The Risky Way
Mar 17, 2019 31:06
“Go and tell that fox for me....” says Jesus.
Wow - JC is really amping up the rhetoric in this week’s Gospel Lesson. He is suggesting that Herod, the appointed ruler of the region of Galilee under Roman, is a hated predator, a fox. This doesn’t seem like the way of God, does it? Perhaps, our Savior is reminding us that this world is not without risks.
Although Herod is redeemable, his current practices are abhorrent and hurting God’s people. The assigned leader is actually just a follower, falling prey to the temptations Jesus overcame in last week's sermon Scripture. Therefore, Jesus must go about “casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow.” Because the risks of Herod are real, Jesus must risk himself to help those harmed by the Herods of the world. Jesus spends each day and the next one facing the "foxes" for us.
So what does that mean for you and me? This second sermon in Lent, we consider the vulnerable way of Jesus and the tender love of God we encounter when we walk this risky way with him. We will also explore loneliness and what comes when we, like Jesus, opt to take a different way than the one that makes the most sense to the world around us. We will pray for Herod's violence in our world today, like in Christchurch, New Zealand and wrestle with how we respond together.
And we are especially blessed by Eric Patton, a young man who Facebooked his story of salvation and CHUMC’s role in it. He concludes this sermon. You will not want to miss it!
The Long Way
Mar 10, 2019 32:53
Will you take a pilgrimage with me and, more importantly, with the Holy Spirit?
Many months ago, your worship team discerned we would walk “The Way” of Christ this Lenten Season. Based on both a) the Lectionary Scriptures (chosen verses for this Holy Season) that all include “the way” and b) the movie The Way, based on the famous pilgrimage, Camino de Santiago, we will explore how we can take a spiritual journey intended for revelation about ourselves, God, and God’s desired way for us. The Lenten Journey is intended to end at Easter with salvation.
So do you feel like you need to be saved? And by this, I do not simply mean eternal salvation - that is God’s work - but rather earthly salvation, such as being saved from personal struggles like crippling anxiety, communal issues like the great harm done by our denomination, and/or global issues like devastating poverty? As you prepare for this sermon, pray and ask God, “Where in life do I need revelation and salvation?” Then on a simpler note, simply consider if there is something in your life about which you are wondering: "What path should I follow, or which way should I go next?"
Then read the passages for this sermon and consider how both the Israelites in Deuteronomy and Jesus in Luke found themselves in the wilderness. As Marcia Mcfee puts it, "After Jesus’ baptism, he went on a pilgrimage into the wilderness. A common practice among spiritual leaders of his day, this was a time to dig deep into the humanity of his soul. Along the way he encounters what we all encounter along the paths of life – temptations to stray from the path that God has intended for us.”
Last week, I felt like we welcoming and affirming United Methodists were dropped in a desert wondering which we way to go. But it was not God who led us there. Rather, a slight majority of the delegates at our General Conference fell into temptations that have caused great harm both to our LGBTQ siblings and also our church and its witness. I still struggle to put into words all the hurt, pain, anger, confusion, and more that I have both heard and felt these past days. But please know that a small CHUMC group has begun to prayerfully chart our course for discernment as a faith community. And to this point, I am grateful God had already given us the image of pilgrimage for this season long before we knew the wilderness in which we would find ourselves. We may be feeling like a “wandering Aramean”(Deut 26:5), but our Scripture passages promise that the Holy Spirit will lead us through wilderness to the promised land. God will show us the "the way.”
So come to this sermon to explore afresh how to journey with Jesus and “the way” God moves in us as individual pilgrims and as a community on pilgrimage together.
Jesus in Color
Mar 3, 2019 26:31
"And Are We Yet Alive?"
These are the words we will sing together to begin our worship Sunday. Why? Because these are the words sung at the start of each Methodist Conference since the time of John Wesley.
I find them apropos for Sunday, because for many, it feels like a fatal blow was struck to our United Methodist Church this week at the A Way Forward General Conference when the global church voted by a slim majority to pass a “traditional plan,” punishing any Methodists who prayerfully choose to ordain our called LGBTQ siblings and marry faithful same-gendered couples.
Overwhelmed with emotion, I invited the congregation to come Wednesday night to a time of pizza, prayer, and processing. Forty (40) of you arrived on a moment's notice. We agreed together that "we" may be in somewhat different places…some of us are hurt or angry enough to step back or break away from the church and others are revved up enough to want to organize and mobilize for change. So, we first listed out all our emotions in our hearts followed by all our thoughts, questions, plans, etc, in our heads. Finally, we wrote out the prayers of our souls.
Interestingly, the words most used in describing your feelings were confusion and concern, followed by anger, embarrassment, and scared. All of these are so real, and I feel them with you.
The word used most for prayers was love, followed by live, hope, and courage. Why am I not surprised the top word was love?! You are a people who have chosen to be “the heart of God in the community,” and you are just that in countless ways each day! And all the frequently used words describe qualities of true prophets, followers of God who recognize the pain and brokenness of our world and respond by rooting themselves in God’s fierce love for us and hope for the world.
Noteworthy to me, emotions were shared while ideas for how to respond individually and communally varied. I know not how you and I are each individually called to respond. How will we best care for our LGBTQ siblings? How will we respond to the denomination and work for justice for ALL? How / what will we change so that we can most faithfully reach out to and love the beautifully diverse community of Capitol Hill? All are unanswered questions at the moment. But what I know for certain is that God will help us come together to discern as a community God’s call on CHUMC. You have done this many times (Reconciling; Growing Heart’s Campaign; Marriage Policy; Housing Justice Ministry; God’s Heart, Our Home campaign; etc.) and exemplify Scripture’s command to embrace the value and importance of each member of our body. And if you would like to serve on the CHUMC team who helps lead us through this discernment, please let Pastor Alisa know.
For this sermon, we consider passages from the law, the prophets, and the gospels. In Exodus, try to imagine such a face to face conversation with God? What would you say today? What is on your heart? In Isaiah, picture the feast the prophet describes, and come hungry to our open communion table where all are fed and we receive God’s grace together. In Luke, we see Jesus shine brighter than any light we have known before and try to imagine the path God is lighting for us as we go into this unknown future with the known, felt, and revealed love of Christ our Savior.
