The word is… reclaim
February 10, 2017
Ancient church mothers and fathers often greeted one another with the phrase, “Give me a word.” This greeting led to the sharing of insights and wisdom. Today we continue this tradition with this monthly column.
By Rev. Mandy Sayers
Pastor, Covenant UMC, Gaithersburg
To reclaim something is to take it back, like land reclaimed from the sea or a team reclaiming a championship after a building year. As I reflect on the current political scene and my own time at various marches in Washington, and as I hit my knees each week in sermon preparation praying to be “hidden behind the cross,” the word “reclaim” holds power for me.
Could it be that this could be a season to reclaim who we are as followers of Jesus? Could it be that there is hope in so many United Methodists finding their voice, in favor of issues that matter so deeply to us as people of faith?
Never in my lifetime have I so often felt the pull of my baptismal vows and the command to “resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” In this season, I not only want to reaffirm my baptismal vows, I want to reclaim them.
I am a follower of Jesus and, as such, I have a mandate to love neighbors and enemies. I have a responsibility for those on the margins. The Jesus who saved me and who I follow as Lord of my life, and of all creation, came to tear down walls, not build them. My baptism is clashing with my newsfeed in ways that are new and uncomfortable for me.
I don’t preach politics from the pulpit and the idea of partisan politics, in the sense of having Demorepublicocrat debates in church, makes me crazy. God has given us a church that is diverse in every way that is measured, and I’m grateful. I’ve always been grateful not to pastor a church where everyone is “like me.” That church would be small and monotonous and often wrong.
But I do preach Christ and him crucified. I preach the gospel of Jesus for the world that God created and redeemed and is bringing to consummation. I preach about God’s grace and God’s kingdom.
The word being whispered in my ear these days is “reclaim.” God has claimed us (long ago, in my case). Some seasons, it is easier to live into that identity than others. Other times, the easy yoke of Jesus doesn’t feel all that easy. Let this be a season of reclamation, in every heart, every family, and every congregation.
God is on the throne, Jesus Christ is Lord, and woe to me if I do not preach the gospel. May we reclaim it, and be reclaimed.
By Rev. Daryl Williams
Pastor, St. Paul UMC, Oxon Hill
I love a good comeback story. You know, when someone has lost something and they do all that they can to reclaim their former place or their former glory.
My personal favorite comeback story is Rocky III. For many fans of the Rocky franchise, Rocky III is not their favorite. Some have said it was too glossy, too melodramatic, and too far away from the roots of Rocky. Honestly, that is exactly why I love the movie.
In the first two Rocky movies, Rocky is a working class guy struggling to make it to the top. Rocky III shows what happens after Rocky has made it. It shows the glitz, the glamour, the riches and it shows Rocky getting his lights knocked out, completely out.
In Rocky III, Rocky learns one of the most valuable lessons of life: the cost of success. You see, many of us concentrate on the price of success but we rarely consider the cost of success.
We know that to become successful you have to set goals, you have to be focused, you have to work hard, and you have to make sacrifices. By contrast, being successful has a cost as well. As Rocky found out, being successful often costs you your drive, because you’ve made it; your focus, because people are not pulling you in a million different directions; and it is that cost that can lead you to getting knocked out, just like Rocky.
That’s why I love Rocky III. After seeing Rocky get knocked out, Apollo, his former nemesis, comes to him and offers to train him for a rematch. Rocky is down and out having lost, but Apollo tells him why he lost.
He reminds him that he lost who he used to be. He had lost desire to be the best, or as Apollo put it, “The Eye of the Tiger.” So Apollo offers to take him back to the beginning to reclaim the things that made him who he was.
To do the things that God has called us to do, we have to reclaim things that are missing. We have to reclaim our focus so that we can concentrate on the important things and not be pulled in every direction. We have to reclaim our passion so that we have the fire to push through the hard times. Finally we have to reclaim our desire: you will never do anything that you have not made up your mind to do. So as you go through the year, take the time to reclaim the things that matter. That way you’ll always have the eye of the tiger.
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