Tag Archives: temptations of Jesus

God on the Move

Today is the first Sunday in Lent. The season began on Wednesday with two services. One was at 12: 15 in our Chapel and the other was at 7:00 in the Sanctuary. Like all our services you can find the video here and always our services in the Sanctuary are livestreamed and recorded. The videos are on our website for up to a month.

Our new sermon series is God on the Move. Working through the lectionary texts, the theme focuses on Jesus moving from one place to the next and finally setting his face towards Jerusalem. Our Creative Worship Team thought joining together to walk to Jersualem with Jesus would be an opportunity for us to move together with God both physically and spiritually.

In our newsletter it stated:

Throughout Lent, First United Methodist Church will be invited to “get moving”. Just as Jesus set his face to Jerusalem, we will also! Each week of Lent we will be invited to log the number of miles walked, swam, biked or ran. Register your miles weekly with the tracker card found in bulletins, at the receptionist desk, in the B2 hallway or in Sunday school binders by calling 316-267-6244 or emailing logmysteps@firstwichita.org.  Be sure to check the 2nd floor hallway of the B building to see how far we have journeyed together! There will be interactive check-in points with photos and story sharing opportunities. On April 13, First UMC is hosting the “Easter Egg 5K” race and each person registered will automatically be counted in our mileage total, so invite all of your friends and neighbors to move with us! The goal is to reach Jerusalem by Easter that is 6,742 miles!

The comforting truth of Lent as we dive deeper into our own self-examination and practices is that we find that we are not alone.  God is still on this journey with us, God is on the move; walking, running, swimming, jogging, biking each mile of the journey as we travel the road to Easter.

We will also have pray walks each Wednesday at 12:15 and we begin in the Chapel. After a short time of prayer, weather permitting, we will walk outside and pray for ourselves and downtown Wichita. If the weather is bad, we will walk inside the church. Embodied moving prayers have a long tradition in the life of church. When we move, we open our minds, hearts, spirits and bodies to where God is moving in us and in our world.

Today in worship we looked at the temptations of Jesus. Traditionally read on the first Sunday in Lent, it was for us a re-visit as we had looked at the temptions in our sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer, Courageous Faith. Temptations tend to move us away from God, but once we know what they are, we can be on the move with God in world. You can find the worship service video here.

I plan on moving with God this week, spiritually and physically. I am looking forward to see where God is on the move in our world.

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Courageous Faith: Lead us not into Temptation

The sun was shining and it was a wonderful gift after several days of cloudy, sleety, snowy and icy weather. It wasn’t warm per se, but oh how lovely it was to see a blue sky and a bright sun.

We have only a couple of more weeks for our sermon series “Courageous Faith.” This week I mentioned that the United Methodist Church will have a special session of the General Conference beginning on Saturday. I am not a delegate. After worship I had to share with some people I would not be in St. Louis.  There are just under 900 delegates, half lay and half clergy from all over the world. They are elected from their home annual conferences and most were elected in 2015 for the 2016 General Conference.

In a nutshell, this special called session is to deal with three plans for the organization of our denomination with a particular focus on sexuality. It has the potential to change our life together for decades to come. I am certainly praying for the delegates and for our church. You can find more information about the conference and the issues here.

Sometimes Sundays go fast or I may be too long winded. I cut off my ending and I wish I had been quicker to cut out something else. This is what I truly intend to do this week as I pray for the delegates and the conference. Here is what I had planned to say in its entirety:

As I pray the Lord’s prayer this week, I will be praying for God’s will, for God’s reign of love and peace and equality to become real on earth as it is in heaven. I will remember to ask for all people to be fed, to be forgiven as I forgive and to not be tempted by thing that are destructive to my brothers and sisters adn to our community of faith. This we my friends, let us pray this powerful prayer together, let’s pray for God’s kingdom to come, for each of us to spared from the time of great trial, let us pray that prayer for ourselves, for our community of faith, for our denomination and for our world.

You can find the entire worship here and by Monday afternoon, the sermon by itself will be posted. May your week be blessed and may you always be held in the palm of the Divine Hand.

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The Tempted Jesus

Today is the first Sunday in Lent. The season began on Wednesday. It was an odd day with Ash Wednesday (the sacred day) along with Valentine’s Day (the secular day.) In between the two services, another mass shooting in a high school in Parkland, Florida. I am still saddened by yet another shooting. A couple of days ago I wrote a blog sharing my dismay and grief.

Today in worship as I rewrote my sermon in the last couple of days, I am aware that embracing the tempted Jesus meant believing that no matter what, like Jesus,  we are all called to face the adversary, Satan, and stand up and say not today, not in this place and time.  The Dalai Lama has said “For as long as space endures, and for as long as living beings remain, Until then may I, too, abide to dispel the misery of the world.”

So in worship today, we baptized an adult and called her beloved. We confessed our sins. We heard the gospel of Jesus’ baptism, temptation and call to proclaim that God’s kingdom is at hand. And we focused on what it means to to believe and trust God is with us no matter what. You can find the service video link here.

This story by Brian Andreas was shared in my facebook memories from four years ago

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In the midst of all that is, I pray for love and courage and moments of play to strengthen me and you to believe that God’s kingdom is at hand and we are part of it.

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Your Comfort Zone

Today is the second day of Lent. I am blogging each of the forty days as one of my spiritual practices. I got the idea from the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd’s suggestion of forty things to give up for Lent. Instead of the usual chocolate or coffee or meat, giving up things that keep me from God seemed a good challenge. I wanted to share those here.

The second thing to give up for Lent was “your comfort zone.” Now I don’t know about you, but I like my comfort zone just fine, thank you very much. What does it mean to give up my comfort zone? Yet this is the task for day two of Lent.

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Moving out of my comfort zone challenges me to look at my life and my spirit and ask if my comfort zone is helping me grow? Is my comfort zone keeping me from becoming all God has created me to be? Traditionally, the first Sunday of Lent begins with story of Jesus’ temptations. In the gospel of Mark it says after Jesus has been baptized, “At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan.” (Mark 1: 12-13 Common English Bible, CEB)

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I wonder how hard it was for Jesus to get out of his comfort zone and hang out in the wilderness for forty days? At the river Jordan how wonderful it must have been to come out of the water and hear the voice of God claiming him as God’s beloved. In that moment, the Spirit goes from blessing Jesus, to forcing him to go where maybe he didn’t want to go.

Perhaps Jesus understood that he could not truly embrace his call, embrace his ministry unless he got outside his comfort zone. Jesus’ time in wilderness may have helped him see his weaknesses, his blind spots where he was most likely to be tempted. Facing those temptations strengthened him and it could only happen if he was willing to get out of what was comfortable.

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The same is true for me. If I am not willing to think new thoughts, go new directions, try new things and get out of my ruts or my comfort zone then I miss so much of life itself. I miss the possibility that I have not heard the still small voice of God that may challenge me to live differently or more deeply or more faithfully.

I don’t know about you, but I have many ruts. What if I drove a different way to work? Or read a different version of the Bible? Or what a different channel for the news or read a different news source? What if I listened harder and spoke less? What if I prayed, listening for God’s guidance and opening my heart more deeply to the Divine Spirit?

Today, I am going to get out of my comfort zone and open myself to the new possibilities that God has in store for me. With the love of God, I am graced to serve.

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