Monday, July 24, 2023

Growing Together in God's Field

God loves everyone and wants everyone to live together in peace and harmony. Our part is to reflect God’s kindness. If there is any judging to do, God will do the judging. If there is any sorting to do, God will do the sorting. No matter what we think of ourselves or others, God’s expectation is that we will be respectful and cooperative, loving others as Christ has loved us.

Everyone is a child of God. Everyone has a place in God’s world. God’s own Spirit communicates her love to us and to all, helping us to know that we are her daughters and sons. One of the great sacramental messages of Holy Communion, as practiced in our United Methodist heritage, is that it is the Lord’s Table around which we gather. Likewise, it is the Lord’s World we live in, and God loved the world so much that God sent Jesus to be our savior. Today’s Bible readings invite us to grow spiritually right alongside everyone else, and let God work out the rest.


Excerpt from the manuscript of the sermon preached by 
Rev. Bill Lawson on July 23, 2023, at Briensburg UMC.

Complete Sermon with Bibliography and Notes:
 [ PDF | MP3 Audio | E-Book & Other Formats ]

Cover Image: Pixabay User Pexels. “Wheat Field,” 2016. Pixabay.   20 July 2023. 

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Sowing Seeds of Kindness

Jesus demonstrated what it means to sow seeds of kindness everywhere he went. His criticisms were reserved for those who worked against kindness. But even those criticisms were intended to protect the vulnerable while persuading the powerful to be more kind.

There is a view of Scripture that is harsh and condemning, but this is not the view of Jesus. Jesus’ view is kind, gentle, and forgiving. There is a view of Christian faith that expects large numbers, that quantifies spirituality, that measures faith in material terms. But Jesus’ expectation is measured in spiritual terms. The growth Christ looks for is the spiritual growth of each soul. The expectation is that we, like Jesus, will spread seeds of kindness wherever we go, that we will tend to those seeds and nurture them, and that we will trust God with the results. If we believe everyone is made in the image of God (and most people do believe this in one form or another regardless of their religious associations), we can also believe that every person God has made is already on some sort of spiritual journey. Rather than thinking of people as primitive and misguided souls disconnected from any relationship to their Creator, we can instead relate to everyone as spiritual beings, united with their Creator and growing by grace. We are invited to emulate Christ in planting the proverbial seeds of kindness. 


Excerpt from the manuscript of the sermon preached by 
Rev. Bill Lawson on July 16, 2023, at Briensburg UMC.

For the Complete Sermon: [ PDF | MP3 Audio | E-Book & Other Formats ]

Cover Image Photo by Larry Jacobsen. “Seed and the Sower.” Cheyenne Botanical Gardens. “A bronze statue of the Seed and the Sower – a Prairie woman – sowing seed in her garden.” Creative Commons License. Flickr.  10 July 2023.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Invitation to a Refreshing Partnership

Acceptance of Jesus’ Great Invitation, “Come unto me,” is not defined by the books we carry, the verses we quote, or the organizations we join, but by the way we love.

Normalization of prolific mass shootings and protected gun violence, rollback of women’s rights, violent rhetoric against our LGBTQ community, and racist adjudication of the death penalty are among the most recent setbacks for humanity in general and our nation in particular. As wearisome as our resistance may sometimes seem, we remember the encouragement of St. Paul through the Galatians, as expressed by Charles Gabriel in his hymn, “Let us not grow weary in the work of love.”

Christ invites us to join together in an eternal partnership, overcoming the heartbreaks and injustices of the world by ministering the healing kindness and goodness of God’s love. How refreshing it must have been to see and hear Jesus exemplify and teach, revealing the true nature of God in contrast with what those who were professing traditional orthodoxy were practicing and proclaiming! How refreshing it is for us today to hear the Great Invitation as an opportunity to join Jesus in making this world a better place, even as we look forward to the life of the world to come!   

Isn’t this what we want: Peace in our hearts, peace in our land, peace around the world? Imagine how it would be if God’s love were perfected in our personal lives and relationships. Imagine how it would be if our community, state, and nation were ultimately governed by perfect love. Imagine an entire world brought together in peace and love for everyone. This is the vision of Christ for the whole of humanity that we would love one another as Christ has loved us. Jesus invites you, me, and everyone else to join in a divine partnership of spreading peace and love. Isn’t that refreshing?

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28 KJV).


Excerpt from the manuscript of the sermon preached by 
Rev. Bill Lawson on July 9, 2023, at Briensburg UMC.

For the Complete Sermon: [ PDF | MP3 Audio | E-Book & Other Formats ]

Cover Image Photo by Pexels. “Teamwork,” 2016. Pixabay. 4 July 2023.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Kindness is the Best Offering

Here again, we are confronted with the kindness of the New Testament juxtaposed with the harshness of the Old Testament. Through the dichotomy between the two, we recognize the many vast differences between how people think of God and how Jesus reveals God. One of the greatest differences is what people think God expects of us versus what God actually expects of us. This dichotomy is not only between the Testaments but also within the Old Testament, as prophets and psalmists highlight the goodness, gentleness, and mercy of God in stark contrast with some of the other writers of the Hebrew text.

Jesus taught us to interpret all the Scriptures through God’s perspective of love instead of through the perspective of fear. Faithfulness to the Biblical text includes attention to the voice of God as revealed through the love of Christ. Even through the most troublesome passages, the Bible speaks to us of God’s loving presence and providence. 

Christ teaches us to emulate the goodness and kindness of God. That’s what we are invited to focus on, even though there are plenty of distractions in the world and even in the Bible. John wrote, “Perfect love casteth out fear.” The eternal life of God’s heavenly realm is bestowed on us as a free gift. By following Christ in kindness and trusting the kindness of our Creator, we are participants in the emerging kingdom of God “on earth, as it is in heaven.


Excerpt from the manuscript of the sermon preached by 
Rev. Bill Lawson on July 2, 2023, at Briensburg UMC.

For the Complete Sermon: [ PDF | MP3 Audio | E-Book & Other Formats ]

Cover Image Photo by Jana Wersch. “Give Water,” 2015. Pixabay.  30 June 2023.