"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Sermon - "Rethink Church"
Features - 14th Sunday After Pentecost & Holy Communion
Scripture - James 2:1-10 & Mark 7:24-37
Theme - Today’s Gospel reading is a difficult scripture for us because it offers us a side of Jesus that we don’t often see. In Jesus’ encounter with the Syrophoenician woman, he uses a negative term that was common in the 1st century. But thanks to this woman’s faith and determination, he rethinks his mission and ends up healing her daughter. What does it mean for us to rethink what it means to be the church? Who is God calling us to reach with God’s healing and unconditional love?
Saturday, August 29, 2009
- While I wasn't able to incorporate everyone's ideas on which sermon topics to cover in 2010, I feel really good about the topics that have been chosen and how these topics will help our church to be faithful in our mission of making disciples for the transformation of the world. A big thanks to everyone who offered me sermon topic ideas!
- Since I'm still in the process of finalizing the sermon schedule, I won't include specifics, but there will be sermon series that will help our church to 1) attract seekers to our worship services 2) help us dig deeper into the bible 3) equip us to be involved in ministry and service 4) challenge us to new ministry initiatives 5) help us to take better care of ourselves; physically, mentally, and spiritually, and 6) enable us to celebrate the church seasons in new and fresh ways.
- My friend and I stayed at a beautiful home on the shores of Lake Wynoka in southern Ohio. (See picture above.) In addition to taking in the beautiful wooded area nearby, we also enjoyed a boat ride that took us around the lake.
- As always, our retreat included morning and evening devotions from the United Methodist Hymnal and we concluded our retreat by celebrating the Sacrament of Holy Communion outdoors.
- During our free time, we drove about 45 minutes to see the location of the oldest Methodist Episcopal Church in the Northwest Ohio Territory, Moore's Chapel United Methodist Church. We were able to take a tour of the small church building (not the original building.) We both were reminded that we are part of a rich history of those early Methodists traveling far and wide in order to "spread scriptural holiness throughout the land."
- 2010 is going to be a great year for us (including these two pastors!) to become more fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ through inspiring sermons and passionate worship.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Myra Christopher, President and CEO, The Center for Practical BioEthics
Keith Wisdom, CFO, United Health Care Midwest
Rick Kahle, President, Employee Benefits, Lockton Insurance
Hilda Fuentes, CEO, Samuel Rodgers Health Center
Dr. Ritch Richardson, Emergency Room Physician, Johnson CountyEMS Director
Brenda Sharpe, CEO, REACH Health Foundation
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
2. Read something good 30 minutes a day.
3. Review your replenishment strategy.
Monday, August 24, 2009
AVAILABLE - Health care must contribute to the common good by being available to everyone, especially those who cannot afford it.
ACCESSIBLE - All persons should have access to health services that provide necessary care and contribute to wellness.
ACCOUNTABLE - Our health care system must be accountable, offering a quality, equitable and sustainable means of keeping us healthy as individuals and as a community.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
- Over a two year period, this method helps me to read most of the bible (if I keep up with the readings!)
- It offers a balanced approach by including an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, an Epistle reading, and a Gospel reading on a daily basis.
- This method is based on the liturgical year which means that the scripture passages are always appropriate for the church season such as Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, etc.)
- Since Christians all around the world are using this method, there is a sense of Christian unity in knowing that I am not the only person reading these particular scripture passages each day.
A few other helpful pieces of information in using "The Daily Office:"
- The Psalm is always a response to the theme of the Old Testament reading. The Psalm for every Wednesday is always a passage from Psalm 119 which is a very long Psalm that highlights the importance of God's Word.
- Often times, the four scripture passages for a given day will be linked by a common theme depending on the church season. For example, Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter typically have common themes since there is a liturgical focus. Keep in mind that there are also many other days when the readings are not meant to be linked by a theme such as the Season After Pentecost which is the season the church is presently celebrating. During this season, there is usually a continuous reading through a particular book of the bible. Obviously, when there is a common theme, the readings will jump around a bit. The important thing to remember is that you are always getting a balanced approached to scripture from both the Old and New Testaments.
- The particular "The Daily Office" readings I use come from the Episcopal Church which is closely associated with the Anglican Church's selected readings with some variations.
- Don't confuse "The Daily Office" with the Sunday lectionary. They complement each other since they are both rooted in the seasons of the liturgical calendar. The Sunday lectionary is a three year cycle and "The Daily Office" is a two year cycle.
- A cycle of readings for private and public use goes back to the first centuries of the early church. By participating in this method of reading scripture, you are joining in an ancient Christian practice that has proven its worth over several centuries.
Sermon - "Like a Little Child"
Friday, August 21, 2009
God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, (Ex 3:6; Mt 22:32)not of the philosophers and scholars.Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace.God of Jesus Christ."Thy God and my God." (Jn 20:17) Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except God. He is to be found only in the ways taught in the Gospel. Greatness of the Human Soul. "Righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee,but I have known Thee." (Jn 17:25)
I have separated myself from Him: I have fled from Him,denied Him, crucified Him. Let me never be separated from Him. We keep hold of Him only by the ways taught in the Gospel.
Renunciation, total and sweet. Total submission to Jesus Christ and to my director. Eternally in joy for a day's training on earth."I will not forget thy words." (Ps 119:16) Amen."
Thursday, August 20, 2009
- That we were a United Methodist mission team from the US here to help put in a water pipe line for the community of Pachatulul.
- I thanked the community of San Lucas Toliman and their congregation for welcoming us to their country and community.
