Richmond First United Methodist News and Events
Here are my notes from last Sunday:
The Things We Do, Matthew 18:21-35 Pastor Dan Damon, Richmond 1st UMC, 9-14-14
Our gospel lesson concluded last week with these words of encouragement: ³Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.² It is good to be together again in this time and place.
I closed my sermon last week with thoughts of my father: He had cerebral palsy, he did poorly in school, but married a public health nurse, had three ³good enough² children, and lived to be 93. He was non-judgmental and approving of me (giving me the gift of good self-esteem), and occasionally came up with a good turn of phrase. I remember these sayings: ³Marriage is a lot of give and take.² ³If you¹d like to talk about it, we can.²
It was safe for me to express anger at the lunch table with the family present. He would often say, ³I¹m sorry.² I would forgive my father, and we would go back to his bicycle shop with a better relationship. And from last week, referring to a customer¹s poorly maintained bicycle, he would often say, ³We can make it a little better.²
To close the service last week we sang the theme song from the Western Methodist Justice Movement retreat, ³With the People We Have² (we can build a better world). How did you do this week? Did you take any small steps toward building a better world? Did you practice your music? Did you write a letter to your congressman? Did you forgive anyone this week?
It is not the things we believe, but the things we do that determine who we are. It is not our doctrines, but our behavior that gives our lives meaning. The big words are orthodoxy and orthopraxis, right belief and right practice. In typical ³Christian talk² it is common to ask, ³Are you a believer?² [In the South people still ask, ³Where do you go to church?² In California, if it comes up at all, the question might be, ³Do you go to church?²]
In Judaism it is more common to ask, ³Are you practicing?² Here in this church I teach the practice of love, the living of faith, and the life of hope. Your beliefs are your own. Your thoughts are your own. I will never argue with you about them. It is only as they affect your behavior that they become of interest to the community within and outside these walls.
Practice peace, justice, hope, love, and living each moment with joy.
Retell the Scripture Story
As usual, there are problematic aspects to our readings today: The ³Hebrews get across the Red Sea, but the Egyptian soldiers drown.² That is how the story is told. Scholars I respect don¹t think it happened that way. This is part of the story of origin that can be used to show God¹s power and guidance, but we need to be careful how we interpret it. All of us are ³chosen² by God, if any of us are. If one wins at the expense of another, we do not have shalom.
The gospel ends with a ³forgive or else² threatening message. According to the story, the king delivered the unjust servant to the tormentors until he paid all his debt. And the final application to our lives: So shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you do not forgive everyone.²
All I can tell you is that the Bible has a lot of great things in it, but it has some dangerous parts also. You might want to read it with a commentary, or come to our adult Bible study to get a little help with some of the troubling passages. Here we might say, that is just how it works: If we do not forgive, we are bound by that resentment for life. We can¹t blame God for that. It is the nature of things. We forgive, and we are set free of the thing that had bound us. The old story puts it in a way that is hard to swallow for post-moderns.
But the opening question is easier to understand. Our gospel lesson opens with an honest question from Peter (not George Peter, just Peter). He asks Jesus, ³How many times do I have to forgive someone who sins against me? As many as seven times?² Jesus gives him this answer: Forgiveness, 70 x 7= infinity [symbolically].
and this story: The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. The slave owed ten thousand talents (a lot), and couldn¹t pay, so he was to be sold, his wife, his children, all his possessions, so that payment could be made. The slave fell on his knees and begged for mercy. ²Have patience with me and I will pay you everything.² Out of pity for him, the lord released him and forgave him the debt.
But the slave went out and refused to forgive a fellow slave who owed him one hundred denarii (not much). Seizing him by the throat, he said, pay up. The slave begged for mercy, but was given none, and thrown in debtor¹s prison. Other slaves reported this to the lord. Then the lord summoned the unforgiving slave, saying: ³You wicked slave! I forgave you a great debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you? And in anger the lord threw the slave in prison until he would pay his entire debt.
