Expectations are powerful things. They influence our words, actions, planning, and hopes. Rarely will we put effort into cooking a meal, repairing a broken appliance, or entering a negotiation without the expectation of a positive outcome. We don't put energy into a relationship, time into learning a new skill, or effort into a team sport without the expectation of a meaningful connection, growth of some kind, or a win (at least occasionally!). What about our deeper lives of prayer? Do we pray with the expectation that God will bless us if we can check prayer off our list today? Or do we pray with the expectation that God will grant our prayerful wish list and solve our prayerfully presented dilemmas if we are diligent in presenting them properly? Scripture suggests that we pray with a thankful heart and attitude, expecting the good God we know and worship to be who God promises God will be. When we pray with alert minds and thankful hearts, we can always expect good things. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sUfWspnpUU

We learn in elementary school that big things often have even larger hidden foundations. A towering oak has a deep and wide root system. An iceberg only shows a small portion of itself above the water. And tall buildings have foundations that go deep into the ground to hold them stable and make them strong. But what of those people we see with strong faith, great confidence in God, and unfailing hope in the face of adversity? What do they have hidden away that makes them such resilient and joyful people? For people of faith, a deep and rich prayer life is what keeps them stable, grounded, hopeful, and peace-filled, in the good times and the bad. For followers of Jesus, the deeper life is a life of prayer. In July at Union Chapel Indy we explore the power and blessing of a deep and rich prayer life. Join us for worship in-person or online, Sundays, 10:30 a.m. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcOJbVw5o_w&t=3419s

Even If

If you were going to meet someone in a coffee shop who you had never seen you in person, how would you describe yourself to that person so that they might recognize you? Can you remember a time when you met someone that you were just enamored with? How did you describe that person to your best friend? How would you describe someone you know very well? You might describe things like their appearance and personality traits. You might also talk about the things they do like their work or their hobbies. You might even tell a story that you think gets at the heart of who they are. How would you describe God? We would likely each give a different description of God, but with much the same perspective. We would describe God as we've known and experienced God at work in our own lives. Even if we've not seen God, we can describe God. Who is God? God is the One you know. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW4K51M3nYg

Safely Adrift

For some, summer vacation is a time to seek out a body of water and let the cares of the world wash away as they float on the gentle waves and soak up the sun. Or maybe a visit to the local pool is your way to cool down during the hot summer days. And an icy, cold drink of water is just the thing to refresh after a hot afternoon working in the yard. Water has the power to relax, refresh and rejuvenate in ways almost nothing else can. And water has the power to overwhelm and overpower, as well. A day out on the water in a boat can be a lot of fun, but being lost in the ocean or left adrift without power in the open water can be frightening and dangerous. Noah, one of the legendary figures of the faith, found himself dealing with a terrifying amount of water. Both the springs of the earth and the clouds above had opened to cover the earth with water. Living day to day in perilous conditions and without any certainty about their future, Noah drifted day and night. Even without solid footing below or a plan for ever getting off the boat, Noah was safely adrift, confident in the care of his Lord. Does your future look bleak? Are you feeling like you are adrift without direction or details? Even in the most dire of circumstances, you are not alone. Even if you are adrift, you are safely adrift in the care of your good and loving God. When God is all we have we discover that we have everything we need. Worship link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFGa9DH3HNg

Where Love Leads

Could you have guessed ten years ago what your life would be like today? Even looking back over the last year, would you have thought that you would be living where you are today, doing the things you are doing today, and have the priorities that you have today? Life can be uncertain, and like our GPS apps leading us through construction, we are constantly recalculating. The Old Testament story of Ruth is a story about a family and their lives that take many unexpected twists and turns. They face difficult times, hard decisions, loss, hunger, and financial hardship. They live for a time as aliens in a foreign country and on the margins in their own hometown. Throughout though, they discover that the protection and provision of God is present and powerful, leading them always toward God's plan and purposes. We may not always know where we're headed, but when God goes before and with us, we always know where we are - safe in God's loving care. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0kjKLAE0EA

