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

Alive and Active

October 14th:

Call:           Mark 10: 13-16
Text:           Hebrews 4: 12-16
Read:   W&S #51

                                Alive and Active

Except for the passage about our being surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses,
I have never been all that enthused about the letter to the Hebrews.

Now,            I have never puzzled over why it was included in the canon.
        That's what I do with Nahum
        And I have not yet answered that question to my satisfaction.

Likewise I have never been tempted to take a editor's pen to Hebrews.
        I save my desire to use that pen on Job
        A book whose premise and whose ending are great
                But which is three times as long as it needs to be
                And has a repetitious middle well worth consideration
                        By a scientist looking for a cure for insomnia.

I think my lukewarm reaction to Hebrews comes from
its extensive portrayal of Jesus as the high priest.

I have no problem with that image per se
It is a useful, accurate, and informative picture of Christ

But I was not raised Jewish
nor Catholic, Episcopal, or Orthodox
And thus, I do not strongly relate to the term "priest."

However, last week and this week,
        I seem to have moved past my priestly stumbling block.
For I have found texts from Hebrews that have moved and inspired me.

Last week it was the author's telling us that.
        Christ is not ashamed to call you and me brothers and sisters
A message that was comforting and touching.

But a message which also challenged us
When we asked ourselves the uncomfortable question of
        Whether our actions indicated
that we are ashamed to call him         our brother.

And now this week we take a look at another text,
A short text.  One that is only five verses long
A text that comforts and reassures us,
        But a text that does more.              It excites us as well.
At least it should!

This is what the author wrote,  [Hebrews 4: 12-16]

Isn't it exciting to be told that
The word of God is living and active
That it is not dead or inert.
That it is not passive or passé
That it is for the now - not just for the then.
Isn't it exciting to be urged and encouraged
        To hold fast to our confession that Jesus Christ is Lord?
And to approach the throne of grace
                not with timidity,      but with boldness?

It should excite us.
        For we need a living and active word
        To guide, inspire, and empower us

Reading this scripture not only excites me
        It also gives me a vision of what the church can and should be

For the job of the church is to demonstrate
        That the word of God is alive and active
And the church can only do this
        If the church is itself alive and active.

Our job as Christians is to make sure that it is alive and active now.
And that it will be alive and active in the future.

This scripture,
its excitement
and the expectations of the church that necessarily follow
came at a particularly good time for me.

For tomorrow I have to send in my annual pastor's preference form
        The form on which I either
                ask to be reappointed here for the year beginning next July
Or      ask to be moved to another appointment.

The last five years it has been an easy form to complete
        I simply checked the box indicating that I wanted to be reappointed
        And mailed it to the District Superintendent
Those years, the hardest part was making sure that I had a stamp.

But this year I have been struggling
Because I believe that this congregation
having healed from the wounds that were present when I began serving
and having built a stronger sense of community
is at the point where it can    and must        move forward

And so, I felt that I needed to discern
whether this congregation,
would be better able to take the next step in moving forward
                If a new pastor were to be appointed here.

Oh,     for my own self interest I wanted to remain here
I cannot imagine a better appointment
Or, for that matter, one that would be almost as good.
And I knew how much Marge wanted to remain here
(In fact, she threatened to stay even if I asked to be moved!)

But I wondered whether God's purpose in bringing me here
had already been fulfilled
        and that my work here was done.

And thus, I wondered whether my requesting to be reappointed
would be a selfish act - good for me, but not for you.

I struggled             I prayed
I repeatedly argued with myself         And I begged God for help.

Finally, this week
With the excitement and vision of this scripture
With the excitement, information, and guidance
That I experienced and acquired while attending the Bishop's Retreat

I came to believe that God's answer was that I was not being selfish
That I should ask to be reappointed
        So that you and I together
                Through the power of the Holy Spirit
                And continuing to listen to the living and active word
        Can approach the throne of grace with boldness
                By building on what we have done
                And dedicating ourselves to making sure that - in the years ahead - this congregation of Christ's church is not only alive and active
        But even more alive     And even more active            Than it is today.

In 1749, Charles Wesley asked in a hymn (number 553 in our hymnal),
        "And are we yet alive?"

You and I need to answer that question by proclaiming
That we are indeed alive
and that we will be even more active
as together we continue to serve Christ
by (as the UMC expects) making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

I am prepared to so proclaim
Because I am enthused about our years ahead

I am even beginning to get enthused by the letter written to the Hebrews.

WOW!    God is not only alive and active,               God is good!

Note From Jim

After our October 14 service, I learned that more than one person misunderstood or misinterpreted what I said in my message. In fact, they took it as meaning the direct opposite of what I meant. What I was saying was that the conclusion I reached after listening to the living and active word was that I should request to be reappointed HERE.

As I reread the manuscript, I concluded that the reason some thought I was asking to be moved was the word "reappointment," interpreting that as asking for "a new appointment." I apologize for any confusion this might have caused and ask that you correct anyone that you know misinterpreted it.