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“How are we the community of God?”

Adams United Methodist Church Sulphur Springs United Methodist Church Pastor Missy McCarthy October 4, 2020 18th Sunday after Pentecost

Scripture: Psalm 19 Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

Children’s Moment: How do we show people we love them? Make them cookies? Give them hugs. Tell them. Do nice things for them. What about your grownups? They do these things, but they also show us they love us by making safe space for us. They protect us. That means they also set up rules or guidelines for us. God did the same thing for the people of Israel. They had lived under other people’s rules for a long time. Those rules were more worried about the rulers than the people and making money for the rulers. Now that God had set them free, God wanted them to have rules that were for their good. They were learning how to be a community. God decided they needed to learn a new way of being together than they had known before. They needed to understand that life did not need to be and should not be like it had always been in Egypt. God gave Moses the commandments. The commandments were the rules that explained how we can live together the best way. When Jesus came he summarized them down to the two most important rules - to love God with all our mind, soul, and heart and to love your neighbor as yourselves. All the rules come down to those two, but God gave longer descriptions so the people would understand how it would work to be a community together. He helped them to understand how to love one another. If they put God at the center of all that they do they would be a great community, the kind that they were intended to be. So, this week, when you hear your parents reminding you of a rule, remind yourself that it is really your parents way of helping you to love your family and each other. How are you going to love God this week? How are you going to love others this week? Let’s pray.


Reflection: “How are we the community of God?” I have to admit I am probably more like the kids than I like to admit. When I hear rules, I want to know why. I am the person that is skeptical and is usually pushing back on authority, always asking why. Which is why I find it entirely amusing that God called me to be a pastor in that ironic kind of way. Really what was God thinking? I understood why God gave Israel the commandments, they needed some sort of compass after coming out of Egypt, but reading Walter Bruggeman’s book Sabbath as Resistance, was really huge in helping understand what a gift the commandments were. They were permission to not be driven by the things that had always driven their way of life and invitation into a new way of being. God had made a promise to Abraham that his descendants would be God’s chosen people, and God was fulfilling that covenant with these people. He just had to help them figure out how to live into their end of being community. This is a hard thing. They are trying to wrestle with being a people. What does it mean to be a community? What does it mean to be a community that trusts God? That understands God is enough. That looks out for one another. A community that is not driven by economics and money but by something more as Walter Bruggeman suggests in his book Sabbath as Resistance. This is not something that they are familiar with or know how to do intuitively. It means that they can’t be looking out just for what each individual wants but has to think of the collective. They need help and so God gives them these “ten words” that we call commandments. These commandments are not meant to be harsh rules, but rather a way of life. In Exodus 19:4-6, God tells Moses that if the people obey these rules they will shape the people and they will then become a kingdom of priests for all the nations. They will be the ones to share God with the world because God will shape them. The commandments are given as loving directions to help the people become the best versions of themselves, +as a community and as individuals. The first four require the people to make sure the put the first thing first – keep God at the center of who they are and what they do and to not take God for granted. The last six are to help them relate to one another and get along amongst themselves, to value each other, and to not let greed, envy, pride, lust, and jealously get in the way of community. He does not say these things aren’t going to be an issue, rather, they are issues and always will be when people live in community, but you can’t let them take over your lives and communities. You have the choice to give into them or not. It seems most appropriate that we come to this passage on World Communion Sunday when churches around the world celebrate communion together. A time in the year when we remember that we are all part of a larger community in Christ. We do not all agree on a lot of the ways we understand how God works, yet, we all understand Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior. On this Sunday we celebrate communion wherever we are all over the world as one body in Christ. There are churches everywhere in the world celebrating God’s Holy meal this day and it will look different in each of those settings. Yet we celebrate it together. This is one of those moments when we can catch a glimpse of what it looks like to be a kingdom of priests, of people who are leading others towards God by pointing through our being, our actions our ways of being together, towards a God that is bigger than we can imagine. When Jesus came he summarized all ten commandments into two - (Matt 22:37-40) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself: All the Law and the Prophets hand on these two commandments.” These are the simplest and most basic rules to live in community as God’s community. Yet we struggle with it. We wrestle with it. We want to give false witness, so we look better. We are constantly putting things in front of God and rationalizing our way out of it. We often call names, forget who are neighbor is or are only willing to love them if they agree with us or look like us or have the same political sign in the front yard. Being God’s community is hard. When we decide that we genuinely want to be a part of God’s community, then we commit to putting our best effort into it. It means that we are going to fall down some days and it won’t be pretty – we will get there next week. It means that some days we will get a gold star and some days we may get one out of ten. Yet, we don’t stop trying. The rules aren’t here to be impossible reminders of where we fall short, but a mirror to look in and see where we are aiming, and we are. It is like looking at the possibilities and also taking a good look at who you are for real right now. It isn’t about denying that you ever wanted to ignore your parent or have your neighbor’s car, but it also reminds you not to live in that place. Don’t dwell there, don’t spend your time fantasizing or thinking about that, it isn’t where God is calling you to be as the people of God. That isn’t the place where the community is called to live either. Get your head out of that game and back into the one you were called to. This is the promise of the community of God. Where are you in looking into that uncomfortable mirror of reality and possibility that God offers? Do you see where you are for real, without trying to make it look better? Do you also see where you are being called to take the next best step? Remember we aren’t getting any place on our own. We aren’t doing this overnight either. Where are we going to take the next best step this week? When we look around at a world sorely in need of hope, in need of God, where is God calling us to be that hope? What are we being asked to do? How are you living into the community you are being called into being? Don’t just complain about what is, but be what you want to see it be, what God is calling it into becoming….


