Monthly Archives: May 2019

A Year of Gratitude End of May +++

I missed writing my prompt for our year of gratitude last week. I was attending the Festival of Homiletics in Minneapolis and posted two blogs, and had planned a third. Obviously not done! So I have a whole lot of gratitude, many random thoughts and a few things I want to share.

The Festival, as always was inspiritational and filled my “cup” both spiritually and intellectually. I am deeply grateful for all those who make this event possible every year. This was my fifth time to attend, and I have never been disappointed. The theme was “Preaching as Moral Imagination.” You can find my thoughts from the first couple of days here and here. The preachers were wonderful and challenging.

Some quotes that I continue to ponder from Anna Carter Florence:

(When speaking of Zaccheaus) “What Zaccheaus wanted was an unobstructed view of Jesus and what he got was an unobstructed view of Jesus in his life.”

As preachers, like Zaccheaus we need to learn to climb trees, “to try and see Jesus in the text, in the people, in the world, in each other, in the hard covnersation and in the meetings.”

So I am thankful for time away, for time to worship and learn and reconnect to the art and practice of preaching.

This week I am grateful for the clergy and laity that met at the Church of Resurrection to ponder and consider a way forward in the United Methodist Church. What’s next? UMC Next gathered people from every annual conference in the United States to pray, to have conversation and begin to discern a way forwawrd that would truly be open and inclusive for all. You can find the details of their meeting and their commitments here

I am deeply thankful for all those who gathered together and did the hard work to move the United Methodist Church in the United States in a new direction. I am personally committed to doing whatever I can to be part of this new direction.

This weekend is Memorial Day and I will give thanks for all those who have gone before me. I will decorate the graves of those I loved, and tell stories and laugh and maybe even shed or two.

What will you being thanks for in the next few days? What groups, or institutions or people are you grateful for their leadership and their commitment and their vision?

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Still on the Move with Jesus

Well, it has been a week! When I attended the Festival of Homiletics last week, I intended to write a blog every day. Instead, I wrote Tuesday and Wednesday. I still hope to have some final thoughts, but normally Sunday and Monday are for posting about worship.

Today, though, I want to note an anniversary from my facebook memories:

first blog is written and up! woo hoo!

It seems, I wrote my first blog ten years ago. Then, I was on blogspot, and then after a few years transititioned here to this site. My how time flies!

So, still blogging after all these years and my writing has been hit and miss. Recently I have been a little more disciplined about posting regularly and making sure I am sharing our worship service from First as well as a weekly prompt for our Year of Gratitude helps keep me diligent.

Which brings me back to “Jesus on the Move.” That has been our sermon theme for Easter and yesterday we honored our graduates an scholarship recipients. Not only is it a blessing to celebrate those who have graduated and to offer scholarships, it is a good reminder that no matter what stage we might be in our lives, following Jesus on the Move is never easy. You can find the worship here.

A new week begins, Jesus is still on the move and is still encouraging me and you to follow.

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Festival of Homiletics, Day 3

Oh my, what a day it has been and I haven’t even been to worship! I know tonight will be amazing with Rev. William Lamar IV preaching and a gospel choir. Today I have heard 2 sermons, gone to 2 workshops, listened to the amazing organ at Central Lutheran Church and walked, had a picnic and visited Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church.

Early this morning a little after six a..m. I took a lovely reflective two mile walk.

And then it was time for a morning filled with Spirit and content. Just a few quotes:

Reverend Cynthia Hale:

Her title and questions said it all: “Have you got good religion or is your religion any good?” Based on James she reminded us that good religion is based on character and conduct. God shows no partiality and neither should we.

Bishop Rob Wright:

Preaching on Exodus 1: 15-21, the midwives Shiphrah and Puah who resisted the Pharoah’s order to kill all the Hebrew baby boys noted:

“Insurmountable odds give rise to unbelievable moral courage.”

“There is a proportional relationship between the side of the God we imagine and the size of the Pharoah’s we defy.”

Then I attended Reverend William Lamar IV‘s workshop where he asked us to reflect personally on Luke 4: 18-19. After reflecting I wrote down: What is good news for the poor in downtown Wichita? What does it mean to preach good news, release, recovery and the year of Lord’s favor in downtown Wichita?

Didn’t answer those questions, but they are good ones for me to ponder and prayer over. Moral imagination according to Reverend Lamar is shaped by the Spirit and tradition, tradition being Jaroslav Pelikan’s definition, “tradition is the living faith fo the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.”