Peace on Earth – How Cliché!
Feb 24, 2019 24:36
Feb 24, 2019 6:03
How Should a Christian View...?
Feb 17, 2019 28:08
“How Should a Christian View Communism?”
That’s the question Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. posed to his congregation in a sermon from 1963. What do you think? How should a Christian view Communism? Capitalism? Socialism? You name the ideology?
As we continue in our A Prophet for Today sermon series, we are going to ponder, why did Dr. King and other Christian pastors including CHUMC’s founding pastor, take on Communism and other social issues? Were they living into the scriptural prophetic tradition or blurring the lines between faith and politics? What do the practices of these proclaimers of old tell us about our voice in the public sphere and our role today in secular and political movements? And is there a more perfect weekend for such a sermon than President’s Day Weekend?
We will enter this conversation through Scripture, including Amos 5:24, the verse for King’s sermon on Communism. You’ve heard this word proclaimed many times: “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” With this sermon, take a moment and imagine: if justice were to roll into our community today, what would that look like? What’s one policy, process, or practice that would change?
A Knock at Midnight... at 1am... at 2am
Feb 10, 2019 31:27
On what doors are you knocking these days and why? And when are you knocking on them?
Continuing in our sermon series, A Prophet for Today, we are going to explore Christian Persistence through Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s sermon, “A Knock at Midnight.” Through the somewhat confusing parable in Luke 11, we will consider whose door should we be knocking on for healing, for nourishment, and for justice. And we'll consider who may be knocking on our door, as individuals and as a church, and how are we called and equipped to respond?
Part of what I love about the parable is that the man did not come knocking in the bright peak of day, but rather the dark of night. If you feel like it is “midnight” in America or in your life or even in the United Methodist denomination, then this sermon especially is for you.
The power of this parable is in the promise that midnight, our darkest hour, will be interrupted. Even in the dark of night, we’re not alone. Instead, a friend comes calling, inviting us to help another.
Wesley Innovation Hub
Feb 3, 2019 4:11
The Audacity. . .
Feb 3, 2019 15:24
Who loves the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? I always have. Ieven proposed these names to Chris for one of our boys (clearly I did not win that one!). They were prophets of their time. After all, a prophet is one who sees things as they are (dangers and all) and speaks to how God would want it to be. These men fully understood the danger of ego-centric leaders but refused to conform to their unfaithful demands even though that meant facing death itself.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. puts it this way:
"The courage of three Hebrew boys-Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is still a challenge to us today. The King Nebuchadnezzar had ordered that all were to bow down and worship the golden image. But there stood in the midst three Hebrew boys who were determined not to bow down, and they said to the King, 'If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us, but f not we will still not bow.' Who today can stand up and refuse to bow in a crowd where everybody else is bowing?"
Is there anything you are bowing to today? Or is there simply some space in your life where you need courage?
If so, come to this sermon as we continue our series A Prophet for Today, and explore Christian courage through Daniel 3, Romans 12:1-2, and Dr. Kings sermons’ "Transformed Nonconformist" and "Creatively Maladjusted."
Jan 27, 2019 2:38
Are You Tough or Are You Tender?
Jan 27, 2019 26:41
Are you tough or tender?
In this sermon, as we continue our series, A Prophet for Today, we will explore additional qualities of a prophet. (In our last sermon, we defined a prophet as the mouthpiece and messenger of God’s will and ways). In our Gospel lessons for Sunday, Jesus sends out his disciples with clear directions including, “Bbe wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Dr. King calls this a command to develop and keep a “Tough Mind and a Tender Heart.” In his sermon of that name, which I highly recommend you read, Rev. King explains, "Not ordinarily do men achieve this balance of opposites. The idealists are not usually realistic, and the realists are not usually idealistic. The militant are not generally known to be passive, nor the passive to be militant. Seldom are the humble self-assertive, or the self-assertive humble. But life at its best is a creative synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony….” Then referencing Matthew 10:16, King continues. "It is pretty difficult to imagine a single person having, simultaneously, the characteristics of the serpent and the dove, but this is what Jesus expects. We must combine the toughness of the serpent and the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.”
So, what antithesis is God calling you to hold together right now? Grief and Hope? Righteous Anger and Mercy for all? Email me (email@example.com) with any supposed “duplicities” God is working on with you.
The Making of a Prophet
Jan 20, 2019 29:45
The Faith of a Critic
Jan 13, 2019 22:18
“I do.” When in your life have you said those words? When testifying before a court, perhaps? At the wedding altar? For me, it was for my ordination. In each of these instances, we are making a promise about our actions. But that action or the failure to do that action, directly impacts someone else. The two aren’t separable - my action and the impact on your life.
This week as we conclude our 21 Days to a New Spiritual You sermon series, we will look at 7 more of John Wesley’s 21 Questions for the original Holy Club. On first glance, these questions appear to be inward focused…asking such things as “Are you irritable, critical, etc.” and “Do I think of myself more highly than others?” But the truth of these questions and life in general is that what we do as individuals impacts both how we see others and how we treat others. For example, consider the Pharisee and the tax collector in our Gospel Lesson (Luke 18:9-14). It also impacts our relationship with God. As one of our other Scriptures so directly puts it, “Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor him.” (Proverbs 14:29-32). So read over the passages for this sermon, and ask yourself the important question, “When might I find myself in this story / saying?" Then read our epistle lesson (Romans 12:9-13), and ponder when you exercise these practices and what it does to you, those around you, and your relationship with God?
God asks hard questions of us because God is always inviting us to grow in our relationship with God's self and all our neighbors. Come to this sermon as we explore ways to do just that!
Children's Sunday School Teacher or Helper
Jan 13, 2019 2:48
Who Do I Feed?
Jan 6, 2019 20:47
Have you ever felt the need to stop something so you could “focus on myself?” In a world of high demands, this is a real and important call at various times in life.
With this sermon, as we continue in our series 21 Days to a New Spiritual You, we are going to look at 7 of Wesley’s 21 Historic questions that focus us inward, looking at our own habits and thought processes. Specifically, we will consider the prying question, “Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?” In preparation for this sermon, I ask that you read over the two different but, in my opinion, complimentary stories of human creation.
