Monday, July 14, 2008

Forward Together!

Well, our second Sunday went OK, I thought.

Our special music was late, and we started 5 minutes late. Using the powerpoint slides during the service has received several positive comments, but one froze up on me. I also was drawn into a long distance "silent" conversation with a cute blonde (Stephanie, of course!)...But, it happened to be in the middle of a song, and I forgot to switch the slide! The first clue was when everyone stopped singing:) Overall, though, I believe the pictures, backgrounds, and eventually video are an important step and ministry for our worship.

My favorite comments are the questions of "How is he changing the slides from up there!?!" Here's my secret: I have a remote.

The installation service went over well, and we received positive comments regarding its importance. Along with the sermon, our focus was on going forward together.

The Scripture text was Matthew 28:16-20.

I quoted the Blood, Toil, Sweat, and Tears speech of Winston Churchill where he ends, "Let us go forward together united in strength." Sharing how that speech set the tone of England's struggle and eventual victory over Germany, it became our standard: Let Us Go Forward Together!

I then shared some strengths and challenges that Winchester First UMC has/is facing. But in these, the reminder was that our focus is not on what we have/don't have, do/don't do, or who we are/aren't; rather, our focus should be on Christ Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.

From the Matthew text, three themes popped out: Worship, Purpose, and Making Disciples.

The automatic response of the disciple is to worship. Just like if we hit our thumbs with a hammer, and we share some choice, too, in the presence of Jesus, his followers worship.

From worship flows our purpose: Without our adoration of Christ, our mission and purpose of making disciples makes no sense. Thus, the purposeful and missional church will always be the worshiping church!

Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. And remember? Disciples worship! So our aim is to bring all of Winchester, Indiana into worship of God through Jesus Christ! John Piper begins his book, "Let the Nations Be Glad" with this statement, "Missions exists because Worship doesn't." This small, somewhat paradoxical statement was pivotal to my first theological development, and I still find it to be the most meaningful statement of our purpose to date.

So full circle, we fix our eyes on Jesus in worship as we invite others to worship beside us and with us. United in Christ we, too, like England will have victory over the forces of Addiction, Poverty, Hatred, Greed, Depression, even the very gates of Hell. But, we must go together fixing our eyes on Jesus.

The sermon ended with the call, "Let us go forward together!"

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