Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org


Where two or three are gathered in the Name of Jesus, Jesus is there

I've been fortunate within my journey of faith. God has given me various people within my life that showed me the ways of God, and Jesus... and then the Holy Spirit. I can't say that it was an instantaneous change of my life or heart, but what it gave me was a day by day example of how I want to live out my life and faith. The Methodists have a term for that "Sanctifying Grace."

You, who have gathered with me in Bible Study and worship, know that I learned about Sanctifying Grace in my twenties when I went on an Emmaus Walk (walk #2 at Sky Lake). I understood that concept before I even got onto the walk, I just didn't have a name for it. I saw God leading on my path of faith since I was a child, then a teenager, then when I went to college (the first time—to train as a physician's assistant to enter into African Missions), and then began attending Dallas UMC in Pennsylvania. I met, and was changed by the devout Christians I met on the way throughout that time that changed my understanding of God, and God's kingdom. They also showed me the way of grace, gentleness, and kindness.

I can name all those persons, by name, because they would gather with me in the Name of Jesus to teach and learn with me, to pray with me and others, to worship in a way that showed God's love for us. I was empowered by their faith, reaching into my faith and changing us—I could witness Jesus' presence with us when we gathered in the love and grace that God sends forth from the very heart of God. I, also, learned that not everyone who gathers in the name of Jesus has the same spirit—that may be a bit harsh, or sound judgmental, but I know those persons who exhibited God's abiding love and gentleness that made me want the same spirit.

You often hear me say that when I heard about God's Sanctifying grace -where God, through God's Holy Spirit, is perfecting the believer in love, I couldn't wait to get to this old age I'm at. I figured, since God was starting to "perfect me in love" in my twenties, by my sixties (forty years of Sanctifying grace, and God's perfecting love) I'd be as gracious and loving as the believers I have witnessed in my journey of faith. The only hope I have is trusting in Jesus' promise to be with us when I gather with other believers in His Name. I trust God, and I trust Jesus—they are so more faithful than I am.

As I pray I'm empowered by the fact that God is able to answer my prayers so fully and accurately though the devotions that are for that night, showing me God's abiding presence and love for me—that's what I want for you, too—I got that understanding by praying with and learning from my faithful brothers and sisters who gathered with me in the Name of Jesus.

As I worship or learn in Bible Study with others, I'm enlivened by God's presence and power and joy—that's what I want for you—I got that understanding by gathering with others of like mind who, also, want to witness God's mighty presence and power in gathering rightly in the Name of Jesus. I know what I'm looking for, because I have learned and experienced that when gathering with my faithful brothers and sisters in the past. I will admit that I've gathered with other believers who did not have the same agenda, and I can tell you the believers I crave within my life—there is no faking the Spirit of the Lord.

My mother, God love her, was always telling my sister and I to be careful who we hung around with and were friends with—did your mothers, or fathers warn you about that. I know you probably got the "... if everyone jumped off the eight street bridge (or whatever bridge you had in your hometown) why would you do the same thing?" Well, my mother would warn us that if "who we hung around with did something big, bad, and ugly, others would think we would do the same thing because we were their friends." In my journey of faith, I tend to agree with the premise that we learn from the ones we hang with---I just shared with you the faithful believers that have influenced my desire, and understanding of God's gracious and loving presence within our lives—and who I want to hang around to be influenced by.

I just want to be clear that I DON'T THINK we should be "isolationists." I know some religions, and denominations, and churches, have an understanding that they, or we Christians, shouldn't associate with "non-believers" or those who are "not us." That's not what I'm saying, so forgive me if you got that idea. My point I want to make is there are those who when you gather in the Name of Jesus with, you know your heart is being changed into the likeness of God's and Jesus' grace and love slowly and surely, moment by moment, day by day, week by week, and year by year. God's and Jesus' presence is there with you because you and the other are open to the Spirit of God.