Choose Hope

There are few things in this life of which we can be sure. Just when we think we have things figured out, something unexpected pops up. In times like those, one can choose disappointment, anger, and despair or one can look to Jesus who is the foundation of our HOPE. Worship link: https://youtu.be/S2v3pzD6Iqo

Choose Joy

The COVID-19 global pandemic, and all its accompanying disruptions, has challenged us in ways both foreseen and unexpected. Maybe one of the most unexpected consequences of the last six months has been the sense of grief we've experienced over losses both small and large. Some have experienced losses that are large and significant, losses like jobs and loved ones. Nearly everyone has experienced losses that are maybe less significant, but no less real.... time with friends and loved ones, milestone celebrations like graduations and weddings, and summer vacations. And then there are the less tangible losses like loss of a sense of freedom or the loss of a feeling of security. If you live your life connected with a church, you've known loss in that area of your life, too. In-person worship was absent for a long time, and a return to that practice is quite different than before. Helpful friendships and supportive relationships have been difficult to maintain. At Union Chapel Indy there has been significant construction on the building in our absence over these last months. Even the space will feel different when we experience it again. Grief is a natural response to loss, and it has its place in a healthy healing process. And we trust that God is in our grief with us. We also look to God for a way through the grief. Scripture promises, that even though "... weeping may linger for the night... joy comes with the morning." (Psalm 30:5 NRSV) Even as we grieve the losses of recent months, God gives us the opportunity to choose another way. Though we may not feel happy, we can choose joy - with God and with confidence! Worship Link: https://youtu.be/Q2TttwIbLDo

Art & Nature at Union Chapel

Today we celebrate God's presence and beauty as we experience in them in both art and nature. Staff persons Amanda Keller and Megan Sharp led a summer event here at Union Chapel that connected art with nature with God.... and we have the joy of hearing all about that today. Worship Link: https://youtu.be/ECMeqBYupNE

Going and Growing

"When I find the perfect person, I'll consider a committed relationship." "When my significant other and I have enough money saved, enough debt paid off, and a house purchased, then we'll get married." "When we get the rest of our lives in order and we can afford to raise a child, we'll consider having children." There is value in having goals and a sense of what's important in your life. The wisdom to "not get the horse in front of the cart" has merit. But the fact of the matter is, if we wait until all the conditions of our lives are just right before taking the next big step, we'll never move at all. Rarely does the perfect job present itself at just the right time. Rarely are all conditions ideal for taking that big risk. And when we first take up with Jesus, rarely are we fully equipped to live the life to which he calls us. The good news is that God's grace continues on, not only calling us to new life, but creating that new life in us. God's grace not only woos and welcomes us, it goes with us into this new life and grows us in Christ-like ways. We don't have to have our lives together to walk with Jesus. We certainly don't have to be perfect. Grace calls us to new life and then gives us the power to actually pull it off. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bWjFeSXKxo

Righted and Welcomed

Colleges have them; sororities and fraternities have them; private clubs and swanky restaurants have them. What do these all have? Entrance requirements. To enter and enjoy the benefits of these places and organizations, persons must do certain things and/or meet certain criteria. The onus is on the applicant or prospective customer to prove that they have the qualifications, the resume, the income, the look or the character to be accepted into the group or activity. God has quite a different strategy for filling his house. He simply opens the door and invites people in. No entrance exam, no income requirements, not even a dress code. Where grace is, you are welcome. And where God is, there is grace. "The door's unlocked, come on in!" Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4wbHqxoD2U&t=25s

Wooed and Pursued

(We are the beloved of God, and because God loves us so deeply, God never stops pursuing us, drawing us to God's self, or growing us in love and grace.) Grace is a word that carries all sorts of meanings and connotations in the modern English language… * We say “grace” at a meal to offer a prayer of thanks. * To be “graceful” or “gracious” suggests that one is courteous, kind, and pleasant. * We might say someone moves with “grace” when they are elegant and move with ease. But as a word we use in talking about the Christian faith it carries a very specific meaning and sits at the center of our understanding of who God is and how we experience God’s care for us. The Christian faith teaches that grace is “… the love and mercy given to us by God, because God wants us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it.” (umc.org) John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist tradition gave us a significant and rich understanding of how God’s grace woos us, claims us, and grows us in Christ-likeness. Wesley understood grace as God’s active presence in our lives giving us the power to respond to God and live a victorious life in Christ. Songwriter Matthew West sums up the power and promise of God at work in our lives with these words: Grace Wins. As we make our way through each day, face challenges of all kinds, suffer hardships and hurts; as we doubt, despair, and deal with all manner of disappointment, the Bible, John Wesley and Matthew West all remind us that God is at work for our good... that because God loves us so dearly and so deeply, God's desire for us is unstoppable.... and God’s grace always wins! Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Xcw9sLegjA

