While staying on top of preparing for this week's sermons, pastoral care, self-care, PT (physical therapy), family, meetings, and all kinds of things that keep popping up.
How has your week been? Mine? In many ways it has been a week full of Mondays. I don't know why Monday gets the bad reputation, but it does. With this morning's beautiful weather-- temps in the mid 60s (F) and breezes, I thought it was going to be good. That was until the local electric power board (EPB) hunted me down on three different phone numbers to give me a courtesy call that my power was going to be cut off later today at our other location. I had to stop everything and figure out why this was going to happen. Somehow our payment didn't make it to them. Life can sometimes be a huge "ugh", can't it?!?!
But, then, there are days and moments in which we get to have deep and meaningful conversations with folks about life. Sometimes those conversations happen without words.
But, I digress.
My goal for this post is to share this past Sunday's sermon with you. I also want to share some of the songs that were sung/played in the services.
Below you will find the bulletin covers, the sermon, and some links to some songs. As always, what is shared and preached in the moment isn't necessarily what you will find in the words below. What you receive from the Holy Spirit may be totally different, even if you heard it once before. Who knows. May the Holy Spirit meet you where you are, draw you close, renew and fill you.
“Be Filled With the Spirit”
Ephesians 5:15-20 (NLT)
August 19, 2018 (13th Sunday after Pentecost)
Flintstone UMC, Simpson UMC
Ephesians 5:15-20 (NLT) [New Living Translation]
15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
THIS IS THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD.
THANKS BE TO GOD.
Last week’s passage helped us to understand what it meant to be an imitator of God, from Ephesians 4:25-5:2. I encourage you to take some time to look at that passage and/or read the sermon from last week as this week builds upon it.
A few things from last week:
Being an imitator of God means living a transformed life of love.
There were quite a few dos and don’ts from last week.
Did anything stick with you over the week?
In today’s passage, there are a few more dos and don’ts.
Verse 15 reminds us to be careful how we live. We are to not live as fools, but to live wisely. In verse 16, we see that we are to make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. We can all agree that we making the most of every opportunity is good. We may miss a few things along the way, but there is grace for those times. As for these “evil days”, we can read and/or watch the news and all name something evil. Yet, that isn’t the focus. Notice that the focus is for us to make the most of every opportunity in the midst of whatever else is going on.
Verse 17 challenges us to not act thoughtlessly, but to understand what the Lord wants us to do. We talk about that quite a bit, don’t we? Just two weeks ago, we talked about “What Is God’s Goal for Us?” When it comes to the bottom line of what God would want us to do, it would be to love God and to love others. But how we are to live that out differs day to day, doesn’t it? How we make the most of every opportunity, how we are to live wisely, how we imitate God. These are moment by moment and day by day decisions that we make individually and corporately, as a church.
As we reflect on verse 17, thinking about what the Lord wants us to do, where do you dream and vision some next steps of reaching out to the community?
For Flintstone—The upcoming Valley Fest in September is a great way for us to be visible in community, along with the Scouts, simply by having a table at the Valley Fest. We show up, we greet community, we blow bubbles with the kids or do other games, we talk to the adults, we hand out bookmarks, or whatever is decided. Something to consider.
For Simpson—The upcoming Block Party at the end of August is a great way for us to be visible in community. I know that Gayle Hawkins is already making plans to be at the Rossville Athletic Center with some folks to hand out Simpson pens and bookmarks. A Simpson sign will identify the church. It will be a great opportunity to talk with people and get to know them, letting them know Simpson UMC cares.
Another way we could make a difference on this corner at Simpson is to turn that back fenced in lot into something for us and community. Many of you remember the dilapidated and dangerous playground that was taken down. The fence around the grass remains there. What if the fence came down, a pavilion went up with a couple of picnic tables and a bench or two? That would be a great place for Simpson folks and for community folks. A place for people to sit, eat, talk, have shade, shelter, to come together. The beauty of such a project like this is that it really wouldn’t cost the church anything because when the fence got hit by a car, there was insurance money that came in.
