Out of Many, One
On Monday, April 25, 2022, I had the honor of praying the invocation for the Board of Mayor & Aldermen Meeting at Collierville Town Hall. Below is the prayer that I offered for our leaders, our town, and for all those in attendance. Please join me on this National Day of Prayer as we consider all of our elected officials and ask that God would give them the wisdom needed to serve all people under their care.
Almighty God, as we continue to celebrate the holy days of Ramadan, Eastertide, and the days following Passover, we come to you as a town made up of many different people and many different faiths.
As decisions are made tonight which will impact the lives of all our citizens, remind us that our community is like a body, made up of different parts.
Some are young and some old, some with every need met and others requiring assistance, some can trace their lineage and connection to this town back several generations and others have just moved in.
Every part of this body is important, and some parts of the body that seem the weakest or least honorable in the eyes of the world are actually the most important and necessary in your eyes, dear Lord, since each member of this body has been placed exactly where you want them.
When we understand our town in this way, then we might begin to see each other as indispensable, where each person and each family is needed to make our community whole and strong.
Guide the work of our elected officials, O Lord, so that they might tend to the needs of all citizens, so that the parts of Collierville which are the most at risk might be the most protected and shown the greatest care.
Allow us to live in harmony with you and one another. And empower us with your Spirit to seek justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of Hagar and Ishmael, of Jesus, Peter, and Paul. It’s in your Name, we pray. Amen.
Live Life Unafraid
We're well into the thick of it. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and then before we know it is time to hunt Easter eggs and consider meal options for Resurrection Sunday.
Yet we have this lingering sense in our soul that to dig deeper might be good for us and that our look at the cross might change us in a profound way.
Our study guide during these sacred days has been Witness at the Cross by Amy-Jill Levine, and it invites us to consider all those who gathered around the cross.
My invitation for all of us is to find our place with them and to see how truth and grace offered by Jesus is being lived out in our journeys.
These times in which we live have heightened our fears and left us anxious and sad or even mad. As we stand at the cross here is the verse to remember and let sink into your soul:
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
Because we are baptized, we are called to live differently. Our vocation is to not let fear defeat or dominate us. Every person then and now who is a witness to the cross is deeply loved by the Savior who hangs on it.
Walter Bruggeman, the insightful Old Testament scholar, offers the truth that those who change the world will not be the frightened but the ones empowered by a confidence that is relentless in its trust in God.
In his book, Devotions for Lent, he is suggestive of how we better the world when we live unafraid.
“The UNAFRAID are open to the neighbor, while the frightened are defending themselves from the neighbor.
The UNAFRAID are generous in the community, while the frightened, in their anxiety, must keep and store and accumulate, to make themselves feel safe.
The UNAFRAID commit acts of compassion and mercy, while the frightened do not notice those in need.
The UNAFRAID are committed to justice for the weak and the poor, while the frightened see them only as threats.
The UNAFRAID pray in the morning, care through the day, and rejoice at night in thanks and praise, while the frightened are endlessly restless and dissatisfied.”
There you have it. I encourage you to dig deep. Give your fears to God. He knows us by name! That is an amazing gift.
God’s love will not let us go and never abandon us. Our scary world calls us to trust in God’s unfailing love and to know that we are not alone.
+Dr. Harry Durbin, Minister of Discipleship
Easter 2021 Order of Worship
Welcome to our Outdoor Worship Service! We’re so happy that you’re with us this morning at Peace Tree. As we continue to adapt our routines during this global pandemic in order to Love Thy Neighbor, we ask that you please wear a face covering when outside of your vehicle and that you safely follow the current CDC guidelines.
Individually packaged Communion packets are available at the Welcome Table along with face masks and hand sanitizer. Please sit at a specially marked area with your family or social bubble in order to maintain a safe distance from others.
For more information about Peace Tree and our ministries, please visit the home page of our website and follow us on social media (@peacetreeumc). If you have a prayer request, email email@example.com. God bless you and Happy Easter!
long ago, faithful women
proclaimed the good news
of Jesus' resurrection,
and the world was changed forever.
Teach us to keep faith with them,
that our witness may be as bold,
our love as deep,
and our faith as true. Amen.
Christ the Lord is Risen Today
1. Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!
2. Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!
3. Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where's thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!
4. Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
5. Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!
