On our better days we live into our faithfulness and God provides the fruitfulness... in our lives, in our relationships, in our ministries, in all that it means to Love God and be in ministry with our Neighbors.
Keep reading for the story.
Earlier this week, a pastor friend said something after our study group meeting that caught my attention. My friend was speaking about an important outreach ministry and some specific information about that ministry that she had shared with a prospective church member. The ministry was enough to convince the prospective church member that the United Methodist Church was indeed where she wanted to belong and participate in a life of discipleship. My friend said, "Yes, on our better days, the church is still making a difference in the lives of others in our community and around the world."
These words, "On Our Better Days," were uttered In the midst of a pastor group conversation related to churches leaving the UMC (disaffiliation is our term for the process). Our common lament focused on the impact to our connectional ministry and its focus on being the church in mission. What I heard my friend saying was that even in the midst of all that is going on in the world to divide us as a denominational church, there are still ministries and days in which we find ourselves doing the better work of the church together.
I have included a photo of my father and I from a recent "better day" in which we visited the campus of his college alma mater, Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. Laura captured this image of me acting silly and Dad getting the biggest laugh. All the memories of his college days, where he met and courted my mother, the campus that he found to be holy ground and a place he acted upon the call to ministry, all of these memories came to focus and the stories flowed forth. It was certainly one of our better days. We smiled. We laughed. We remembered. We wondered, what comes next?
I write this today to ask each of you who read this: "What is God calling you, me, and us to do and to be as the church "on our better days?" We will be sharing A Companion Litany to the UMC Social Creed in our worship services on October 2nd. The prayer uses a repeating, and inviting phrase, "Today is the day!" It is worth reading, It is worth praying, It is worth living.
Join us in worship this Sunday and pray with us. Ask again, what lies ahead on our better days?
I like to follow the Facebook Group called Maine Fall Foliage. Recent photos shared in that social media group indicate that the leaf color change has begun in the Northeast. As I awake each day, a new photo finds my group feed. Over the last few years of not traveling, these photos have been particularly helpful in September and October. Especially since we in Texas experience summer days that drag on and on (like this week).
I mentioned a tree from the Bible story last week in worship. I also spoke about trees to my Tuesday evening Zoom group. I received some great feedback. Many of you have trips planned for this year! I am jealous. But I am glad you are going to see God's creation beauty in the transformation of leaf colors. I also received several photos from trips taken in the past. Golden aspen groves in Colorado. Can you just hear the sound of the aspen trees in this season?
Seasons that change remind us that we live in a world still very much alive in the creative majesty of God. I believe that these reminders are good for our souls and our spiritual life. Movement in the grace of God renews us... challenges us. It "quickens' us to a pace and interest that is different.
Experiencing the love and grace of God can be exhilarating! Just like seeing the leaf color change in the trees of the northeast or the mountains of Appalachia or the Rockies. I wonder - what newness of the season change are you feeling? How is the Lord showing you that all things are being made new?
Just as a reminder, I am still available for conversations during the week. Let me know when and where to meet you. Coffee, conversation, new things experienced together.
Glad to be here with you!
Along the Way with Pastor Paul
A few years ago, one of my friends in a congregation captured some of the words of one of my sermons and wrote them down in this graphic. She sent it to me later, as a kind gesture, an encouragement Along the Way. I think of it now. I still agree with what I said. It’s what I believe. It’s why I still stand up every week and preach. It’s why I long for the adventure.
This week at Manchaca UMC, we will speak about El Olam - the everlasting God. Before and beyond time the One LORD is with us.
Sunday mornings at Manchaca UMC during the month of September, Pastor Paul will be at the Coffee Cafe area ready to Welcome you and join you in conversation about your discipleship with Jesus. Stop by for a minute or several minutes. Pastor will be at the coffee bar from 10:05 am to 10:45 am.
If you are new to our faith community, looking for a worship opportunity, seeking a small group or Sunday school class, we welcome you and look forward to connecting you with our community.
We continue to develop and re-develop opportunities for spiritual community here at Manchaca UMC. Take a look at our website for updates. Find a friend and share the news!
Loving God, following Jesus, building community
Along the Way
Author: Paul E Harris
Journal posts from a pastor and spiritual friend