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Pastor’s Blog: How Is Your Heart Today?

 
 

John Wesley lived smack dab in the middle of the Age of Reason.  Isaac Newton (1642-1726) had just explained the nature of reality, or so it was assumed.  We have to imagine what it was like to be exposed to Newtonian physics in which reality was run by succinct laws and rules, such that we could figure it out with our minds.  As a result the growing consensus in academic circles was that we can know everything using our reason alone, including God.  (Consider this in contrast to Martin Luther who said sole fid, by faith alone; for these scientists it was by reason alone.)  In the midst of his culture Wesley spoke of the heart.  Remember the question the early Methodists asked of each other?  How is your heart today?  Wesley felt that religion should be more than something we think about but also something we feel and experience.

In his book, The Heart of Christianity Marcus Borg elucidates ‘heart’ thus:  Like all good metaphors, heart has more than one nuance of meaning.  It begin with, it suggests what is most central, ‘core’ and ‘essence.’  If these are to abstract as an organic metaphor heart suggests something alive, pulsating, the source of life.  It suggests something deeper than the intellect and the world of ideas…. The deeper level of self.  First we have to recognize that ‘heart’ is a metaphor; we are not talking about the organ in our bodies that pumps blood.  As a metaphor it is pointing to the deeper part of our selves – that part which connects to God.  For John Wesley, it is out of this core that we are to live, and if we do we will be on our way to perfection in love.

When people consider giving money to anything, including the church we usually do so from our rational selves.  We consider out finances, and as we do so our gifts to the church are lumped in with all our other debts, bills and investments.  It is all very reasonable.  What I believe Mike Slaughter is trying to say regarding Heart Giving is that we move away from that rational approach to supporting the church.  Giving to the church is not simply another charity – it is an expression of our deepest selves.  In one of my former churches there was a man who had lost his spouse and I visited him occasionally.  He had been an orphan when he was a child and was raised in a United Methodist orphanage, and because of that experience he was devoted to the UMC.  One time when I visited he handed me a check telling me it was his pledge saying, “For all my life I have always paid my pledge to the church first, before I pay any bills because the church is where my heart it.”  When he said that I recognized that I did just the opposite – I always started with my bills.  Since that time when I right a list of the bills on a piece of paper I put our two pledges first on the list.  It’s a kind of spiritual discipline for me to remind me where I want my heart to be. We are finishing our annual Stewardship drive this week and I urge everyone to search your hearts and give generously.  P.Jim

Our Charge Conference is early again this year – Thursday, October 15 at 7:00 pm.  Everyone is encouraged to attend. What is Charge Conference?  It is like our annual meeting – that is what it is called in the Presbyterian Church.  However as United Methodists, with our connectional system our “annual meeting” is presided over by our District Superintendent, Reverend Daniel Foster.  In this meeting we set the pastor’s salary, receive reports on membership and from the Leadership Selection and Development Committee (Nominations), and thereby elect officers for the coming year, and we answer some annual questions such as, is our insurance paid, did we file with the State for non-profit status, etc.  That’s the business.  As an annual meeting, however, opportunity is given to share and discuss the state our Church, as well as our Annual Conference.  We can ask questions of our District Superintendent.  We can ask general questions of ourselves, about where our Church is going and what our priorities are.  It can be a good time to share. I (P.Jim) am also planning to show some slides.

Ground Breaking at Ronald UMC. Many of you know over the past few years the folks at Ronald UMC have been working with the city of Shoreline, Compass Housing, and Hopelink to create low income housing next to the Church.  The Church sold some land to Compass Housing who will build the housing.  The Hopelink food bank will also move into the new facility.  The project is called Ronald Commons and the groundbreaking for the construction of the building will be Monday, October 12 at 4:30 pm.  Representatives from all the parties invested in the project, as well as our Bishop Grant Hagiya will be in attendance. I wanted all to know about this event and say that anyone would be welcome to attend.  P.Jim

 

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