6. King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!
Check in to Peace Tree UMC on Facebook and Instagram to support this month’s non-profit beneficiary, Compassion International. Thanks to our partnership with Causely, every six check-ins at Peace Tree will provide a day of care to a child in need.
Compassion International is a child-advocacy ministry that pairs compassionate people with children that live in extreme poverty. They take the long-term approach to child development by investing in and for the life of each child with a model that blends physical, social, economic, and spiritual care to help children fully mature and transcend generational poverty.
Visit compassion.com to learn more about this month’s non-profit organization, and add the hashtag compassion4kids so that others learn about this month’s cause.
The Peace Tree Book Club is gathering online on Tuesday, April 13 for a discussion of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Members are welcome to join the online panel, and the conversation will be live streamed from the church’s Facebook page.
If you’ve read the book or seen the 2016 Tim Burton film starring Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, and Samuel L. Jackson, then we’d love for you to join us as we discuss the characters, story, and overarching themes.
RSVP using our Facebook event, and search for Peace Tree Book Club on Facebook to vote on upcoming books and novels.
We’ve got some wonderful online worship opportunities as well as a date for our next in-person Outdoor Worship Service. Join us next week at 10:00 a.m. for Project Transformation Sunday and learn more about this important non-profit organization.
Each year, Project Transformation engages over 80 college-age young adults in ministry and service with more than 700 children in 9 site churches across Tennessee. For the past five years, we’ve supported this ministry with reading volunteers, food & snacks for the college interns and school children, and we’ve helped host fun Family Nights in South Memphis.
We’ll hear a special message from Meagan Cloutier, the Director of Memphis Programs, and we’ll enjoy a Children’s Moment from our own Rachel Younger who served as an intern with Project Transformation in its inaugural year. You can stream live from YouTube, Facebook, and peacetree.church.
Then, join us on April 18 for Creation Care Sunday led by our newly formed Creation Care Team. April 25 marks the beginning of a 4-week study on the Wesleyan understanding of Grace entitled Grace|Full. And on May 23, we’ll celebrate the Church’s birthday on Pentecost Sunday with another Outdoor Worship Service which will include Communion and an infant baptism.
I was buried beneath my shame
Who could carry that kind of weight?
It was my tomb
'Til I met You
I was breathing, but not alive
All my failures I tried to hide
It was my tomb
'Til I met You
You called my name
Then I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness
Into Your glorious day
You called my name
And I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness
Into Your glorious day
Now Your mercy has saved my soul
Now Your freedom is all that I know
The old made new
Jesus, when I met You
I needed rescue
My sin was heavy
But chains break at the weight of Your glory
I needed shelter
I was an orphan
But You call me a citizen of Heaven
When I was broken
You were my healing
Now Your love is the air that I'm breathing
I have a future
My eyes are open
The Baptismal Covenant
Brothers and sisters in Christ:
Through the Sacrament of Baptism
we are initiated into Christ's holy Church.
We are incorporated into God's mighty acts of salvation
and given new birth through water and the Spirit.
All this is God's gift, offered to us without price.
Today, we present:
Declan Carmichael Merryman
Brooklyn Joanna Hefley
Edith Abigail Embry
On behalf of the whole Church, I ask you:
Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness,
reject the evil powers of this world,
and repent of your sin?
If so, say, “I do.”
Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you
to resist evil, injustice, and oppression
in whatever forms they present themselves?
If so, say, “I do.”
Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior,
put your whole trust in his grace,
and promise to serve him as your Lord,
in union with the Church which Christ has opened
to people of all ages, nations, and races?
If so, say, “I do.”
Will you nurture these children
in Christ's holy Church,
that by your teaching and example they may be guided
to accept God's grace for themselves,
to profess their faith openly,
and to lead a Christian life?
If so, say, “I will.”
Do you, as Christ's body, the Church,
reaffirm both your rejection of sin
and your commitment to Christ?
Will you nurture one another in the Christian faith and life
and include these children now before you in your care?
With God's help we will proclaim the good news
and live according to the example of Christ.
We will surround these children
with a community of love and forgiveness,
that they may grow in their trust of God,
and be found faithful in their service to others.
We will pray for them,
that they may be true disciples
who walk in the way that leads to life.
Pour out your Holy Spirit,
to bless this gift of water and those who receive it,
to wash away their sin
and clothe them in righteousness
throughout their lives,
that, dying and being raised with Christ,
they may share in his final victory.
