Our messages to you
November 29th, 2018
"Look to the Fig Tree."
In the midst of what seems to be a description of the world "falling apart," Jesus says to the people in his hearing, "Look to the Fig Tree." I know, I know....I am crazy about trees, but they do have so much to teach us!
Come this Sunday and hear more about what it means to be a Fig Tree doing the work of producing Figs in times of war, in times of famine, in times of natural disaster, in times of dehumanization of others, in times such as these.
I look forward to the Advent journey with all of you this year. Remember that our Advent Bible Study, "A World in Need of a Song," begins today. There are two opportunities for you to participate: Thursday mornings at 10:45 am and Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm. Please make every effort to participate and be sure to bring a friend.
Join in the fun of the "hanging of the greens" this Saturday at 9:00 am and don't forget to be preparing all your crazy Christmas attire for Sunday Dec. 16 at 6:00 pm where we will gather at the Church for an evening of singing some of our favorite Christmas hymns. Pizza and other goodies will be provided, so just bring your caroling self!
As always grateful to be...
With you on the journey,
Rev. Michelle Shrader
November 16th, 2018
“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down" (v. 2, NIV).
When I was a student at Duke, I served a church in South Africa for a summer. It was called Pinetown Methodist Church. The Pastor of the community during the Apartheid years in South Africa was a man named Ray Light. It was shared with me that he called a Church meeting during the Apartheid years and in this meeting, he told his congregation that he believed they were complicit with the regime, for not doing enough to stand against it.
He called the church to a covenant meeting where all of the membership cards of the members were ripped up and they were then called to re-commit themselves to 1) Jesus as their Lord and Savior 2) a weekly fellowship group 3) to a means of service 4) to planned giving 5) to weekly worship, especially monthly Holy Communion. For some, his challenge was understood to be "too much" and they left the congregation. For others, the re-commitment to their life of faith gave birth to a new chapter in the life of the church.
It was during this time that many of the flagship ministries of this community were born, one of which is the Phakamisa ministry, which means "to lift up." It is a ministry that reaches thousands of children that were impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Follow the link at the end of this message to learn more about this ministry. Sometimes when things fall apart, we are given a chance to work to make them better than they were before. There is a strength to be found in the broken places.
Hope to see some of you Sunday as we continue to reflect on who we are called to be when things seem to be falling apart.
Remember there is a lunch planned directly following! Also, mark your calendars for the Advent Bible Study beginning November 29 "A World in need of a Song." It will be available at 10:45 am and 6:30 pm for four weeks on Thursdays! Do be looking for Crazy Christmas attire for our Crazy Christmas Carol Sing along on December 16th at 7:00 pm! The crazier the Christmas attire the better!
As always grateful to be...
With you on the journey,
October 25th, 2018
In my family, I was the only person with 20/20 vision for most of my life. Several years ago, when I was turning 41, I went to the eye doctor, because I thought I might need glasses. The doctor checked my eyes and with a very serious expression on his face he said, "Hmmm.... I think you might need to begin to use 1.5 level reading glasses and it is likely you needed them last year when you turned 40 and have been living this whole year in denial." He snickered and I responded with, "I am paying you for this aren't I?"
I left the office, went and bought a pair of reading glasses and I have been reliant on them ever since. I remain bitter with the eye doctor who diagnosed me with "41 year old denial." Yet, anyone who visits my home, will recognize my glasses scattered in every area I might read in. I literally can't read without them. It's kind of how it is with our lives as well. We might think we can see on our own, but we need to look at the world through lens' that help us to see what it is we need to see.
The text for this week involves a healing. A blind man is given "eyes that see." There is a lot to learn from this text, but the phrase that I was left with when I read it through was what we are told the blind man did when he was gifted with his sight. We are told that he "followed Jesus along the road." I wish sometimes that following Jesus along the way were as easy as putting on my 1.5 (2.0 now) reading glasses. I wish it were that easy. It's not. It is easier to live our lives without looking around at what Jesus wants us to see, the hungry, the thirsty, the one's who somewhere along the way have been left out.
It is interesting how my world changes when I put on my 2.0 reading glasses. I feel like my world is right, because I can read. Jesus glasses are a 7.0--that number of perfection--without them, we don't actually know what we are missing. We belong in the world Jesus wants us to see. It is the way the world was ordered to be.
God of us All,
Renew our vision, rise the way before us, and give us the strength and the vision we need for the journey you call us to. Amen
*Please feel free to share this message as you feel led
KPUMC Miami, Florida worshiping every week at 11:00 am, join us if you can.
KPUMC Family: Mark your calendars for our very important "All Saints Day" service on Sunday November 4 when we will be celebrating the lives of those who have gone before us on this journey in our life of faith. Please help to call, remind, and give rides to anyone you think might need to be with us on this day.
