When Jesus was asked to reduce everything in the Bible into
one commandment, he said: Love God with everything you have and love your
neighbor as yourself. What if he meant that we should love our actual
neighbors? For these six weeks of Lent, we will practice together doing what
Jesus said: creating community with the
people who live near us. Because maybe … just maybe … this is exactly what
In February, our worship theme will be “This I Believe.” We’ll explore ancient and contemporary statements of faith. We’ll talk about the beliefs that are timelessly true, beliefs we’ve given up along the way, new convictions we’ve learned from experience. This month, Senior Pastor Kathi McShane has an invitation: help her prepare for this series by writing a statement of your own faith—the values that rule your thought and actions. This is very much like what is asked of our eighth graders going through Confirmation.
Here are some
guidelines for your statement (adapted from NPR’s “This I Believe” project):
honestly and intimately—say something that no one else could write for you and
in familiar words.
your belief: If you can’t
name it in a sentence or two, it might be a sermon rather than a belief. Rather
than writing a list, consider focusing on one or two core beliefs.
positive: Write about what you do believe, not what you don’t believe.
personal: Make this about you; speak in the first person. Avoid speaking in the
honest: Consider a belief you once held and you’ve discovered you were wrong
is not a debate. You don’t have to back up your beliefs with proof, or disprove
other beliefs. This is not about your views on the American way of life, democracy,
or free enterprise. I want to know what you live by.
about it this way: What has faith asked you to say “yes” to? To what have you
Give yourself time this month to settle into this invitation. Have fun with it. There’s no expectation or limit on length—it can be a sentence or an essay, whatever feels true and valuable to you. Send your statement to the communications department. Unless you tell Pastor Kathi otherwise, she’d like to share these statements. Let her know if you’d rather that be done anonymously.
January 5 (Epiphany Sunday): Senior Pastor Kathi McShane will preach on “Home By Another Way.”
January 12: Our special guest preacher will be the nationally known author and consultant Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean. She will speak on the responsibility of raising faithful young people.
January 19: The theme will be “We Are Always Just Catching Up,” using Isaiah 49:6-7. Come ponder how God’s heart is bigger than ours is, always. We will also take a special offering for Human Relations Day.
January 26 (Africa Sunday): Our guest preacher will be James Salley from Africa University. He will talk about the spirit of Ubuntu: “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours.”
There is an arc to the whole, grand narrative of God’s connection with human life. It is always about freedom, a consistent and repeated movement to liberate us from the troubles that humans make for one another and the chains with which we bind ourselves. The story of God’s coming to be with us in Jesus is the story of God’s yearning for us to be set free, so that we might live fully. How is God setting you free?
December 1: Freedom From Oppression (Exodus 3:1-12)
December 8: Freedom From Settling the Score (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
December 15: Freedom From Striving (Luke 1:46-55)
December 22: Freedom to Become (John 10:7-10)
December 29: On the Sunday following Christmas, we will have just one worship service at 10:00am. There will not be Conversational Church or an evening service that Sunday. Come for this special service as one church family, then we will return to our regular worship schedule in the new year.
This fall we have examined the facets of our new vision statement: “Connection. Compassion. Courage. That all may flourish.” In November we wrap up the worship theme by taking a final look at what it means to commit to and work toward a flourishing life for all, following the example that Jesus set.
November 10: The Pearl of Great Price (Matthew 13:45-46)
November 17: Our guest preacher will be the talented Rev. Grace Imathiu, a United Methodist pastor serving a church in Evanston, IL, and originally from Kenya.
November 24: Putting It All Together: The Good and Flourishing Life (John 1:14-16)
This fall will be a season of immersing ourselves in a new vision for
LAUMC. Through several connected worship series, Senior Pastor Kathi McShane
and the worship team will explore the facets of that vision in depth. Several
exciting guest speakers have also been invited to share their wisdom in worship
and other venues. The guest speaker schedule is outlined below; please mark
these dates on your calendar!
August 25: Mark and Lisa Scandrette, authors of Belonging and Becoming: Creating a Thriving Family Culture, are preaching at 8:30 and 10:00am as we kick off the new school year; lunch and a workshop follows for parents and families of all ages.
September 15: Padraig O’Tuama, poet and author of In the Shelter from the Irish proverb, “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.” He will be preaching at 8:30 and 10:00am; he will also do storytelling, music, and poetry with Bobby Jo Valentine following Creekside Crossings.
October 13: Brian McLaren, theologian and author, most recently of The Seventh Story and The Galapagos Islands: A Spiritual Journey, will preach at 8:30 and 10:00am and participate in Conversational Church at 11:15am.
November 17: Rev. Grace Imathiu, pastor of Community United Methodist Church, Naperville, Illinois, will preach at 8:30 and 10:00am and participate in Conversational Church at 11:15am.
The very brief Old Testament book of Jonah is layered with meaning. This is the comical story of a guy who winds up inside a big fish for three days before he comes to his senses and listens to God. It’s the premonition of three days inside a tomb that separated death and resurrection for Jesus. And it’s a narrative that contrasts God’s universal, always-forgiving nature with the small jealousy of the human heart. In three Sundays in August, come hear the story and dig into the genius that makes it a story for today.
August 4: Chapter 1
– Rev. Sam Blewis will preach on Jonah running the other way when God calls
August 11: Chapter 2
– Jonah in the belly of the fish
Seasoned travelers know to pack only what they need. Excess
baggage simply weighs you down—and costs extra. In June our series of worship
and sermons is called Carry-on Baggage Only. The idea is that often we lug
around with us big suitcases full of theological questions, and spiritual
dilemmas, and lists of things we think we have to get right before we can live
the kind of joyful, light-hearted, self-releasing life that God is inviting us
to. We are checking bags, paying extra baggage fees for oversized luggage, when
really, all we need is what will fit in in the luggage compartment over our
heads. Maybe even under the seat in front of us. What do you need to carry with
you, and what can you leave behind as excess baggage? In this season we’ll talk
about essential beliefs of the Christian faith in the Methodist tradition that
might be enough to take with you, no matter where you are traveling.
June 9 (Pentecost
Sunday)—God With Us: Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit
June 16—God at
Work in Us: The Crucifixion and Resurrection
When the next steps look impossible, how do you hold onto your faith
and find your footing? This Lent, we will explore some practices you can use in
troubling times, drawing our scriptures from the Book of Job.
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