My church celebrated Communion on the first Sunday of every month. I have people ask, “So, is that when Methodists take Communion then…the 1st Sunday of the month?” And the answer is a decided…maybe! The reality is that there is no “set in stone” schedule for serving Communion by which individual United Methodist churches serve Communion- it is left up to the discretion of each congregation. Some serve it weekly, some serve it month, some serve it quarterly…I would hazard a guess that none serve it less frequently…but I don’t know that for sure!
I’m a curious person. I always want to know “why?”, which causes some people some stress (like my mom, when I was growing up!) With that in mind, I offer you a collection of questions today. I would be curious to know your answer to any of them…as well as any questions YOU have in this vein!
I have shared before about the ongoing saga of my church league softball team. Last year was our first year of existence. We were in the B League (there is A, B, C, D) and we went OH for the season! In other words, we won NO games! We TIED the last game of the season (which was the first game of the playoffs), but that was AFTER we had to forfeit because we didn’t have enough players! (We borrowed 2 of their players and played anyway!)
I recently attended two events where tents were featured prominently. I officiated at a wedding where the reception was in a large tent and my church is in the middle of our annual “sell pork chop sandwiches at the county fair” event which is held in a tent.
You gotta love the guy in the picture. He could ALMOST be seen as a rock star- the long, flowing hair, the robe, that…collar…thing….I could have seen Elton John, from his earlier days, coming out on stage looking like this! But it is NOT a rock star…far from it in fact. That is a picture of John Wesley- the founder of what is now United Methodism. He was born and raised in England, the son of Samuel and Suzanna Wesley. He only stepped foot on the North American continent once- with rather inauspicious results! And yet, he laid the groundwork for one of the largest Protestant denominations in the world.
I think I should write a book called “How To Leave a Voice Mail Message”. (I don’t necessarily mean to sound like my mother here…but I fear that I do! Oh well!) I had to call someone back recently who left a message on the church answering machine and I had NO idea what their name was. I wouldn’t have know the number either if it weren’t for Caller ID. (By the way, I had my Office Administrator call back, coward that I am!!) Have you noticed this growing trend? People leave messages like this: “Hi, this is Jkhgafdsj Hjhdjqhh (sounding JUST like that), and I was calling for Bvpohqe (ALSO sounding just like that). My number is 555-5555 (said AS FAST AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE!). CLICK.
There’s a Christian children’s video series out there called Quigley’s Village. It’s about a guy, Mr. Quigley…a REAL guy, who lives in Quigley’s Village…all the other residents are puppets. Back in the day, I agreed to look at it “on speculation”- either keep it and pay for it or send it back. At that time in my ministry I was very involved in youth and children’s ministries, so I gave it a shot. When I received it, I became aware of the fact that it was aimed at pre-schoolers…YOUNGER pre-schoolers. I watched 2 episodes (there were maybe 10 in total) and said to my wife, “This just might be the DUMBEST thing I’ve ever seen!” Her reply? “YOU’RE not 3 years old, either!” Good point! She suggested that I have a screening for the 3-year old girl who lived across the street at the time. I did…she LOVED it! Wanted to watch ALL of them!
There was an episode of that series called Scary Sounds in the Campground– Overcoming Fear. In the episode, Mr. Quigley takes the guys camping and they have a great time eating and telling stories…until bedtime, when one of the puppets hears strange noises. The noises get louder and imaginations run wild. The episode is about how to feel more secure, how to confront your fears. Fear is a powerful, often misunderstood thing. What IS fear?
