Category Archives: LifeCycle of Giving

LifeCycle of Giving: Confirmation Sunday

This Sunday was Confirmation Sunday in Downtown Alive. These confirmands have been together for weeks, studying, questioning, visiting a synagogue and retreating together as they explored what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. On Wednesday in preparation for today’s service they wrote an affirmation of faith, their joint statement of  belief.

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The hymns were chosen by the confirmands and they wanted Patrick to sing, which he did. I am so proud of each one of them. I shared with them that I, too had been confirmed in that sanctuary. What I didn’t say was that it was 50 years ago on Palm Sunday in 1969!!! FIFTY! I  was glad they wanted and believed the church is a safe place for all. I know for me at their age and throughout high school it was for me. They are a wonderful group and bringing gifts that will make the church stronger and more faithful.

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We celebrated and honored them with a reception following.

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

 

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LifeCycling of Giving: Harvesting the Fruit

Today was “consecration” Sunday. Some churches call it “stewardship” Sunday but whatever it is called this Sunday invites us to think about our money and giving for the next year. “Let’s talk about money!” said no on EVER!!!

Still, we are stewards of what God has given us. Money is only part of it: our time, our talents and prayers are also part of what we have to offer. The truth is, the church needs money, it has bills to pay just like everyone else, but it is more than that. I believe deeply in the ministry of First church and I am grateful and excited for the year ahead.

We affirmed the UMC Next’s four commitments in October alongside the Great Plains Annual Conference of adoption of them last June. In my sermon I shared an abbreviated version, you can find the full text here

I am also excited about the welcoming statement we adopted. It is minimally adapted from one our youth wrote for themselves. When it was shared with church council there was some discussion about writing and then it was like a light bulb went off….why don’t we just adapt this one! So we did adn here it is:

First United Methodist Church will live out the love of Jesus Christ by including everyone, accepting others for who they are, treating others the way we would want to be treated, respect all, love all, and affirm the full participation of all regardless of nationality, race, class, culture, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, and age.

I understand that there is some fear for the denomination and anxiety about what comes next. I have no fear about First Church. I absolutely believe we are continuing the ministry that was begun 149 years ago at 3rd and Broadway and I know God has plans for us.

If you would like to watch the service or the sermon only, you can find it here.

I continue to be grateful and humbled to be one of the pastors at this wonderful community of faith.

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LifeCycle of Giving, Celebrating the Fruits

This is one of my favorite Sundays of the year. There is something deeply sacred about naming name and lighting candles and remembering. At First, only people who are members are named, and while I struggle with that, if we opened it up, we would probably have a couple of hundred names or more. Lighting an extra candle allows all of us to name those persons in our lives who we have died this last year.

After all these years, I find myself coming to this Sunday with a tender heart. For ALL the saints, year after year, I remember and am grateful. I also acknowledge the loss. I firmly believe we are each unique and unrepeatable and when a person dies, no one can take their place.

It doesn’t mean we don’t love any more, or can not love again, but it is always different, not bad, just different. Each person we love adds to the wholeness of who we are. So there are spots, holes if you will, that linger in our hearts and spirits when loved ones are no longer there.

This Sunday we not only remembered those who have died, we also focused our attention on their “fruit” or the gifts their lives offered. Not only are they saints, we are too. We are called to carry on the love and grace we have been offered in Christ. As we are moving through our stewardship sermon series, remembering our saints is one way of honoring their gifts and their lives and spirits.

“I sing a song of the saints of God…and I mean to be one too.” (Lesbia Scott, 1929) Today in worship, we were invited to be a saint today. You can find todays worship service, or just the sermon here.

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LifeCycle of Giving: Encouraging Growth and Faith

Today we went from the seed to the sapling as we explore the LifeCycle of Giving. The gospel text from the lectionary was Luke 18: 1-8. This story of Jesus focuses on a widow looking for justice and an unjust judge who doesn’t care about anyone or anything. Jesus, we are told, shares this story to encourage us to pray and to hold fast, to hang on and not lose our faith.

Saplings, trees and plants need a little adversity to make their roots go deep. If the weather is too easy, the roots stay shallow and a strong storm or wind can uproot them. In so many ways the same is true for people. It seems to me, though I dislike it a lot, that it is through difficulties that I grow in my faith.

Today’s service spends some time looking at injustice, at suffering and how God never leaves us when life gets hard. In the sermon I spend some time pondering how we, how I can be like the unjust judge distancing myself from suffering that isn’t personal and as a culture, we do the same. You can find the whole service or just the sermon here.

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LifeCycle of Giving: Nurturing the Seed of Faith

Today we began a new sermon series, “LifeCycle of Giving.” This is the time of year when Stewardship is the emphasis as we plan on how we will support and underwrite ministries for 2020. This year we will focus on the lifecycle of trees, from seed to sprout, to flowers to fruit to regeneration. We celebrate All Saints and the series ends not with our consecration Sunday, but with Confirmation as young people choose to proclaim their own faith in their own way.

This afternoon, several United Methodist Churches gathered to participate together in a National Coming Out Day Celebration Service. Reverend Elizabeth “Liz” Evans preached a powerful sermon. She grew up here in Wichita and shared her story and her challenge that all of us, whether we are LGBTQIA or allies need to find ways to live into the world that God has created and move out of the dark caves of death and despair. The music, the stories shared through poetry and Brian Sutton’s testimony were all deeply moving. I am deeply grateful to have experienced this gift of grace.

This morning we focused on gratitude as one of the seeds of faith that enables us to give thanks for every moment and to help us be witnesses to the God of love and grace. We were given leaves to write down the names of those who planted the seeds in our lives and/or how our faith is being nurtured now. Those leaves we placed in our offering plates and will be displayed. You can find today’s worship service here.

 

 

 

 

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