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I AM The Resurrection and Life - October 8, 2017

John 11:1-44

I don't know about you, but this week has felt awfully heavy. It seems there has been one set of bad news after another. Monday started off unreal as I read about the events in Vegas. Then I started to hear about people we know personally who were there...people who ran, people who were protected, people who were shot. A high school friend, a former parishioner, my hairdresser from Valencia. I'm still not sure I've wrapped my head around the magnitude of trauma, suffering, and loss. And it is all so heavy.
We have one friend whose neighbor shared a poem about her experience in Vegas. Here is part of what she wrote:

I was there like so many others
I was there with my Love and Dear, Dear Friends
Enjoying LIFE and good music
When the Unimaginable rang out
I was there when the very first shots fired and my being would not let me go to fear
I was there when we realized this was real
I was there and we were under attack
I was there just wishing it would stop!
I was there running as fast as I could and stopping every time the shots fired to take cover
I was there not knowing if my friends were ok
I was there to tell people this is not our time - keep moving - keep going!
I was there trying to find my way out not knowing if we were going the right direction, not knowing if we would turn a corner to face a madman

I can't even imagine being at a concert, there to laugh, and sing and have fun and then to hear gunshots...and then see people around me go down, to run—not knowing which way to go or who to trust. More shots. More fear. More chaos. Just the thought of it breaks my heart. And I couldn't lay it aside...for a lot of was too many people, in a place I know, with friends who were there.
And then the week got heavier. I learned a friend's husband, about my age, had a serious stroke and was in the ICU. Someone else was in the hospital. Then one of Ruth's friend's mom told me that her husband, another young father, had had a stroke. Someone else was diagnosed with cancer. Each piece of news added more weight, more sadness, more fear, more anxiety—not always for me personally...but for those who were in the midst of a crisis...those who were living in a personal hell. And it all felt so heavy.
While I hadn't been through what they had, I could imagine the weight and the chaos, the emotional vertigo of so many emotions...the fear of the future. We've lived through a personal crisis and I remember that sense of feeling paralyzed...where doing the dishes, or folding the laundry, or straightening the bed all felt like HUGE, insurmountable tasks.
And I know in those times you look and look for God...for hope, for promise, for light. And I'm one who fully believes that God is there. God shows up in the chaos, in the fear, in the loss, in the running, in the freezing. I believe God is always there. But I know it can be hard to see God—to feel God—to know God in those moments.
As I continued to feel more and more try and trudge around with it getting normal things done, I kept coming back to today's scripture. It's a story of death and loss, one of fear and anxiety, one of looking for Jesus to show up and wondering where he had been all that time.
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were friends of Jesus. They weren't part of the 12 disciples, but they were disciples—-followers who learned from him, shared meals with him and loved him deeply. And from this story, we see that it wasn't just the 3 siblings who cared about Jesus, but he cared deeply for them too. In this passage, Lazarus falls ill and the sisters send for Jesus, knowing he could fix things, knowing he could heal their brother. But Jesus doesn't come right away. And he tells us that in the situation God would be glorified. Now, I don't believe Lazarus got sick so God would be glorified, but that from his sickness and circumstances, God would be revealed. In other words, I don't think God made Lazarus sick just to prove that God is good, but instead that Lazarus got sick...because that's part of the human condition, and in that God showed up.
Now, in the waiting, something terrible happened....Lazarus died. I can only imagine the weight the sisters felt. Knowing they had called for Jesus. Interrogating themselves with the what ifs....what if he had come sooner? What if they had known it was so grave? What if they had sent for him sooner? What if they had been able to help him? Each question bearing the weight of 1000...and becoming so heavy. Four days later Jesus arrives. Four days. Of waiting. Of wondering. Of what ifs. Four days of grief. Of Tears. Of loss.
And I'm sure it felt so heavy. And the sisters were waiting for Jesus....looking for hope, looking for help...wondering where Jesus was and why he wasn't there. But Jesus did come....and he came to bring life. When he tells Martha that her brother will live again, she says, "yeah, yeah, I know...some day...when everyone is raised." And Jesus pushes, "I AM the resurrection and the life....believing in me brings life life within you." Jesus brought hope and life. He went to the place where Lazarus was laid....the place of death and loss and desperation. And he called forth life.
It's pretty unbelievable. Lazarus was dead, dead. 4 days dead....starting to stink dead. And Jesus went and called him out and called forth life. It seems crazy and impossible and yet that's part of who Jesus is—-one who does crazy, impossible things. One who can move beyond the unfathomable to bring forth life. One who can clear the chaos and the clutter to reveal hope and life. Jesus is one who can take the weight away...who can help us when the world pummels us with bad news....he's the one who can show us hope.
We can stay lost in the grief and the fear and the chaos....or we can look to Jesus and find hope. It may seem untenable, but he's known for his miracles. And it seems these days, we need some miracles. In the midst of the bad news all week, there was also light....the friend's husband has been moved from ICU to a regular floor....he's healing and recovering. The classmate's dad was home and had no loss of of mobility. And the many who were in Vegas are focusing on hope, on care, on acts of heroism and compassion....and on the future. The woman who wrote the poem didn't stop at the darkness and the fear, she continued to write:

