Psalm 100 - Heartstrings at First United Methodist Church
Sermons are preached. They are not writing. So, above is the sermon. Below is the sermon “plan”. (Unedited, all my mistakes kept!)
Tell me you’re a disciple without telling me you’re a disciple… I’ll go first…
Maybe you’ve heard of this TikTok Challenge… the tell me without telling me challenge… In one of my favorites, a woman poses the question, “hey babe, tell me you know me, without telling me you know me…” immediate cut to her husband sitting on the edge of the bed, with a wig like her hair on, shivering, wrapped up in layers of blankets, “turn the heat up”…. To him putting on make-up, “I’ll just be a minute…”, to him demonstrating how to clean the house correctly… “how long are you going to let the clothes sit there?”
// begin heartstrings only
We are going to try it really quick… tell me you’re worshipping online without telling me you’re worshipping online… . Maybe you drop in a wild heart emoji, or a “wave”… Don’t worry, I’ll give you a second or two! (PAUSE TO LET THEM DO IT…) … “tell me you’re worshipping in the parking lot without telling me you’re worshipping in the parking lot?” (INCOURAGE A HONK OR TWO).
For the last 6 weeks we’ve dug deep into who Heartstrings is as a worshiping community and what it means to be wild hearts together. If you are new, or you missed one, it is worth it to go back and watch the sermons, listen to the music, pray the prayers.
Now, as we enter into Lent, we are going to talk about the practices… the things that we do to keep ourselves pointed towards God and God’s beauty. We are going to be looking at those things we do that set our lives apart, that set them on the path towards being deeply committed disciples, to shaping our lives into the lives that God would have us lead. What are those things that we do that make us disciples? Those things that tell me you’re a disciple without you telling me you’re a disciple. The things that point towards our commitment to live a life that is set-apart for God.
The next five weeks will be a more practical sermon series… a list of things for us to do… Now, I’m not a rules person. That’s wrong, I am a rules person, I just think they are made to be broken… so, I need rules, to break rules. I do however believe in the power of goals and intentions, guidelines to support my personal growth… I believe in brushing my teeth twice a day, taking my vitamins every day, creating a budge monthly… not really rules but really good guidelines to build a beautiful life…
The practices we will talk about for the next 5 weeks are not rules, instead they are guidelines. They are not a way to earn God’s love because God already loves you. They are NOT a way to earn your way into heaven or eternal salvation. The practices of our faith shape who we are, they proclaim whose we are, and they take a very intentional commitment.
// end heartstrings only
Tell me you’re a disciple without telling me you’re a disciple? Well… what about prayer and worship. If you prayed five times a day, would that indicate a deep commitment to following Christ? If you thanked God when you woke up in the morning, before you went to bed at night, and bowed your head just for a second before each meal, “thank you God”… “Tell me you’re a disciple without telling me you’re a disciple.” What about worship, if you showed up here, or online each and every week, even if you were on vacation…even if it was Wednesday instead of Sunday… what if you made the commitment to not miss worship more than 5 times a year? Tell me you’re a disciple without telling me you’re a disciple.
If you prayed 5 times a day, worshipped every week, would it tell the world that this journey of faith matters to you? Would it shape and form you into a deeply committed disciple of Christ? Would it deepen your relationship the God that created you? The one that redeemed you. The one the sustains you and gives you life?
Are we spiritual?
If you scratch the service a little, you will quickly realize you have to answer one basic, fundamental question first: do you believe we are spiritual beings? Do you believe that there is something more, something bigger, a mystery that goes far beyond our flesh and bones? Do you believe that when God molded us from the dust of the earth, the hands of the potter, shaping and creating and molding… When you take in a breath, feel life giving oxygen fill your lungs and course through your veins, is there a beauty, a truth, a life, a spirituality… a mystery… that goes beyond oxygen, and hydrogen, and iron… are we spiritual beings?
I had a conversation last week with another pastor about a sermon she had preached. She told her congregation that you can’t stay in worship forever, you can’t build you home in worship, you have to leave at some point. I laughed because as pastors we so often feel like we are begging people to come, trying to convince them that it matters, trying to convince you that it matters enough to invite your friends, to share on Facebook, to show up more often than you miss… and she’s telling her congregation they can’t set up there tents? That they have to return to the world?!?! Then I got to thinking, she is right. If worship is feeding our souls, worship should be feeding our souls… then it should MOST OF THE TIME, not all of it, but most of the time, feel like something we desire to do. Not something we have to do to earn our way in. If it is a response to the love we experience in our relationship with God, rather than a way to earn that love… shouldn’t we feel fed when we come?
