Friday, June 29, 2018

Bells, Keep Your Lamp Burning!

Awards and Scholarships (1)

Congrats to these young people and thanks to the donors of these special awards and scholarships. In order, Andrea and Devon with Karen from the Friendship Circle, Devon with Kim and the John E. Bender Music Memorial, Andrea with Pat and the Kenneth Lasoski Memorial.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Barren and Blessed (2018-0610)

9-10 June 2018, Christ Mountain Top, baptisms
Praying the Psalm, 1 Samuel 2.1-10
Children, pouring the baptismal water, praying
Message, 1 Samuel 1.1-28

About a year after we were married, Robin and I began to work at making a baby.  (Although, perhaps "Work" is not quite the right word to use.)  It did not take long for her to become pregnant.  We lay together on the old couch and asked each other, "What should we name our baby?"  I said, "Elizabeth".  Robin said, "That's exactly what I was thinking.  What about a middle name?"  I said, "Anne."  She said, "That's exactly what I was thinking.  What about a boy's name?"  "I don't know."
      Soon after the announcement of her pregnancy, what we feared most came upon us.  Our baby was miscarried, early, a bloody mess filling the toilet over several days.  Down the drain--our baby, our hope, our joy.  The little girl we'd always hoped to have, Elizabeth Anne.

O Hannah, what do you say to us now?  We staggered and prayed as if we were drunk.  And we heard many would-be and well-meaning Eli's, attempting to get us to conform to standard forms of religious expression:  "It must have been God's will"  "It's nature's way--making sure our children are fit and healthy for the world".  Well, if it was Father God's will, it certainly was not ours.  And if it was Mother Nature's way, we rejected it flat out: Give us our baby and we will care for her.
      At first Eli, like most of us, misunderstood the anguish and prayer of a barren woman. But Hannah reminds us of the blessing Eli offered, once he was confronted by the raw prayer that Hannah offered: "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him." 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Plot in Biblical Narrative

Neat resource on getting to understand the Bible better. Check out the Bible Project.

Call for Release of Missionaries

June 26, 2018
Leaders Launch Worldwide #LetThemLeave Campaign Against Treatment of Three Missionaries
in the Philippines Who Have Been Denied Permission to Leave the Country
ATLANTA – Calling for a missionary’s immediate release from the Bicutan Detention Center in the Philippines, the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church today took the unusual step of calling upon the government of the Republic of the Philippines to expedite the discharge of a young adult United Methodist missionary who has been the victim of repeated bureaucratic delays that have caused him to be incarcerated for more than six weeks.
The Council, and the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church, the agency from which Tawanda Chandiwana received his Christian commission, are launching a worldwide campaign to call public attention to the plight of Tawanda and two other missionaries who were in the country fulfilling their commission to show God’s love in the world.
Despite continuing efforts by the staff of the local regional United Methodist conference, Philippines-based attorneys and officials with The United Methodist Church, Mr. Chandiwana of Mutare, Zimbabwe, Adam Shaw of Brunswick, Ohio, and Miracle Osman of Blantyre, Malawi, have experienced repeated difficulties getting the legal documents and clearance they need to leave the Republic of the Philippines.
Mr. Chandiwana and Ms. Osman are Global Mission Fellows. These missionaries are young adults from all over the world between the ages of 20-30.  They are sent by The United Methodist Church to serve for 20 months in works of justice and mercy through participation in such ministries as peacebuilding, creation care, English teaching, human rights advocacy, and social work. Many Filipino young adults are part of this program, serving in such places as Japan, South Africa, Ireland, Barbados, and Uruguay. 

Baptism! (2018-0610-1045)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Children's Choir

Statement on Immigrant Family Separation

The official text of a statement signed by representatives of various faith traditions, from The United Methodist Church (president, Council of Bishops), the Roman Catholic Church (Bishop Bambera), Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Muslims, Jews, African Methodist Episcopals, and more. Check out the story and full list of signatories. 
Recently, the U.S. Administration announced that it will begin separating families and criminally prosecuting all people who enter the U.S. without previous authorization. As religious leaders representing diverse faith perspectives, united in our concern for the well-being of vulnerable migrants who cross our borders fleeing from danger and threats to their lives, we are deeply disappointed and pained to hear this news. 
We affirm the family as a foundational societal structure to support human community and understand the household as an estate blessed by God. The security of the family provides critical mental, physical and emotional support to the development and wellbeing of children. Our congregations and agencies serve many migrant families that have recently arrived in the United States. Leaving their communities is often the only option they have to provide safety for their children and protect them from harm. Tearing children away from parents who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them is unnecessarily cruel and detrimental to the well-being of parents and children.  
As we continue to serve and love our neighbor, we pray for the children and families that will suffer due to this policy and urge the Administration to stop their policy of separating families.

