A Message in Light of the Potential United Methodist Church Split (Psalm 46)

body of christ
A Message in Light of the Potential UMC Split (Psalm 46)
Scripture: Psalm 46
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 01/05/2020 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. Click Here for a video of the entire worship service, including the message.

Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

In the last few days, most major news outlets ran stories on a potential split in the United Methodist Church. Hearing this news brought up many feelings and questions for me.

What did it bring up for you?

Below you’ll find a link to an article with the most accurate information. The article includes links to the actual mediation document and a frequently asked questions article. We’ll also have copies in the church office. I encourage you to read it.

United Methodist Traditionalists, Centrists, Progressives & Bishops sign agreement aimed at separation

We will be reading this article together tomorrow – Monday, January 6 – at the Leadership Council Meeting. The meeting begins at 6:00 pm in Haley Hall. You are welcome to attend.

The mediation document is a proposal, not a decision. Those who can make a decision for our denomination will gather in May in Minneapolis. This group is called The General Conference and is made up of United Methodist laity and clergy from around the world.

Here’s some background information to give you some context. It’s quoted from the Frequently Asked Questions Document
For the past 47 years, The United Methodist Church has struggled unsuccessfully to achieve consensus and compliance with regard to matters of human sexuality. The Special Session of General Conference in 2019 caused significant harm. This work is a significant attempt to not replicate the mood or climate created in St. Louis in 2019. It acknowledges that even in the midst of faithful attempts to stay together, we no longer can remain as one denomination. The divisions are simply too vast. This work is important because it provides a pathway of reconciliation and grace through separation and offers us an opportunity to bless and send one another into a new reality rather than continue to fight and rend our way into irrelevance and destruction.

This latest attempt at a path forward is new for all of us. There are still many questions. As I know more I will continue to share. Be on the lookout for upcoming times of prayer, listening, and discussion.

Hear this my dear ones:
God is faithful and true and at work. God is Sovereign. Jesus is Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit still speaks and transforms. No human decision changes this.

We are all made in the image of God. All have sacred worth.

We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. All are in desperate need of forgiveness and salvation and the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Our mission has not changed- Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World

Our vision has not changed- God is love. We are called to share that love and the hope we’ve found in Jesus Christ with all people.

No matter what is decided, people will leave and people will come.

No matter what is decided, it will not be a magic bullet to kill the church nor a magic bullet to revive the church.

God will redeem the pain and harm we’ve caused one another. Let it end now.

Our denomination is a 12 million-member global church representing very different cultures and values. Likewise, our congregation is diverse in many ways, including strong convictions on these issues and other issues. It’s been this way for a long time.

Look around this room. What do you see? More importantly, who do you see?

We are not issues; we are people, faithful real people drawn together by our need and love of Christ.

What are we to do? Love one another and serve one another. Love and serve Sarasota. In doing so, we love and serve God.

They will know we are Christians by our love, our love made real in our words and actions, in the way we honor one another and work together in the midst of our differences. The world needs to see this.

I love you and respect you no matter your position on this issue or any other issue. I will continue to serve you with every ounce of grace, strength, and skill the Holy Spirit empowers in me and through me. I invite you to do the same.

A Message in Light of the Potential UMC Split © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

The Songs of Christmas: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Sermon Series song music christmas 1110 x 624

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
December 16: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing by Charles Wesley
These are the notes from a message offered Sunday, 12/16/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

christian family tree 2While we hold so much in common, each portion of the Christian family tree celebrates a different aspect of the greatness of God. What does the Methodist branch bring to the party?

  • An emphasis on the Journey of Faith, not just the moment of decision
  • An emphasis on God’s grace at work in every part of the journey of faith
  • Singing the faith

John and Charles Wesley were brilliant at helping persons understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus. They had a massive publishing business which catered to those who could read. For the uneducated, working poor, they helped them learn the faith by singing it. (It helped those who could read as well!)

Lisa charles wesley attic

As an aspiring poet and pastor, here’s a picture of me geeking out over Charles Wesley’s attic space and quill.

The one who put the faith to music was Charles Wesley, John’s younger brother. We had the chance to tour his home in Bristol England. The bottom floor contains a sunny music room. Charles’ children were accomplished musicians. The attic space was Charles’ study where he wrote his sermons and hymn texts. It wasn’t uncommon for Charles to come running into the house asking for his quill and parchment so he wouldn’t lose an idea.

Charles Wesley wrote between 6,000 – 7000 hymn texts, many of which we still sing today.

  • O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
  • Christ the Lord is Risen Today
  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, which was written less than a year after his conversion.

Conversion? Wait a minute.

  • The Wesley boys grew up in a parsonage. Their father was a pastor and their mother homeschooled them in both academics and faith.
  • They studied theology at Oxford and started a holy club to try to live what Jesus taught.
  • They were ordained pastors and served as missionaries in Georgia.

And yet, both men experienced a conversion. Their head knowledge born of studying who God is, the Word of God, and ways of God, turned into a heart and soul relationship.

In 131 Christians Everyone Should Know, Mark Galli reports

After returning to England, Charles taught English to Moravian Peter Böhler, who prompted Charles to look at the state of his soul more deeply. During May 1738, Charles began reading Martin Luther’s volume on Galatians while ill. He wrote in his diary, “I labored, waited, and prayed to feel ‘who loved me, and gave himself for me.'” He shortly found himself convinced, and journaled, “I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoice in hope of loving Christ.”  Two days later he began writing a hymn celebrating his conversion.