One of the ways we are offering support through this sermon series is with Church of the Resurrection materials. Which includes sermons from Adam Hamilton. In his sermon for this weeks teaching, he talks about the Hebrew and Greek word for worship, one being to lay prostrate before God AND the same word, talks about worship, sort of like the really excited, dog when it’s owner is walking through the door. Have you heard about Bunny? The famous talking dog. ALWAYS asking to play with his friends. Have you seen the videos, the excited, falling all over himself way he responds when he gets to see them? Shouldn’t the opportunity to be in the presence of God, bring that overwhelming sense of joy in the same way in the same way?
If you don’t think we are. If you believe that what is here is all that is, that there is no mystery, no eternal hope, nothing bigger than you… that when we stop breathing that is all there is… welcome. We are glad you are here. I believe you will get something out of our time together…. We have great music, a very fun community, a place to connect…
If you believe that we are spiritual beings, wouldn’t it make sense that we should spend time connecting with the sacred, with the divine? To not cut that part of us off? To spend time caring for our spiritual being just like we do our physical one?
Hot Dishes and Casseroles
A couple of weeks ago I put up the ad for Ash Wednesday, knowing that we were a go. Rain, or shine, or few inches of snow, mics that don’t work, a bus that won’t start… we were going to do it anyway! The simple touching of hands, of human contact, felt so important to me… So, when it started snowing, and it looked colder and colder… I knew we were a go.
Every time we’ve had to adjust to weather, we’ve learned more, been able to do more, we’ve been able to adjust faster and been more flexible… So this time, when the snow started pouring down, Bryan, our tech director suggested we might consider a fully hybrid service… so, for the first time we could be in the parking lot, online, and inside in-person, all at the same time! It’s really cool!
Robin, who has been part of us from the beginning of the shutdown, even a little before, joins worship every week, comes to our bible studies, and book discussions… we have LOVED having her around. So, when she jumped online on Wednesday to tell us her daughter and grandson were going to try and attend, I was SO excited! When a young woman and her son walked in, I smiled, “you must be Robin’s daughter! Welcome!” After she got over that moment where I’m pretty sure I just felt like a random creepy stocker, she figured out how I knew she’d be there, we chatted for a minute, then settled in for service. It was so cool, powerful, the music was really amazing, it was actually really beautiful outside because it was a really beautiful, calm, not too cold outside, snowy evening…
We knelt before each person, drawing a cross on their hand, reminding them of their humanity and God’s love, welcoming them into the season of Lent… We sang, hummed, prayed, listened to some amazing preaching… And when it was over, Robin’s daughter Julie and her son Harrison stayed and talked with Kent, and Marjorie, and me. The power of the night still floating in the air… Julie talked about her mom.
I didn’t know that Robin was our person most into evangelism! Now I do! Apparently, Robin has been inviting her daughter to worship, reminding her of worship, talking to her of worship… there is something here worth coming to.
Of course, Julie’s like, “mom! Jeez.”
Then Julie looking down at Marjorie, whose at eye level with her 6 year old, like he is the only person in the room, started talking about her year. As you can imagine, it hasn’t been a cake walk. She talked about her mom encouraging her to come to church… with tears in her eye, she said it sort of felt like a hot dish for her soul, she really needed that evening to be there… Which, of course started an entire conversation about hot dishes and casseroles!
Fred Craddock once recalled a conversation he had with a young woman, twenty eight years old, at St. Mark’s Methodist Church in Atlanta after worship. She said, “This is the first time I was ever in a church.” “Really?” Craddock asked. “Yeah.” “Well,” he said, “how was it?” She said, “Kind of scary.” “Kind of scary?” She said, “Yeah.” So Fred asked, “Why?” And she said, “It just seems so important. You know, I never go to anything important. This just seemed so important.”
Listen now, to this ancient call to worship, Psalm 100:
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the LORD is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
May God bless the reading, hearing, and doing of this word.