Chili is a Means of Grace!

Every church has a lost and found.  A place where everything left behind at the church is stored: jackets, shoes, hats, whatever.  Only at our church have I ever seen keys or cell phones left here.  There are no vacant cars on the parking lot-- so whose keys are these?  And the phones are long dead.  What do we do with them?  Such are the questions on the heart of this preacher on a cold Friday morning in an empty church!

Every church should be a lost and found.  This should be the place where all people-- whether they were raised in the church or not-- are welcome and find a deeper relationship with God through our various ministries, from worship to study to fellowship.  I consistently hear feedback from guests that PUMC is a friendly place where they felt welcome.  Great!  Then begins the real work, which to me is very exciting: helping people plug into the broader ministries of the church.  For example, this year in Disciple Bible study, two couples began the class before even joining the church-- they joined soon after.  Everything we do should be about making sure the back door of the church is closed-- just as much as the front door is open.  Invite people to worship and fellowship.  Plug them in so they can form meaningful relationships with others.  And for the most part people will stay of the path of discipleship.

This puts Sunday's Chili Cookoff into a whole new context.  Yes, chili is delicious.  Yes, It is fun to see whose chili wins.  Yes, there is great fellowship.  But there is more-- an invitation to further relationships with other Christians.  We often talk about the grace of God conferred on to us at Communion.  Have you ever thought of chili as a means of grace (I had not either until I saw someone's long-abandoned phone in the church office!)?  Well, it is!

Let's think of the Chili Cookoff-- and everything else we do-- as an invitation to discipleship.  Sometimes all God needs is for someone to crack open the door to their heart.  We can be that person this weekend.  Invite a friend to worship with you and stay for lunch.  Don't just sit with your church friends this Sunday-- seek out guests or others you don't know so well.  Spread the word about the event through Facebook or Twitter.  That couple that just moved in down the street: wouldn't they love an introduction to Prosper UMC hospitality?  Or the couple who has been absent for a while-- give them a call?

Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few."  The laboring part is not always as difficult as we suppose it to be.  All of us, at one point or another, are lost and found.  It can be frustrating looking for that thing you've lost.  Keys.  Phone.  Remote control.  Jesus told of a woman who lost a coin and a shepherd who lost a sheep.  Both were recovered and a celebration followed-- not just at the person's home but in heaven as well!  Maybe there will be celebrations this Sunday as someone draws closer to God.  Maybe you can help make that happen.  And while you're making a list of friends to invite, please-- PLEASE-- check around the house.  Have your keys or phone been missing for a while?

See you Sunday!  Bring a dessert to share!
Pastor Frank