One of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been the opportunity it has given us to recognize and praise the many people in our communities and around the world who have always - and especially during this difficult time - served the greater good; helped people in need; and given sacrificially for the benefit of others. Seeing and celebrating the best in healthcare workers, public servants, retail and food service workers, community leaders, as well as everyday people who are kind, loving, and caring, helps us to be better people ourselves. To praise another is to recognize the good in them and be inspired to find and develop that good in ourselves. The practice of Christian worship does the very same thing for the followers of Jesus. To praise a good and gracious God who makes God's own self known through Jesus, is to be inspired to find and develop that same goodness and grace in ourselves. As we lift our hearts and voices in worship on a regular basis, we not only articulate our praise to God, we are formed in our own hearts, lives, and loving to be more like the One we worship. For all its diversity in content and context, corporate Christian worship is one of the most dearly held, dearly beloved, gifts of the faith. People of faith the world over, throughout the ages, have held worship as the central practice of their faith. The heart of our life together as the church is to connect with God and each other in worship and praise. Even across the current digital distance, God is worthy of our adoration, praise, and worship... of our best efforts to offer up something of worth to the One Most Worthy. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHaHM7k2rZI&t=4s
It's common to see on a mom's social media feed, a photo of their child with the caption, "My heart." Shorthand for expressing how deeply she loves her child; how committed she is to that child; how very much her mind, her life, her work, her efforts, are invested in her children. Sweethearts sign their notes to each other with a heart - it's a symbol of their love and affection. One source claims that the red heart emoji ❤️ is the second most used emoji the world over (second only to the joy smiley face emoji, represented by a teary-eyed laughing face [ ] ). For much of human history, the heart has been considered the seat of human emotion, and the place where those things most dear to us reside. In a worship series titled "Matters of the Heart" that Pastor Elizabeth Gilbert will launch on July 12, she will share some of the things most dear to her in her life with Jesus and in her ministry. In "Matters of the Heart" Pastor Elizabeth will reveal the heart Christ has given her for the stranger, for worship, for the unique gifts Jesus has given each of us, and for our life together in community. Union Chapel Worship will continue online at least through the Sundays of July. You'll find worship each week posted on Union Chapel's YouTube Channel (search YouTube for Union Chapel Indy), as well as linked to the church's Facebook page, facebook.com/UnionChapelIndy. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZ01vmnBuLk
So much of our lives are marked by beginnings and endings, by starts and finishes. We memorialize the first day of school each year for our children with photos, and then we close the year with parties and celebrations. Graduations from preschool, grade school, high school and college mark both the ending of an era, and the beginning of a new chapter in a student's life. A race or a ball game begins with both civic and sports-related ceremonies and then ends crowning a victor. Even a parade is book-ended with lights and sirens and flags and waving! Over the last month Union Chapel UMC has marked the closing of Pastor Andy Charnstrom's active career in ministry as they've thanked Pastor Andy for his service and leadership and wished him well in his retirement. This ending opens to a new beginning, as well. Today marks the first Sunday of Pastor Elizabeth Gilbert's service at Union Chapel. Beginnings and endings bring questions and sometimes concerns. We both grieve what is past and give thanks for all the good it held. We look to the future with questions, concerns, anticipation, or excitement. We know that change is inevitable - and usually a good thing - and it's hard - and we don't always like it. But we also know that Jesus is in all of it, and the great work that God has started at Union Chapel, God will continue and complete. Today we give God thanks for God's faithfulness in all things, including all that God is doing - and will continue to do - in and through the people, ministry and mission of Union Chapel United Methodist Church! Worship link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEiirfHr5G0&t=13s
Hosanna in the Highest! (Palm Sunday celebration)
This morning, I want to share a great story from the Bible—from the Gospel of John, Chapter 4, verses 5-30 and 39-42. It’s a story that appears only in John’s Gospel, and it tells us so much about Jesus, and about God’s desire to be close to us.
"...the question I ask you to ask yourself each day this week: What will be the long-term impact of your faith?"
God, help us to be honest in this moment. Honest with You. Honest with ourselves. Honest with one another.