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Classic Worship: 8:45 & 10 a.m.

Contemporary Worship: 11:15 a.m.

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Just a Thought or Two: The Gift of Not Knowing

Worship with us this Sunday

8:45 AM & 10 AM – Classic Worship in the Sanctuary at First Methodist

11:15 AM – The Open Door – Contemporary Worship at Buskirk-Chumley Theater


 

THE GIFT OF NOT KNOWING

As a student, I was embarrassed not to know what we were talking about in Algebra class. (And, frankly, Chemistry was a bank of fog to me, as well!) I resisted the urge to ask questions and admit my puzzlement. Instead, I sat silently pretending that I understood what I did not – only to fail spectacularly on the tests and daily assignments.

This “not knowing” was a gift, but I never opened it.

 

Questions are doors waiting to be opened.

When my niece talks about how she moves through math at her own pace, with each student working with the teacher to get one principle down before moving on to the next problem, I have found myself wishing I had had that kind of experience in school. By the time I worked up the nerve to ask my questions, the class -like a train already four miles down the track- was out of sight. I was never able to catch up.

Jesus understood questions were gifts. Jesus understood questions were doors waiting to be opened.

 

More questions than lectures.

Jesus, even his enemies acknowledged, was a powerful preacher and teacher. However, he asked more questions than he delivered lectures. One scholar says that in the Gospels of the New Testament Jesus asked approximately 300 questions as he helped people come to terms with truth and life. He was, according to the Gospels, asked 183 questions and directly answered only 3.

Catholic author Richard Rohr writes, “In general, we can see that Jesus’ style is almost exactly the opposite of modern televangelism or even the mainline church approach of ‘Dear Abby’ bits of inspiring advice and workable solutions for daily living. Jesus is too much the Jewish prophet to merely stabilize the status quo with platitudes.”

One appraisal of the teaching style of Jesus comes from Pastor Martin B. Copenhaver: “Jesus is not a giver of advice. He doesn’t give us a neat list of ten ways we can be closer to God. He doesn’t offer spiritual tips. He does not provide easy answers. Instead, he asks hard questions. In that, he is more like the Zen master who asks questions to take us beyond the obvious to something deeper.”

Jesus knew that questions were a first step to new growth. A friend I had once taught me that trimming shrubs way back was a perfect way to help clear a way for them to grow healthier.

Questions are doors to walk through. Questions are trimmers that cut away what isn’t life-giving so new life can grow. Questions are a gift waiting to be unwrapped.

 

Let’s open some doors this January!

There is a gift in not knowing: questions can lead us into new places and across new thresholds of truth. Admitting what we don’t know isn’t a sign of failure, but it is a gift to unwrap.

Beginning on January 8th, we’ll be starting a series of sermons built around questions. BEGINNINGS: Questions Introducing Us to Faith is the title of this 8-week series. (If you are in a small group or want to work along with the series, you may want to order Beginnings: An Introduction to Christian Faith, published by Abingdon Press, by Andy Langford and Mark Ralls.)

 

What are some of the questions we’ll be asking?

  • Is this all there is? (Jan 8)
  • Can I start again? (Jan 15)
  • Who is Jesus and why should I care? (Jan 22)
  • Can I trust God? (Jan 29)
  • How does God speak to me? (Feb 5)
  • What happens when I die? (Feb 12)
  • Why do I need to be “found”? (Feb 19)
  • Why would I want to join a group that would have me as a member? (Feb 26)

 

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Things You’ll Want to Know…

  • This Sunday we return to our regular worship schedule with services at 8:45 & 10am (Sanctuary) and 11:15am (Open Door at Buskirk-Chumley).
  • BEGINNINGS: Questions Introducing Us to Faith – a new sermon series starts this Sunday. We’ll be looking at questions that can move us towards us towards new life and a deeper faith!
  • New Around Here?  FIRST@FIRST  is on Sunday, Jan 8th, at 1:30 p.m. in the Thurston Parlor (Library) at First Methodist. This is an informal opportunity for persons new to First Methodist & The Open Door to get to know the pastors and the mission/vision of the congregation. Join us for this 57 ½ minute gathering!
  • Financial Peace University is Here! A 9-week series based on Biblical principles for handling money that can help you get out of debt and live a better life. First Methodist is offering Dave Ramsey’s nationally known FPU. The average financial turnaround for families is $8,000 in the first three months! Beginning Sunday, Jan 15th, from 4-5:30 p.m. at First Methodist. Total cost is $102.30 – free childcare will be provided. (Let us know you will have children in childcare, please!) Send inquiries to firstfinancialwellness@gmail.com or Register Today at fumcb.org/fpu
  • New Member Class (A Disciple’s Path) will be offered Jan 22nd & 29th from 5 – 7 p.m. Pick up your copy of Jim Harnish’s A Disciple’s Path: Deepening Your Relationship with Christ and the Church from the church office. (A $4 donation will be gladly accepted.) To register, complete the form here:  fumcb.org/new-member-class or sign up on your Connect Card or Flap in worship or email Ms. Cath Foreman at cforeman@fumcb.org.
  • Leadership Orientation is set for the evening of Monday, Jan 23rd. If you are a leader in the church, keep that evening clear from 5:30-8. A simple meal will be provided, there will be a time of worship and inspiration, and a special focus will be “Nurturing the Three Essential Virtues” with the Rev. Russ Abel of Fort Wayne St. Joseph UMC.
  • The Trustees have a plan for repairing the limestone steps of our Washington Street entrance. Work will proceed weather-permitting. Also, drywalling and painting was recently completed in the southwest tower of the sanctuary building to repair significant water damage.

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Grace and peace,

Pastor Mark

First Methodist