Connected

Connected! Wired. Tuned in; plugged in. Booted up. Down loaded.
All of these, the language of our day. Yet, despite these, and all the songs our kids and youth can sing and all the bells our ringers ring; despite CNN, CNBC, Fox, the Web and the blogs, and of course, our Ipods, somehow we often feel more isolated and alone than ever. Folks are walkin' the mall and drivin' the minivan with those headsets 'round their ear or in it, mic at the ready, but few are getting or giving a message of hope. [Phone.] Should God God's-self call in, all heaven may hear is a busy signal! Salvation cannot be secured for ourselves, by ourselves, for all our songs of praise and notions of networking, so electronically-hip and personal-touch hollow. We need a new kind of connection that really connects. 'Something to sing about that rings right, every day, in every way!

United Methodist Christians are all about connection. It's our nickname for the whole church, the Connection. First off, we faith-folks need to know gadgets can be our goodies, but never our God. Our world seems a little confused about this. We know the circuit we want to complete, the only one that saves, is between us and Christ. That's why our youth sing all about Amazing Grace! Nothing's more important than the prayer that prays and the song that sings Lord, Reign (rule) in Me! Young voices sing, It Is the Joy of My Heart. Now you and I have to ask ourselves, "What is the joy of my heart?" Pause on that. Ponder that this week. Ask it in the morning when you get up, in the evening when you lay down. Ask it across the table when you share a meal with loved ones or friends… what is the joy of my heart? In our information age: so many facts, so little wisdom. We wanna know everything, down to the moment the kingdom's comin'. Yet Jesus tells us, "It's not for you to know the times or seasons the Father's fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth."

You and I, connected to Christ! 'Next time somebody asks, "Have you got connections?" (are you important in the scheme of things) tell them you have only one, to Jesus Christ. Tell'm that's the only one you need. Them, too. Oh, and tell them you have another, like the first. You and I are connected to a common mission. Jesus says to us, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit's come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses." As believers young and younger (whew!), this is our job description. To be witnesses for Jesus. It's not that hard. Witnesses only do two things. They say what they've seen, what they know, what's happened to them. And they tell what they know is true. What did you see of Jesus last week, what did he reveal, what did you learn of the Lord (and how)? [People respond.] Did you see some truth about him, maybe one you never knew before? [People respond.] Claim these. Talk about these. [As we've seen, it's not that hard.] Oh, we do have connections, you and I, to Jesus, to the work he has assigned us… to be witnesses… and so, to each other.

Ahh, the Connection. Methodists are into it, with Christ, bearing witness, to each other and to all the world. Since our founder John Wesley we've said, "The world is our parish." But our organizing passion goes all the way back to the Lord we serve. He said, "…Be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." See the order here? Grandiose is not our bag. Start small. Jerusalem first. Start there. Start at home, the text is saying. Jesus is saying. Hmm, Time Magazine reports this week what many know. The absolute import of the family table. But they have some statistics to boot. Just over ½ of 12 year olds table nightly with parents. 37% of teens table with the TV. 45% do so where the families seldom eat together. Only 39-40% of black and white teens eat with at least one parent nightly. Studies show the more frequent family meals, the less likely are teen smoking, drinking, drugs, depression, eating disorders; the more likely good grades, delayed sex, eating our veggies, growing vocabularies. And the deeper the faith of the young. 'Want these kids, your kids, all our kids to sing the songs and live the life of faith? Then come to the table with them. Give Jesus' words, "As oft as you eat and drink…" a new meaning. Give, "… in remembrance of me," a twist. Witness first connects at home, then moves to Judea. That's the neighborhood. Touch those nearest, and you'll move those dearest. [E.g.s from community ministries.] Then there's Samaria, showing and telling Jesus to those not just-like-you. Religious awards, maybe, ecumenical! Work Camp help to those we don't know. Our homeless shelter. Look! You and I can do this. We do! Then too, the world. For us, from Alaska to Arabia to Zimbabwe. And more. WEARE becoming Global Mission Partners! Here's a dream that will do, a train to board, the only power and glory worth singing.

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