Can’t We All Live Together

People hold a vigil outside the Orlando Regional Medical Center in the aftermath of a mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016.  Fifty people died and another 53 were injured when a gunman opened fire and seized hostages at the Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, police said June 12, making it the worst mass shooting in US history. / AFP / Gregg NEWTON        (Photo credit should read GREGG NEWTON/AFP/Getty Images)

In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and Gentile, Slave and Free, Male and Female.  Among us you are all equal.  That is:  We are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.
– Galatians 3:28-29

It’s been a difficult week for our neighbors to the South.

So much division has bubbled to the surface since the shootings in Orlando.   You can hear it everywhere you turn.   Some people blame the guns.   Others blame radical religion.   Republicans are pointing fingers at Democrats, who are in turn pointing fingers right back at the Republicans.

Everyone wants us to choose their side of the argument.  Pick someone and be angry at them.

But that’s not the way the Apostle Paul spoke about the Kingdom that was unfolding all around him.   Paul understood that our propensity to draw lines between us diminishes as we become more like Jesus.  In the end, Paul says, there is no difference between Jew and Greek, Slave and Free, Male and Female.

It’s all the same in Jesus’ Kingdom.

How do we reach the point where we look at someone the way Jesus did… the way he looked at the sinner washing his feet… the way he saw Levi sitting at his tax booth…  seeing not the things that divide us, but instead just another human being?

How do we get to that place?

God has a plan for that.   A really solid one, actually.   Come Sunday as we dig into Galatians and learn what Jesus does to change our hearts.

See you Sunday!  

Let’s Celebrate!

a5f8bd58-ab56-4c33-9ac3-86caadad5930Sometimes we’ve just got to celebrate!

Probably we ought to do that more often.   There are many blessings evident all around us, we simply need to see them:

– A baby, for one.   It seems like every Sunday we hear an “Amen” from Henry…  at least, I interpret it as an ‘amen’!   This Sunday we’ll dedicate this wonderful young child to God’s care.  That’s a blessing!

– While we’re counting blessings, we should give a shout out to Laurie and Don and Lorrie and Russ.  These four people are beginning their membership journey this month.  That’s a blessing!

– If you haven’t noticed (like… maybe you’ve been living on another planet!) Amanda Raymond has meshed beautifully with the Praise Team and is bringing us into worship every Sunday with a host of new music.   That’s a blessing!

– There are others that I can’t list here… I just don’t have the space.   If I were to tell you about our wonderful Sunday School teachers, the ones we’re going to honor this weekend, I’d ruin the surprise.   If I told you about the great lunch we’ll be serving in our newly painted Fellowship Hall, you’d begin salivating all over your keyboard.    I just can’t tell you everything I want to say right now!

I can say though, that God is in the thick of it.   Jesus is in the music, he’s in the fellowship, and he’s in the smile on a baby’s face.   The Spirit is everywhere lately on Sunday mornings.   Let’s take some time and Celebrate all the Blessings.

Sunday’s message will focus on how God’s Grace and Forgiveness is at the center of everything, and how grasping that reality makes us into people who are full of gratitude.    If you would like to get more out of Sunday morning click here or crack open your Book and read Luke 7:36-50 ahead of time.   It’s really, really good stuff.

See you Sunday!  Come hungry…

The Role of Friends

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It’s Memorial Day Weekend!

What a great time to hang out with friends and family.  Backyard barbecues will be firing up all across Maine as we “officially” kick off the summer season.

Good friends and the time we spend with them are important to us.   Having a few good friends means having someone to celebrate the good times, and also walk with you through the difficult ones.

But being a true friend can mean more than that…  being a friend to someone can also make you a “bridge” between them and Christ.

How does God use people as bridges?   We’ll explore that this Sunday as we dig into Luke’s Gospel.

See you Sunday morning! – Pastor Mac

Meet Your New Assistant

 

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Jesus would have been awesome on Jeopardy.   He was (and still is) after all, omniscient.   No category could stump him.   He’d bet it all on the Daily Double and win every time!


But the world has changed a lot since the time the Gospels were written.  There are many new questions out there, questions on things that didn’t exist in the first century.   What’s the Christian insight into stem cell research?  You’re not going to find the answer to that anywhere in the Beatitudes.

How do we discern the Truth in a world where opinions are a dime a dozen, and everyone’s an internet expert?   Jesus actually provided his followers with a guide to everything he didn’t get a chance to tell us…   we just need to tune into the right source.

Curious?  Good!  A wise man once said that we should “Never lose a Holy curiosity.” (Albert Einstein)

Join us Sunday for “Meet Your New Assistant”

See you Sunday morning! – Pastor Mac

Why do we suffer?

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My wife’s new camera came back from China filled with photos of amazing places like this one.   Beijing and the surrounding countryside are wonders to behold.  Some of the antiquities date back to before Jesus walked the earth.   It is a truly unique culture.

Yet not everything is different.   People go to work every day…  buy things for their homes… celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.   Much of modern life in Beijing is close to modern life in Portland, Maine.

While attending a ‘secret church’ on Sunday morning, a local asked me a question that I’ve heard repeated many times:  “Why is my friend suffering?”   Her friend was “Sister Eem”, a member of their church who was stricken with a terrible illness.   This young woman wanted to know:  “How could Sister Eem be a Christian, and yet still be suffering like this?”

There are no perfect answers to that question…  only scattered clues here and there in the text.   This Sunday we’ll look at some of the clues Paul left us regarding the problem of pain.

See you Sunday!

Are We Still Building Fences?

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By the time Peter and his friends from Joppa returned to Jerusalem, news about outsiders accepting God’s message had already spread [to the] believers there. Some of the circumcised believers didn’t welcome Peter with joy, but with criticism:

“Why did you violate divine law by associating with outsiders and sitting at the table with them for a meal? This is an outrage!”
~ Acts 11:1-3 (The Voice)

It has often been said that “Good fences make for Good Neighbors”.  That’s true in some cases, I suppose.   I grew up in a place with lots of fences… mainly to keep the cows and chickens from wandering into the neighbor’s gardens!

But fences can also be harmful when they keep us from sharing God’s Grace and Love with others.  The fences we build around our hearts can block us from becoming useful workers in God’s Kingdom.

Jesus was a master at tearing down fences…  and we must be as well.   This Sunday we’ll see how Peter got into trouble when he “jumped the fence”, and why we should consider jumping a few fences of our own.

Come and help us answer the question:
“Are We Still Building Fences?”

This Sunday at 10am!

~ Pastor Mac

Who Speaks into Your Life

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Back in 1900 the artist Francis Barraud painted a portrait of his brother’s dog “Nipper” listening to “His Master’s Voice” on a device known then as a “Victor Talking Machine” (later called a record player).   In this modern take of that iconic scene,  “Nipper” is apparently Skyping with his owner on an IBM Thinkpad.   Times have changed!

Up until a century ago most people had only their friends, the newspaper, and some books to convey information to them.   Fast forward 100 years and we are deluged with thousands of “voices” speaking to us.  We “follow” people on Twitter.  We “friend” people on Facebook.  You Tube hosts 630+ million hours of video clips.  Cable TV brings 300 channels into our home.   All of these voices are competing for our attention… Competing for a chance to speak into our lives.

How do we sort out Jesus’ voice from the cacophony around us?   Which voice contains truth, and which voices are really just background chatter?  Put more succinctly:  Who do you follow?

Come and worship as we sort out all the competing voices in:

“Who speaks into your life?”    This Sunday at 10am.