Then Pastor Rebecca Goltry-Mohr and I had a beautiful walk to the park for lunch

Then we walked to Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church where we visited the sanctuary with these beautiful windows (the pictures are dark because they were refinishing the floors and there were no lights on

Then a beautiful art gallery were the religious art of T.B. Walker and his wife Harriet were donated. Their other art work was donated to the art museum. These are priceless works of art and when the church was built in 1914, they created a room just for them. This room is used today for worship each Sunday and for weddings and other events and is open to the public.

We stopped into the chapel where I took this other dark photo of the organ pipes and windows. It is a beautiful space for worship.

We finished the afternoon with Reverend David Lose who I always appreciate. His reflections on his website never fail to make me think. He began today by saying that every person is hit with 30,000 words a day whether by listening and talking or by reading or by social media. Finding words and using words as a preacher sometimes has us wondering if our words have value or meaning. He encouraged us that indeed they do!

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Festival of Homiletics 2019, Day 1 and 2

This is my fourth time to attend the Festival of Homiletics. I am excited to be attending with Rebecca Goltry-Mohr as part of our Transition in Ministry grant. The experience has never failed to energize, encourage, inspire and fill my spirit with hope and faith. So far, this time has been no different. If I somehow missed the rest of the week (which I won’t), the price of admission has already been worth it.

Two beautiful sanctuaries are hosting the event. I was here six years ago and had forgotten the beauty of these spaces. Central Lutheran Church and Westminster Presbyterian Church sanctuaries and facilities connect historical buildings with twenty first century ministries. What a gift it is to be present in these places of sacred community.

The Festival is “an annual event that averages over 1500 attendees; fifty nine percent are women, twenty two percent under the age of 40, twenty six percent Lutheran, twenty one percent United Methodist, sixteen percent Presbyterian,” to name a few of the statistics. The speakers come from local churches, seminaries, colleges and bring inspiration and focus to this years topic: “Preaching as Moral Imagination.”

While I deeply appreciated last night, today for me has been what has triggered my own imagination and filled my soul. This morning, the first preacher, was not yet here. I didn’t catch why, but when we got to our seats we were singing and they were explaining that we were waiting. We went ahead and did the liturgy when the leader said, you know it is good for us to be in silence. Everyone laughed. He said, really it is. And then…..silence. In a sanctuary that seats 3000 people, with stone floors, in that moment, there was silence. And we waited.

Often that room is filled with music, with preaching and shouting and clapping, but for a few moments the space was still with expectation. Then Dr. William Barber II arrived to preach the morning service. And did he preach! He called out the need for a Moral Pentecost. He had so many quotes about the millions in poverty and the need for the church for Christians to no longer be satisfied to be silent in the face of the dehumanizing effects of poverty in our country and world. On Pentecost the afraid become empowered and get together and redeem the nation and the world.

That word would have been enough, but then I heard Otis Moss III preach twice. Oh my! I had forgotten how powerful and profound this preacher is! His first sermon was on Luke 24, the resurrection of Jesus. While others thought everything was said and done, “It’s too early to give up or give in.”

A few quotes:

It’s too early to give up on the church

It’s too early to throw in the towel

It’s too early to give a premature autopsy on the church and its ministry

It’s too early to put period where God has put a comma

It’s too early because God is bringing Life into the places of death and decay.

Then this afternoon, preaching on Luke 5:17-26 he proclaimed that God can speak through any one God chooses and by any means necessary. That sometimes religious folk block the door but God is moving on the margins and bring healing, hope, faith, love and grace by any means necessary.

It is well with my soul today. Tonight is an evening of music. First a concert with Brendan Mayer and Peter Mayer. Peter has been touring with Jimmy Buffet for over three decades as the lead guitarist. Later is the annual Beer and Hymn event with the Fleshpots of Egypt. This blue grass group takes over a pub and we do a lot of hymn singing.

Tomorrow, will be another day filled with experiences.

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Jesus on the Move: into Loving Action

Today was a great day to celebrate women, ministry, and Jesus on the Move. On March 23, 2019, the United Methodist Women celebrate 150 years of their organization (by various names. We choose to wait and celebrate United Methodist Women’s Sunday on Mother’s Day. It was a beautiful day outside and inside.

Personally, it was fun for me to research not just the national/international women’s organization, but the history of women in mission at First church. While formally they did not organize into a “Ladies Aid Society” until 1874, as early as 1872 they were at work raising money and doing mission together. There was not enough time in worship to pull out all the “gems” I found, but it was enough to give a taste of all these amazing women have done for 145 years.