Now it is our joy to welcome
our new sisters and brothers in Christ.
you are incorporated by the Holy Spirit
into God's new creation
and made to share in Christ's royal priesthood.
We are all one in Christ Jesus.
With joy and thanksgiving we welcome you
as members of the family of Christ.
VERSE 1 (x2)
Worthy is the
Lamb who was slain
Holy, holy is He
Sing a new song
To Him who sits on
Heaven's mercy seat
Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord, God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing, praise to the King of Kings
You are my everything
And I will adore You
Clothed in rainbows of living color
Flashes of lighting, rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor, strength and
Glory and power be
To You, the only wise King
Filled with wonder
At the mention of Your name
Jesus, Your name is power
Breath and living water
Such a marvelous mystery
If you’d like to support the work of Peace Tree, please visit peacetree.church/give on your mobile device. You can also place your offering or tithes in the plates as the Ushers walk by your area. If you have questions about our missions, ministry, and upcoming renovations as we transform our building into a center for our community, then please visit peacetree.church/connect and fill out our online form. Thank you for your generosity!
Kids Time with Mrs. Connie
Gospel Lesson | John 20:19-29
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Message | “Anything But Typical” Rev. Kristofer Roof
Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him,
who earnestly repent of their sin
and seek to live in peace with one another.
Therefore, let us confess our sin before God and one another.
CONFESSION AND PARDON
we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have failed to be an obedient church.
We have not done your will,
we have broken your law,
we have rebelled against your love,
we have not loved our neighbors,
and we have not heard the cry of the needy.
Forgive us, we pray.
Free us for joyful obedience,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(All pray in silence)
Hear the good news:
Christ died for us while we were yet sinners;
that proves God's love toward us.
In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
Glory to god. Amen.
Let us offer one another signs of reconciliation and love.
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is right, and a good and joyful thing,
always and everywhere to give thanks to you,
almighty God, creator of heaven and earth…
And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven
we praise your name and join their unending hymn:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Holy are you, and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ.
By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection
you gave birth to your Church,
delivered us from slavery to sin and death,
and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit…
And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ's offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of faith.
Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here,
and on these gifts of bread and wine.
Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ,
that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.
By your Spirit make us one with Christ,
one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world,
until Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly banquet.
Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church,
all honor and glory is yours, almighty God , now and for ever.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
And now, with the confidence of children of God, let us pray:
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen.
BREAKING THE BREAD AND GIVING THE CUP
Because there is one loaf,
we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
The bread which we break is a sharing in the body of Christ.
The cup over which we give thanks is a sharing in the blood of Christ.
PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION
Eternal God, we give you thanks for this holy mystery
in which you have given yourself to us.
Grant that we may go into the world
in the strength of your Spirit,
to give ourselves for others,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Victory in Jesus
I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory
How He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me
I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood's atoning
Then I repented of my sins and won the victory
O victory in Jesus, my Savior forever
He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood
He loved me 'ere I knew Him and all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood
I heard about His healing, of His cleansing power revealing
How He made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see
And then I cried, "Dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit"
And somehow Jesus came and brought to me the victory
I heard about a mansion he has built for me in Glory
And I heard about the streets of gold beyond the crystal sea
About the angels singing, and the old redemption story
And some sweet day I’ll up there the song of victory
in raising Christ to new life
you opened the path of salvation to all peoples.
Send us out, with the joy of Mary Magdalene,
to proclaim that we have seen the Lord,
so that all the world may celebrate with you
the banquet of your peace. Amen.
Refuge & Strength
Recently, I wrote an article for the May/June 2020 issue of Tour Collierville Magazine which I share below. I was asked to focus on current events and how to rely on God during times of uncertainty, doubt, and trouble. As we continue to see rising numbers of positive COVID-19 cases, small business owners struggling to stay afloat, and numerous protests for racial equality and police reform, I pray that these words may offer some comfort and assurance of God's protection. +Peace and Love from Pastor Kris.
So many things are happening in our world right now. It seems like we hear from federal, state, and local leaders on a daily basis as they present new guidelines and best practices for how to deal with COVID-19.
There’s a growing concern around our economy and how long it will take for us to rebound. Many individuals have applied for unemployment benefits, some families are dipping into their emergency funds, and all of us have had to adjust our lives as we practice social distancing and follow “Safer at Home” orders.
