Jesus Didn’t Come to Bring Peace?

​“Tell me about a time that you had to choose between what was easy and what was right.” I was ready for many of the standard job interview questions. Questions like, “What’s your greatest weakness?” This question, though, caught me off guard. I wasn’t prepared for a question about conflict, but I should have been.     My eventual employer knew, like many of us know, that conflict is inevitable. But how we handle conflict, whether in the workplace, at school, in our homes or in the church, reveals how much we value others. Knowing that conflict is inevitable means we’re called to prepare for it, pray through it and work for peace. Listen to the sermon, “Jesus Didn’t Come to Bring Peace?”

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples that he did not come to bring peace to the earth but a sword. Read Matthew 10:32-36. This is a difficult passage to understand, because it seems to be in conflict with so much of what Jesus teaches and what scripture tells us about God. Even though it’s tempting to side step these tough words or to try to explain them away, our faith grows when we wrestle with Jesus’ most difficult words. Because they can help us learn how to live wisely and well. 

The context of this passage helps us understand the tone of Jesus’ words. At the start of chapter 10, Jesus commissions the twelve disciples for ministry. He tells them the good news first: they will be given power to heal people, to cast out demons in his name. But there is also bad news: you’ll run into problems, and you will have to make difficult choices. When Jesus offers these words to his disciples—and, by extension, to us—he is sitting them down for a sort of job interview or workplace orientation. He is asking them, “How will you choose between what is easy and what is right?” 

Jesus is not telling the disciples to go out and cause division or pain. Instead, he’s warning them that division will happen, and they’re called to deal with it gracefully. The Gospel will cause division, public and private, because of its power. Division is not the goal but a consequence of Christ’s coming. Jesus exposes our brokenness and weakness and offers a better way. The path to peace doesn’t avoid conflict but confronts and transforms it. 

When Jesus tells his disciples that the members of their own families are their enemies, we would be wise to remember words from elsewhere in the Gospel of Matthew. In Matthew 12:50, Jesus redefines family, saying “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” So Jesus is establishing a new household in which all are welcomed into God’s loving embrace. And for those who are causing conflict inside and outside of this household, those who would be labeled enemies, he has other words to offer. What are we supposed to do for our enemies? Love them (Matthew 5:44). Pray for them (Luke 6:28). When that happens, our enemies are no longer our enemies, and together we are members of the household of God. 

How do you respond when you have to choose between what’s easy and what’s right? How are you preparing to respond faithfully when you’re presented with a tough choice?

Pastor Matt Potter

Are You a Christian During the Week?

“A man who merely sits in a pew on Sunday morning and calls himself a Christian is like the man who stands in the garage and calls himself a car.” I’m unsure about the author of that quote, but I am sure it sums up for many of us Christians how critical it is for us not only to call ourselves Christians but also to demonstrate our Christ-like behavior in our everyday lives. We had the good fortune to see that Christian discipleship at work when we got to know the Tomlin family.

We first met Jerry Tomlin when he was one of the presenters at our On-Ramp class; later we met three more of the Tomlins when we were classmates in the Financial Peace University course. Impressed with their sincerity and devotion, we knew they were a family we would like to get to know better, so we invited them to join us for dinner one night. Around the dinner table that night we mentioned that we would soon be celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary, and the Tomlins happily shared their congratulations.

Fast forward a couple of months. Chatting in the church fellowship hall one Sunday, Jerry and Anne asked how the preparations were going for our big hoopla. “Well,” we replied, “everything is going rather well, except we have so much yard work to complete. We know your son Jerrod already has a couple of part-time jobs, but do you think he would be interested in earning a little extra money doing some yard work for us?”  Jerry’s response, “I’ll ask him, and if he can’t help you, I can.” This was followed by Anne chiming in, “I’m not too great at gardening, but I can pull weeds!”

Like many of us who make statements like that in a social setting, we are totally sincere in our comments, but somehow life gets in the way, and we find ourselves never following through on our goodwill offer. Not so with the Tomlins. To our total surprise, the next week Anne turned up after work, a change of clothes in hand, to make good on her offer to “pull weeds,” which I am happy to report that she did for three tedious hours. Likewise, hubby Jerry showed up after work to trim our much-overgrown hedges. In just a few hours, he tamed the hedges—a task that would have easily required two weeks of our time. Following their parents’ example, son Jarrod came along to cut grass and trim weeds and daughter Sophie got to work vacuuming. Not content with their accomplishments, they came another day to complete what they had begun the week before.

The next time you see the Tomlins in their favorite spot in the upstairs pew on Sunday morning, be aware that we choose to call them Christians not only because they are here on Sunday morning but because they display their Christian faith throughout the week through their service to others. Many thanks to the Tomlins for their generous kindness to us. How lucky we are to have such faithful disciples in our church family.

