“Our Wesleyan Affirmations”

– From Paragraph 102 of “The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church”

These are our core beliefs, as members of The United Methodist Church:

(Four readers. Seated center of the chancel. A common microphone is passed as each reads)

1. With Christians of other communions 

we confess belief in the triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

This confession embraces the biblical witness 

to God’s activity in creation, 

encompasses God’s gracious self-involvement in the dramas of history, 

and anticipates the consummation of God’s reign. 

2. The created order is designed for the well-being 

of all creatures and 

as the place of human dwelling 

in covenant with God. 

As sinful creatures, however, 

we have broken that covenant, 

become estranged from God, 

wounded ourselves and one another, 

and wreaked havoc throughout the natural order. 

3. We stand in need of redemption, the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.

4. We hold in common with all Christians 

a faith in the mystery of salvation

 in and through Jesus Christ. 

At the heart of the gospel of salvation 

is God’s incarnation in Jesus of Nazareth. 

1. Scripture witnesses to the redeeming love of God 

in Jesus’ life and teachings, 

his atoning death, 

his resurrection, 

his sovereign presence in history, 

his triumph over the powers of evil and death, 

and his promised return. 

2. Because God truly loves us in spite of our willful sin, 

God judges us, 

summons us to repentance, 

pardons us, 

receives us by that grace 

given to us in Jesus Christ, 

and gives us hope of life eternal. 

3. We share the Christian belief that 

God’s redemptive love 

is realized in human life 

by the activity of the Holy Spirit, 

both in personal experience 

and in the community of believers. 

4. This community is the church, 

which the Spirit has brought into existence 

for the healing of the nations. 

1. Through faith in Jesus Christ we are forgiven, 

reconciled to God, 

and transformed as people of the new covenant. 

2. “Life in the Spirit” involves diligent use 

of the means of grace

such as praying, fasting, attending upon the sacraments, 

and inward searching in solitude. 

It also encompasses the communal life of the church 

in worship, mission, evangelism, service, and social witness. 

3. We understand ourselves 

to be part of Christ’s universal church 

when by adoration, proclamation, and service 

we become conformed to Christ. 

We are initiated and incorporated 

into this community of faith 

by baptism, 

receiving the promise of the Spirit 

that re-creates and transforms us. 

4. Through the regular celebration of Holy Communion,

we participate in the risen presence of Jesus Christ 

and are thereby nourished for faithful discipleship. 

1. We pray and work 

for the coming of God’s realm and reign to the world 

and rejoice in the promise of everlasting life 

that overcomes death 

and the forces of evil. 

2. With other Christians 

we recognize that the reign of God 

is both a present and future reality. 

3. The church is called to be 

that place where the first signs 

of the reign of God 

are identified and acknowledged in the world. 

4. Wherever persons are being made new creatures in Christ, 

wherever the insights and resources 

of the gospel are brought to bear on the life of the world, 

God’s reign is already effective 

in its healing and renewing power. 

1. We also look to the end time 

in which God’s work will be fulfilled. 

This prospect gives us hope 

in our present actions 

as individuals 

and as the Church. 

2. This expectation saves us from resignation 

and motivates our continuing witness and service. 

3. We share with many Christian communions 

a recognition of the authority of Scripture 

in matters of faith, 

the confession that 

our justification as sinners 

is by grace through faith, 

and the sober realization that 

the church is in need 

of continual reformation and renewal. 

4. We affirm the general ministry 

of all baptized Christians 

who share responsibility 

for building up the church 

and reaching out in mission 

and service to the world. 

1. With other Christians, 

we declare the essential oneness 

of the church in Christ Jesus. 

This rich heritage of shared Christian belief 

finds expression in our worship, sacraments, words, and music.

2. Our unity is affirmed 

in the historic creeds 

as we confess 

one holy, catholic, and apostolic church. 

3. Grace pervades 

our understanding of Christian faith and life. 

By grace we mean 

the undeserved, unmerited, and loving action 

of God in human existence 

through the ever-present Holy Spirit. 

