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5.21.23 Worship Preview

Press Release: for May 20, 2023 edition.

First United Methodist Church

This Weekend: Sunday at 10:30am “A Double Portion”

Scriptures: 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Kings 2:1-14, and Acts 1:1-14 – with Rev. Christopher Eshelman preaching.

I shared a bit last week about the line in Ephesians 4 – “When it says, ‘He ascended’, what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.” I pointed out that there is disagreement on that that means. Some (and I am fond of this position) say it refers to Holy Saturday and Jesus descending to the dead. Orthodox icons of this show Jesus proclaiming grace and forgiveness even to Adam and Eve. But this line could simply be talking about the Word becoming flesh – Jesus descending into humanity. The story of Christ’s birth is, itself, a story of forgiveness and mercy towards humanity. Incarnation begins the process of redeeming humanity. Still another approach also intrigues me – what if the “descended” mentioned in Ephesians is talking about the coming of the Holy Spirit after the Resurrection. He ascended, as we read in today’s scriptures, and yet is still with us in the promised advocate and comforter, the Holy Spirit.

In our scientific age, we aren’t sure what to make of the story of the ascension (or stories like the assumption of Elijah in 2nd Kings.) And the Gospels tell the resurrection and appearance stories differently. For myself, these stories reflect the variety of experiences we have of the divine and point not to certainty, but towards mystery and response. It’s not about forcing the stories into a single coherent timeline of proof, it’s about reflecting on the experience and meaning conveyed in these different traditions. The early church knew full well that, for example, John and Luke’s timelines didn’t fit together neatly. Neither do our faith journey’s – but together the Gospels, and our different journey’s reveal the fullness of faith and equip us, in our diversity, to serve as the body of Christ. We, too, are the inheritors of a “double portion” – especially if we are bold enough to seek it and respond to the gift. We are equipped to bear witness and to serve. Sunday we will explore these mysterious stories, looking for inspiration and empowerment, not certainty or control.

Wherever you are on your own journey of faith, you are invited to join in worship and celebration at 10:30am at 301 S. National, coming just as you are, with your questions, doubts, and hopes - and to find purpose, explore your own gifts and graces and experience the fullness of Christ’s transformative, healing love and grace - which makes us whole.

Upcoming Events:

Wednesday, May 24th, 5:30 pm Feeding Families in His Name– this weekly free meal is available to everyone without obligation. A “to-go” meal is distributed under the portico at 301 S. National. Note: Please do not block nearby driveways while waiting. Thank you.

Walk the Labyrinth! –Exploring the labyrinth is a great way to enjoy beautiful spring days. A walking labyrinth is a single path to the center, there are no wrong turns or dead ends. The labyrinth at 3rdand Crawford is open to all and you can use it to pray, discern, or just enjoy a stroll. Mark your Calendar for 11:45am Sunday, May 28th, when members and friends of both 1stPresbyterian and First United Methodist will gather for a short, formal dedication of this space led by Rev. Christopher Eshelman.

Mark your calendar also for a special worship service on June 11th. That day, First United Methodist members and friends will join together in one worship service with our neighbors at 1stPresbyterian, 10:30am in their sanctuary at 3rdand Crawford, We will hear from Pastor Darryl Burton about his faith story. Pastor Burrton previously served 24 years for a crime he did not commit and came to faith in Christ during that nightmare, experiencing freedom in Christ long before the physical locks of the prison were opened. Pastor Burton is now an associate Pastor at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City. We are thrilled to have him share his witness here in Fort Scott on this special shared Sunday!

Vacation Bible School is coming – June 26th – 30th from 5:30-8. Join us at First Presbyterian for “Ready, Set, MOVE – Following Jesus Here, There, and Everywhere. Contact either church office for registration information.


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