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Just a Thought or Two: Can You Tell Me the Rules?

 

CAN YOU TELL ME THE RULES?

When it comes to playing games, I am terrible for all sorts of reasons.

For example, when it comes to playing cards or something like Monopoly, I focus more on the conversation than I do the winning…the strategy. I get lost in the stories people are telling and I lose track of the game.

Another reason I am a terrible game player is—I forget the rules. Therefore, people will ask me if I know how to play a particular kind of card game, which I have played many times before, and I will say, “I don’t know. Can you tell me the rules?” They explain the rules, I nod with recognition, and the game begins!

 

Knowing the rules is important

Knowing the rules is important. If one person is playing Euchre, a second is playing Bridge, and a third is playing Australian Rules football, everyone is going to get frustrated and chaos will ensue.

As the Hebrews lived out their newfound freedom, they knew they needed rules to live by, so God gave them ten basic rules for life. Otherwise, out there in the wilderness, everything would have come apart. The early Wesleyan renewal movement that became the United Methodist Church had three basic rules: Do good; Do no harm; Stay in love with God.

A few years ago, after months of study, prayer and discussion, a team of First Methodist laity—with minor assistance from the pastors—drafted something called the Behavioral Covenant. These nine core values about how we are called by Jesus to love, respect and trust one another were developed, studied, and approved by the congregation.

 

How we will live and work together

The Behavioral Covenant is, basically, all about loving one another, respecting one another, dealing with conflict honestly and directly, taking responsibility for ourselves, and assuming the best of one another.

Here are the nine points (in summary) of our Behavioral Covenant:

  • We all have value in the eyes of God, and we each have different gifts for the good of all. (We are wired differently…which is beautiful and sometimes frustrating.)
  • We respect the authority of leaders, whether pastors or lay leaders.
  • We will let the Gospel guide us even when we are inconvenienced by God’s priorities and the Jesus way.
  • We will listen first while seeking to understand one another.
  • We will believe the best of one another, and give each other the benefit of the doubt.
  • We will communicate our views with directness and grace. We will not gossip about others or tear others down but our words will build up and affirm.
  • We understand conflict is a normal part of life, and in moments of conflict, we will consider first not our own preferences but what is best for the whole church.
  • We commit to making decisions as openly as possible, and we will take responsibility for keeping ourselves informed about the life of our congregation.

 

Misbehavior is like dust

The problem with our commitment to these kinds of “rules for living” is we can forget them. We slip back into our old ways of thinking and doing. It is like dust: you wipe it away but over time, day by day, the dust begins to gather.

Therefore, we need to go back on a regular basis, and remember the rules of the game. I thought of this because, now and then, I see people assuming the worst of one another rather than the best. I see people routinely second-guessing decisions that have been faithfully and prayerfully made.

 

What game are we playing?

As we live out life together as brothers and sisters in Christ, it is a good thing to periodically stop and ask the question, “What game are we playing?” and “What are the rules?”

This is true especially in the Jesus community we call the church, because our witness to the larger world is not only what we say, the glory of our music, and the service we provide to the poor and the needy but how we live with one another.

The hymn reminds us—they will know we are Christians by our love. This love is seen in how we pray for one another, how we deal with conflict creatively and faithfully, how we live out decisions rather than second-guessing, how we assume the best of one another, and how we willingly set aside our own agenda and preferences for the good of the overall mission.

Do we know what game we are playing?

Can you tell me the rules?

 

Grace,

Pastor Mark

 

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If you have not yet responded to the invitation to make your financial promise to God’s ministry in 2018, please turn in your pledge sheet this week or go on-line to www.fumcb.org.

 

We will be offering an Advent Bible Study beginning on Sunday, November 26th, at 5:30 pm. We will be looking at the birth of Jesus through the eyes of Joseph the carpenter. Order your book, Faithful, and join us for this pastor-led Bible study.

 

Our Advent Sermon Series, Broken Darkness, begins on Sunday, December 1st.  Invite your friends to join you in worship during this amazing season!

 

Remember our Christmas Eve Worship Schedule

 

9 & 10 am in the Sanctuary – Regular Sunday Worship

 

5 pm – Interactive & Family Friendly Worship in the Sanctuary

8:15 – 8:45 pm Communion in the Chapel

9 pm Traditional Lessons & Carols in the Sanctuary

 

 

 

 

 

First Methodist