In order to expedite posting the worship services here on our website, we are reducing the transcript to just the scriptures used and the message. Union Grove UMC in partnership with Southland Books & Cafe, began holding Second Sunday Community Church in January 2023. Second Sunday Community Church takes place at 3 p.m. ET the second Sunday of every month, meets in-person at The Bird & The Book, and is also live-streamed on Facebook.  Holy Communion is offered at every Second Sunday service. If you are worshipping on Second Sundays online whether during the live-cast or through on-demand viewing, you are encouraged to have bread and juice or wine available as you watch the service and to participate in communion just as if you are present with us.



God, open us to hear and receive your scriptures today as you would have us hear them, understand them as you would have us understand them, and to act upon them as you would have us act upon them.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*Scriptures this morning are from the NRSV.

2 Peter 1:3-11

His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and excellence. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust and may become participants of the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with excellence, and excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For anyone who lacks these things is blind, suffering from eye disease, forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.

Matthew 9:9

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

Matthew 16:24-26

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any wish to come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

Matthew 28:16-20

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him, but they doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

L:  The scriptures of God for the people of God.

A: Thanks be to God.       

Message – Trusts Issues

Rev. Val

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer, and may you see fit to use me as a vessel from which you pour out your Divine Word.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The stated mission of The United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. This won’t happen by accident; we don’t fall into discipleship. It requires effort and intention.

A disciple is a follower. That means there must be someone to follow and it means that someone wants followers. Considering that, in the gospel accounts, Jesus said “follow me” more often than he said, “believe in me,” we can be confident that there is a call to follow laid upon anyone and everyone who seeks to draw closer to Christ. It could even be argued that the whole of the life of faith is wrestling with that call to follow him.

Yet even a quick reading of the gospels will reveal that Jesus never undersold this call. He never tried to convince us that following was an easy or a simple thing. There is effort here; there is sacrifice demanded; struggle and lifelong commitment are needed.

It is the weight of this call that we will be considering and focusing on in our worship this summer as we work to keep the fire of Pentecost burning. What is being asked of us, we who seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ?

Beginning with last week’s message, we will listen again to the call of the whole people of faith, when God called Abraham to be the beginning – the genesis – of a new nation. Then we lay this ancient call alongside the words and deeds of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew as he confirms and enhances and redirects the call to be the church at work in the world. But here in part one, we are especially mindful of the radical nature of the call to leave everything behind and to live into a new reality, only then to discover the added responsibility of inviting the whole world to come to know the one we follow. We are to live as witnesses, not hidden away tending to our own souls, safe and secure behind the walls of our sanctuaries. We aren’t called to safety, but to a risky and transforming faith that leans into the kin-dom of God daily.

And we are commissioned by Jesus to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”

We spend a lot of time working on being better disciples ourselves and we have some good disciples in this congregation, but we haven’t spent much time at all in going forth and making more disciples.

Oh, we go forth alright. We’ve reached out to the community through our Bruno mission. We’ve carried the gospel out to the community as we will again this afternoon at Second Sunday Community Church. But what we haven’t succeeded in doing is extending the invitation to “follow” Jesus with us.

Perhaps our hesitation or reticence to do so isn’t that surprising.

Rev. Mark Tidsworth writes, “Not everyone in your community will resonate with your church. This is actually normal and okay. So, instead of trying to be a church you are not in order to appeal to more, pray and look for those in your community for whom your church’s embodiment of the gospel helps open doors to God, those who will come alive when they experience the faith lived through your church. Go.” And that’s what we’re doing.

As a reconciling church, we’re a unique congregation, especially in this area and even more so within our own denomination. Our position on inclusion, our willingness to minister to and serve the segments of the population we do sets us apart from the other churches in our geographic community, so we’ve looked beyond geography and widened the area we consider our “community.”  

Our uniqueness, however, also makes us a potential target of extremists, and so, when we go out into the wider community, we are at minimum subconsciously and more often consciously wary when meeting strangers, and hesitant to share too much about our church, at least at first. Afterall, there’s a lot of hate in the world today, and people who disagree with you are not only more bold in their willingness to voice their opinions, they’re more overt in both threats and some are far too apt to act on those threats. An attitude and wariness not unlike that of the first disciples. Trust is an issue.