4. While the grace of God is undivided, 

it precedes salvation as “prevenient grace,” 

continues in “justifying grace,” 

and is brought to fruition in “sanctifying grace.” 

1. We assert that God’s grace is manifest in all creation 

even though suffering, violence, and evil 

are everywhere present.

2. The goodness of creation 

is fulfilled in human beings, 

who are called 

to covenant partnership with God. 

3. God has endowed us with dignity and freedom 

and has summoned us to responsibility for our lives 

and the life of the world. 

4. In God’s self-revelation, Jesus Christ, 

we see the splendor of our true humanity. 

Even our sin, 

with its destructive consequences for all creation, 

does not alter God’s intention for us—

holiness and happiness of heart. 

Nor does it diminish our accountability 

for the way we live. 

1. Despite our brokenness, 

we remain creatures 

brought into being 

by a just and merciful God. 

The restoration of God’s image in our lives 

requires divine grace 

to renew our fallen nature.

All: We are united,

Some stronger,

Others, weaker.

All united. 

We are united as disciples of Jesus Christ.

We are united as United Methodists. 

We are united as members of the Rush United Methodist Church.

Our New Year’s Resolution is 

to lead people to Christian discipleship 

for the transformation of the world;

To love the Lord our God with all our mind, soul, body, and strength, 

Through worship, praise, and thanksgiving;

And to love our neighbor,

Near and far,

Friend or foe,

To love without expectation of anything in return.

If you are not yet one of us, 

Won’t you join us?

“The Word”

John 1:1-18

December 25, 2022

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

| Centering Prayer |

“In the beginning was the Word.”

The great philosopher John Locke observed

that words are “the sensible marks of ideas.”

In today’s gospel we learn that God has a new idea;

Indeed, God has a history of developing new ideas.

If God has a signature line, it would be

“I have a new idea!”

Experiencing our gospel fresh

Makes us think back to the original idea

From the words,

“In the beginning…”

Our gospel author intentionally calls to mind

The idea of Genesis;

That God was, and is, and will forever be

a God of creation.

Creation is God’s idea.

It is more than a plan.

It is God’s way of doing business;

An essential core of God’s divine nature.

God transformed an idea into action

And six days later the world as we know it

Was birthed and brought into being.

Our gospel author known as John

Tells us that God’s creation was fully God’s own.

God was, and is, responsible for every atom,

And all the space in-between,

in the cosmos.

Our divine Creator has a hand in

– Nature: earth, fire, air, and water

– Life: plants, animals, and humans

– Being: personality, conscience, and soul.

Being a God of new ideas,

Of always being in the business of creating,

Means that God is never stuck in the past,

Content to be a prisoner to what was,

what has been,

or how it was always done before.

And neither should we.

John paints a portrait of a forward leaning God,

Always on the cutting edge

Of transforming today’s dreams and ideas

into tomorrow’s reality.

It was, and is, an evolutionary leap forward

From just creating things

To creating life.

Yes, God evolved.

The idea that carbon-based cells

Can be filled with divine breath

And spring to life is simply astonishing.

God brought together physics and chemistry to create biology;

That the Holy Spirit might breath life into the world.

God has an intimate hand in the creation of each and every life,

– From seed to sperm,

from egg to mitosis,

from blood to every beating heart –

God has, and continues to be,

the one and only source of life.

Left to its own ends,

Life is pretty chaotic, unorganized, and ultimately meaningless.

Life without direction becomes self-centered, self-serving, and self-absorbed.

We live, we work, we procreate, we die.

We create artificial means to gauge success, such as money, property, or things.

But, at the end of the day,

life ends,

the body returns to ashes,

and everything we’ve accumulated is redistributed to the next generation.

Even God is able to see the futility of life lived inside a spinning wheel.

God’s new idea was to call, to covenant, to command, and to provide directive council.

It wasn’t enough to set the world into motion

Only to step back and watch the chaos begin.

God jumped in, made covenant with our father, Abraham,

To forever be our God, and we, God’s people.

