Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fall 2014 Kickoff Sunday - Choose Life!

This coming Sunday, August 24th, is kickoff Sunday for us at Ft. Collins First United Methodist Church, and we would love to have you join us!  

Many of our students started back to school this week, and our college students are returning and moving in.  Our Choir is back after a summer hiatus, and the program year begins with Children's Sunday School, Children's Choir, Club 56, Youth Group - even the launch of our new Youth Choir with a workshop led by the Youth Choir from First UMC Colorado Springs.  Many other things begin this fall, not the least of which is a new Children's Worship time at the 10:45 AM worship hour for families with children who attend either the traditional or CrossWalk services at that hour.

The fall sermon series for the traditional services begins today, as well.  We often hear the warning that
"   <you fill in the blank>   " is a leading cause of death.  But we seldom hear the opposite: "   <you fill in the blank>   " is a leading cause of life.  The series we're beginning this Sunday asks us to consider just that - What are "leading causes of life"?  And not just on an individual level but on the community level, as well.  That is, what are the kinds of attitudes or qualities that make for health and wholeness, spiritual vitality, and WARM Christian community that we might look to cultivate here at FC FUMC?

We begin with the simple admonition that comes from the Deuteronomist, "Choose life!"  As odd as it may sound, to a large extent, life is a choice we make, not something thrust upon us.  Sure, there are plenty of circumstances beyond our control or even influence, but we can choose how we will respond to the things that we face in life, both good and bad - "blessings and curses", on Moses' lips - and we can choose what we want to cultivate.  This worship focus, which will carry us out through the end of September, will invite us to cultivate those things that lead to life.

I hope you'll join us!


Thursday, July 31, 2014

God, Bless the Farmers and Ranchers!

We are coming to the end of the summer series on the intersection of theology, agriculture, and the land - a series I've subtitled, "Celebrating Creation Ft. Collins Style".  I have loved getting more acquainted with the emphases of CSU as a land-grant university and getting to know more of the folks in the congregation who are involved with farming and ranching.

This coming Sunday, we are celebrating God's goodness as it finds expression in the lives of farmers and ranchers, folks who live and work hard, bringing the fruits of the soil to maturity and, finally, to harvest so that those of us not directly involved in producing our own food have something to eat. we have A LOT to eat!  The sermon title puts it succinctly: "If I Don't Work, You Don't Eat!"  And if you stop to think about, coming from the mouth of a farmer or rancher, that is absolutely true!

And while the process begins with farmers and ranchers, they certainly aren't the only ones involved in seeing that a bountiful harvest is brought to market for us.  There are many others whose lives and livelihoods are deeply involved in that industry.  And we express gratitude to them, too.

In addition to gratitude and blessings, I also want to encourage us to listen for God's voice as we walk down either the farm row, through the animal pen, or down the supermarket aisle.  Deuteronomy 8:3 reminds us that we don't live by bread (food for the body) alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.  If that's so, we should be paying a lot more attention to the things through which God might be speaking to us.  No better place for most of us to start with than the grocery store!  I would challenge each of us to listen for "God's word" in the beauty and bounty of those sacred aisles.  It's real important that we look for ways to tie our faith to the common things of life that we experience day-in-and-day-out.

Finally, we'll be celebrating communion together this Sunday.  Talk about the direct tie between food and our faith!  God seeks to nourish not only our bodies but our souls, as well.  And Christ gave Himself to and for us with the reminder from John's Gospel that our dependence upon Christ for our spiritual life is no less real than our dependence upon food for the health of our bodies.

Between 10 and 11 AM outside by the South doors on the South lawns of the Church (where the big parking lot is), a few of our farmers and ranchers will be on hand to tell us about their lives and work - this is especially geared toward young children, who are encouraged to worship with the rest of the congregation on communion Sundays.  You won't want to miss "Abbey" - she's precious!

See you Sunday,