Tag Archives: life.downtown

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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Still on the Move with Jesus

Well, it has been a week! When I attended the Festival of Homiletics last week, I intended to write a blog every day. Instead, I wrote Tuesday and Wednesday. I still hope to have some final thoughts, but normally Sunday and Monday are for posting about worship.

Today, though, I want to note an anniversary from my facebook memories:

first blog is written and up! woo hoo!

It seems, I wrote my first blog ten years ago. Then, I was on blogspot, and then after a few years transititioned here to this site. My how time flies!

So, still blogging after all these years and my writing has been hit and miss. Recently I have been a little more disciplined about posting regularly and making sure I am sharing our worship service from First as well as a weekly prompt for our Year of Gratitude helps keep me diligent.

Which brings me back to “Jesus on the Move.” That has been our sermon theme for Easter and yesterday we honored our graduates an scholarship recipients. Not only is it a blessing to celebrate those who have graduated and to offer scholarships, it is a good reminder that no matter what stage we might be in our lives, following Jesus on the Move is never easy. You can find the worship here.

A new week begins, Jesus is still on the move and is still encouraging me and you to follow.

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Jesus on the Move: into Loving Action

Today was a great day to celebrate women, ministry, and Jesus on the Move. On March 23, 2019, the United Methodist Women celebrate 150 years of their organization (by various names. We choose to wait and celebrate United Methodist Women’s Sunday on Mother’s Day. It was a beautiful day outside and inside.

Personally, it was fun for me to research not just the national/international women’s organization, but the history of women in mission at First church. While formally they did not organize into a “Ladies Aid Society” until 1874, as early as 1872 they were at work raising money and doing mission together. There was not enough time in worship to pull out all the “gems” I found, but it was enough to give a taste of all these amazing women have done for 145 years.

We touched on Mother’s Day as well, but acknowledged it can be a hard day for many. Knowing that there are many who grieve on this day for various, it is enough to say so and give voice to that pain as well as give voice to the love and joy.

Today’s worship service can be found here in it entirety. I am grateful for all the “women” mother’s grandmothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, friends and mentors who have been on the move with Jesus and made the world a more loving place.

 

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Year of Gratitude April: Week 3

The cold winter has created a beautiful spring. I have never seen the flowers in my yard or in my neighborhood more abundant or beautiful. Recently I have been “so over winter,” so it seems has the spring flowers.

On my walk this morning I was greeted by this very cheery woodpecker

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Can you see it? Right in the middle of the picture. The lilacs across the sidewalk were full and the smell was heavenly!

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In my own yard, my iris are so full of blooms and my wisteria as well.

So as I continue my year of gratitude and particularly this month of finding my growing edges, I am grateful for Holy Week. Today is the last day before the Triduum (the 3 Holy Days of Thursday, Friday and Saturday) before Easter.

Today is known as “Spy Wednesday.” So named, because traditionally this is the day we remember Judas and his betrayal of Jesus. Two years ago I blogged this reflection on this day.  In it, I quoted Leonard Sweet who had written, “there is a sliver of Judas in all of us.”

That phrase haunts me. Holy Week is a reminder to take stock of how how I betray Jesus in word and deed. As I look at the flowers from my walk this morning, I am reminded of the sweetness and beauty of the grace of God. The flowers shown don’t just pop up, but must be tended and watered and the season just right. Yet they are always there, whether they are blooming or not. God’s grace is like that, always there. Whether I turn away or don’t pay attention, God is still there.

So today I am grateful for the traditions of Holy Week. Tomorrow evening I will gather with the good people at First United Methodist Church, there will be prayer stations, foot washing, holy communion and a meal around tables. On Friday we will gather to hear remember those last hours of Jesus’ life and word and music. On Saturday, I will wait. As the people have waited generation upon generation. I will write a thank you note or several to all those people that make Lent a special time.

And I will rise early, Easter morning……for darkness can not stop the light, hatred can not stop love, evil can not stop God on the move. My betrayals and my failings can not keep Jesus in the tomb….After the long night…..morning will dawn….

