Monthly Archives: March 2019

God on the Move: Down the Road

It was a very chilly morning, but a wonderful day to gather on the fourth Sunday in Lent. This Sunday we took one of the six special offerings in the United Methodist Church, and my favorite our offering for the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Not one dime from United Methodist apportionments or mission and ministry shares support this amazing ministry. Since 1940 UMCOR has been at work in disasters all over the world. This offering underwrites the administrative costs so that 100% of every gift to disaster relief goes to that disaster.

Following the 11:00 service many of our members helped put together over 100 flood buckets.

Donations came in from our congregation adn others. They will be delivered tomorrow to Omaha, Nebraska where they will go help those who are cleaning up from the terrible flooding through out the state.

God is on the move, through the work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, through First United Methodist Church, and through you and me. You can find this week’s worship service here.

 

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Year of Gratitude, March Week 4

The month of March our gratitude challenge has focused on “home.” When the weather changes, some people get anxious to spring clean, to declutter, to spruce up the outside of the house. Home is also more than the place where we sleep and eat and live. We have homes in many places including churches and clubs and organizations and parks and vacation spots.

One home we, or perhaps only me, don’t talk about very often is how at home are we in our bodies? We physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally inhabit a body and that body is our home while we live on earth. Our Lenten sermon series has been “God on the Move” and as a congregation we are walking to Jerusalem, recording our steps and our miles we are physically moving each week.

My husband and I have “upped” our miles walking and also increased the intensity of our walks. I am personally looking forward to getting back on the bicycle. However, I very aware of how I don’t move the way I used to move. I am slower at some things, less strong and I can feel the increased miles in my body.

I have recently been noticing how my skin has aged and I have aged. I am not ashamed of being 60, but perhaps the truth is I am noticing I do not look as did when I was younger. My skin is different. While they are not huge or dark, I have more age spots on my hands and arms.

 

IMG_3120Wrinkles continue to make themselves noticable across my face, around my eyes, my mouth, my neck and forehead.

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And how is it I can have “blemishes” popping out WITH wrinkles?!? We won’t even mention the gray hair.

So this week, I was wondering how to give thanks for my physical body? This amazing creation of God that while not perfect and certainly is filled with flaws, is the vehicle through which I am enabled to be in ministry. This body takes me out to make hospital calls, to have a cup coffee with a friend, lead worship and preach every week as well as the numerous other ministry tasks.

This body enables me to play, encourages me to walk, to ride my bike and exercise or reminds me by aching that I need to be physcially active.  This same body enjoys laughter, good food and hugs from those I love.

My eyesight while very nearsighted, still sees the beauty around me and my ears hear the wonderful sounds of creation, music in so many places and the sighs and prayers of my heart. I could go on, but even this aging body is a gift that enhances my life and allows me to life a life of gratitude.

How are you grateful for your body which is your home in this world? How do you show your gratitude for this gift of life? This week write a thank you note or two to those who help you appreciate your body. Maybe it is a physical therapist, or a doctor or a dentist. Maybe it is an exercise partner or a personal trainer or someone how who leads class. Maybe it is cook or chef that makes sure you have good food to eat.

This week find ways to give thanks for your home, your body that houses all that you are: physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

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God on the Move: Over Fences

On this third Sunday in Lent, God is on the move and people are on the move as well. This morning was the inaugural Chisholm Trail Marathon and Half Marathon. A Boston Qualifier and a brand new marathon for Wichita. the Prairie Fire Marathon which is run in October on basically the same course has thousands attend. It practically shuts down downtown and certainly affects worship. This new marathon did not seem to draw as many runners and we were not as aware of it as early as we might have been. Mostly, I think people got to church, but it can be interesting!

We had several opportunities to give to missions today. A mission lunch to help support the team going to Camp Horizon just south east of us was held and we took a special offering for United Methodist Committee on Relief for the Nebraska flooding. Our neighbors to the north are being devastated, over 74 counties and 85 cities are affected in Nebraska alone. It will be a longer term cleanup and response to help.

The gospel reading was difficult and interesting and challenging. We moved as a congregation over 1300 miles and got to Nova Scotia. I hope we don’t end up treading water this week before we get to land again on our walk to Jerusalem. You can find the whole worship service at this link. I continue to be grateful to see God moving in the world, at First Church and in me.

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Year of Gratitude, March: Week 3

I believe Spring has sprung! Last night was a brilliant super moon. I didn’t even try and take a picture, but it was huge and bright and brilliant on a beautiful evening, the end of the first day of spring. I am more then ready for this season of spring, for flowers, for the planting of seeds and plants and within a few weeks, the outdoor farmer’s markets. Earlier this week I found this in my yard:

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So I am thankful for winter to be at least mostly over and for spring to arrive. Last week, I gave thanks for my home and this week I do too. I have begun the change over of the decorations. The Valentines are long gone, but I had not begun to put up Easter yet. After all, Easter comes late in April and it just seemed too early.

Still, the house looks bare, so the Easter and Spring decorations have begun to go up downstairs. Spring cleaning is one of those things that people talk about. I am sure it has to do with needing to air out our homes after a long winter and to be ready for the new life that spring offers.

Spring cleaning can be more than just our homes, it can be our lives. What have I outgrown this year? What is no longer useful as a tool or as a coping mechanism? What have I hung on to that I need to just let go? For me, this can be about “things” but more deeply it can be about what is going on with me spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Perhaps it is about hurts or resentments I may  be clinging to in stead of cleaning my spiritual house.

