Monthly Archives: February 2019

Year of Gratitude

Last week, I didn’t get a prompt posted for our year of gratitude. It’s not that I wasn’t grateful or that I didn’t send a thank you note, I just didn’t get the blog written. Some of that had to do with the life of the global United Methodist Church. While I have tried not to be anxious, I have been.

As I write, General Conference has not yet concluded, but the One Church Plan which I supported and many of my colleagues and friends supported was defeated twice. I am heartbroken. Sunday, I preached a sermon about why I was going to continue to be on the side of love and acceptance of all. You can find both the worship service or the sermon by itself here.

Today I was attending a Sunday School lunch which was called  “picnic.” There was napkin that looked like this:

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Honestly, I have probably felt more like the cat than the girl! And yet being sad and angry and grieving does not mean I am not thankful. Many of my collegagues and friends from the Great Plains Conference have represented the church I love well. In the four short days, these persons have found themselves at the microphone using the legislative process to do what is right and just. The have diligently worked for good for the greatest amount of people. I am grateful for their passion, their faithfulness and willingness to serve in such a difficult time.

I can not say thank you enough to Amy Lippoldt, Adam Hamiliton, Cheryl Jefferson Bell, David Livingston, Mark Holland, Shayla Jordan (one of the youngest elected to the General Conference), Stephanie Ahlschwede among others. I know I missed some, but still I am deeply grateful for their commitment to living out God’s love for all people. I don’t know what the future holds. For so long, 35 plus years as a clergy in the United Methodist Church I have supported and worked for full inclusion of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters and friends. I don’t intend to stop.

I want to tell those who feel most bruised and broken by what is occuring that you are not alone, there are many allies who will continue to work for justice, for love, for grace, for everyone to be part of the community of faith. We do not lose hope, we cling to faith, we remember that nothing, NOT ONE THING can separate us from the love of God in Christ. I am grateful for the reminder of that promise and that somehow, in someway, we will go forward.

Years ago, a wonderful song was penned that has been sung for several decades: the story and sharing of that song is one that I pray brings hope and promise to those of us who continue to sing for our lives and the lives of the church together you. You will find that story and song here.

 

 

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Courageous Faith: Deliver us from Evil

Today was a beautiful day filled with sunshine. We are winding down our sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer. Yesterday in St. Louis, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church began a special called session to find a way forward in our denomination. For over 40 years we have wrestled with the issues around human sexuality and at the 2016 Conference, the delegates asked the Council of Bishops to lead us in a way forward.

A commission was created and three plans were offered to the General Conference. Over the next few days a decision will be made. I am praying for grace in the midst of the tension and no matter what the decision, that we as brothers and sisters treat each other tenderly and with compassion. In fact in dealing with the scriptures offered in today’s worship, the author of 1 Peter was pretty clear about how we are treat each other.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I support the One Church Plan. In my opinion is offers the biggest tent for the most people to live in the tension of disagreement and also to live together as brothers and sisters. Whatever happens, I will continue to choose love, to choose inclusion over exclusion and continue to be a voice for all people to be loved and welcomed into the body of Christ.

Early this morning as I walked into the sanctuary I was stunned by the window:

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The eastern portion was flooded with light and the rest still shadowed. I had never seen that glass look quite that color, so deep and rich. In my heart I believe that is what the kingdom of God looks like when God’s love and grace floods into our hearts and spirits. One of these days, all of us will be illuminated by the light of Christ and it will literally change the world.

Until then, I am praying for the United Methodist Church, praying for all of us to be delivered from any evil that might try to break us apart. I am praying for God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

You can find the whole of today’s service here. Tomorrow the sermon only will be uploaded as well. #Itstime friends. #Itstime. I am so grateful to be graced to serve.

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Courageous Faith: Lead us not into Temptation

The sun was shining and it was a wonderful gift after several days of cloudy, sleety, snowy and icy weather. It wasn’t warm per se, but oh how lovely it was to see a blue sky and a bright sun.

We have only a couple of more weeks for our sermon series “Courageous Faith.” This week I mentioned that the United Methodist Church will have a special session of the General Conference beginning on Saturday. I am not a delegate. After worship I had to share with some people I would not be in St. Louis.  There are just under 900 delegates, half lay and half clergy from all over the world. They are elected from their home annual conferences and most were elected in 2015 for the 2016 General Conference.

In a nutshell, this special called session is to deal with three plans for the organization of our denomination with a particular focus on sexuality. It has the potential to change our life together for decades to come. I am certainly praying for the delegates and for our church. You can find more information about the conference and the issues here.