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God on the Move: Palm/Passion Sunday

Last year I wrote these words in March:

Holy Week begins. This sacred time invites us into these days of exhilaration, intrigue, theological arguments, exhaustion, betrayal, injustice, trial and execution. That is a great deal of drama to pack in one short week. Yet, often life is like that, perhaps not the extreme ups and downs of being hailed the savior of the world on one day and being crucified and mocked on another, but we know those ups and downs.

Holy Week is a time filled with highs and lows and deep questions about justice and love and a longing for that reign of God that Jesus promised. For me, Holy Week is a reminder of how fast myself and many others can go from the high of exciting parade, to the rage of a violent mob. God moves through love, but sometimes that love is too much to take.

So I enter Holy Week acknowledging my complicity in the evil that often poses as neutrality and thoughtfulness in the world. I acknowledge the sin of my silence, when my voice would make a difference. My own Holy tradition is filled with music that reminds me of those last days and hours of Jesus’ life. Perhaps not “traditional” music, but it is good for my soul:

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At First UMC  are multiple opportunities to move with God through this sacred time. On our website all the special services are listed. Today’s worship service can be found here

In our Christ Memorial Chapel are windows depicting the life of Jesus. These amazing works of art filled with joy each week. In the center lower section is the scene that we remember on this day:

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I invite you to move with me this week through these hard and holy days that we may be ready to have the eyes to see and the ears to hear the Good News of Christ’s resurrection!

 

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God moves us …. to empty ourselves

It has been a very long day. Most people know I never sleep well on Saturday night and last night was no different. Even with my restlessness before Sunday morning, it is always a joy for me to be in worship.

This week we were able to get all the way to Venice, Italy on our walk to Jerusalem. When we first started talking about the 6400 miles from Wichita to Jerusalem we wondered whether or not we could get enough people to track their miles to get there by Easter. Well, we are less than 800 miles away and we still have this week and next to log our miles! We may actually get to walk ALL the way around the sea of Galilee. I think a scenic route is now in order.

This Sunday the scripture was Jesus coming to Bethany and having dinner with Lazarus and Martha and Mary. Mary anoints Jesus and it occurred to me in a way it never had before that she was claiming her authority and place as a disciple of Jesus. She anointed him as Messiah and poured all her faith and passion at his feet. Judas and others would try and deny what was happening and indeed try to change the subject and distract everyone from what Mary was doing. Indeed, Judas would criticize her for it.

Not Jesus, not for a minute. He reminds everyone there of his need to be anointed for burial and for the difficult road ahead. We are just a week from Holy week, I needed to know that God is still on the move even when the world can seem bleak.

We hosted the Bishop’s Gathering for the Wichita area to debrief from General Conference. It was powerful to hear from folks truly affected by the decision and to have time around tables to talk with one another. It made for a long day, but I am grateful to see God on the move in my life and in the life of the church.

You can find today’s worship service here.

 

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God on the Move: Over Fences

On this third Sunday in Lent, God is on the move and people are on the move as well. This morning was the inaugural Chisholm Trail Marathon and Half Marathon. A Boston Qualifier and a brand new marathon for Wichita. the Prairie Fire Marathon which is run in October on basically the same course has thousands attend. It practically shuts down downtown and certainly affects worship. This new marathon did not seem to draw as many runners and we were not as aware of it as early as we might have been. Mostly, I think people got to church, but it can be interesting!

We had several opportunities to give to missions today. A mission lunch to help support the team going to Camp Horizon just south east of us was held and we took a special offering for United Methodist Committee on Relief for the Nebraska flooding. Our neighbors to the north are being devastated, over 74 counties and 85 cities are affected in Nebraska alone. It will be a longer term cleanup and response to help.

The gospel reading was difficult and interesting and challenging. We moved as a congregation over 1300 miles and got to Nova Scotia. I hope we don’t end up treading water this week before we get to land again on our walk to Jerusalem. You can find the whole worship service at this link. I continue to be grateful to see God moving in the world, at First Church and in me.

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