Tuesday, September 27, 2016

World Communion Sunday/Work Day/ "Building On Our Past"

2 Timothy 1:1-7

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. 2 Tim 1:5-7


This week's Holy Communion and worship service is sandwiched in the middle of a Congregation-Wide (Trustees' Sponsored) Work Day.   Trustees, with my blessing (actually it was my idea), decided to have our work day on a Sunday, so as not to interrupt the SDA congregation that meets here most of the day on Saturdays. We have a long list of big and small projects that we will be coming together as a FULL CHURCH COMMUNITY to work on.  Why? Why do we all need to participate in this?  Because it is our responsibility to pay it forward with thanksgiving for those who came before us. As we hear in this letter to Timothy, a sincere faith was evident in his ancestors and is now residing in him. For this reason, we share that gift of the faith with others.  We have power and love and self-discipline to continue the legacy of Niwot UMC into a new tomorrow, giving thanks for those who gave us this great gift.  A strong building, a generous spirit, a great piece of land, a passion for ministry in this suburban neighborhood.  It is our duty to carry the torch into a new day.

So, we will pray, we will sing, we will share God's grace at the Table together, and we will roll up our sleeves and work to take care of our 'home' we share together.  It is also World Communion Sunday, so we will not only share in communion together here, but also with Christians around the globe. And we will remind ourselves that while we work hard here to keep  this church going, others everywhere are doing the same. Just as generations have done before us all.

Work Day kicks of at 9 am.  Breakfast snacks.

Worship and Communion from 10:20-11.

Lunch at 11.

Work Day will wrap up by 2 pm.

There are jobs for all ages and all ability levels.  We will have a GREAT time working together.  I can't wait!

Comments? Email me at peverhart@niwotumc.org or comment by clicking the comments button below.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"Sharing Here and Sharing There"

John 6:1-13 
Luke 5:27-32





These two scriptures point out to us that Jesus gets a lot of mileage out of surprising people.  He can take a neighborhood block party on the side of a hill that has no food available and create enough food for everyone, just by getting someone to share.  And no one is more surprised when he makes that happen than his disciples. Go figure!

He also surprises people by not being particularly discriminatory about who he parties with. He does not seem to put labels on anyone, the way everyone else seems to... and this scripture shows us that we have been labeling one another for a VERY long time now.  He just eases right into an unknown neighbor's house, a house filled with people of ill repute some say, and makes himself at home, much to the chagrin of the religious leaders.

What do we learn from these stories?  We learn that Jesus cares about his neighbors and will do whatever it takes to feed them when they are hungry.  We learn that Jesus does not discriminate. He considers everyone his neighbor and is willing to spend time with them on their turf, no matter what the religious leaders say.


We also learn that it doesn't take much to make a miracle happen.  In the Loaves and Fishes miracle, a small child has a small meal and Jesus makes it feed 5000.  Translated to neighboring principles: We may only need to give a minute of time to make a big impact on someone's day. And we learn that when we offer what we have, it often multiplies in ways we didn't expect.  We also learn that children are often on the front lines of our miracle-making possibilities.

Once I was assisting the pastor in teaching confirmation class and we had a young girl of 11 who wanted to bring her best friend, whose family was non-practicing Catholic.  We could have said "It's Methodist confirmation class and she shouldn't come if she's not planning on being Methodist." But the pastor and I told her to bring her friend. And guess what? The little girl ended up wanting to join the church and become Methodist and thankfully her parents allowed her to do so.  This was over 20 years ago, but for all I know she's still a good Methodist somewhere in South Carolina or beyond.  A small gesture. A changed life.  A Catholic willing to give Methodists a chance.  A pastor willing to allow whoever wanted to be part of class to be there.  See it doesn't take much, does it?

What kinds of little neighboring steps do you think we should take as a congregation? As individuals?  As Christians?