We touched on Mother’s Day as well, but acknowledged it can be a hard day for many. Knowing that there are many who grieve on this day for various, it is enough to say so and give voice to that pain as well as give voice to the love and joy.

Today’s worship service can be found here in it entirety. I am grateful for all the “women” mother’s grandmothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, friends and mentors who have been on the move with Jesus and made the world a more loving place.

 

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Year of Gratitude, May: Week 2

As I mentioned last week the focus for May is:

Celebrations: This is month is filled with holidays and celebrations. Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and graduations abound. This month we give thanks for all those opportunities to celebrate milestones, and events and people in our lives.

This Sunday in the United States is Mother’s Day, a holiday driven by greeting cards and floral companies. This holiday is surrounded with both positive and negative energy. At many churches, attendance goes up as children go to worship with their mothers or grandmothers. While many people embrace this day with great joy, for others it is filled with angst, sorrow and anger.

For those women who have longed to be a mother and have been unable, this day pokes at all those tender and grief stricken holes in their hearts and lives. For mothers who buried a child this year or in years past, this day is like a dull ache that never stops. For those women who have never wanted to a be mom and have no desire to raise a child, they often must deal with the pointed question and disbelief that this is an experience they are not interested in having. For those who have difficult relationships with their mothers because of addiction or mental illness or abuse, Mother’s Day is a reminder of what they do not or will not ever have. For those who buried their mothers, this day is a reminder that they are a “motherless child.”

Yet, for all those difficult experiences, there are many who delight and love to celebrate their mothers or those who have mothered them. For those who have had strained relationships with their mothers, they have connected with other women where they experience grace and love. My own mother died over five years ago, there are other women whom I now claim as “my mother.” In their lives and in our relationship, I am blessed and loved and cared for.

So while I acknowledge that Mother’s day is not always easy, I do want to take this week for our Year of Gratitude to honor women. I want you think about which women in your life have loved you, challenged you, helped you, comforted you, encouraged you and mentored you in ways that have made a real difference in your life.

My daughter gave me these cards:

IMG_3296

Called Persistent Sisters, they are trading cards of women in all kinds of professions. They are “sheroes.” Mother’s Day is an invitation to think and honor the sheroes in our lives whether they are “our” mothers or any kind of mother at all. These women make the world a better place. As a part of our gratitude challenge, I invite you to write a thank you note to at least one woman who embodies God’s grace and unconditional one. Write a note to one women who has helped you, loved you or been there for you. You can write more than one note, or make some phone calls, send some e-mails, take a small gift and say thank you….

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A Year of Gratitude: May, Week 1

I have every “good” intention of writing this on May 1. However, I was traveling that day and did not get this weekly prompt written prior to leaving. Once I arrived in Goshen, Indiana, I have been preoccupied with having a very good time with my family.

The month of May’s focus for our year of gratitude is:

Celebrations: This is month is filled with holidays and celebrations. Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and graduations abound. This month we give thanks for all those opportunities to celebrate milestones, and events and people in our lives.

There are all kinds of celebrations during his merry month of May! Today, case in point is Star Wars Day; “May the fourth be with you!”  A made up holiday that thousands if not millions embrace because they are fans of the movie franchise.

Tomorrow is Cinco De Mayo, or the fifth of May which is the date of a battle where the Mexican army beat the French in 1862, the celebration itself is much bigger deal in the United States then it is in Mexico. The day can be a day to celebrate and honor Hispanic Heritage. Like many celebrations in this country it is often an excuse for a party.

I don’t believe this is a bad thing. Human need to celebrate and to give thanks. Since the focus this month is on celebrations, milestones and the events and people in our lives. I am deeply grateful this week for time with my family.

My daughter and son-in-law had a wedding out of state. This gave the opportunity for Andrew and I to come and spend time with our grandchildren. We have been to a soccer meet, baseball games, have participated in First Friday in Goshen, and will attend church tomorrow.

I have cooked, baked and been to the Farmer’s Market. Mostly, I have just loved being with my grandsons. Monday we plan to stop by another daughter and son-in-law and enjoy those grandchildren as well.

How will you celebrate this month? Are there graduations, or weddings or anniversaries or birthdays or reunions? Will you gather with family and friends around a meal or grill? This week, find time to spend with at least one person and celebrate your relationship. Write a note to someone you deeply appreciate just to say “Hi” or “I love you.” It’s May! Let’s celebrate!

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