Posts Tagged "Annual Conference"

Sermon June 26: Who Does Jesus Love?

Posted by on Jul 7, 2016 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon June 26: Who Does Jesus Love? Faith United Methodist Church June 26, 2016 6th Sunday after Pentecost Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Matthew 19:13-15 Sermon:  Who Does Jesus Love?                                                       When I was in Sunday School, we had what we called “opening exercises.” This was when we would all gather together ~ all ages~ for songs and bible stories before breaking into our individual classes. Every Sunday, and I mean every Sunday we would pledge allegiance to the American flag, to the Christian flag and to the Bible and we would sing two particular songs. You probably know the first one: Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak, but he is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so. You may know the other one as well: Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red and Yellow, Black and White They are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. So every week of my formative years it was drilled into my little head that Jesus loves me ~ and not just me, but every child. And I think that was important because I knew that even if everything else went wrong, Jesus loved me and that’s something I carry with me even today. About a week and a half ago, at Annual Conference, we spent a morning sharing stories about our experiences of discrimination in the United Methodist Church. People raised concerns about discrimination based on race, disability and sexual orientation. We actually have words in our Book of Discipline that condone ~ and even encourage ~ discrimination against LGBTQ+ folks. Discrimination based on race and disability is not outwardly condoned, but is still present in our denomination.   The pain that was shared in the Expo Center, where more than 800 United Methodists gathered, was palpable. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that everyone present was moved in one way or another. Two stories, related to the discrimination of LGBTQ+ folks, struck me most strongly. One woman (about my age) stepped to the microphone to share that, as a child, she learned the same songs I learned and felt peace in her heart that Jesus loved her. When she was 12 years old she “came out” to her pastor, a person she loved and the first person she told about her growing realization about her sexual identity. Her pastor told her that she would go to hell if she lived her life as a gay person. Following this she spent many years believing that God hated her. Luckily for us, as the United Methodist Church, she stayed in the church ~ feeling her call from God stronger than the hate she felt from her pastor. The second story is about a woman who I have known and respected all my life. This woman served as a pastor in the Maine Conference, before the formation of the New England Conference. She is one of the reasons I went into ministry. She was a District Superintendent in Maine and was later nominated for Bishop from the New England Conference. Before retirement she served a downtown church in western Massachusetts, not far from my appointment in Connecticut. There she led an amazing urban ministry working with the poor and with recent immigrants. She served in active ministry for over 40 years. In New Hampshire, a week-and-a-half ago, she went to the microphone to say that the United Methodist Church ~ that she...

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