all, isn't that what love is truly about?
I am glad to be members of the family of God, Jesus' brothers and sisters, here with you at Port Church! May God grant us the grace to live up to our vows and hold our covenant close today, tomorrow, and forever more!
Blessings on the journey,
We are at the end of Jesus' journey among us and encounter some of the last people to meet Jesus as we reflect on what Meeting Jesus today means for our lives.
Sermon Snippet: Reconciled (Luke 19:1-10)
As he approaches Jerusalem for the final time on his way to the cross, Jesus enters the town of Jericho where a rich, short tax collector named Zacchaeus lives. Zacchaeus, so intrigued by Jesus, climbs a tree to get a better look over the crowd. Jesus calls him down saying that he will stay Zacchaeus - a great honor for this hated man in the community. Zacchaeus pledges to give half of what he has to the poor and to make good on any wrong that he has done. This becomes one of Jesus' greatest miracles - that a man so loathed by the entire community is reconciled to the community, and the community is reconciled to God as they let go of their grudges and welcome one of their own back. When we meet Jesus, he calls us to let go of our grudges, our old hurts and wounds, and our self-righteousness so that we can be reconciled to one another and then together to God.
This Week's Challenge
Who are you holding a grudge against? What old hurts and wounds are your clinging to? Pray for the grace to forgive and be reconciled.
As he hangs upon the cross, a criminal crucified alongside makes a request of Jesus - to be allowed into his kingdom. Jesus' response proves that anything is possible for the Crucified One!
September 20 - "Crucified" - Luke 23:32-43
September 27 - "Baptized" - Acts 8:26-38
Stepping Up to the Crisis
We have all seen the pictures of the horrors caused by the refugee crisis coming out of the Middle East and North Africa, especially Syria, and several of you have asked what we can do about it. Our United Methodist Committee on Relief - our humanitarian relief agency - offers great information about what is happening, the issues at the heart of the crisis, and how we can help by supporting the work of our brothers and sisters in United Methodist congregations in Hungary, Macedonia, Austria, Germany, and beyond. You can make a donation to UMCOR's International Disaster Relief on their website or by writing a check to the church designated for "UMCOR Refugee Relief" and we will forward your donations to them.
What Happens to a Christmas Child Shoebox?
Have you ever wondered what happens when a Christmas shoebox leaves our church?
Every gift-filled shoebox is a powerful tool to share God’s love and to transform the lives of children and their families around the world! Yves Dushime is one of these children. His life was forever changed because of a simple shoebox gift, and he is coming to share his story.
Join us on September 25, 2015 at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:30pm) at First Church of the Nazarene or September 26, 2015 at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:30) at Calvary Baptist Church. See Kendra Burns for more details.
Living in Community
This Week at Port Church
Wednesday, September 16
9:30 am - 2 pm - Office Hours
6 pm - Wednesday at the Port
Thursday, September 17
9:30 am - 12 pm - Office Hours
10 am - Sunshine Seniors - Trip to Nursing Homes
10:30 am - Prayer Time
Sunday, September 20
9:30 am - Worship: "Meeting Jesus - Crucified"
11 am - Sunday School
6 pm - High School Confirmation Bible Study at Ciro's
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!