The Story in March:
March 6: Chapter 24 – No Ordinary Man
March 13: Chapter 25 – Son of God
March 20: Chapter 26 – Hour of Darkness/Palm Sunday
March 24: Maundy Thursday Service 7 p.m.
March 27: Chapter 27 – Resurrection/Easter Sunday
In his book, “Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power — And How They Can Be Restored,” Marcus Borg makes the case that the language we use as Christians doesn’t resonate with the world around us anymore. He encourages us as a group to find new ways to be in conversation with our brothers and sisters in who are not in a relationship with Jesus Christ. We can easily see that this conversation is too important not to have, but because we use words that in some ways have lost their meaning we don’t know where to start anymore.
Last month many of us gathered together on three separate Wednesday evenings for a special series of worship services. We did this in order to participate in an Arkansas Annual Conference program to focus on our need for Spiritual Revival in the United Methodist Church. During these three weeks we learned about God and God’s love for us through our traditional Wesleyan understanding of grace. However, we didn’t use the traditional terms of prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace that some of us might have grown up with. Instead, we used words like Unconditional, Transformational, and Invitational. In a very real sense these words mean the same thing, but these newer words are ones that we in our modern world understand better.
What does it mean for God’s love/grace to be prevenient? Well it means that God loves us Unconditionally – no matter what!
What does it mean for God’s love/grace to be justifying and sanctifying? Well, it means that God not only loves us enough to offer forgiveness, God is also willing to Transform our lives!
And to top it all off, God calls us to reach out to others by living an Invitational life where we offer this same Unconditional and Transformational love to others!
I want to thank you for participating in these worship services, and I hope that you found new language to help you as you are in conversation with your friends who are not part of a church family. I encourage you to share with them how God loves them unconditionally, and maybe also share a story about how God has even transformed your own life! This is our calling as Christians, to introduce others to a Christ who loves the enough not to leave them where they are.
It is also my prayer that you are finding our journey through, “The Story,” to be helpful to you in these types of conversations as well. It was my prayer at the beginning of this program that we would all have a better grasp of God’s story from the beginning of Creation through God’s work in Jesus Christ. That we could then share this story with others that they too could know of God’s love for them!
As we approach Easter, may we continue through this journey as we experience the story of Christ in a new way!
In His Service,
Rev. John Embrey
A Lenten Prayer from the United Methodist Book of Worship #335
because of your tender mercy toward all people,
you sent your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ,
to take upon himself our flesh,
and to suffer death upon the cross,
that all should follow the example of his great humility.
Mercifully grant that we may follow the example of his patience
and also be made partaker of his resurrection;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.