I am grateful for the season of Lent (which means spring season) that allows me to focus on my faith and who I am called to be in my faith. I am grateful for a particular place that I call my spiritual home as well as the place I call home each and every day. This week I intend to live out my gratitude through planting some seeds and by letting some things go. What will you do this week to live out your gratitude?

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God on the Move: Overcoming Obstacles

We are on the move! Last week, the congregation logged 746 miles and we made it to Oldenburg, Indiana. A pretty awesome place actually! We are turning in our steps on Sunday and adding up the past week on Monday. If you are interested in participating, you can e-mail your miles to logmysteps@firstwichita.org. I wonder how far we will get as congregation this week? We are walking to Jerusalem, because that is where Jesus is going and we want to be there by Easter.

We are using the walking and moving metaphors to help us see where God is in the world. This week’s scripture has Jesus being encouraged to go a different direction, away from Jerusalem. Obstacles are placed in his path. God moves past all obstacles and helps us do the same.

Today is St. Patrick’s day and in worship I used Patrick life as an example of how God is on the move in amazing ways and moves us past all obstacles. A year ago I reflected on Saint Patrick and you can find my thoughts here.

We all have obstacles and excuses, but God is on the move and God will move them all out of our way. We are called to be on the move with God and with Jesus setting our faces toward Jerusalem and beyond. Today’s worship is uploaded to our archives.

I am praying for a changed heart like Patrick’s and the love to invest into transforming the world with God.

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Year of Gratitude: March Week 2

This week there has been several things that have caused me to give thanks. At some point in the last week, someone has put additional chocolate on the conference table in my office. If you didn’t know it, that table is always covered with chocolate, individual bags of peanuts and cheese or peanut butter cracker snacks and usually some fresh fruit. As you might guess, the chocolate disappears more quickly than the other snacks. How sweet it was to see small bags of M&M’s and new little chocolate candies!

Then, yesterday, in the midst of the “bomb cyclone” that hit much of the midwest, a bright red cardinal appeared in my back yard. The rain was long past, the wind was terrible, but we sat for a few minutes outside, somewhat protected and there was that cardinal. Feathers being ruffled by the wind, but he was there, hanging on to the tree in all his glory. I paused and admired him. That beautiful cardinal had no intention of being moved by that wind.

On Tuesday night, I had my window cracked open all night long. It didn’t get below 58 degrees and having fresh air on my face for the first time since last fall was such a gift. I was grateful for the respite from unrelenting cold and winter we have had. These three experiences reminded me how easy it is to overlook the little things that occur each day.

So this week, I am adding to my gratitude jar these simple joys. Remember our gratitude jar? I wrote about this jar on my first blog post of 2019. This invitation was to write down one thing each week, an event, a surprise, something for which I am grateful for, so that in December, I have a whole year of wonderful memories to enjoy! What has gone in your gratitude jar? I have a few simple things, like what I listed above and a couple of big things, like my brother’s retirement party. I don’t even remember everything I have put in the jar, so I am really looking forward to seeing what I wrote in December.

Today I am grateful for my home. For the birds, the backyard, the place to put a gratitude jar. I am grateful for bed to sleep in, windows that open and close, a heater that works when it is cold, a kitchen to cook in and indoor plumbing! My home is place where my family comes to visit, where friends hang out, where I find refuge when the world seems a bit crazy and where I can entertain, or just be alone. What do you give thanks for where you live? How is your home a place of refuge and a place where you can be surrounded by those you?

 

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God on the Move

Today is the first Sunday in Lent. The season began on Wednesday with two services. One was at 12: 15 in our Chapel and the other was at 7:00 in the Sanctuary. Like all our services you can find the video here and always our services in the Sanctuary are livestreamed and recorded. The videos are on our website for up to a month.

Our new sermon series is God on the Move. Working through the lectionary texts, the theme focuses on Jesus moving from one place to the next and finally setting his face towards Jerusalem. Our Creative Worship Team thought joining together to walk to Jersualem with Jesus would be an opportunity for us to move together with God both physically and spiritually.

In our newsletter it stated:

Throughout Lent, First United Methodist Church will be invited to “get moving”. Just as Jesus set his face to Jerusalem, we will also! Each week of Lent we will be invited to log the number of miles walked, swam, biked or ran. Register your miles weekly with the tracker card found in bulletins, at the receptionist desk, in the B2 hallway or in Sunday school binders by calling 316-267-6244 or emailing logmysteps@firstwichita.org.  Be sure to check the 2nd floor hallway of the B building to see how far we have journeyed together! There will be interactive check-in points with photos and story sharing opportunities. On April 13, First UMC is hosting the “Easter Egg 5K” race and each person registered will automatically be counted in our mileage total, so invite all of your friends and neighbors to move with us! The goal is to reach Jerusalem by Easter that is 6,742 miles!

The comforting truth of Lent as we dive deeper into our own self-examination and practices is that we find that we are not alone.  God is still on this journey with us, God is on the move; walking, running, swimming, jogging, biking each mile of the journey as we travel the road to Easter.

We will also have pray walks each Wednesday at 12:15 and we begin in the Chapel. After a short time of prayer, weather permitting, we will walk outside and pray for ourselves and downtown Wichita. If the weather is bad, we will walk inside the church. Embodied moving prayers have a long tradition in the life of church. When we move, we open our minds, hearts, spirits and bodies to where God is moving in us and in our world.

Today in worship we looked at the temptations of Jesus. Traditionally read on the first Sunday in Lent, it was for us a re-visit as we had looked at the temptions in our sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer, Courageous Faith. Temptations tend to move us away from God, but once we know what they are, we can be on the move with God in world. You can find the worship service video here.

I plan on moving with God this week, spiritually and physically. I am looking forward to see where God is on the move in our world.

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