Monthly Archives: September 2019

Connect: Service

We have only one Sunday to go before we finish up our sermon series, “Connect: Building Our Life Together.” This weekend was packed full. One of our Sunday School Classes, “Pneuma” celebrated their 40th anniversary as a class. Saturday evening was filled with people catching up, pictures, remembrances and lots of laughter. Today many attended worship together.

The color of our building block this week is red. Red is the color of action, strength and the Spirit. The word “pneuma” means spirit and the celebration of the “spirit” Sunday school class is a reminder to all that we are all called by the Spirit, and challenged by the Spirit.

This Sunday was the annual “mission reveal” which mean the mission trips for 2020 were shared. There are plenty to choose from including a women’s only trip to Arkansas during lambing season at Heifer Project, a family trip to Henderson Settlement, and several to work on disaster recovery in Puerto Rico, the East Coast, Houston and Oklahoma.

Today was also PRIDE weekend in Wichita and there were those that went to march in the parade with other United Methodist congregations to show God’s love for all. I am so grateful to serve in a place where we are constantly striving to be the hands and feet and heart of Jesus in the world.

You can find the whole worship service or just the sermon here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Connecting Through the Word

What a beautiful day we had together at First United Methodist Church. This Sunday we presented our third graders with bibles, commissioned a mission team and blessed our bibles at our Downtown Alive service. I love gifting bibles to third graders. Over the last few years the new ones are so colorful and inviting.

We have continued our sermon series, “Connect: Building Our Life Together.” We have used different colored building blocks focus on the various ways we are building our lives together: orange, the color of adventure for our work, the color brown representing stability and support and we focused on our relationships and today the color was blue for devotion and contemplation.

Our Hebrew text was from Jonah. I have been stewing for days because as I practice I kept substituting Noah for Jonah! So what did I do today? Exactly what I was afraid of, at least six times I said Noah instead of Jonah! Sigh. Stewing about it and practicing didn’t seem to change it, but nonetheless that is life.

Today’s worship service, or sermon alone can be found here.

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Setting the Table: Salt of the Covenant

Today in our sermon series we focused on “salt.” The most well known passage is from Jesus’ sermon on the mount in Matthew where he states, “You are the salt of the earth.” Now salt is found else where in scripture, and we used the Leviticus passage that spells out the salt of the covenant (which means all offerings needed salt to make them holy for God.)

The salt of the covenant was many things, not the least of which it pointed to God’s loyalty and faithfulness and ongoiingn attempts to be in relationship with God’s chosen people. In the twenty first century we often overlook how special salt is because it is so readily available.

Margaret Feinberg in her book, Taste and See, point out that not so long ago, salt was not so easily available. In ancient times we was used as currency and for the Roman soldiers as part of their sal—ary.

I have an opportunity to visit briefly the underground salt museum Stratica to film a promo AND to interview a lovely docent named Brianna. This is still an active mine, although not the part in which the museum is housed.

For the children’s time, before we blessed the backpacks I had a chance to have our children try and figure out the different salts I had. It wasn’t until I got to the white sea salt that they figured out it was salt…all of it salt: black, red, pink and white. They got to try them too!

 

Salt is an amazing gift….and a challenge for us to live out our saltiness.

You can the worship service at here.

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Year of Gratitude, September

Last year we began a Year of Gratitude. My intention had been to post weekly prompts as well as reminding us to be thankful. Mostly I have been successful and then somehow in July I got off track. I was still putting slips in my gratitude jar, but the weekly prompts did not happen. In fact, I didn’t do any in the month of August.

So I am back on track this week. Today is September 12 and I thought it would be good on this day to focus on gratitude and thankfulness. September 11 is usually a day of remembrance that is difficult and sad.

On September 12, 2001 people woke  up and began to focus on our unity, not our divisions. My exchange student daughter from the Republic of Georgia posted these words on my Facebook page yesterday:

 I remember that day.. and the unity of American nation that followed it.. Flags on every single house – something that had surprised me a lot – for a country of 200 years of history only, the unity and dedication of every american was remarkable… Years after I was blessed to get to the 9/11 memorial in NY to remember the victims of terror and honor the heroes… Thank you for sharing the post Cindy, that exchange year is very dear to my heart.

As I mentioned yesterday, it must have been very difficult for Ella’s parents having her so far away and in a situation where everyone was overwhelmed and afraid. I am grateful for Ella’s insight and her remembering the unity and dedication that followed that awful day. I, too, remember the acts of kindness that followed, the determination of people not to allow hatred to rule our lives and to stand up against bigotry. I am grateful for those memories and am once again challenged to live into a sense of unity and love.

September’s gratitude focus is this:

September 2019

Mentors/Teachers: As school is in full swing again, it is a good time to give thanks for those who have been our teachers and mentors. School teachers, neighbors, parents, children, friends, pastors, counselors, bosses or those who mentor us formally or informally make a big difference in our lives. This month we give thanks for teachers and mentors.

If I was writing that today, I would also say, “heroes and sheroes.” There are many people who on this day began the hard work of rescue, recovery and rebuilding. There are disasters that are still raw for people: hurricanes, tornadoes, floods. The devastation after Hurrican Dorian is still being assessed.

So on this day, I invite you to write a thank you note to someone who consider a hero. Maybe they are not famous, perhaps they are known only to you. Write a note of thanks for their courage, their bravery and their service.

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Remembering 9/11

Remembering this day 18 years ago brings to mind so many thoughts and feelings. We were hosting an exchange student from the Republic of Georgia. Ella was a delight and joy and a wonderful addition to our family. So much so, we still stay in touch.