Our reluctance to blindly trust those we meet is compounded by an even greater lack of trust among those we serve … people who’ve experienced hurt “in the name of God.” Shame, guilt, and a feeling of never quite being worthy, outright condemnation and rejection don’t just make them question whether God loves them … those feelings conveyed to them through toxic theology have instilled in them a belief that, not only does God not love them, they will never be worthy of God’s love. For most of them, trust isn’t just “an issue.” It’s an impossibility. For most, their faith has been shattered, even weaponized against them.

We are such communal creatures, we humans. We are designed for community and even the most introverted, anti-social among us still want at least some network of trustworthy friends. So when we attempt to reach out, to make disciples, to grow our beloved community and are less than successful, we tend to begin to question our own faith. Are we not understanding this commission he gave us? Are we not being clear when we tell others about God, about Christ? What is wrong with us? Are we wrong about that calling we thought God gave us? And our own faith may begin to tremble and stutter.

Rev. Kliewer of Dancing Faith wrote,I once equated faith with certainty

If I had faith

If I had enough faith

Then I could find surety

I could be certain that “God” was on my side

Certain that they (God) would protect me and reward me

Certain about what God wanted me to do

Certain about the proper outcome

With enough faith I could be certain of the path forward

And certain of the destination

I wonder where I got that?

Not from the Bible, that is for sure!

I am impressed in fact, with the high degree of uncertainty that goes along with following the Sacred Way

Think of Abraham



To the place I will show you!

Where is that?

Just go, you’ll know (perhaps) when you get there.

Or think of the people of Israel

Headed out into the desert

Unequipped.  Unprepared.

Follow the pillar of fire, follow the cloud in the sky.


To a place flowing with milk and honey

Yeah!  But where is that!  Inquiring minds want to know!

Just go.

(People:  We wanna go back to Egypt)

Think of the disciples

Going through a normal day


When along comes Jesus

Follow me!


Just follow, and I will make you people catchers

healers of humankind

Ambassadors of Love

Tell us more!

Patience beloved ones

Now you do not understand, but later you will!


Trust me!

On and on it goes

In the upper room.

After the resurrection

On the road to Damascus

The call is not to certainty.  indeed, certainty gets us into trouble

It makes us arrogant, perhaps even cruel

it closes our heart

So here is to uncertainty,

and to openness

To flexibility

To change

To Plan B (and C, and D, and …)

The call is to follow

Not rules

Not a map (a creed)

But to follow love

Wherever it goes

To whomever it leads us

The call is to walk with hearts wide open

And a mind that questions and explores

And hands that reach out to help and heal

Faithful and uncertain!

Knowing only one thing for certain

It is all about love.

Love. Boy the world could use more of that right now, couldn’t it?

Do nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he existed in the form of God,

    did not regard equality with God

    as something to be grasped,

but emptied himself,

    taking the form of a slave,

    assuming human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a human,

    he humbled himself

    and became obedient to the point of death—

    even death on a cross.

Maybe that’s where we’ve been messing up … if we’ve been messing up.  Maybe we’ve looked at both our individual callings and our congregational calling as a job, a duty, a task we have to carry out in order to stay just far enough into God’s good grace to make it to heaven.

Maybe we’ve been doing this with superficial love, but not with the unconditional love of God and of Christ. Maybe we’ve been so focused on being able to show growth in the numerous reports we’re supposed to file each year, in striving to qualify for “evangelism” awards, and in filling pews that we’ve become ambitious, even conceited, striving to show we can not only grow our congregation, but that our growth through inclusion trumps their growth in their exclusion. Maybe we’ve even put ourselves on some kind of pedestal because we are a unique congregation with what is a bold and daring ministry in this area. Maybe we have become as cocksure and arrogant about what we believe as those who we consider not so unique or bold or daring.

I hear them say they are on the side of God

I hear them say they “know the way”

I hear them say they are going to fight “sin”

And going to prevail against those godless ones who are “woke”

(their term, not mine)

I see them place themselves above others

Grasping power

Full of ambition

Devoid of humility

I see them look to their own interests

Lusting for wealth and influence

Those right-wing politicians (and a fair number on the left too)

Those red state legislatures

Those tyrants in Poland, Hungry, Turkey, Israel, and Russia

Who would impose their values

Who would coerce and control and punish

Making others less so they can be more

Those pulpit pounders who would put others to death

And exclude oh so many from grace

Dooming them to eternal torment

I know them

I have been them

I can be them

It must hurt Jesus’ heart

To see what is done in his name

To see his ways of servanthood and humility

his way of truth and justice

turned into the way of domination and arrogance

lies and injustice

why can we not remember that beautiful hymn

sung by the early church (which had its own issues)

why can we not sing the servant song

the song of Kenosis?

