Exploring the “I AM” Statements of Jesus

Our Spring Sermon Series is called Exploring The “I AM” Sayings of Jesus!  Brother Lawrence writes in this book, The Practice of the Presence of God, “Let us occupy ourselves entirely in knowing God.  The more we know God the more we will desire to know God.”  We are invited to take a “deep dive” into the images Jesus uses to identify himself: bread, light, good shepherd, gate of the sheep, true vine, way of life, resurrection and life.  Responding to the invitation for abundant life is a process.

Jesus will remind us constantly in these sayings that Christianity was never meant to a religion, but rather a series of deep and abiding relationships that inspire and transform us.  We will be offering a series of reflective questions each week for individual and group engagement.  We invite you to join us for worship each Sunday at 9am and 11am!

Christ will never leave or forsake us!

Greetings Holy, Healthy and Happy People of God,

As I write this eNote to our faithful and devoted community of radical and responsible followers of Jesus Christ, I reflect upon last Saturday’s assembly as our United Methodist delegates to the Special General Conference gathered in a full day of prayer.  God’s amazing grace was fully present as everyone in the room prayed together.  During the next three days, both sides, conservatives and progressives, treated each other with condemnation, disdain and hatred.  Emotions were extremely high.  I thought about the words of Paul, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1  Part of our baptismal covenant question, Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?” and we responded, “I do!”

The United Methodist delegates, representing a global church, voted 54% to 46% to maintain its historical stance as recorded in our Book of Discipline, “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.  Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”  Although the Special General Conference was designed and invited to discuss human sexuality and to determine the best “Way Forward” from two plans presented, human sexuality was actually never discussed.  Fear crept in and held us captive!  No wonder Jesus told the disciples in the midst of the storm, where uncertainty had set in, to fear not!  Fear is debilitating and can cause us not to see the humanity in each other.  Contrary to belief, this Special General Conference was never about human sexuality, it was about power, money and control.  Sound familiar?  These themes ran rampant in the gospels with Jesus and these themes ultimately got him crucified.

Two plans were developed, proposed, and voted on.  One plan was called The Traditional Plan (which kept the traditional language of homosexuality), which was supported by conservatives.  And the other, The One Church Plan (offered the ability for same-sex marriage if your pastor chose to exercise their conscience) that was supported by progressives.  Because we are a grace grounded people, I expected more grace from both sides.  However, each side treated the other with disdain and hatred.  The LGBTQ community left spiritually and physically wounded, which goes against Matthew 22:36-40, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”  He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  To anyone who left more broken and to those who said we won, my prayers are for God’s unity in the church.  Law never comes before Love because Love is the Law!

On Saturday evening, I return to Nashville and I cannot wait to see everyone this Sunday in church.  Thanks for your prayers!  I am humbled by the various comments I have received about McKendree while here in St. Louis; from remarks about being a diverse church that reflects the beloved community to meeting with the Chief Operating Officer of The Connectional Table who’s hoping that her team can soon tour the ministry and mission at McKendree.

Please don’t allow this diversion to distract us from the mission and ministry of Jesus and keep you from McKendree.  We are the beloved people of God and we need each other in this moment.  It is easy to walk away.  Satan wins when we walk away from the body of Christ.  But I’m glad that Jesus Christ never walked away from the cross and our salvation!  The church, the body of Christ, is so much greater than any denomination.  Don’t walk away.  Hear these words of good news from Isaiah 61 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.”

Hear the W.O.W., the Words of Wisdom,
“Christ will never leave nor forsake us!”

Remember to pray The Lord’s Prayer every day at 12 Noon!

Be God’s Shalom,
Stephen

What’s Happening, February 15, 2019

McKENDREE MINISTRIES!

SUNDAY WORSHIP SERVICES  are regularly at 9am and 11am.  Our current sermon series, “The Evidence of Grace!”  is in two parts.  Using the Prodigal Son parable, we will explore how grace is evident in three ways: Prevenient Grace, Justifying Grace and Sanctifying Grace.  These three descriptors of grace are distinctively Wesleyan.  Each one offers a helpful understanding of how God’s grace works in our lives and how grace worked in the lives of both sons of the Father.  The first part of the series will be this Sunday, and we will conclude the series on February 24.

NEW SACRED SPACE TEAM!– Information Session at 10 am on March 3.  We are looking for artists, poets, people with an eye for design, photographers, people who like to create spaces of beauty, people who pride themselves in yard sale or online finds, and more who would love to use their creativity in worship.  Or even people who don’t have any of those gifts, but just believe worship can (should) be more than just singing and speaking.

We believe in curating worship…which means that Jesus uses all our gifts to create engagement with Him.  We are building a team to create and curate worship experiences and help create experiential worship, meaning praying with all our senses.

Join us Sunday, March 3 between the services in the fellowship hall to learn more!

BAPTISM  If you are interested in joining the church or in being baptized, please contact Ruth Baggett in the church office at 615-271-2600 or mckendreeinfo@gmail.com.

ENCOUNTER MINISTRY    Our Encounter Ministry is an alternative service for those who feel “church” is not for them.  We meet at 12:30pm at the offices of the United Methodist Publishing House, at 2222 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.  We are meeting on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month.  For more information on our Encounter Ministry, you may contact Rick Quinn at mckendreerick@gmail.com.

CHANGE FOR RWANDA  McKendree Church is sponsoring a United Methodist Pastor in Rwanda for a year.  Currently the United Methodist pastors in Rwanda do not receive an adequate salary to support their families.  It takes only $34 (U.S. money) a month to support a pastor in Rwanda.  Bring your change to create change!

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McKENDREE GROUP MINISTRIES!