In the 5 weeks she had been with us, she had been in school and enrolled in debate. In English mind you (she was also fluent in Russian, Georgian, Italian and had a smattering of German.) She and my daughter Kristin had boarded a bus for the Kansas State Fair where they would be going to “debate day” where debaters around the state either participated or watched other debaters.

Imagine if you will, if it was your daughter who was oversees on that day. You can imagine the frantic call we received around noon from parents who spoke no English, and I, trying so hard to be calm, until Ella’s sister could get on the phone and say “We are so scared.” I assured them Ella was fine, we were fine and far away from the attacks and I would have her call as soon as we got home.

I, like millions of others, was glued to the television, as well as working with pastors in Lyons to create a worship service for that evening. Pastors who didn’t usually participate in ecumenical gatherings were there. All of us, searching, reaching out and struggling to comprehend what had happened.

Mostly, on this day, however, I think about my friend Jeanne Woods, now recently retired, and her sharing with us who loved her, her thoughts as she worked day in and day out in New York City. You see, we were part of an online community, one that stills communicates almost daily. Her accounting of this day and the days after made what happened so much more real. Her sacrifice and dedication is a beacon of hope and commitment that I will never forget and on this day, I report her reflections. They speak more deeply and profoundly about this day than I ever could.

So in honor of Jeanne and all the others gave of themselves in the aftermath, I share her reflections:

 

A couple days after 9/11

Hi guys-

I was wrong- I’m not working 13 hour tours– I’m doing 16-17 hour days. When I get home, I’m so, so, tired, but I can’t really sleep, you know? I expect I’ll crash eventually. Meanwhile, we’re all getting by on 5 hours a night.

Friends, the pictures don’t begin to show the tragedy. They show the devastation, but they can’t convey the vast, all-encompassing horror. At 4am, the worklights make an eerie brightness over a still smoking wasteland. Imagine a war movie- carnage everywhere. Now, magnify that by 1000, and immerse yourself in it. Add the smells- jet fuel, and dust and garbage and smoke and burning flesh and rotting bodies. Smell it so much you can taste it.

Now hear it- hear the cranes and backhoes and engines and generators and people talking. Worse, add the sounds you THINK you hear– the cries for help that you’re sure came from over there- or is it over there? That way? You don’t just see the big things, either. You don’t just see the massive gap in the skyline you grew up with. You see a haze in the air- a haze that makes your eyes sting, your throat choke, and your skin itch. You see enormous chunks of steel, and concrete and glass. You see cars upside down, inside out, 30 feet up on a pile of rubble. You see clothing and shoes and vendor’s carts and paper, paper everywhere.

And you see bodies.

And parts of bodies.

More than your other senses, though, you FEEL the pain and terror.

You feel the grit in your eyes, despite your goggles. You feel the uneven world below your feet. You feel the ache in your bones from lifting stones, only to find nothing underneath. You feel the scrapes and bruises. You feel tired, but if they didn’t make you stop, you wouldn’t until it was all done. You feel the despair as you realize the people you’ve found are nowhere near the 10,000 missing. You feel nauseous, all the time. You feel incredible frustration, because in your mind, you could be directing the rescue efforts better, and getting more done.

You feel the tears always in the back of your eyes, because your friends and so many others are dead.

And then you feel anger. Rage. Fury.

And deep sorrow. Guilt. Grief.

Gratitude.

And often, strangely, pride. For your country, your city, your co-workers, your friends.

And you keep digging

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Connecting Through Generations

Today as we continued our sermon series, “Connect: Building Our Life Together.” Not only did we celebrate Grandparents Day, we took a special offering for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) for the victims of Hurricane Dorian. This sermon series uses building blocks to represent the different colors and ways we connect to each other and to God.

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While I acknowledge Grandparents Day is not a liturgical holiday, we chose to focus on this important relationship and ask grandparents to invite grandchildren and grandchildren to invite grandparents to church. Following the Downtown Alive service, there was lunch of pizza and salad and everyone was invited to come down and to play and to do activities together.

There was a photo booth, board games, cards to write and send to far away grandchildren or grandparents. We gave cards with suggestions on grandparenting and then these yellow cards for grandparents to ask questions of their grandchildren and the green cards that had questions for grandchildren to ask grandparents. Our grandchildren will be sent a set of the green cards so we can talk in different ways.

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My associate Rebecca Goltry Mohr did such a good job creating this very meaningful event. In worship, I spoke of the church being intentionally intergenerational. Our community is not made based on genetics or nationality or ethniticity or age or background. We are created into community or family because of God’s grace and love.

I am grateful to be a grandmother, but I am also grateful to be in community with people of all ages. You can find the whole worship service or just the sermon here.

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Connect: Building Our Lives Together

We started a new sermon series yesterday in worship. Over the next six weeks we will be focusing on building our lives together using interlocking building blocks. Each person who came to worship received a small drawstring bag, an orange building block and a card with a prayer that will lead us through the next few weeks.

Next week, each person will received the next color of block until there is six different colored blocks. Each color has a different meaning

Our focus was our “work” both paid and unpaid as it was Labor Day weekend. For over two decades I have had an anointing service on Labor Day Sunday. I feel as if we underestimate how important our work is in the world. Sometimes we embrace our work with enthusiasm and with a sense of adventure and sometimes we do not. Regardless, our work connects us to God, to each other and to the world.

Our lives matter and work whether it is a vocation or a job or volunteer matters and how we share our work with the world says volumes about out faith in God.

You can find both the entire worship service or just the sermon here http://sundaystreams.com/go/firstwichita

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