Dee Swanson – congregation member


Bowling for HOPE

Bowling for HOPE

Many thanks to everyone who came out and supported our fundraiser for HOPE Missions Ethiopia! The more than $11,000 that you raised will fund mission trips to rural villages like Sebeta and Woliso. These funds are more than just dollars; they are answered prayers that mean improved health and well-being for countless families. They also provide an opportunity for members of our congregation to share the love of Christ for the transformation of the world as they install water filters and interact with the children at Hope for Korah. But this mission’s impact isn’t just felt in Ethiopia. Your generous donations also enabled several local families, as well as our homeless neighbors, to enjoy an afternoon of free bowling! We are grateful to Pinboy’s at the Beach for their hospitality and to our corporate sponsors for their generosity. And in case you’re wondering, it’s never too late for you to support HOPE Missions Ethiopia. All it takes is $80 to provide an Ethiopian family and their neighbors with clean, healthy water for the next 30 years. Please prayerfully consider giving today.

“I participated in Bowling for HOPE because I thought it was a fun way to support the good work we are doing in Africa and enjoy some time with friends. It was pleasure with a purpose.” -Pastor Mark Miller.

“I am a volunteer for the Potter’s House and this is the first time I have participated in Bowling for HOPE. I wanted to support HOPE Missions Ethiopia to help raise funds for the water filters. I had fun and it was also nice to see some families that normally wouldn’t have been able to afford to bowl having a great time! I am excited to participate in future missions opportunities.” –Lucinda Wroblewski.

“I always enjoy attending the Bowling fundraiser. What a great fun way to support others! Every year we sell raffle tickets to the HOPE bowlers at the bowling alley. This year, a family celebrating a birthday came up to us and asked what the tickets were for. They were so impressed that they purchased some tickets and didn’t even wait for the raffle! I even won something this year, which was very exciting!” – Judy Clement

A Confirmation Journeyconfirmation faith journey

Sunday, May 20 was confirmation Sunday.  This is an important milestone for youth in that they become full-fledged members of our church.  More importantly, they are on a faith journey to learn more about their relationship with Jesus, how they can relate that to the church, and how the church supports them through this. The act of being confirmed is the visible culmination of weeks of study, self-reflection, group discussion, prayer, and more.  It is where young people publicly declare their commitment to honor God and their Church by living as a “disciple of Christ,” and their intention to continue that journey throughout their lives. 

We were blessed with 11 confirmands this year. 

My son, Wyatt was confirmed Sunday May 20th at Virginia Beach United Methodist. The days before, I had been reflecting on how huge that event feels to me and how excited I was that he was choosing confirmation. I spent of big part of my life as a non-Christian. I found myself at VBUMC through the MOPS program in 2010. I remember pulling into the parking lot and saying to myself “Crap. It’s in a ‘churchy church.’” Long story short, I found Christ in this “churchy church.” My son Wyatt is autistic and super literal, so when he was a little boy and I was trying to get him “to do church” with me the concept of God was such an abstract thing for him to grasp. For Wyatt’s mind, I couldn’t provide tangible proof of Gods existence, therefore, He simply didn’t exist. It took years here. Through continual attendance, Sunday School, the childcare (Cove), the music ministry/praise band, CREW, various opportunities to serve, even VBS, we learned who God is through His people. More, Wyatt learned that God exists because his teachers at VBUMC are walking, talking (proof/tangible) evidence of Him.

I became a believer and somewhere along our journey together, Wyatt hit the “I believe” button as well and he’s chosen to be confirmed. I can’t even describe how full my heart is and how proud I am of Wyatt!”

– Sarah Rigowski, church member

Potter’s House Report May 2018

The total value of support provided in the form of financial aid, bikes, and food was $33,934.06.  We conducted 190 interviews for financial aid, fed 441 households at Fresh Food Wednesday, and did this with the support of 319 volunteers! 

Among the reasons for needing financial assistance are:

  • fell behind on bills due to a needed auto repair and needing to fly to father’s funeral.
  • single Mom with 2 kids is no longer receiving SSI for children with sickle cell anemia.
  • supports adult disabled daughter and had high utility bills in the winter.
  • not able to work due to illness or surgery.

Jennifer Vaughan, who runs the Potter’s House, continues to meet with the Transition Team for the Housing Resource Center (HRC).  This team consists of the librarian for the oceanfront library, 99 for the One, Star of the Sea Catholic Church, PIN, PATH (Human Services), Homeless Outreach Team, Director of the HRC, Program Director of the HRC, Volunteer Coordinator of the HRC. Together they are trying to address the needs of the homeless at the oceanfront.

Topics they are working on include:

  • Transportation – The city will provide transportation to and from the HRC and the oceanfront.  Times will revolve around jobs and services. Possibly 3 times a day.
  • Meals – At this time, meals will only be provided for those who are staying in the shelter.
  • Services needed – Discussions are around trying not to duplicate services and determining what is needed.
  • Opening date – It now looks like move in for the offices will be in late July/August.  This time frame has changed due to construction.  The shelter will open in the fall.