Sunday, October 30, 2011

What Would You Do?

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Reformation Sunday

2 Corinthians 4:5-12
We preach not ourselves, but Jesus

What does a German farmer in Ephrata PA in 1790 have in common with a lawyer from Chicago in 1873? And what do they have in common with a young Israelite king from three millennia earlier? Wait and see.
• Reformation Sunday (Martin Luther's desire to lead a life and a church of scriptural faith and not human dogma).
United Methodist Heritage. I'm a John Wesley fan. And while Methodism traces its heritage back to JW, several different flavors of Methodism preceded today’s UMC…
Who remembers what CUMC was before 1968? CEUB. (68: Evangelical United Brethren + Methodist Episcopal Church)
How about before 1946? CUB. (46: Evangelical Association + United Brethren)
Anybody know any of the stories of origins of EA or UB?
From the city of York, Reformed pastor PW Otterbein and Lancaster Mennonite M. Boehm famously declared "We Are Brothers" at Long’s Barn in Lancaster PA in 1767.
Berks County layman Lutheran-turned-Methodist Jacob Albright, father of the Evangelical Association, 1800:
• Jacob Albright was that German PA farmer I mentioned earlier. A Lutheran by heritage, Albright went through a spiritual crisis in 1790 when three of his children died of dysentery. While death drives some people away from God, it drives others TO God. Though he found no solace in the Lutheran Church, Jacob Albright DID find comfort through some local UB and Methodist church groups. He dug into the fellowship, immersed himself in Bible study, and spent long periods in prayer, fasting, and self-denial, and was motivated to preach the word. He organized Bible studies and discipleship groups, and his groups elected him as the first overseer or bishop of the Evangelical Association in 1807.  He had turned in his grief to God, and God worked great life through his discipleship.
• We read from 2 Samuel 12 earlier in the service… While David’s son lives, David pleads to God for his son’s life, taking neither food nor comfort for a week. But when the child dies, David takes a shower, worships God, and eats.
• I bet you’re figuring out the connection to the Chicago lawyer in 1873…
Horatio Spafford had had a few great years in the 1860s. Newly married, a prominent lawyer with a fair amount of real estate in Chicago, his life took a turn for the worse when his only son died of scarlet fever in 1870. Then in 1871 the Chicago fire destroyed his properties, consuming his life savings. Then in 1873 while traveling to England follow evangelist Dwight Moody, the ship carrying his wife and four daughters (ages 11, 9, 5, 2) sank in the Atlantic. His wife was among the survivors.
What did Horatio Spafford do in his grief? First, he wrote the hymn It Is Well With My Soul, and then he and his wife moved to Jerusalem (yes, that Jerusalem) and started the American Colony, a religious society and mission which served the needy of the community for three quarters of a century.
• I am amazed and inspired by the stories of these men, who, by the grace of God, in the midst of personal tragedy, turned to God in discipleship. I see in their lives the understanding that yes, death impacts our world, but God is greater, and while we yet have life and breath, we can serve and praise God. For we have something great, something priceless, and it’s not something physical or worldly, it is the love of God which calls us into mission and works our healing along the way.
Your life is a gift, it is not something you own. All life around you is a gift. And the greatest gift is the invitation to eternal life, life without death, life without suffering, life in and through God’s son Jesus Christ. So use the gift of your life to point to the greatest gift.
• Hymn 493 It Is Well With My Soul

No comments:

Post a Comment