Monday, March 30, 2009

"Have You Heard What Obama's Doing Now?"

Mondays are the days for me to be out and about--mornings are usually a Bible study with other area UM pastors (the shorthand term for this is "lectionary", as in
"are you going to lectionary?"), and whatever hospital visits there may be are in the afternoon. The study is in Kingston, which makes access to the Wilkes-Barre area hospitals much closer.

On my way to the study this morning, I stopped at the Thomas' grocery store on "the Ave." to get something to drink. An elderly man I've never seen before walks up to me, in the middle of the parking lot, and says: "have you heard what Obama's doing now?"

No "hello", no "excuse me", no "hey you". Just "Have you heard. . . ?"

I say back to him; "I should warn you before you finish, he's my guy."

He plows on: "Have you heard that he's going to replace the Statue of Liberty?"

My eyes must have glazed over when he said that, because what was in my mind was "Uh oh, this is not going to be pretty."

And it wasn't. What followed I will not repeat, but there was a reference to a famous brand of pancake syrup. It was meant as a joke, and I guess this guy saw another white guy coming toward him, and thought it would be safe.

Well, of course I told him it was not appreciated, and offensive. And I walked away. It's just about the only proper response for a Christian. You can't just remain silent, you surely can't laugh, but you also can't punch the guy. I don't know what he said after that, but I did hear something.

Folks, America is not yet a post-racial nation. For all that Obama represents in American History and race relations in this country, it's starting to become clear to me that we are at the beginning of whatever it is, rather than at the end. Just because this guy was getting on in years doesn't mean that his attitude, which is unacceptable in any time and place (including grocery store parking lots when talking with complete strangers), is about to die out. There are plenty of younger white people who have had the privilege of telling that joke, and worse, and getting away with it. Gee, maybe even the New York Post has published an editorial cartoon that depicts the joke!

Racism is still alive in America. It is still a struggle that needs to be fought. The disease maybe buried deeper, but we have not yet found the cure. And now, as some Americans are rushing to think that when the economic and foreign policy problems we've gotten into over the course of the last decade or so aren't fixed yet after a month, and those waiting for failure rub their hands in anticipation, forgetting their own failures, some of that venom is going to be spewed with a decidedly racist flavor.

Some of it will have to be fought by pushing back and calling attention to racist statements made by people. Some of it will have to be fought by teaching what anti-racism is. For fellow Americans who are Christian, let's be clear; there is no Christian position on this that is acceptable outside of standing against racism.

If you don't know how, or are afraid of standing up to friends or relatives, it's totally understandable, but the tools do exist. The General Board of Religion and Race of the United Methodist Church has set before it the goal of the complete destruction of racism, and has formulated many tools with which to do this work. There are many other anti-racist agencies, both secular and religious, as well.

I thought about handing him my rubber bracelet, but the site isn't up yet. Maybe next Monday i'll go back to Thomas', and have a handful of material to hand the guy, wait around a while to see if he shows up again. In fact, I think that is what I am going to do. Anyone wanna come?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Stay in Love with God

Psalm 105: 1-6, John 21: 15-19

I don't know how many of you remember the TV show "The West Wing", but it is one of my all time favorite shows. Toward the end of the run, as the show and the fictional administration was winding down, there was a plotline about how the President and the first lady, both strong, busy people, needed to make time for each other.

What they would do was this. Whenever the First Lady would have a break in her schedule, she would call down to the President's appointment secretary and see if there was any matching break in his schedule. If there was, she would claim the block of time. However, since it was thought to be unseemly to have "time with spouse" written into a document that would someday be kept at the Library of Congress or in a Presidential Library, they decided to call those times "barbeques".

Can you imagine being so busy that time with your spouse needs to be scheduled?

Why yes. Yes I can. And I bet that most of you can, too.

But it may be necessary, so that you can keep in your minds what it is that you love about each other, what it is that keeps you two together. Sometimes spontaneity is sacrificed, but it is a small sacrifice I think, when the reward is to reconnect, or to stay connected. This simple philosophy can also apply to time with family, with your kids, with all of the loved ones in your life, single or married or widowed.

It's a simple statement--if you want to stay together, be together. And work at being together.

As true as it is for all the earthly relationships that truly matter, it is also true for our relationship with God. If you want to stay together, in sync with God, then be with God.