Maybe you’ve heard children boasting on the playground about how brave or strong or smart they are. Undoubtedly, someone will eventually call another to, “Prove it!” Words only go so far; eventually we all want proof of the amazing things we claim to be true. Followers of Jesus are often bold to praise a generous, loving, gracious Friend who is always there, never lets them down, and is faithful in season and out. The world looks at our claims about Jesus, and rightly demands, “Prove it!” A faith that lives only in words and worship is a flimsy faith, indeed. But a faith that shows itself through action is a powerful, active faith that easily ‘proves’ a present, caring and compassionate Lord. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOXf3NYuwbY

Everyday is full of details, obligations, responsibilities, and tasks that require our attention and effort. Everyday we brush our teeth, feed our families, go to work, and get at least a little sleep. Everyday we seek to be our best selves, love the people who are important to us, and contribute value to our families, communities, and employers. And everyday - as followers of Jesus - we are called to serve and live like Jesus. Of all the everyday things we do everyday, this last might be the most daunting. To live like Jesus is a tall order! But it is also very doable. The everyday mission of a follower of Jesus is to simply love. And we can do that right where we are, with the people who are already around us. We can answer Jesus’ command to love God and love others through the everyday mission of loving our neighbors through acts of kindness. Join Union Chapel Indy in May to grow in the everyday mission of loving our neighbors. Worship link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxOYOoeHLTU

So What Now?

So now what? We just celebrated the foundational event of the Christian faith; the highest, holiest day on the Church calendar; the unofficial annual "Day of Chocolate," and now what? We spent six weeks preparing and planning for the day, and now that Easter has come and gone, what's next? If you are a church-goer, you might be planning to take a few weeks off - after all, you probably went to church a few extra times during the season. If you aren't a church-goer but celebrate the day with candy, new clothes, family gatherings, and egg hunts, you might be wondering this week why you spent so much money on a single-day celebration! For faithful followers of Jesus, the question, "So now what?" is significant. It can't be that the big worship experience is all there is to the day. Surely the Resurrection carries meaning and impact beyond Easter Sunday! And indeed, it does. We have been witness to something amazing, and we have a story to tell! So now what? Now we go, give, serve, and love because we have witnessed the greatest story of giving, serving, and loving. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTwyJd6Ncsw

Easter Sunday, Upside-Down

The core of Jesus' teaching as found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) teaches that to be a follower of his is to live in ways that are often over and against the ways of the culture around them. So much so that life with Jesus has sometimes been called "upside down." The story of Jesus’ death and resurrection is the ultimate upside-down story. When it seems that all is gone – Jesus is dead, love has lost, hope is extinguished – God turns the grave itself upside down and raises Jesus from death to life! And what’s more, the power that up-ended Jesus’ death and returned him to life is that same power available for the dead parts of our lives. God wants nothing more than to enter our lives and turn our failures, heartaches, hurts, and little deaths upside down – bringing new life into every area of our existence. In the Upside Down Kingdom of God, death never has the final word. In the Upside Down Kingdom of God, new life is always on the other side of defeat. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJMLHGwXnaQ

It is the tradition of the Church during the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday to remember Jesus' sacrifice in crucifixion. This year at Union Chapel Indy we remember this dark time with a Tenebrae Service. "Tenebrae" is the Latin word meaning "darkness." In the sanctuary we will recall Jesus' final hours with the observance of Holy Communion (in the Methodist tradition, everyone is welcome to participate), and the biblical story of Jesus' last hours. As we tell the story we will extinguish candles, darken the sanctuary, and drape the platform in black... all symbols of the human death Jesus suffered. Worship concludes in total darkness and with a loud sound (called strepitus in Latin) to represent the closing of Jesus' tomb - and convey the sense of the total loss of God's presence and the effect of the death of Jesus on all of creation. Worshipers are invited to then leave in silence to ponder the impact of Christ's death and await the celebration of the coming Resurrection. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKZMSrWMGj0