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Showing posts from January, 2009

Give Him Glory

I've enjoyed many things about working on my family tree : getting a better sense of our whole family history, reconnecting with distant (geographically or genetically) relatives, and especially seeing old pictures, documents, and letters. Last summer, my Great Aunt passed away , and my family has kept in better touch with her daughter, (my first cousin once removed, if you're keeping track), and she recently sent my mother some pictures and other things my Aunt Betty had that she thought we'd like to see. Among the items: A letter my mom wrote to my aunt when my mom was 11. (That's her on the left in the picture above, at about 8 or 9, with my late Aunt Nan, center, Aunt Bet, right, and Uncle Bill, the baby in the middle.) I don't remember my mom having many things like this to show me - things she worked on at that age. My mom is not a saver/journal-keeper/keepsake-storer like I am. So now I have this letter, and love having it, love a little insight into my mom&#

Sermon for Third Sunday after the Epiphany (non-lectionary)

(Sermon 1/25/09, Luke 12:32-34, Matthew 25:14-30) New Beginnings: Heart and Treasure John Wesley, early in his ministry, established some boundaries for himself related to his income. He figured out what his expenses were, what he need to spend and save. And then the rest, he would give. And he determined right at the start that he would keep the same budget regardless of how much he was earning. And so through the years, as his income increased, particularly as he became such a notable figure, Wesley kept the same budget, had the same expenses, and simply increased what he gave as his income increased. He already knew what he needed to meet his budget – the rest, for him, was left over, excess. I’ve always admired Wesley for his position, for his ability to stick to something that may have seemed like a na├»ve proposal for a young priest. I remember when I was about to finish seminary and start my first appointment. I was going to go from living off of stud

Reflections: Bishop's Convocation

I spent a few days this past week at the Bishop's Convocation (for the GNJ conference) at Willow Valley Resort in Lancaster, PA. Willow Valley is a very nice facility, if you ever have the occasion to be in Lancaster. I somehow wound up with a gorgeous room with a whirlpool tub in it, the gym on site is much better equipped than most hotel gyms, and the site is close enough to stores and restaurants while also being in the middle of Amish country. Our theme at this gathering was Prayer in the Life of the Pastor, and we had a mix of speakers. Our first was a presentation a bit off-topic perhaps, but one I was glad for: Larry Hollon, the General Secretary of UMCOM , shared a presentation on the new marketing/advertising campaign of the UMC, RETHINK Church . Hollon talked about looking to the future - the challenges and opportunities for ministry that our changing world provides. He talked about, for example, how Google's tracking of search terms could provide indication of a ris

Sermon for Second Sunday after the Epiphany

(Sermon 1/18/09, 1 Samuel 3:1-10, Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18, John 1:43-51) New Beginnings: Hide & Seek Sometimes people say that they’re the kind of person who just can’t say no. People ask them to do something, to perform some task, do some favor, sign up for some responsibility, and though the person asked really doesn’t want to, they find themselves unable to say no. I can relate to this. I understand how easy it is to become overwhelmed by tasks and responsibilities and how easy it is to feel the pressure to say yes to something that we really would rather not do, that we don’t have the time, the energy, the passion required to do. It’s hard to set boundaries for ourselves, to set limits, and find balance, in a world that increasingly wants us to be constantly available to do, do, do. That’s a real issue for us to consider. And yet, on the other hand, I’m afraid that sometimes we can use our working-on-saying-no to escape from saying yes when we’re too

Sermon for Baptism of the Lord Sunday

(Sermon 1/11/09 - Mark 1:4-11) New Beginnings: Water & Spirit Today is one of my favorite Sunday’s in the church calendar – Baptism of the Lord Sunday, the day we remember the baptism of Jesus. Last year we didn’t get to celebrate this Sunday together because I was on a cruise ship in the Caribbean somewhere, which I’m trying, unsuccessfully, not to think about! But I’m glad to be able to share this day with you today. In my ministry, one of my absolute greatest joys is in sharing the sacrament of baptism with you. Captured in this act is so much hope and promise. Captured in the water is the promise of God’s love and the sharing of God’s spirit breathed out into human lives. Today, we’ll have a chance to remember our own baptisms, and renew the vows that were taken on the day when we were baptized. If you’ve not yet been baptized, it’s a chance for you to listen and learn and anticipate, as you hear the commitments and hopes that come with the cel

Question: Musicals

Each year at FLUMC for the past several years, a musical is used as a focal point for the season of Lent. Given our proximity to NYC, and the presence of several talented musicians in performers in our congregation, using a musical as a focal point has been a unique way of drawing folks in during Lent. In the past, Wicked , music from The Chronicles of Narnia , and The Lion King have all been used as themes. This year, we're looking for a new musical. Currently, my music director and I have thought about Jekyll & Hyde or Jesus Christ Superstar. (OK, really, my music director has thought about Jekyll & Hyde, and I've thought about Superstar!) But I'm open to other ideas. What musical has the right kind of songs and themes to be adapted into a Lenten program?

What Might Have Been

So try not to think about what might have been Cause that was then And we have taken different roads We can't go back again There's no use giving in And there's no way to know What might have been (Little Texas) As another new year begins, I've been thinking about the year that has just gone by, and the years in general, that go by so quickly. Do you regret anything? Often, when asked this question, people respond that no, they don't have any regrets. I understand this answer, I do. One decision leads to another and another, and it's hard to regret one decision without regretting the place that you've ended up altogether. Regretting something means being sorry about what your life is right now, and hopefully, most of us don't feel that way. But on the other hand, are we honest with ourselves when we say we don't have regrets? Perhaps the better way to phrase it is to ask if we don't wonder what might have been . What if I had stayed an extra yea

Sermon for Epiphany Sunday

(Sermon 1/4/09, Matthew 2:1-12) Sing We Now of Christmas: We Three Kings Today is Epiphany Sunday, and it marks for us the transition between the Season of Christmas and the ambiguous season after Epiphany that marks time until Lent begins. Epiphany day is technically January 6 th – 12 days after Christmas – making today technically the 11 th day of Christmas. But we celebrate the Epiphany on the closest Sunday before January 6 th when it doesn’t fall on a Sunday. Epiphany is the day we remember the arrival of the Wise Men or Magi, men from the East from a sort of priestly class, men whose religious practices included an interest in astronomy, to see the Christ-child. The Wise Men visit Mary and Joseph and the child sometime after Jesus is born – he was maybe already a toddler by the time they arrived at his home, even though we see many Magi in nativities. They brought gifts for the child, believing he would be a king – gold and frankincense and myrrh. Gold for a king, fran