Sometimes Sundays go fast or I may be too long winded. I cut off my ending and I wish I had been quicker to cut out something else. This is what I truly intend to do this week as I pray for the delegates and the conference. Here is what I had planned to say in its entirety:

As I pray the Lord’s prayer this week, I will be praying for God’s will, for God’s reign of love and peace and equality to become real on earth as it is in heaven. I will remember to ask for all people to be fed, to be forgiven as I forgive and to not be tempted by thing that are destructive to my brothers and sisters adn to our community of faith. This we my friends, let us pray this powerful prayer together, let’s pray for God’s kingdom to come, for each of us to spared from the time of great trial, let us pray that prayer for ourselves, for our community of faith, for our denomination and for our world.

You can find the entire worship here and by Monday afternoon, the sermon by itself will be posted. May your week be blessed and may you always be held in the palm of the Divine Hand.

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Year of Gratitude: February Week 3

Toward the end of this week is Valentine’s Day. Last week I invited you to share Valentines. This week, if you haven’t done, I invite to still share some love with people that are close to you. I would add, perhaps you could share some Valentine’s with people are not close to, people perhaps in your orbit, but with whom you do not have a great deal in common or whom you do not know well.

A few weeks ago Leonard Sweet asked this question: “When we see someone else, what do we see? Do we see others through a self-screen of our ideas, our beliefs, our politics? Or do we see another person as an inimitable and precious handiwork of God?” I’ve pondered it since then. How do we see others? Not just those whom we love, but other’s whom we have just met or perhaps know from a distance or from their “reputation” whatever that might be?

When we give thanks or share Valentines is what we share from an open place in our hearts and minds and spirits? Or do we share only from that space within ourselves that acknowledges what we already think we know about someone? Do we see someone else as a unique and unrepeatable gift from God? Or, do we see them somehow only in terms of our own ideas and beliefs?

This week, I invite you to get to know someone new, someone who you do not really know. Get a cup of coffee, or tea, sit down and just open yourself to who this person was created to be. Then write them a thank you note for the time spent together, and add a note to your gratitude jar about your experience. Or, write a thank note to someone whose services you take for granted, the custodian in your building, the postal carrier, the person who brings you coffee at your favorite shop, a checker at a grocery store. People often need a reminder that they are created by God and are a gift to the world. Find a way to get through the “self-screen” of the people you meet this week and see each one as “an intimitable and precious handwork of God.”

 

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Courageous Faith: As We Forgive Others

Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we do as Christians, in my opinion. I am not talking about the easy things to forgive, forgetting an event, or doing something that is annoying. I am talking about the deep hurts and aches that occur within relationships and in our lives. Those hurts that takes days and weeks and often months and years to “get over” and “work through.”

Today’s scripture and the Lord’s prayer take seriously the phrase that we are forgiven to the extent we are able to forgive. Today’s worship service looked at the second part of the Lord’s Prayer phrase on forgiveness: “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” For me, this may be the hardest part of following Jesus: to forgive as I have been forgiven. Today’s worship service can be found here.

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Year of Gratitude: February Week 2

So far, the month of February has been cold, cold, cold. Schools have closed all over the state and I won’t even mention the polar vortex. Well, maybe I will mention it! I love snow, but if it’s going to be this cold I WANT snow!!! So far, in Wichita, we have ice, sleet, but not much snow. So, stuck indoors it’s good to continue to focus on gratitude. God is good and life is good.

For the month of February our gratitude focus will be:

Relationships: This month is filled with “Valentines” but love is more than hearts and flowers. There are many relationships which call for gratitude. This month we give thanks for all our relationships.

Next week is Valentine’s Day. Many people tend to be dismissive of this so-called “Hallmark” holiday. I used to be one of those people. I was reminded by friends many years ago, that love isn’t something that one buys or sells, love is gift, a Divine gift. So for more than two decades I have given out Valentines to my congregations on the Sunday before Valentine’s Day. Relationships are important whether or not they are romantic. We are named and claimed by those who love us, and for me, that points to the deep love of God.

I buy Valentines by the hundreds and sign hundreds each year. Sometimes it takes me back to being a kid and choosing just the right one. So today and in these days before Valentines Day, I invite you to give out some Valentines. You can make them, buy them, or take a plain sheet of paper and color some hearts on it. Share love with your neighbors, your friends, your family.  Send at least one note thanking someone for their friendship and their love. Know that I am deeply grateful for your friendship.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Courageous Faith: Forgive Us

As we gathered today, it was an absolutely gorgeous day in Wichita. I walked up while it was still dark, it was a bit muggy, the birds were singing and it was warm. Springlike. Now I know the temperature will dropping again this week, but it was a lovely morning.

Today we continued our sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer. The phrase for today was “forgive us our sins, trespasses, debts.” I suspect if we are all honest, we don’t want to admit that we need forgiveness and it certainly not something culturally we focus on. No wants wants to admit they have made a mistake or our wrong. The truth is, we all make mistakes and we all sin. We need forgiveness. Our altar looked like this:

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We celebrated holy communion at all our services today. We are a forgiven people loved and graced by God. You can find our entire worship service here.

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