The first is told in Genesis 1:26-31 and the second in Genesis 2:4-3:12. What is similar about the first human, and what is different in each story? I ask because these two “Adams” make up our ”selves” and can guide us in healthy vs. distracting or destructive self-focus. For ultimately, the goal of focusing on self is to find God’s image in us and live into that.
Is Jesus Real to Me?
Dec 30, 2018 26:27
We hope you had a wonderful Christmas with loved ones. Now with the New Year here, you may be considering some New Year’s Resolutions.
Are you sick and tired of all the weight loss commercials and gym membership deals you are seeing advertised, promising you a new and improved you for 2019? I know that I am!
But how about all the advertisements for a new and improved Spiritual You for the New Year? Not too many of those, are there? Well, that is the invitation we would like to offer you.
Over the next three weeks, we are offering (free of charge), a new sermon series and at-home prayer guide that promise a new and improved spiritual you! This series is based on John Wesley’s 21 questions developed to support Christians in their faith journey.
The first seven questions guide us to look upward, toward God, to help grow in our relationship with God. That will be the focus of our Scriptures and this sermon. In the following sermon, we look inward, at our selves; and for the sermon after that, we look outward, toward our neighbors. Each week, we will focus on seven questions that will direct our attention through prayer to help us grow in our spiritual walk with God.
Christmas Eve Worship 2018
Dec 24, 2018
Can You See Salvation
Dec 23, 2018 26:27
What is under your tree?!
When you were a kid, did you stare at the presents and try to imagine what wond’rous gift might be inside? Simeon, the singer of our final canticle in the book of Luke and focus for this sermon, did the same thing - only not with gifts, but people. He went to the Temple every day, looking at each baby to see if he could get a glimpse of the Messiah. He had been told by the prophets that he would see the Messiah, his Savior, before he died. Believing the prophets, every day he looked for this promise to be fulfilled.
Do we believe God’s promise that God will come down to us and that the Spirit of Christ can occupy any of us humans at any moment? As we head toward Christmas Day with family, friends, and extended community, can we take on the posture of Simeon and look for God in each person we encounter? Can we see that, thanks to Jesus, they too can be about God’s saving work on earth. That goes for our annoying uncle and problematic sibling. Can we look at them as wrapped presents with some wonder’ous gift inside we just can’t see yet? Can we see ourselves similarly? This may seem simple or Pollyannish but I’m not writing about ideals. I’m suggesting that, through incarnation, God has made it so, and we are to join in this song of salvation for all of us. And this truth turns our world and the way it is “supposed to work” upside down. There’s so much more to Simeon’s song and the Prophecy it is based on, that we will explore in this sermon.
Dec 16, 2018 23:41
Blue Christmas Worship 2018
Dec 12, 2018
What Are You Full Of?
Dec 2, 2018 25:48
"Hail, Mary, full of grace…." Did you know that this Catholic prayer comes directly from Scripture’s Christmas story? It’s an older translation of Luke 1:28, "And Gabriel came to Mary and said, 'Greetings, you who are full of grace, the Lord is with you!'"
As we begin Advent, the season meant to prepare us to receive Christ afresh, I want to ask you a question:
What are you full of?
Grace? Judgment? Hopes? Fears? Dreams? Doubts? Regrets? Anxieties? Something else?
Thankfully, Advent is a time to intentionally let God empty us of anything that blocks grace. Christ comes so he can turn us and our world upside down and shake out all the stuff that blocks hope, love, joy, and peace and then fill us with these realities.
Unwrapping the Truth
Nov 25, 2018 20:13
Ever thought it was funny that we call the darkest day ever, the day Jesus died, "Good" Friday and the most superficial, consumeristic day, "Black" Friday? I do, and so I did some research.
The history of "Black Friday's" name origin is unclear, but many think it’s named for the day when retailers all over the country went from the "red" in their annual sales to the "black," now breaking even for the year. Whether you are one who likes to fight the crowds in the mall or prefer staying as far away as possible, remember that God’s "good"ness is most clearly revealed when everything is stripped away rather than when things are accumulated. We are "blessed" by Christ’s courage in the passion to release his earthly possessions and human power in exchange for God’s heavenly reign.
That brings me to this sermon. You may come to it surprised to hear us read a gospel passage about the day Jesus died. Why It’s a special church holiday, Christ the King Sunday, which marks the end of the church year and properly prepares us for the one to come. Read the Scriptures for this sermon and ask yourself, "What God is teaching us about true majesty, power, and reign through both the passion and the birth of Jesus?"
Nov 18, 2018 9:44
What Can I Do Lord?
Nov 18, 2018 24:09
The author of Deuteronomy writes, "Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you" (Deuteronomy 16:17). The obstinate side of me reads that Scripture and thinks sarcastically, "Really, God? I must?! Are you going to make me?"
Thankfully, the curious and somewhat more obedient side of me kicks in and wonders, "Why is this so important to you, God, to command me to do so?"
Perhaps God isn’t saying, "You must or else." Rather, God may be sharing the truth that when we give in proportion to what we have received, there will be room in our hearts and lives to receive new and different blessings from God. In other words, you must give in order to receive the next thing God has for you.
It has been a joy to learn about the Cycle of Blessings with you and explore how we can "spend" ourselves or "give" of ourselves in holy ways that, rather than exhaust us, empties and opens us in order to refill us and re-form the world! That is no different with our last blessing that we will study in this sermon - the blessing of money. So please read over the passages, deeply ponder why the rich man in the gospel struggles so, and imagine different scenarios for how his story ends (the Bible does not tell us). And as you think about his struggle and our own struggles with the blessing of money, let the wisdom of lyrics from Fiddler on the Roof’s Broadway tune, "If I were a Rich Man" guide your thinking.
Where Are You Staying?
Nov 11, 2018 21:09
Struggling With God & Finding Acceptance in an Unexpected Role
Nov 4, 2018 11:46
When Grace Leads
Nov 4, 2018 21:09
God's Prescription for Wellness
Oct 28, 2018 25:17
Have you heard about the new phone app the Vatican released this week, Follow JC Go? It’s based on the game, Pokémon Go - an app that invites you to travel between the real world and the virtual world of Pokémon. Using your phone, Pokémon Go gives you the chance to explore real locations and search far and wide for Pokémon. And, according to the game, you "gotta catch’em all!"
