Sunday, June 26, 2005
Long Live The Rural Church
UNITED METHODIST RURAL FELLOWSHIP OFFICERS for North Texas Conference churches met at Annual Conference recently in Wichita Falls: (Back Row) Revs. Duncan Graham, Bob Walker, Charles Cox and Tommy Brumett. (Front Row) Judy Gilreath, Ilona O'Brien and Rev. Virgie Holbrook. Today at Tinney Chapel UMC, Pastor Duncan Graham's sermon outlined his broad vision for rural churches that can both survive and thrive in today's changing culture and agriculture. Photo by Joe Dan Boyd.
MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 9:00 A.M.:
Pastor: Rev. Duncan Graham
Greeter: Bob Deitering.
Sound: Bob Deitering
Ushers: George Jordan & Bob Deitering.
Song leader: Pastor, Rev. Duncan Graham.
Piano: Pat Hollingsworth.
Trust And Obey, Sweet Hour Of Prayer, Wherever He Leads I’ll Go.
Call to Worship & Opening Prayer
Morning Prayer & Lord’s Prayer:
The Pastor, Rev. Duncan Graham, read for his Scripture, Matthew 10:40-42:
10:40 "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.
10:41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.
10:42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward." ---New King James Translation
After reading the Scripture, Pastor Graham asked how many of you have a mat in front of the door to your house? “Just about everybody,” he noted, then asked: “What’s that mat there for? Two things: The first is to wipe your feet off and keep from tracking dirt into the house. Cuts down on sweeping, vacuuming and those kinds of things. The second thing is to welcome people.
“In fact, we did have a mat, until we wore it out, that had welcome written in it,” added Pastor Graham. “And, you frequently see those. The whole idea is that we need to welcome people always into our homes and the church as well. Maybe three years ago, the Stantons, David and Mollie, and Elaine and I went to an Igniting Ministry workshop in Dallas at Lovers Lane UMC. One of the things that David picked up there was a mat, an Igniting Ministry mat, to put in front of your church door to welcome people, the newcomers, and was especially directed toward them. We had it out for a while. I really don’t know whatever became of it.
“The whole idea, again, of Igniting Ministries, is that we try to be a welcoming church to all kinds of people,” explained the Pastor. “The thing about all this is that even a child can welcome people and make them feel at home. And, what Jesus is trying to say to us is that we always need to be welcoming. What does Hebrews, Chapter 13, tell us? That we may entertain angels without being fully aware of it?
“In a welcoming church, they will not be judged by the clothes they wear or the way they may look,” he added. “But that they will be welcome in the House of the Lord anytime they want to come. And so, the whole point of today’s little lesson is for us to always be constantly aware that we welcome people, whoever they are, wherever they are, into our midst. Let’s pray:
“Oh, gracious Lord, help us always to be a welcoming church. Help us always to entertain strangers, Lord, not because we think they may be angels, but just because they are strangers in our midst who need to belong. Oh, gracious Lord, teach us ways to be truly welcoming people. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
Tinney Chapel UMC Pastor, Rev. Duncan Graham, continued his discussion from last week, of the recent Annual Conference and the manner in which it was enhanced by Bishop Rhymes Moncure’s many spiritual contributions, from beginning to end: “Preach the gospel and love the people, the Bishop said, over and over again,” recalled Pastor Graham. “The motto of the entire United Methodist Church is, essentially: Go and make disciples. And we heard that theme over and over again.
“If you pick up your copies of the Conference papers, you are going to see that message repeated time and time again,” he added. “Go and make disciples. This is kind of the watchword that’s coming forth in the United Methodist Church. Somebody once said the church has to get out of the Book of Numbers and into the Book of Acts. But, once you get into the Book of Acts, you find yourself right back in Numbers.
“Because, once you get into the acts of God and the numbers begin to swell, people begin to hear that God is doing something over there, and they want to see for themselves,” added Pastor Graham. “What in the world God is doing? Last week, I was doing some of my TV channel surfing, and I ran across the 700 Club. They were talking about a great revival that was going on in an African country. They were talking about Mozambique.
“If Mozambique can have a revival, anybody can have a revival,” declared the Pastor. “Mozambique has been, historically, very predominantly a Muslim country: Islamic. And yet, here they are, seeing Muslims, by the hundreds, converted to Christianity. The first thing that strikes your mind is this: Why? What in the world is happening over there? And when you really get to watching the program, and these video clips, the testimonies they give, what has happened is there is an American couple who has been over there 10 years.
“They had labored in Mozambique for 10 years, and had begun, at some point, taking in orphans off the street, into their home and taking care of them. There is that welcoming aspect again, making them a part of this family, literally raising these children. They had intended, in the beginning, to have only maybe a half dozen or so children they would take in. But the need was so big, and the children on the street, hearing about this family, began coming to them!
“And the first thing you know, they were in an orphanage that houses, I don’t know, tens of dozens of orphans perhaps, I don’t know the actual number,” added Pastor Graham. “But, a great number of orphans. And that’s the way they started, but after about ten years, God began to move. God began to move! The problem with us is we pray for five minutes and we may keep it up for six months, or maybe at best a year, and if God hasn’t moved, we give up. We move on to other things.
“Those people kept at it!” emphasized Pastor Graham. “God began to move after ten years, and suddenly the things you read about in the New Testament began happening today. And that is to say the blind began to receive sight. They showed, on one video clip, a woman in Mozambique, a woman who began to speak for the first time. She had been deaf and dumb all her life, and she suddenly started to speak right there on their video. One native man began to give testimony about a little girl that he had been asked to pray for who was dead! And she came back to life.
“He said that he had prayed, but didn’t really expect anything, but she came to life,” added the Pastor. “And the result of all that was that people got converted to Jesus Christ. I’m relating all this to tell you that, indeed, there is revival going on all over the world today. People are hearing the Gospel and believing. They are believing it because they are seeing it in action. In the care and the welcoming of the orphans. In the love that is freely given. In the help that is being poured out wherever it is needed.