Friday, February 28, 2020

Aren't You Concerned? (Being With #5)

No video from this week. Sorry.

15-16 Feb 2020, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Scripture, Psalm 25:11-22 (insert)
       Sung response: Gloria (8:30 only)
Children, Mark 4.35-41 (disciples in storm to Jesus)
Message, Luke 10.38-42 (Martha to Jesus)
Mission Moment,

Story: Tornado, freight train, me sleeping
       “Aren’t you concerned?”

Today we return to our series of messages unpacking the promise of Advent and Christmas, of Emmanuel, “God with us.” Each week we have approached the text from the focus point of a particular question in the text. The first week, it was the question of John the baptizer to Jesus when Jesus came for baptism: “Do you come to me?” The question points out that Jesus chooses to identify with outsider sinners, that he has “friends in low places.” The second week, the questions were those to the man and woman in the garden and then to one of their sons: “Where are you?” “Where is your brother?” These questions expose our basic conflicts with God and with each other and call us to the practice of reconciliation in conflict. Then we had “Where is the house you will build for me?” This question from the prophet Isaiah points out that God’s dwelling place is among us, that we are God’s house. And even if we are fixer-uppers, God is not waiting to move in. Two weeks ago, we had the question, “When did we… see you?” That story calls us to see Jesus, to meet Jesus, in the poor and marginalized and to be with them.
       Today, we have a question that shows up several times in the Scripture: “Aren’t you concerned?” In the storm at sea, the disciples are afraid that they are going to die. Jesus is sleeping. “Aren’t you concerned?” Martha is toiling away in the kitchen getting more and more frustrated that she is getting no help. It is entirely unfair, so she dumps on Jesus, “Aren’t you concerned?”
       The question raises our trust/mistrust issues, our separation anxieties, our bad relationship history, our experience with people who should care but don’t, our many fears. The question also exposes the ways we are obsessed with ourselves and completely oblivious to people around us, even oblivious to God with us.

Volcano evacuees in the Philippines

A group from the Kusina ng Taal (“Kitchen of Taal” ministry) of Tagaytay United Methodist Church provides cooked food for evacuees in Guinhawa, Tagaytay City, Philippines. The Taal volcano eruption Jan. 12 on Luzon Island forced more than 68,000 families to evacuate. Photo courtesy of the Rev. John Manalo.
A group from the Kusina ng Taal (“Kitchen of Taal” ministry) of Tagaytay United Methodist Church provides cooked food for evacuees in Guinhawa, Tagaytay City, Philippines. The Taal volcano eruption Jan. 12 on Luzon Island forced more than 68,000 families to evacuate. Photo courtesy of the Rev. John Manalo.
By Gladys P. Mangiduyos
Jan. 22, 2020 | UM News

United Methodists are among those assisting some of the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the Taal volcano eruption on Luzon Island in the Philippines. 
Kusina ng Taal, an outreach ministry of Tagaytay United Methodist Church in Tagaytay City, began providing hot meals for evacuees on Jan. 21. Kusina ng Taal, which means “kitchen of Taal,” was created to respond to the immediate needs of evacuees in the Asisan barangay, which is 13.4 miles away from the volcano.
The Rev. John Manalo, administrative pastor of Tagaytay United Methodist Church, posted on his Facebook page that his church currently is ministering to 500 to 1,000 evacuees. 
The volcano, located about 40 miles south of Manila, began erupting Jan. 12, spewing hot ash and gas. According to the Republic of the Philippines’ National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, more than 71,000 families — an estimated 282,000 people — have been affected in the provinces of Batangas, Quezon, Laguna and Cavite. The group’s Jan. 22 report said nearly 149,000 people have taken shelter at 493 evacuation centers.
After the initial eruption, The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology warned that a much more dangerous eruption could occur. On Jan. 20, a top scientist echoed those concerns, saying the restive volcano is “recharging” and has a high risk of eruption.


Hope Rocks - for children

Baptism Thanks!