But in Follow JC Go, rather than catch imaginary poke-creatures, you try to "catch" historical saints and biblical figures.
While the new game and its attempt to attract a younger generation made me giggle, it also has me thinking as we celebrate All Saints Sunday in worshiop this weekend. I’m wondering, how do we "catch" saints or, better yet, how do we "catch" saintliness, the quality or state of being holy?
In the game, players have to keep track of their avatars’ nutrition, hydration, and "prayer count" by collecting special objects, saying prayers for the sick in hospitals, and going into a church whenever they pass one. Certainly all of these acts can help us be holy, like God. But as you prepare to listen to this sermon, I ask you to think about one ordinary saint from your life. What quality or act of holiness did they share with you that you would like to "catch" or embody? Also, please read the Scriptures for this sermon and consider how "sabbath keeping" help us grow in saintliness.
Oct 21, 2018 2:29
Can You Handle the Truth
Oct 21, 2018 29:54
In the famous movie, A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson declares, “You can’t handle the truth!” Here, he suggests that the truth is a commodity that only some of us can possess.
Jesus, on the other hand, teaches something very different. He declares, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” In other words, the truth isn't an object or possession but a person. If the truth is a baby born in Bethlehem, then we handle the truth gently, tenderly, not squeezing too tight. We treasure the gift but also give room for truth to grow into her / his fullness with time. Perhaps so many of our secular disagreements come because we see “truth” as power and not blessing. It becomes something to hurl at one another rather than share and discover together in a relationship.
As we continue our sermon series, Spending Ourselves: Living into the Cycle of Blessings, we will explore the blessing or currency of “TRUTH.” How does God bless us with “truth?” How is “truth” revealed to you and me? How does God want us to spend or use this blessing for good in the world? How can discovering and sharing "truth" be a way of life for us?
Read the Scriptures and see how they may redefine or expand your definition of “truth.” Then come to this sermon as we join in discovery together.
Are You Blessed?
Oct 21, 2018 25:15
Do you ever feel "spent," be that physically, emotionally, spiritually….you name it?
"Spent," according to English grammarians, is a past participle of the verb "to spend." In other words, the action is over, done. Be it your time that is spent, your money that is spent, or your patience that is spent, the resource is at an end. You are spent, and there is nothing left to do.
God, however, is not a grammarian and need not follow the rules of our world. God has a way of blessing us and then helping us share or "spend" those blessings that do not empty us but refills us as individuals and unites us with others in this "cycle of blessings." After all, that was the model Christ showed us. Using Eric Law’s work, Holy Currencies, we will spend the next six weeks looking at the 6 blessings or "holy currencies" that God showers upon us and how we can receive, access, develop, and share them with the world. The first "Holy Currency," or blessing, we will focus on this week is "relationships." So read the gospel lesson and consider how our connection or relationship with God can connect us with others. Then read the epistle lesson, and consider the blessings that flow from the fruit of relationship with God and God’s children.
So if you are feeling spent, empty, or out, come explore the great "I AM," God of the present moment, who enables us to "spend ourselves" in a way that will refill us, others, and God's world.
Zambia Mission Trip Followup
Oct 7, 2018 3:55
For Jesus is Our Unity
Oct 7, 2018 20:29
Sep 23, 2018 26:56
We have arrived in our sermon series to a central theme of the show, This is Us and a significant part of the story of our own culture and church history: bias and racism. In this sermon, we look at Randall, the one triplet who is adopted and African American in an otherwise all white family.
So, struggling to begin the sermon, I gingerly typed into Google, "best sermons on race." Of the first 10 sermons listed, only one addressed racism, and the rest were based on Paul’s text, "I have run the race." I laughed at first and then pondered if this was a sad commentary on how seldom predominately white churches wrestle with our racial history as a country and a community.
Part of what I love about the This is Us TV series is that it doesn't shy away from the depth of the beauty of our diversity nor the pain of our brokenness. In my opinion, it doesn't always get it "right," but it wrestles all the same. One of our Scriptures for this sermon reminds us, "The poor and the oppressor have this in common: the Lord gives light to the eyes of both" (Proverbs 29:13). Come this this sermon to ponder race and culture through the lens of the Scriptures for this sermon and the modern show. These constructs have become are a part of "us," our culture, our church history, and more. And as you pray and prepare to listen, ask God to help you see something you have not yet seen about "race" within or around you. God will guide us in our exploration anytime we ask God to, for God, thankfully, is not done with "us!"
I love that we can seek God's light that reveals all truth together.
Dinners for 8-ish
Sep 16, 2018 1:52
Who's Who and Who Are You?
Sep 16, 2018 27:58
We all have them and battle them in different ways. But what do our personal struggles have to do with our faith?
As we continue in our This is Us sermon series, we'll look this week at Kevin, one of the three siblings, who has succeeded on the surface. His character is the star in a wildly popular, very cheesy TV series that focuses more on his abs than his acting chops. He got the courage to quit to pursue a "real acting career." One clip shows him at a network party, and he's just heard from the producers that they won't let him out of his contract. He's trying to find his true self (the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful parts) and calls his adopted brother in New York. Then their sister, also at the party, joins in the call.
Kevin, like us, is fighting the temptation to give in to his pseudo-self (how others influence and define him) and, instead to trust his "solid self" (the unique person God made him to be). Who did his parents raise? Who helped his return to that truth and how? Who has our parent, God, created and raised in you? What / who helps you discover and remember your true, unique self? Read the Scriptures for this sermon, and ask yourself, "How can my connection with Christ and his crucifixion influence or impact my own insecurities and the role they play in my life and our lives together?"
Covenant Bible Study 2
Sep 9, 2018 2:47
Lemons to Lemonade?
Sep 9, 2018 25:13
Who are you? Who am I? Who are we - as individuals and a faith family?
Starting with this sermon, we begin using the NBC series, This is Us as a jumping off point to explore our identities as individuals, as Christians, as citizens living in this complex world, as members of the CHUMC family and the United Methodist Church, etc. But, identity is never as clear-cut as the show’s title.
One truth about all of us is we have moments and subsequent choices that direct and define us. For John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, one of those moments was in college. He knew that his church experience was unsatisfying and almost meaningless, so he chose to respond to the situation by working to re-form the church and restore her to her true purpose. He saw the worst and sought to re-cover the best.
