Apr 27, 2012

Book Carnival and One Mile Mission

I am so proud of our church and the merry band of workers who are now bringing us our third annual Book Carnival. It will be on June 2, 10:00 am–2:00 pm, in the Activities Building (across from the sanctuary on North Street).

Basically, the Book Carnival collects and gives away books to children who might not otherwise get any.

Each year, this grand occasion is not only a wonderful event for neighborhood families, it is a great blessing for FUMC of Arlington as well—and a splendid opportunity to participate in One Mile Mission. Our One Mile Mission projects remind others and ourselves that we not only confess Christ, but we try to put the principles that Jesus taught into practice.

You may support FUMC of Arlington’s Book Carnival Committee efforts by

  • Praying for neighborhood children and their families
  • Donating gently used or new children’s books—we have about 1,600 books so far (Goal: 6000 books)
  • Donating books from garage sales, Half Price Books, Scholastic, etc. 
  • Signing up to volunteer for part or all of the day
  • Signing up to be a Spanish speaking volunteer for part or all of the day
  • Preparing snack bags for each child
  • Placing lawn signs out the week of May 28 and retrieving them June 3

If you would like to help, please contact Rev. Kay Lancaster at 817.274.2571 or email Kay at klancaster@arlingtonmethodist.org.

P.S. I cannot tell a lie, this selfless endeavor makes me very proud as your pastor.

Apr 22, 2012

Stewards of the Earth

I can only credit Tim Coltvet with what comes below. As a kid in elementary school, I remember Earth Day was a good day for us because we got to go outside and root around in nature—and this was fun—but also educational. On behalf of those who understand that we are caretakers of God’s good earth, I want to thank Tim Coltvet for his thoughtful and thought-provoking words.
“God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth’” (Genesis 1:28).

Earth Day is today. Although this day is not acknowledged on any liturgical calendars, the fact of the matter is a lot of people in the church are talking about creation and our role as stewards of the earth. Pastor Kjell Ferris of Christ Lutheran Church in Blaine, Minn., and his wife Heidi are two such people. "Urban gardeners" might be another way of describing their commitment to being co-creators with God.

In a recent sermon focused on God's creation and our role as co-creators, Kjell said, "Human beings are created to subdue the earth. The word subdue helps us to understand that creation being good does not mean that the creation is perfect, in the sense of needing no further development or attention. The word subdue suggests bringing order out of disorder, drawing the world along to its fullest possible potential."

"Creation is not complete but is always changing; Human activity is crucial for the ongoing creation. God creates a dynamic world in which the future is open to a number of possibilities of which our activity is crucial. We are called not to passivity relative to the earth, but to genuine engagement, the nature of which will have significant implications for the future of God's environment."

As a pastor and a science teacher, respectively, Kjell and Heidi have convictions of faith and of science that fuel their joint passion for reclaiming sustainable living. They desire to educate future generations about the basics, which seem to be a long lost art. Namely, raising one's own food—both in their home residence in Minneapolis as well as at their faith community in Blaine, Minn.

As you approach Earth Day, consider some ways that your faith community might join others in caring for and learning more about God's marvelous creation. "When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?" (Psalm 8:3-4).

Apr 20, 2012

Following Jesus after Easter

[This essay by Bishop Willimon spoke to me and I offer it to you] 

I am still haunted by a long conversation I had with a man who was a member of one of my early congregations. He told me that one evening, returning from a night of poker with pals, he had a stunning vision of the presence of the risen Christ. Christ appeared to him undeniably, vividly.

Yet though this event shook him and stirred him deeply, in ten years he had never told anyone about it before he told me, his pastor. I pressed him on his silence. Was he embarrassed? Was he fearful that others would mock him or fail to believe that this had happened to him?

“No,” he explained, “the reason why I told no one was I was too afraid that it was true. And if it’s true that Jesus was really real, that he had come personally to me, what then? I’d have to change my whole life. I’d have to become some kind of radical or something. And I love my wife and family and was scared I’d have to change, to be somebody else, and destroy my family, if the vision was real.”

That conversation reminded me that there are all sorts of reasons for disbelieving the resurrection of crucified Jesus, reasons that have nothing to do with our being modern, scientific, critical people.

Theologian J├╝rgen Moltmann says that a major reason for disbelieving in the truth of the resurrection is that, if the resurrection is true, then we cannot live as we previously have lived. We must change or be out of step with the way the world really is. If the world is not in the grip of death and death-dealers, how then shall we live?

Re-posted from A Peculiar Prophet

Apr 13, 2012

After Easter

The next “big” worship festival for the church is the day of Pentecost, which for us will be May 27. Easter and Pentecost are tied together by more than just the calendar. The day of Pentecost reminds us how we were before God brought us together. Certainly the disciples “were all together in one place.” But they were like “sheep which have no shepherd” (Numbers 27:17, 2 Chronicles 18:16, Matthew 9:36, and Mark 6:34).

The disciples had repeatedly seen the resurrected Jesus over the forty days after Easter and then watched Jesus ascend. Then they simply returned to the upper room in Jerusalem and cast lots for Judas’ replacement. Beyond these things, the twelve, and other random followers, were mostly afraid, confused, and paralyzed by not knowing what to do next.

Suddenly this haphazard group of believers teetering on the edges of unbelief, or at least having little confidence in what God’s future held for them, experienced something extraordinary.
“There came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them” (Acts 2). 
They understood one another. No other force could unite a group this diverse as the Holy Spirit did that day of Pentecost.

The same is true today too. Only God’s spirit can unite people like us. Like a mother who seems to be the only one in the house who can get all the children pulling in the same direction, so too does the spirit do this for us. Even the lofty theologian Paul valued the mother-son relationship, writing: “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; and greet his mother—a mother to me also” (Romans 16:13). St. Cyprian said as well as any when he stated: “He can no longer have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother” (De unitate ecclesiae, vi.). So as we move toward Pentecost and through Mother’s Day, may we bless the mother church as she who nurtures our faith and life.

Apr 4, 2012

The Promise of Easter

Easter is rich in promise. New birth, resurrection, and hope for the future in the midst of life’s bleak reality are each a part of God’s promise to us. I like to remember those "saints" who have been an important part of my journey of faith. People from my life, like Sam Weaver, Kenneth Morgan, Charlie James, Tom Foster, and J. T. Wilkerson—and many, many others—were all folks who encouraged me along the way.

Standing in a cemetery last week reminded me once again of the Easter promise. This promise persistently encourages me whenever I think of the encouraging saints in my life. A great preacher of yesteryear provides a good picture of those faithful people, who are with us although we sometimes forget their presence.


Henry Sloane Coffin concludes a 1931 sermon with this picture:
There is a very beautiful lake in the Adirondacks about which the camps have been built so that they are almost completely concealed by the forest from anyone on the water. Unless some other canoe is in sight, one paddles along with a sense of solitude amid the mountains and the woods. But when night comes, the glow of the campfires touches one with the awareness of comradeship. The absorbing interests of our days usually claim our attention so fully that invisible presences remain unrealized. But when darkness falls, as it does in bewildering and confusing times, light gleams out for us and we become aware of the communion of the faithful in God (Henry Sloan Coffin, Christian Century Foundation, reprinted with permission from the January, 1932 issue of The Pulpit).

My prayer for our church is to ignore the critics. Anyone can tell you how to live life better. It takes a special and high-minded individual to be just, honest, and full of integrity when everyone else says, “Do it the easy way.” My prayer for this Easter, is for all of us to remember those who modeled the way of faith as recommended by Jesus when he said, “I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another” (John 15:17).

 
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