Aug 30, 2013

Tired of Television? How About a Good Book?

One of the best-kept secrets in Arlington, Texas, is the two fine FUMC of Arlington libraries. Don’t miss your opportunity to explore two of the better church libraries in Texas—one for children and the other for adults. We as a congregation should be proud of our dedicated church library staff. They not only order first-rate books for us to read, but also keep these first-rate books in good order.

Whether or not you are a Sunday school teacher trying to prepare a lesson, a child who loves to have parents read to her or him, or simply a person who has a curious streak, our church libraries have something to offer everyone. Come in and browse or even check out a few good books for the “back to school days” of September. For all of us, I say, to our great and dedicated librarians “Thank you!”

P. S. Remember the slightly edited and celebrated words of Mark Twain: “The people who don’t read good books have no advantage over the people who can’t read them.”


Aug 28, 2013

Sabbath Keeping

August 25, 2013 - Sanctuary from FUMC of Arlington on Vimeo.

Dr. David N. Mosser's sermon "Sabbath Keeping" from August, 25, 2013.
Sermon transcript available for download here.


Aug 23, 2013

It Is Well With My Soul

Last month, at two different funeral celebrations I heard the hymn, It Is Well With My Soul, and researched what turned out to be a moving story behind the hymn. When the great Chicago fire struck in 1871, Horatio Spafford, an attorney heavily invested in real estate, lost a fortune. About the same time his four year old son died of scarlet fever. Spafford drowned his grief in work, pouring himself into rebuilding the city and assisting the 100,000 who had been left homeless.

In 1873, he decided to take his wife and four daughters to Europe, but an urgent matter detained him in New York and he sent his family on ahead. He saw them settled into a cabin on the French ocean liner, the Ville du Havre.

During the night of November 22, 1873, as the Ville du Havre glided over smooth seas, the passengers were jolted from their bunks. The ship had collided with an iron sailing vessel, and water poured in like Niagara. The Ville du Havre tilted dangerously. In a scene as from the movie Titanic, passengers clung to posts, tumbled through darkness, and were swept away in power currents of icy ocean. Within two hours, the mighty ship vanished beneath the waters.

The 226 fatalities included the four Spafford girls. Mrs. Spafford was found clinging to a piece of the wreckage. When the 47 survivors landed in Cardiff, Wales, she cabled her husband: “Saved Alone.” Horatio immediately booked passage to join his wife. En route, on a cold December night, the captain called him aside and said, “I believe we are now passing over the place where the Ville du Havre went down.” Spafford went to his cabin but found it hard to sleep. He said to himself, “It is well; the will of God be done.” He later wrote his famous hymn based on those words.
"When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’

"And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll; the trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, even so, it is well with my soul."
Few will know the depth of sorrow experienced by Horatio Spafford. It is difficult to imagine the pain that comes with the loss of a child, much less the loss of five children. But, we all have losses to bear in life. Many of those losses are painful beyond description at the moment they occur. Where do we turn and how can we come to terms with a terrible loss and still keep sanity and soul intact? There is a sense in which each person must find his/her own way through the darkness. Bold-faced prescriptions from those who have not been there are not usually helpful. But to know someone has been there and managed to keep soul and sanity intact is helpful and hopeful.

So, are we on the way to being able to say: “It is well with my soul?”


Aug 21, 2013

Three Teachings From Jesus

August 18, 2013 - Sanctuary from FUMC of Arlington on Vimeo.

Dr. David N. Mosser's sermon "Three Teachings From Jesus" from August, 18, 2013.

Sermon transcript available for download here.


Aug 16, 2013

Listen for a Change . . .

My retired pastor friend Tom Butts from Monroeville, AL, wrote a story long ago that I have never forgotten because it is so true and so helpful for the prospect of being Christian and human—which I take to be the same thing. Can we listen?

Some years ago, the late Erma Bombeck began one of her columns: “It was one of those days when I wanted my own apartment—unlisted! I was not in the mood for small talk; however, it was on that day my son had chosen to describe down to the very last detail a movie he had just seen and punctuated his monologue with a constant flow of ‘you know?’ On that same day there had been three telephone calls—three monologues that could have been answered by a recording. I fought the urge to say, ‘It’s been nice listening to you.’ ”

Later, on her way to the airport, she indicated that she was forced to listen to still another monologue. This time it was the taxi driver talking about his son who was away at college. Finally, at the airport, she indicated there were thirty beautiful minutes before her plane took off, leaving her time to be alone with her own thoughts and to open a book and let her mind wander. It was then that the voice next to her, belonging to an elderly woman, said: “I’ll bet it’s cold in Chicago.”

