Vandalia United Methodist Church

From the Pastor's Study

My paternal grandmother, Margaret, lived a life of seclusion, having been thrown into early menopause following the birth of my father and the necessary surgery that brought it on. Depression coupled with undiagnosed epilepsy kept her confined to the “front room” of their rural home. It was the lifestyle of which she was most comfortable. That didn’t mean, however, that she had no friendships or contact with the outside world. Grandma’s lifeline was brought to her by AT&T. It was a black, rotary, desk phone that sat on the corner of her desk, next to her wooden rocking chair in the dining room.

Grandma’s day began and ended, with a break or two between, with her finger slowly dragging the wheel around the phone dial. She was connecting with her network of family and friends (including the pastor or his wife). Occasionally, her finger would dial the wrong number, and a new friend was made. It was routine that we received a call in the morning and in the evening. She would just check in to make sure we were okay. My brother and I would see who could out-wait the other when the phone rang, so that we didn’t have to talk to grandma, until my mother forced the issue.

Her frequent conversations were never malicious, occasionally informative, and often inaccurate.

It’s been forty years since grandma commanded the “hotline,” and a lot has changed. We still share tidbits of information with one another, but it’s a lot more public now and often anonymous. Anonymity has opened the door for a lot of malicious content; and now it seems, just because someone thinks something, they have a right to share it. Things we used to mumble to ourselves or only share with family have become public statements. They are displayed on the types of media that have a memory and are shared regardless of their accuracy or intent or damage they cause.

As children of God we have a responsibility to stop malignant behavior when we have a chance. We look to Christ, whom we follow, for an example of how to deal with societal issues.

Michael Krauszer, Ministry Assistant of Calvary Chapel, Old Bridge offers the following observations of Christ.

Christ is compassionate. Jesus never looked away from people; he always looked upon them and had compassion. Whenever people were around him, Jesus took the time to actually notice that people were hurting—and his compassion drove him to help them.

Christ is a servant. Without a doubt, Jesus was the ultimate servant. Although he was praised as a great teacher and even had a decent following, he made sure to teach his disciples to be servants by actually doing it himself.

Christ is loving. Jesus claimed that there is no greater love than to die for one of your friends—and he did just that. If anyone doubts his love, all they have to do is look upon the cross and see the agony that he bore for their sakes.

Christ is forgiving. One of the most startling things said in Scripture is found in Luke 23:34, when Jesus is on the cross and proclaims: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Even while bleeding and experiencing pain, Jesus had his heart set on forgiveness—even forgiving those who put him there in the first place! This is definitely contrary to the everyday mantra of looking out for number one and obtaining personal justice.

Jesus is committed. Wherever he was, or whoever he was with, he was fully in the moment and fully committed to his goals. There were certainly many obstacles during his ministry, but he stayed on track and finished strong.

Jesus is prayerful. No matter how busy his ministry got, he found time to be alone and pray.

Jesus is gentle. There were certainly times where Jesus used stern words, but he knew when gentleness was appropriate.

Jesus is patience. Throughout the gospels, Jesus clearly gets portrayed as a very patient man. After all, he was surrounded by disciples who constantly doubted him, Pharisees and Sadducees who continually attacked him, and large crowds who wouldn’t leave him alone. Despite all of that, he kept his composure and responded appropriately to every individual.

Jesus has self-control. Before his ministry was launched, Jesus spent time being tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Although he was offered food, power, and many other things, Jesus controlled his desires and submitted them all to the will of the Father.

Jesus is humble. He had every opportunity and right to demand praise and accolades for his miracles and teachings, but he never did! He did not want to become a sideshow performance that people could enjoy. Rather, he wanted to seek and save the lost and offer forgiveness for sinful people.

If in every situation we would draw on the example of Christ, the haters in our world would be drowned out by the offering of Christian love. Rather than just sitting on the sidelines with all the inappropriate behavior taking place in our world, it is our responsibility to offer Christ’s love with understanding, compassion, and forgiveness.

In Christ’s amazing love,

9:30 AM Worship Service
10:40 AM Sunday School

First United Methodist Church of Vandalia :: 618.283.3684