The ancients knew this. The Essenes, a very strict Jewish sect, were separating themselves from the world by going into the wilderness during Jesus' time. The first people to go out into the desert in pursuit of God through Jesus Christ did so within two hundred years after Jesus. By the 5th century, people had begun to write "Rules" about how to live with each other, and the proper way to stay in love with God. They would schedule each part of the day very clearly, and said which scriptures were to be read, how long, and when. The day for early monks, even down through today, is structures completely around prayer. The chores, the cooking, the washing, the study, is all scattered in between times of prayer.

By John Wesley's time, many of the common practices of staying in love with God had fallen away from the habits of ordinary Christians, and he sought not to re-invent the wheel, but to rediscover the uses of the wheel, to rediscover the usefulness of the wheel everybody knew about, but no one was using.
The way Wesley saw it, there were five common essentials, and everyone could do most of them. Here's what they were:
1. daily prayer
2. daily scripture reading
3. regular participation in the life of a community, including worship, and especially including communion
4. acting in goodness or mercy;
5. Seeking to learn from others who are also in love with God and seek to follow Jesus.

This list is from Bishop Job, generated from his research into the thought of John Wesley. If you were to try to boil this down even further, I think my attempt would be to say this: pray, read the Bible, be around other Christians, and generally do the things that will teach you about grace and generosity.

Now, let's be clear--none of these things should be done for the purpose of showing to others that you're a Christian. We're not constructing a body of evidence of your Christianness with which to present to St. Peter at the pearly gates when you die. These things are the things that you do so you can grow in faith and understanding of the Lord's love of the world. They are like sit-ups, they are like a two mile walk. They are proven ways for you be able to grow strong in the Lord, ways that work for everyone. But they have to be shaped to the person you are.

When you pray, find the way that works for you. Some people prefer kneeling with hands in a steeple position. Others prefer letting their minds wander in the fields of the Lord while their hands are doing work like cutting wood or typing. I knew one guy who would only sit in this particular lounge chair when he wanted to pray. Find a way that works for you.

When you read the Bible, find a translation you can understand. If you do not have a Masters' degree in English, or the language and the poetry does not inspire you, then don't read the King James. If you just sit there and wonder what all those words mean, it's not doing you very much good at all. Get a Bible you can read, and read it. Don't have one? Let's talk, and we'll find one that works. Pick any book, anywhere in the Bible, and start. I'd advise you to start with a Gospel, and I'd also advise you to not start with Revelation. It's pretty freaky, and there is a lot of junk out there passing as proper interpretation of that particular book.

When you come to church, go to a church that feels good and makes sense. An old mentor of mine used to say that there are many churches you could go to (and this was in Dallas, TX, so there were MANY), i'm glad you all are here this morning. I'd agree with him. Nothing's worse than being in a church where you don't feel at home. You don't have to agree with the minister about everything, he or she sure isn't going to agree with everything you think. But does the congregation respect you? Do you respect them? Do they seem to practice what they preach, at least some of the time? Do they act like they are in love with God?
At the end of John, Jesus asks Peter do you love me? Peter, after all of his mistakes, denying Jesus, acting rashly in cutting off ears, and all the other mistakes he made, could still say, simply and with truth, Yes Lord. Jesus asked him three times. Not because he didn't believe Peter, but rather because Peter needed to believe Peter. After each time Peter answers yes, Jesus replies "feed my sheep". Not "take my word to Rome, and die there", not "defend my people against scoffers when my holy spirit comes in the temple", but "feed my sheep".

For those who are sincere about growing in faith and love, this is our command too. Take care of each other. Love each other. See the Christ in each other, and in everyone you meet. Don't hurt them. Help them, and do the things you need to do, schedule all the barbeques you need, to still be able to see the spark of God in everyone you meet.

In other words, Do No Harm, Do Good, and Stay in Love with God.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Do Good

Matthew 5: 43-48, Romans 12: 9-13

I am truly gratified by the comments so many of you have shared with me, telling me of some situation you have found yourself in these last couple weeks, and how you've tried to apply the Three Simple Rules to that situation. It's becoming clear to you now, that what once seemed so easy is starting to get complicated.

At a superficial level, it really is that easy. Three Simple Rules thing; this don't hurt anyone, try to help every now and again, and go to church. Easy to talk about, and mostly easy to do. Most of our days do not contain any drama. We wake up, we eat breakfast, we start our days, we come home, we go to bed. No one got hurt, no one died.

