Sunday, February 24, 2019

Dinner Church in an elementary school

<p>Dinner Church is more than just serving food. “The meal is a big part of the worship – the fellowship and the community that comes with it," said the Rev. Teresa Atkins McClure, pastor of a new Dinner Church at East Knoxville Elementary School.</p>
By Annette Spence

The Rev. Teresa Atkins McClure and her New Life congregation have started something called “Dinner Church” at a nearby elementary school. Every Tuesday night, they share a meal with neighboring families and then join in worship led by children.
New Life members actually had a vision for starting a second congregation outside the church before learning about Fresh Expressions from Carroll, says McClure.
“I’m amazed at how God planted the seed in the hearts of our members,” the pastor said. “When the church was ready, there it was. We didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. It’s amazing how God has been leading us through.”
New Life UMC, which has an average attendance of 60, began praying for a way to be in ministry with neighbors in 2015. “There’s a high poverty rate in our community,” McClure explained. “We picked places where we could be intentional in reaching out.”

Church leaders began focusing on East Knox Elementary, located three miles away from New Life UMC. Discussions with the principal and meals with the teachers led to the idea of inviting children and their families to a weeknight dinner and worship in the school cafeteria. (To get the word out, McClure received permission from officials to speak to the PTA, put up a sign and submit flyers to the school office.)
...
“The idea is to go where people are gathering,” said Carroll, Tennessee Valley District superintendent, based in Knoxville. “We’re trying to get people in the church to let their minds stray enough to let them connect outside the walls.”
According to its website, Fresh Expressions is “an international movement of missionary disciples cultivating new kinds of church alongside existing congregations to more effectively engage our growing post-Christian society.” Examples include biker church, cowboy church, church for artists, church in an office building, or church in housing projects and college dormitories.
Dinner Church is an initiative of Fresh Expressions that has found success in many United Methodist churches, including those in North CarolinaGeorgia, and Florida.
Dinner church is more than just serving food, McClure said. “The meal is a big part of the worship – the fellowship and the community that comes with it.” The movement’s theology is rooted in how Jesus used the dinner table to reach people.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Be One: The Unity of the Spirit



16-17 Feb 2019, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 133
Children, Acts 15.36-41, Paul & Barnabas break up
Message, Ephesians 4.1-16 (4.17-32, 5.1-20)
Mission Moment,

Review, transition:
Blessing in Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace
Power and fullness in Christ, all in all
Created and Made Alive in Christ: Grace through Faith
Reconciled in Christ: Near and Far
Love and Glory in Christ: Abundantly Far More
Today we transition to the implications of these theological truths, with Be One: The Unity of the Spirit

The next section (following today’s reading), which we do not include in our message series, could be titled Be Holy. Yet, it also includes themes for Be One. Sometimes, when we think of holiness, we think of it only as being separate, particularly separate from sin. That is an accurate perception and fits with Hebrew teaching, particularly the Torah and the Holiness Code of Leviticus. It is also incomplete. Another dimension of holiness is wholeness, which involves connection and integration, rather than separation. This also has roots in Hebrew teaching, particularly the prophets and the message of Shalom or Peace. So, I find it fascinating that in the next section of the letter, Paul jumps back and forth across both dimensions of holiness:

Here I Am, Lord


Second Sunday Singers!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Texas Church pays off school lunch debt

Every Christmas, the congregation of the Royse City First United Methodist Church donates its Christmas Eve offerings to charity. Last year, half of the donations went to a nonprofit and the other half to an elementary school down the street, to help cover the cost of school lunches for families thrat had fallen behind in payments.
That was Christmas 2017.
The following year, Pastor Chris Everson went to the church board to ask about taking the tradition a step further.
"The question came up: What would it look like if we did this for the entire ISD?" Everson said.
Last fall, he asked the congregation to think about what they would spend on Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and then set aside that amount to help other families in the community.
By Christmas, the 200-member congregation donated more than $10,000.
"If the church does not impact the community the church is in, then the church isn't doing its job," Everson said. "With us having the opportunity to make an impact, then we are doing what Christ has called us to do to -- serve the least of these."

