Tag Archives: congregation

good, but troubling, information

I, being an official member of the older adult category, cannot let information such as this get away without a comment or two. This information isn’t new to me, but I feel it might be for some.

Having recently concluded three years as a pastor of an elderly congregation (average age of 83), I have seen this firsthand. It’s not a pretty picture.

All of us would do well to pay attention to the seniors in our lives. They are many small things we can do to help ease their struggles, but it starts with awareness.

Care and respect for the elderly among us is a tradition most of believe in, and rightfully so. What can you do to ease the hardship of an older friend or family member during this Christmas season?

today’s sermon: WWDD

We have entered a time in the life of our nation when faithfulness to the Gospel is about to “get real” as they say. The chasm between patriotism and discipleship is growing ever wider. Executive orders are being issued daily that are in direct opposition to the values of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel lesson for this morning is Matthew 5:1-12. It’s the Sermon on the Mount, also known as the Beatitudes. As I have struggled to prepare a meaningful sermon for my small and aging congregation I have tried to be open to the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit.

I could not stop the tears on seeing this teeshirt,  Jesus as a refugee again brought home the ugly reality of authoritarian rhetoric being enacted into law.

I know that Jesus promises to bless us, I know that Jesus teaches us to live lives of love, mercy, nonviolence and compassion. The issue I am grappling with now is how to demonstrate that in a nation that is bowing down to one who ignores, even flaunts Christ’s example and teachings.

I know WWJD. What truly frightens me, is that I also know WWDD. The two are diametrically opposed.

I have committed myself to following the man from Nazareth. That means I cannot follow BLOTUS. I am truly saddened that many of my congregation are not able to make the same choice.

good advice from the 18th century

I get an almost constant stream of comments from many in my congregation that they would prefer  that my sermons were less political. My response is that if a sermon isn’t political it’s not relating to what’s real and immediate for us.

If our spirituality doesn’t help inform who we are as citizens we have created a false dichotomy. Our values should come from our beliefs. Those values should be what guide us in the choosing of  who we desire to serve us as elected officials.

John  Wesley stated it plainly. We need to exercise our freedom to vote. It’s a gift many do not enjoy. We need to vote for the person who most closely reflects our values. And then, we need to demonstrate the love of Christ and not engage in trash talking the opposition candidates or their supporters.

Personally, I have the most difficulty with that last piece of advice. As a disciple of Jesus I am called to be an ambassador of love and an agent of reconciliation. That makes trash talk off limits, and I admit I’m not there yet. It’s an area in which I am still working…

hurray! we’re now in Yei!

We left our hotel in Entebbe at 0630 and drove to the airport where we had an easy time checking in and going through security. Our flight to South Sudan was mostly uneventful with the exception of a violent thunderstorm that bounced us around more than usual.

By 1230 we had landed in Yei and were on our way to the “Captain’s House,” our quarters for the next 10 days. We were welcomed and had a nice lunch before going through an introductory briefing on what to expect during our time here.

After a little downtime to rest and unpack the entire team drove to Grace House, a small orphanage started by the United Methodists less than 3 years ago, but already a model for child care in this area. Grace is an acronym for God Receives All Children Equally. and is home to about 30 beautiful, happy children.

It was a delightful visit and was a great introduction to our time here. Tomorrow we will worship with a local congregation and take it easy. Then on Monday we all split up to our assigned tasks. It’s going to be fun.

Again, more to come.

First Broad Street UMC

Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go; first of all in your own home. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to the next-door neighbor. — Mother Teresa

This past weekend I had the privilege to participate in the annual Mission Celebration at First Broad Street United Methodist Church in Kingsport, Tennessee. They’re a group of folks that would bring a smile to Mother Teresa’s face.

I had been a workshop leader at last year’s Celebration so I was excited to have the opportunity to join the congregation once again. Last year’s event was so thoroughly impressive I couldn’t imagine it could be better this year. I was wrong. This year’s Mission Celebration was even better than last year’s.

Hundred of folks interested, engaged and excited about mission opportunities spent Friday afternoon through Sunday in workshops, seminars and presentations describing all the mission work in which the First Broad Street United Methodist Church is actively involved.

I spoke several times during the weekend. The church was filled with displays of mission and ministry and there were several large rooms of fair-trade crafts from church mission partners both abroad and here in the US.

One of the highlights of this year’s celebration was the Stop Hunger meal packaging event where everyone joined together to package over 20,000 meals in only 90 minutes. Everyone was overwhelmed at the ease of accomplishing such a feat and touched at the impact their effort would make on behalf of hungry school kids in Haiti. I am sure that more meals will be packaged at next year’s Celebration.

The members of First Broad Street United Methodist Church understand that they have the power to change the world. The congregation is actively involved in dozens of missions. They are working in numerous locations in their own city of Kingsport. But they are also touching lives through their mission outreach in other areas of Tennessee, North Carolina and in the far corners of the world such as South Sudan.

First Broad Street United Methodist Church gets it. They aren’t satisfied with just writing checks. They have a heart for missions that’s as big as the world and they are spreading God’s love everywhere they go.