Additional Readings Monday – Matthew 5 Tuesday – Matthew 6 Wednesday – Matthew 7 Thursday – Luke 6:20-49 Friday – Philippians 3:4-14 Saturday – Matthew 21:33-46


Announcements and Updates • Men’s Bible study on Acts on Tuesday at 7:00 pm please join us. One hour – We will be reviewing Acts 25, 26 and 27. • Yarn/Fiber ministry will meet Tuesday at 6:00 in the Children’s Room to work on prayer shawls/blankets. Same rules as church, and you must clean the space on your way out! • Thursday – 10:00 am Bible Study on Acts 7 and 8. • Prayer group/Bible Study on Acts – Thursday evening at 7:00 pm, please be ready to discuss Acts 24, 25 and 26. • October 4th from 1-3 at SSUMC we will be having a masks tie-dye. Come and get a five pack of free white masks and tie dye them to make them your own! • October 4th at 3:30 SSUMC Back in the Building Team meeting to RAD our plan • October 4th 6:30 SSUMC Lay Leadership/Nominations meeting, if you are interested in Nominations, SPRC, or Trustees please let the team know we need people for next year. • October 6 at 4:30 Adams Nominations team meeting, please let us know if you are interested in being on the Nominations, SPRC or Trustees! • Rummage sale on October 9 from 9 am-5 pm, and 10 9am-12pm, with a bag sale from 11-12. Set up on Monday October 5 starting at 8:30, accepting donations until October 5. • October 9th RAD Meeting for Adams 6:30 for Opening Team, there are several things to discuss before the council meeting. • October 10 Free Masks give away and tie dye project in the upper parking lot at Adams UMC. Come and get a five pack of free white masks and tie dye them to make them your own • October 13, No men’s Bible Study, and SSUMC Council Meeting at 7:00 pm • October 16th 7:00pm Adams Council meeting. • We are still Collecting Red Bird Mission Boxes. They are due back October 25. If you would like yours, we have some more, and I can drop them off to you if you need me to. • October 22, 7pm Charge conference with Zoom and in person options for both churches at Adams. • If you are willing to read scripture Sue Gamet can record you over the phone for the services!