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Love and Power in Christ: Abundantly Far More



9-10 Feb 2019, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 145:8-21
Children, John 6.1-21 (feeding 5000)
Message, Ephesians 3.14-21
Mission Moment, Mission Central 2018 year-end report (video)

In Ephesians Paul repeatedly offers his prayers for the readers of this letter – prayers for us – and he closes asking for our prayer for him. One of those prayers will be our theme Scripture as a church for 2019 and is our theme today:
Ephesians 3:18-21  I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,  21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Blessing in Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace
Power and fullness in Christ, all in all
Created and Made Alive in Christ: Grace through Faith
Reconciled in Christ: Near and Far
This week: Love and Glory in Christ: Abundantly Far More

Begins with the theme of family (from the first week)
      bows before our Father
      From whom “every family” or “the entire family”?
            The theme of last week, the two made ONE
            Better translation (Stott, 133) is “the entire family”

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Utah church welcomes their homeless neighbors

The Rev. Elizabeth McVicker, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City, visits and prays with the homeless during the Sunday Fellowship Breakfast. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.
The Rev. Elizabeth McVicker, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City, visits and prays with the homeless during the Sunday Fellowship Breakfast. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.
...
The fellowship breakfast was started about three years ago, said Larry Hjalmarson, who is a member of the governing board and oversees maintenance. It was inspired by a homeless man named Gilbert, who walked to the church from the rescue mission every Sunday. He became a member of the church, sang in the choir and put a new face on who the congregation thought the homeless were.

“He wasn’t scary, he was just homeless,” Larry Hjalmarson said. Gilbert asked him and a few other church members to consider offering a breakfast for people like himself who walked several long blocks to come to church.
Gilbert told the church members he was losing weight and expending more calories than he was taking in and needed more than a platter of cookies at fellowship time. That opened a door for the church to start a regular homeless ministry that now feeds from 50 to 70 people inside their doors on Sundays.
These days, Gilbert is no longer homeless, but the ministry continues to fill a vital need. Everyone is invited to the 10 a.m. church service but it is not a requirement. Some have joined and become regular members of the congregation. Some stay homeless, while still others like Brett Johnson become self-sufficient.
Johnson is Larry Hjalmarson’s right-hand man or maybe the opposite is true. Both chuckle at the thought. “Larry used to say he didn’t know what I could do. Now he says he doesn’t know what I can’t do,” Johnson said.
Johnson went through an emotional time with his children when he was younger and he had to give up his parental rights. He ended up in jail for six months for a couple of DUIs. When he left jail, he was living on the streets.
He wears a large chain around his neck as a reminder of those times. “Although I did the right things for my kids, I want to remember my sins,” he explained.
Johnson has learned to rely on his faith to get him through every day. He has started his own business, Odd Man Services, and has a waiting list of 20 people with jobs for him.
“I found when I stopped chasing the dollar that the money just comes in when I need it. I haven’t gone hungry in the past four years. It seems every time I need it, something just comes about and happens. I learned to let my faith just carry me through.”
Johnson is on the governing board at the church this year. “Brett believes in miracles,” Larry Hjalmarson said. “We need him more than he needs us.”

Member introduction


With a special guest - a service dog in training!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Reconciled in Christ: Near and Far



Reconciled in Christ: Near and Far               
      Being in Christ, 4 
2-3 Feb 2019, Christ Mountain Top, Scout Sunday, Lord’s Table
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 87 (6:00 pm only)
Children, Psalm 87 and my birth certificates
Message, Ephesians 2.11-22
Mission Moment, Scout presentations

Ephesians begins with the wonder of Christ Jesus, beyond imagination, “all in all,” our fullness and our destiny. It continues with practical direction on being in Christ. For eight weeks, we are going to study this short letter. One of its marvelous features is its prayers. Repeatedly, Paul offers his prayers for the readers of this letter – prayers for us – and he closes asking for our prayer for him. 

Three weeks ago: blessing in Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace
Two weeks ago: power and fullness in Christ, all in all
Last week: Created and Made Alive in Christ: Grace through Faith
This week: Reconciled in Christ: Near and Far

Take the time, on your own, to read Eph 3.1-13 as part of this theme, with a focus on the role of Paul – a strictly observant Jew – in a mission to the Gentiles.

