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.
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.
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!!!!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.