But choices do come up. Some days have drama, and present opportunities to deepen our involvement in the world. A friend calls and needs help, or to talk. A car accident happens in front of you. You or a loved on gets sick. You see an ad on television for an animal shelter or a children's ministry, and it gets under your skin. You read about a situation in a faraway continent, and it will not leave your thoughts. You look at the weather, and wonder if humans really do have an impact on the climate. It no longer easy and we have to make choices, choices that bind us to others in ways that complicate our lives. What then? How do we Do no Harm in situations where feelings will be hurt? How do we do good in ways that will inevitably draw us in other peoples' traumas?

Scripture is clear here. In the Matthew passage for today, it compels us to love our enemies. To pray for those who do not wish us well. To pray for those who want to hurt us. Romans says to rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. All of it is a language that says that to not be involved in the people around us, to not be involved in the world, is to be less than we are called to be in the name of Jesus. To be a Christian is to be involved, somehow.

But what happens, we think, if we were to completely commit to this? What if we gave away all of our money, leaving nothing for the heat, the household groceries, the gasoline, the bills. . . that doesn't seem smart, does it?

No it doesn't. And it is definitely true that to not be in control that way is a matter of doing harm.

Doing Good here, isn't a sense of responding to every need that put in front of you. It takes more thought, more prayer, more commitment than that. It takes more than to commit to do no one harm--in other words, to avoid revenge when society calls for it. Doing good calls for you to actively pray for the people you despise, and to care for them when they are in need. And to realize that There are some things you cannot control.

You give someone in need a grocery card, and they buy $50 worth of Pringles and beer. Sure, you are angry, but does that make your witness to the love of God any less for the giving? You let someone merge in front of you down on Memorial highway where Pioneer Av. comes in before the stoplight at Carverton. The person doesn't wave to thank you, and the person behind you honks at you. Does that really mean you shouldn't have done it? Of course not.

Doing good is a choice, and requires preparation, forethought, and prayer. Not to go and find opportunities, but to discern to which need you are being called. Because there is more need than you can possibly fix. Therefore what must be cultivated is more than a sense of response. What is needed is a realistic sense of self.

Bishop Job does talk about the sin of expending oneself and one's resources to such a degree than one can no longer respond in love to the world's needs. We know we can't solve all the worlds' problems; in fact we can't fix any, truly.

What so often becomes the response to the enormity of the worlds' ills is to not respond to any. To take care of ourselves, to put up a fence around myself and my earthly possessions.

That is also an incorrect response, because then we are not doing God's will.

So what, then? How to be called by God into service in the world, and yet to not exhaust ourselves and our resources?

It's all how you see yourself.

We are children of God. We are the "apple of God's eye", to use Bishop Job's phrase. We are uniquely known and loved by our creator, who is still the primary force in the world. So we don't have to be.

Or, try it this way--once we realize that we are not the engine, we are not even one of the spark plugs, but rather we are just the wire that carries the spark from the plug to the chamber, then we are free to trust that the spark will be there for us to carry, and we are not responsible for how the spark is received. We are not the chamber, we are not the fuel line, we are not the piston. We just carry the spark, and all we are called to do is carry the spark. We are just a component, and the working of God's will in the world is the coordination of many components, the coordination of which is not our responsibility. We carry the spark. We are responsible to make sure we carry the spark as best we can, that we keep ourselves healthy, and ready to do what we're supposed to, when we are called to.

So, when you do see that ad for the starving children in Africa, you can respond to it if you feel called. When a friend calls, you can stop to talk. You job in life is to carry the spark from God to the world, and work, play, home, all are places where that job can be done. To do good in the world is to carry God's spark into it as cleanly, as powerfully and as clearly as you can, and to keep yourself ready and able to do it when you're asked.

Someone wiser than me said once that we are neither required to finish the job, but neither are we required to stop working. That's how we are to think of a life of Doing Good.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Do No Harm

The third in a series of sermons based on the book Three Simple Rules, By Rueben Job.

Galatians 5:13-15

To do no Harm. Doctors use an ethical guideline that has been in existence, in various forms since the 4th Century BCE. 2500 years ago, a Greek teacher by the name of Hippocrates told his students that they were to do no harm to their patients. Sometimes that means doing things to them as an attempt to heal, because to leave them alone would be doing harm. It also specifically means that they will take care to pay attention to the specific needs of a patient, and to never give a medicine or undertake a procedure that will inhibit their well-being.

