New in May 2015 – Springing Forward
Easter Sunday is always glorious, however, for me, I must say it was especially so this year. Singing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” is always moving. This Easter we sang it surrounded by family and friends in a large beautiful sanctuary with a full choir, pipe organ with a brass and percussion ensemble. I believe the majesty of that moment will remain with me for quite some time.
Now, we are moving toward Pentecost when the work of the Holy Spirit was truly astounding. But we should not over look the time between – when the risen Lord walked for forty days with his disciples. As I have been reading and journaling through the gospels this past year, I have been marking the times Jesus told His disciples that He would be delivered up, suffer, die, and rise again. Still they were taken by surprise when these events happened.
On one hand, this is surprising that those who walked and talked with Jesus before his death didn’t get it. But on the other hand, this is somehow comforting. If Jesus had to open the understanding of His disciples, how much more will He open ours!
I love the way Luke records the time Jesus spent on earth after His resurrection. During His last appearance, Jesus reminds his followers of what He had told them. Luke records, “Then He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” So, I will share with you, ‘What is New at Renew’ in the hope of sharing comfort and understanding as we encourage one another to grow in Christ.
Several United Methodist women’s groups have contacted Renew lately asking for meaningful program ideas and Bible studies. Here are a few ideas…
Kris Key offers a four part Bible Study called, “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up.” Some of us are just young enough to have seen this black and white early TV show on U-Tube, not to mention those of us who remember the show from our childhood! Regardless, Kris provides a link in Lesson One to an early broadcast. Each part of the study can be divided into days or weeks depending on how often your group meets. It’s excellent for individual study too. The study is designed to draw us closer to Jesus.
Then Sara Anderson discusses “heroes” in her piece, “When I was a Child…” It is a great lesson on finding our worth in Christ – not in others.
Mary Lambrecht shares a comforting lesson on grief through the story in Luke 7 of a women who has lost a husband and a son. Mary reminds women that no matter the cause of sorrow, Jesus is deeply moved by it. This devotional can be easily used to start a discussion; it gives women the opportunity to share lessons and blessings that have come out of their own grief experiences.
Are you looking for an opportunity to share your faith? Try your own backyard! If you haven’t noticed, it is no longer necessary to travel outside our country or even our neighborhoods to be involved in mission. I have learned so many lessons as I have shared my culture and my faith just by befriending two international students. See my mission story on renewnetwork.org under the Serving tab.
Finally, the church is preparing for the 2016 General Conference in Portland. It is just a year away. Team Renew is preparing as well. Along with Good News and other renewal partners, we plan to be present. As I write this update, oral arguments are commencing at the Supreme Court on one of the most important foundational issues of a just society, the definition of marriage. All but 14 states have legalized same-sex marriage. The question before the Supreme Court is whether this will become the law of the land. The question before the UMC at General Conference is whether this will become the law of the church. In his most recent editorial, Rob Renfroe reminds us that the church needs to do the hard thing and take a clear stand against the cultural tide. “Our task is not to make the gospel easy; it’s to make the gospel plain.”
Much is at stake. Thank you members of the Renew Network for your continued faithfulness. Your prayers and your gifts are very much appreciated and especially needed at this critical juncture. Thank you for standing with us as we endeavor to make the gospel plain – free from the influence of those who co-opt it for their political preferences and free from revisionist interpretations that take God’s plain truth and twist it to accommodate the cultural trend of our time.
In His Service,
Renew Team Leader