Laboring in Love

Laboring in Love

This Sunday we conclude our short 3-week series entitled Generation to Generation that celebrates some of our long-running ministries and examines how these lay foundations for the future of PB UMC.

Concluding this series, we have the opportunity to echo the question Jesus asks of his disciples: who do people say that we are? In other words, do the ministries in which we engage embody the presence of Jesus in our community?

This short series has explored the history of this congregations commitment to radical inclusion and radical hospitality. It is right and good that we celebrate these things even as we understand that our work must continue. In this way, we can see that the work we do today is built on the foundational work others have done; and we continue to strengthen that foundation so future generations may continue to embody Christ’s unending love in Pacific Beach.

Mark 8:27-38 (CEB)
27Jesus and his disciples went into the villages near Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”

28They told him, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others one of the prophets.”

29He asked them, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?”

Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” 30Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

31Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.” 32He said this plainly. But Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him. 33Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, then sternly corrected Peter: “Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.”

34After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. 35All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. 36Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? 37What will people give in exchange for their lives? 38Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Human One will be ashamed of that person when he comes in the Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Consider these questions:

  1. I’ve heard this question a number of times in various Seminary and Congregational Development (i.e. Church growth) settings: If your church were to suddenly and magically disappear, would the surrounding community notice? What would be missing?
  2. Who do you think people in our community say that we are? Does that fit your own perception of who we are as a congregation?
  3. Does the community’s perception of PB UMC fit the vision of being Christ’s presence in the community? Does your perception fit that vision?

Post-Sermon Update on 9/19

Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).

Sunday’s message featured a status update from our hard-working Labor of Love committee with the announcement that conversations were beginning with members to assess the feasibility of raising the necessary capital funds for the project. Following, we described the whole of the Generation to Generation series as a description of the theological statements made through the ministries of this congregation.

In exploring who some in our community say that we are as a church, I began by lamenting some of the shaming nicknames applied to this congregation via social media. But on further examination – and casing aside some of the misinformation and snark – considered that:

  • being known as a place that feeds people who are hungry in body and in soul is not a bad thing;
  • being known as a place that welcomes all people regardless of social divisions is not a bad thing.

Look again at the first question above. I suggest that the community of Pacific Beach would indeed notice if this church were to suddenly and magically disappear. Why? Because we continue to make bold theological statements about physical and spiritual sustenance.

And by maintaining a building that continues to offer physical and spiritual sustenance, we continue to make the theological statement of God’s undying universal love.

Consider these questions:

  1. What other theological statements do we make as a congregation? How do we make those statements?
  2. What theological statements do you make as an individual? How do you make those statements?
  3. Is there anything you’d like to change about these theological statements?