Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sermon Notes Sunday January 21, 2007


Orthodoxy is also known as “Eastern Christianity. It includes three groups of churches primarily including, The Assyrian Churches, The Oriental Churches, and The Eastern Orthodox. There are approximately 240 million Orthodox Christians throughout the world. Russia has the largest population of about 100 million, Ethiopia has 22 million, Romania 15 million, Greece 10 million, Egypt 4 million, Syria 800 thousand, Israel 300 thousand.

The Orthodox church continues to hold that the Patriarch of Constantinople is “first among equals” among the Orthodox bishops.

There is some considerable confusion as to whether Wesley sought for some of his preachers to be ordained by a Greek Orthodox Bishop. There are accounts of such an event happening, yet Wesley did not claim responsibility for such action. There are even reports Wesley was consecrated as a Bishop by an Orthodox Bishop. Wesley was influenced by the Orthodox spirituality and his prayer life was greatly influenced by the orthodox traditions.

Orthodox Christians have a different calendar from Western Christians. The most noticeable difference being the date of Christmas as January 6 instead of December 25. This goes back to the Julian Calendar which is still used in the Orthodox tradition. (Pope Gregory introduced the “Gregorian” calendar in 1582, because the seasons were getting out of sync with the old Julian calendar.)

Unlike the Catholic Church, The Orthodox celebrate “mysteries.” These mysteries resemble Sacraments but differ in that a mystery is not limited to a list but could include any act in which a person connects with God. The common Mysteries of the church include: Baptism, Chrismation (an anointing of the Holy Spirit), Fasting, Almsgiving, Holy Communion, Repentance, Marriage, Monasticism, Holy Orders, Anointing with Oil.

Important dates in Orthodox Christianity.

1204 the sacking of Constantinople. In 1198 Pope Innocent III called for a crusade to capture the city of Jerusalem for the Christian faith. The armies of the crusade were to meet in Constantinople and sail to Jerusalem from there. The crusading armies in some confusion with the leaders of the city, attacked Constantinople. Much of the city was destroyed in fire and the chaos of war. Pope Innocent was ashamed and his attempt to take Jerusalem was a massive failure. In 2004 Pope John Paul II apologized to the Patriarch of Constantinople for the incident.

1453 Constantinople falls to the Ottoman Empire, ending the Byzantine Empire. Moscow becomes the new center of Orthodox Christianity.

If you have had the opportunity to worship in an Orthodox congregation you would be immediately struck by the iconography through out the building. Icons, paintings of saints, fill the Orthodox worship space. They tell the story of the Christian faith and they literally surround the congregation as a cloud of witnesses.

Most protestants do not understand the iconography of the Eastern tradition, for some it even seems like idol worship. For the Orthodox Christian, the icons are a means of communion with God. Remembrance of the Saints functions as a spiritual discipline to build our relationship with God. As one remembers the story of the saint it informs our contemporary Christian life. Prayer with the saints is seen as one might have a conversation with a deceased relative. It is not to worship the saint, but to reconnect to an important relationship of our life.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

January Newsletter Article

Building a Relationship

At some point as I was talking with one of my ministry mentors he shared with me a simple idea, “ministry is about relationships.” Seems obvious once it is stated, but sometimes church leaders (and church members) need to be reminded of the obvious. We gather together as a community because of the relationship with each other and the relationship we have with God. When things are working well, those relationships are a gift of grace.

This New Year’s Eve I was able to host a gathering of friends that have been getting together in one form or another for nearly 15 years now. We have celebrated marriages, the birth of children and now we are looking toward our children growing up and on our growing older. This community was formed by the relationships built through the ministry of the church. We met at first as youth at Ocean Park Camp, then as college students many of us gathered together while we were at W.S.U. These relationships are a gift of grace for me and I treasure them deeply.

It is my hope and prayer that as we gather together as the People of Longview United Methodist Church that we would understand being a disciple for Jesus Christ is to be in relationship with God and with our neighbors.

As a growing congregation our challenge is to continue to find ways to build relationships with others. Often we find ourselves at a point where we are comfortable with the number of people we have relationships with. Sometimes we don’t want to form a new relationship (relationships take work after all.) Yet, that is what we must do. We must find ways to continue to foster new relationships with others as well as deepen our relationship with God. Pray for the ministry of Longview United Methodist Church as we continue to work to build up the people of God in this New Year.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


On January 14th the Sermon will focus on early church history from the perspective of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Roman Catholic Church along with the Orthodox Church's share the roots of the first organization of Christian denominations. Today the Roman Catholic Church has approximately 1 Billion members (or 1/6 of the worlds population.) This is the largest religious organization in the world. For many the Pope is seen as the Christian world leader. There is no denying the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in the world.

On Sunday January 14th we will take a look at not only the history of the Roman Catholic Church but also its influence on the Christian faith.

Questions for Discussion:

What has been the affect of the lawsuits regarding clergy and sexual abuse on your perceptions of not only the Roman Catholic Church, but also on "The Church" of any denomination?

What Theological idea or religious practice within the Roman Catholic Church do you find the hardest to understand?

What do you most admire about the Roman Catholic Church?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year

As 2007 begins I would like to invite you into a conversation with me. It is my intention to begin the conversation on with up coming idea's for Sermons at LUMC.

This idea partly springs from a short conversation with a friend of mine at our New Years Eve gathering. I was asking about her experience of church and what would be valuable and her answer was something like "ask the hard questions." Then I asked if I should also answer them, and she gave the response I was expecting, "no."

On January 14 we will begin a new series called "Windows on the Gospel" (thanks to Adam Hamilton of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood Kansas.) These sermons will be taking a look at some of the various denominations of the Christian faith. The Schedule for the sermons is as follows:

January 14: Catholicism

January 21: Orthodoxy

January 28: The Reformers

February 4: The foundations of Methodism

February 11: Methodism

February 18: Methodism's Children

So consider this an invitation to continue to develop the community of LUMC through the wonders of the Internet.