Rural Worship and Spirituality
1 Corinthians 1:18-19, 25
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Thriving Rural Communities, in cooperation with Mt. Olive College and several local ecumenical organizations, is sponsoring a gathering of clergy and laity in North Carolina to explore the shape of Christian community and the nature of Christian mission in our small-town, rural context.
If you are like me, odds are you’ve never heard of Cowboy Church. Just linking those two words bring to mind all sorts of images. What are you imagining?
I first learned about Cowboy Church from a family in my congregation, one that has been a source of incredible support for me as I have transitioned to Davidson County and Shiloh UMC. I can’t recall how many invitations I politely declined before I finally attended, but I can tell you that my Thursday nights with High Rock Cowboy Church has been an unexpected source of joy and fellowship over the past months.
I could feel the intent and even apprehensive gaze of the congregation as I sat down on the floor for Children’s Sermon. I knew what they were all thinking, and I was thinking the same thing: will I be able to get back up off of this floor?
I was appointed to the charge back in July, three and half months pregnant. Now, entering my ninth month, the congregation has been able to lovingly as well as amusingly watch my transformation over the last several months.
Some might think that the term "vital congregations" applies only to large churches. But interestingly, about 64 percent of United Methodist churches have 175 or fewer members, and many of these congregations are thriving.
In an article in the United Methodist Reporter, Mallory McCall discusses the factors that enable small-membership churches to be just as effective as their megachurch counterparts. Be sure to check it out.
On October 10, the cover of our church's bulletin depicted the silhouette of a cross on a church steeple surrounded by high-rise office buildings in a large city at dusk. The scripture quoted there is Jeremiah 29:7, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Philip and I were out of town that Sunday and missed what was no doubt was a very inspiring message, so I picked up my Bible and read “the rest of the story” in Jeremiah chapter 29, verses 1-14. The Jews were in exile in Babylon and Jeremiah was giving them guidance from the Lord.
Her first response to the gift of new life was to burst into tears.
Moments before, the heavens had been ripped open for her. Light flooded in. She found herself transported into a whole new world: the dark, comfortable existence of the past was left behind in an instant. Everything, everything was suddenly unfamiliar.
She started to cry – a mixed wail of anger and fear. Little rivulets of tears tumbled down her cheeks. She gasped and struggled to breathe.