Dictionary.com says that fear is- “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil or pain; the feeling or condition of being afraid, concern or anxiety. I’m not afraid of heights- I’ve been 30′ in the air sliding along a zip line and 1,000′ in the air strapped to a thin cable that was attached…WAY down there…to a speed boat. I’m not afraid of exciting, high-impact things- I’ve white-water rafted rapids in Montana and West Virginia that are among the most dangerous in the country. I’m not afraid of COMMITMENT- I have been married to the same beautiful woman for 25 years and 19 days and have loved EVERY minute of it! I’m really not afraid of much…except snakes! That’s right- ophidiophobia…the abnormal fear of snakes. Remember the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark? Indiana Jones jumps in the plane…and finds a BIG snake on his lap. He freaks out and yells to the pilot Jock, “There a SNAKE in the plane!” Jock replies, “Oh, that just my pet snake Reggie!” Indy says, “I HATE snakes, Jock! Hate ’em!” And Jock replies…to Indiana Jones, mind you, “Come on…show some backbone!” I know we’re NOT supposed to hate things…but I hate snakes, Jock! Hate ’em! Don’t even like to see the on TV or behind thick glass at the zoo! (Shudder) Creeps me out…just thinking about them!
What are YOU afraid of? Anybody out there willing to share? There are ALL sorts of specific phobias out there- but there ARE 3 well-defined types of phobias: 1. Specific or simple phobias- fear of an certain object or situation…snake, for instance, 2. Social phobias- fear of embarrassment or humiliation in social settings…many have this regarding public speaking, and 3. Agoraphobia- a general fear of being away from a safe place. Today, we’re going to consider that last one, a general fear of being away from a safe place, as we look at Psalm 19.
Psalm 19– The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, 5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat. 7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. 11 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
There was a parachute regiment, and during nighttime exercises the group’s leader sat next to a young officer who was making his 1st solo jump. He was looking a bit pale. The leader said to him, “Are you scared, lieutenant?” “No, sir.” he replied. “Apprehensive.” The leader asked, “What’s the difference between scared and apprehensive?” “Apprehensive means I’m scared…with a university education!”
There are all kinds of things that try and rob our joy at any given moment….fear is perhaps #1 on that list. In the midst of it all, we have this Psalm, 19, that is ALL about how awesome and wise God is. From start to finish. Period. So what it the crazy preacher talking about…fear? Did you notice, nestled almost right smack in the middle of this Psalm, is verse 9? And verse 9 says, “The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.” The fear of the Lord. What EXACTLY IS the fear of the Lord? Well, I shared the dictionary definition of the word fear…but I left one part of the definition out. It also says that fear is “to have reverential awe of something…especially God”. The fear of God is an awesome respect or reverence growing out of the greatness and power of God.
If God is so loving, kind and compassionate, why are we supposed to fear Him? Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” True wisdom comes from Godly fear. If we reject God, we cut ourselves off from our only source of true wisdom. We might APPEAR wise, but we are all too often foolish if we don’t fear God. The fear of God is the one fear that removes all the others. If we cast our cares on Him, we can become fearless. In John 14, Jesus, the Lion of Judah says, “Fear not, for I am with you. I will never leave you or forsake you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
One summer night during a severe thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small son into bed. She was about to turn the light off when he asked in a trembling voice, “Mommy, will you stay with me all night?” Smiling, the mother gave him a warm, reassuring hug and said tenderly, “I can’t dear. I have to sleep in Daddy’s room.” A long silence followed. At last it was broken by a shaky voice saying, “The big sissy!”
The Hebrew word for this kind of fear is yirah, which points to piety and reverence as opposed to abject terror. This ISN’T “I serve God because if I don’t He’ll zap me!” Hardly a perfect motive! It’s the difference between “servile fear”…the fear of getting in trouble…and “filial fear”…the fear of offending someone you love. There is only one kind of fear God wants us to have. The fear of the Lord acknowledges the “otherness” of God, which deserves recognition and respect on our part. It involves worship and awe- God’s love and goodness should inspire awe and worship in our hearts. God deserves our reverent worship and desires our close fellowship.
The Fear of the Lord is the convergence of awe, reverence, adoration, honor, worship, confidence, thankfulness and love. Our love and obedience should be inspired and empowered by our worship and awe of God. There was a time when committed Christians were God-fearing people- it was a badge of honor. But somewhere along the way we lost it. Now the idea of fearing God seems like a relic from a bygone age. But old-fashioned or not, let’s pray that we will once again be God-fearing people. Because if we fear God, we have nothing else to fear!
Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed Sunday! Please come back tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!