Tag Archives: worship link

Connect: Building Our Lives Together

We started a new sermon series yesterday in worship. Over the next six weeks we will be focusing on building our lives together using interlocking building blocks. Each person who came to worship received a small drawstring bag, an orange building block and a card with a prayer that will lead us through the next few weeks.

Next week, each person will received the next color of block until there is six different colored blocks. Each color has a different meaning

Our focus was our “work” both paid and unpaid as it was Labor Day weekend. For over two decades I have had an anointing service on Labor Day Sunday. I feel as if we underestimate how important our work is in the world. Sometimes we embrace our work with enthusiasm and with a sense of adventure and sometimes we do not. Regardless, our work connects us to God, to each other and to the world.

Our lives matter and work whether it is a vocation or a job or volunteer matters and how we share our work with the world says volumes about out faith in God.

You can find both the entire worship service or just the sermon here http://sundaystreams.com/go/firstwichita

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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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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:

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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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Vacation for the Soul, Guidance

This week’s Spiritual Practice or Discipline is Guidance. That doesn’t tend to make the top five list of things that are “spiritual.” Guidance doesn’t seem to fall in the same sphere as prayer or meditation or sabbath or worship. Yet, guidance has a long tradition of being important for deepening the spiritual life.

I didn’t mention it in worship, but many people have spiritual directors that help guide them in their Christian walk. Small groups or Sunday School classes can be part of the spiritual practice of guidance.

Today in worship, instead, I focused on being guided by love. Using Paul’s imagery in Colossians and pairing it with the lectionary gospel in Mark, I pondered how being clothed in Christ and in love guides us as it guided Christ.

I mentioned Lauren Winner’s book Wearing God, which is a marvelous book on how we experience and meet God in different ways: through clothing and laughter and fire to name a few. As followers of Jesus we are “fashioned” in the old sense of the word by Christ and by love. We are shaped, molded into the image and likeness of Christ.

It was a good day to being year three at First United Methodist Church. If you would like to watch the service in its entirety you will find the video here.

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Vacation for the Soul: Confession

We continue in our sermon series, “Vacation for the Soul.”

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The last couple of weeks have been incredibly full. Last week, I was grateful to assist in worship and listen to Leslie Coates preach. Leslie is a talented preacher and I am always blessed to hear him deliver the word. That week had been filled with the Great Plains Annual Conference. Even though it was in Wichita, I think I am more tired than if I had traveled to a different city.

This last week was spent catching up, presiding at a funeral, (with two more funerals in our church). Too many meetings and honestly, trying to stay away from social media and the news. The reports of children being separated from their parents who crossed the border looking for safety was more than my heart could take.

Instead of filling my social media posts with pictures or articles or memes (which I do not believe changes one persons mind or makes a difference) I have been uncharacteristically quiet. I would not want my silence in public places to be seen as approval. It is not. I feel like I have no voice to change policies that paint refugees fleeing from horrible violence as criminal, as other, as less than human. I still do not have any words to give voice to my grief and pain over this unjust and inhuman policy. By the end of the week, a bit had changed as now children won’t be taken from their parents, but it is still unclear what that will do to the over 2000 children that are in facilities across this country.

Today in worship I spoke of confession as that spiritual/prayer practice that helps deepen our relationship with God. It reminds me, it reminds us all that God is God and that our traditional prayer of confession says it all:

Merciful God,
we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have failed to be an obedient church.
We have not done your will,
we have broken your law,
we have rebelled against your love,
we have not loved our neighbors,
and we have not heard the cry of the needy.
Forgive us, we pray.
Free us for joyful obedience,
      through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

You can find the full worship service here.

Here is my confession: I confess I feel powerless in the midst of the storm of hate and bigotry I see in so many places. I confess I feel voiceless in all the loud clamoring and shouting between the opposite points of view. I confess I do not know how to affect real change in local, state and national governmental policies. I confess I feel like a very small boat in a very big sea filled with giant waves and gale force winds. I confess that it is sometimes easier for me to just do what is in front of me rather than do what needs to be done for justice, for righteousness and for the kingdom of God that is promised in Christ.

Tish Harrison Warren in her book Liturgy of the Ordinary writes: “Repantence is not usually a moment wrought in high drama. It is the steady drumbeat of a life in Christ and, therefore, a day in Christ.” So I confess and repent and know that is part and parcel of a life in Jesus.

