Rev. Laura Hewett Becker

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April 16, 2021

Rev. Laura Hewett Becker

Do All to the Glory of God

Looking at it one way, you could say, “Anything goes. Because of God’s immense generosity and grace, we don’t have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster.” But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well. (1 Corinthians 10: 23-24, The Message)

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other.(1 Corinthians 10: 23-24, NRSV)

“Everything is permissible,” but not everything is beneficial. “everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up. No one is to seek his own good, but the good of the other person. (1 Corinthians 10: 23-24, Christian Standard Bible)

I believe this scripture is one of the most difficult to apply in living out our faith with grace. In a world and culture where personal choice is highly valued, protected, and fought for, Paul writes this wisdom for the church in Corinth and us. Paul has been addressing the rights of Christians, warning of idolatry, and confronting divisive behavior. He finally lands his teaching in verse 31, “so, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”

That’s the difficulty! For us humans to figure out what the FOR the glory of God is. As Christians in the Methodist tradition, we use phrases to help us stay focused on that which we believe glorifies. You may have heard or seen these: ‘Do Good, Do No Harm, and Stay in Love with God’ or ‘Open Minds, Open Hearts, Open Doors’. When you add the daily circumstance of racism, global pandemic, oppression, privilege, and liberty, you have the perfect mix for growth or destruction. Each of us will have to make individual choices in matters of faith and we are called as a faith community to make choices that are based on the good of the other. I am so glad to live in a community with a diversity of voices and perspectives because I believe when we listen to each other and seek a way together then we are more fully the body of Christ.

I need to know from others what is experienced as harm so they might stay in love with God. I need to find what is good to do so that I might be one who points others to God’s glory. I need to recognize that just because its permissible doesn’t mean it is beneficial, efficacious, or strengthens the community of faith. I think Paul invites us to the endeavor of faith and grace in action.

As we continue to make steps toward relaunching ministries and further opening the facilities for ministry functions, I am hopeful that our community will continue to hold each other with the honor and respect that builds our community witness to God’s glory. To that end, the Covid Response Task Group will review protocols and update the plan for summer months.

Currently, we are offering two worship services and as we reach in-door capacities a third worship time may be added. Small groups are beginning to ask to be on the room schedule/calendar as well. Our protocol has set room capacity based on social distancing guidelines which will be limiting to some of the sizes of classes we have in our church family. Several groups are already meeting on-site.

Relaunching is a huge experience of change, accommodation, and self-sacrificing action. If you are open, interested and ready to serve, we can find a place for you to offer your gifts. It will take many of us to be the hands and feet of Jesus as we welcome people back into our spaces. Your hospitable hearts will be the mortar that builds up our faith family. Even as you let us know your readiness to serve, I would love to share areas of need such as: Audio/Visual Worship Tech, Livestream Host/Greeter, Fellowship Hall Tech Attendant, Clean-up Pew Crew, Ushers, liturgist, office volunteer, HVAC filter attendant, and so much more.

May God give us the mercy and grace to be the church!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Laura

March 5, 2021

Rev. Laura Hewett Becker

Do you know the “Jesus Prayer”? Which one?

“Our Father, who art in heaven…”

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Or maybe, “Father, I thank you that you heard me. I know that you always hear me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so that they may believe you sent me.”

The “Jesus Prayer” to which I’m referring is one that has developed as a mantra through storytelling. The Lenten Study with JD Walt begins with his learning and practicing this prayer he discovered from Franny, a character in a book called Franny and Zooey, who refers to The Way of a Pilgrim as introducing her to a mantra known as the “Jesus Prayer.”

I hope to introduce it to you as a practice for this Lenten season as we lean into listening to Jesus.

The prayer has three simple phrases with one aim, and one aim only. To endow the person who says it with Christ – consciousness:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a son/daughter/child.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a saint.

I suggest praying it when your feet hit the floor, while brushing your teeth, or any other time of the day when your walking. Pray it as you step toward Easter Resurrection. Let the words sink in and wonder what it is to be a sinner, child, and saint. Let this core identity speak as God defines you.

“For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:15-17 NRSV)

I look forward to seeing you in worship and sharing more about how this prayer transforms us and helps us to look at life in light of God’s mercy.

May God grant us mercy!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Laura

February 19, 2021

Rev. Laura Hewett Becker

Anyone looking for the ‘control-alt-delete’ command for 2021 this week? I have sensed a frustration this week as we have been weathering the epic, unprecedented, never experienced in Texas Winter Storm. All of life seems to be stuck, frozen, and the uncertainty once again stirs within searching for which program or process is not responding. It dumbfounds.