Monday, February 24, 2020

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Presentation on the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation

Thanks for staying for this presentation and for keeping Christ Church and the entire United Methodist Church in your prayers. At the front end, I warn you: I brought a fire hose and I hope you can drink from it. To help you, we have handouts with all the slides and with a chart of several plans that are before General Conference. (Distribute). And, I am always available for conversation around these questions.

On January 3rd, the office of the Council of Bishops released a proposal for the separation of The United Methodist Church. Immediately, major news outlets released stories about The United Methodist Church splitting up. Now, this is only a proposal, but the stresses in the denomination are real and significant. And these stresses are almost entirely focused on the single question of how we welcome and include our LGBTQ siblings (that is, our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters) in our life and ministry together, particularly on whether we will permit same-sex marriage and, by extension, clergy to be in same-sex marriages.

My first reaction to this is grief. I grieve the possibility that persons and colleagues who are personally dear to me could – in the very near future – be in separate church organizations from me. We disagree on this question. We are best friends. At this time, we are pastors together in The United Methodist Church. But very soon, we could be in separate organizations. I grieve for another reason: Jesus prayed “that they may all be one, just as you and I, Father, are one.” There is “one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all,” there is only one Church, no matter the distinctions and denominations we have set up. In the great and final day of the Lord those brand names won’t mean anything. As Paul writes, “The only thing that counts is faith working through love.” So, for me to see The United Methodist Church, with all our shared history, with all our personal connections, with all our amazing mission partnerships, to see that split up and diminished means that we have not been able to answer Jesus’ prayer “that they may all be one.” At the same time, on a practical level, if we can’t live together in one household, perhaps we can be good neighbors.

John Wesley said, “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may.”

Friday, February 21, 2020

Girl Scouts at Christ Church (2)

Another great Girl Scout troop. Thanks to their leaders and everyone else who contributes to help these young ladies thrive.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

A Vision Adjustment

Thanks to Dave for sharing the message while I was away at my parents!

Scripture Lesson - 2nd Samuel 7:1-17
A gray-haired woman in a white jacket carefully positioned the optometer in front of my eyes.  "Concentrate on the bottom line" she said. "Can you read it?"
"T..F..P..V..O.. or is that a C..."
"Which is clearer?" She asked.  The lenses snapped into place and the image changed slightly.
"That's fine," she said. "We'll make the glasses."
Eye exams... we have all had them.  Adjustments to vision...minor corrections to make things clearer. Bifocals when our arms get too short.  Trifocals when the music on the piano or the computer screen isn't quite in focus with either correction.
King David got a vision correction in our lesson today. With the help of Nathan the prophet, he got a clearer picture of himself and God.
As we reckon time it was about 1000 years before the birth of Christ.  Israel was a rag-tag tribe of nomadic shepherds and farmers.  They were in the "Promise Land", but besieged by enemies on all sides. 
King Saul had build an army to protect the rapidly growing population, but had limited success against his aggressive neighbors.
David was an uneducated keeper of the flock.  Today with his background he might be an attendant at a car wash.  Perhaps he would be the guy who washes the wheels before the car goes through the machine.  He had no formal education, no military background, no chance at a career.
On those long, boring afternoons in the hot sun of Palestine he would amuse himself by composing songs, and throwing rocks at mice.  He probably had some encounters with wild animals who saw his sheep as easy prey.  He got to be quite good at  throwing rocks, but most parents would see little future for someone who was really good at throwing rocks.
I can still hear my grandmother's voice saying, "You kids put those rocks down before you put somebody's eye out."
We all know the story of David killing Goliath with his sling shot and a rock.  Since my name is David I was always fascinated by the story of this boy hero.
It was not one of my Grandmother's favorites.

Boy Scouts at Christ Church

From raft races to hiking to Christmas caroling at Mountain Top Senior Care, we've got a fantastic group of young men, families, and leaders.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Fresh Expressions of Church ... at a tattoo parlor, dog park, hair salon, inline skating, and more

Burritos and Bibles gathering at Moe's Southwest

By Eileen Spiegler | FLUMC

As he was growing up, Wildwood UMC Pastor Michael Beck came to a crossroads.
An alcoholic and addict, jailed for dealing drugs, “my life was in shambles,” Beck said. When his grandparents, who had adopted him as a child, took him to St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Ocala, he saw the possibility for another kind of life.
“They were positive, loving people who gave me a family and community,” said Beck, who remembers the pastor mentoring him, helping him find the path to recovery, and telling him that he was destined to be a religious leader. “I cried out to Christ, and he came.”
Beck was brought to the church but knew, especially among people who were at risk or outside traditional society, that was increasingly rare.
“People aren’t coming to church anymore, but they want a church,” he said. “I knew I was going to have to go to them.”
His first posting as pastor was in the tiny town of Lochloosa, south of Gainesville. The church had a congregation of 12, so Beck’s blended family of eight children with his wife and co-pastor, Jill, doubled its size.
There, at the local diner, he started his first Fresh Expressions group, though he didn’t yet know to call it that. He just knew this was the place to connect with people.
“We asked what they needed and created a service for them, around their needs. It was its own church, and we connected to the existing church,” Beck said.
He built on the FE model that had been such a success in Lochloosa, creating a group for people in alcohol and drug recovery along with a gathering at a tattoo parlor.
“When we heard about FE, we realized this is what we’d been doing,” Beck said. “It gave us whole language process and the missing pieces to connect everything.”
Wildwood Associate Pastor Nicole Larrabee leads the tattoo parlor FE at Fat Kats Artistry, which began when they noticed many people in the recovery group had tattoos.
“It was like the spirit led to where it was going to be received,” Larrabee said.
To Brittany LeClair, who attends the group, it becomes more than a tattoo parlor.
“It’s God in the world,” she said. “We’re together, sharing communion, singing Amazing Grace.”
It has opened avenues that had previously not existed.
“It’s the opportunity to be with people who are never going to walk into our church on a Sunday morning,” Beck said. “We’ve seen incredible things – tattoo artists accepting Christ, taking communion for the first time, bringing us their prayer requests.
“All of the ingredients of church are here. We’re tethered to an existing congregation, and we’re studying scripture; people are talking about things they’re wrestling with and how the Lord is bringing them through. It’s a full expression of the church of Jesus.”
If a few Fresh Expressions are good, more is better.
Wildwood now has more than a dozen groups, including yoga therapy, Burritos and Bibles at Moe’s Southwest Grill, Church 3.1 exercise group, and Paws of Praise dog park....

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

When Did We? (Being With #4)

No video this week. Sorry!

1-2 Feb 2020, Christ Mountain Top
Scout Sunday, the Lord’s Table
Praying the Scripture, Psalm 34, pp 769-770
Children, Genesis 18.1-15 (OT Trinity, simple hospitality)
Message, Matthew 25.31-46 (sheep and goats)
Mission Moment, Scouts

Years ago, the regional shelter for homeless men was mobile. Guys would stay at a church for a week and during the day be bussed out to work or elsewhere. At that time, Debbie Evanko was our church administrator, and one of the weeks when the men were here they had a snow day. The guys couldn’t get out of the building during the day, and school was closed. So Debbie’s ten-year old son Jimmy came to work with her. They ordered pizza for the men that day and Jimmy came in and asked if he could eat with them. “The pizza was ordered for the men, not for you.” “But they asked me.” Jimmy and the men ate together and hung out for the day. On the way home, he said to Debbie, “You know mom, they’re just like us. Only … they have time for me.” These homeless men gave Jimmy a gift, and he gave them a gift.

Let us take seriously the cause of the poor
as though it were our own –
indeed as what it really is, the cause of Jesus Christ,
who on the final judgment day will call to salvation
those who treated the poor with faith in him:
“Whatever you did to one of these poor ones –
the neglected, blind, lame, deaf, mute –
you did to me.”
Archbishop Oscar Romero, The Violence of Love: The Pastoral Wisdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero, translated and compiled by James R. Brockman, S.J., San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988, p 196.

