BE SURE TO CHECK OUT
OUR SERMON PAGE
TO READ BETH'S LASTEST SERMONS!
McDowell Sunday School –
led by Greg & Mary Robinson
from 10 - 11:00 a.m.
Focus on discussion of current events and
scriptural guidance for our understanding of what’s happening
in the world and what we’re called to do about them.
McDowell Presbyterian has a handicapped-accessible rest-room, a ramp for ease of entrance from the
gravel parking lot at the rear of the building, and large print bulletins and devotionals.
[Community Service of Worship on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the McDowell Volunteer Fire Department
The most famous of early firefighters was a Roman guy named Marcus Crassus. He was rich – really rich. And he figured out a way to get even richer. He formed his own fire brigade, which would rush to burning buildings and then just stand there – until the owner showed up and agreed to their terms – money. And lots of it. If the owner agreed, Marcus and crew got busy and put out the fire. If they didn’t agree, well, old Marcus just let the thing burn down – and then offered to buy the land that was left – at quite a discount, of course.
I’m guessing Marcus Crassus never met Jesus. I’m guessing Marcus wasn’t very popular with his neighbors – that’s okay – neither was Jesus – for very different reasons, of course. And I’m guessing that it didn’t take long for those neighbors to decide that Marcus’ kind of firefighting was not for them, to figure out that there was a different way.
That’s how it is with a life of following Jesus, a life dedicated to God – it may get you to the same place, but it takes you by a very different way – the way of love and kindness, mercy and sacrifice. And how you get there, the way you take, makes all the difference in the world.
Discipleship, the genuine following of Jesus Christ, kind of like being a firefighter (in fact, we might think of Jesus as a spiritual fireman), is not easy. In fact, it is the hardest of all things. Following Jesus is usually not especially dramatic . . . and often, it’s not very rewarding. And the outcomes are uncertain.
There are some guarantees . . . but they’re not the sort of guarantees we probably want. We are promised that if we follow Jesus, our lives will be hard (not for nothing does Jesus say "take up your cross and follow me" [Luke 9.23]).
We will not be popular or well-liked . . . You think you’ve got it bad? The hometown folks that Jesus grew up with tried to murder him.
The good news gospel is not welcomed by most (kind of like when you tell your neighbors they really do have to put in smoke detectors) and the messenger of the good news is liked even less than the message . . . all of Jesus’ first disciples save John died violently . . .
We may lose our family . . . Joseph’s brothers sold him as a slave . . . Jesus’ family thought him crazed and tried their own version of having him committed to a mental institution . . . Prosperity may leave us . . . ask Job . . .
Homelessness may be our lot . . . Jesus reminded the one who would follow him that there was no soft bed and comfy pillow waiting for him at the end of the day . . .
Believer or not, we will all suffer and we will all die . . . and we will have more moments of doubt than assurance in this earthly life if we take this call seriously . . .
In 1 Kings, the prophet Elijah saw Elisha busy farming and did a very odd thing . . . he threw his own cloak, his symbol of prophetic authority over Elisha . . . imagine you’re putting up hay and Doug comes and pushes his fire helmet down on your head and tells you, you’re the one to take my place . . . for that’s what it meant when Elijah threw his cloak over Elisha.
What would you do? I’m betting you’d do just what Elisha did - stall for time . . . Elisha had received a religious command, one he well knew would change his entire life, and not necessarily for the better . . . so like many prophets before and after him, he tried to change the subject, . . . not just yet, please, let me make my good-byes . . . but Elijah, knowing it for the stalling tactic it was and having no time for it, withdrew the offer never mind . . . go back to what you were doing . . .
With that rebuke, Elisha knew what he had to do . . . and so in a dramatic symbolic act of burning all his bridges behind him, he burned his plow, gave away all his food and followed Elijah.
Follow me is the divine call to humanity from the very creation itself.
Jesus’ call that we follow is the most specific of all: Count the cost, he says, but follow me . . .
This following of Jesus is so central to what it means to be a Christian that the church at the first was not called ‘Christian’ . . . rather, they were ‘followers of the way’ . . . from Jesus’ own words, "I am the way, the truth and the life . . ."
