Worship is at 11:00 AM on Sundays
“Warm traditional" best describes the atmosphere of our worship service. Time-honored styles of worship and music that have nurtured Christians for centuries are celebrated in ways that give them new life and meaning for a new generation.
Piano and organ accompaniment set the stage for music leadership by our gifted Choir in this hour-long service. The pastor typically wears formal vestments (ie: a robe) in this service, and Holy Communion is celebrated the first Sunday of every month.
Word and Table is at 6:00 PM on Thursdays
"Simple Alternative Worship" best describes the atmosphere of this service. It provides an opportunity to meet new friends and grow in your faith. We gather, greet one another, we will listen, read and reflect on the designated scripture texts for the week. We will share what we hear in the texts together. We will pray together and celebrate communion. All ages are welcome!
All That You Can’t Leave Behind
Rev. Ashley Thomas
17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
When Jesus looks at us and loves us, it means that Jesus can see to the very heart of the matter within us. He can see what is most standing in our way of loving and following him. He can zero in on what it is we are holding so tightly to that it keeps us from being able to receive what God has to offer.
For this man in today’s scripture, it is his worldly good, his own wealth. He had a lot of stuff, “many possession.” But, even with all he has, Jesus sees he is lacking. He lacks one thing…treasure in heaven. For all his treasure and rule-following here on earth, he is missing out on having any kind of treasure in heaven.
Jesus invited him to change this situation. To sort out what he lacks. But, it’ll cost something. And not just something, everything. Jesus didn’t ask him to have a simple yard sale. Jesus told him to have an estate sale. He needs sell it all.
It’s interesting that he should need to sell it first, not just directly give his stuff to the poor. Jesus tells him to sell it. You know what it’s like to have a yard sale, don’t you? It’s a lot of work! The United Methodist Women will put in a lot of work here at the end of the month, it’s like this gift to the rest of us as we pull out items we no longer want and hand them to the UMW to tag and sort and sell. That’s coming up Oct. 27, by the way. Time to get started getting your items ready.
But, when you go to price your items for a yard sale or estate sale… if they are really going to sell…You have to be a bit ruthless in your pricing. You have to let go what you think the value of your item is and you have to price it according to what people will actually pay for it, right?
You paid $50 for that dress, no one cares. They won’t give you $30 for it. They will give you $5. That brand new car or truck you bought, just lost 40% of it’s value once you drove it off the lot.
Maybe that’s why Jesus gives the advice to sell it and then give the proceeds to the poor, so he can learn all his stuff just isn’t worth as much, it’s not as valuable, as he has come to believe it is.
The man is never named in the story, probably because any of us could be him. It is not just this guy who lacks what is most essential. It is a common human struggle to want to store treasure here on earth and be lax about storing treasure in heaven.
Ask anyone how much they need to make in order to be fully satisfied and feel secure and the answer no matter the amount will be, “just a little bit more.” If I just had a little bit more, then I’d be set. I’d be good to go. There’s one saying that “we are what we eat.” But, it’s also the case that we can believe we are what we have; what we own; what we possess.
Hurricane Michael created such devastation, people are looking around having lost everything and we rightly have heavy hearts about that. We can’t imagine what it must be like to lose everything. We grieve the loss of our homes and stuff. We just do.
It’s no wonder the man walks away from Jesus grieving. If we are what we have, those memories, those treasures, those heirlooms we worked so hard to save and enjoy, how do we just walk away from all of that?!
That’s exactly what Jesus is asking this man to do! That’s hard. Ever ask a question only to find out you really didn’t want to know the answer?
The truth will set you free, but man can it freak you out and make you mad at first!
This man, who has abundance in so many things, asks Jesus a question and gets an answer he doesn’t want. “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
He’s got this stuff that’s standing in the way of him following Jesus. He asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life and Jesus looks at him and sees there’s all this stuff in the way between the two of them, things that will rot and eventually come to ruin cause it’s just stuff. Jesus looks at him and this beautiful moment happens that scripture records…Jesus looked at him and loved him. Loved him enough to tell him the truth, “You’re stuff is getting in the way of being agile enough to follow me. Forget earthly treasures, the real deal is treasure in heaven where it never rusts or fades away. Chuck this earthly stuff, put it to better use, give to the poor, store up treasure in heaven and come, follow me.”