Wesley thought of this a little bit differently, and referred to the phrase "Do no Harm" as a guide for interpersonal relationships. When Wesley said "To do no harm", he meant never to speak ill of someone, to cause someone else any sort of pain, either physical or the pain of words. He took as his model for this, as in all things, the model of Jesus Christ, who, while he did speak against people, and he did cause anguish among the powers and principalities of his day, did not maintain unjust practices. Part of doing no harm, if we are to speak in a way that Christ models for us, is to make right the ways we have gone wrong, to restore relationships back to the model of Christ, a way that shows the love and wisdom of God.

This is a journey. This is not something that we can simply state, "I have done this", and it is done. No. We have fallen so far from God's original design for our lives, the image of God is so deeply buried within us, that the way back is long and winding. All that we can simply state is that "I have decided to follow the path of Christ".

Paul tells us in this little bit of Galatians, as he tells us in much of the surrounding portions of Galatians, that much of what we can do to model Christ, to be the face of God in this world, is in how we act with each other. And it is more than being nice to people. It is to submit to those whom we have hurt. It is to have a constant attitude that those who are around us, even children, have something to say, and we listen. It is to acknowledge the Christ within them as close to all the time and everywhere as we can. Yes, we will fail, we will come up short, but remember, the journey is long and winding.

I have just spent the last three days in Nashville, receiving training and support for one of the things I do in the wider church. I am the chairperson of the committee on Religion and Race. I have been working in this field since I was in Texas, and have been trained in the way of what it means to be an anti-racist.

For me, to do this work is definitely a long and winding road. There is so much that needs to be learned, and SO much that needs to be unlearned, so that I can truly do no harm, because I was born into a system that causes great harm. I did not create this system, none of us alive today did, but nonetheless, I benefit from this system in a way that causes harm to others. Unlearning this is a long and painful journey, and to call myself an anti-racist is to live in hope that someday that statement will actually come true. Many people are working along different paths of this journey--some are working on the anti-racist journey, some are working on the journey of becoming more sensitive to their impact on the earth, some are seeking to stop harming themselves through submission to addictions.

Paul gives us a good model of how to truly learn to do no harm in our world. In Galatians 5, verse 13 he says that we are called to freedom. This freedom is the freedom of living in Christ. What that means is that in Christ, there is a way to live and love perfectly. The way to do this is by seeking to resemble him as closely as possible--to Imitate Christ. Paul says the way to do this is to submit to one another, instead of becoming Lords over one another.

Bishop Job writes in Three Simple Rules that to take the first step of this long and winding road is "to agree with a theology and practice too rigorous for our timid and tame commitment." To truly follow Christ's lead into learning how to do no harm is to "demand" of us "a radical trust in God's presence power wisdom and guidance and a radical obedience to God's leadership."

It is to take what so many of us cherish, self-determination and independence, and sacrifice it on the altar. It is to put ourselves as slaves to one another, even those who might take advantage of that and hurt us.

But it is in that submission, and in their submission to us, where the true love of God is born. And it was modeled by Christ, because he submitted to God, and he submitted to the Sanhedrin, and he submitted to the Roman soldiers, and he submitted to the cross. Most likely, our submission to the way of Christ will not require death of us. But it is nonetheless worthy of careful consideration, because it requires that we set aside all else other than Christ. All else. It requires that we set aside our politics. It requires that we set aside our prejudices. It requires that we set aside our assumptions about what being a Christian is, and filtering even that which is said to be Christian through the words of Jesus and the intention of God.

We are to truly give up ALL of our possessions, even the ways we look at the world.

Bishop Job writes: ". . .to follow the way of Jesus is a bold move and requires honest, careful, and prayerful consideration."

We realize that "it may lead us where we do not wish to go." Are we ready to give it up? There is such a thing as being a cultural Christian. It works for many, many people. These are the folks who listen to all the right radio stations, memorize all the right scripture passages, buy all the right fair trade things at the grocery store. But they still keep Christ at arms' length. I ask you, as well as always asking myself--How much am I willing to give up in order to truly follow Christ? How much of myself can I give up in order to truly do no harm? Am I ready for that long and winding road? Are you? Are we?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Plain Character

Mark 12: 28-34

The reason why I love youth events is that the people who attend them sometimes, are the most open and curious people you could meet in a Christian setting.

