Centerport United Methodist Church
The Pastor's message comes from the Summer issue of our monthly church newsletter - The Focus.

DANCING IN THE RAIN


It has been a year of weather. From the long, cold, and snowy winter, to the cool, damp spring, even flooding rains - so much water! This past Sunday, we celebrated the gift of water with two baptisms. Life-giving water, water Jesus gave to the Woman at the Well, water he gives to us. Water can be an unexpected blessing, which leads me to a story I shared with you when I first arrived at Centerport. It seems like a good time to share it again:

A little girl had been shopping with her Mom in Wal- Mart. She must have been 6 years old, this beautiful red haired, freckle faced image of innocence. It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no time to flow down the spout. We all stood there under the awning, just inside the door. Some waited patiently, others were irritated that nature had messed up their hurried day. I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I got lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world. Memories of running, splashing, as carefree as a

child, came pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day.

The little voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in, "Mom, let's run through the rain," she said. "What?" Mom asked. "Let’s run through the rain!" She repeated. "No, honey. We'll wait until it slows down a bit," Mom replied. The young child waited about another minute and repeated: "Mom, let's run through the rain." “We'll get soaked if we do," Mom said. "No, we won't, Mom. That's not what you said this morning," the young girl said as she tugged at her Mom's arm. This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet? "Don't you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, 'If God can get us through this, he can get us through anything!’" The entire crowd stopped dead silent. I swear you couldn't hear anything but the rain. Mom paused and

thought for a moment about what she would say. Now some would laugh it off and scold the girl for being silly. Some might even ignore what she said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child's life. A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith.

"Honey, you are absolutely right. Let's run through the rain. If God lets us get wet, maybe we just needed washing," Mom said. Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and yes, through the puddles. They held their shopping bags over their heads just in case. They got soaked. But they were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars. And, yes, I did, too. I ran. I got wet. I needed washing.

It has been a difficult year for many of us. Some have told me they feel like they are “drowning.” One thing I know, storms will come. Instead of drowning, I turn to a message posted on a sign in my office. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storms to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain. They say it’s going to rain more this summer. Don’t let it drown out your happiness. Take the time to run through the rain with a little one who can lead you to Jesus. And dance with the delight of knowing that God runs and jumps and splashes with you through all the seasons

of your life.

 

 


Pastor Roy, a big kid          

 


Greetings my Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Did you ever wake up from a restful night, and have a melody or song in your head? The other day that happened to me and it a really caused me to stop and ponder what it meant and why that song was on my mind. While I now know that it was a message from the Holy Spirit (and I will explain that in another article), and the why it came to me is something that I would like to share with you.

The song was actually Hymn # 402 from the United Methodist Hymnal, “Lord I Want to Be a Christian”. Hymn # 402: “Lord I want to be a Christian in my heart…In My Heart; Lord I want to be a Christian in my Heart. In my Heart…In My Heart…Lord I want to be a Christian in my Heart. The second verse: Lord I want to be more Loving; the third verse: I want to be more holy; the Fourth verse: I want to be like Jesus.”

The phrase that is repeated in each verse is: “I want to be” and in each verse, the Lord is being called upon to help enable the transition. I believe that at the heart of this hymn is the call and desire for the implementation of a change of transformation. It is a both a declaration of and an announcement for a change in behavior. A change in heart, a change in actions, a call to become a more loving individual. It is about a change in spirituality that will produce a person that is more holy. It is about an overall understanding that if we make these changes, we ultimately will become individuals that are in fact, more like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But let’s go back for a second…”Lord I want to be a Christian…in my heart”. There is a question that pops out to me: if that is what you want to be, a Christian in your heart, then exactly what are you now?

The other verses: “Lord I want to be more Loving”, “I want to be more Holy”, “I want to be like Jesus”, further underscore this question, for again, if becoming more loving, more holy, and wanting to be more like Jesus…are the things you want to become, then where are you now? This is the question that I feel so many of us are struggling with our faith to find and answer to.

Ask yourself, what is stopping you from having this behavior in your life? What is impeding your progress? What is holding you back? What is it that you are having a hard time trying to overcome and is blocking your path? My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, each and every day we face a world where it is more conducive to follow the pathways of sin and what we view as its potential rewards in our lives, than it is to live a life that is more reflective of how God intended for us to live.

God’s people should not do all the same things that other people do. They must be different. God gave His law to teach people how they should do this. As God’s people we are called to be different, and that is a major challenge for us. We need to learn and to accept that if we are truly His people, then we simply cannot act and be like everyone else. But how…and where and why…should we change?

Here is some insight from Scripture: “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you…which can save you.”  ~ James 1:19-21 NIV

Taking Action:

Þ Be quick to Listen

Þ Slow to Speak

Þ Slow to become Angry

Þ Humbly Accept the Word of God and Do what it says


Okay…this all sounds good…but I just can’t get it started. I compare taking action to planting a seed in the ground. When a seed is first planted, we dig a hole, drop it in, and put soil on top of it. We then fertilize it and pat down that soil. We next water it, and we expect it to grow. And what happens in the growth process? That same seed starts to expand, and in expanding begins to push the dirt and soil out of its way.

It often pushes down as it sprouts roots that will serve as its foundation, clinging and being firm in the soil from the bottom, as it also reached up to the sky growing upward out of the ground. And what happens to the dirt and soil that was on top of the seed? As the seed grows t pushes that dirt out of its way, out of its path. It shoves it to the side and reaches upward, growing towards the sky and towards the heavens.

“Lord I want to be a Christian in my heart … You have Christ in your heart, God did not send us on this journey alone. He gave us the life of His Son Jesus Christ, to be our Lord and Savior and to provide us with the example of how to live our lives, as God wants us to be. We also have the Holy Spirit, an additional guide, who along with God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son, serves to help us on our journey.

Brothers and Sisters…in order to take actions and change our lives, we have to be like that seed, we have to push through. Yes there is the dirt and nonsense of this world surrounding us, but we have to push through and not let it hold us back from our journey to leading the lives that God wants us to lead. We have to push through evil thoughts, greed, malice, hatred, selfishness, and jealousy. The biggest obstacle in our path is not the people around us. It is not even the world around us. The biggest obstacle is Us…We are what holds us back…We prevent ourselves from taking and making progress and changing our own lives…Not them…not the world…not sin…not Satan…Not evil…We Hold Ourselves Back. So if it’s time to make a change, then WE have to do it…

If you recognize that you truly do want to change your life, I challenge you to take action, take the first step towards changing your behavior. PUT it out there:


Pray – use pray to begin with, work through, and complete any project

Understand – working diligently to study God’s word. Use the resources God has given us.

Tell – share your knowledge of God with somebody else.

Prayer: Change your habits, make an offer of yourself to God. Do what will please Him. Transform yourself through worship and prayer. Change your mindset through your prayers. Pray to God.

Understand: Now is the time for humility, nobody is better than anyone else. Take a deep serious look at  yourself and your actions. Only judge yourself, based on your faith given to you by God

Tell: We have all been given gifts, yet there are others out there in the world who are in need. Our role is to share the Good News, share your gifts. Help others to have a better life in this world. Practice Hospitality.


“Lord I Want to be a Christian…” We can all PUT it together and do our part to build the Faith Community!


Brother Wayne Redman
Certified Lay Minister