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A Summer of Seuss

As a child, I remember loving the public library’s Summer Reading Program. It was a fun thing to do that we looked forward to each week. But it also cultivated in me a love of reading, stories, and imagination.

This summer at Kearney First UMC, we’re playing with our own summer reading program: a Summer of Seuss. Now, to be clear, our main story is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of God’s saving grace, seen in Jesus and experienced through the Holy Spirit. But to hear and share that story, we’ll also be playing with some of the stories by the children’s book author Dr. Seuss.

Reading the Bible, participating in church ministries like worship, Sunday School and Small Groups, and praying regularly are essential practices of the Christian life. However, they’re not ends in themselves. They’re tools, pathways even, through which we experience the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying, perfecting presence at work in our lives. Quite likely, they also shape our vision and minds so that we are better equipped to see the Holy Spirit’s fruit in and around us. And that’s where the stories of Dr. Seuss come in.

Ultimately, most of us aren’t going to be worshipping, praying, and reading our Bibles 100% of our waking hours. And that’s not the point of the Christian life. Instead, the Christian life is about being so formed through our community of practice that we experience God, and see God at work, in all the other points of our days. John Wesley and other theologians talked about this as part of the life-long process of sanctification. In one sense, becoming sanctified is about loving with God’s love – that’s how Wesley talked about it most. In another sense, as we love with God’s love, we also begin to see and love the world and its people as imbued with God’s character and grace.

As the Holy Spirit transforms our hearts, minds, and vision, we’ll often become able to see God in the work we do, the events we participate in, the books we read, the art we view, and the relationships we share. Perhaps you remember the Created series from last summer based on Genesis, or the Visible Faith series in November 2023. These series sought to discover something of the character, grace, and presence of God in the midst of pieces of art and other facets of the created world. The Summer of Seuss is similar, albeit more playful and less heady. I believe one way the Holy Spirit works through the church to accomplish God’s mission of restoring all creation is to equip us so that we can see and interpret God’s will, ways, and presence in the rest of our lives – thus collapsing the false dichotomy of “sacred” and “profane.”

So, each week in worship, we’ll hold together a story by Dr. Seuss and a gospel theme conveyed in one or more scriptures. Hopefully, we’ll have some fun reading or remembering stories we heard read to us, or we read to others. But even more, we expect to grow in our knowledge and love of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And, if we get better at seeing the gospel themes in art, literature, and life through the process…well, just think of all the places we can go and find God already there.  

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