God sent Moses,

Gave us Law, a framework for living together in peace, justice, and faithfulness.

Righteousness became our new salvation;

Life lived in complete harmony with our creator.

The Lord gave us direction,

Speaking through the voice of chosen prophets,

in an effort to reveal God’s divine will.

Judgment was quick, but just and fair.

One would think this would be a great plan;

An idea so good it would be

The last idea God would ever have to implement.

Yet, from the beginning,

From the very start,

When humans received the gift of personal will and free choice,

It is as if we’ve been in an eternal struggle with the very one who has given us life.

We are tempted to sin,

drawn to the darkness,

insistent on exercising our will.

We’ve never been able to let it go,

Let it be,

Or to just let God.

What was needed was a new idea.

Life by itself wasn’t sustainable.

God’s new creation,

Reported by John,

Is light, the light of all people.

God’s new idea,

Was to bridge the chasm between heaven and earth,

Directly enter this world through Mary’s womb,

And to become the guiding light;

that will overcome the darkness,

that will save all people.

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us.”

God’s new idea was to send us his son, Jesus.

The Word of God

Became the Flesh of God.

Instead of speaking through others,

God came, was born Jesus, and did the talking himself.

More than just talking, Jesus did the dying and the resurrecting, too!

In doing so,

Life took on new meaning.

Life became fulfilling.

Life took on a new purpose.

No longer are we simply meant to live, to breed, and to die.

We are meant to love, and to be loved

– to love our God, to love our neighbors, to love our enemies.

We are meant to forgive, and be forgiven

– to make things right with those we have crossed, to make things right with our God.

We are meant to save and to be saved

– to live forever redeemed, restored, and perfected eternally giving glory to God.

Moses brought the Law.

Jesus brings grace;

Not a free pass, mind you;

Healing and restoration for all those we have broken

If only we ask for forgiveness

and desire to not sin again.

The light of Jesus reveals truth wherever it shines.

Secrets are no more.

Nothing can hide,

For darkness is no more.

The last vestiges of temptation and sin are conquered.

All is revealed to God

Who stands as our eternal arbitrator.

Grace and truth defines Jesus Christ

Just as creation is the signature of God.

Where does this leave us today?

2023, merely a week away, will be a new year,

filled with new opportunities,

yet, filled with the same old temptations.

The Word didn’t become flesh for us to continue to live in 2022,

1990, or 1965, for that matter.

God’s new idea is made into flesh

To bring love to the new year,

To spread forgiveness of sins and proclaim pardon in 2023,

To be God’s grace revealing God’s eternal saving truth in 2023.

Take a look at the people around you.

They may appear to be the same old family members and friends.

But each is filled with God’s new creation, new ideas, new possibilities for the New Year.

Ask yourself, “how is Christ working though you to bring love, redemption and salvation into the world?”

God is not only creating something new within you,

But something new within each and every one of us.

Take a look at this bread and this wine we are about to consume.

It may appear to be the same old communion served the same old way.

But in this bread and in this wine

– in this body and blood of Christ –

is grace

is the illuminating truth

that will not only sustain you,

but will continue to light your way today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your life.

Dearly beloved,

God is about all things new.

God is in the business of creating life.

God is in the habit of creating light.

The old?

The former things?

They have passed away.

Behold, Christ has come.

Christ is come.

Christ will come again.


“Faithful to the Core”

Christmas Eve – 24 December 2022

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

Matthew 1:18-25

Luke 2:1-10

Matthew 2:1-12

| Centering Prayer |

The cast of characters

The Lord assembles is truly astonishing.

Diversity of origin, culture, and class

Are intentional, divine truths

Given by God

Received by humankind as

Gifts of Divine grace

Meant to inform,



Confirm the promise

Of God’s eternal love and covenant.

Who are these people?

Joseph and Mary from the northern town of Nazareth.

Local shepherds from the remote southern Judean village of Bethlehem.

Wise men from the East.

The baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.

