Learning and Growing
The school year is fast approaching as teachers are preparing for a new year of helping our children continue to learn and grow. Here at Port Church, we are making plans as well for opportunities for children of all ages to learn and grow in faith. Beginning in late August, I will offer a five-week class on Sunday evenings on "United Methodism 101" in which we will explore the heritage, distinctive beliefs, and ministries of our church. We will learn about the life of John Wesley who went out to the fields and coal mines to bring the gospel to the poor, the early circuit riders who endured harsh conditions to help the frontier people of America, the way that grace brings our love to perfection, and how we are connected to other churches to do great works across the world. Whether you are newer to our congregation or a life-long member, you are sure to learn something and grow in faith. If you are interested, please let me know so that we can order materials and schedule a time on Sundays to meet.
Beginning September 9th, Dinah will lead an adult Sunday School on a part of the Bible that has been transformational for her life - Paul's Letter to the Philippians. All adults are encouraged to join us for what promises to be an amazing class! Look for more details as we get closer to the start of the class.
Wednesday at the Port resumes September 12th! We will continue with our wonderful, home-cooked meals open to all followed by classes for elementary school kids, middle schoolers, and high school youth.
Come learn and grow with us this new school year! Blessings on the journey, Jim
Sunday's Sermon Snippet
Clutter: Shame (John 8:2-11)
Jesus' encounter with the Pharisees and scribes who brought a woman caught in adultery to be judged is a familiar one and one seemingly with a happy ending. The authorities come trying to trap Jesus and willing to sacrifice this woman on the altar of their hatred of him. "The law says she should be stoned to death. What do you say, Jesus?" Jesus begins writing in the dirt - we don't know what. As they continue to push their case, he says for any one who is without sin to be the first to throw a stone. As he returns to writing on the ground, they leave, having been trapped themselves between lying about their own perfection or admitting their faults. Jesus then tells the woman he does not condemn her and commands her to go and leave her life of sin behind.
Can you imagine being this woman? She is guilty, ashamed, and publicly humiliated as her sins are aired for her neighbors to see. She stands in fear and trembling as her fate rests in Jesus' hands. She leaves relieved that her life has been spared. Can you imagine the joy she must have felt? Of course, we should, for that is all us - everyone of us who has been pardoned and rescued by Jesus.
After all, isn't that Jesus' point to the authorities? They have sinned as well yet their shame and guilt has not been put on public display. They have not endured the punishment for how they have sinned. While they leave humbled by Jesus' turn of the trap onto them, he has rescued even them in this encounter, saving them from themselves. They have not committed an atrocity against this woman. They have not condemned themselves as murderous hypocrites.
For this woman, this seems to be a happy ending. Yet it is a hard one as well. Go and leave your life of sin behind, Jesus had told her. That is hard! It requires change. It requires true repentance. It requires letting go of the shame and guilt that had risen up in her public humiliation and accepting the fullness of Jesus' forgiveness. This is not a simple thing to do. How often do we hold on the feelings of shame and guilt even after we have received forgiveness? We still feel bad about what we have done. We question how someone could forgive us or love us again. We hold onto our shame and accuse ourselves of being bad, unworthy people. Yet God created us and called us very good. Jesus, the only one without sin - the one entitled to cast the first stone, chose forgiveness and love. Indeed he chose the cross to remove our guilt and share in our shame. Still we have the audacity to accuse ourselves over and over again and call ourselves bad. It ought not be so. As C.S. Lewis once wrote, "I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than him." If we are to live up to the hard command of going and sinning no more, we have to let go of our shame. Just as stuff clutters our homes and worry, our minds, the shame we hold onto gets in the way of faith lives and hides the forgiveness and love we should focus on. This week, consider what you feel shame over, and pray for God to help lift that burden of shame from you. May God give you the strength to clean up the clutter of shame in your heart and soul!
Summer Bible Reading Plan
Day 43 - Matthew 27 - No Justice
Day 44 - Mark 15 - Removing the Barrier
Day 45 - Matthew 28 - A Rumor of Life
Day 46 - John 20 - The Rumor Spreads
Day 47 - Luke 24 - The Final Link
Day 48 - Acts 9 - The Conversion of Saul
Day 49 - Acts 16 - Jailbreak
This week's readings continue the story of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection and begin the story of how Paul became the greatest missionary of the Christian gospel.
Living in Community
Thanks to the Praise Band for leading awesome music each week in worship!
They will be taking a break for the next month, and we will be singing favorite hymns.
Pray for their rest and renewal so that they can continue
to lead us in the praise of God!
Reminder: if you are interested in singing in a Christmas cantata this year,
please talk with Linda as soon as you can.
This Week at Port Church
Wednesday, July 25
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Thursday, July 26
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
7:00 pm - Finance Committee
Sunday, July 29
9:30 am - Worship: "Clutter: Busyness"
11:00 am - Sunday School
Paint Night - August 10, 6-9 pm
Back-to-School Bingo - August 12, 12-1 pm
Blessing of the Backpacks - August 19
Communion Server Training - August 26 and September 9
Wednesday at the Port - September 12
Potato Drop to benefit local hunger ministries - September 15
225th Anniversary Celebration - September 29
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