Sermons
Sunday Worship Service begins at 10:30 AM
Third & Adams Street, PO Box 9774, Moscow, Idaho USA | (208) 882-3715

What Am I Supposed To Do? - July 30, 2017

James 2:1-4, 14-18

Practice what you preach and live what you believe. This seems so obvious....and yet, when push comes to shove....it can be so hard to live. Ask me how I know. Months ago, we began planing for the Love Your Neighbor event and this sermon series. The worship team had sat down to brain storm and the weeks were planned out. Love your neighbor is not a new concept for me...I grew up with it and was raised in a family where we lived our faith. And then, the night before this series started, we had a blow up with one of our neighbors. We were all civil, but there was a lot of frustration and anger. I had lots of unkind thoughts in my head...and at the same time, I knew that the next day

I'd be preaching about the Good Samaritan and what it means to live Christ's love. Let me tell you how that squelched the self-righteous tirade running through my head! It's hard to be indignant and hard when you know you have to speak with authenticity and earnestness about Jesus the next morning. Because how could I dare to tell you anything about loving your neighbor if I was a jerk to mine.
I'll be honest, over the last few weeks I thought of a lot of ways to avoid my neighbor. And then I imagined our daughter asking me why we were acting differently and avoiding the neighbors—who had always been friendly until that one sour incident. I hadn't even acted but I knew my actions could come back to bite me. If I wanted our daughter to know that it's important to act with kindness even when others don't, then I had to prove that with my actions. The rift between us had me hurt and angry and to live my faith stung a bit...I would have much rather let my words fly and been spiteful...at least that's the way it felt. But I, fortunately, knew better. I knew that meanness wouldn't benefit us in the long run. Even still, I had to keep reminding myself, it was better to act with grace.

In his letter, James was talking to a church, urging them to live their faith...and mindful of the seemingly small ways that can be upended. If they claim Jesus as Lord and Savior...then they claimed grace and love. And if they claimed grace and love for themselves—regardless of their own status, then they had to see that grace and love was also offered to others regardless of their status.
The same is true for us. If we claim Jesus as Lord and Savior, then we are claiming grace and love. And if we are honest, we know that we don't deserve all the grace, love and forgiveness that God gives us—that's actually the nature of grace...unmerited...we haven't earned it....we get it not because of who we are but because of who God is. So, if we are offered grace, regardless of who we are, then we also have to accept that others deserve the same grace, regardless of who they are.
How we live matters. It is a reflection of what we believe. And if we believe in a God of love, compassion and acceptance, then that has to be reflected in our actions. People who know we are Christian look to us as the standard....if we're Christian and we act with love, then that gets associated with other Christians. But if we're Christians who act with malice, indifference, or ugliness then that too is what is reflected onto other Christians.
Let me tell you another story. I was a few weeks into my appointment at the last church I served. We had moved in and were fairly settled. My sister had come with her 3 kids for a visit. So we decided to go to the library to get some books to keep the kids busy. At no fault of her own, my kid was tired and fussy...in the library, whiny and crying and so all I wanted to do was get the books and get out. I went to check out and the lady told me I needed a bill to prove residence. I didn't have one. Not only had I not brought one, we hadn't even been there a month, so I hadn't even received one. I showed her my business card with the church address, hoping that would be sufficient. She wouldn't accept it. Meanwhile, Ruth was more and more agitated. Which raised my anxiety because, after all, we were in a library. I told my sister the books would have to wait and as I left, I snarked at the librarian, "Thanks for being so helpful." and I walked out.
I got Ruth into the car and sat down to take a deep breath and then it hit me...I had showed her my business card...she knew I was the pastor of the church, and I had just been snarky and rude. I had only been there 3 weeks and I didn't even know if she was a church member...or maybe worse yet, not a church member, so I wouldn't have a chance to redeem myself. It was awful. It was a simple moment and hopefully she could show me grace and understand my frustration....but that wasn't the point. I had failed.
So there was only one thing I could do....never go to the library again. just kidding. I swallowed my pride and went back to the library and found the woman and apologized. I was wrong for treating her as I did. And I need to apologize. So I did.
Snarking at a librarian is not the worst thing I've done. I can assure you. I have needed forgiveness for much more along the way. But it's one of those exchanges that stings....still 3 years later. I am a representative of our faith...what I do matters. How I live matters. It is a reflection of the truth and depth of my beliefs. And that's not just true for me. It's true for you. How we live matters.

Current Church News

  • Family Promise of the Palouse

    Moscow First United Methodist Church is honored to be an active participant of the Family Promise of the Palouse providing temporary, safe housing for families in our community who are facing homelessness. Our next opportunity to host is December 3-10, 2017.

Get Directions

Sunday morning parking at the church is available in the high school parking lot on Third Street across from the church and in the city lots west of the church. These lots are available only on Sunday mornings. A small lot for handicapped parking is available just off of Adams Street on the north side of the church, with an accessible entrance directly into the sanctuary. A lift operates between the Fellowship Hall (3rd Street level) and the Sanctuary . William Sound System Receivers and Headsets are available to assist with hearing problems.

Church Mission

The First United Methodist Church of Moscow, Idaho takes as our mission to be the body of Jesus Christ, ministering to a community which draws strength from its diversity. Our mission centers on the worship of God, expressed through varied forms of prayer, preaching, music, and ritual.  See more...