A Heart for Doing Life Together

We modern Americans are an independent lot. We take pride in forging our own trails, building our own future, and doing things the way we want to do them. And there’s something to be said for vision, perseverance, and the desire to make one’s own way in the world. But if we spend much time at all in the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus, we see that the life of a follower of Jesus is not an independent life, but a life lived in community. Among the first things that Jesus did in his public ministry was gather a group of people around him with whom to do life. They traveled together, prayed and worshiped together, served together, encouraged and challenged each other, and surely even had fun together. God’s own self lives in community as the Triune God, the three-in-one God (sometimes called by the names Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). We were made for community by a God that dwells also in community. Across the history of the Christian church, followers of Jesus have found comfort, encouragement, and growth in their life with Jesus, as they’ve been a part of Christian community. After Jesus ascended to heaven, that first small community of followers launched the church. Our own Methodist tradition was birthed in groups of followers who met to pray for each other and hold each other accountable in their faith habits. And still today we continue to find that same support and encouragement in the community that is the church - for our own benefit and the benefit of the world! Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_ZEi_AQvj8

Frustrations abound when people around us don't think like we think and do things like we would have them be done. And we might (jokingly) exclaim, "Wouldn't the world be a much better place if everyone just thought and acted like me?!" Of course, the world would not be a better place if that were the case. In fact, it might be that the world would come to a screeching halt if we were all alike! If we were all engineers, who would create the music and art that inspires us? If we were all teachers, who would grow the food and make the clothes we need. It takes everyone doing what they do best for us each and all to enjoy a functioning, safe community. And the church is no different. If in the Body of Christ (another name for the church) we were all stellar administrators, who would lead the worship music and prepare the worship space and Communion elements? What if we were all the best at keeping the building in good order and fixing broken things, who would welcome newcomers, visit the sick, and teach the children? As it is, in God's wisdom, God has created each one in the Body of Christ to bring, do and be, what only that person can bring, do and be. God has created each one with special and unique abilities and gifts designed to benefit the Body and ultimately the world. What part are you in the Body of Christ? We aren't complete without you! Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSAGN-sJFD4

Heart of Worship

One of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been the opportunity it has given us to recognize and praise the many people in our communities and around the world who have always - and especially during this difficult time - served the greater good; helped people in need; and given sacrificially for the benefit of others. Seeing and celebrating the best in healthcare workers, public servants, retail and food service workers, community leaders, as well as everyday people who are kind, loving, and caring, helps us to be better people ourselves. To praise another is to recognize the good in them and be inspired to find and develop that good in ourselves. The practice of Christian worship does the very same thing for the followers of Jesus. To praise a good and gracious God who makes God's own self known through Jesus, is to be inspired to find and develop that same goodness and grace in ourselves. As we lift our hearts and voices in worship on a regular basis, we not only articulate our praise to God, we are formed in our own hearts, lives, and loving to be more like the One we worship. For all its diversity in content and context, corporate Christian worship is one of the most dearly held, dearly beloved, gifts of the faith. People of faith the world over, throughout the ages, have held worship as the central practice of their faith. The heart of our life together as the church is to connect with God and each other in worship and praise. Even across the current digital distance, God is worthy of our adoration, praise, and worship... of our best efforts to offer up something of worth to the One Most Worthy. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHaHM7k2rZI&t=4s

Heart for the Stranger

It's common to see on a mom's social media feed, a photo of their child with the caption, "My heart." Shorthand for expressing how deeply she loves her child; how committed she is to that child; how very much her mind, her life, her work, her efforts, are invested in her children. Sweethearts sign their notes to each other with a heart - it's a symbol of their love and affection. One source claims that the red heart emoji ❤️ is the second most used emoji the world over (second only to the joy smiley face emoji, represented by a teary-eyed laughing face [ ] ). For much of human history, the heart has been considered the seat of human emotion, and the place where those things most dear to us reside. In a worship series titled "Matters of the Heart" that Pastor Elizabeth Gilbert will launch on July 12, she will share some of the things most dear to her in her life with Jesus and in her ministry. In "Matters of the Heart" Pastor Elizabeth will reveal the heart Christ has given her for the stranger, for worship, for the unique gifts Jesus has given each of us, and for our life together in community. Union Chapel Worship will continue online at least through the Sundays of July. You'll find worship each week posted on Union Chapel's YouTube Channel (search YouTube for Union Chapel Indy), as well as linked to the church's Facebook page, facebook.com/UnionChapelIndy. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZ01vmnBuLk

Previous1234