- I shared that the mission of our church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and we were trying to live out our mission by helping with this project.
- I thanked the pastor for his message and for how they are sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in their community.
Before we left on the last day, the pastor and his wife came to our hotel and offered a prayer of blessing upon our team. That was pretty special. A picture of the pastor preaching during worship is included with this post.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Let me close by sharing why I’m a United Methodist.
In 1950, my parents came back to their new home in Pennsylvania from their honeymoon trip to Florida. And when they got back, my mom asked my dad, “Which church are we going to attend this Sunday?”
My mom, assumed that my dad would say the answer she wanted to hear which was her church, the Presbyterian Church. But my dad didn’t hesitate. He immediately said, “Well of course, we’ll be going to my church, the Methodist church.”
Now, I don’t think that story will ever make it in the book, “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” It doesn’t really tug at your heart, does it? On one level, it’s true, though. The reason I’m United Methodist is because my dad decided before I was even born that he and my mom would start attending his church. And by the way, for the record, I love Presbyterians. Some of my best friends are Presbyterian!
So let me give you the more important reason why I’m a United Methodist. And this is just a recent example among many others I could give.
About this time last year, a friend of mine who’s a pastor, invited my church and several of the surrounding United Methodist churches to participate in a research program that was being conducted by United Methodist Communications, the media arm of our denomination.
They wanted to know what impact the media phrase, “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” was having on various churches around the country. So I said, “Sure, what will this research program involve?” And by the way, if you think about it, that advertising phrase is really just accentuating our Via Media approach to faith, where we’re willing to listen to all sides and perspectives. “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.”
Well, this thing ended up being a very tedious project, because as the local coordinator for this, I had to track down the Sunday School and worship attendance figures for fifteen surrounding United Methodist Churches, including my own, over a two month period. I also needed to make sure that each church was putting the “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” slogan on their front church signs. That was also part of the survey project.
I remember during the first week or two, wishing that I had never said yes to this project. Do you know what’s it’s like to try to track down fifteen churches with information over several weeks?
And on top of that, I was skeptical that an advertising slogan would have that much of an impact in increasing our Sunday School and worship attendance figures.
But anyway, I went about tracking down this information week after week, grumbling every step of the way, thinking to myself, “Why am I even doing this? This is such a waste of my time.”
During the middle of this project, I have a staff meeting at church and I asked the other pastor about a funeral he recently conducted. The local funeral home had a family who didn’t have any church affiliation and the family had requested one of our pastors to officiate for their loved one who had passed away.
So I asked him why this family was very specific in wanting a pastor from our church to conduct the funeral. Any my associate pastor said, “They chose our church because of the message you put on our church sign recently that says, ‘Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.’ When they saw our sign message when they were driving by our church, they told the funeral director that this was the kind of church they were looking for. A church that welcomes all people.”
Thank God it’s more than just a slogan.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Sermon - "The United Methodist Way – A Methodical Growth Plan”
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
- Spend this personal retreat time reconnecting with God through prayer, scripture, quiet reflection, Holy Communion, long walks, running, and worship.
- Pray for my new congregation, First UMC, Lancaster, Ohio, that the sermon themes in 2010 will help us to grow in what it means to be fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ for the transformation of our community and world.
- Enjoy God's creation.
Specifically related to the 2010 preaching schedule, there are three vital areas I will keep in mind in my planning.
- Be faithful to the church's annual liturgical calendar which helps us to stay in rhythm with the church seasons such as Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, etc.
- Reflect on the past, present, and future needs of the congregation.
- In addition to sermons which will be based on the pre-selected scripture readings from the lectionary, I want to design several sermon series around various themes. I have discovered that sermon series can be effective since a congregation can spend an extended period of time on a topic, rather than just one Sunday.
Regarding the planning of themes around sermon series, I want to make sure that I have at least one sermon series per the following four categories - 1) evangelism 2) discipleship 3) pastoral care needs 4) equipping for ministry/service
If you have a particular topic that you would like me to consider addressing through a sermon series in 2010, let me know by Wednesday, August 26. I might not be able to incorporate your idea because of a limited number of Sundays, but the more ideas I receive, the better the brainstorming will be! Some of the sermon series ideas that I thought would make the cut for 2009 didn't make it because of the specific needs of the congregation.
The picture with this post was taken at last year's sermon planning retreat. I was at a scenic park in the beautiful mountains of central Pennsylvania and took this picture at just the right time when the sun was setting.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
- The people are very welcoming and helpful to the new kid on the block. Our family has been received with open arms from day one.
- I love the intimate feel of the sanctuary with sections of pews in somewhat of a semi-circle with a balcony. It's a great environment for preaching and leading in worship since everyone is close to the front of the sanctuary due to the architecture.
- The music is high quality and a lot of intentionality goes into the planning of services by a worship team on a weekly basis.
- This is a multi-faceted congregation with all kinds of outreach and ministry not to mention two properties in addition to the downtown church to provide space for ministry. One of those facilities, Crossroads, was built in 2005 and provides space for a Wednesday worship, ministries, concerts, and a space for community groups to meet and hold events.
- I'm looking forward to a special lunch toward the end of the month in which the United Methodist pastors of the city will meet and see how we can more effectively make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by working together in partnership.
- I'm excited about a new three part sermon series which begins tomorrow on the theme, "The United Methodist Way."
We're off to a great start. Praise God!
Monday, August 3, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Sermon - "The United Methodist Way – Grace Upon Grace”
Features -10th Sunday After Pentecost & Holy Communion
Scriptures - Revelation 3:20-22 & John 6:35-44