Worship Preview 8.27.23
This Weekend: “Justice, Righteousness and Humility” - The Way of Christ and the Will of God series continues. Scriptures: Micah 6:1-8 and Matthew 5 (focusing on 38-48). Rev. Christopher Eshelman preaching.
Matthew 5 is an extremely important and highly loaded chapter. As we talk about the Way of Christ and the Will of God, we will spend a couple of weeks unpacking parts of it. I encourage you to sit down and read the chapter in its entirety. We are used to picking parts of it out to examine, even as I will do in worship this week, focusing on verses 38-48. Yet it is crucial that we not take any of these verses in isolation. Matthew has organized Jesus’ repeated teachings into a single sermon. This, for Matthew, is the core of who Jesus is and what Jesus teaches. The Beatitudes, the call to visible action and righteous living that is “Salt and Light” (yet note the counterpoint that comes in Matthew 6 about doing things “just” to be seen). Challenging teachings: “you have heard it said…. But I say to you” on anger, adultery, divorce, oaths, and… our focus. Jesus comes not to abolish the law (teachings of the Torah) but here Jesus does extend our understanding. One good way to look at what Jesus is doing here is to make it obvious that we cannot do it on our own. There is no earned justice or righteousness from our own efforts – rather we must rely on God’s grace. And remember that God’s grace is sufficient for us. God’s power is beyond our comprehension but revealed in the humility of Jesus. Our focus Sundays will be on the last verses of this chapter, calls to “turn the other cheek” and “love enemies” – I will share some of the insights I’ve learned from great teachers of nonviolence like Walter Wink and Bishop Desmond Tutu.
I believe they give us great insight into Jesus’s teaching – and that what Jesus is revealing is in line with the word God spoke through the prophets. We are to turn away from the systems of domination, control, and violence of the world that even the church too often embraces and embodies. Instead, we are to be the people of God, the body of Christ. What is God’s Will? – not rigorous or even violent enforcement of ritual and rule, but relationships that lead to justice, righteousness, that is wholeness. As we heard last week, through Amos, God rejected worship and sacrifices, even impeccably performed, but which didn’t lead to justice that “roll(s) down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Through the Prophet Micah, God’s call is similar – reviewing what God has done for the people, calling to mind the great stories of Exodus, we hear one of the favorite verses of Scripture, Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Sunday we will look at these great chapters and continue to dig deeply into how we talk about God’s Will and how Jesus points us to its fulfilment.
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 www.firstumcfortscott.org and click “New Visitors” for more information on what to expect.
Upcoming Events: Wednesday, August 30, 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 McClure 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 cloud.com to reserve your spot.