I was listening to a podcast, this week, of a pastor and his wife who has walked the Camino de Santiago, the Highway of Saint James. It’s located in northern Spain and southern France. The Compostela in Galicia contains the relics of Saint James, brother of Jesus, author of the Book of James in the New Testament. After Pentecost, James travelled all the way to Spain to share the gospel.
Thousands, hundreds of thousands, of people have made pilgrimage, spent time hiking as a spiritual retreat since the middle ages.
Going on a Pilgrimage like the Camino de Santiago can help us sort through what is most important to survive. Everything you take with you, you will carry on your back. You only take what you absolutely can’t leave behind.
It’s a struggle but it’s also a gift because it helps you realize you don’t need that much in order to live and be satisfied. Pilgrims on that hike have a saying, “Stay on the pilgrim journey and God will provide.” God will provide. God will provide. And with all that stuff out of the way, you discover that God does provide.
In his talk, the pastor said, "We get so anxious, we think God’s not enough. We need more than that and so we start saying, ‘I need God AND…. God and…. God and….’”
One day on the Camino they passed a Chinese pilgrim who was carrying a 40 lb pack! The man said, "I need a lot of stuff!” And they would see him day after day laboring under all that stuff! A few weeks later they came across him trotting down the path with a tiny, little pack. Found out he didn’t need it all. It was weighing him down and holding him back.
The Christian faith is all about learning to let go of the things we don’t really need; the things that are weighing us down and holding us back from following Jesus. The journey of faith is all about letting those things go, getting them out of the way in exchange for treasure in heaven. In exchange for following the one who is the way, and the truth, and the life. The one who can zero in on the very thing we lack and fill it, fulfill us in a way no earthly thing ever will.
I believe Jesus looks closely at all of us and loves us. It’s not just this one guy, one day who asked him a question. Jesus looks at each one of us and love each one of us. And because he sees and loves us, Jesus will tell each one of us the truth. Jesus will not lie to us. Gloss over what it is we lack. He will look to the very heart of the matter and tell us what is getting in the way of our love for him; what’s weighing us down and holding us back. Jesus is still looking at us and loving us and still telling us the truth even when the truth is hard and costly.
And God knows something about hard and costly truth. Jesus does not ask this man or us to do something Jesus, himself hasn’t already done.
The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. Jesus relinquished all his own possessions and gave it to the poor. Jesus left heaven, poured out all the love and grace heaven contained upon us, poor in spirit as we are. He gave it all away out of his love for the Father and for us. He knows a thing or two about letting go and the greater treasure to be found in doing so.
His own life sold for the modest amount of 30 pieces of silver and yet, he let it be; trusting God will provide, God will provide, God will provide.
And oh the treasures of heaven that poured forth in Jesus’ letting go! Treasure of resurrection and life everlasting and a grace that has no expiration date. God has always been looking at us, loving us, and even saw the truth of the cost in doing so and God looked, loved, and told us the truth anyway.
In Jesus we see God will provide, God will provide, God will provide. We do not need God and anything. We need God. Period. Full stop.
What gets in the way of you following Jesus? What’s weighing you down and holding you back from storing up treasure in heaven? The Christian faith is all about letting go of the things we don’t really need in exchange for the one thing we lack…Jesus.
Maybe stuff is literally in the way, like the man in today’s scripture. Maybe it’s something else.
The Season of Autumn/Fall has finally arrived. It is a season of letting go. What do we need to relinquish this Fall so that we can more fully follow Jesus, storing up treasures in heaven that never fade or rust or wear out?
I pass along to you a prayer for letting go.
THE WELCOMING PRAYER by Father Thomas Keating
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it's for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,
situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,
approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation,
condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and
God's action within. Amen.
The only thing we can’t afford to leave behind…is God. Let go of the earthy treasures, trade them in for heavenly ones, then come, and follow Jesus. He will provide. He will provide. He will provide.