It would be very tempting to give in to fear. It’s taking more effort to keep thoughts of doubt or despair at bay given the current situation. If you find yourselves worrying more than usual, then I encourage you to look to God’s Word and discover joy and hope during this time.
Turn your minds to the Easter story found in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 28. Here, we see two women discover the empty tomb. An angel instructs Mary and Mary to go and tell the disciples that Jesus has risen from the dead. They hurry away “with great fear and joy” before meeting the risen Christ on the road. These women demonstrate how it is possible to live a faithful, joy-filled life and still experience moments of fear, doubt, or anxiety.
Earlier in the same Gospel, we see how Jesus’ followers had concerns and worries about their basic needs being met. Jesus, as their teacher and friend, points to God’s provisions. God supplies food for birds and dresses the wildflowers so that they’re more beautifully adorned than any runway model. If God cares about these living things, then how much more will God care for humankind—beings created in the image and likeness of God?
Psalm 46 begins with some very powerful words: “God is our refuge and strength, a help always near in times of great trouble.”
Our community, our nation, and our world is experiencing a time of great trouble, but I don’t think we’re alone. I believe that God’s Holy Spirit is present with each and every one of us, and I trust that God is guiding us through this pivotal moment in world history.
Psalm 46 also references earthquakes and tsunamis, the rantings and ravings of nations, and the destruction of weapons used for war. In the midst of this chaos, the Psalmist does not fear. Through it all, her eyes are on God.
The women at the empty tomb are filled with both fear and joy at the thought of Jesus overcoming death. The angel speaks a greeting, “Don’t be afraid,” and Jesus repeats these comforting words when he meets them on the road.
Earlier in his ministry, Jesus says to his followers, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Instead of worrying, the Messiah encourages his disciples to pay attention to what God is doing right now and to not get worked up about what might happen tomorrow.
Friends, it’s completely natural to experience fear in times like these. Becoming worried about our health, our safety, and our finances is a very real, human response.
Through it all, I pray that you will seek God first. Discover joy and hope in the Psalms and in the Gospel stories. Put your trust in the Lord, because God will protect and provide for us. God is always ready to help when we need Him most. Thanks be to God!
COVID-19 Update from Pastor Kris
The following is a transcript from a video I streamed earlier today via Facebook Live. Contained in this article are helpful links and updated information for how Peace Tree is continuing to address COVID-19 concerns in our community. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns. God bless!
+Peace and Love from Pastor Kris
Hey friends, I wanted to give y’all a quick update on how our faith community is currently addressing coronavirus concerns as we look ahead to the month of May.
The last time I went LIVE over Facebook with an update, it was Friday, March 13 - that’s a little over 6 weeks ago. To put things into perspective, back on March 13, there were only two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Shelby County.
With more testing being made available in the weeks since then, health officials quickly discovered that community transmission had occurred, and as of April 28 in Shelby County alone, there are 2,320 confirmed cases of COVID-19 including 45 deaths.
Friends, now more than ever, we need to practice healthy habits, we need to remain at home if possible, and if we do go to a public place for work, or to pick up groceries and meals from local restaurants, or for any other reason, then we need to wear cloth masks or other face coverings to protect ourselves and others.
For six weeks now, Peace Tree has encouraged our members to stay at home. We’ve gathered together as an online community through a number of different methods. We’ve premiered worship videos on Sunday morning at 10AM Central across three sites: YouTube, Facebook, and our church website: peacetree.church.
We’ve also been hosting online Bible studies on Wednesday nights at 7:30 Central using Facebook Live. We have a dial in prayer call every Thursday at 2:00. House Groups have been keeping in touch with Zoom meetings, emails, group text messages, and phone calls.
Our United Methodist Women circles and Peace Tree Kids have been calling and writing letters to our home-centered members, and our Congregational Care Team and church staff have done an excellent job of keeping us connected as well.
Many of you watching this video may already have a church home, and we hope that you’re staying connected to your church family.
But for those of you who don’t currently have a faith community, or for those who haven’t attended church in some time and are looking for a comfortable, casual way of getting plugged in, I invite you to check out Peace Tree.
We’re continuing to foster community using these online opportunities and we’ve had friends and family members join us from places near and far including Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, California, Amsterdam, the Philippines, and Hong Kong just to name a few.