To be a Christian is not to merely believe a certain set of ideas . . .
I believe that 2 + 2 =s 4. That does not make me a mathematician. And it certainly does not make me math itself.
Believing is only a part of being a Christian, and it is perhaps the least important part of all . . . [REPEAT]
Following in the way of Christ is the true mark of this thing we describe as ‘Christian’.
But what does that mean?
It means lots of things, but ultimately, only one thing . . .
For we all follow something or someone . . . Every minute of every day, we choose . . . To follow the crowd, to follow our own desires, or to follow Jesus . . .
We choose the soft bed and comfy pillow or Jesus . . . We choose to be well-liked or Jesus . . . We choose the good opinion of family and friends . . . or Jesus . . .
We choose our church, our denomination, our beliefs, our understanding . . . or Jesus . . . We choose our country . . . or Jesus . . .
Called to follow Jesus, we are not just to abandon what is ‘bad’, but also what is ‘good’ in order to follow what is ‘best’.
Jesus knows all the ‘buts’ we can throw at him . . . but I’m busy, say we . . . I know, said He. Follow me.
But people will make fun of me. I know said He. Follow me.
But I’ll have to give up my stuff. I know said He. Follow me.
But I don’t know where you’re going and I don’t have a map and I’m scared. I know said He. Follow me.
But people will hate me and call me names or worse. I know, said He. Follow me.
But that house is on fire! I know, said He. Follow me.
I might die! I know, said He. Follow me.
But I really don’t want to. I know, said He. Follow me.
And you did. And you do. And it costs not less than everything.
So, my firefighting friends – you want to know what a Christian looks like? Take a look in the mirror.
MCDOWELL FIRE DEPARTEMENT CHAPLAIN
PASTOR BETH PYLES
Wednesday, Aug. 1 Spiritual Tea @ 9.30 a.m. @ Angelika’s
Thursday, Aug. 2 Community VBS
Friday, Aug. 3 Community VBS
Sunday, Aug. 5 Community Youth VBS Worship Service @ McDowell Methodist Church @ 11.15 a.m. (followed by a covered-dish luncheon). No service @ McDowell Presbyterian today.
Tuesday, Aug. 7 Bible Study
Wednesday, Aug. 8 Spiritual Tea
Sunday, Aug. 12 Communion Service @ 11.15 a.m. Hunger Offering Sunday. Hook Life presentation.
Monday, Aug. 13 MVFD Auxiliary meets @ 6.30 p.m. & MVFD meets @ 7.30 p.m. @ the Fire House
Tuesday, Aug. 14 Bible Study
Wednesday, Aug. 15 Spiritual Tea
Sunday, Aug. 19 Worship
Session meets following worship
Tuesday, Aug. 21 Presbyterian Women (PW) meet @ 10.00 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall
Wednesday, Aug. 22 Spiritual Tea
Saturday, Aug. 25 Presbytery meets
Sunday, Aug. 26 Worship
Tuesday, Aug. 28 Bible Study
Wednesday, Aug. 29 Spiritual Tea
in beautiful HIGHLAND COUNTY, VIRGINIA
Type your paragraph here.
from Beth's desk...
Spiritual Tea study for July & August:
The Problem of Evil.
We are spending the two months reading, praying, reflecting, writing and discussing how we resolve the dilemma of God’s goodness in a world filled with evil.
Here’s how to join: do some reading – your choice, but make it reading on God’s goodness and the world’s badness and how the two can be true at the same time. Doesn’t have to be anything long. Can be from the Bible, poetry, literature or the newspaper. Along the way, write questions as they come to you. Then bring yourself, your readings and your questions and we’ll wrestle together.
That’s all you have to do (oh, and it would be nice if you’d let me know if
you’re coming – not necessary, but nice – so we can get a rough head count).
Draw your love upon the face of the earth. Paint your lavish praise upon the hearts of all. Shape your life, structured iambic or total free-verse, as poetry. Treat every misstep as a do-over in waiting – sculpt your footprints into the garden of your imagining. Breathe in all the world gives you. Breathe out love. Hope. Peace. Grace. Live your gospel like it matters.