I find myself looking for a sign from God as to what this mess needs to do with me. Here it is: The season of Lent designs to interrupt the business-as-usual pattern of our lives. It begins with Ash Wednesday and the in-your-face-reminder, “From dust you have come and to dust you will return. Repent and believe the gospel.” (J.D. Walt, Listen to Him)

One of the many aspects of life is ‘interruption’. In the context of ministry, it is imperative for ministers (that’s all of us who believe in Christ) to learn that ministry often happens within the interruptions. Jesus is often seen in the scriptures teaching, healing, praying, sleeping, and eating. Inevitably someone or something comes as an interruption. A desperate father pleads for his help for a dying daughter, a mother is concerned about wine shortage, friends are caught in a storm while he is sleeping, a woman at a well engages in a long theological debate; all are moments where Jesus sets aside himself for the sake of being present with those in need of it.

Laying aside our agenda, convenience, and patterns of daily habit is not an easy task. It is however a task of love. Over a lifetime of watching people in crisis I can attest how crisis can become the entire focus of one’s life. I’d suggest that it is quite natural and necessary to set aside many things when crisis arise like a death in the family, a debilitating illness, a devastating loss of job or relationship, a natural disaster, and especially when more than one is occurring.

I think it is most appropriate to allow time for a ‘reset’ as that cursed rotating circle on the computer screen of Life sometimes demands. I think that is one of the ordinary signs that God has used with me. Take a breath. Drink a little water. Pray. And then take the next step you can. The interruption is likely to become the very place where you experience the grace of God working in your life.

I pray that as we continue through the winter storm aftermath (for I know a little secret – it’s the little disasters after the Disaster that will need our care and attention too) we will be open to the interruptions that draw us closer to each other and God. I pray you will interrupt your day with prayer, listening to God’s Word, meal-time with others, and helping a neighbor. These are the basic, essentials for a merciful grace-filled life.

If Jesus can be interrupted from his heavenly throne responsibilities so that we might experience and know what Love looks like then whatever interruption comes today can humble us to a place where we can show that same love to others.
Let’s listen to Jesus.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Laura

February 12, 2021

Rev. Laura Hewett Becker

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. Colossians 1:15-16 (NRSV)

A few weeks ago a preschooler proclaimed during chapel time God is dead. She further explained that God isn’t real because God can’t be seen. Well, this pastor couldn’t pass up a teaching opportunity. So, I left my other lesson plan and fixed my eyes on her. I asked her and the whole class to take a deep breath, then another. I asked them to put their hand on their chest and breath again. Do you feel your chest move, can you feel your lungs expand and blow out air? Next, I asked the class to notice the air coming out of their mouth and nose. Can you see it? No, but you know its there because it comes in and out of us. God is like air in that way. We can’t see it, it is invisible however we know it is there because there are visible signs of it moving – when trees bend when the wind blows, that is air moving unseen and seen at the same time. God is like breath little one. God is not dead. God is certainly real and is close as our breath moving in and out.

Whether you are a preschooler in the faith or an ever-growing adult, we live with that same question every day. It’s okay to admit that we struggle with trusting in that which and whom we cannot see? How do we trust in the Invisible and Visible God? How do we believe that all things have been created through and for Christ?

The scripture says Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; in him all things were created, through him and for him. The notion of Christ’s action in creation should astound us, cause an awe that stirs us first to worship and then to submission. Why submission, you might ask. The verse says Jesus is the firstborn of creation which presumes that we follow in being born of creation. Acknowledging the supremacy of Christ is critical to understanding the work of God in creating everything. It sets a foundation for us to understand that we too are a work of God and so participate in making visible God.

One of my favorite presentations of submitting to God’s creating process is from the Skit Guys in their “God’s Chisel” dramatic-comedy skit. I hope you will give it a look. I was introduced to their ministry while attending a United Methodist Gathering of Youth in 2003. Their visual always reminds me of the difficult and beautiful work that is constantly happening around us and especially in us.

For us to be created anew as we have heard in the previous sermon series, we will definitely need to cultivate habits for listening to him. Listening to Jesus will be our focus as be move through the forty days that culminate with Easter. I look forward to your participation in worship online or in-person as we step on a road to resurrection together.

May God continue to create us anew and bring us to new moments of resurrection.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Laura

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