Search for Peace Tree on Facebook and YouTube: I think you’d enjoy all the people you’ll meet during a Wednesday night Bible study, a Sunday morning worship service, a Tuesday night Book Club gathering, or during a Thursday afternoon dial-in prayer call.
Back on March 13, the president declared a national emergency. He also proposed a 15 day plan for slowing the spread of COVID-19. That original 15 day plan got extended through the end of April.
And now, there are guidelines from the White House that governors, mayors, and community leaders are referencing when making decisions regarding a phased re-opening of our cities, counties, and states.
Our church’s leadership team is staying up-to-date on what local health officials and government leaders are advising, and we’re also looking to our denominational leaders, specifically our conference bishop and our district superintendent.
On Friday, Bishop Bill McAlilly shared a blog post with United Methodist pastors stating that it’s in the best interest of the churches we serve in Middle Tennessee, West Tennessee, and Western Kentucky for public worship and other in-person gatherings to remain suspended through May 31.
We at Peace Tree agree with the Bishop’s decision and we will continue to gather online and stay connected through mailed cards and letters, email blasts, social media posts, Zoom meetings, telephone calls, and Facebook Live videos.
In these unprecedented times, the act of physically distancing ourselves from one another is an act of love. Doing so helps us protect ourselves and our families, it demonstrates care and concern for our neighbors (especially those who are most susceptible to this virus), and it could literally help save lives.
If you’re isolated and you need someone to talk to, you can always reach out to me - message me directly over Facebook or Instagram, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a prayer concern, send it to our Congregational Care Team at email@example.com. If you need to contact our office staff, then email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 901-286-5532.
Lastly, if you’d like to financially support our online ministry, then text the word PEACE to 77977 or visit peacetree.church/give.
I leave you with a thought from Psalm 82. In this Psalm, God is presented as the supreme Judge, and God is examining all of those who are in a position of responsibility. They were commissioned to defend the weak, to stand up for the powerless, to uphold the cause of the poor, and to deliver those who are being exploited.
Friends, all of us, in some degree or another, hold a position of responsibility. Throughout every community around the world there live individuals who are immunocompromised, those who have underlying medical conditions, and those who suffer from chronic disease.
They are your grandparents, your parents, your neighbors, your best friends. I’m staying home to help keep them safe, so that one day, I can see them again face to face.
Remember to thank our frontline health care workers, our first responders, grocery store employees, restaurant owners, and other essential workers who are risking their health in order to keep society functioning.
Wash your hands often, stay home as much as possible, and if you do go out in public, then please cover your mouth and nose with a mask or face covering.
Stay in touch. Share the good news of Jesus. Be the good news by helping those in need. And remember that Church Can Happen Anywhere. Thanks for watching and God bless!
Building a Community
In January, I had the opportunity to travel to Israel and visit the holy sites on a Christian pilgrimage. On the first day of our trip, we visited Cana of Galilee, the site of Jesus’ first miracle in which he turned water into wine for a wedding celebration at the behest of his mother.
While we were in the basement of a church built over the spot where this miracle took place, I noticed a minister performing a ceremony for several couples who had come to Cana of Galilee to renew their wedding vows. What better place to renew your vows than the wedding site where Jesus performed his first miracle!
In that moment, I was reminded of a lesson we receive from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. Whether a couple is renewing their marriage vows, or an engaged couple is standing at the altar reciting wedding vows for the very first time, we all need to remember that marriage involves three important individuals: you, your spouse, and God.
Ecclesiastes talks about the value of a friend. Chapter 4, verse 9 reads, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil” (NRSV). This same sentiment can be heard in the words of Lyn Collins’ 1972 funk hit “Think (About It):” “It takes two to make a thing go right. It takes two to make it out of sight!”
The Scripture goes on to say that friends help each other up, keep each other warm, and watch each other’s backs in a fight. Then verse 12 ends with the words, “A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Up to this point, we’ve only read about two friends. So, why does a THREEfold cord suddenly appear? This is where God is reminding us that His presence is a necessary part of any relationship, including the marriage relationship.
As we consider God’s presence in the midst of our relationships, we must first acknowledge that we are made in God’s image. We see this in Genesis 1:27 where it says, “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (NRSV).