From the local poor, lowly shepherds

To the international wealthy, Magi from foreign lands,

The Creator of all things

Weaves together a messianic tapestry

Of love

Whose goal is to

Cleanse the world of sin and

To save all of humanity

Into our Creator’s eternal kingdom.

The Christmas characters are a study in contrast

Revealing to all who have

Eyes to see and

Ears to hear

The all-encompassing, inclusive message of

love, redemption, and salvation.

Joseph and Mary,

Boy and girl,

Barely pubescent

Citizens of the northern kingdom of Israel,

Both the intended host of angelic visitors,

Joseph visited in a dream,

Mary visited personally by the Angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26),

Both guided by the potter’s design and Emperor’s decree

To the backwater Bethlehem

To take their place in

The unraveling and revealing of salvation history.

Faithful to the core, Mary and Joseph comply.

They travel to the place foretold by prophets,

Directed by angels,

To Bethlehem’s stable

For there was no room for them in the inn.


Poor, local, Judah’s day laborers,

Drunks, drug abusers, parolees,

the equivalent of modern-day gangsters, truants, pimps, brass knuckler malcontents,

Receive the full, in-person,

blinding strobes in the eyes

Revelation of God.

Not one angel;

A heavenly host!

Multitudes of the heavenly host!

From on high!

Fully encompassing, all inclusive,

full immersion in the Lord’s presence and ether.

The glory of the Lord shinning around them!

Praising God!

Good news is found in Bethlehem,

A baby,

A Savior,

The Messiah!

Faithful to the core, the shepherds comply.

They make haste to deliver the good news

To all gathered around the manger.

Magi from the East;

Part king, part wise men, part prophets,

Wealthy in gold, perfume, and spice,

Taking their cue,

Not from dream or angel or heavenly host,

But from a star,

A cosmic ripple in time and space.

“We observed his star at its rising.” (Matthew 2:2)

His star.


The root of Jesse.

The star of David.

The Christmas star

Drawing the foreigner,

The privileged, the affluent

To the intersection of

earth and heaven,

humanity and heavenly,

mortality and immortality.

Faithful to the core, the wise men comply.

They come,


Offer gifts of wealth,

Prophecy, and preparation;





The reason for the season,

The divine initiative whose anniversary

Is cause to gather, worship, praise, and return thanks.

The baby is born,

Named Jesus,

As per angelic directive.

“He will be great,” the angel proclaimed,

“and will be called the Son of the Most High,

And the Lord God will give to him the throne

Of his ancestor David.

He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,

And of his kingdom

There will be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33)

The reign of Christ continues to this day,

The reign of Christ will continue tomorrow.

His kingdom shall never end.


He is our king.

We are his obedient people.

Speak, Lord, and it shall be done unto you.

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,” Gabriel promised Mary,

And the power of the Most High will overshadow you;

Therefore the child to be born will be holy;

He will be called Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)


Consecrated, commissioned by God

To redeem and save the world.

Maternal double helix.

Divine DNA.

Conceived and carried in Mary’s womb.

Son of Mary.

Son of God.

Jesus, mortal to the cross,

Immortality stepping from the empty tomb,

Fully human, obedient unto the end.

Fully divine, resurrected and ascending into glory,

With the promise to return,

Pass judgment, and

Complete his Father’s heavenly kingdom

On earth as it is in heaven.

“He has done nothing to deserve death,” Pilate proclaimed.

“Crucify him!” the crowd insisted,

“and their voices prevailed.” (Luke 23:15, 23)

“Father, if you are willing,

Remove this cup from me;

Yet, not my will

But yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Thy will be done.

Faithful to the core, Jesus complies.

He stretched out his arms

And he died

For you and me.

Joseph and Mary from Nazareth.

Local shepherds from Bethlehem.

Wise men from the East.

The baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.





A baby born

Fully human.

Completely Divine,

The seemingly impossible shrouded in God’s mystery;

God’s love given

Form and face,

Hands and heart,

To forgive and to save.


His light has come!