WORSHIP | Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Morning Worship | Bishop Michael McKee

By John Partridge*

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Our morning worship service opened with music by the New Vision Choir, Aldersgate UMC, (North Coast District) followed with a welcome and call to worship led by Linda Crowell, Aldersgate UMC, (North Coast District).  United in song, the gathered body of Christ sang "Morning Has Broken” followed by several more selections by the New Vision Choir.  Their singing was vibrant, full of energy, and by the measure of the congregation and their response, they admirably drew us into a spirit of unity and worship.  Following a prayer by Dogba Bass, Aldersgate UMC (North Coast District) prayed that Christ would “Let us feel our need for more of you,” Bishop Tracy Malone introduced our speaker, Bishop Michael McKee from the North Texas Conference.

Scripture reader, Iva Smith, Aldersgate UMC, (North Coast District) read John 15: 1-17 (CEB)

After hearing the scripture from Ephesians 3:14-20 and a choral response, Bishop McKee began his message “Rooted and Grounded,” in which  he said he intended to “turn some soil” in preparation for the messages that he would bring later in the week.  In his message Bishop McKee remembered a short song which he often repeated to himself “Come and change this deep mystery, ever more rooted deeply in thee.”  This, among other things, served to remind him that we are not the center of our own worries.  We seek to live a life that is deeply rooted and grounded in Jesus. 

As we begin to think in this way, we remember that the health of the soil is very important, not only to plant life, but to our Christian life.  We are often so interested in our comfort that we forget that the Christian life is not about self-preservation, but about self-sacrifice.  We have anxiety over where we are placing our roots, we look for quick fixes to our problems, and we keep looking for next big idea instead of remembering that the truly big idea is to be rooted and grounded in Christ.  Too often we are focused on what was instead of those things toward which God is leading us.  Building a church, said Bishop McKee, is a lifetime commitment.  This was understood by the craftsman that labored for generations building cathedrals in Europe.  It could take hundreds of years and the builders understood that they would never live to see the finished product.  Building a church is something that will never be finished in our lifetime, and is not something that can be done alone but only a work that can be done as a community.  We must remember that God doesn’t care where we were in 1965, but to keep our eyes looking forward.

We recognize, of course, that the way that we are the church to our local communities, is so much different than it was 20 years ago.  And so the things that we do, and the ways that we do them, will also, naturally, be different.  But no matter how the world changes, or how our communities change, the church must continue to tell the story.  We must tell our stories, we must tell our congregations’ stories, because these are the stories that affirm the truth of the gospel.

In response to these words from Bishop McKee we joined together in singing “Lord, I lift Your Name on High” and, after a closing prayer from Dogba Bass, we were dismissed to consider again how we are called to be the church, how we must tell our stories, and how we might always remain “Rooted and Grounded” in Christ.

*Rev. John Partridge, Trinity Perry Heights UMC, Tuscarawas District

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