Those who practice the Christian faith believe in the Triune God. In the midst of the Trinity’s mystery exists a community: God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Just like our Creator, we are meant for community, and at the center of our community is God. It is God who blesses and sustains our communities. In our hearts, we know there is no life apart from the Divine Presence. Jesus demonstrates this with his own life by surrounding himself with friends and family as he begins his three year ministry in Israel.
He healed individuals, families, and entire groups of people. Before He was arrested and ultimately sentenced to death on a cross, He taught his disciples a new commandment: “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34).
When a couple marries, they start a new family. If they decide to have children or to adopt, then their community grows larger. God desires to live at the center of this community, to bless these relationships, to serve as a necessary strand in the threefold cord.
Whether you’re planning a wedding and preparing for a lifelong marriage this year, or you’re celebrating another anniversary with your spouse, I encourage you to always put God first.
Abide in God and remember that you are made in God’s image. God the Father exists as community, so be mindful of the community surrounding you and your significant other. God the Son cared deeply about relationships, so remember to invest time and energy into the relationship and friendship you share with your spouse. God the Holy Spirit holds everything together, strengthening your marriage so that it will not be broken. Love each other the way Christ loves you.
Treat your spouse the way Christ would treat them. And together, ask yourselves how the two of you may make a difference in your world, in your community. God is part of yours and your spouse’s threefold cord, ready to bless you both as you tie the knot. Thanks be to God!
+Peace and Love from Pastor Kris
(This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 edition of Tour Collierville Magazine)
Sabbath Day 2018
It takes dozens of volunteers to make our Sunday morning Large Group worship celebrations possible each and every week. As a way of showing our appreciation to these amazing individuals, we’re taking a break from holding a worship service this Sunday so that they can continue celebrating Christmas with their families.
We believe it’s important to rest and to spend time abiding in God. So, we’ve assembled the following worship materials for you and your family to use in order to worship God wherever you’re spending this weekend.
We believe “Church Can Happen Anywhere,” so we hope you’ll invite others to join you in reading Scripture, praying, singing, and discussing the Gospel message from Matthew 2:1-12.
Remember to “Check In” to Peace Tree UMC on Facebook and Instagram. Every 5 check-ins will provide a book to a child living in Tanzania thanks to our partnership with Causely and Books for Africa. And be sure to use the hashtag #givebooks so that other people will know about this month’s charitable cause.
Have a safe and happy New Year’s weekend! We’ll see each of you back at the Malco Forest Hill Cinema on January 6th at 10AM as we kick off our new sermon series, “Best Song Ever.” We’ll hear the story behind “It Is Well with My Soul,” and we’ll hear a message based on Philippians 4:4-7.
If you’d like to make donation to Peace Tree this week, you can give HERE, and if you have any prayer requests, then please share them with us HERE. God bless!
+Peace and Love from Pastor Kris
OPEN WITH PRAYER
to you all hearts are open
and from you no secrets are hidden.
Through the power of your Holy Spirit,
allow us to feel your presence.
As we read your Word
and worship the newborn King,
we ask for the forgiveness of sins.
In Christ’s holy name we pray. Amen.
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’
When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’
When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.
On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
(Matthew 2:1-12, New Revised Standard Version)
Watch this music video for “Noel (feat. Lauren Daigle)” by Chris Tomlin. Listen to the lyrics (or sing/read them below) and consider what God is saying to you.
Love incarnate, love divine
Star and angels gave the sign
Bow to babe on bended knee
The Savior of humanity
Unto us a Child is born
He shall reign forevermore
Come and see what God has done
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Son of God and Son of man
There before the world began
Born to suffer, born to save
Born to raise us from the grave
Christ the everlasting Lord
He shall reign forevermore
(Written by Edmond Martin Cash, Matthew James Redman, Christopher D Tomlin • Copyright © Capitol Christian Music Group, Music Services, Inc.)
CLOSE WITH PRAYER
Gracious and loving God,
we come before you
with no gifts but ourselves.
Accept and receive our lives
that we may be manifestations
of your presence;
let the light of your Spirit
shine within and among us,
so that we may share in the mystery of your purpose
of blessing for all creation,
through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
Leap of Faith
How many of you remember the climactic scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? If you’ll recall, Indiana has to pass through three challenges in order to reach the Holy Grail and save his father from certain death. His father, played by Sean Connery, had been researching the Holy Grail and wrote down three clues to allow for safe passage through the challenges, allowing someone to successfully reach the Grail.