When I was growing up there were two women I read everything I could get my hands on in the library. One was Harriet Tubman and the other was Sojourner Truth. I was in awe of their strength, their willingness to do whatever it took to work against the institution of slavery and later for full rights for women.

Sojourner Truth, particularly had a “way with words.” She worked long and hard for the abolition of slavery. Often she was heckled as an illiterate African American woman. None of this stopped her. In fact, as one story goes, a proslavery Northerner asked her what did she think she would accomplish being a black woman calling for the end of slavery. He said something like, “I don’t care any more of your talk, than I do for the bite of a flea.” “Perhaps not,” she replied, “but the good Lord willing I will keep you scratching.”

So, I guess, I keep writing. I keep speaking. I have not the presence or perhaps even the same amount of strength and faith of Sojourner Truth. I have the same God. I have the same Christ who is still calling me to confess and to do what I can do to work for what is good, what is right and what is just.

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Sent as Witnesses

We hit the final Sunday of Easter after a very interesting week, in the United Methodist denomination as a whole and as a local church. I addressed the failure of two constitutional amendments in two separate blogs Not Stopping me! And Not Stopping me! Part II  The news of Mead’s Corner, our coffee shop closing was icing on the cake.

So we come to the last Sunday of Easter, Ascension Sunday AND Mother’s Day. It can be a challenge to figure out how to fit it all in as a worshipping community. For me, the importance was to give voice to the challenge and command of Jesus that we are witnesses and to acknowledge that it is not always easy. Stuff happens, but fortunately God is there in the midst.

You can find the entire worship service here. The Chancel Choir was amazing with their anthem Who Will Be a Witness and Chris Kliewer sang It is Well with My Soul. And it is well with my soul! I am sure that what seems to be a movement to deny equality is but a bump in the road in the whole scheme of things. I remind myself that things change ever so slowly and everytime it seems that the move for justice has stopped, it is just a roadblock that must be dismantled or gone around. In the words of Julian of Norwich, “All will be well and all manner of things will be well.”

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Life Changing Witness

Today in worship, we picked up in the book of Acts where we left off last week. Last week we read the end of chapter 8 and engaged with the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. Chapter 9 is well known as the first story in Acts about the conversion of Saul (who we know later as the Apostle Paul.)

This well known story is often used as both an example and an excuse as to who we are as a people that follow Christ. The road to Damascus and the blinding light that stops Saul in his tracks is an experience not every has personally. I have occasionally heard people say about their choosing faith in Christ, “well I didn’t have anything nearly as dramatic as a Damascus Road conversion,” as if Saul’s experience is more real or true than others.

I think I could preach several weeks on the ninth chapter of Acts. I didn’t mention it today, but it has been on my mind whether or not anyone would really want an experience like Saul’s or to a lesser degree like Ananias. Both men were confronted with their own exclusivity, their own stubbornness to be able to look past their own opinions and see others as beloved children of God. Who really wants Jesus to say “oh, by the way, you have been wrong and pig-headed. You need to stop what you are doing and go a different direction, with an open heart, an open mind and an open spirit.” If I were to tell the truth, that’s not on my bucket list….(that doesn’t mean I don’t need it anyway, I can be as stubborn as anyone.)

Today I focused on Saul and Ananias’ willingness to change their minds and to be wrong in what they have believed in the past. Certainly in our culture, changing one’s mind, doing a 180 degree change in attitude, belief and spirit is not usually applauded. That is unfortunate.

Saul’s change of mind and heart and spirit opened up the community of faith to those outside the Jewish tradition. Saul’s willingness to be open to all people was a game changer. I still feel like we need more of that willingness to be open and inclusive in the community of faith and certainly in our world.

This Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church will begin meeting tomorrow and one of their agenda items is to listen to the report from the Commission on the Way Forward and to make a final recommendation to the Special Session of The General Conference in 2019. That recommendation will be shared in July once it has been translated into the many languages needed to share with our world wide church. I am praying for our Bishops and for our Church in this time of anxiety and uncertainty.

You can find today’s worship service here. I am praying that God might change my heart, my mind and my spirit that I might witness in a way that offers love and grace to all.

 

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