I met a young man, probably in his early twenties, on Friday night—he was not technically a youth, but a member of the band that had been put together for the event, a guitarist who plays in a few bands in the back mountain. He’s one of those guys who has a lot of questions, and it totally laid open for the answers. The cancer of doctrinal rigidity hasn’t affected him yet, and he really wanted to know what Methodists are about.

It was a great conversation, and luckily I had been working with Wesley’s pamphlet “Character of a Methodist” all week for this sermon, so I had the answers quickly to mind.

And in the end, according to Wesley, what makes us special is that nothing much makes us special. According to Wesley, the ideal Methodist is:
• Someone who shows the love of God everywhere they go,
• always in a state of rejoicing,
• trusts in God that all that happens in life can be made to bend to the will of God,
• always in a state of prayer, an awareness of the presence of God continually, even whey they do not have their hands folded and their head lowered,
• assumes the best of everyone they meet,
• focused on God first, and
• gives glory to God for all their talents and is obedient to God in their use.

Methodists don’t have special political opinions. We’re all over the map. Methodists do not have special ways of speaking, we use plain English.
Methodists do not worship in any specific way, wear anything distinctive, avoid getting married, eat anything or avoid eating anything special. There is nothing “weird” about us. We’re just plain folk, who love God.

For us, the Bible is all we need for faith and practice. We have no other creeds besides what was written in Nicea in the 4th century, the most universal of all the creeds. The end of the world, and all that will happen, is interesting to some of us, and to others, boring, and we just don’t care.

What makes us special is that there is nothing that makes us special. God is available to us in ordinary language, ordinary practice, ordinary life. We’re one great big mass of beliefs, customs and practices.

We assign to ourselves the practice of only the essentials of the faith. To say with Jesus that there is only one God, and we are to love him with our heart, should mind and strength, or every thing we have, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, is no big deal. That’s where we live.

We believe that God is with us in every part of life, so there is no reason to dress up special, to say special words, to do anything that brings God to us. He’s already here. He’s with us when we’re in our pajamas, brushing our teeth, glasses on, contacts out. He’s with us when we’re sweaty and dusty from working all day, body tired from exertion. He’s with us when we’ve been up for too many hours in a row, studying for an exam.

Now, today, we live in a world that is divisive. What one person considers good and righteous, someone else considers evil and worthy of repentance, of changing direction. We struggle as a nation to try to get out of the practice of believing that everyone who disagrees with us is either evil or an idiot, but there are so many ways for us to fall back into that trap. It happens all the time. The news we watch, the magazines we read, the radio we listen to. For some, even in our denomination, the practice of the faith is the same. People make stands, make opinions based not of Scripture, not based on “shedding abroad the love of God,” and expect us to fall into lockstep with them.

The Three simple Rules call us back to our essentials. Do no Harm, do Good, Stay in Love with God. The rules don’t say how. The rules don’t give us opinions. What one person considers to be an obvious conclusion of the faith is heartily disagreed with by the next. There are no standard positions that Methodists can take as Methodists, save two; You shall love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. You don’t like the speaker that a local university has invited to campus? Don’t go. You don’t like the positions a political candidate takes on certain issues? Don’t vote for them. You don’t like the opinions of a political commentator on the TV news? Change the channel. But do not call into question their integrity, do not speak of them as evil, and assume that, if they are Christian, they also believe in loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and that they believe they should love their neighbor as themselves.

Everything else comes after. Everything else must be run through the filter of Loving God and loving each other. If we were to truly do this, the heat of so much that is wrong with us as a country would be turned way down. Our racism would shrink; the volume of our political divisiveness would be turned way down. All of our ills would, while certainly not cured, at least made less important.

“Whosoever doeth the will of my father which is in heaven, they are my brother and sister and mother”. If we disagree politically, so what? Let it not separate us as brothers and sisters in Christ. Is your heart right, as my heart is right? Then give me your hand. Don’t let opinions destroy the work of God. If you love and serve God, it is enough for me.

That is doing no harm.
That is doing good.

That is staying in love with God.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Classic Coke

Galatians 5: 16-17, 22-26

Among the things that mark the 80’s with most people, Mary Lou Retton’s Gold Medal, Members Only Jackets and cell phones the size of large bananas, there’s one more. New Coke.

Now, Coke has changed is recipe a few times over the years, most notably when they began to make the stuff without the ingredient it’s named after, cocaine. But this particular recipe change was to make it a little bit sweeter, so as to perhaps approach the flavor of Pepsi. This was the opening salvo of what became known as the Cola wars.

