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Showing posts from 2011

When Christmas Becomes Real

Since Christy began working full-time at SMU last October, some of our family roles have changed. I cook dinner more often, and I am the everyday chauffeur for our boys (James, 4th grade; Miles, 1st grade; Linus, pre-K).  As I drive Linus to and from school recently, it's been a joy to hear him singing Christmas carols in the car. Cruising up the Tollway yesterday, I hear this from behind me: "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh." Then the magic happens: improvisation.

He infuses the classic song with words his brothers have brought home from their school: "Now I'm going to sing Batman and Robin. "Jingle bells, jingle bells... Wait." Again: "Jingle bells, jingle bells... Wait." A third time: "Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg. The Batmobile lost a wheel, and Joker got away. Hay!" 

What Batman has to do with "dashing through the snow" I do not kn…

Merry Christmas!

Welcome to the Oak Lawn Church! We are very proud to be a diverse congregation, where everyone is affirmed as a child of God. If you are looking for a church home where everyone is welcomed, we'd love for you to join us this Christmas season.

We are very excited about Christmas worship at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church this year. We will offer three Christmas Eve worship experiences. The first, at 3:00 p.m., will be a family service led by our Associate Pastor Kerry Smith. The others, 5:00 and 11:00 p.m., will be traditional services led by Senior Pastor Frank Drenner. The celebration continues Christmas morning. Following a brunch at 9:30 a.m., as our Associate Pastor Gregg Alan Smith leads our worship at 11:00. Please join us this year for a wonderful Oak Lawn Christmas!

Christmas Eve Worship, Saturday December 24
3:00 p.m. Family Service
5:00 and 11:00 p.m. Traditional Services

Christmas Morning, Sunday December 25
9:30 a.m. Brunch
11:00 a.m. Christmas Day Worship

The Peace and…

Partners for Sacred Places

A couple of weeks ago I received a call from Mr Bob Jaeger, President of Partners for Sacred Places, an organization dedicated to helping established churches further their mission. He asked if I had received a letter from him—that I would be very pleased with the news. I had not, so he faxed it to me. Oak Lawn UMC has received a $100,000 grant! It will be used for renovations/improvements to our facility (our Trustees will decide exactly where the money will be spent—but it will not be for the operations budget). What a surprise! Joy! Glory! Halleluiah! I immediately notified David Shuford, Chair of Trustees.  Upon collecting himself from the floor he was as overjoyed as I.
Partners for Sacred Places (sacredplaces.org) began its work in 1989. Here’s a summary of its work: Partners for Sacred Places brings together a national network of expert professionals who understand the value of a congregation's architectural assets, its worth as a faith community, and the significance of it…

Flawed Assumptions- delivered at OLUMC Nov 13, 2011

The other day I was in Sam's and the Christmas music was blaring! Every HDTV had a red ribbon on it, there were aisles of gift wrap, even the familiar bell ringing of the Salvation Army guy. As I left a guy in front of me said to the woman at the door, "Christmas is going to go and y'all will be so tired of all this music!" Holiday cheer for everyone! Yes, nothing rings in the holidays like people being upset about celebrating them too early. One home in our neighborhood had lights up the morning after Halloween. Last night as we came home we saw more lights going up. Through the miracle of Facebook I know of some folk who already have their Christmas tree up-but for their safety I will keep them anonymous.  We're going to wait a few more weeks before we decorate the church for Xmas- Saturday December 3 to be exact. The way the Christian calendar works is different from commercial observances. Christmas is a season, but it's only 12 days, and it begins- not …

Comments shared at a remembrance service for the Cancer Support Community of Dallas

1 There is a time for everything,     and a season for every activity under the heavens:  2 a time to be born and a time to die,     a time to plant and a time to uproot,   3 a time to kill and a time to heal,     a time to tear down and a time to build,   4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,     a time to mourn and a time to dance,   5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,     a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,   6 a time to search and a time to give up,     a time to keep and a time to throw away,   7 a time to tear and a time to mend,     a time to be silent and a time to speak,   8 a time to love and a time to hate,     a time for war and a time for peace. Those are the familiar words from the Book of Ecclesiastes. Even if you have not read them in the Bible you've probably heard them on the radio- the classic song TURN,TURN,TURN by The Byrds was a smash hit in 1965, and, apart from the last line, is based entirely on this text. According …

feedback from a guest to oak lawn umc

I am always interested in how guests, particularly first timers, experience the church. So when I learned that a dear friend from a former congregation I served joined us for worship last month, I was eager to hear her reflections (we were out of town that Sunday). Here are some of her thoughts:
I was warmly greeted by ushers as I arrived in the rain exactly at 11AM.  I heard the bells or chimes.  I did not know how to enter the building.  I followed a couple up the steps to the front entrance.  I gladly took a seat in the rear center.  Took me a few minutes to get my bearings in a new place.  I understood the order of worship from the guide.  It was Children's Sunday though they had (in my opinion) limited participation in the service.  I believe they paraded off to children's church.  They blessed us with a song near the end. People around me were friendly and introduced themselves.  There was some trouble finding my way out.  Since it was still raining, I wanted to go out …

check your cliches at the door

ok, so it's november, meaning two things: the weather is officially amazing (we woke up to a 60 degree house this morning!), and it's time to roll out the thanksgiving cliches. someone discovered this poster published by nordstrom in 2007 and it began to pop up all over facebook:

(i imagine more people downloading and reposting.)
someone even said on a friend's wall: "if that's true i am definitely shopping there for Christmas!" and the cynic in me said, "kudos to nordstrom's marketing team!"
now, don't get me wrong: i love thanksgiving. it is my favorite holiday. if you have attended any church i have served you've heard me speak of the "three f's" of thanksgiving: food, family, and football. it's simple, little stress, and great fun. but here's the deal: why does it bug us so much for Christmas stuff to go on display in late october or early november? this and its cliche cousin about the commercialization of Chris…

Trade Denied/Grace Realized

This week several teams in the NFL traded players.One trade, between the Detroit Lions and the Philadelphia Eagles, would have swapped running back Jerome Harrison for running back Ronnie Brown.But the trade did not happen. Both players were required to undergo a physical before the trade was made official; upon seeing the results of Harrison’s physical, the trade was voided.According to ESPN, the physical revealed a brain tumor.If this proposed trade had not happened, it is impossible to say when or if Harrison’s tumor would have ever been discovered.Fortunately it is in the very early stages, and he hopes to make a full recovery.
Have you ever accidentally tripped upon grace? Ever had one of those “ah-ha moments” when the universe seemed to tumble together in the right order?I have no idea if Mr Harrison is a spiritual/religious guy or not, but I suspect upon hearing the news of his physical he saw life in a different light.And I imagine there was more than a little bit of gratitud…

Kickin in the Doors

I grew up a Houston Oilers fan, and as such I hated the Dallas Cowboys. When I was a kid, The Oilers were coached by the loveable, Texas cliché Bum Phillips, father of former Cowboys coach Wade Phillips.  The Cowboys, on the other hand, were coached by the stoic Tom Landry. The Oilers in the late 1970s were a powerful team, led by football legend Earl Campbell.  As much as I disliked the Cowboys, I really hated, and still do this day, the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Every year they seemed to knock my team out of the playoffs. After one such defeat, the Oilers returned to the Astrodome, packed full of adoring fans, holding signs which said, “Luv ya blue.” Bum Phillips was handed a microphone and he uttered these words in the thickest Texas accent one can imagine:
"Last year we knocked on the door. This year we beat on it. Next year we're going to kick [it] in."
The [it] replaces the more colorful words used by Coach Phillips. Unfortunately the Oilers kicked nothing in again the …

A Response to the Eraseboard

The other day someone left a message on a dry ease board in a classroom at the church. Someone spent several minutes explaining why individuals in our congregation should change who they are- to conform to this person's biblical understanding.  Words like "Repent!" were there, alongside phrases like, "God does not support homosexuality," "God loves the sinner, but hates the sin," and "Don't wait, be straight!". Several people saw this, and responded with anger, frustration, or disgust. How should we respond?

Recently we had a sermon series called "Christians Behaving Badly," and this type of situation was exactly what we were concerned about. Those with one perspective feel compelled to share it, without sensitivity to how it will be received. Oak Lawn UMC is a place that values inclusivity in everything we do. Every Sunday I stand before the congregation and say something like this: "We are proud to be a plac…

all a's

yesterday i had a great day off.  after a wonderful breakfast, i went to the cinema for a double feature: moneyball and drive.  drive i knew nothing about, except that after seeing crazy stupid love i became a ryan gosling fan; moneyball, on the other hand, was a book by michael lewis, which i read several years ago.  as a baseball junkie, i was fascinated by the idea that baseball could be remarkably predictable: formulas and calculations, not the physical or psychological cliches we hear about during every game, would determine which players were successful.

after the 2001 season, the a's lost some key players to richer teams.  they decided to overhaul their system of player evaluation and development.  they wanted players to walk more-- on base percentage (obp) was their most important statistic, not home runs or batting average.  they were not interested in avoiding errors (the book argues against the use of the term "error"-- why does a moral term like that belong …

Oak Lawn Vision Quiz

We’re beginning a process for establishing a new vision for Oak Lawn—how appropriate as we gather this Sunday to celebrate 137 years of ministry!  As an act of worship today we will complete a brief survey together.  Next week members of our Church Council will host listening sessions, where members and friends of Oak Lawn can come together for a time of sharing hopes and dreams.  There are also opportunities for online discussions.  Check out our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/OLUMC, follow me on Twitter: @revdrfd3, or post to my blog: www.pastorfrank.blogspot.com. Part of the vision process is knowing what is going on in our community.  Based on some demographic information offered through the North Texas Conference (brought to my attention by Joan Wu and Patrick Aunkst), here’s a quiz:
Which group will grow between today and 2015: Those with less than a ninth grade education, or those with a college education?
By 2015, most households in 75219 will have an income of: a.Less than …

Swords into Plowshares

“Where were you on September 11?”I don’t know how many times I have heard or seen that question asked over the past couple of weeks.Most of us can say exactly where we are when we heard the news of the attacks on our country.Christy and I were in our apartment on Henderson Avenue getting ready for work.We were watching the Today show, which was rare for me.We watched live, as most of here and billions around the world did, as the second plane hit the World Trade Center.We were horrified, unsure what to do next.She drove to her job, near SMU, and I drove here, where I served as Associate Pastor.I remember driving along Turtle Creek listening to the radio and worrying about Dallas being attacked.It was doubly terrifying for me—Christy and I had just learned the day before, September 10, that she was pregnant with our first child, James.Throughout the day I struggled with guilt, watching and reading of great human suffering, while at the same time feeling joy about our own news.
When I …