And Charles kept on writing.

Below you will find the verses of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing with some of the scripture references. Some thoughts…

  • The text begins with an invitation for all people, all nations to join the angels in joyous and enthusiastic praise of the birth of Jesus Christ.
  • Notice the recurrence of the theme “rise”
  • Instead of describing the rest of the Christmas story, Wesley then begins to praise Jesus Christ by naming who He is. This is what praise is at it’s simplest. God you are… Christ, you are…
  • At the end of verse 2, Wesley describes both the Incarnation and the dual nature of Christ in just a few words
  • In verse 3, the repetition of the word “born” builds momentum while proclaiming what Christ accomplished
    • Born that we no more may die
    • Born to raise us from the earth (Christ descends that we may rise, death and resurrection, buried with Christ and raised to new life in baptism)
    • Born to give us second birth
  • Verse 4 is not often included in modern hymnals. The theme shifts from praising Christ to a prayer of response. Come Jesus. Make your home in me. Deliver me from the influence of evil. Let everyone who sees me see the image of God in me. Save me by your love.

There’s an old saying. If you stand in the middle of the garage, that doesn’t make you a car. Examine your heart and soul. Say yes to a real relationship with Jesus Christ.

Verse 1: Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King; Peace on earth, and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled.” Luke 2:8-14 (13-14) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
Joyful, all ye nations, rise, Join the triumph of the skies; With angelic hosts proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem.” Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King” Psalm 67:4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.
Verse 2: Christ, by highest heaven adored. Matthew 3:17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
Christ, the everlasting Lord: Colossians 1:15-17 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.  He himself is before all things, and in him, all things hold together.
Late in time behold Him come. Offspring of a virgin’s womb. Isaiah 7:14 NKJ Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see. Hail the incarnate Deity! Pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel. Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King.” John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
Verse 3: Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Isaiah 9:6 For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Hail the Sun of righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, Risen with healing in His wings: Malachi 4:2 But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.

John 1:4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

Mild He lays His glory by, Philippians 2:5-7 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.
Born that man no more may die; Born to raise the sons of earth; Born to give them second birth. Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King.” John 3:3 NKJ Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

1 Corinthians 6:14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.

Verse 4: Come, Desire of nations, come! Fix in us Thy humble home: Haggai 2:7 NKJ I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts.
Rise, the woman’s conquering seed, Bruise in us the serpent’s head; Genesis 3:14-15 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Adam’s likeness now efface, Stamp Thine image in its place: Final Adam from above, Reinstate us in Thy love. Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King.” 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven.  Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Born of a woman that we might be born again

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Struck by the full force of evil yet rising victorious,
that we might rise with him.

Hallelujah to Jesus!
Crushing Satan, sin, and death,
that we might know peace and the fullness of life.

Guard us, Anointed One, from every warring way

Deliver us, Liberating King, from every enticing falsehood

Lead us, Lord, to your wisdom and truth
May this grace birth faithfulness and innocence within us
May our new life delight you and honor you
May it better your world and draw many to your saving love. Amen

CLICK HERE for a pdf of the Christmas Song Devotional Readings.

The Christmas Story is full of singing. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Simeon sings. The angels sing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.

This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, we’ll reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs. Some will be old friends. Others will be new. My prayer is that their beauty and power draw us closer to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. And that the grace of drawing near fulfills in us Christ’s power of new life.

Suggestions for Reflection on Each Song Lyric in the Christmas Devotion:

  • Find a quiet place to sit. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Read the song lyrics several times slowly, savoring the words.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What is the big idea?
    • Why is it important?
    • How does this truth connect with my life?
  • Have a conversation with God about this truth.
  • Invite God to use this truth to birth something new in you this holy season.

Additional Ideas:

  • Journal your reflections
  • Draw, paint, or create some other kind of art based on your reflections
  • Find a scripture or two which inspired the song or where brought to mind by the lyrics
  • Sing or listen to the song
  • Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face

I look forward to hearing your comments. – Lisa <

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Call to Prayer for General Conference

God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it.
— John Wesley

From April 24 through May 4 of this year, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church will be meeting in Tampa, Florida. This gathering of laity and clergy are the decision making body of our denomination.

In preparation for the event, a resource has been written entitled 50 Days of Prayer Before & During General Conference 2012. This guide will allow United Methodists all over the world to actively support the spiritual preparation needed before the General Conference and intercede faithfully during the ten days of the Conference.

Through use of this resource, we will unite in prayer for God’s will to be done in God’s way and in God’s time. The kingdom of God comes through prayer and discernment. We want God to lead and shape the future of The United Methodist Church.

This is your official invitation, whether you are Methodist or not, to be part of this prayer movement. It will be a powerful time for God’s people to be praying with and for one another. – Lisa <><

You can receive this resource in several ways:
•   Purchase a printed copy by phoning 855-469-3386 or buy one online through the link on the right side of the page
•   Download a free PDF version to your computer or reading device in English, French or Portuguese. Look for the links on the left side of the page.
•   Have each day’s reading sent to your e-mail address. Subscribe on the right side of the page.