Christ United Methodist Church
Wednesday, September 02, 2015
Called & Empowered by Christ to Love, Serve, Witness
(920) 261-0736 ♦ firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
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*Sundays: 8:00 a.m.
Informal with guitar by the river - approx. Mid-May to Mid-October
In the sanctuary - approx. Mid-October to Mid-May
*Sundays: 10:00 a.m.
Traditional service with organ and bell choir
*Sundays: 8:45 a.m.
Sunday School for children youth and adults- September 1 to May 30
*Tuesdays: 10:30 a.m.
Highland Village Bible Study
*Wednesdays: 3:30 to 4:45 p.m.
Confirmation Class for all students in Grades 7 and 8 (approx. Sept. thru May)
August 23, 2015
Ephesians 6:10 - 20
"Dressing the Part"
Our passage is the rather well-known, "armor of God" passage, in which the author of the Letter to the Ephesians uses the image of military armor. It made sense in the day when it was written. The majority of the world was under Roman military rule and seeing a soldier dressed in this manner was common.
This image, however, can fall flat for us today. It may make more sense to talk about putting on SPF 50, vaccinating against measles, using an anti-virus program on your computer or buying a car with side airbags. These are some of the defensive armor in use in our times.
The crucial part of the message, however, is verse 10: "Finally, build up your strength in union with the Lord and by means of his mighty power." Any protection which comes from the "armor of God" is because it is from God and not because of any strength inherent in what we're wearing.
Take note, too, that almost every item listed is "defensive" and not "offensive". Even a sword can be used defensively to block blows from another sword. The message is that we aren't to use our "armor" to attack someone - just to keep ourselves from being hurt when we are attacked.
Usually, sermons on this passage go on to consider the armor and what each item represents: truth, righteousness, Good News, faith, salvation and the word of God. My question, however, is what is attacking us? Why do we even need all this stuff? Verses 11 and 12 offer the answer - "the Devil" and "wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age." That is not comforting news!
John Wesley, in his sermon, "Of Evil Angels", presents an interesting discussion of possible understandings of Satan and devils even to the point of wondering, "But has every man a particular evil angel, as well as a good one attending him?" In the end, though, he concludes that we can't know for sure other than to be sure that such evil exists.
We know that because of the temptation of Jesus in the desert. (Matt4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13) In those passages Satan is depicted, not as some dark, frightening figure, but rather as an individual who acts as if he is only interested in Jesus' well-being. We know, of course that is not really the case. Jesus resists the temptation and sends the "adversary" packing.
The author of Ephesians is offering a warning and a way forward. He does not tell us to fight and try to defeat Satan. No, his advance is to take a defensive stance. Protect yourself from the temptations which are out there. Be prepared for how evil works in our society even when it comes in forms which seem benign.
"Funny" how stocks marketing to human vices like drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and the like do well on the exchange.
"Funny" how we can rationalize racism, segregation, military spending and fear-mongering news outlets by either downplaying their reality or framing them as "protection", "free speech" or "not that bad".
"Funny" how health plans cover diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions but try to put limits on treatment for addictions or mental health.
We need to be alert for the many "evil angels" in our world which dress like something harmless or even helpful, recognizing that we can't defeat these evils on our own. We do need to "ask for God's help. Pray on every occasion, as the spirit leads ... keep alert and never give up; pray always for God's people."
Grace & peace,
What's Happening Now?
*Church School Classes
Church School classes will begin Sunday, September 13 at 8:45 a.m.
*Book Discussion Group
The next book discussion is scheduled for Tuesday, September 15 at 6:30 p.m. here at the church. The book, a novel, is titled "Conversations with Saint Bernard" by Jim Kraus, about a 120 pound dog.
George, a 68-year old widower, and Lewis, the dog, travel across the United States in an RV. Lewis has been the companion of an eight year old boy who must give him up for health reasons.
The discussion will include death, health problems, loneliness, even thoughts of suicide and all the people we will meet.
If you can't find a copy of the book at the library, the books will be available at the church. Please contact the church office if you are interested in purchasing this book.
*The World's Greatest Junk Parade
The Sullivan UMC is making a float for the Junk Parade, held on Labor Day, September 7, 2015 at 11 a.m. They are in need of any old cell phones. Bring them to our church no later than Monday, August 31.
Zany works of junk, some elaborate concoctions of engineering madness and other just plain junk, will make its way from Rome to Sullivan. Some bystanders will probably wager whether certain entries even make the finish of the three-mile parade route!
A King and Queen will be crowned the night before at the Sullivan Veteran's Park with live music, food, drinks and lively festivities starting at 1:00 p.m.
As the parade ends Monday at the Sullivan Veteran's Park, a Family Festival will kick off for the day. There will be kids activities, live music, food and drink. This year's kids activities include a bouncy house, big slide, crafts and games.
The parade and festivities are presented by the Sullivan Area Chamber of Commerce.