Why Methodist?  Part 2

Last week I wrote about grace, this overwhelming love of God that is at the core of the Methodist way of being the church.  One young friend told me that God loves us and there is nothing we can do about it.  That is grace. The love we don’t deserve or earn.  God loves us and we, in turn, extend that love to others. 

Of course, on any given day, I may not feel very loved.  (Or loving for that matter.) 

So if grace is such a big deal, how do we get a hold of it? 

I am glad you asked. 

We are Methodists.  So we have “methods.”   Really, we have methods for opening ourselves to grace.  Sometimes they are called “means of grace.”  They are things we can do that make us receptive to grace. 

For example:

Praying daily.  Do you have a habit of prayer?  When I wake up in the morning, I like to linger in bed and think about the day ahead.  That’s become my prayer time.  In some ways, I welcome God before I welcome anything else.  Is there a time of day that works for you to talk and listen to God? 

Worship.  Worship is an opening to grace, a time to gather together, set down whatever we have been carrying, give our souls an opportunity to reset in the possibilities of God, and then launch into the world and the week refueled. 

Baptism and Holy Communion.  These are sacraments, holy moments when we do what Jesus did during his life.  Water on our skin, washed in grace.  Bread and juice in our mouth, nourished by grace. 

Serving.  Nothing turns our lives inside out like serving others.  Our youth have just returned from a mission trip and for a week they set aside what they might have wanted to do to make life better for others.  Each Friday teams of WDMUMC folks are going to local schools and the parks to hand out food.  They are serving and through their service, grace is finding its way to them.  You can hear it in their voices as they share their stories.    

Reading scripture.  First let me just say, I think reading scripture alone by myself is hard.  I have been studying scripture for more than 20 years and I still think that.  Scripture is really God’s story among people like us and it is a treasure—but for me, it is still hard.  I like to read scripture with other people.  I like to talk about what we are reading, hear different perspectives.  If you want to read the bible and you don’t know where to start, I suggest the book of Mark.  It is the story of Jesus’ ministry.  And then Philippians.  Read it like it is a love letter to you and your family.  And if you are like me and you don’t want to read the bible by yourself, you are invited to #JustRead in my office on Tuesdays at 4:30.  (No preparation necessary.)  And if that time doesn’t work for you, let me know and we can start a group at a time that does work for you.  Honestly, there is so much good stuff to wrestle within the bible.  Which leads to the next way we can welcome grace….

Holy Conversation.  Meeting with others and talking about our lives and our challenges and God.  Here at WDMUMC, we have created lots of covenant groups and that’s what they do.  Our Stephen minsters do this too.   Our Sunday school classes are places where good conversation happens and where friendships are formed.  Pastor Trevor is our new associate pastor and a big part of his job is talking with his peers, people his age who so often have not found a place in the church.  Sharing, listening, responding.  Loneliness is rampant in our world.  A good conversation can be filled with grace. 

Holy Stopping.  Sometimes people call this fasting.  I like “holy stopping.”  It means to step away from something that might be absorbing all our time.  A friend of mine gave up reading books for a while—not that books are bad.  She just came to realize that reading was absorbing all her time.  Another friend realized that Facebook was consuming hours and hours of her life.  She gave up all social media one day a week.  I holy stop on Friday.  (That’s why you never get an email reply from me on Friday.  I am holy stopping.)  Holy Stopping makes time for God. 

These are our “Methodist methods”—I think there are probably dozens more.  Sitting quietly.  Taking a walk.  Preparing food with love.  What do they all have in common?  They open up time in and space in our lives for God.  Grace finds a path to us when we give grace an opening.  And once we experience grace, our lives begin to fall in place.  Remember the peace that passes understanding?  That’s the gift of grace.  Pastor Russ used to say that he could do anything if he knew he was loved.  Grace assures us that we are. 

Honestly, we spend most of our lives acquiring something.  Money?  Lots of material things?  Some sense of stability or privilege. 

What if we spent our lives in the pursuit of grace?  I think grace is the only economy that can really sustain us. 

Pardon me for going on so long.  I like being Methodist because I love grace.  Maybe because grace tells me that God loves me.  I need that.

Blessings,

Pastor Cindy

Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265
515-279-0826

WDMUMC: pass this on to people who might need it today! 

Like us on Facebook or visit us at wdmumc.org to find out what is happening around the church!

We worship on Sunday mornings at 8:30 in a traditional way and at 11 in a casual way.  You are invited! 

This week at WDMUMC:

Parking Lot Progress Means Parking Lot Mess!  As I write these trucks and bobcats and a big piece of equipment that rumbles a lot are tearing up our parking lot.  If you come to the church today, please park at Hillside Elementary and enter the church through the narthex doors by the sanctuary.  And wave to the paving crew. They are working hard.  Does anyone want to bring them cookies today? 

State Fair Food Stand!  There’s still time to sign up for our state fair food stand!  Go to wdmumc.org to sign up. 

Root beer bartender needed!  On the first Sunday of each month at 3:30 our pastors lead a worship service at Edgewater Retirement Community.  We also serve root beer floats.  This Sunday our regular root beer team are on vacation.  Would you be willing to serve root beer floats?  Reply to this email! 

God has given you grace.  Pass it on.  The world is hungry for grace.