What about you? Are you a “re-former” at heart? I propose that God is. Our God is constantly working with the brokenness around us to re-from and redeem our true value and purpose, but we have the choice each day to join in or resist God’s re-formation work.
Our series starts off with a tragic situation of a couple blessed with triplets, but one of them dies in delivery. An old sage doctor attempts to offer some advice to the grieving father and challenges him to take "the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turn it into something resembling lemonade.”
Is that what redemption looks like - turning lemons into lemonade? Or is it something somewhat similar yet distinctively different and more substantive? Read the Scriptures for this sermon, and ask yourself, "How does God re-form the sourest that life has to offer? How does God re-form me? And am I a re-former, or how can I be?"
To Build and to Plant God's Love
Sep 2, 2018 21:35
In this sermon, we have the great pleasure to meet our new Wesley Theological Seminary Intern, Sarah Mae Gabuyo
. She will share about her call to the work of ministry and challenge and encourage each of us in the labors to which we are invited by God through this sermon. Check out the Scriptures and pause to ask, "God, what are you calling me to help build or plant this fall?"
Beyond the Great Commission
Aug 26, 2018 33:55
As you may know, the Zambia mission team has returned safely and has loads of wonderful stories to share. It was a great honor and joy for me to be able to go as part of the team. The children of Lord’s Mountain Orphanage, along with Pastor Bernard and his wife Betty, as well as the staff and friends of LMO, all welcomed us so graciously and treated us like family from the moment of our arrival.
In this sermon, I share some stories from our trip and gleaning some of the key lessons learned. “Beyond the Great Commission” is an expression used by Pastor Bernard several times while we were at LMO. In part, he meant this literally, as Zambezi is so far “off the beaten path” that getting there is like traveling to the ends of the earth. But he also meant it metaphorically, suggesting that we are thinking about mission and relationships in new ways, ways that go beyond the old images of mission as evangelism and proselytizing. We are, and have been - thanks to David and Barbara Kennedy - developing a new kind of missional relationship that is a partnership. It is a relationship grounded in mutual respect and dignity, marked by holy listening and sharing, and above all, led by the Holy Spirit.
Ponder the Scriptures for this sermon, and listen as I share more on our new and deepening relationship with Lord’s Mountain Orphanage. And perhaps you will find your heart fluttering anew as the Holy Spirit is prompting you to consider joining the next mission trip to Zambia.
How to Live Forever
Aug 19, 2018 16:12
What’s "eternal life?" Or how do we "live forever?"
In this sermon, we dive deep into two passages (Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58) and see what our Scriptures say about how to live now, so that we might experience eternal life, resurrected life (hope, joy, peace, health) in this world and in the world to come. And we have a special treat. My dear friend and colleague, Rev. Rachel Cornwell, will be preaching.
Rev. Cornwell, a graduate of Emory Seminary, most recently served 11 years as the Lead Pastor of Silver Spring UMC, a Reconciling Congregation, doing incredible work in uniting two congregations, building a mission center with a robust feeding ministry, growing a diverse and flourishing worship, and much more. Currently, she is a Program Director with The James Company, helping local congregations in fundraising for mission. She’s been a community organizer, an adjunct Wesley professor and much more.
On top of all that, she is 1 of the 5 women in my "clergy posse," which also includes Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli and Rev. Donna Claycomb Sokol. We meet once a month to care for each others' souls and support one another in ministry. Rachel’s wisdom, humor, honesty, and faithfulness have made me a better pastor, person, and disciple. Hence, I’m so excited she gave this sermon for you all.
Summer 2018 Project Transformation DC Wrap Up
Aug 5, 2018 1:50
Am I Being Tested?
Aug 5, 2018 23:41
Are you being tested? Do you ever feel that way: tested by a colleague; tested by a friend or loved one; tested by "karma;" or tested by "life" or even God?
Many of you have expressed to me weariness in your bones over the last several months. Sometimes “it” (whatever it may be) feels like too much. This Sunday, we will dive into a Scripture passage where God’s people feel like they have too many trials and not enough provision. God promises to give them all they need, but then comes this funny phrase, "In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not."
So take a minute, pray over the Exodus passages and ask yourself, "Does God test us?" If so, why? If not, why not? Then, pray over the Ephesians lesson and ask, "What is a 'life worthy of the calling' I’ve been given?" How do we discern the difference between unfair tests the world piles on and opportunities to live out our calling to be kind, generous, humble, forgiving, strong, courageous, patient, etc?
The World's Resiliency and Our Own
Jul 29, 2018 24:31
She Feeds Jesus' Sheep
Jul 22, 2018 35:37
I grew up in suburbia, so I never had any exposure to sheep. And whenever I heard anyone speak of sheep, usually a pastor once a year preaching about the parable of the lost sheep, they would say something like, "Sheep are known to be not very bright, oftentimes ‘eating themselves lost,’ they would keep grazing until they would become separated from the herd." So I thought of sheep as being pretty simple creatures and perfectly vulnerable targets for wolves or other predators.
But research shows that sheep actually have excellent facial and voice recognition skills, which help them to maintain strong communal life. They recognize the members of their own flock and even the voices of their human caretakers. So in our gospel reading for this, when Jesus tells his followers “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father,” he is saying something pretty profound. Sheep, like humans, are created as communal creatures, and we rely on those skills in our community, especially for good shepherds, for our safety and flourishing.
We have been blessed for these past 10 years at CHUMC to have a good shepherd leading us in ministry. Pastor Alisa is gifted by the Holy Spirit to know the members of this flock of Christ followers and to help us to grow in our faith. Her leadership in turn has empowered the members of this church to be more active disciples and to use their own fruitfulness to serve others. Our reading from Galatians 5:22-25 helps us to name and claim these fruit in each other and ourselves. And in this offering, we celebrate ten years of ministry with Pastor Alisa at CHUMC.
Zambia Mission Trip
Jul 15, 2018 2:25
Is Your Water Holy
Jul 15, 2018 22:49
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8)
Pollution – it’s in our air, in our water, and in our hearts. And so on this perfect summer day, I want you to look not outside but within…what pollutes the purity of your heart? What emotion or past experience or untrue thought clouds the clarity of your devotion to God?
