Here is my message from last week.
Going to Church Matthew 22:1-14
Pastor Dan Damon, Richmond 1st UMC, 10-12-14
This is the third of three sermons on the basics of Christian practice. I talked about reading the Bible, prayer, and today I’d like to talk about going to church. The extended family that we find and create here is powerful and important. So many people feel alone in this world. People have a hunger from something beyond the body and the mind, something in the realm of the Spirit. In this community of faith we read, study, discuss, feel strong emotions of joy, anger, hurt, and love. We find ways to serve the hungry, both body and soul. We discover that we can do much more together than we could ever do alone. In a small church like this one, all are needed. If we are to be the active witness in our world that we feel called to be, we need the contributions of everyone here. Some have more time than money. Some have more money than time. Some have special gifts and talents. Some are willing to serve where needed. All have something to give to the extended family that is Richmond First United Methodist Church. We have been a caring community in the city of Richmond since 1900. Our first services were held in a railroad boxcar. Soon the early Methodists built a wooden church where the lower garden is now (right at the top of my driveway). It served the community as a school building as well as the first Christian church in the new city. In just a few years a larger building was needed, so the church going Methodists built the beautiful building that we enjoy today. Each generation will decide what to do about the church. Should we go to church, or not? Support it, join it, or not?
Retell the Scripture Story
In the gospel lesson for today we hear the story of the great feast. Those invited would not come, so the king said to his slaves, “Go into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” We read that those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. There is a lot of violence in this parable that I don’t like. I don’t understand the violence in this story. It is wrong. The king behaves badly. We are called to be peacemakers, justice-doers, and co-creators with God. Today I’d prefer to focus on the invitation to all to come to the feast and the nature of the gathered community. The expected guests are absent, and the most unlikely ones are present. This is what we try to do here. Invite everyone to come to worship services, to the Silent Auction, to the Community Thanksgiving Feast, to the Junktique sale in May. We try to make everyone feel at home with us. Sometimes we do better than others, but this is our goal.
Debbie Benko recently mailed this summary and invitation: The Silent Auction is a fundraiser for Richmond First United Methodist Church to support its continued efforts to assist our community and the world. We sponsor a missionary in Nepal who works with the community to develop clean water sources, sustainable farming methods and healthcare education. We support the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) which provides humanitarian relief when war, conflict, or natural disasters disrupt life to such an extent that communities are unable to recover on their own.
We serve the local community through the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program, the Early Childhood Mental Health Program, the Writer-Coach Connection in local schools, our annual Community Thanksgiving Feast serving over 200 people, our annual Junktique sale, and we host many concerts including the Point Richmond Acoustic Series, and the Point Richmond Jazz Series.
In some ways the church is like a bus. People get on the bus, and later they get off the bus. We accept this as a fact of life. This is how it is. In other ways the church is not like a bus. On a bus we take a ride. We sit in our seats, or stand, and wait for our stop. A bus ride generally involves passive acceptance of the driver’s choices. The church is a much more active place. We participate. Our actions have consequences. What we do and refuse to do matters a great deal. If no one came to church, we would have no church. If no one joined the church we would have no members. If no one gave money to the church, we would have no money. If no one gave their time and talent to the church, we would have no volunteers to sing and serve. Mid Dornan has said many times, “You get out of it what you put into it.” Over the years she has served in almost every post in the church. She has given a great deal, and she has received a great deal. One of her best friends, Helen Valentine, never joined the church but gave faithfully of her prayers, her presence, her gifts, and her service. It is people who give, people who commit, people who say “yes” to service who will take the church into the next generation. Thanks be to God for those who read the Bible, pray, and come to church. It is a living community, and you are part of it.
Let us be in prayer.
Sat., Oct. 25, 11 am to 1 pm Point Richmond Jazz presents Meet the Artist– with Jason Anick
Point Richmond Jazz presents a workshop BOTH for musicians AND the general public to meet the violinist from the concert the evening before. Musicians will join Jason Anick for a workshop for the full 1 and a half hours. Other interested members of the public will join Kit Eakle in another room to listen to recorded music and join in a discussion of the origins and influences of Jason’s music, and then all will join the musicians in a ‘MEET THE artist” Q & A with the violinist, Jason Anick. Admission is $30 – but $10 for season ticket holders. Go to http://prjazz.org/for more info and advance tickets. Held at the First United Methodist Church, 201 Martina St., Richmond.