Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pastor's Report, Center Moreland Charge Conference 2007

Pastor’s Report, Center Moreland Charge, 2007

Rev. Drew Cottle.

Last Sunday, I preached on the text of 2 Timothy 1: 8-14, which was about the importance of and the cost of passing the faith on to those who come after. It reminds us that we are called to a “holy calling”, that of announcing the faith to all who will hear. As St. Francis of Assisi onc3e said, sometimes, we should even use words.

In the sermon, I said that our particular ways of “preaching and teaching are almost like a franchise, similar to any fast food restaurant. And I mediated on what is distinctive about our franchise—when people come into a United Methodist church, what do they expect to see, beyond the familiar symbol of the cross and flame? I began with what all churches, across the spectrum had in common, comparing them to ingredients, the common ingredients to all Christian cooking; the essentials, or the “staples”:
God, Creator of Heaven and Earth—
Jesus Christ, Crucified, died, and buried, resurrected,
Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, and is our connection to God now.

And then I identified what we did that was unique to us, and it was Grace that was our basic ingredient. The way we “cooked” up grace was by following the ordinances of God, according to the Rules of the Methodist Societies, from the Discipline:
1. public worship of God
2. ministry of the Word, read or expounded
3. the supper of the Lord
4. family and private prayer
5. searching the scriptures
6. fasting or abstinence.

I identified what those meant to us, naming what would for most folks be the bare minimum: attending worship takes care of #1 and #2. If you were here for communion, #3 is handled. #4 and #5, Family and private prayer and searching the scriptures are more something I said was done at home. If you say grace before you eat your meals, and if you read your Bible, those were covered. If you set aside a time to pray besides meals, even better! Do you fast or refrain from eating or drinking something? This is the one that many of us, me included ignore, but it is as good a tool as anything else!

But then I ended the sermon with the challenge “where do we go next?” How can we use that special ingredient, that “special sauce”, grace, in even more ways?

Both churches are, in my view, solid and grounded. Both are ready for ideas about how to grow in Christ, become deeper Christians. While each church does have it’s own challenges and opportunities, I am confident that they also have the tools and the faith. Dymond Hollow has before it the possibility of needing youth activities, since there are some Sundays when there can be as many as 8 teenagers in the congregation. Dymond Hollow’s strengths include it’s Sunday Music program. Dave Pearn and Larry Sorber together lead worship in one of the most unique styles in the Conference!

Center Moreland is exploring the challenge of how to answer God’s call in deciding between building a new building or refurbishing the existing schoolhouse. They are also exploring a more contemporary expression of worship. Both churches are exciting to attend and as their minister, I receive energy from them as I serve them.

As we grow in faith, I hope to lead both congregations using the forms given to us by Wesley in the Ordinances of God, asking always; are we in prayer? Are we studying the Scriptures? Are we learning about the ancient practices of the faith, even as we go into the future? How can the ancient practices be useful to us in this new world of websites, e-mail, IM and text-messaging?

Are we truly seeking to serve God without being ashamed of our testimony, relying on the power of God? Are we guarding the good treasure, holding to the sound standard?

Are we using the recipes of the franchise we were given? I seek and pray to lead, teach, enable and encourage this charge into a solid yes!

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