This, as I have said, is a difficult story, but it shows the need to be forgiven and the need to forgive. The community cannot function without forgiveness. Our families cannot function without forgiveness. We give it, and we receive it. We learn from the actions, not the beliefs of others. If someone has hurt you, you forgive them, and you are free, but you remember not to let them hurt you in that way again. We are more cautious, knowing what happened in the past.
Presbyterian minister, Marjorie Thompson writes: ³To forgive is to make a conscious choice to release the person who has wounded us from the sentence of our judgment, however justified that judgment may be. It represents a choice to leave behind our resentment and desire for retribution, however fair such punishment may seemŠ. Forgiveness involves excusing persons from the punitive consequences they deserve because of their behavior. The behavior remains condemned, but the offender is released from its effects as far as the forgiver is concerned. Forgiveness means the power of the original wound to hold us trapped is broken.²
Or you might think about this conversation, one prisoner to another: ³Have you forgiven your captors yet?² ³I will never do that.² ³Then they still have you in prison, don¹t they?²
Forgiveness is necessary for us to live and thrive in this world. Address conflicts with honesty. Forgive. Learn. Move on into deeper relationship. Practice love.
A traditional prayer of confession (UMH 890) goes like this:
We confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Amen.
Some of the ideas could be rephrased thus:
We admit that we have missed the mark in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved with our whole heart, we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly turn away from things that hurt us, others, and the cosmos. We forgive ourselves, and those who have hurt us. We will live today with love and hope. So be it.
Life is a tapestry of joy and sorrow. Every day is a new day. Let us learn, love, and explore together, as we make things a little better.
Let us be in prayer.
Joys and Concerns
Lauren McLeod welcomes your prayers for healing.
Kristi and Russ Johnson have returned home.
Mid Dornan is having a pacemaker inserted next Wednesday, Please keep her in your prayers for a speedy recovery.
Sandra Kokoruda (Fran Smith’s daughter) is having severe medical problems. She recently moved to South Dakota where the medical community has been more responsive to her medical needs than here in California. Sandra had a severe bleeding episode, but after multiple transfusions she is home and doing better. The doctors are testing her to try to determine where the bleeding is coming from. Sandra and her son, Robert are moving into their own apartment which should decrease the stress she has been under, Robert is taking good care of her. Please continue to remember them and Fran in your prayers.
Molly Smith is requesting prayers for her brother who has been treated for a brain tumor for several years and has recently entered the Hospice program. Prayers for his family and her brother as they go through this very difficult time.
Deby McFadyen is asking for prayers for her father, Jack McFadyen, who has lung cancer and has started chemotherapy She also requests prayers for a friend, Sara Talkington who has just been diagnosed with a brain tumor. She’s married with a 4 year old so
Pat Dornan and Linda Pereira continue to need your prayers of support and healing. Linda is walking with the use of a walker for stability. Pat has some help coming in five hours a day so she can continue her busy schedule and know that Linda is safe.
Robbie Robinson would appreciate your prayers.
Helen Wysham welcomes your prayers for healing as she undergoes chemotherapy.
Katherine Parker from Nepal, our missionary:
On route to Rupandehi (in the Terai lowlands) with UMN Health Team members Sushma and Rakshya. We’ll be meeting partners to give orientation to the new phase Community Health Program and I’ll be interviewing some social mobilizers to learn …more about their group engagement process. Exciting bit is that I saw the Himalayas (snowy mountains, not just the “hills” around Kathmandu) again for the first time since the monsoon rains came. This picture taken from a moving vehicle is terrible, but I am excited for cooler weather and clear skies to return. See More
— at Kalanki Ktm.
Faith In Action, newsletter from the General Board of Church and Society, has several articles regarding the United Methodist Church involvement in caring for the unaccompanied children crossing our borders. To read the articles go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark your calendar! 6th Annual Jean Eakle Silent Auction fundraiser is coming up on Saturday, October 25, 2014 from 4-7 p.m. at the Point San Pablo Yacht Club @ 700 W. Cutting Blvd., Richmond. There will be arts & crafts for bidding, door prizes, music, hors d’oeuvres, good people and good fun! Suggested donation at door $10.
