Tag Archives: Sermon Series

Draw the Circle Wide: Ripples of Grace

It was a wild ride of a morning weather wise in south central Kansas! I don’t sleep well on Saturday night (occupational hazard for me) and so I am usually up and going by 4:00 a.m. or a little earlier. We had had storms, but sometime around 4:20 the tornado sirens went off.

As a typical Kansan I don’t tend to get over anxious…but that early in the morning I pay attention. I haven’t heard the sirens in our area for an actual weather event in a long time. As I was moving to go get Andrew, I heard his feet hit the floor and also then noticed the siren only sounded once!

I went to the facebook feed for KAKE TV to hear the sirens were a mistake. However within a few minutes the sirens went off (not in my area) but south of Wichita. A lot of storm damage before the sun came up and in my neighborhood up the street a transformer blew and many of our neighbors had been without power.

What a way to begin a Sunday. Other than the weather excitement it was a good day to gather and to continue our sermon series “Draw the Circle Wide.” Today’s scripture was from Luke and focused on the woman anointing Jesus at Simon the Pharisee’s home. When Simon is asked….do you see this woman?  I came to the conclusion that he didn’t…or that he only saw what he wanted to see, the labels that had been placed on her.

And me? I am not so different from Simon. I can become judgy pretty fast and making assumptions about folk. I am sure that draws the circle tighter not wider. Fortunately, the ripples of grace that come from faith in Christ is there for us all.

The music today in worship was outstanding. You can find the whole worship service or just the sermon here.

I committing my self this week to pay attention to how I “see” people, really see them. It is my hope that by doing so, I can be part of God’s work to “Draw the Circle Wide.”


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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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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: Overcoming Obstacles

We are on the move! Last week, the congregation logged 746 miles and we made it to Oldenburg, Indiana. A pretty awesome place actually! We are turning in our steps on Sunday and adding up the past week on Monday. If you are interested in participating, you can e-mail your miles to logmysteps@firstwichita.org. I wonder how far we will get as congregation this week? We are walking to Jerusalem, because that is where Jesus is going and we want to be there by Easter.

We are using the walking and moving metaphors to help us see where God is in the world. This week’s scripture has Jesus being encouraged to go a different direction, away from Jerusalem. Obstacles are placed in his path. God moves past all obstacles and helps us do the same.

Today is St. Patrick’s day and in worship I used Patrick life as an example of how God is on the move in amazing ways and moves us past all obstacles. A year ago I reflected on Saint Patrick and you can find my thoughts here.

We all have obstacles and excuses, but God is on the move and God will move them all out of our way. We are called to be on the move with God and with Jesus setting our faces toward Jerusalem and beyond. Today’s worship is uploaded to our archives.

I am praying for a changed heart like Patrick’s and the love to invest into transforming the world with God.

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God on the Move

Today is the first Sunday in Lent. The season began on Wednesday with two services. One was at 12: 15 in our Chapel and the other was at 7:00 in the Sanctuary. Like all our services you can find the video here and always our services in the Sanctuary are livestreamed and recorded. The videos are on our website for up to a month.

Our new sermon series is God on the Move. Working through the lectionary texts, the theme focuses on Jesus moving from one place to the next and finally setting his face towards Jerusalem. Our Creative Worship Team thought joining together to walk to Jersualem with Jesus would be an opportunity for us to move together with God both physically and spiritually.

In our newsletter it stated:

Throughout Lent, First United Methodist Church will be invited to “get moving”. Just as Jesus set his face to Jerusalem, we will also! Each week of Lent we will be invited to log the number of miles walked, swam, biked or ran. Register your miles weekly with the tracker card found in bulletins, at the receptionist desk, in the B2 hallway or in Sunday school binders by calling 316-267-6244 or emailing logmysteps@firstwichita.org.  Be sure to check the 2nd floor hallway of the B building to see how far we have journeyed together! There will be interactive check-in points with photos and story sharing opportunities. On April 13, First UMC is hosting the “Easter Egg 5K” race and each person registered will automatically be counted in our mileage total, so invite all of your friends and neighbors to move with us! The goal is to reach Jerusalem by Easter that is 6,742 miles!

The comforting truth of Lent as we dive deeper into our own self-examination and practices is that we find that we are not alone.  God is still on this journey with us, God is on the move; walking, running, swimming, jogging, biking each mile of the journey as we travel the road to Easter.

We will also have pray walks each Wednesday at 12:15 and we begin in the Chapel. After a short time of prayer, weather permitting, we will walk outside and pray for ourselves and downtown Wichita. If the weather is bad, we will walk inside the church. Embodied moving prayers have a long tradition in the life of church. When we move, we open our minds, hearts, spirits and bodies to where God is moving in us and in our world.

Today in worship we looked at the temptations of Jesus. Traditionally read on the first Sunday in Lent, it was for us a re-visit as we had looked at the temptions in our sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer, Courageous Faith. Temptations tend to move us away from God, but once we know what they are, we can be on the move with God in world. You can find the worship service video here.

I plan on moving with God this week, spiritually and physically. I am looking forward to see where God is on the move in our world.

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Courageous Faith: Forgive Us

As we gathered today, it was an absolutely gorgeous day in Wichita. I walked up while it was still dark, it was a bit muggy, the birds were singing and it was warm. Springlike. Now I know the temperature will dropping again this week, but it was a lovely morning.

Today we continued our sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer. The phrase for today was “forgive us our sins, trespasses, debts.” I suspect if we are all honest, we don’t want to admit that we need forgiveness and it certainly not something culturally we focus on. No wants wants to admit they have made a mistake or our wrong. The truth is, we all make mistakes and we all sin. We need forgiveness. Our altar looked like this:


We celebrated holy communion at all our services today. We are a forgiven people loved and graced by God. You can find our entire worship service here.

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Courageous Faith: Baptism of Jesus

We began a new sermon series focusing on the Lord’s Prayer. Sunday School Classes and small groups will be reading and studying Adam Hamilitons Unafraid, Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain TimesOver the next few weeks we will be looking at the Lord’s Prayer as a statement and prayer of confidence, courage and faith for us to utilize in the midst of a changing and uncertain world.

Today in worship we focused on baptism as well as the Lord’s Prayer. At the Heritage service in our chapel, Pastor Rebecca had a wonderful sermon on baptism and the power of water and being unfraid. I didn’t get a picture of the chapel that she had so beautifully decorated with the colors of greens and blues. At the renewal of our baptismal vows, one person came up and asked to be baptized. She had never been baptized and after everyone was finished with their renewals, we had a baptism. The moment was beautiful, sacred and holy.

In the sanctuary the altar was decorated to look like flowing water with pitchers of water which were used for the renewal of our baptismal vows. The sanctuary looked like this:


Every year I am grateful for this service. In baptism each one of us is claimed and named as beloved children. Renewing our baptismal vows is a reminder of the One to whom we belong. You can find the whole service here.

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