Monday, February 3, 2020

War-displaced families in East Congo

Mamy Liata, with crutch, and her family are among the war-displaced people in Eastern Congo who are receiving humanitarian assistance from The United Methodist Church. Photo courtesy of UMCOR Disaster Management Office, East Congo.
Mamy Liata, with crutch, and her family are among the war-displaced people in Eastern Congo who are receiving humanitarian assistance from The United Methodist Church. Photo courtesy of UMCOR Disaster Management Office, East Congo.
By Chadrack Tambwe Londe
Jan. 8, 2020 | LUBUTU, Congo (UM News)
Humanitarian assistance from The United Methodist Church has reached more than 5,500 war-displaced people in Eastern Congo.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief provided a $100,000 grant to support more than 700 families who fled to the territory of Lubutu, a United Methodist district of the Oriental and Equator Conference. The disaster management office in Eastern Congo distributed more than 200,000 pounds of food to 5,760 people.
Coordinator of UMCOR's disaster management office in Eastern Congo, Jean Tshomba, said each household of eight people received 110 pounds of rice, 110 pounds of maize flour, 10 liters of vegetable oil, 33 pounds of beans and 5 pounds of cooking salt.
Conflict between the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo and militia in the localities of Lowa and Kuwait and surrounding villages forced more than 18,000 people to flee toward Lubutu in the Maniema province between February and June of 2019.
Tshomba said many fled after their villages were burned.
“They fled the war and abandoned everything. (Now) they live in Lubutu with host families,” he said.
Mamy Liata, a widow and mother of five children, was among those who received relief supplies. Her husband was killed in the war and she was shot in her left leg, which had to be amputated. She was forced to flee with her family and abandon everything.
“I say thank you very much for the food we just had. I was living in great difficulty with my children. … It is now difficult for me to look for food for myself and my children. We live thanks to the help of people who are volunteers,” Liata said.
“I’ve been in a lot of pain since my husband died. I live by the grace of God. Please do not stop at this level. Please help us next time. Please do not forget us in your prayers, too,” she said.
Samuel Mayele Papy, who leads an association formed by those who have been displaced in Lubutu, said the food from The United Methodist Church will help him to take care of his family while waiting for the harvest of a field he has cultivated.
“In the meantime, I will be able to eat without much difficulty, as has been the case since we arrived here in Lubutu. We say a big thank you to The United Methodist Church for thinking (of us) during this very difficult time,” he said.

Where Is the Home? (Being With #3)

25-26 Jan 2020, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Scripture, Isaiah 66, selections (inserted)
Children, Matthew 12.46-50 (My Brother and Sister and Mother)
Message, Revelation 21.1-8 (dwelling place of God is with humanity)
Mission Moment,

Years ago, I went through an exhaustive and exhausting personal and professional assessment for serving as a church planter in our region of The United Methodist Church. Jim Griffith, who was conducting the screening process, sat down across from me and Robin and looked at my standard personality inventories: “Well, we’ve got an ax murderer here.” Those were his first words.
       As I talked about my long-term dream to start a church, he stopped me and asked, “Why haven’t you done it already?” Being more vulnerable and exposed than usual, and being pushed into extensive self-reflection, I said something I had not prepared or anticipated. “Because I did not have a home.”
       We’ve all got “stuff” to work through, and I’ve got my share. Adopted siblings who had been victims of abuse and who when puberty hit … well, enough about that. It was hard on them, it was hard on me, it was hard on our whole family. I insulated myself with Scripture and hymn and prayer and fasting. I left for college, my parents rented out my room, and I never came back except to visit over holidays. Then, when I became a United Methodist, my parents were sure I had lost the true faith and my salvation with it. Fortunately, I’ve worked through most of that stuff, except the ax murderer part, and I’m as normal as can be.