Not an easy question, I know and yet an essential one. For the creation story tells us that all God made is good, and we don't want anything to block our view of the full goodness of God. Last week, we began our sermon series, Sacred Earth, Sacred Worth and together we are exploring what God has to say about creation in Scripture and how caring for the Earth is intricately linked to the healing of our own souls. So, if you missed it, listen to last week’s sermon, and then pray over the passages for this sermon.
Sacred Earth, Sacred Worth
Jul 8, 2018 22:24
Fan or Follower?
Jul 1, 2018 25:19
The Hand of God
Jun 24, 2018 25:52
Have you ever seen the "Hand of God" at work in your midst or around the globe?
As we continue in our World Cup Sermon Series, I invite you to watch this clip from the 1986 World Cup. In this
, Argentine phenomenon, Diego Maradona, intercepts a ball flicked back to England’s goalie and appears to head the ball into the net. Video revealed that Maradona actually illegally hit the ball with his hand rather than his head. But in 1986, there were no replays and the goal counted. Argentina won 2-1 and eventually went on to win the whole World Cup. When later questioned about the goal, Maradona responded, "A bit with the head of Maradona and another bit with the hand of God." It became known as the "Hand of God
While we laugh at his response, we can also relate. How often do we decide that God is on “our” side? We decide that God is on Alisa’s side or America’s side or you name it. And we give God credit or blame for things we have done and/or could solve. As we wrestle with the problems around our world, and especially our great divides, we will consider God’s providence and our response both personally and globally. What is God doing, and what should we be doing?
Take some time and read the Scriptures for the sermon, and ask: Where is God at work? With whom? And how? Also, again this week, we will highlight a theologian from around the globe, one who claims that God is always on the side of the poor. We can be on that side, too. So if you want a head start in worship, read a little on Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez
, a Catholic priest from Peru who is considered a founder of Liberation Theology.
Go Global With God
Jun 17, 2018 25:55
What do you think when you hear the phrase "Go Global?"
- Your college study abroad program?
- Commericals for "Global Business Solutions?"
- An ongoing political debate between "globalism" and "nationalism?"
Well, in this sermon, we leave the secular and political contexts for a moment and explore God’s definition of "Globalism." What does the psalmist mean when he says, "Declare God's glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples?" And what did John Wesley, one of Methodism’s founders, mean when he said, "All the World is my parish?" What do these teachings say to us about our lives, our faith, and our interactions in this global world?
Through the lense of the "World Cup," we will explore all this and more. Given the theme, we will also unpack each topic with the insight of a theologian from around the world. This week it will be Kwame Bediako, a Ghanian, evangelical theologian. In preparation, you can pray over the Scriptures, read a little about the Rev. Dr. Bediako, and / or thank God for saving us time and time again when something slips right past us.
Jun 10, 2018 24:43
When I think of hope, I think of rainbows - that biblical symbol God gave Noah. With it, God promised to not punish us but rather stay in covenant with us no matter what; and God promises to sail through the storm with us guiding us to a new land where we are reconciled with God and one another.
I also think of the famous song from the great Wizard of Oz. In the movie, Dorothy, who feels unjustly treated by a neighbor and unheard by her loved ones, dreams of something more. She says, "Some place where there isn't any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It's not a place you can get to by a boat, or a train. It's far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain….” And then she begins to sing, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
Life is a journey of searching for that place, those people - the space and time in life where God’s dreams for us can come true. No, you can’t get there by boat or train or even an airplane. You get there by faith and live there through acts of unconditional, sacrificial love.
T.C. Morrow is a friend and colleague who embodies just such faith and love in the midst of the storms of life raging in our world and our church. She has an abiding compassion for all, wisdom that clearly comes from the Holy Spirit, courage that has inspired me personally countless times, and so much more. Her anointing for ministry shines from her, and yet the United Methodist Church has not let her be ordained because she is happily married to Logan. But, in sum, she is a living witness of faithfulness and love. I’m so excited she share this sermon with CHUMC this Sunday to unpack the lectionary Scriptures and help us celebrate our 13th Anniversary of becoming a Reconciling Church as she preaches “What Hope?” In the process, we learn to “Hope in Color!"
Jun 3, 2018 9:53
Before this sermon, we honored four young people who have participated in Confirmation this Spring.
Did you take Confirmation classes as a young person? I did. In all honesty, I don't remember any content. I remember going to eat at McDonald's during a one-day "seminar" held at our church. A few weeks later, we went on a retreat to Lake Texoma with kids from a couple of other churches, but I really only remember the sleeping accommodations. The closest thing to content that I remember was watching on an old-fashioned film projector this claymation video produced in the early 80s about the history of the UMC in America
. Even then, I didn't remember content. I just remember that we watched a claymation video.
I hope that our confirmands will remember more than this video (though I still make them watch all 4 minutes of it)! But in watching it again (and again), I'm both amazed at the many great things United Methodists have done throughout our history, but as the video explicitly reminds us, there is still work to be done - on many fronts.
Using the Scriptures below for inspiration, I hope this sermon helps us think through our role in bringing the light of hope to a world in need.
May 27, 2018 28:12
When I say “charcoal,” you say “grill.” Or at least that would be a logical response for Memorial Day Weekend. After all, for many of us, this weekend means a time to unwind with family and friends at a barbecue or on the beach.
For others, this weekend is a reminder of the memories of their military service that are burned into their being, opportunities and challenges that have altered them and many of us forever.
Interestingly, a burning charcoal appears in one of the Scriptures for this sermon. When God calls Isaiah to service, the prophet immediately recognizes God’s holiness and names his lack of it. Then God touches a coal to his lips and alters him for service. And so this Sunday, in the midst of our celebrations and remembrances, we will wrestle with the holiness of God and what on earth that has to do with what we do at the cook-out, on the beach, or any place we find ourselves invited to offer not just lip service, but our whole lives to God. Read the Isaiah passage and pray the Psalm a few times as you prepare to come into contact with our Holy God with this sermon.
