“Stop-by Jesus” (Worship 9/2/12)

Stop-by Jesus Mark 6: 45-52 Who went to the Activities Fair last Monday?  Did you wander through, trying to take it all in?  Did you have a plan of attack – I’m going to find the Wahoo Basketweaving Society and then the Wesley Foundation, and then I’m out of here?  Did you get overwhelmed and have to take a break in the shade of a tree?  The Activities Fair is such a great example of the many, many, MANY things you can do, try, join, support, or steer clear of during your time at UVA.  But, to be honest, I find it a little scary. Even when I know what I’m looking for, I start to get dizzy wandering through the aisles, people-watching, sign-reading, and trying not to run into other dizzied people making their way through the aisles.  Even when I am not trying to visit every table but just find that one I’m after, it’s so easy to get sidetracked or just give up. This week, I started thinking about Jesus at the Activities Fair. It’s Mark’s fault.  I noticed something for the first time when I was reading this passage recently.  This takes place right after the feeding of the 5000, when Jesus was preaching to large crowds and folks got hungry so the disciples scrounged up 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and passed them around among the 5000 hungry people – and when the scraps came back they filled up 12 baskets.  The feeding of the 5000 or the miracle of the loaves and fishes. So it was a pretty good day of...

“Made” (Baccalaureate 5/19/12)

Made Isaiah 29: 16   Almost anything can be a spiritual practice if you let it.  I know people whose spiritual practice is running or writing or watching the sunset each night.  I know people whose spiritual practice is baking or hiking or feeding the homeless.  Some of us read a book this spring that included spiritual practices like getting lost and praying naked in front of a full-length mirror.  The point of spiritual practice isn’t how “spiritual” what you are doing might seem to any onlookers.  The point is the practice. The point is showing up over and over again, paying attention.  How does it feel to run when I am angry?  How does it feel to run when I am angry with God?  How am I called to greater humility when I spend time with someone who is homeless?  What do I notice about God there that I don’t see so well in other places? The point is showing up, over and over, paying attention, and letting yourself be changed in the process.   Changed by the process.  Formed.  Molded.  Shaped.  Made. For the last year, I’ve been taking pottery classes.  After a lifetime of admiring and collecting pottery, I took the plunge and started showing up every week to see what might happen between me and the clay.  I made the chalices we are using for Communion tonight and the gifts we are giving to our graduates.  It’s been such a grounding, Spirit-filled practice for me.  Working the clay each week works something in me, too.  And while I feel there are findings – insights –  I...

“Love it!” (Worship 5/6/12)

Love it! 1 John 4: 7-21   If I were preaching to a different crowd, I might focus on how God’s self-giving love in Christ is how we know what love is.  If I were preaching to another crowd, I might direct your attention to the strong and simple statement in verse 16, “God is love.”  If this were another group on another night, I might stay with the fact that God’s love propels and enables us to love other people. I might end up saying some of those things tonight.  They are pretty basic to the Christian faith and certainly worth being reminded of from time to time.  They keep us focused and headed in the direction of our call.  They remind us that God doesn’t “reward” us for love –as if we invented it ourselves – but instead forms us into the kind of people who are able to know and express love.  Love is not our achievement but our response to having been loved by God in the first place. But since I’m here with you on this last night of worship for this academic year…since I’m here with you who live and breathe Wesley…since I see evidence every single day that attests to the fact that you get where love comes from and what we’re supposed to do about it, I want to focus instead on something the writer of 1 John might not have been intending.  I think it’s in the text, congruent with the meaning of the text, and utterly like the God of love we’re talking about, but you can let me...

“Useless” (Sunday worship 4/29/12)

Useless John 10: 11-18   If you’ve been following the news in the past week about “the 13 most useless college majors,” then you are probably thinking that I’m a bit peeved because both English (#7) and Religious Studies (#6) are on the list.  You probably aren’t surprised they are on the list; neither am I.  I’m not even all that surprised that such a list exists.  Annoyed, disheartened, and fed-up – those are better descriptions of my reaction. The first thing you have to ask yourself about a list like this is, “What’s ‘useless’?”  Useless how?  And this should lead to other questions:  What is the point of a college education?  How do we determine when we got what we came for?  Is it a degree?  A certain job?  A certain paycheck?  The ability to balance our bank accounts?  The know-how to navigate an interview?  The wisdom and humility to interact with people you don’t understand?  Meeting and falling in love with someone?  Or something else?  There may or may not be value in lists like this, but in order to determine that, you need to define your terms and assumptions and make sure you are on the same page, the same list, to begin with. As some of you noticed, I posted the link to the list on my Facebook page and invited people to help me think about this.  (If you aren’t already my Facebook friend, please become one!)  A friend of mine from seminary commented that back in the 1950s when her dad was an English major, and people asked him, “What are you going...

“Let’s Hear it for Doubt” (Sunday 4/15/12)

Let’s Hear it for Doubt John 20: 19-31   I worry at Easter that some folks – whether they come willingly, out of duty, or dragged by someone else – will feel out of sorts with the day, like they don’t “match” the celebration and jubilance of the occasion. The beauty of the liturgical seasons is that we are pulled along with them, to experience a full range of emotions, moods, and spiritual states whether they are our particular states at the moment or not.  Going through the liturgical seasons gives us practice in handling the various states in which we find ourselves.  It helps underscore that even when we don’t feel like praying, we are upheld by the prayers of others.  We’re all in this together, so it’s not up to me or you or you to match the season or the mood or even to be fully present on a given day. So I shouldn’t worry about folks at Easter but I do.  On a regular Sunday there are plenty of people who feel that if they aren’t happy or put-together or confident or headed in the right direction, then church is not the place for them.  As if Jesus said, Come to me all you who are peppy and who don’t need me instead of “Come to me, all you that are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11: 28).  Easter can make it worse.  People are so exuberant and many worship services are so packed-full of activity (without even a moment of silence to absorb it all) that it can feel...

“Only the Beginning” (Easter Sunrise, 4/8/12)

Only the Beginning John 20: 1-18 She quit the house quietly and on her own.  She wanted to clear her head, hold her hands to that huge cold stone, and then figure out what to do next. She hadn’t slept much for two nights now and she couldn’t stay away any longer.  This was the longest Mary Magdalene had gone without being near Jesus since they had met.  It’s not as if she was expecting the tomb to feel like him, but she couldn’t think of any other place to be. The garden was dewy at this time of the morning and the dim light was soft and bluish.  She felt herself slowing her pace as she approached the tomb.  Why was she here?  What answers was this rock going to provide? She came around the bushes and saw it.  Gaping, dark as Friday. She turned and ran back to the house, her thoughts racing, too.  Who was behind this despicable theft?  Why wouldn’t they at least give him peace now?  What could they possibly want with him after all that he’d already given? At the house she flung the door open and ran to the back bedroom where Peter and the beloved disciple were sleeping.  She was panting and had a hard time getting the words out…Jesus…gone…no stone…taken him. They understood enough to follow her back out into the street, where the light was stronger than before and the air warmer. They didn’t follow her for long.  The three were all running together and then Peter and the beloved took off in a sprint.  Like schoolboys, it seemed...
Weekly Meeting Schedule
  • Sunday
    • 11:00 Morning Worship at Wesley Memorial UMC (next door)
    • 5:00 Sunday Night Worship
  • Tuesday
    • 6:00 Tuesday Night Dinner
    • 6:45 Forum — Discussion/speaker on a variety of faith topics and student life.
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