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9.10.23 Worship Preview

First United Methodist Church

This Weekend: “Unexpected Wisdom” - The Way of Christ and the Will of God series continues. Scriptures: We will read Matthew 7:7-23 and selections from Ecclesiastes and Proverbs Rev. Christopher Eshelman preaching.

What do you think of when you think of the narrow way? In the Sermon on the Mount, the author of Matthew gathers the core of Jesus’ teaching, and this metaphor is part of the conclusion. As we have talked about the Way of Jesus and the Will of God, I hope it is clear that this “narrow way” is not a rigid legalism, rather it is the way of discipleship.

A few weeks ago, we made an important distinction. When our culture speaks of discipline, we often think of rules and punishment models – but the root word is disciple – teaching, learning, relationship. I would argue that the difference in our mental frameworks between the two words is evidence that, culturally, we have not followed the narrow way. Rather, our religious leaders and our civic culture have repeatedly chosen the ways of violence, control, and domination. Jesus’ way, the narrow way, is different. It is the way of restorative justice, of healing, of humility and wholeness. When we talked last week of turning the other cheek and going the extra mile, it was about the oppressed asserting their humanity without responding in kind with the violence of domination, yet it is also a call to those with power to live differently and see the effects of the systems they are a part of. It is about a way of transformation! What Jesus does – for example, continue reading into the healing stories of Matthew 8 and 9. Who Jesus is, and who we are called to be by following him along his “narrow way” is a fulfillment of the law and the prophets. Radically inclusive, love, grace, wholeness, and healing. This live matters to God, and there is more than this life. Both / And!

That, ultimately, is God’s Will, that we see and experience a restoration, a new creation. Life lived here on earth “as it is in heaven.” And that’s what Jesus shows us the way to. And that takes discernment – there is not a single easily applied answer, sometimes we need to be challenged, sometimes comforted. Sometimes we are called to comfort others, and sometimes challenge them. We are to be salt and light (Matthew 5) – living faith publicly, but we are not to do so for our own glory, greatness and benefit – and so we are cautioned to pray and give alms privately. (Matthew 6) All within a few verses of each other. Here in this week’s reading, we begin with the great assurance that if we ask, seek, and knock we will find and be answered – yet “not all who say “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven”! Our reasons, and our actions, and our acceptance of the gifts of grace and faith matter.

If we look to the Sermon on the Mount, or the Bible itself, as “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth” as I have heard some fundamentalists describe it, - that is, simple steps or rote right answers - we miss the point of Jesus’ wisdom and way. Let us have ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to do what Jesus is teaching.

No matter where you are on your own journey of faith, you are invited to join in fellowship, worship, and celebration at 301 S. National, coming just as you are, with your questions, doubts and hopes - and to experience the transformative, healing love and grace of Christ - which makes us whole. Visit our web site at and click “New Visitors” for more information on what to expect.

Upcoming Events: Wednesday, September 13, 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.

Ways to Help: Would your group like to help prepare a meal or volunteer in other ways – contact Pastor Christopher or our coordinator Bonnie Milburn at the church (620) 223-1950. Donations to sustain this ministry are also deeply appreciated and can be directed to Feeding Families in His Name, c/o First UMC 301 S. National, Fort Scott, KS 66701.

New Support for Grieving Mothers: Cindy Valdez will be starting a group called Support for Grieving Mothers in and around the Bourbon County Area. The group will be meeting every Thursday from 6-7:30 in the Church Parlor at the First United Methodist Church at 301 South National. The meetings will run from 9/21/23-11/16/23. This is a group for mothers who’ve lost children no matter how they were when they passed. If you’d like to join, you’ll need to contact Cindy Valdez at 620-224-8515 or email me at freckles4624@zimbra to reserve your spot.

Mark Your Calendars – Sunday, October 8th at 6pm, Presley’s Branson and RFD TV performer Chuck Crain will be in concert at First UMC. This is another freewill donation show, so bring a friend and enjoy some great Gospel music here in Fort Scott!


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