May 20, 2018 26:27
Gone Up With a Shout: Ascension Day
May 13, 2018 15:08
Everything that goes up must come down, or at least that's how the saying goes. In this sermon, we celebrate Ascension Sunday, the day the Resurrected Jesus leaves earth and rises “up” to sit at God’s side. The Scripture for this sermon tell the whole story. But in sum, once again, God defies the laws of this world. Yes, Jesus who rose up in esteem and power on earth was brought low with the merciless death of crucifixion. But he rose to earth through Resurrection and does not come down. He keeps rising through Ascension to remind us that with God nothing good is ever fully defeated or done. God’s love keeps rising.
Another law of life: Every intern that comes to CHUMC must leave and go out into the world. Three years ago, we were abundantly blessed to meet Jess (the preacher for this sermon) for a 2 year internship. Then, we had the extra blessing of her coming on staff this past year. Jess has helped us in countless ways this year, including revamping our new member classes, expanding our hospitality throughout Sunday morning, and creating a “welcoming” ministry. Our worship attendance has grown by over 15% in 2018, and I attribute lots of that to Jess’ faithful work. Her leadership in worship has also been Spirit-led and transformational. One of you shared with me last week, “Jess’ sermons always speak to me. They seem to hit right in the place I need a word from God.” And, CHUMC, please know that though she was already amazing when she came to us, you have done wonderful work in maturing and affirming her gifts!
Yes, every intern/staff member must go out into the world beyond us. And Jess will do just that. She has been chosen to be the Director of the Wesley Foundation in Kalamazoo, Michigan! We may shed a tear. But, like Ascension, this is not an ending but a beautiful beginning of God’s love at work through the Davenports’ in Kalamazoo and at CHUMC as we live out what we have learned in our time together.
Lift Us to the Joy Divine
May 6, 2018 17:40
Recently, I read an article: "In Defense of Breakdancing Priests." This struck me for 2 reasons: 1) I’d never seen a priest breakdance; and 2) I didn’t know such “holy rolling” would need to be defended.
But, apparently, many were deeply offended and concerned that the priests should not be mixing the sacred with the secular. Each thing should have its place, they surmised, and there was no need to integrate the one with the other!
How often do we do this in our world - insist that each thing have its place, limit one thing or person to a particular purpose or stereotype?
Easter erases these lines, and Resurrection walks through our human barriers and divisions. So if we are going to "Dare to Dance Again the Easter Dance of Freedom," then we, too, must let God free us from artificial divisions in our own hearts and throughout our lives. So read the Scriptures for this sermon and ask yourself, where in my life might God want to “break” out JOY and break down some barriers?
Go-Go Dance God Style
Apr 29, 2018 24:17
Apr 22, 2018 14:10
You Be You OR Ewe Be Ewe
Apr 22, 2018 30:47
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”– Oscar Wilde
“You be you” is a phrase that I often say to try to remind myself when plagued with insecurity. But who am I, really? And who are you?
The Scripture from from John 10 for this sermon says who Jesus is: "He is the good shepherd, and we are his little lambs." In other words, YOU are a EWE. Usually, we hear that sheep are dumb, stubborn, and prone to get lost. While some of this is true, ask any shepherd, and they can tell you about the beautiful differences in their flock. In fact, worldwide, there are more than 1,000 distinct sheep breeds.
Interestingly, later in John 21, when Jesus appears resurrected, he tells Peter and us to be shepherds too, to tend to and care for God’s children and all of creation. He also insists that just as the first good Shepherd laid down his life, so must we. So think about what God is calling you to lay down, especially the expectations others lay upon you that you need to release. And consider how God may be calling you to be a shepherd caring for God's creation.
For each of us sheep have our own dance or way of moving in and caring for God’s world. Come to this sermon as an opportunity to explore our own.
Also, in this sermon, we have a special sharing from the Zambian Mission Team and their dance to help orphans and about a wonderful event on May 5.
When You're Unsure
Apr 16, 2018 24:53
"If you get the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you’ll dance."
Can you imagine Jesus saying these words to the still-confused-and-scared disciples during a post-resurrection appearance?! His friends were locked up in the upper room when Jesus came to visit again. No one had locked them in. They did it themselves… but Jesus wasn't having that. He had been raised so we could experience freedom, true freedom to live and love, serve and rejoice as God designed. So Jesus came into their self-made prison, shared a meal, and then invited them, in their uncertainty, to leave this tomb of their own making and dance freely… to join in the celebration of Easter where there's no holds barred.
Where in your life is Jesus inviting you, even in your uncertainty, to get out on the metaphorical dance floor? Read these passages for this sermon. Listen to the popular song, "I Hope You'll Dance," and imagine Jesus singing it to you today. Then get ready for Jesus to shimmy and shake right into the uncertainty in your life and invite you to dance right there.
Apr 15, 2018 5:22
With Great Power
Apr 8, 2018 16:33
I vividly remember being in middle school and going to my first school dance. It was pretty typical, I’d imagine. Groups of people on the sidelines with music playing, too nervous and self-conscious to get out on the floor. But here’s the thing - I wanted so badly to actually dance. I love dancing. It is always so fun to cut loose, relax, and move. But of course, I didn’t go out to the floor. I followed the cues of my much cooler peers and was afraid that if I did go out there and dance, I’d be a laughing stock.
Today, I have compassion for my middle school self, but I will tell you one thing: now, any opportunity I have to dance, I go for it. And on these “dance-y occasions,” I am at PEACE with the fact others might think I’m ridiculous. Frankly, it’s not my business what others think of my dancing. And, although it’s hard, I am trying to be at PEACE with every part of who I am and filter out those whose opinions of me aren’t helping me learn or grow.
What does PEACE look like for you? Is it a place, a feeling, a fleeting moment?
This week as we begin our series "Dare to Dance Again," we’re going to look at Jesus’ first words to the disciples, “PEACE BE WITH YOU,” and how powerful these words truly are. As you prepare to listen to this sermon, take a moment to think about this phrase and read the Scriptures that inspire this sermon.
Apr 1, 2018 24:45
Why Should I Care?
Mar 18, 2018 24:35
"Why should I care? It’s not going to change anyway."
I remember well when an old crusader for justice wistfully asked me this question just last year. She felt like we were moving backward in some ways and had lost her will to fight once more. Can you relate?
“Fatalism,” the worldview that the outcome is set and / or we can’t change it, is a mindset we encounter all around us and can easily fall prey to ourselves. After all, haven’t you also said, “Well, it is what it is.”