Email me at peverhart@niwotumc.org or comment on the link below.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

"Getting to Know You, Two by Two"

Mark 6:1-13 
Luke 10:38-42

He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority  . . .“Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple.
12-13 Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits. --Mark 6:7, 9, 12-13

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing.[a]Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”  --Luke 10:41-42

In Mark 6, Jesus tells his disciples to go outside to minister and to take nothing with them.  The Message translation of his words says, "you are the equipment." and "Keep it simple."  And he sent them out two by two... not as solo participants in the kingdom making business.  
So our instructions in this are, go out into the world to be a good neighbor. You don't need anything to do it. Just yourself.  Well, yourself and another person. Go two by two. Two minds, two hearts, are better than one. Work together to make a difference. Don't think you have to go out on behalf of NUMC alone. Take someone with you.  And 'preach that life can be radically different,' because someone out there needs to hear that from us.  And they likely won't hear it here on a Sunday until they hear it from you on their own turf.
But be careful. It's not all about programs. Or activities. It's about relationship-building primarily. Martha fell into the trap in Luke 10 of thinking that her busyness on behalf of Kingdom building was what Jesus wanted and needed. But what he tells her is don't be distracted by doing activities on my behalf. Instead, sit and listen to someone. Be a neighbor by paying attention to someone's story. 
We are called to be good neighbors in our community.  Two by two, we are called to go outside the doors and seek the kingdom people God is calling us to serve.  We need nothing fancy to do it. Just ourselves and our love of neighbor. And our willingness to love God with all our heart, strength, soul and might.
Let's go.  Two at a time. And change everything.
Do you have a thought about getting to know our neighborhood(s)? Email me at peverhart@niwotumc.org or comment below by clicking the link.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What Neighborhood?

Luke 10:25-37

This week we look at that old familiar parable, The Good Samaritan, which we might also call "The  Good Neighbor."  When Jesus says to love your neighbor as well as you love yourself,  one of the religious leaders is wondering just who Jesus would define as a neighbor, and so asks the question, "Who is my neighbor?"  Which, as you probably know, leads to Jesus telling this parable. In this parable these things happen:

A man is beaten, robbed and left for dead
A clergy person walks by and does not assist.
A leader in the church walks by but does not assist.
A person from a disrespected outsider group walks by and gives the man all the help he needs, including follow-up.

Jesus asks "Who became a neighbor to the man in need?"  The answer is easy to see... it was the person who helped.

Two things at play here:  Jesus condemnation of the religious insiders who often choose not to reach out to the neighbors they don't want to associate with.  And Jesus clearly showing a preference to inclusion... reaching across a divide that might make you uncomfortable no matter the differences.

In terms of us learning to be better neighbors in our neighborhood, what do we learn from this?  Jesus wants us to reach out to those we don't know. Jesus wants us to reach out to those in need. Jesus wants us to follow through with care, not just a one-time drive-by hello.

And what is our neighborhood?  Anything beyond our doors.  How do we go into it?  We don't stay in the building, or hide in the backyard,  which seems like the church people who walk to the other side of the road to avoid the stranger...we dive headlong into the roadway and seek those whom we might befriend or help... and we follow through as many ways as we can.

New Yorkers who lived through the chaos of 9/11 will tell you the word 'neighbor' was redefined for them on that tragic day.  The comfortable walls of city strangers were no longer there... they became neighbors that day. Everyone doing what they could for each other. Many will tell you that feeling of being a neighbor to those in need has never left them.  Sometimes it takes a tragedy like a man on the side of the road or skyscrapers falling to dust for us to recognize our common humanity in each other.

Thoughts? Email me at peverhart@niwotumc.org or comment by clicking the link below.



Christianity did not begin with a confession. It began with an invitation into friendship, into creating a new community, into forming relationships based on love and service. --Diana Butler Bass from Christianity After Religion


What Neighborhood?

Luke 10:25-37

This week we look at that old familiar parable, The Good Samaritan, which we might also call "The  Good Neighbor."  When Jesus says to love your neighbor as well as you love yourself,  one of the religious leaders is wondering just who Jesus would define as a neighbor, and so asks the question, "Who is my neighbor?"  Which, as you probably know, leads to Jesus telling this parable. In this parable these things happen:

A man is beaten, robbed and left for dead
A clergy person walks by and does not assist.
A leader in the church walks by but does not assist.
A person from a disrespected outsider group walks by and gives the man all the help he needs, including follow-up.

Jesus asks "Who became a neighbor to the man in need?"  The answer is easy to see... it was the person who helped.

Two things at play here:  Jesus condemnation of the religious insiders who often choose not to reach out to the neighbors they don't want to associate with.  And Jesus clearly showing a preference to inclusion... reaching across a divide that might make you uncomfortable no matter the differences.

In terms of us learning to be better neighbors in our neighborhood, what do we learn from this?  Jesus wants us to reach out to those we don't know. Jesus wants us to reach out to those in need. Jesus wants us to follow through with care, not just a one-time drive-by hello.

