Jun 26, 2015

Only Angels Fly?

I noticed recently that David McCullough has written a new popular history book entitled The Wright Brothers and it was number one on the NYT bestsellers list as I write to you.

David McCullough has also written excellent books that you may have either read or heard of—he is one of my favorite writers. He wrote Brave Companions: Portraits in History, 1776, Truman, and The Path between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914.

Not only can McCullough write but he is an excellent narrator having put his voice to numerous documentaries directed by Ken Burns, including Emmy Award winning The Civil War and Academy Award nominated Brooklyn Bridge as well as many others. For this reason and more I look forward to reading about the Wright Brothers who have an interesting tie-in to us Methodist folk.

William Barker relates the story of a bishop from the East Coast who may years ago paid a visit to a small, mid-western religious college. He stayed at the home of the college president, who also served as professor of physics and chemistry. After dinner, the bishop declared that the millennium couldn’t be far off, because just about everything about nature had been discovered and inventions conceived.

The young college president politely disagreed and said he felt that there would be many more discoveries. Then the angered bishop challenged the president to name just one such invention. The president replied he was certain that within fifty years people would be able to fly.

“Nonsense!” sputtered the outraged bishop. “Only angels are intended to fly.”

The bishop’s name was Wright, and he had two boys at home who would prove to have greater vision than their father. Their names: Orville and Wilbur.

Come, Worship
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Jun 19, 2015

Father's Day

When we think of Father’s Day we think of family matter. Today I want to share an article by my friend Rev. Tom Butts, who is the pastor emeritus at FUMC, Monroeville, AL. He wrote this piece about five years ago.

The opening sentence of Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina is: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This is a good axiom, but all axioms, even good axioms, have notable exceptions when examined closely. There is no such thing as a completely happy family. All families are dysfunctional in some way and to some degree. There are no perfect parents, and therefore no perfect families. This observation includes families of origin, families of choice and families made up of loved ones to whom we are not related by blood or marriage.

We all struggle with personal conflicts and unexpected circumstances which cause us to unravel and sometimes break open at the seams. There is nothing that has a more profound influence on who we are and how we relate to other people than our early childhood experiences. We are shaped by our past. We all struggle in webs we did not spin, some of which were spun long before we were born. We cannot change our past. It is what it is. Our best hope for personal happiness and fulfillment, as well as our hope for developing the essential skills for successful personal relationships, is to come to terms with our past; our long ago past and our recent past. This consists of doing the emotional work of understanding and disengaging ourselves from the hurtful experiences of our past in which we were wounded, and embracing those parts of our past that are positive and strengthening. This is not an easy process, but one that is essential to our emotional well-being. It takes intentional effort and discernment, and it can be facilitated by objective counsel. It is a life-long task.

Sometimes we discover that not all of the unhappy things that happened to us when we were young were as bad as they seemed at the time.

Recently my seminary classmate and friend, Dr. William Doran, who is retired in Nebraska, sent me an email story of a personal experience that illustrates this salient fact. This is what he wrote: “I was on the high school basketball team. We were getting ready to leave for an important game at a school in another county. It had rained and then turned cold. The roads were iced over.  My dad called the school and said I couldn’t go to the game with the team. I had to come straight home. Needless to say, I was angry. Several days later I heard a man talking to Dad regarding the matter. Dad’s response was: 'I canceled sending a load of hogs to market that day because of the roads. Why would I let my son go out on them?'"

Most of us can recall some similar experience in which a parent who knew how to exercise tough love saved us from peril we did not understand at the time.

We live in a culture that constantly reinforces the illusion that we can make profound changes quickly with minimal personal effort. Some years ago Dr. Edward Teller observed that "Life improves slowly and goes wrong fast, and only catastrophe is clearly visible." In his book TOO SOON OLD, TOO LATE SMART, Dr. Gordon Livingston has a most insightful chapter titled 'Only Bad Things Happen Quickly.’ "When you think of the things that alter our lives quickly, nearly all of them are bad; phone calls the middle of the night, accidents, loss of loved ones, conversations with doctors bearing awful news . . . .

Apart from a last minute touchdown, an unexpected inheritance, winning the lottery or a visitation from God, it is hard to imagine sudden good news. Virtually all happiness-producing processes in life take time, usually a long time . . . (Page 82-83). In another chapter, Livingston opines that the statute of limitations has expired on most of our childhood traumas (Read the book!!). There comes a time in which we must accept the painful truth that we are responsible for most of what happens to us. Until we come to that understanding of reality, we will never grow up or find real happiness.

Father’s Day is a day to take stock of the investment we make in our family and the investment our family makes in us. Take time and recreate all the relationships that give our lives shape and contour.

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Jun 12, 2015

Junior High Mission Trip

We certainly want to give our Junior High mission team a Blessing as they journey to do God’s work in Granbury, Texas. We wish not only our youngsters a blessing but also the adult sponsors that go with them not only to mentor and guide them, but also to roll up their sleeves and go to work alongside our youth.

I have often wondered about being a Junior High person. They are at that age where they are too old for some things and too young for others. We might even use an old fashioned phrase and suggest that Junior High persons are those who are “betwixt and between.” I suppose this means that people of this age are “neither here nor there;” or “neither one thing nor the other.” People of this age are no doubt stuck “between yes and no.”

For this reason the church not only blesses these of an uncertain age, but we pray for them and hope that they can minister to others and that we can minister to them.

Our prayer is that as they serve others that they will learn fundamental values to exist in the world.

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Jun 5, 2015

Senior Sunday

I would like to offer this prayer for our graduating seniors this year:

Gracious God, eternal God, you have led us to curiosity
about our creation, ourselves, and all things unknown.
Let us never lose our sense of wonder about the world you have given us.

Help us celebrate the turning point in the lives of our graduating seniors who have meant so much to us.
We thank you Lord that you have let us watch them grow in the faith and mature as adults in our world.

God of Abraham and Sarah,
you lead us to new understandings when we least expect them.
Let us never see ourselves as too young, too old, or too wise
to learn new lessons from you.

God of the prophets,
you call us to speak truth with love to a reluctant world.
Give us courage to judge ourselves,
and wisdom to learn from those you send to teach us.

God of the rich young ruler,
you love us though we shrink from the challenge of discipleship.
Teach us to surrender our own wills,
that we might seek yours and draw closer to your grace.

Everlasting, ever-loving God, teacher, creator,
giver of knowledge and freedom, fear and courage, doubt and faith,
grant that we might always use your gifts to build a world
where peace, justice, love, and hope reign in wisdom and in truth. Amen.

I hope you (our seniors) know that our prayers as a congregation will always be with you.

Sincerely, your friend,

David Mosser

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Stay, Learn
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