ADULT STUDY GROUP—10am Sunday mornings  We meet in the Community Room (near garage entrance).  We invite everyone to join us as we grow together in Christ!

WEDNESDAY NIGHT   Our Adult Bible study group meets each Wednesday at 6pm in Pastor Stephen’s office.  We are currently studying the book of Matthew.  On February 20 our reading and study will be on Matthew chapter 16.  We have some great discussions as we go through the Word of God.  We’d love to have you join us!

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WE NEED MEN’S WINTER CLOTHING!

       sweat shirts/pants                flannel shirts                     jeans                      shoes/socks
jackets and coats                 hats and gloves                 blankets

Also we need men’s black dress pants and white button down shirts (many jobs require these.)

If you have any of these items, please consider donating them to the church clothes closet.  All donations are greatly appreciated!  Items don’t have to be new, but clean and in good condition.

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PRAYER WALL  Our prayer wall is located on the table at the back of the church.  You may take a tag (in a box on the table), write out your prayer need, and place it on a nail in the wall.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays the Lead Team and Prayer Team pray over all the concerns submitted.  We welcome people from our congregation to submit concerns and to read and pray over the concerns of our church body.  You may also share your concerns with the church staff by phone (615-271-2600) or email (mckendreeinfo@gmail.com).

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CONGREGATIONAL PRAYER  Remember that we as a church are praying the Lord’s Prayer every day at Noon.  Wherever you are at noon, we invite you to join us in prayer.

McKENDREE GIVING  Your financial gifts and donations are always appreciated.  Consider adding McKendree UMC to your bill pay account.  Our address is: 523 Church Street, Nashville, TN 37219.  Online giving is available at www.McKendreeNashville.com/give/financialgifts/.   You may also text your giving!  Just text the amount you would like to give to 615-375-4049.

PASTOR’S SERMON  You may hear Pastor Handy’s latest sermon by going to https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/mckendree-united-methodist/id962978531?mt=2

 

As always, remember God’s will for us is good, we must do the rest!
Pastor Stephen

God’s Grace is Enough!

Greetings Holy, Healthy and Happy People of God,

As I write this eNote to our faithful and devoted community of radical and responsible followers of Jesus Christ, we are starting a new series called “The Evidence of Grace.”  We will spend the next two Sundays leaning into the parable of The Prodigal Son.

Grace is an amazing extension of God in the world.  Jesus delivered grace upon grace for all of humanity to enjoy.  Paul writes to the church of Corinth that Jesus Christ told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)  Paul was struggling with a thorn in his side.  Paul never says what the thorn is.

Every day grace accompanies us through the day.  Each reminds us of God’s love, even when we don’t deserve it.  That’s the God we honor, praise and worship.  This God comes into the world as human, the embodiment of God’s word.  So we are invited and blessed to fully embrace this God of grace.  John Wesley reminded us that grace is a path toward perfection.  Prevenient grace is there before we can know it.  Justifying grace is the second stage that reminds us of our sinfulness.  And finally, Sanctifying grace leads us on toward perfection.

So let’s join God on the road to perfection realizing that only through Christ that we are grace-filled!

Hear the W.O.W., the Words of Wisdom,
“God’s grace is enough!”

Remember to pray The Lord’s Prayer every day at 12 Noon!

We are sponsoring a United Methodist Pastor in Rwanda for a year.  Currently the United Methodist pastors do not receive an adequate salary to support their families.  It takes only $34 a month to support a pastor in Rwanda.  Please bring your loose change for a special offering for our Rwanda Remains Faithful project.

Be God’s Shalom,
Stephen

“Be a thermostat and reset the temperature of our community!”

Greetings Holy, Healthy and Happy People of God,

As I write this eNote to our faithful and devoted community of radical and responsible followers of Jesus Christ, I invite our community to think about the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Although it’s been over 50 years since his death, his dream of a world of equity is still emerging.  There is still work to be done together.

In a sermon that Dr. King preached at Dexter’s Baptist Church entitled, Transformed Non-Conformist, he used Romans 12:2 as a basis for his words, ”Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

King writes, As Christians we are a colony of heaven thrown out, as pioneers, in the midst of an unchristian world to represent the ideals and way of living of a nobler realm until the earth should be the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.  I’m sure that many of you have had the experience of dealing with thermometers and thermostats.  The thermometer merely records the temperature.  If it is seventy or eighty degrees it registers that and that is all.  On the other hand the thermostat changes the temperature.  If it is too cool in the house you simply push the thermostat up a little and it makes it warmer.  And so the Christian is called upon not to be like a thermometer conforming to the temperature of his society, but he must be like a thermostat serving to transform the temperature of his society.”

In 2019, what will we do as followers of Jesus Christ?  It is easy to conform because it doesn’t demand difference.  It is the non-conformist that rewrites history and creates a new path of possibility that differs from the norm.  Will we confirm to the behavior of masses and follow the status quo or will we become non-conformists in a world that is in desperate need of leaders who will create sufficient disruption for the sake of advancing the gospel?  Let’s not settle for simply being in the room as a thermometer that simply reads the temperature, but let’s be non-conformists who are bold and courageous to reset the thermostat.

King closes his sermon with these words, “Remember Christian friends we are now in the colony of time, but our ultimate allegiance is to the empire of eternity.  Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Hear the W.O.W., the Words of Wisdom,
“Be a thermostat and reset the temperature of our community!”

Remember to pray The Lord’s Prayer every day at 12 Noon!

We are sponsoring a United Methodist Pastor in Rwanda for a year.  Currently the United Methodist pastors do not receive an adequate salary to support their families.  It takes only $34 a month to support a pastor in Rwanda.  Please bring your loose change for a special offering for our Rwanda Remains Faithful project.

Be God’s Shalom,
Stephen