As of July 1, I have the great privilege of introducing myself as the pastor of Laguna Country United Methodist Church. On July 2, I’ll be preaching at the church for the first time, from Matthew 10:40-42. This short reading shows us that little things matter. Even a cup of cold water offered to the “little ones” will result in a reward from Christ.
Receiving the prophets and righteous among us will earn us the rewards of prophets and righteous people. This sounds great until we realize that a prophet’s reward might mean death. A righteous person’s reward might mean ridicule or rejection. And there was a time in the U.S. when providing a cup of water to someone of a different race could lead to real trouble.
Jesus knew that little things matter, but that didn’t make them easy. It sounds simple to say, “Love everyone as you love yourself.” But most of us do a terrible job of loving ourselves, let alone loving others in healthy, life-giving ways. Yet, the little things we do to help live into these “simple” instructions are the steps to discipleship that keeps us on the path with Christ. And so we offer a cup of water, a warm welcome to every person, and an open mind and heart to those who teach us ways to strengthen our faith, deepen our discipleship, and improve our world. For these are all the things that change us for the better. Perhaps if we each picked one simple thing each day, we would pave a road of faithful discipleship that will make it easier for others to take their own simple steps toward loving God, loving self, and loving neighbor.
Little things matter as we take the steps of love that will make this church and our world the places we yearn for them to be. Simple or not, I look forward to taking these steps with you in the years to come.
Yours on the journey,
Pastor B. J.
September 3 - Genesis 40:1-23
We are a people of dreams and visions. While Joseph was in prison, he interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker. Dreams are a tricky thing and without someone with the gift of interpretation, they can be easily misunderstood. If you have been gifted with dreams and visions, share them with someone who can interpret them. Likewise, if you have the gift of interpretation, don’t keep that gift to yourself. It is a spiritual gift that is purely utilitarian in nature. Such is true of every spiritual gift - they are for the benefit of the community.
September 10 - Genesis 41:1-16, 25-40
“Governor Over Egypt”
When Pharaoh was troubled with dreams, Joseph was able to interpret his dreams - dreams that God had given Pharaoh to save Egypt from famine. Pharaoh was so impressed that he made Joseph governor over all Egypt. Pharaoh saw that God worked in Joseph’s life and placed his trust in him. We are called to place our trust in those who God works through.
September 17 Genesis 42:1-19, 29-32, 35-38; Matthew 18:21-22
“A Journey to Forgiveness”
When asked by Peter if he must forgive a brother who sins against him as many as seven times, Jesus says: not seven, but seventy-seven times. But this by no means cheap grace - something that is given without some sign of repentance. We are asked to forgive because, if we cannot, we become trapped and damaged by our inability to do so.
September 24 Genesis 43:1-2, 16, 32-34; 44:1-5, 12-13, 18-33
As governor of Egypt, in clothes and appearance Joseph’s brothers would not recognize, Joseph tests them to see if they would sacrifice Benjamin as they had sacrificed him into slaver years before. Had the brothers amended their ways? Would they protect another son of Rachel? They passed the test. Whether Joseph will pass his own test will have to wait until next Sunday’s sermon.