As always grateful to be...
With you on the journey,
October 17, 2018
Any parent who has more than one child, has heard, "I call dibs on the front seat" at some point in their parenting career. It is amazing the contorted positions young people can achieve to maneuver themselves into the "choice seat" in the front of the car. Jesus was dealing with a similar sort of scenario in his journey with two of the disciples in our text for this week. They were both wanting "the best seats in the house." They asked Jesus if one could be on his left and the other on his right. Jesus recognizes they actually don't know what they are saying and he challenges them, "Are you able to drink of the cup that I drink?"
Henri Nouwen, in his book, Can you Drink of the Cup, shares that “Drinking the cup is an act of selfless love, an act of immense trust, an act of surrender to a God who will give what we need when we need it.” Do we really understand this in our daily living? Do we really understand this when we come forward on communion Sunday to receive? Jesus poured himself out for the sake of all. On the cross where Jesus hung, there was a seat that he sat upon. The name of the seat is the sedile. The seat was not for comfort, it was to prolong his suffering.
The disciples wanting to sit next to Jesus did not know what they were asking. Yet, as they grew in their understanding they were able to give their lives, just as Jesus did. They gave their lives for the sake of others. This is the kind of LOVE that the way of Jesus multiplies in the world. When we give our lives for the sake of others, we witness glimpses of Heaven rising all around us on this beautiful earth.
In what ways do you battle in your life against wanting a better seat, a better life?
How are you challenged by the way Jesus lived and loved?
Consider one way you might be able to more closely follow the way of Jesus in your life this way, no matter the cost.
O Lover of our very Souls,
Mold us, shape us, make us more and more each day like you, that we too might be the gift of God's love for all the world. Amen
***Remember there is a luncheon after church this week. Side items and deserts are requested, the main dish will be provided.
As always grateful to be
With you on the journey,
October 10, 2018
When I was a little girl, my grandfather used to use proverbial language that would make everyone around him smile. He would drive through a toll booth and say to the collector, your tip for the day, "don't go out in the rain without an umbrella." When we would procrastinate on a task and share with him we would eventually get "a round to it", he would pull out of his pocket a round piece of wood that had the word "tuit" written on it. He was a prankster to say the least.
It is important to trace language and practices to their origins from time to time, for so often in the origin of proverbial language, there is deeper meaning. Jesus, in Mark's gospel for this week says, "Children, how hard it is to get into the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for someone who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God" (Mark 10:23-25). He did not mean an actual eye of a sewing needle, though the image does work. The door to where animals were kept long ago, was called the "eye of the needle." It was because the larger animals would be working to force their "largeness" through the door in a similar way to the threading of a needle, that this proverbial phrase came into being.
It is hard to bring your "largeness" with you to God's kingdom. It is as hard as it is for a camel to fit through the tiny door. The camel has to bow down to get through that door. In bowing, we are humbled. The camel has to release any extra baggage to get through that large door. In asking what to hold "tightly" to and what to hold "loosely" to, we become wise in our release of the unnecessary. Amazingly, camels do fit through these tiny spaces. They know that within them is the where they need to be, so they do what they have to do to get inside.
1. In what ways have you allowed yourself to be large?
2. What do you hold "tightly" to, that might need to be released?
3. For what purpose or end do you live your life?
Ever loving God, humble us in our journey of life, that we your beautiful children, might recognize no other gain, than gain in our life with you and the rest of your brilliant creation. Amen
I hope to see some of you this Sunday at Killian Pines UMC Miami, Florida 11:OO am for "Threading the eye of the Needle."
Please share this invitation with those you think might have interest.
As Always, grateful to be...
With you on the journey,
March 3, 2017
Serendipity is when you find something or someone you were not particularly looking for. Invariably when I look for an item in my drawers, in the attic or in the garage, I find things that I did not even remember. Some are useless, but others constitute a welcomed discovery. This is “serendipity.” The book of Esther tells the story of how this Jewish woman found herself in the royal court of the Persian capital during the reign of Xerxes. By being there at the right time Esther was able to play a most important role which she had not intentionally sought. Some might call it serendipity but I rather think of it as using what is happening at the moment to fulfill the divine purpose of your life and to be a blessing to someone. Christians have entered that time of preparation that we call Lent. This is the time of forty days leading up to Holy Week and Easter Sunday. Pastors will be preaching about self-examination, repentance and deepening of the spiritual life. I agree that these are lofty goals for Lent. Whatever you try to do with your life during your journey towards Easter, keep your eyes open for the totally unexpected gifts and opportunities that God will place before you. Remember, what matters is not so much what you are looking for, but that amazing discovery. Jesus told the parable of the man who was plowing his field and there he found a pearl of great price. Serendipity! We may be involved in the routine activities of daily living and there find our own “pearl of great price.” Those unexpected gifts from God are signs which point us toward the higher mission that awaits each of us. Keep going about your life and business, but keep your eyes and ears open for your own “Serendipity” from God.