But, if we are going to follow Christ to Calvary, we have to be ready to see and believe in change. After all, at Resurrection, Jesus shows us “Death is NOT what it was” nor are the other deadening “-isms" and actions of our world. Christ comes to change all that. So come to this sermon to explore these Scriptures, the way fatalism and apathy take hold of us, and the way simple practices like Alms-giving can help us join in Christ’s fatal blow to all things that bring death - like poverty, injustice, and more.
Really God? The WHOLE World?
Mar 11, 2018 26:12
Some Scripture passages are big, fat, hairy doozies! This Old Testament reading is just that! God’s people complain, and God responds with snake bites of all things. It reminds me of a cringe worthy scene from Indiana Jones.
Interestingly the famous, often comforting, New Testament Scripture, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son," is actually introduced by John with a reference to the Old Testament snake story.
So read the passages and wrestle with what on earth God is trying to say to us today?
In this sermon, we explore the Israelites, our own desires for comfort, and how true worship of God takes us way beyond our comfort zones.
Blame, Shame, and No Name
Mar 4, 2018 24:59
The Sound of Silence
Feb 25, 2018 24:44
What does “silence” sound like to you?
For me, some silence is peaceful, like when the kids are finally in bed.
And other silence is awkward, like when you think, "Why can’t I think of anything to say?"
And then there’s the silence that’s unsettling, like when a voice is missing that used to fill the space.
But truth be told, most silence in my life is only on the exterior. Seldom does my mind shut up. It’s constantly analyzing, judging, criticizing (often myself), or just outright overthinking. Any of that ring true for you?
Perhaps this is why God always invites us into prayer and commands us, “Be STILL and know that I am God.” Stillness of mind, body, and spirit makes way for a holy encounter with God and enables us to know and hear from the mysterious God of the universe, not the God of our own making.
In this sermon, as we continue our series “A World Worth Saving,” we will explore ways Jesus stilled his spirit so he could face, fight for, release, and save our world.
Save Me From Myself, O Lord
Feb 18, 2018 27:58
Our world is so fast! We connect with one another via “Instagram” - the name says it all. Or snap chat - a message that literally disappears in a few seconds no matter if you weren't fast enough to see it.
Yes, our world is so fast, but God is not. God is often slow and plodding, initially prepping the soil and then planting seeds, watering, weeding, and readying for harvest. God recognizes the importance of passing through seasons for true growth to occur.
This week, we entered into the season of Lent, 40 days marked by fasting and praying. Christ came to save the world, and his long walk to Jerusalem and the cross were essential in his salvific work. So, we too slow down to walk with Jesus towards Calvary. In order to understand the importance of this journey, we fast (refrain from things that fill us up or distract us from God) and pray (dedicate time to conversing with God). After all, It’s hard not to look around and see that our world still needs saving. Violence, brokenness, and division are everywhere, but it takes discipline to see the Spirit of Christ at work among us and through us in the subtle and essential ways of sacrificial love, selfless service, intentional forgiveness, active peace-making, and more. Why? Because all those things mean we look beyond ourselves.
Fasting is for the soul what distance training is for the body. It helps us look beyond what is right before us and teaches us reliance on God. And though it is a personal discipline, it sculpts our soul to do important life-saving work in the world. What do I mean? Check out the Scriptures and come to this sermon to learn more.
Wanted, Needed, Missed
Feb 4, 2018 5:49
What Comes Around Goes Around
Feb 4, 2018 22:50
Go and Mend Your Fences
Jan 28, 2018 21:04
Have you ever been told to "go and mend your fences?" Well, just so happens that this old phrase originates on Capitol Hill. In the 19th century, it was a reference to a member of Congress returning to his home town to keep in touch with the voters and to look after his interests there.
As we continue our sermon series on Spirituality and the 12 Steps, we come this week to Step #9 that tells us to "make amends." And unlike mending fences, this step is not done to be political but rather for deeply personal reasons. Our gospel lesson for this sermon shows that our own spiritual connection to God is hindered or interrupted when we haven't done the interpersonal work with friends and foes.
That's a HARD word to hear from Jesus and yet a wonderful one. And have no fear, Sunday we will be real about why it matters so much, how hard it is especially when there is hurt in our own hearts, and about the pragmatics of making amends, when, how, when to, when not to, etc.
So come to this sermon ready to learn from God, the great builder, how to not simply “mend fences” (i.e. smooth things over) but to “make amends” and, in so doing, leave the possibility for true and beautiful restoration of relationships.
Confession as an Act of Faith
Jan 21, 2018 21:11
In this next sermon of our sermon series, Spirituality & The Twelve Steps, we’re talking about confession as a part of our faith. Confession is a tricky subject to talk about in today’s world, but we also know that Jesus asks us to confront our wrongs, turn away from them, and follow him. Frankly, confession is necessary, because as humans, we screw up. We don’t need an anthropology lesson to know that. And sometimes we get so anxious about our mistakes, defense mechanisms, character flaws, or our addictions, we hide them instead of bringing them into the light. But we know that’s not how God wants us to live. God wants us to be healed and whole, but it’s hard to heal what we don’t own up to. How do we even begin to deal with this intimidating topic?
Here’s how I started: Every time I write a sermon, I find a song to meditate on that guides me in the process. This time it’s “The Weight of Lies” by the Avett Brothers (you can find it on YouTube.com). I encourage you to listen to this song and read the Scriptures that inspire this sermon. Begin thinking about the times you’ve fessed up and what you’ve learned from that experience. Also, ponder the times you haven’t and the effect that’s had on you.
Jan 14, 2018 24:07
“ALL Means ALL.” We say this often at CHUMC. I preach it. We try to live by it. ALL are welcome; ALL are beloved; ALL are gifted to serve; etc.
But does ALL mean ALL when we sing the song, “I Surrender ALL?”
All of us struggle with things that keep us from God. All of us try to manage them or control them with our own power. It’s simple to sing but hard to turn over every wound, worry, fear, relationship (past and present), hope, dream, etc. And yet, God wants us to trust all of them to God’s care! For as Martin Luther King, Jr. put it, “In a real sense, faith is TOTAL surrender to God.”
Read over the scriptures. Imagine what each character may have been holding on to and then releasing. Spend some time asking God what you might be holding on to.