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Showing posts from May, 2017

Three Invitations

Dear Grace Family: We have lots to celebrate around Grace! I just returned from a volunteer appreciation luncheon where nine Grace members were honored for serving at Wakefield Elementary: Tom and Vicki Busby, Le Lange, Ron Woodworth, Rodney Ward and Sue Ann Spencer, Rhonda Luckett, and Christy and me. It was a very moving occasion. The Wakefield Blitz has been a tremendous success for the school and us. Thank you to everyone who supported it. School starts again August 16!

Speaking of celebrating, we have several receptions happening at Grace in the next ten days: Joan Douglass, who has taught children's Sunday school here for 37 years, is retiring from teaching. We're honoring her with a reception June 4 during the Sunday school hour. There is a memory book and cards near the Celebration Center if you'd like to leave a note or well wishes.
That same day is Confirmation Sunday. You’ll have a chance to hear from our three confirmands: Erika, Miles, and Amanda, at both servic…

A Prayer to Welcome the Sabbath

I concluded my sermon yesterday with this prayer, found in Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. Only $6 on Amazon! What a steal for an amazing daily devotional.

Lord of Creation,
create in us a new rhythm of life
composed of hours that sustain rather than stress,
of days that deliver rather than destroy,
of time that tickles rather than tackles.

Lord of Liberation,
by the rhythm of your truth, set us free
from the bondage and baggage that break us,
from the Pharaohs and fellows who fail us,
from the plans and pursuits that prey upon us.

Lord of Resurrection,
may we be raised into the rhythm of your new life,
dead to deceitful calendars,
dead to fleeting friend requests,
dead to the empty peace of our accomplishments.

To our packed-full planners, we bid, "Peace!"
To our over-caffeinated consciences, we say, "Cease!"
To our suffering selves, Lord, grant release.

Drowning in a sea of deadlines and death chimes,
we rest in you, our lifeline.

By your ever-res…

Progress in the Healthy Church Initiative

Grace UMC recently decided to continue in the Healthy Church Initiative. If that doesn't ring a church bell for you, click here. It's been a very exciting process. The layfolk at Grace leading us through the Healthy Church Initiative are Tom Busby, Janet Chester, Stephen Clayton, Frank Holcomb, Carol Kennedy, John Murphy, Carolyn and Jim Nicholson, Cindy Pressley, and Jim Williams. These are amazing, dedicated people who love Grace. It's been wonderful just to listen and learn from their various perspectives. We've read six books together and met once a month to discuss how they apply to Grace. The lay team meets monthly with a similar team from Leonard UMC. Likewise, I meet monthly with a clergy group of pastors of several churches, each with very different histories and experiences. Both of those groups are led by a trained Healthy Church Initiative facilitator.

How can you get involved? Thanks for asking! Join in the conversation. Ask questions of the people named …

Put Your $$ Where Your Faith Is

I want to take a moment to brag on Grace UMC. Our church is known as a missions-oriented place. There are abundant opportunities here to serve God's people in our local community and around the world. It is one thing to say we believe serving others is important; it's a better thing to do it. One of my favorite verses is James 1:25: "But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act-- they will be blessed in their doing." So thank you to the folk here who serve in a hands-on way: Share: Taking It to the Streets brings food directly to those in our area who are hungry. We have members who volunteer with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, and Grand Central Station. Our monthly Legal Clinic will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. And as we come near to the end of a school year we received a note from the Wakefield Elementary staff thanking us for partnering with them t…

Finding Meaning in Suffering

"Why do bad things happen to good people?" is a timeless question, one that most or all of us has asked before. I know I have. One of my first experiences in ministry was working as a chaplain at Parkland Hospital in Dallas while I was in seminary. Most of the time I was on-call, the only chaplain on the overnight shift in one of the busiest trauma-1 hospitals in the country. My pager would buzz and I wouldn't know where I was needed: the ER? The burn unit? The neo-natal unit? I would call the nurse station, rush to the elevator, then silently pray: "God, the odds are good I will not be able to deal with the situation I am about to enter. At least not without your help." Invariably I found myself in the hospital chapel asking myself, "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

In North Texas this week, there were several opportunities to ask that question. A fifteen year old black student named Jordan Edwards was killed by a police officer in Balch Spr…

Life Long Learning

Several years ago I saw an advertisement in a church magazine for an event called the Festival of Homiletics. It was a gathering of hundreds of preachers from around the country for a week of worship and learning from leading pastors of mainline denomination churches (Presbyterians, United Methodists, Lutherans, etc). I had some continuing education funds to spend, so I signed up. I think the conference that year was in Atlanta. I loved it. It was great to sit in gigantic, beautiful churches, like Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, and listen and learn without having to do any of the difficult work of planning. It was a rare opportunity to be a participant in worship, not a leader.

That was probably the year 2000 or so. Since then I have attended the Festival of Homiletics (homiletics is the study/art of preaching) in cities across the country: Minneapolis, Denver, Atlanta again, Nashville, Washington, DC. I took a few years off while I was working on my doctorate in preaching (2…