Asbury First United
Text: Matthew 6
(Today's sermon describes the outreach, care, and mission of our church in 2001 through the presentation of six (invisible) slide photographs.)
This year I am extolling the blessings of three, simple existential rituals. They probably do not reach way up to the height of Acute Sacramental Piety. Apologies to the Jesuits. Nor do they, perhaps, plumb the depths of Anabaptist Piety. Apologies to the Fundamentalists. They may work, though, for the broad middle stream of life, personality, temperment, culture, tradition and experience with which, for all our messy middle of the roadness, we have the most experience.
Breath. In and Out. It is a refreshing pause, and brings a healthy reminder that we are all creatures of our God and King-sheep in another's pasture. We are made in the image and likeness of God. We are more human than anything else.
Listen. Hear and Overhear. While this is a matter of the ears not the lungs, of the soul not the body, it is the one single posture, a kind of relational bending of the knee, that represents our faith, the faith of Jesus Christ, who has listened to us, who has forgiven us, that we might, in Him, listen to others, that we might, in Him, forgive others. (Now look at that. Just like a preacher. Talking...about listening. Has there ever been a preacher who could listen?) We are Christians. American Christians, not Christian Americans. Methodist Christians not Christian Methodists. Human Christians, not Christian Humans. Listen. It is who we are.
Smile. Laugh and Sing. It is the response most befitting those made in God's Image and those forgiven in Christ's Death. We have nothing to defend and everything to share. It is what happens when you finally realize, catch the Spirit, get religion, find love, learn to sing, recline into God in Christ, become aware of what God has done for us. It makes us the singing Methodists we most want to be.
Photo: Christmas Eve, Asbury First
Focus: Candles and Choir
Text: No Trumpets before Alms
Point: Modesty of Community
Hymn: Hark the Herald Angels Sing
The graceful modesty of a people who do beware sounding trumpets before alms does make you want to smile!
Photo: Africa University
Focus: Jerome DelPino, Janice Huie
Text: Left and Right Hands
Point: Connected Giving is Powerful
Hymn: Marching to Zion
The methodical sacrifices of this and other generations to spread scriptural holiness in a concerted way make you want to smile!
Photo: Annual Report Work
Focus: Hank Dixon
Text: Go into your room and shut the door
Point: It is not well known, but this church gives away a great deal on top of our regular plan. (2002: $100,000.)
Hymn: A Charge to Keep I Have
Tithed pledging is good, planned giving is better, designated giving is best and most fun! It makes you want to smile!
Photo: Honduran Mountains
Focus: Aguinaldo Sauceda
Text: Father sees in secret
Point: We are building a set of relationships, in part supported by outreach grants (2002: $20,000)
Hymn: Life is Like a Mountain Railroad
The courage of life's pioneer mountain dwellers is an inspiration that makes you want to smile!
Photo: Asbury Daycare Center
Focus: Ellen Donovan
Text: Your alms may be done in secret
Point: As a culture we talk a good game about children, but our real investments tell another story. This church is fighting the good fight for kids in daycare and nursery, for poor kids in dining center and storehouse, for all kids in community and connection. (2002: ?$)
Hymn: Jesus Loves the Little Children
Some do all the good they can, all the time they can: it makes you want to smile!
Photo: Dining Center
Focus: Bible Study, Volunteers and Clients
Text: Rewards in Heaven
Point: We develop as disciples by serving the poor. (2002: $125,000-basic support only)
Hymn: Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy
The willingness of volunteers to give time in direct service makes you want to smile!