Stone-faced, Erma Bombeck replied, “It’s likely.” The woman persisted: “I haven’t been in Chicago for nearly three years. My son lives there, you know.” “That’s nice,” said Bombeck, with her eyes intent on her book. Again the elderly woman spoke: “My husband’s body is on this plane. We’ve been married for 53 years. I don’t drive, you know, and when he died a nun drove me home from the hospital . . . . The funeral director let me come to the airport with him.”

Erma Bombeck wrote, “I don’t think I have ever detested myself more than I did at that moment. Another human being was screaming to be heard, and, in desperation, had turned to a cold stranger who was more interested in a novel than she was in the real-life drama at her elbow. She needed no advice, money, assistance, expertise, or even compassion. All she needed was someone to listen. She talked numbly and steadily until we boarded the plane, and she took her seat. As I put my things in the overhead compartment, I heard her plaintive voice say to her seat companion: ‘I’ll bet it’s cold in Chicago.’ I prayed, ‘Please, God, let her listen.’ ”

Do you understand that?


Aug 9, 2013

Youth and True Friendship

Sometimes, our young folks get a bad rap. The truth is we have some really great kids here at FUMC of Arlington. I am so pleased Joseph Bradley, our new youth director and soon to be pastor, is here. He will do great things with our youth, but they are also going to be a blessing to him—I am certain. School is soon to start, so I will wish all of our students the best and assure them that we will pray for them each day.

I want to share a story of one high school senior, and what his eight friends did for him to show their support and love when it was discovered that he had cancer. We sometimes forget the depth of compassion some youngsters are capable of displaying. The prognosis for the boy is good, and the doctors are optimistic, but to fight the malignancy he had to have chemotherapy. One of the things that bothered him most was the temporary hair loss caused by the chemotherapy. The thought of having to go back to school with no hair was painful (I know it is for me).
But his friends devised a plan to help him. To ease his pain and embarrassment, to show their support and love, and  as a gesture of empathy and authentic friendship, his friends did a remarkable thing—they all shaved their heads so he would not feel so alone and conspicuous when he returned to school! The front page picture in the local newspaper showed them standing there in a semicircle, with Lance O’Pry in the middle, all with their heads shaved. And the headline read: “Everything We Do, We Do Together!”

The high school principal said, “This is a unique bunch of fellows who are extremely close and extremely supportive of each other. I think it was super [the way] they banded behind him at such a critical time of his life.” One of the friends said, “We never would have done this as a prank. We did it because it had meaning. We were happy to do it.”

“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

PS. Don’t miss the youth led worship service this Sunday!!


Aug 2, 2013

Civility and Respect

From time to time even people in the church get into some sort of conflict or another. It happens everywhere. I see it in the youth, youth choir, Sunday school, Women’s group, men’s group, college classrooms, faculty meetings, marriages, families, state legislature, the United Nations, and on and on and on. So the issue is not if or when we will run into conflict, but the real question is how we handle conflict.

In the olden days, it seemed as if people used better manners and seemed to have a generosity of spirit. In previous generations it seemed as if people gave others the benefit of the doubt with regard to trust. It seemed that although we were not as diverse as we are today, that people had scruples about respecting both diversity and dissent, and about solving conflict through dialogue rather than some sort of appeal to the divine command theory to which the loudest screamer might appeal. Read the words of Jesus from Luke and then we can entertain a question:
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:27-31).

In a book that sounds much like the one Stephen Carter wrote about 15 years ago, P. M. Forni in The Civility Solution writes:
In today’s America, incivility is on prominent display: in the schools, where bullying is pervasive; in the workplace, where an increasing number are more stressed out by co-workers than their jobs; on the roads, where road rage maims and kills; in politics, where strident intolerance takes the place of earnest dialogue; and on the Web, where many check their inhibitions at the digital door.

Conversations and discussions no longer exist. It isn’t even about who is right or wrong. Both sides know they are right. It is not a question of changing anyone’s mind. How can it be, when people are “YELLING” at one another with slogans and epithets on TV, in their “Status,” and in their “Tweets?

What would happen if we did “good to those who hate us/you, bless those who curse us/you, pray for those who abuse us/you? I hope we find out someday.


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