May 19, 2010

Port Charlotte, FL: Edgewater United Methodist Church

We found a great little church when we were visiting Tom's family in Port Charlotte recently. Edgewater United Methodist, 19190 Cochran Blvd. Sat. Contemporary: 6 pm, Sunday Contemporary: 9:30 and 11. Sunday Traditional: 8 am. 941.625.3039. If you go to their website, check out their ministries.
We went to the Sunday contemporary at 9:30. This little church is in an old movie theatre, very, very cool. In one theatre, they have the traditional service and leave everything set up. It is traditional Methodist and has lots of candelsticks and formal objects that I know nothing about since I'm a Baptist, but lots of gold and velvety material and the pastor wears a robe. And maybe a crown? Hat? Not sure.
I popped in a big room with coffee and snacks, most excellent. I then went in the contemporary theatre whereupon I discovered that old theatres make dreamy sanctuaries. Stadium seating so everyone can see. Comfy, cushiony seats. Drinkholders (!!).
On this particular Sunday, the pastor spoke about the Prodigal Son story (Luke 15:25-32, Romans 5:10), posing these initial questions:

  1. What is your understanding of lostness?
  2. What are the signs of lostness?
  3. What can we do about it?
What is lostness?
Instead of immediately discussing the lostness of the lost son, we examined the lostness of the older son who never left home. His righteousness keeps him lost. Both sons wanted to control the father's things. The analogy of the parable is that we, of course, are the sons and God is the Father. We can derive two ways to be lost, apart from God, to be our own Lord:
1. By keeping all the rules
2. By breaking all the rules
By keeping all the rules, Jesus isn't your savior, you are. You think you earn salvation, you feel that God owes you.

Signs of Lostness (for self diagnosis, not to elbow the guy next to you)
1. Deep Anger. You feel you deserve something better or different.
2. A Joyless, Mechanical Obedience. It's a duty, a means to an end.
3. A Coldness Towards Younger-Son Types. Self-righteous, non graceful, mericless attitude.
4. A Lack of assurance of the Father's love. You will never be sure if you're good enough.
5. An Unforgiving, Judgmental Spirit.
What to do about this spiritual condition?
1. Know and understand the difference. The younger son knew he was lost. The older son didn't know he was lost. Most self-righteous people don't understand the lack of value in their self-righteousness.
2. Get a fresh perspective of this story. Jesus was telling this story to His mortal enemies, that they have fundamentally misunderstood everything, yet Jesus was loving and tender. God is loving and forgiving to the repentant, even to the self-righteous. He is a God of second, third, fourth.... chances, reminding us that the angels rejoice when just one sinner turns in repentance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Self-righteousness - ouch! I needed this on this wonderful Wednesday a.m.

Love today's pic btw!