Donations needed! Do you craft, knit, crochet, make jewelry, sculpt, paint etc., or would like to donate cash or gift certificates? Please contact Debbie Benko @ 510-517-6724; DebBenko160@aol.com; or bring your tax deductible donations to the church on Sunday’s between 10 and 1 p.m.
Camp Liberty Update: With the current fighting and chaos in Irag, our Irani friends in Camp Liberty need your prayers and support. I am sure this is a harrowing time for them. It is reported that there are armed guards at the gates with guns pointed into the camp at all times.
Jean Ziegler, member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, is calling on the United Nations to send their “Blue Helmets” forces to protect the people in Camps Liberty and Ashraf.
The United Methodist Church has a shopping site a umcmarket.org where you can sign up and when you shop on line through the Market Place a percentage of your purchase comes to our church. They have updated the site and it is easier to use and user friendly. This is a very easy way to give. During the month of September umcmarket.org will donate $5 to our church for every new person who signs up and uses the site to make a purchase!
How are we doing? The Ad Board met September 11 and Norm Reynolds gave the financial report to date. Collections are down, which is normal for the summer months, but it leaves us behind $3000 in projected income. We have several fundraisers still to come this fall: Art Auction, Dinner/Theater and the Christmas Bake Sale where we hope to make up some of the deficit.
Fri. Oct. 10, 7:30 p.m. – Point Acoustic Series opens the Fall Season with Calaveras – Singer-songwriters Greg Beattie and Victoria Blythe, along with instrumentalists Dave Decker, Sam Bevan and Mark Holzinger, combine voices and a half dozen acoustic instruments into original songs that are both fresh and timeless – from the roots of American traditional song forms to explorations of contemporary sounds. See wwwcalaverassongs.com for more info. Opening the show will be California banjo sweetheart, singer-songwriter Erin Inglish. For more info, please visit http://www.erininglish.com/ . Tickets are $15 in advance, or $20 at the door. Get tickets online atBrown Paper Tickets Season Pass: Save $60 and get preferred seating by purchasing the entire series for just $100 for all eight shows. Front row seating will be held for season pass holders until 10 minutes before the show. Another great deal: The 2×4 pass. This entitles 2 people admission into any 4 shows of their choice and also costs $100. (2×4 pass holders do not get preferred seating.)
Sunday, October 12 at 5 pm the SF Munich Trio will be having a concert at our church. Rebecca Rust, cello, Friedrich Edelmann, bassoon and Miles Graber, piano We always look forward to their concerts. They have been playing in China and Italy with rave reviews. This is a don’t miss concert, their music is extraordinary. If you love classical music come and enjoy. Tickets are $15 at the door. If you would like to help with refreshments, let Barbara Haley know at email@example.com.Visit their website at http://www.edelmann-rust.com/ for information about them and their playing.
The Point Richmond Jazz Concert series begins Friday, October 24 at 7:30 pm. The season opens with Jason Anick and Rhythm Future. This quartet performs dynamic and fiery arrangements of Gypsy Jazz standards and original compositions. First United Methodist Church, 201 Martina St., Richmond. Season Tickets for 8 concerts, $100. For more information about the performers and tickets go to prjazz.org. Tickets $20 at the door, $15 on line.
6th Annual Jean Eakle Silent Auction: Saturday, October 25, 2014, 4-7 pm, Point San Pablo Yacht Club, 700 W. Cutting Blvd, Richmond. Donation at door $10. We will have arts & crafts for bidding, door prizes, music and hors d’oeuvres to satisfy other senses and a good time!
Donations needed! Are you an artist who would like to donate your goods or maybe you have art in storage you have been meaning to donate? Please donate your tax deductible items by contacting Debbie Benko @ 510-517-6724 or DebBenko160@aol.com.
Please send submissions for FUMC News and Events to Barbara Haley, editor: firstname.lastname@example.org.