Monthly Archives: June 2019

Draw the Circle Wide: Ripples of New Beginnings

We have had a very full day at church! This weekend it started with a “bit” of water in our basement under the sanctuary. We had already planned a church wide Sunday school and mission lunch in Meredith Hall (underneath the sanctuary.) Fortunately it was found yesterday or cleanup and a fixing of the pumps could happen before today.

Today’s scripture is a difficult one because in the 21st century it is hard to figure out how best to deal with “demon possession.” The scientific and medical understanding today is far beyond what was understood 2000 years ago. Yet, I tend to be intrigued by how God in Jesus can be encountered in this stories which were recorded so long ago. The story of “Legion” paired with the scripture reading from Galatians is a powerful reminder that Christ draws a wide circle and a greater circle then we can imagine.

The General Board of Global Ministry (GBGM) along with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) called for today to be a day of solidarity for suffering children. You can find their full statement here. We included the prayer woven into the pastoral prayer this morning.

Today’s service included two beautiful musical numbers on call and a wonderful children’s time by Pastor Rebecca. You can find the whole service or just the sermon here.

I am continually challenged in my own life in how I can Draw the Circle Wide and be part of God’s reign in Christ.

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Year of Gratitude, June: Week 4

When it comes to “sabbath” how many ways you can talk about it or practice it? In scripture it says, “Observe the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.” (Deuteronomy 5) Sabbath wasn’t supposed to be a problem or burder, it was to be a joy!

Many people can still remember what it was like when everything was closed on Sundays (the Christian sabbath.) Usually the day was uncomfortable, kids were to stay quiet or play quietly. This was a far cry for the “gift” of Sabbath originally intended.

In antiquity, Judiasm had a holiday or vacation EVERY WEEK! Nobody else did that! Other traditions had rest days, but not nearly as often. The sabbath was to acknowledge God and God’s goodness and mercy. Each week, time was given to share worship, love and joy.

Now even though most people have “days off” they are often spent working, checking e-mail and returning text messages. Time off sounds lovely but kind of crazy.

I think we need not just a “sabbath” one day a week, but sabbath time every day. Moments of peace, of quiet when we are not driven by blinking cursers, or text messages or incoming phone calls or e-mails. Time when we push back from our desks, from the gardens, from the work in front of us and pause and remember that God is our God. That life is more than work and we are  blessed with every moment we are given.

So for our gratitude challenge this week, I want you in the next seven days to take a sabbath break every day. Perhaps it is time to take short walk, or sit outside with glass of iced tea, or getting in quiet place and being in the presence of God. I want you to write a thank you note to someone with whom you enjoy spending time, over a meal, exercising, visiting or enjoying a cup of coffee. Those moments alone and with people who matter to us, are bits of sabbath we are given every day. Then spend some time thanking God for time, for Sabbath.

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Draw the Circle Wide: Ripples of Grace

It was a wild ride of a morning weather wise in south central Kansas! I don’t sleep well on Saturday night (occupational hazard for me) and so I am usually up and going by 4:00 a.m. or a little earlier. We had had storms, but sometime around 4:20 the tornado sirens went off.

As a typical Kansan I don’t tend to get over anxious…but that early in the morning I pay attention. I haven’t heard the sirens in our area for an actual weather event in a long time. As I was moving to go get Andrew, I heard his feet hit the floor and also then noticed the siren only sounded once!

I went to the facebook feed for KAKE TV to hear the sirens were a mistake. However within a few minutes the sirens went off (not in my area) but south of Wichita. A lot of storm damage before the sun came up and in my neighborhood up the street a transformer blew and many of our neighbors had been without power.

What a way to begin a Sunday. Other than the weather excitement it was a good day to gather and to continue our sermon series “Draw the Circle Wide.” Today’s scripture was from Luke and focused on the woman anointing Jesus at Simon the Pharisee’s home. When Simon is asked….do you see this woman?  I came to the conclusion that he didn’t…or that he only saw what he wanted to see, the labels that had been placed on her.

And me? I am not so different from Simon. I can become judgy pretty fast and making assumptions about folk. I am sure that draws the circle tighter not wider. Fortunately, the ripples of grace that come from faith in Christ is there for us all.

The music today in worship was outstanding. You can find the whole worship service or just the sermon here.

I committing my self this week to pay attention to how I “see” people, really see them. It is my hope that by doing so, I can be part of God’s work to “Draw the Circle Wide.”

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Year of Gratitude; June: Week 3

June’s focus for our year of gratitude is Sabbath. Last week I noted I am not always good at taking time off and giving myself a break. I did so last week, but clearing my calendar so I could have more than one day off (after going a couple of weeks without one.)

This week I am on a sermon retreat. I usually try to schedule one each year, but often they get interrupted by funerals and other things. I get some sermon work done, but it never feels like enough.

This week I chose to be part of the Great Plains UMC offerings of a retreat called “A Time Apart.” Pastor Rebecca is offered this as part of the Transition into Ministry program and I decided to tag along. Beginning Sunday evening, it ends this this afternoon.

