|THE JOYFUL NOISE
Changing our Hearts and Bearing Fruit
We have been through a long, cold winter. I am sure you are ready for some warmer temperatures and sunshine. I know I am. Soon the hillsides and fields will be changing from brown to green. Green buds will be pushing their way up through the soil. Trees will begin to leaf out. Gardening ideas will pop into your heads. Vegetables? Flowers? Spring is also Easter time, when we approach the most significant historic day in human history - the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We prepare our hearts for the resurrection in Lenten season and reflect about what Jesus went through on his final days as a human on this earth. We know that we have life because Jesus went to the grave with our sins. He gave life in the spirit, to all those who believe. As we think about the Easter event, I am reminded of the parable Jesus told about an unproductive fig tree in the Gospel of Luke. The farmer (God) wanted to chop it down because it hadn’t produced fruit in three years. Since its value was tied to ability to produce fruit, it was worthless to the farmer. Why would anyone beleve it might start producing again?
The master gardener (Jesus) stepped in and suggested that God not cut it down yet, but try something to bring about a change that might result in the production of figs. Maybe it would produce if the soil was improved. Like the fig tree, we too may stop producing fruit of the spirit. We drift into worldly ways. We become focused on ourselves instead of Christ. The world seeps in through TV, the Internet, and the smart phone.We lose our sense of focus on faith. And the farmer looks at us and says, “You are worthless to me.” But Jesus again, intercedes and says, perhaps some spiritual fertilizer will help you and I bear fruit again.
Let’s move toward Easter with an openness to the changes Jesus wants to make in the soil of our hearts. We can flower again and bear fruit of the spirit. But it takes an element of humility and repentance to start the process whereby God’s spiritual fertilizer can bring us back to life. We become receptive through regular prayer, morning reflection, reading of scripture, being accountable to those we love for our behavior, connecting in fellowship, and worship at church.
Grace and peace!
IN OUR THOUGHTS AND IN OUR PRAYERS:
Please let us know if you would like a name added to, or removed from,
APRIL UPCOMING EVENTS
SHARING the PASSION of JESUS CHRIST
The Wheatland class starts after fellowship at 1 p.m., so bring your lunch.
The Chugwater class will be right after church. Barb Fletcher will lead the study there.
Scripture selections for the class: Matthew 27:31–33, Mark 15:20–22, Luke 23:26–32 and John 19:16–18.
UNITED METHODIST WOMEN
March has been a busy month for the Wheatland United Methodist Women (UMW).
The Wheatland UMW had to cancel our meeting scheduled for March 14, 2019,
The UMW performed the annual kitchen clean-up on March 19, 2019, with help from Kelvin,
On March 23, three of us drove to UMW’s 150th birthday celebration for our region at
The next UMW lunch and meeting will be held on April 11, 2019, at noon. Bring your own
CHURCH VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
Wheatland 125th ANNIVERSARY 2019
“Changing hearts, shaping lives; through faith in Jesus Christ.”
Concerning our denominational predicament and my stance ~ Pastor Riley
I personally abide by the Book of Discipline (BOD), but also empathize with LGBTQ people since they are of “sacred worth” as identified in the Social Principles (see link below). I also affirm the work of the Board of Ordained Ministry, which decides who is recommended to the Clergy Session to be ministers and ordained by the Bishop, as found in the BOD (par. 300+).
I consider the section in the BOD which talks about “Our Theological Task,” to provide important guidance (Par. 105) for addressing the issue of human sexuality. It states, “Wesley believed that the living core of the Christian faith was revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal experience, and confirmed by reason.” These four elements are commonly referred to as the “Quadrilateral.” It provides my basis for any and all determination for positions regarding human sexuality. In this section of the BOD there is a useful discussion of each of these four sources.
I recommend that you consider reading this and the other source material provided here. We should always seek to verify and confirm our understanding of scripture through study, reflection and engagement. This material can be found at: http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/theological-guidelines-sources-and-criteria
Book of Discipline 304.3 http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/homosexuality-full-book-of-discipline-statements
Social Principles http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/social-principles-social-creed
Latest from the Mountain Sky Conference & Western Jurisdiction
Below are informative news excerpts from recent Mountain Sky Conference and Western Jurisdiction emails. If you would like more detail on one these recent emails, please let me know and I will get the information to you. God bless, Kelvin L.
March 18, 2019 Excerpt
Toward the end of a day-long meeting of the Western Jurisdiction Leadership Team on March 14th, 2019, members of that team and other gathered leaders unanimously affirmed the following statement.