There have been other visions of raised community gardens shared with me that could go on several areas of the property, another project that would be beneficial to people in the community.
It’s a matter of praying and discerning how we can make a difference with what we have, using what we’ve been given, where we are.
Verse 18 goes on to tell us to not be drunk with wine, but rather be filled with the Holy Spirit. Many will take this verse and focus on it as an admonition to not get drunk. As we focus on the filling of the Holy Spirit, I remind us that Scripture can be taken literally or metaphorically. Richard Ward, a professor of preaching at Iliff School of Theology in Denver points out that this passage, and especially verse 18 reminds the church to focus on its vocation. He notes that “the church of Jesus Christ would be so foolish as to miss what the will of God for it is.” (Feasting on the Word, 355) He also states “When the church is out of touch with its vocation, it moves through these evil times as one who is intoxicated---satiated and reeling, engaging in regrettable behaviors.” (Feasting on the Word, 355)
How are we to be filled with the Spirit? Verse 19 tells us to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. As a church and as individuals, we are seeking to grow in our spiritual formation and maturity in these ways and through other spiritual practices of study, prayer, worship, communion, fasting, etc.
The last verse reminds us that we are to give thanks for everything to God. That is a way of giving back, a way to remind us of our focus.
Two hymns came across my path in my studies this week. One was unknown to me. “Love Each Other” by WilliamJ. Henry, written in 1900, reminds us of our vocation as a church. The refrain:
“Kind and loving to each other,
Gentle words to all we meet:
Thus we follow Christ our Savior,
Proving all His service sweet.”
The second one, “Fill My Cup”, was written by a UMC Pastor, Richard Blanchard in 1959. Though we only have the refrain in the UMC hymnal (#641) and use it primarily for communion.
Hear the refrain:
Fill my cup, Lord;
I lift it up Lord;
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.
Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.
1--Like the woman at the well, I was seeking
For things that could not satisfy.
And then I heard my Savior speaking—
“Draw from My well that never shall run dry.”
“Blanchard’s parents were Methodist missionaries in China, where he was born in 1925. When the family returned to the United States, he grew up in Depression-era Indiana, then came south to North Carolina, where his father was an Army chaplain during World War II. Blanchard attended Davidson College and graduated from Mercer University. He met his wife, Anne, who was a student at Wesleyan College in Macon. He then went to seminary at the Candler School of Theology. Ordained an elder in 1950, he transferred from the North Georgia Conference to the Florida Conference, serving United Methodist congregations there until his retirement in 1988.
Blanchard’s own cup was not filled with sweetness. A lung condition required two surgeries and left him with one-third of normal lung capacity. His son, Richard, was left a quadriplegic at seventeen after an accident. And after Blanchard and his wife moved to North Carolina in 2000 to be near their three grown children, they experienced their son’s death and the fatal illness of one of their daughters.
Nevertheless, during his forty-year ministry, Blanchard composed dozens of gospel hymns, wrote a musical about Francis of Assisi, produced a regular newspaper column, wrote a biography of Bishop John Branscomb, and launched a popular television ministry in the Miami area."
This was not a person who had it easy.
Most of us don’t have it easy.
It is in the difficult times that we have the opportunity to grow.
In fact, this song was born out of a moment of frustration, of killing time while waiting for a couple to come to his office for premarital counseling. They were running late and he was annoyed, so he went to the piano, stating to the secretary that if they weren’t there in thirty minutes, he was gone.
Where do you find yourself needing to be filled with the Spirit today? May you be filled to overflowing so that you are able to be a disciple that makes disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
More history on "Fill My Cup" found here.
Songs at FUMC:
"Spirit of Faith Come Down" UMH # 332
"Spirit Song" UMH # 347
(Even though I was supposed to be leaving right about here in the service, I stayed for a few moments to worship with this song and was filled and blessed.)
"Jesus is All the World to Me" UMH # 469 (verse 4)
Two of the songs from SUMC:
"Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart" UMH #500
"Take Time to Be Holy" UMH #395