Quarantine Week 4

Who would have thought that the whole world would be in lockdown? But here we are entering week 4 of the “Stay-at-home” order by the government. I always thought I would like to work from home, but not like this.

Palm Sunday was yesterday. The start of Holy Week was different this year. We were asked to put greenery our front doors and share pictures with our church family on social media. Some churches held parades with members waving palm branches from their cars as they drove a designated route. However it was celebrated, Palm Sunday was different.

I miss my church family. I miss the hugs and shaking hands that I used to think was annoying. I miss the smiling facing that I would just nod to when I entered the fellowship time. I even miss the coffee that was often not strong enough. They say you never know what you have ’til it is gone. Well, that is certainly true.

I wish i could say when all this will be over, or whenever it is over, we will all be safe and sound. We will be happier to get together. Until then, the church will remain as empty as the tomb. We will think about that emptiness in a new way this year. Empty may be the church but our hearts should be filled with love and compassion and grace. Maybe this time apart will make us all love the time we have together all the more.

How Deep is Your Faith?

Last Sunday, Pastor Teresa filled my mind with images of spring/summer with mention of kayaks and pools, especially swimming in the deep end of the pool. I remember jumping off the diving board into the deep end and enjoying the splash of cool water flowing over me. It was fun and refreshing.

I also remember that the games were played in the shallow end; games like keep-away and find the coin and Marco Polo. Lots of noise and splashing about came from the shallow end.

So the question comes from Sunday’s sermon, how deep are you willing to wonder out in your faith? Are you still playing games in the shallow end or have you plunged head first into the deep end yet?

Many people follow the ebb and tide to find themselves in each at some time in their life. So where are you in the shallow end? On what topic of faith do you find yourself troubled? When do you find it hard to “Love thy neighbor as yourself”?

I am by no means the greatest of faith havers. I am troubled by having to love someone that is hard-headed and steadfast in their ways as to not accept another one for something simple like color, sex or orientation. But Jesus said to “Love thy neighbor” — not that you had to like them. I can love and care and accept my hard-headed neighbor and the neighbor that they do not accept but I can also state that I don’t like the way they treat the other. Does that put me in the deep end of faith? Probably not.

I overheard a friend talking about a news article at fellowship time last Sunday. She was saying what a wonderful thing this couple had done by adopting the children of a family — all eight of them. But in the same breath, she said “Now they are two women and I’m against that, but what a great thing for those children.” Do I love the friend? Yes. Do I love the act being discussed? Yes. Do I love the “I’m against that” comment? No. I understand it but I don’t love it.

These two women are doing a glorious thing for that family and may God bless them for it. The fact that the women have been together as a couple for years was not discussed nor probably known. I only know this because my family and their family are friends. They are acting deep in their faith that the Father will provide.

There are many hard conversations coming up in the church. My hope is that each member will act like they are deep in their faith. That we put the commandment of Jesus first in our discussions. I will love my church family regardless of their stance. I may not like their stance, but I will try to stay in the deep end of my faith and love anyway.

Ever mark “none of the above” in a survey?

I was reading an interesting article from PewForum.org talking about the rise in the number of people in America who do not associate with any organized religion. When asked, they mark “none of the above.”

Now the article was from 2012 so the data is not all that current, but the reasons behind the numbers were interesting to me. People are not going to church not because Mom or Dad stopped making them — that is only part of reason. They think churches are too political, too money hungry, too interested in power or too conservative. Several people have been raised without the church influence — they might believe in God but not the church so much. They believe that they don’t need a church to tell them how to live or think.

I don’t think Dunbar United Methodist does that!

We don’t care if you are Republican or Democrat. We don’t care what your views on government are. Heck, we don’t care if you are only there for the coffee. We want you there. To share, to care, to be apart of something more than yourself.

That was another reason people don’t go to church: society is disconnecting from one another. We spend too much time on our phones or our computers, but not enough time interacting face-to-face. Sometimes the outside world is a scary place, but I think churchgoers see the good in everyone.

DUMC tries to have a place for everyone to belong: Sunday School classes, Women Circles, Men’s Fellowship Breakfasts, Wednesday evening classes and activities. We want you to make a connection, find a friend, share a talent or side dish at the community dinner.

My Sunday School class encourages us to be better people, and if you can’t, come share the story with us. We can all enjoy a good laugh.

Advent has come again

It’s the most wonderful time of the year….
Advent is back upon us. A time of hope, peace, love and joy. A time for family and friends; for baking and fun; for lights and gifts. A time to reflect on the year that is closing and rejoice in the year that will be.

I love Christmas — the lights, the crowds, the smells, the fun; but as an adult, I have lost the wonder, the awe of the season. This year, my pastor has chosen to give a sermon series on the Wonder of Christmas. She is encouraging us to explore the season with new eyes and try to recapture the wonder of the season.

Each week has a focus: last week (the first of the series) was the journey of the Magi to find the Christ-child. We need to be as diligent in searching for the Wonder of Christ this Advent season. Is it in the eyes of a child receiving gifts? or the feeling of love as we gather with friends and family? Is Christ present in us as we give to others this season? We are all called to be like Christ! What better way to show that then if the offering of love that comes so easily this time of year.

I hope you can come join us at Dunbar United Methodist Church this advent to renew your Wonder of Christmas.

Did Jesus ever get sick?

We read about all this stuff that Jesus did; turning water to wine, raising the dead, healing the sick, and teaching us to pray. But did Jesus ever get sick?

I just spent a week with a hacking cough, intermittent fever, and aches. I stayed away from people as much as I could. Slept as much as I could. Now I wonder, did Jesus ever get sick himself?

From the time he started his ministry, he was surrounded by people. In the temple, there were people. By the sea, there were people. Only during his forty days in the wildness before his ministry began was Jesus not surrounded by people. Some may think that he was sick during that time — arguing with the Devil, but was he really sick?

Not that anything is wrong with people. But with people comes germs and with germs comes sickness. Did Jesus ever get overcome by all the germs? I don’t know. Being sick doesn’t make for great drama. A sick Jesus would not make for an interesting person. If He came here to experience the totality of human experiences than he had to get sick sometime. Maybe during the first thirty years of his existence that is just glossed over in the christian Bible.