A Statement by the Western Jurisdiction Leadership Team Trusting in the Author of Life:
March 20, 2019 Excerpt
The group named 12 of its members to serve on the task force. “The task force of commission members was created to work with the secretary and business manager of the General Conference to address matters related to credentialing, voting and other systemic issues of the 2019 special session,” Kim Simpson, the commission’s secretary, announced at the meeting’s conclusion.
March 22, 2019 Excerpt A Statement From Your Mountain Sky Conference Cabinet We in the Mountain Sky Conference have a heritage of bold ministry, with a willingness
to break barriers and build bridges:
So it is fitting that our recent shared ministry has been blessed by the leadership of Bishop Karen Oliveto, the first openly lesbian bishop in the United Methodist connection. As heirs of such a rich legacy, we reject the Traditional Plan passed at General Conference 2019 as decisively un-Methodist in both letter and spirit. There are no second-class citizens among those created as beloved children in the image of God – not in God’s kin’dom, not in the congregations of the United Methodist Church, and not in the communities in which United Methodists are called to serve.
We acknowledge and bewail the harm done in God’s name over many years to so many who have always been welcome at God’s table, but who have been so often excluded by society and the church. To our LGBTQ siblings – as well as to our siblings of every color, ability, class, theology, or region, and each and every beloved child of God who may find yourself in any way atypical and pushed to the margins: we are heartily sorry for these our misdoings and pledge to keep the table open. To our LGBTQ siblings – clergy and laity – in particular: you have long been pawns and punching bags in the middle of a shameful, if heartfelt, dispute and we are no longer willing to allow you to bear this burden alone. We see you. We stand with you.
To our siblings who lament actions and decisions seeming to fly in the face of explicit United Methodist policy and church law: we humbly offer that standing against unjust, demeaning, and hypocritical laws is a practice learned first from Jesus with, to name a few, the lame man at Bethsaida (John 5), the stooped woman in the synagogue (Luke 13), and his disciples’ failure to maintain ritual hygiene (Matthew 15). More recently, we learned from the saints of the civil rights movement on buses, bridges, and at lunch counters what biblical obedience looks like in a modern context. Actions in this tradition are far from capitulation to secular culture. Rather, we recognize them as means by which God works to critique and deconstruct the unholy witness of a church striving for perfection in love.
We reject denominational adherence to narrowly circumscribed litmus tests, such as literal and limited readings of English translations of Scripture, as inadequate and contrary to holistic theological reflection as outlined by the Wesleyan quadrilateral of Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. At the same time, we do not reject those who hold these views, preferring instead to live in a healthy, dynamic, and catholic (universal) tension with all who earnestly and joyfully seek to embody and grow in the love of Christ. What we envision is not a progressive or traditionalist church, but a church home for all God’s people where all seek to learn from each other in partnership with the Holy Spirit. This church home is steeped in the acceptance and expression of God’s overflowing grace – prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying – as evidenced in creation, cross, and the beloved community of God’s kin’dom.
In anticipation of God doing a new thing among us in the coming months and years, the appointive cabinet of the Mountain Sky Conference will continue to live into the vision of the One Church Plan – which was endorsed by clear majorities of the Council of Bishops, the Commission on a Way Forward, and United States delegates to General Conference 2019. Pastors and congregations in the Mountain Sky Conference will continue to be actively and categorically supported in serving their communities as their conscience requires. Appointment making will continue to take into account the diversity of individual clergy and cultural contexts across the vast geography – physical, spiritual, and theological – of the Mountain Sky Conference.
Finally, we implore all who have called the United Methodist Church home to call forth an image that for you exemplifies our United Methodist family at its best. Rest in that image for a moment. Is it an infant, bald head still dripping, held aloft as she was introduced to her church family for the first time as a baptized child of God? Is it the weary smiles all around as the last tools were packed up at the end of a mission project? Is it the tender shared vigil as a loved one made their last journey home? Is it the church family’s voices raised heavenward as candles pierced the Christmas Eve night? These are moments that recall our best selves, our best church, and sustain us when even cherished familial relationships are strained to breaking.
We in the Mountain Sky Conference are striving to live in God’s grace and abundance as we lead a re-energized, peaceful, and compassionate movement to claim the
life-changing love of Jesus Christ for ALL people. There will always be an open chair at the table for you as we sing together:
Be present at our table, Lord; be here and everywhere adored; thy creatures bless, and grant that we may feast in paradise with thee