I AM HERE in THIS MOMENT right now
I am here in this new OPPORTUNITY
I am here to raise TWO POWERFUL LEADERS
I am here to shine my LIGHT brighter than the darkness
I am here to SEE every HUMAN being
I am HERE and a stand for LOVE
I am a stand for ACCOUNTABILITY
I am a stand for TRUST
I am a stand for a world that is TRANSFORMED
-Erin Acquaviva
Survivor of the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas Shooting

May we know, in the midst of death and fear and chaos, that there is hope and light and the promise of life.

I AM The Living Water - October 1, 2017

John 4:3-18

I love this story. I love who Jesus is and how he relates to this woman. and I love how outspoken this woman is. First, let's do a little orientation. The Jews and the Samaritans had similar ancestry— but long ago the Samaritans broke off and veered in another direction with their religious beliefs. And, with time, they became so different that they became enemies. They had no tolerance for each other. The story of the good Samaritan may be more familiar to us and it stands out because of all the people who would help, a

Read more: I AM The Living Water - October 1, 2017

I AM The Way, The Truth and The Life - September 24, 2017

John 14:1-11

In addressing this passage, it's important for us to look at what it says, as well as what it doesn't say. For a lot of years, by a lot of people, it's been taken as a claim of exclusivity in Christ that trumps all others. Meaning that if you don't profess Christ with your lips...if you don't claim him as your Lord and Savior, there is no heaven in your future.
A good number of us have heard, or had this passage interpreted in this way:

Read more: I AM The Way, The Truth and The Life - September 24, 2017

I AM The Good Shepherd - September 17, 2017

John 10:1-10

Like a lot of scriptures, to properly understand today's story, we need a little backstory. Let's start with the fact that in Jesus' day there were a lot of people who raised sheep. So to speak of being a sheep farmer resonated with everyone. No one really had to do research to find out about sheep, or how they followed a shepherd, or how a shepherd would take care of them. It was simply part of life.
More importantly, before Jesus starts talking about being the gate and the shepherd, he healed a man. More specifically he healed a man who had been blind from birth and the Pharisees went nuts. They were frustrated and angry and hurled all kinds of accusations. They couldn't make sense of

Read more: I AM The Good Shepherd - September 17, 2017

I AM The True Vine - September 10, 2017

John 15:1-8

I think a lot of us hear this passage and think....If I'm a branch, I don't want to be cut! Cutting hurts!!!! It does. That's true. The irony of a grapevine is that both that which is fruitless and that which is fruitful have to be cut in order for there to be new growth in the coming year. Which is to say that those of us who feel cut, don't have to worry about the scorn of those who

Read more: I AM The True Vine - September 10, 2017

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Sunday morning parking at the church is available in the high school parking lot on Third Street across from the church and in the city lots west of the church. These lots are available only on Sunday mornings. A small lot for handicapped parking is available just off of Adams Street on the north side of the church, with an accessible entrance directly into the sanctuary. A lift operates between the Fellowship Hall (3rd Street level) and the Sanctuary . William Sound System Receivers and Headsets are available to assist with hearing problems.

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The First United Methodist Church of Moscow, Idaho takes as our mission to be the body of Jesus Christ, ministering to a community which draws strength from its diversity. Our mission centers on the worship of God, expressed through varied forms of prayer, preaching, music, and ritual.  See more...

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