WHAT DID THEY SEE?
The horizon is an interesting thing. We can see only so far but we know there is more out there. The curvature of the earth keeps us from seeing what is just over the horizon. This is true when you’re driving across the prairie on the open road, standing on the shoreline of Lake Michigan or anyplace where you can see into the distance.
Limitations that keep us from seeing
There are many ways of seeing.
There is the ability to see the needs of others. This requires us to see beyond our own concerns, our own agenda, our own well-being, to the welfare others. We use the word “empathy” to describe the ability to care about others. Some find it almost impossible to see beyond their own ego needs, beyond the well-being of their own pocketbook, or their own particular ethnic, political or tribal group. Jesus knows we can be so self-centered, so busy, so preoccupied with our own stuff—we miss the neighbor in need altogether. So Jesus told the “Parable of the Good Samaritan.”
There is the ability to see the future. It’s easy to think of our own generation and not the generations yet to come. This is why entitlement reform is so difficult to enact politically. This is why communities with a large proportion of residents over the age of 55 will often vote down referendums to raise property taxes to improve schools.
There is the ability to see the truth others see. Fundamentalism of every stripe—gender, religious or political—often blinds the true believer because they assume they have all the truth. Whether the conversation is about common sense gun control legislation in the wake of Las Vegas, or a debate about the Biblical verses referring to same-sex relationships, people dig their heels in and insist they see the issue clearly and “have” the truth. Paul, in 1st Corinthians, says in this world we never have all the truth, but look through smoked glass. Our knowledge is partial in this life, but sometimes we lose this humility, this openness to the truth another sees, and so we refuse to see.
The picture in the hallway
There is a picture in the hallway just outside Thurston Parlor. Since the picture has hung there for a number of years now, we may no longer notice it. The large frame includes many pictures of the church building burning in the late 1930’s. There are also pictures of the newly designed sanctuary, fellowship hall, chapel and the church building after construction in 1937.
When you think about the timing of all this in the 1930s, it is remarkable the congregation so quickly accomplished the rebuilding. Life during the decade of the Great Depression was not easy. People were struggling and war clouds were gathering in Europe. The Nazis, who had come to power fueled by fear of the other and a claim to make Germany great again, were firmly in control and threatening their neighbors. A murderous Marxist regime ruled the Soviet Union. Politics in America was a stew of “America First” isolationism, FDR-New Deal policies, and the Ku Klux Klan was a powerful force in some corners of the land.
The people of First Methodist Episcopal Church stood in the middle of all of that. They also stood in the ashes of the sanctuary where they had once worshipped the God who created the world in love, sent the prophets with truth, and offered the world a new start through the truth, love, and power of Jesus.
What did they see?
They saw that God was not done with them, or the world.
They saw that God is faithful in good times and bad.
They saw that people would continue coming to Bloomington.
They saw that children would continue to be born.
They saw that men and women would need a place to give thanks, grow in truth, learn the art of love, the courage of forgiveness and the joy of serving.
They saw countless lives that would be touched and changed forever by the Galilean.
They saw that God is, in fact, the Shepherd who always is looking for lost sheep, for the lost coin, and the sons who are too easily lost.
They saw the future.
So they built again.
They did a great and heroic thing in the middle of difficult times.
What can you see?
What can you see?
How far can you see?
Those questions are central to each of our lives.
This morning I find myself thinking of faithful leaders like Moses, Nehemiah, and Lydia. Moses risked his own life to answer the call of God, and the dream that future generations would live free of Egyptian bondage. Nehemiah left the security of a Persian palace, returning home to the wreckage that was Jerusalem, and rebuilt the city walls. Lydia knew the early Christian movement and its leaders needed sanctuary and support if it was to survive into adulthood so, she gave…she shared.
Between now and October 29th, you and I will be deciding how we will give—and what we will give—to God in the coming year. This “GIVE – IT -FORWARD” season is an opportunity for you to check your vision. What can you see? How far can you see?
Will we look beyond our own needs?
Will we look beyond our own generation?
Will we love and live and give in such a way that we reach the future and bless those generations yet to come?
Will we do a heroic thing in the middle of uncertain times?
I want them to know we were here.
I want them to know we cared.
I want them to know we did a great thing for God and for them in difficult times.
See you in worship this Sunday as we continue THE STORY!
Sanctuary Services: Morning Connect at 8:45 & Traditional Worship at 10
Buskirk-Chumley Theater: The Open Door at 11:15 Contemporary Worship
Jubilee, our college outreach ministry, meets Wednesday nights at 7:30 in the Bloomington Sandwich Company on Kirkwood—we’ll buy your meal!
Sign up to have your pictures taken for the Pictorial Directory. You may sign up Sunday in the Gathering Place, by calling Ann Arbuckle in the church office at 812-332-6396 , or visiting www.fumcb.org/directory.
Finally, don’t miss the joy God can give you by becoming a part of our world-changing ministry team for children.