What does it mean to be a Christian?

What does it mean to be a Christian? Christianity is a lifelong commitment of striving to follow the life practices and values of Jesus. It is not about wearing a cross in your jewelry or speaking a certain prayer. It is not about looking a certain way or even that you attend church all the time. It is about how you make choices for yourself and for others. Being a Christian requires learning about Jesus and the lessons he taught, and then doing likewise. All the stuff we do in church is about remembering who Jesus is and was, and offering spiritual ‘tools’ to help you be a Jesus follower. Those of us who follow Jesus and claim the traditions of the United Methodist denomination aren’t any more or less Christian than anyone of any other denomination. Denominations of the Christian faith are all Christian but each one places the emphasis in different places. United Methodist Christians focus on grace in both personal holiness and community action. The spiritual and faith tools that our church teaches are prayer, singing, fellowship, study, fasting, giving financially, giving time, witness, liturgy, love of neighbor…and so many more. As we come closer to the end of the year, we will be talking again about stewardship and asking for your commitment for 2018 through your time, talents and treasures. I know it seems like it is early, but the staff and some leadership of the church are already thinking about our ministry plans and work for next year. Please start praying about how God is calling you to step up in faith next year. Study after study shows that giving and charity makes us healthier, and happier people. Charity feeds our heart and is a spiritual tool for us to connect with Jesus. In a world that is struggling with civility and compassion, one way to make a difference is to teach our children about charity. Start when they are young and show them how to give. If you believe in donating blood, take your children or grandchildren with you. If you or someone in your family loves animals, make time to volunteer at the humane society or other animal organization. When you come to church, let a child place your offering envelope or monetary gift in the offering plate. Talking about stewardship at the church isn’t just about money, it is about living Jesus teaching to care for neighbor and do justice in the world. The United Methodist Church of Vista is striving to do more courageous and bold ministry. We see the world outside our walls and want to make it better. I believe 2018 is at our doorstep, there are many hurting and hungry people looking for hope. Let us be a Community of Christ that steps up in caring for one another and giving to those in need.
Grace and peace be with you, Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann Shaw

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