And what is our neighborhood?  Anything beyond our doors.  How do we go into it?  We don't stay in the building, or hide in the backyard,  which seems like the church people who walk to the other side of the road to avoid the stranger...we dive headlong into the roadway and seek those whom we might befriend or help... and we follow through as many ways as we can.

New Yorkers who lived through the chaos of 9/11 will tell you the word 'neighbor' was redefined for them on that tragic day.  The comfortable walls of city strangers were no longer there... they became neighbors that day. Everyone doing what they could for each other. Many will tell you that feeling of being a neighbor to those in need has never left them.  Sometimes it takes a tragedy like a man on the side of the road or skyscrapers falling to dust for us to recognize our common humanity in each other.

Thoughts? Email me at peverhart@niwotumc.org or comment by clicking the link below.



Monday, August 29, 2016

"In the Neighborhood"

Mark 12:13-17, 28-34

Based on the book The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon

I am just finishing a good book recommended by Biff Warren (see above).  This book is about how we can transform the world by just getting to know our actual neighbors. That we should stop focusing so much on our metaphorical neighbors around the world (although they, too, are important to us) and spend a lot of time and energy cultivating the relationships in our own backyards.

I have talked to some of you about this and fortunately many of you do know your actual neighbors, but I'm not sure that we collectively do. Does NUMC know who our neighbors are?  And if we don't, what can we do to change that?

We will spend the next month exploring some of the concepts of  becoming good neighbors found in this book.  Finding ways to live into Jesus' greatest commandment.  It might truly help us to actual live into our motto "Embrace the community; transform the world."  Maybe a better word or phrase than embrace might be "Know" or "Become Friends with"

What if we said, "Know the community; transform the world," or "Become friends with the community; transform the world?"

Dave Runyon in this book suggests that if everyone who believes in Jesus actually did love their neighbor as themselves, then it really would change the world.  He says if everyone simply got to know their neighbors, it would change everything.

In Mark 12, legal experts are carefully scrutinizing Jesus' words and actions, hoping to trip him up somewhere. They ask him if people should pay taxes because isn't that pledging allegiance to Caesar. Jesus says, "give Caesar what is Caesar's and give God what is God's."  They then ask him what commandment is most important and he says "love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself," saying there is no greater commandment than this.

So Jesus tells those who are scrutinizing him most that the laws and rules of order in life are there for a reason, but that they are trivial in the end, because what truly matters is that we love one another.

When I've been frustrated lately with the concerns of the world, I have been saying to myself, "Love first."  How might our neighborhood look different if we said "Love first." or "A friend loves at all times" as we as a church body seek to engage our actual neighbors.

It is challenging and exciting to think about church outside the walls.  What do you think?

Email me at peverhart@niwotumc.org or click on the link below to comment.

Monday, August 22, 2016

"I'll Save You a Seat"





This scripture in Luke is well known.  It is the one where Jesus says you should not choose the seat at the head of the table at a banquet.  That you should sit elsewhere. If others intend for you to sit there, they will make it known, but don't be haughty and expect it.  It is the one where he says  "For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." 

It also suggests that we not invite the 'Joneses' to our banquet and ignore the rest of the world It suggests we invite the poor, the forgotten, the sick, the downtrodden. And give those folks the highest seat at the table.

In other words, don't be haughty or think you deserve the highest honor.  Be a person who does good unto others as a part of who you are.  Don't only give to those whom you know and take care of your own, either, but give graciously and sacrificially to those you don't know.  And when someone is in trouble, or needy, or lacking in some way, help them out, even if they are strangers.

This STORY about a woman who almost died, basically DID die, during childbirth at St. Joseph's Hospital in Denver a few years ago.  She had a relentless medical team that saved her life and received an enormous amount of blood through transfusions, over 270 units in all.  And she and her daughter survived.  And she had a chance to tell her story and thank some of the people who voluntarily give blood all the time.. either a lot or just a few times or maybe even once.  At an event sponsored by Bonfils Blood Center to give tribute to voluntary blood donation, Cassidy Smith became a living miracle, a testimony to the power of blood donation.

When we give the gift of life through blood donation, we offer people we don't even know and will probably never know a chance at life.  It is a simple, yet profound, way we can allow someone else in need a seat at the head of the banquet table. It is a way we can serve their needs and not hold on to all we have ourselves. It is a way to be selfless.

There are many other ways to be selfless givers, of course.  What are some you can think of? Email me at peverhart@niwotumc.org or comment by clicking the comments link below.