Tag Archives: worship

LifeCycle of Giving, Celebrating the Fruits

This is one of my favorite Sundays of the year. There is something deeply sacred about naming name and lighting candles and remembering. At First, only people who are members are named, and while I struggle with that, if we opened it up, we would probably have a couple of hundred names or more. Lighting an extra candle allows all of us to name those persons in our lives who we have died this last year.

After all these years, I find myself coming to this Sunday with a tender heart. For ALL the saints, year after year, I remember and am grateful. I also acknowledge the loss. I firmly believe we are each unique and unrepeatable and when a person dies, no one can take their place.

It doesn’t mean we don’t love any more, or can not love again, but it is always different, not bad, just different. Each person we love adds to the wholeness of who we are. So there are spots, holes if you will, that linger in our hearts and spirits when loved ones are no longer there.

This Sunday we not only remembered those who have died, we also focused our attention on their “fruit” or the gifts their lives offered. Not only are they saints, we are too. We are called to carry on the love and grace we have been offered in Christ. As we are moving through our stewardship sermon series, remembering our saints is one way of honoring their gifts and their lives and spirits.

“I sing a song of the saints of God…and I mean to be one too.” (Lesbia Scott, 1929) Today in worship, we were invited to be a saint today. You can find todays worship service, or just the sermon here.

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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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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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Festival of Homiletics, Day 3

Oh my, what a day it has been and I haven’t even been to worship! I know tonight will be amazing with Rev. William Lamar IV preaching and a gospel choir. Today I have heard 2 sermons, gone to 2 workshops, listened to the amazing organ at Central Lutheran Church and walked, had a picnic and visited Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church.

Early this morning a little after six a..m. I took a lovely reflective two mile walk.

And then it was time for a morning filled with Spirit and content. Just a few quotes:

Reverend Cynthia Hale:

Her title and questions said it all: “Have you got good religion or is your religion any good?” Based on James she reminded us that good religion is based on character and conduct. God shows no partiality and neither should we.

Bishop Rob Wright:

Preaching on Exodus 1: 15-21, the midwives Shiphrah and Puah who resisted the Pharoah’s order to kill all the Hebrew baby boys noted:

“Insurmountable odds give rise to unbelievable moral courage.”

“There is a proportional relationship between the side of the God we imagine and the size of the Pharoah’s we defy.”

Then I attended Reverend William Lamar IV‘s workshop where he asked us to reflect personally on Luke 4: 18-19. After reflecting I wrote down: What is good news for the poor in downtown Wichita? What does it mean to preach good news, release, recovery and the year of Lord’s favor in downtown Wichita?

Didn’t answer those questions, but they are good ones for me to ponder and prayer over. Moral imagination according to Reverend Lamar is shaped by the Spirit and tradition, tradition being Jaroslav Pelikan’s definition, “tradition is the living faith fo the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.”

Then Pastor Rebecca Goltry-Mohr and I had a beautiful walk to the park for lunch

Then we walked to Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church where we visited the sanctuary with these beautiful windows (the pictures are dark because they were refinishing the floors and there were no lights on

Then a beautiful art gallery were the religious art of T.B. Walker and his wife Harriet were donated. Their other art work was donated to the art museum. These are priceless works of art and when the church was built in 1914, they created a room just for them. This room is used today for worship each Sunday and for weddings and other events and is open to the public.

We stopped into the chapel where I took this other dark photo of the organ pipes and windows. It is a beautiful space for worship.

We finished the afternoon with Reverend David Lose who I always appreciate. His reflections on his website never fail to make me think. He began today by saying that every person is hit with 30,000 words a day whether by listening and talking or by reading or by social media. Finding words and using words as a preacher sometimes has us wondering if our words have value or meaning. He encouraged us that indeed they do!

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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 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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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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