What a gift this has been! The retreat is being held at The Spiritual Life Center in Bel Aire, north of Wichita. I could have slept at home and driven in and out, but chose to stay. A much better choice as I was up early and walked and walked in the evening and had plenty of quiet and reflective time. At home I have a tendency to be driven by the many things left undone. The space is beautiful. This  morning I saw the moon reflected on the water, one of the many times this small body of water was as smooth as glass:

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I am not sure the moon in the water is all that evident in my picture but it was beautiful The water’s edge is teaming with life: baby turtles, little sun fish and big carp and catfish often nibbling on the moss. Some crawdads and water snakes. Geese honking and swimming, small and large blue heron, standing tall and paying attention to the water.

This retreat, respite from the normal daily tasks of work have been good for my soul. This time has allowed some creativity and energy to be part my long range sermon planning. The time is work, but at different pace, in a seperate place and surrounded by prayer and grace. The chapel where we held Morning and Evening Prayer has amazing accoustics. Perhaps you can imagine what it sounds like when several preachers sing! One of my favorites this week, was a personal favorite, It is Well With My Soul.” 

So today I plan to write a thank you note to the Spiritual Life Center for providing such a beautiful retreat setting. I will say thank you to the retreat leader. I have found myself profoundly grateful the last few days for this gift of time and space.

How do you find time and space for retreat from your normal everyday activities? Where do you find rest for your soul? Is it well with your soul? I pray you find Sabbath this week, where you may encounter the God of grace and love.

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Draw the Circle Wide: Ripples of Faith

Today is a day filled with the secular and sacred. It’s Father’s Day in the United States and in the Western Church it is Trinity Sunday. Neither of which I dealt with in my sermon today.

I did offer a Happy Father’s Day to all the Fathers, Grandfathers, Uncles and men who have mentored. I was a fatherless child for a while and I am so grateful to those teachers and preaches and youth group leaders, my grandfather and my stepfather who mentored and supported me over the years. I do not underestimate the gift they gave with their time and love.

Trinity Sunday usually sneaks up on me as it is one of those “theological” Sundays which take a lot to unpack. One of my favorite videos is about St. Patrick and all the “heretical” understandings of the Trinity. You can find this silly and yet provoking theological education here.

You will find none of that in my sermon today. The service continued the sermon series “Draw the Circle Wide.” Today we have Jesus healing a centurion’s slave on his word alone. Jesus is amazed by the faith of this outsider who believed Jesus had the authority and power to heal on a word. You can find the whole service or the sermon only here.

 

 

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Year of Gratitude: June, Week 2

This month’s focus is on “Sabbath.” For any one who has children or was once a child, June was the beginning of the summer break from school. When I was younger and had kids at home or as kid myself, I so looked forward to summer. Longer days, swimming, picnics in the park, vacations and just a different schedule.

Now, I have no kids at home and while the schedule at church changes, it is not the same. The truth is Sabbath is a gift from God and one that is part of the ten commandments. Of course of the ten there are commands to worship God, to treat other people right (don’t steal, lie, covet or murder,) but the command to take a break is in my opinion pretty profound. Last year in the middle of a sermon series I spoke about Sabbath.

I am terrible at taking time off. I have a litany of excuses as to why I shouldn’t be “lollygagging” around! Yet, God demands we do so. Rest and Sabbath IS good for the soul and necessary for good health. Sabbath is a gift of time that in some ways allows the “soul to catch up with the body.”

I have had a run of days that have been filled to the brim beginning in May. I have had some days off, but recently I haven’t. I cleared my calendar for yesterday (Thursday) and my day off is Friday. I wanted/needed some down time.

My time “off” began with a delightful Wednesday night opening of “Sound of Music” performed by Music Theatre Wichita. Attending with my husband, my sister and a friend, it was a good way to unwind and destress. On Thursday morning, I picked green beans and then we went to the Wichita Art Museum for their exhibitm”Georgia O’Keefe: Art, Style, Image,” and had lunch in the cafe. We visited one of our wonderful indepent bookstores, Watermark and picked up some new reading material. My sister and friend headed out for the rest of their weekend and I ended the evening cooking supper (something that relaxes me) and watching the movie “Mary Poppins Returns.”

I note all this not because my way of relaxing is the same for everyone, but in order to invite people to do the same. If I am to give thanks for Sabbath, then I have to take Sabbath. I need to take a break. So I added a couple of slips to my gratitude jar. Remember those?

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Have you been adding events and moments for which you have given thanks? Remember, in December, we will have a time to pull them out and re-read about our year of gratitude. Today, I am still relaxing, reading and giving thanks for Sabbath time, with my soul, my spouse and my God. This is your invitation and challenge to do the same.

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Draw the Circle Wide

Yesterday was a day filled with joy! It is Pentecost in the life of the church and we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit immediately began to draw the circle wide and through out the book of Acts, the Spirit shakes us and stuns the early church with a vision of a greater circle, of greater inclusion and a breaking down of boundaries and barriers.

Pentecost, while one of the least celebrated church festivals at least in the secular world, it one of the most profound. The Spirit can not be contained, like the wind and fire, the Spirit and wild and touches everyone.

In worship we brought in 9 new members at the Downtown Alive service and 2 new members including an immersion baptism at our Gathering service. We commissioned children for camp and hosted a picnic that had to be brought indoors because of rain.

The whole worship service or just the sermon can be found here.

Come Holy Spirit!!!!

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