Tag Archives: Downtown Alive

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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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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Jesus on the Move, from Doubt to Faith

Easter continues! On the second Sunday of Easter, if one belongs to a lectionary church, the gospel is always John 20: 19-31. This resurrection story moves from that first Easter evening to the next week. The author of the gospel recounts the story of the disciples experiencing Jesus raised from the dead. Thomas was not there and did not see the risen Christ. Thomas also said he wouldn’t believe unless he saw the wounds themselves.

I love Thomas and Thomas’ courage and conviction to not believe or just to go with the crowd and pretend to believe. Thomas was determined to find faith and have faith on his terms. In the television show, “Lost” Ben shares with Jack a thought about Thomas the Apostle. You can watch it here.

My sermon takes longer than the one minute of the video to witness to Thomas’ faith and loyalty and integrity. I am grateful every year I have a chance to unpack and proclaim this wonderful Easter story.

Today’s worship was simply wonderful. Our choir director Diane Fast is retiring, but not leaving. She is moving from being our choir director to our choir director emeritus and will be overseeing our choir scholarship fund which gives scholarships for students to be part of our choir. The music each Sunday is always wonderful and amazing, today it was outstanding.

I am grateful to be serving such an amazing community of faith and continuing to be on the move with Jesus.

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Courageous Faith: Your Kingdom Come

It was a cold, cold day, but the sun was shining and we gathered on the Martin Luther King, Jr weekend to worship and continue our sermon series. After being out of town AGAIN, it was so good to be back “home” in this beautiful sanctuary.

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After worship, there wasn’t one person left, but I stayed for a bit. Sat down and just breathed in Spirit there: thousands upon thousands of prayers have lifted in this space. Tears of happiness and sorrow have been shed, laughter has carried the joy up and out the doors and faithful hearts have again and again have prayed:  God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

The music today was beautiful and the hymns meaningful. After attending two different meetings the last two weeks, I have become more and more convinced of the depth of the Lord’s Prayer, and the courage it takes to pray and live into it’s meaning. You can find today’s service here. I truly pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.

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Extravagant Generosity: Seeking God for Our Future

Yesterday’s service took place on a beautiful fall day. One thing that is certain is that it is a very busy week at First UMC. We took a special offering for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) hurricane relief. One hundred percent of the offering will go to help with the recovery effort from Hurricanes Florence and Michael. We had a mission lunch to help with the expenses of hosting our first week with Family Promise, a non-profit that works with homeless families.

Our sermon series, “Extravagant Generosity” continues. This week we brought back cards that looks at what we would like for our church for the next year. I know I want more engagement in our downtown neighborhood and more reaching out in the downtown area. You can find the whole worship service here.

I am excited about Wacky Wednesday and Trunk or Treat this week. Last year we had over 400 people! With the added Trunks, I think it will be a fun event. On Saturday is the 25th annual Chicken Noodle Dinner and Quilt Auction. The women who quilt create the most beautiful works of art. It helps fund our Religious Nurture Center(which is a ministry with developmentally disabled adults) and our Downtown Alive television ministry. I am so grateful to be a part of this church. I look forward what the future brings!

 

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On being a Neighbor

It was a very good day in the neighborhood and busy one as well. School has started mostly in our area, so this morning we did a blessing of the back packs. What a joy it was to bless the children and youth and all the students returning to school. Combining that with our Neighborhood sermon series AND a cookie reception for our television congregation it was a full worship service. And being a “neighbor” meant we were hosting a blood drive with the American Red Cross. It is an honor and blessing for me to serve as one of the pastors of this wonderful congregation.

You can find the full worship service at here.

I am deeply grateful to continue be a neighbor at home, at church and in the heart of downtown Wichita.

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Vacation for the Soul: Into the Fire

What a great morning. After being on vacation for my wedding anniversary last week, it was a joy to return to worship at First United Methodist Church. The service was filled with terrific music, as usual we had our Downtown Alive Choir, a beautiful solo by Rebecca Beard AND the Treitsch Memorial United Methodist Church Youth Choir. We were their first stop on their tour this week sharing music and mission.

In our time with children, Mr. Phil Davis shared with us “tools of the trade,” including a plumb line. Many adults as well as the children had never seen one nor understood how they worked. It was a great visual for our Amos reading.

Today’s lectionary readings were hard. I do not think any one would choose both Amos and the death of John the Baptist for fun. Our Vacation Bible School theme is “Daniel, Courage in Captivity.” That theme pairs well with the spiritual discipline of study. In our tense and anxious time, how we experience God’s presence as we live out our faith is important to study. The prophets knew it was never easy and yet they stood firm in their speaking the truth when no one wanted to hear it. You can find the entire worship service with all the music at this link. The study guide this week has us reading the entire book of Amos. Each week, the study guide is uploaded on the church’s website. You can find it in several places but here is this week’s study guide.

For those who watch through television, I didn’t quite get all of my sermon on air. I will publish the manuscript tomorrow. May the prayer/spiritual practice of study this week, help us find our voice in these tense and anxious times.

 

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