Wake Up Call

2-3 June 2018, Christ Mountain Top, Confirmation weekend
      Lord’s Table
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 139, selections (6:00 pm)
Children, Mark 2.23 – 3.6
Message, 1 Samuel 3.1-20


One Sunday (age 9), my father let me take his Bible to Sunday School.  The teacher taught us all about the books of the Bible and how they are grouped in our Protestant Bible:  OT Law, History, Poetry, Prophets (Major, Minor); NT Gospels, History, Epistles (Paul, General), Prophecy.  I took my pen and drew boxes in the table of contents.  I was really excited.  "Let's see...Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy--Law ...".  So, on the way home I told my Dad all about it.  He wasn't too happy about me writing in his Bible, so he bought himself a new one and gave me his old one.
      Did you ever learn the books of the Bible in SS?  Gen, Ex, Lev ...?  That is a simple thing, but it is quite useful.  It is also part of getting to know the Bible, the book that shapes our faith and relationship to God.
      So, when I couldn't quite keep up with the sermon, I read the Bible.  I learned to love it and cherish it through Christian Education--at church and at home.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Pet Food Ministry at Mission Central!

Did you know that amongst all the other ministries here at Mission Central, there’s even one for pet food?  Yes, through Arty’s Blessings, we get donations from people and even items from and can then distribute them out to local shelters and rescue groups, as well as in times of disaster.  This is Furry Friends picking up a pallet of dog and cat food and kitty litter.
Think of Mission Central as a large umbrella that provides space for many other ministries to survive and thrive.  These ministry partners would not have the space or money to exist in a traditional warehouse that rented space out to them.
A donation to Mission Central allows us to continue helping all of these other ministries…whether it’s New Digs, Computer Ministry, Project C.U.R.E, Healthy Steps Diaper Bank, Change Purse, Arty’s Blessings or one of hundreds of other groups both in and out of the warehouse.  Make a donation now to join us and continue this amazing work!

New Members (May 27)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

New Members (May 20)

Holy Trinity!

26-27 May 2018, Christ Mountain Top, Trinity, Memorial Day
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 29
Children, John 3.1-17
Message, Romans 8.12-17

Play video, “My Story: Phil Solliday”

Mail, invitations to go into debt:
      Pre-approved, Selected
Phone invitations:
      We’re calling about your credit card account

We don’t “owe” the flesh anything, because our flesh is “hostile to God” (Romans 8.7). Part of that hostility is our own destructive urges. The other part of that is our own good works, good works that proceed from our willpower as “good people”. Those good works accomplish nothing except creating the illusion that we don’t need God, or that we only have a limited need for God: “I got myself half way to God, half way to salvation.” So, I’m better than those who really need God.
      “We are debtors, not to the flesh” (8.12). The illusion of our goodness only serves to put us in debt to our own selves, our selfish perception of our superiority, our independence from other lesser mortals and even from God. The debt to the flesh separates us from everyone else, separates us from God. But it doesn’t seem to do that. It’s shiny, it says that we’re good people – golden, platinum. Membership has its privileges! What’s in your wallet? Sign here and you can be the proud owner of … debt. Only later do we realize that we are in way over our head to a “spirit of slavery” that rules through fear (8.15).

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Story Telling

19-20 May 2018, Christ Mountain Top, Pentecost
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 104, selections
Children, Acts 2.1-21
Message, John 15.26-27, 16.1-15

When we think of the gift of the Spirit, we often think in terms of miracle, in manifestations of the Spirit that are exceptional, unusual, not experienced by everyone. “That’s nice, but I’ve never experienced that myself.” The folks in the Covenant Group have practiced paying attention to the presence of the Spirit in small things. Each time they gather, they told stories of how they responded to “promptings” of the Spirit in the ordinary things of each day. Sometimes people say to me, “What made you do that, Pastor JP?” (Not about some hare-brained idea but about something that is good in a way that can only be described as godly.) My answer, most of the time, is, “I don’t know.” I wasn’t sensitive to a prompting of the Spirit, but sure enough, God was in it. How, I can’t say. I can only be grateful.
      OR, when we think of the Spirit, we think that it would be better for our faith if we had lived in Jesus’ time, if we could have seen him perform miracles, teach the crowds, lead in prayer. We become nostalgic for something that we never experienced, except in our imagination, and we make the mistake of thinking that Jesus’ disciples had great faith. Check out the gospel stories, where Jesus says to Peter: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14.31). Or, what he tells all his disciples about the coming Spirit: “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16.7).

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Sight and Sound, and then some

Getting settled at Sight and Sound ... disaster struck on the way home.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Youth Choir

Grace at the Ebola Epicenter

By Phileas Jusu
May 3, 2018 | KAILAHUN, Sierra Leone (UMNS)
A growing congregation now has its own home with the dedication of a new $90,000 church in this former Ebola epicenter in the eastern part of the country.
The magnificent Grace United Methodist Church imposingly sits on a small hill overlooking the Kebawana section of Kailahun. A couple who prefers to remain anonymous donated the funds to build the new church.
The congregation, which had been worshipping in a makeshift structure, has more than 200 members after less than a year and there is a huge potential for more growth, said the Rev. Samuel Kailie, pastor in charge, during the April 22 ceremony.
He said the people who have come to services at Grace have been impressed with the method of worship and spirituality emphasized at the church. They also have praised the work that The United Methodist Church has done elsewhere in the country.