Did we learn nothing from that peasant king?

Did we learn nothing from that humble ride on a donkey

Did we learn nothing from Jesus’ response to violence

Do we not understand that for death to work backward (Lewis)

we have to be people with others and for others

not people over others?

Jesus could have taken earthly power

Used it

He could have imposed righteousness

rather than elicited it from within

He could have taken over the government

Co-opted the Sanhedrin

Mobilized the Proud Boys

Led a revolution

Sought to dominate and control

But he didn’t

Because that does not lead to the Kingdom of God

It leads to hate and fear

it not only is not love

it kills love

We all, sadly like power

But there are two kinds of power

There is power over

And there is power for

We can choose power over other people

We can place ourselves above and in pride control

We can coerce and punish

Or we can choose the power of love

Which stands beside

Which is compassion

And forgiveness

And understanding

And welcome and inclusion

We can choose the power of love

Which touches people at their deepest place

And changes them

From the inside out

And creates

Not power brokers who perpetrate hate and fear

But lovers, who pass on peace, hope, joy, and love

As Madeleine L’Engle wrote, “Jesus stopped.  And healed.  And loved. Not causes, but people.

I think Jesus disdained causes

He didn’t line up with any group

Not the Sadducees, or Pharisees

Not the Zealots or the Essenes

Not the collaborative movement which went along with Rome (it’s the money stupid)

Or the movement that wanted to eradicate all the Romans

Jesus didn’t have much time for movements

because he only had eyes

for people

People who happened to be Sadducees, Pharisees, Zealots and Essenes

Noble and common

Rich and poor

Powerful and powerless

Healthy and ill

Confident and confused

Faithful and faithless

Righteous and holy messes

And when he saw people

Who were hurting, questioning



(whether they knew it or not)

Jesus stopped.  And healed.  And loved.

He did what he could to make people safe

Accepted and welcome

He did what he could to bless

To guide

To transform

He did not just work to help them become who and what

They were created to be

Children of God

But he worked to make sure they were fed, clothed, and house

To make sure their thirst was quenched

Be it spiritual or physical

And when he went on his way

He left people who were changed

(or if not changed, sad and thoughtful)

Yes, I know, there are places for movements

And causes

But sometimes our allegiance to causes can leave us blind to people

We can be so into stopping abortion

We lose sight of mothers and fathers, and children already born

And we can become cruel and destructive

We can be so into gun rights

The environment

Animal Rights

(pick your cause)

That we fail to see people

We fail to see their fear, their pain, their anger

And we an end up discarding them

Diminishing and marginalizing them

Hurting them

Without compunction

After all, “the cause!”

I don’t know sometimes how to balance it out

I don’t know how to see the people who are wrapped up

In beliefs, attitudes and actions

That violate love

It is difficult to stop and truly see them

It is difficult to love them

It is difficult to treat them with love

But Jesus did

He stopped and talked with kindness to the rich young man

The tax collector

The Roman soldier

The members of the Sanhedrin

The lepers

The afflicted

The poor


How do we do it, Jesus?

How do we see those who cross our paths

How do we see them as your beloved children

As our brothers and sisters

How do we not let our causes

Our divisions

Our own sense of right and wrong

Good and evil

Get in the way of love?

By following Jesus. Jesus was the power of love in the flesh, the very epitome of love, and it is His example that we are to follow.

From time to time, we will stumble and fall, we will question, we will doubt our calling, we will need to grab ourselves by the collar and get our arrogance in check, and we will need to put ourselves back on the path of following him so that, like him, we will focus on the people. We will stop. We will heal. We will love all the people.

Let’s pray:

God who loves us and calls us,

We confess that we are not always open to receiving your call on our lives. We make excuses. We choose not to listen. We believe that others would do it better than we can.

Forgive us for all the times we say no–or nothing at all—to your call.

We confess that we value the false certainty of our own path over the uncertainty of journeying with you and one another on the path of discipleship.

Forgive us for all the ways we choose what we think we know over joining you in the holy unknown.

We confess that we value the calls of some over others, putting the paths of some up on pedestals while not recognizing the many who answer your call as quiet, behind-the-scenes disciples.

Forgive us for neglecting the beautiful and varied calls you place on each of our lives.

Forgive us, God, and free us to joyfully bear the weight of your call on our lives as members together of the Body of Christ, redeemed and united by your love.



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