April 18, 2012
I have never met a merchant of pearls and I would never venture into that field of business. I know nothing about pearls and would not be able to tell a real pearl from a fake one. In his teachings, Jesus used the image of a “pearl of great price” to illustrate a profound spiritual reality. The lesson tells us that a merchant in search of fine pearls found one of great value. He then went and sold all that he had and bought it. This simple and yet troubling parable makes us think about that which we value the most. It forces us to push ourselves to think about the “one” thing in our lives that is of supreme importance. This is hard work! Notice that the lesson does not allow for a few things of great value. It is about only one. The “pearl of great value” is worth so much that the merchant sells all to obtain it. This sounds like a willingness to sacrifice all things. It also makes me think that somehow faith is at the core of this lesson. Above all, this teaching acts as a mirror that reflects an image of who we are by forcing us to reflect on what we value the most. Have you found your pearl?
April 6, 2012
Hello companions on the journey. A number of years ago I received a call from my physician’s office. I was a bit alarmed, but when he got on the line, the doctor proceeded to invite us to a Seder meal in his parent’s home. It was a memorable and special experience. The Passover meal is a great way to remember the history of the people of Israel and their journey out of Egypt on the way to the Promised Land. The concept of a journey is a perfect metaphor for the travels each of us must undertake from the place where we are to a new place. Along the way we learn things, we know things and we also do things. Our knowing and doing becomes who we are. Moses led his people out of slavery and relative comfort into freedom and extreme risk. We all like to play it safe, but there is no growth unless we travel by faith. The last time Jesus celebrated the Seder he made a rather radical statement. He gave his companions a commandment of love. To travel, live, serve and if necessary, die for love. Basically we all know this, but the challenge of the journey is to do it. We are all at a different milepost along the way. The fact is that we never really arrive and the travels go on. Thanks for walking with me for a while. As pilgrims say in Spain when they meet and part ways with others on their way to the shrine of St. James….Buen Camino!
March 29, 2012
Greetings companions on the journey! I wonder how many remember the days when everyone had at least one of those street maps from the oil companies. Times have changed. Many cars now come with built-in navigation systems. Staying on course is important. During my college days I was into road rallying. These were not races, but challenging course following trials under precise timing at checkpoints. One Sunday afternoon my rally partner and I were hopelessly lost somewhere in the north Georgia mountains. Out of desperation we stopped to ask directions from a gentleman who happened to be walking along the lonely country road. We explained our predicament showing our maps. After a moment of deep thought he declared with authority: “you can’t get there from here.” We tend to set many goals and courses to follow in life. We do it for school, work, family, finances, vacations and more. However; when it comes to the spiritual direction of our lives most people just drift with the waves and wind. Unlike our rally fiasco, you can stay on course if you look up. Before all modern navigational aids, ancient mariners and travelers took their bearings from a formation of starts called The Northern Cross in the constellation of Cygnus. We are about to end our forty day journey together and now is a perfect time to “look up” and confirm that we can get there from here. This is a perfect time of the year to look up to the heavens and ponder the magnificent creation of which we are a very small part. Elevate your prayer and ask for direction so that you can reach your God intended destination.
March 21, 2012
Hello companions on the journey. Last night I was privileged to be a co-participant in an interfaith event that included a Rabbi, an Imam and a Roman Catholic priest. After the forum a member of the audience asked me privately which religion is the right way to God. To be able to answer this difficult and important question, we must first know who our neighbor is. Most people declare belief in God, but it is not so easy to demonstrate love for our neighbor. Please, understand that neighbor is not just the person who lives next door or down the block. Neighbor can be the perfect stranger we meet while we travel the faith journey of life. Last month my daughter’s father-in-law collapsed at a mall inPennsylvania while his wife Sandy was inside one store. A woman who happened to be there acted as a good neighbor and summoned help. By the time Sandy came out of the store the ambulance had taken Bart. The bystander took care ofSandy and drove her to the hospital. Later that week she attended Bart’s funeral services and shared in the grief of family and friends. The right path to God and truth is paved with acts of mercy. Jesus illustrated this truth by telling how a Samaritan helped a Jew in his time of need in spite of the fact that these two ethnic groups despised each other. Chances are that before our forty day spiritual quest ends, you will come across someone who needs help. You can think of many good reasons why you cannot stop to help and some of these might be rationalized as God having some other important things for you to do. The right path to God is always the road of love and mercy towards your neighbor, perfect stranger or perhaps your enemy. As far as I know, that path has no name and it is not a religion. Go figure!