As a child I had a set of Star Trek action figures along with the plastic carrying-case that folds out into the bridge of the USS Enterprise. I let a friend and neighbor play with the figures. He didn’t return them. I asked him about it several days later. “No, I did return it. I threw them over the wall.” Now, in that neighborhood in Manila, every home had an eight-foot wall around their property. He threw the action figures over the wall to land in our driveway. Eventually, I found one of them, pretty well mangled.
      And we never talked again, this neighbor-friend and me. I don’t know who moved away first, him or me. I don’t remember his name. I do remember being really mad. I remember a friendship being definitively OVER.
      And that wall? To borrow from the apostle Paul, that wall became for us a “dividing wall of hostility.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Souper Bowl


Congrats to the Chiefs fans! They won our internal "Souper Bowl," coming in at 14 pounds ahead of the Patriots. We received 620 pounds and dollars in donations for the Mountain Top Food Bank.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Created and Made Alive in Christ: Grace Through Faith (Ephesians message #3)



26-27 Jan 2019, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 23
Children, Mark 6.53-56
Message, Ephesians 2.1-10
Mission Moment,

Ephesians begins with the wonder of Christ Jesus, beyond imagination, “all in all,” our fullness and our destiny. It continues with practical direction on being in Christ. For eight weeks, we are going to study this short letter. One of its marvelous features is its prayers. Repeatedly, Paul offers his prayers for the readers of this letter – prayers for us – and he closes asking for our prayer for him. One of those prayers will be our theme Scripture as a church for 2019:
Ephesians 3:18-21  I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,  21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Two weeks ago: blessing in Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace
      Adoption, Inheritance, Chosen, Redeemed
Last week: power and fullness in Christ, all in all
This week: Created and Made Alive in Christ: Grace through Faith


Pastor, I just can’t figure out why I’m still here, what God has for me to do …
Pastor, I ask God what I should be doing. I really have no idea.
      Question of connection (older adults)
      Question of calling (younger people)
Important questions. In this passage, Paul has an answer for us, yet he does not address (directly) matters of our connections or callings.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

God Wastes Nothing

<p><u>Photo above</u>: Michael Dolinger smiles moments after sharing his testimony. <u>Photo at top of page</u>: Out of the Box United Methodist is a storefront church in Hillsville. (More photos at bottom of page)</p>
Photo above: Michael Dolinger smiles moments after sharing his testimony.
HILLSVILLE, Va. (Oct. 25, 2018) -- Michael Dolinger was 24 years old and the father of a young son when he was charged with five felonies for selling marijuana. Before the sentencing, he asked permission to take his family to Disney World because he thought he was going to prison.
“I never did anything like that with my dad, so I wanted a memory to go with me,” said Dolinger, who was four years old when his own father was incarcerated.
On Sunday, Oct. 21, the 28-year-old former drug dealer preached for the first time at the United Methodist church where he has found sobriety and a new community. His seven-year-old son watched with big brown eyes. His wife held their two-month-old baby daughter.
“God wastes nothing,” Dolinger told worshippers at Out of the Box United Methodist Church. “Tell everybody. Tell your friends. It’s that simple.”
Several in the crowd were not regular church attenders. They came to the storefront church to hear what “Mikie” had to say. Hundreds of people watched the Facebook live video of his testimony, re-sharing the message “God wastes nothing” on their own pages.
“You didn’t come here because you’re perfect,” Dolinger said. “You came here because you’re broken. But God is the creator. He’s the source. He’s the manufacturer. You can go and look somewhere else, and most of us have, but every time it will lead you back to him.”

Power and Fullness in Christ (Ephesians message #2)



19-20 Jan 2019, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 149
Children, Luke 24.36-43
Message, Ephesians 1.15-23
Mission Moment, Human Relations Day

Message:
Ephesians begins with the wonder of Christ Jesus, beyond imagination, “all in all,” our fullness and our destiny. It continues with practical direction on being in Christ. For eight weeks, we are going to study this short letter. One of its marvelous features is its prayers. Repeatedly, Paul offers his prayers for the readers of this letter – prayers for us – and he closes asking for our prayer for him. One of those prayers will be our theme Scripture as a church for 2019:
Ephesians 3:18-21  I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,  21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Anxiety as the disciples gathered after Jesus’ death
      Jesus was killed. Will they be next?
      The tomb is empty. What did they do with the body?
      Some say Jesus is risen. That’s totally nuts.
      Jesus: Peace be with you.
Anxiety in the nation around the shutdown
      Federal workers without paychecks
      Families who may soon lose food stamps
      Court dates that may be postponed
Anxiety in the UMC re the Way Forward
      Not just among clergy, concerned about impact on our future
      Having these conversations is difficulty – do we have to?
Anxiety
      deadlines
      failure (double doink blocked kick in NFL playoffs)
Despair
      Medical crisis
      Job loss
      Breakups, divorces

Hard to hear the promise of Ephesians 1.3 – blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places