Living in Divided Times
Growing up, I remember being told that there were two things that you don't discuss at the dinner table - politics and religion. These two topics have power like few other things to both unite and divide. If we agree on these things, we are united; as soon as we find an area of disagreement, we are divided. Living in such a divided time as we do now, it makes me wonder if we would be better off if we followed this advice not just at the dinner table but also at grocery store, ball field, and on social media. At least then we would not be drawn into the controversial, heated arguments that so often erupt around our beliefs. Yet simply ignoring our differences doesn't do much to bring us real unity as brothers and sisters in Christ. Still, as followers of Jesus, surely we are called to do better than the divisive rhetoric and hateful anger that too often dominates our culture's discussion of these important topics.
How can we as Christians living in a divided time engage in these issues embroiled in conflict without losing our way? How can we navigate the conflict of our culture and of our own personal lives in a way that builds up the Body of Christ and creates more unity? Over the next few weeks, we are going to explore how we can deal with conflict constructively in our worship series "Conflict: Lessons on Living in Divided Times from the Life of King David." This is serious and important topic for us to consider. I pray that God will grant us the humility and grace we will need to open our hearts to a new approach to handling conflict, especially on sensitive issues. I hope you will join us as we learn and grow together!
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Sunday's Sermon Snippet
Clutter: A New Thing (1 Corinthians 10:23-24, 30-32)
We have looked at different kinds of things that clutter our lives - from stuff to worry, from shame to busyness - and we have found teachings in the Bible that directly addressed how we should handle them. Living in the age in which we do, we face another kind of clutter that threatens to overwhelm our lives. As it is a new thing in the world, we find no teachings specifically about it in the Bible. I am talking about digital clutter: the hundreds of pictures that fill our phones and keep us from finding the one we want, the social media feeds dominated by things we do not care about when what we want to see is what is going on with our friends, the email inbox dotted with offers from stores that we have not shopped in years, the notifications that pop up constantly demanding our immediate attention. It is easy to collect a lot of digital clutter because so much of it is free - and that must mean it is good. We can store so many pictures, let emails sit forever, and download any number of apps to do this, that, and the other because the products are free and the space to hold them is largely free. Go over your quota for space, and just get a little bit more for a dollar or five a month. Compared to a storage unit for physical stuff, that is close to free. Digital stuff is largely free, and the clutter it makes is largely hidden from public sight, so we have little incentive to clean it up or try to get it under control. Yet it dominates our lives like few other things. If our landline phones rang as often as our cell phones popped up with notifications, we would leave them off the hook. Yet we tolerate the constant interruption from our cell phones. We scroll through countless pictures, messages, and the like to find what we want, wasting our time and losing focus on what matters to us.
The Bible does not give us any commandments on how to deal with this clutter; there is not an eleventh commandment telling us, "Thou shalt not look at your phone at dinner" or "Thou shalt only watch five cute kitten videos a day." So what can we do? We can look at the whole witness of Scripture and think about what God wants for our lives - an abundant life, a life well-lived, a life of giving to others. The technology that drowns us in digital clutter also has the ability to improve our lives, our relationships, and even our faith. The technology itself is not inherently good or bad - it is how we use it that determines that. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that they had been freed by Christ, and so many things had become permissible for them. But not all things were helpful or useful in living a life for God and others. This is a good starting point for us to consider the technology we carry around in our pockets and sit down to at our desks. There is nothing inherently wrong in using them, but that does not mean they are necessarily useful for us in living out our faith. We need to figure out where to draw the line between it being a benefit and a hindrance.
We could begin by cleaning up the digital clutter it makes. Just as we clean our homes each week and do some more thorough cleaning every few months, we need to attend to our digital stuff the same way: cleaning up the email inbox, deleting pictures we don't need, filing away what we want where we can find it. We will have to set aside time to do this just as we do for our homes. We need to turn off the unimportant notifications that consume our attention when there are more important things to attend to. We need to set aside the distractions when we are doing things that matter like actually being in relationship with one another. Blessings to you as we figure out how to deal with this new kind of clutter so we can live the abundant lives God wants us to!
Potato Drop Coming Soon
Do you remember the community potato drop that we raised money for at our Vacation Bible School? It is almost time for us to roll up our sleeves and work with our brothers and sisters to make our truckload of potatoes available to hunger ministries in our area. We will gather on September 15th at 12 noon at Grottoes UMC. Volunteers will be needed to unload the 50 pound sacks from the truck, to organize them for the orders requested by local organizations, to break down some sacks into smaller bags, and possibly to deliver some of the orders. If you would like to help, please let Pastor Jim or Lee know.
Living in Community
Thanks to Lauren, Jason, Keith, Baylor, Brad, Becca,
Mark, Dave, Linda, Marvin, Zach, Dinah, and Chandler
for their work clearing the parking lot to prepare for sealing and painting!
This Week at Port Church
Tuesday, August 14
7:00 pm - Administrative Council Meeting
Wednesday, August 15
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Thursday, August 16
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Sunday, August 19
9:30 am - Worship: "Conflict: Facing Giants"
Blessing of Backpacks!
11:00 am - Sunday School
225th Anniversary Planning Meeting
Church Clean-up Workday, August 25 , 2 pm
Communion Server Training - August 26 and September 9, following worship
Philippians Bible Study in Sunday School - September 9
Wednesday at the Port - September 12, 6 pm
Potato Drop hosted at Grottoes UMC - September 15, 12 noon
225th Anniversary Celebration - September 29, 3 pm - until
Nativity Workday - October 6
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!
8525 Water Street
PO Box 116
Port Republic, VA 24471