I am not sure why the leader in the industry would change their recipe to taste more like a lesser competitor, but the strategy came out about as you’d expect. Pepsi started catching up very quickly. So, Coke was forced to retreat, and quickly came out with a new product, “Coke Classic”. It was the same old recipe as they’d had for a hundred years (minus the cocaine), but it was now marketed as a new product.

I’m not sure exactly when they stopped making New Coke, but I don’t think regular Coke even says “classic” anymore.

There’s a sense in our world that what is new must be improved. In talking about this sermon series, I’m sensitive to the idea that people see this book as the “new thing” the “latest fad”. I sure can understand that. Every few years, there’s a new way of thinking about church, about faith, and they all seem to come with marketing concepts. I get that. But I think this is different.

Sometimes the old stuff is better, and this book that I will be using for my Sunday sermons in Lent, Three Simple Rules, is an attempt to recover the wisdom of over two hundred fifty years of Christian practice. These ideas may not have originated with our founder, John Wesley, who lived in England in the 1700’s, but he was a considerable synthesizer of practical wisdom in the service of becoming closer to Christ.

In 1739, Wesley writes, “eight or ten persons came to me in London, who appeared to be deeply convinced of sin, and earnestly groaning for redemption.” He prayed with them, and wanted to know how to “flee from the wrath to come”, which was a Wesleyan way of saying they were scared of where they would end up after they died. He told them to begin meeting with him once a week, and when they got too big, they began meeting in groups of twelve, called “classes”. Remember, these were meetings outside of their Sunday church worship settings, which Wesley still expected people to attend, because of the weekly receipt of communion. Each class had a leader, and it was the leaders’ duty to see each person in his class once a week, and see how their soul stood, and also to receive whatever the person could give toward relief of the poor. The other duty of these leaders was to go back to the minister of the society, inform them who was sick, who was having soul trouble (Wesley called it “walking disorderly), and deposit the gifts for the poor.

What was the measure of how “orderly” people were walking? They took Galatians 5 22-23 as their guide, this list of the fruits of the spirit. How does one grow the fruits? The advice given by Wesley to the people in his societies boiled down to three Rules.
1. Doing no Harm, by avoiding evil of Every kind;
2. by doing Good, by being in every kind, merciful after their power;
3. by attending on all the ordinances of God, which Wesley listed as going to church, listening to the sermon, taking communion, praying by yourself and with your family, reading the Bible, and fasting or abstinence.

If you wanted to earnestly grow in faith, then this was the way you did so as a member of Wesley’s societies. Simply attending church and having no more involvement was certainly an option. There was only one official church in England, and you were a member of the local parish whether you attended or not; but if you were in a Wesleyan Society, you were expected to be a little more active.

This was the model by which Methodism grew in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and after 1760, in America. After the Revolution, the Societies became churches, and off we went into a new type of practice which we still live in today.

When a movement becomes an institution, however, some other things become important, and we are no different, and feeling that the United Methodist church seemed to have lost its fire, a retired Bishop named Rueben Job began to see Wesley’s General rules for our United Societies as a way back to our roots—a way to reconnect to our identity, our original spirit, and ultimately, reconnect to God. We’ve always had them with us; the General Rules appear in every edition of the Discipline of the church, which is our organizing and guiding document.

But because people seem to so often take the Discipline as the set of laws with which to bash each other, passing completely over the General Rules which are what is supposed to guide us, he wrote this small book. He’s updated the language a little bit, and placed those rules more into our modern context, and given us three simple rules:

1. Do no Harm
2. Do Good
3. Stay in Love with God.

During the next four Sundays, the Sundays of Lent leading up to Palm Sunday, I’ll be taking a portion of this book and preaching on it. There will also be a class on these ideas on Monday nights.

Yes this book has recently been published. Yes, on it’s face, I am preaching on the “latest thing”. But by the end of Lent, I hope that you will see that what I am really trying to do is recall for us the basis of our fire as Methodists; what makes us special in the huge marketplace of ideas that is the universal Christian church.

What I hope to do by the end of this is to bring back Classic Coke.

And ultimately, I pray that you will be inspired to find ways to deepen your faith, pray more often, read your Bible more, and become more assured of your salvation, and less worried about “the wrath to come.”

For More information about the book Three Simple Rules, click here.