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Worship Preview July 16th 2023 Home and Following God's Will

This Weekend: “Home: Following God’s Will” Scriptures: Joshua 11:16-24, Judges 3:1-6, Matthew 11:1-30 and Galatians 5:22-23 I shared last week about the importance of a place called Puye Mesa on my life and faith journey. It is the ancestral home of the Santa Clara people. Standing on the mesa, by invitation, with my seminary class and our guide in January of 2008 is etched in my memory and my sacred imagination. The day was warm, but the mesa covered with snow and animal tracks. We were invited to sit in the reconstructed Kiva, a place of meeting and prayer, and hear some of the people’s story. The Santa Clara, like all the remaining Pueblos, are deeply connected to place. The incredible view from the mesa encompasses 4 mountain ranges. This is their land. Their home. It is not mine, but it was briefly shared with me and there, for the first time, I really personally connected with the idea of place as sacred. That mesa is what the Celtic tradition would call a “thin place” for me. I understood myself, my journey, my call, and my place a bit better for having been there and I am grateful to those who made the visit possible. One of the blessings – and challenges – I was given on that seminary trip was the opportunity to read Scripture with indigenous guides. Reading in Joshua and Judges about “the land of Cannan” took on a completely different sense. One of the things that was pointed out was that the Biblical witness varies. Did Israel obey God by wiping out the people who were there before? Was that God’s will? Did those who remain, despite some texts saying they were destroyed, remain because Israel failed? Or as some texts say, was it God’s will to test the people? Or is it ever more complex than that? And what do we make of these genocidal texts in light of the life, ministry and call of Jesus – the one who promises his yoke is easy and his burden light? How do we understand these texts in light of our own nation’s experience on the frontier that our town is so much a part of? And – given that we cannot change the past, how do we move forward in our time, bearing good fruit and engaging the diverse peoples and cultures of found in this land and this time? Are we to “bite and devour” each other, or is there another way? As Friends of the Fort host the Wahzhazhe Osage Ballet Friday and Saturday, and as we prepare to observe the UMC’s Native American Sunday Special Offering here at First United Methodist and celebrate the work of the Oklahoma Indian Mission Conference and the Great Plains Council on Native American Ministries with our guest speaker Courtney Fowler next week on the 23rd, this Sunday I will explore some of these questions with an eye towards how the Wesleyan tradition reads Scripture and how we make sense of troubling texts in light of the love Christ and the fruit of the Spirit. We grow in faith by wrestling with such questions and seeking the grace, mercy and love of Jesus – for ourselves and for our neighbors! 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 for more information on what to expect. Upcoming Events: Wednesday, July 19, 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. Friday, July 29th –Invite Your Friends! Mark your Calendar! First UMC will host a concert by the trio Faith’s Journey at 6pm Friday, July 28th. They describe their music as Absolutely Country, Definitely Gospel and were Branson’s 2021 Gospel Show and Group of the year. Be sure to mark your calendars for this freewill offering event!

Rev. Christopher EshelmanPastor, Fort Scott First UMC Know, Grow, Serve, Share Cell Phone (316) 833-4974


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