Quick-Draw in the Parched Places: Agreeing to Disagree – February 16, 2020

Quick-Draw in the Parched Places: Agreeing to Disagree – February 16, 2020

Scripture: Isaiah 58:1-12

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. (Isaiah 58.8)

John Wesley coined the term “agree to disagree.”Numerous times, Wesley engaged in heated theological disputes with another renowned preacher named George Whitefield. Though they both debated intensely, Wesley reflected on their contrast in beliefs in a memorial sermon for Whitefield by saying:  “There are many doctrines of a less essential nature. … In these, we may think and let think; we may ‘agree to disagree.’ But, meantime, let us hold fast the essentials. …” This appears to be the first documented use of the phrase. It was an indication of Wesley’s manner of sticking to his convictions while remaining in connection with those with whom he disagreed. What a gift we can bring to the table today.


My Flesh Sings for Joy: The Gift of Song – February 9, 2020

Scripture: Psalm 84

My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. (Psalm 84:2)

Methodists are known for their rich musical tradition. Some of the most well-known hymn writers in Christianity were Methodists.  Most notable was Charles Wesley wrote penned over 6,000 hymns in his lifetime, hymns that are famous as interpretations of Scripture. That joy of singing as a way of naming and claiming our faith are another unique contribution of those scrappy Christians called Methodist.

What Does the Lord Require of You: Acts of Piety and Acts of Mercy – February 2, 2020

Scripture: Micah 6: 1-8

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

A balance of personal piety with acts of justice and mercy marks Methodism from its earliest days. From class meetings of old to the Walk to Emmaus currently, methods of accountability for our spiritual walk have been an important element of letting our light shine for the world. Many United Methodist churches today are reclaiming this heritage as paths of discipleship are laid out before us in tangible ways.

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation: The Gift of Grace – January 26, 2020

Scripture: Psalm 27:1, 4-9  The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

John Wesley’s understanding of the Plan of Salvation and the gift of God’s grace for the world came at a time when hell and damnation and predestination were all the rage. He lifted up the idea of God’s grace in a way that showed how grace is at work before we even know it, and works alongside us as we work out our salvation. What a gift that has been to the Christian community.



Light to the Nations: Social Principles that Rock the World – January 19, 2020

Rev. Dr. Mark Lansberry preaching

Isaiah 49: 1-7  He says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)

From the beginning, social holiness has been a core theme of Methodism. In his preface to the 1739 hymnal, John Wesley was insistent that “the gospel of Christ knows of no religion but social; no holiness but social holiness.” The writer of the Gospel of James said, “Faith without works is dead.” Our social principles share one thing in common…they are there for the common good of humankind, and they, like MLK, Jr., dream of a world where God reigns.


How Do We Live in the Light?: The Three Simple Rules – January 12, 2020

Scripture: Acts 10: 34-43 

That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. (Acts 10: 37-39a)

Jesus’ baptism began a new era of living in the light, a lifestyle of both doing and being. Since the beginning of the Methodist movement, the general rules have guided our walk with Christ: Do good, do no harm, attend to all the ordinances of God. They are simple rules, and when followed, truly bring light into the world in which we live.

Lift Up Your Eyes and Look Around: The Wesleyan Quadrilateral – January 5, 2020

Scripture: Isaiah 60: 1-6; Matthew 2: 1-12

Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. (Isaiah 60: 4-5)

How do we understand God, the Bible, the way the world works, and how to understand Christian life and faith in an ever-changing world? Looking at our faith through the lens of Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience is uniquely Wesleyan and gives us an in-depth way to explore life with integrity.

Get up and Go: #morelife – December 29, 2019

Scripture: Matthew 2: 1-23 

When the magi had departed, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon search for the child in order to kill him…” After King Herod died, an angel from the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. “Get up,” the angel said, “and take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel. Those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” (Matthew 2: 13-15)

By now Joseph was used to angels. And now he needed their timely warnings more than ever. Jesus was barely a toddler and his trouble with the Roman Empire had begun. Jesus, the Savior of Humankind becomes a refugee–forced from home by oppression and violence. We ask ourselves how we might usher in #morelife in the face of that which feels destructive. One last time in this series we hear the message #DoNotBeAfraid to get up and go–leaving those things that weigh us down and moving into the new year with new life.

This Will Be a Sign: #morelove – Christmas Eve 2019

Scripture:  Luke 2: 1-20

Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.” (Luke 2: 8-14)

The sky was brighter than usual that night, making it easier to keep track of the sheep. And then it got really bright. You would have thought that all that “glory” shining would have been “the sign.” That’s what most of us look for–great big obvious clues about God’s presence. But instead, the angel says that a baby… a newborn helpless baby in a feeding trough was it–the sign. In a flash, the message was that #morelove is found where you least expect it and perhaps is already there residing in the ordinariness of your life.

Do Not Be Afraid: #morejoy – December 22, 2019

Do Not Be Afraid: #morejoy – December 22, 2019

Scripture: Matthew 1: 18-25

…an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1: 20-21)

Every angel seems to use “do not be afraid” as an opening line. But perhaps no one needed to hear it more than Joseph. What was happening to him was the stuff that ruins lives. As a man, he had all the rights to abandon Mary and preserve his dignity. The stakes were high–who would believe this? Keeping up “appearances” can rob us of our #morejoy. Let us be messengers of encouragement and steadfast support, as Joseph was, for that which the Spirit is birthing in the world.