Indiana makes it through because he has a book to guide him. Now, I don’t know how often you feel like you’ve had to make a Leap of Faith. For me, agreeing to be on the Peace Tree Launch Team in 2015 was a Leap of Faith. Like Indy, I’m not sure I would have made the leap if I didn’t have my book, the Bible.
My first year on the Launch Team was my last year of Disciple Bible study (six years earlier when I started the Disciple series, I wasn’t sure I would get past the first year much less complete the whole series). Planting a church was not on my radar. I had no thoughts of leaving Collierville United Methodist Church.
I was comfortable. Paul and I had joined Collierville UMC in 1999. We had been members long enough that we had been involved in several areas and knew many people. We liked our Sunday School class a lot. I even started to occasionally fill in for our Sunday school teachers during the summer months to give them a break.
Our youngest child, Caleb, was very involved in all of the children’s programming and continued to be involved as he grew up and joined the youth program. He earned a trophy memorizing the books of the Bible and taught himself guitar so he could play in the youth praise band. Rev. Harry Durbin had invited him to be on his team in a Scrabble tournament, and he went on numerous youth trips to Mountain TOP, Breakthru, BigStuf Camps, Lake Junaluska and Lakeshore Camp.
I had been intrigued by Disciple Bible Study for a while. I knew many members of my Sunday School class had taken Disciple lessons, and they all spoke highly of the courses. I had enrolled once before but I was still working a full-time job, and with the kids’ schedules it was a struggle to keep up.
Finally the time came where my husband, Paul, and I could take the course at the same time. We started with over 20 people that first year. People came and went over the six years we participated in Disciple, but a core group of six made it through all six years. We formed really close friendships with those people as we studied Scripture together and prayed for each other during that time.
Little did I know that as I was working through these lessons throughout the Bible and on Christian & Methodist theology, God was preparing me to take my Leap of Faith. Just getting the overview of the Bible in the first year and understanding how the Old Testament and the New Testament work together was eye-opening. By Year Six we compared the Gospels and talked about what was the same, what was different, and why.
When we heard at Collierville UMC that Pastor Kristofer would be planting a church and putting together a Launch Team, I was immediately excited. But that excitement was followed by a great sense of doubt. What if I wanted to serve on this team but my husband didn’t? What if we wanted to do this but Kristofer had enough volunteers or didn’t feel he needed us? How long would we have to commit before we could return to CUMC?
I am not sure how called my husband felt to this new church plant, but he agreed to join me for a face-to-face talk with Pastor Kris. I do remember telling Paul after our talk that I did not want us to be at separate churches, so if he wasn’t comfortable with moving forward then we would stay at CUMC. However, since we had built up a better Biblical foundation through Disciple, and because we truly believed Kris was answering God’s call, we decided to take the leap.
Then as Rev. David Atkinson, the senior pastor at CUMC said, it got real! It became clear to us with each passing week that church planting was bigger than we realized and better than we hoped.
Faith is not a one-time thing. Faith is part of the lifestyle of a disciple of Jesus Christ. Faith is trusting Him. John Wesley was particularly concerned about inviting people to experience grace and to grow in their knowledge and love of God through disciplined Christian living. He emphasized that Christian living is putting faith and love into action. Wesley believed in salvation by God’s grace but was convinced that salvation should evidence itself as faith and love in action.
We each are called to take a Leap of Faith. We each must answer our own call. Your call may be the similar to someone else’s call; it may be completely different. The point is that we have a Good Book to help us get ready and to prepare for that call. The Bible is a book that will help us see the signs and recognize them. It’s a book that teaches us the correct response to God’s call. It leads us to the understanding that faith grows through our participation in the church community — a community where we are nourished and equipped for mission and service to the world.
Every House Group host at Peace Tree takes a Leap of Faith when they open up their home to both church members and guests. Young people and families take Leaps of Faith when they come forward to be baptized and when they decide to join our congregation as members. Our service groups SIS and BRO have taken Leaps of Faith when they decided to organize and begin serving the people of our community with their time and energy. Our students have taken Leaps of Faith by joining multi-generational House Groups instead of joining a more age-specific children’s program or youth group.
So, now the questions for you are: How is God calling you? Are you ready to take your Leap of Faith? May God bless you as you answer the call.
Follow the journey of a new church as we answer the call to reach people in Collierville, Memphis, and the Mid-South.