Worship with us this Sunday
8:45 AM & 10 AM | Classic Worship
in the Sanctuary at First Methodist
11:15 AM | Contemporary Worship
The Open Door at Buskirk-Chumley Theater
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I DIE?
Children are curious about what happens when we die. When Bryan was 4 years old he was curious about what happened at funerals. Bryan knew his Daddy went off to “lead” funerals, and he asked to go along. We said he could go to a funeral when someone he knew died. When our 80 year old neighbor, Mrs. Deal, died Bryan went to his first funeral.
Near the end of the service, as I prepared to give the benediction, Bryan stood on the chair where he was sitting and asked Sharon, “When does it happen?”
Sharon responded, “When does what happen?”
“When does she go up to heaven?” Bryan asked as he craned his head to get a better look at the casket at the front of the room.
Aren’t we all curious about what happens when we die?
A must to avoid
We hesitate to face it yet dying is a part of every life, a human experience we all share, but rarely talked about in worship. Maybe preachers are afraid to stare the rascal in the face, assuming no one wants to hear someone speak about the one subject we all would rather avoid. Woody Allen once said, “I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
Ignoring something doesn’t make it go away, though.
Children sometimes run across their bedroom floor and leap into bed, pulling up the sheets in fear, because there is “something” in the shadows under the bed which is an existential threat. Instead of acting like a 7-year old who refuses to look beneath their bed, what would happen if we turned the light of the Christian gospel on this dark place we so fear?
Scripture uses all sorts of images to help us understand the mystery of death.
In Two places the New Testament looks to the dying of a seed as a prelude to new life. This is a lesson about how God takes physical death and does something grand and new.
Paul, the early Christian missionary pastor, is getting lots of questions from the early Jesus followers about death. People in the congregation at Corinth are beginning to die. “How are the dead raised?” they ask. “What kind of body will they have when they come back?” A rather exasperated Paul says (15:36), “Look, fool! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t come back to life unless it dies.” Then, the preacher says our weak and worn bodies are put in the ground but—like a seed becoming something new—God raises them in glory.
Jesus, in John 12:24, refers to his own death as an example of a grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying. That death then bears much fruit.
The Bible talks about death using other images you may find helpful. Scripture also points to the power of God to overturn death.
Having the courage to talk about what happens after we die, we soon may discover in the Bible that God’s power reigns over death. We don’t need to run across the floor, after turning out the lights, and leap into our beds in fear. Whatever is down there, in the dark, God’s love can handle!
A surprise party!
When children ask about death and dying, Ms. Alex Lamb, Director of Children’s Ministries at First Methodist, explains dying is like going to a surprise party. It can be a little scary going through the door, but then you open your eyes and you are surrounded by people you love and who love you. There is music and all sorts of good songs. There is laughter and games and it is all good. Before you walked through the door, though, you didn’t know for sure. (There is a lot about the next chapter which we don’t know!)
You open your eyes and it is all good!
Join us this Sunday at 8:45 or 10 in the Sanctuary or at 11:15 in the Buskirk-Chumley for The Open Door. What Happens When I Die? is the sermon title as we continue our series BEGINNINGS. The conversation will be inspiring and hopeful, the music will bless you, and you’ll discover the growing love of this fellowship!
Pilgrims heading to Israel this coming Tuesday will be blessed during a brief moment at the 10 o’clock service.
Also, during the sermon worshippers will have the opportunity to write on a piece of cloth a word of challenge, fear, or sin which gets in the way of living an abundant life. We ask that you not sign your name! The cloth strips will be gathered in a basket at an exit and be burned in the Columbarium during a future service as a symbolic gesture freeing us from our fears and anxiety.
We look forward to seeing you this Sunday!
Welcome the Reverend Donna Goings
We are very pleased to announce beginning February 21st the Reverend Donna Goings will be joining our staff as our part-time Pastoral Care & Outreach Associate Pastor. Donna brings a wealth of experience in ministry to us. She will help us to provide outstanding and loving pastoral care to God’s people, as well as growing our outreach and mission efforts into the community and world.
I have been a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church since 2005 and have most recently served as the senior associate pastor of Anderson First UMC in Anderson, IN. I am a second-career pastor– my first career was in health care. I am excited to be coming on board here at First United Methodist Church and look forward to working with the staff and congregation to bring God’s love to the community of Bloomington!
Join us in welcoming Reverend Donna Goings to the First Methodist community!
The past couple weeks, we’ve been considering the questions: How does God speak to me? and How does God speak to me through the Bible? As you continue your journey of uncovering how God speaks to you, try out some of the following resources:
- Choose a translation that works for you. Suggested:
- New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
- Common English Bible (CEB)
- Today’s New International Version (TNIV)
- “The Message” (MSG)
- Have a Study Bible with footnotes and commentary, or purchase a respected one-volume commentary on the Bible
- Set aside 10-20 minutes per day, 5 days a week to read a chapter or two of the Bible.
- Read Matthew, Mark or Luke. These books tell the story of Jesus.
- Read the Book of Acts for the story of the early Church.
- Include a Psalm as a part of your devotional life daily. (Warning: some will shock you by their honesty and humanness!)
- Consider a daily devotional email or website (there are many options)
• The Upper Room – devotional.upperroom.org
• Our Daily Bread – odb.org
• Daily Bible reading plans – biblegateway.com/reading-plans
• A beautiful daily devotional by Frederick Buechner – FrederickBuechner.com
- Follow an inspirational & challenging Twitter account:
• Shane Claiborne – @ShaneClaiborne
• Richard Rohr – @RichardRohrOFM
Grace and peace,