Vandalia United Methodist Church


Pastor's Perspective

Sherry and I spent a weekend with our son Nick in Nashville recently. Nick is a graduate student at Vanderbilt University. One of the highlights of our weekend was visiting the Johnny Cash Museum. Though I am not a big country music fan (Sherry is), I have always admired Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash was a deeply committed Christian.

One of the items at the museum is a notebook filled with Bible trivia Johnny compiled for the staff who worked for him (and gave out prizes to those who got the trivia right, such as "who fell out of a window during one of Paul's sermons? (Acts 20:9)." Cash, however, was not always resolute in his faith and church attendance. He struggled, famously, with addiction and infidelity and felt miles from God and mired in shame. For a long while he fell away from God and the church. Once, recovering from a bout of drug abuse, June Carter begged Johnny Cash to go to church with her (they were not married yet). Cash did not want to go and said as much. He did not think church going people would want to see him there.

June Carter reminded him that "there" was exactly where he needed to be, and he would be welcomed. Still, she suggested they arrive late, sit in back, and leave early. Instead, they were sandwiched in between a large crowd and during one part of the service asked to join hands. During the service, June Cash took Johnny's hand for reassurance. What got cut from the film adaptation of this moment ("Walk the Line") was that an elderly couple on Johnny's other side also warmly greeted him. He was made to feel welcome, at home, as if he had never left the church. Johnny Cash would always remember this moment and the fact that people in that church welcomed him back to God.

I suspect that everyone of us knows someone in our life who is at some distance from God, and perhaps the church. Maybe it was a hurt, an unanswered prayer, something that caused them shame. Whatever it was that caused the person you know to drift away, run away, hide from God; perhaps it is your hands that will lead them back. Invite them to church. Don't just agree to meet them at church, imagine how difficult it is to come in to church again; meet them in the parking lot and walk in with them. And for the rest of us, when we see someone having returned to God and church let us welcome them warmly, not make much of their time away and treat them as if they have always been with us (which in fact they have!). Amen.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Tom


Worship Notes for February

February 7
Scripture: Matthew 13: 1-10
Sermon theme: Parable Thinking Why did Jesus speak in parables? What is a parable? How do parables invite us into Jesus’ perspective?

February 14
Scripture: Matthew 13: 10-17
Sermon theme: The seedy side of life: Are there places we should not go, things we should not do, people we should avoid?

February 21
Scripture: Matthew 13: 18-23
Sermon theme: Seeds come in packets: Why we need each other in the Church.

February 28
Scripture: Matthew 13: 18-23
Sermon theme: Weed and feed. How spiritual disciplines help us grow in faith.





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

First United Methodist Church of Vandalia :: 618.283.3684