Musing of the church

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.

Who is Jesus?

So the question was posed, “Who is Jesus?” It was the topic of this week’s sermon. Pastor Teresa listed all the things Jesus supported and did; spouted Republican views versus Democratic views of Jesus. The ol’ boy did a lot in only 3 years of ministry.

But the real heart of the sermon was, “Who is Jesus to YOU?”

I pondered that Sunday afternoon for a little while; between errands and chores. I pondered that during the week; between word duties and picking out crafts for VBS and driving here and there. I ponder this still.

The VBS material I was given has an alphabetical list of all the traits of God. A is for All-Knowing, B is for Beautiful, C is for our Creator…. You get the picture. I looked at the list and thought about Jesus being all of those things. OK, I have trouble with the Holy Trinity thing and I know that Jesus is the Son, so he would not be the creator. But then other scripture says he was there when it was all created. I hope the little ones don’t ask about this, because it is more than I understand.

However, the list did give me ideals as to Who Jesus is to me. Jesus is Love, Compassion, Caring, Forgiveness. Jesus is the Man among men who could lead us to be all those things to one another. Another of Pastor Teresa’s stories will stick with me in this. The story of the man who tried to help the birds on Christmas eve.

One Christmas eve, a man sent his family to the church to worship. He himself didn’t bother to go; he didn’t understand the whole Jesus, the Son of God, came to save us thing. While enjoying some coffee and quiet, he noticed the weather has started to turn bad. No fear! The family had the ‘good’ car. They would be safe. But then he heard a ping at his window, then another and yet another. He went to look and saw that little birds were hitting the window trying to get inside to the warmth. He knew what they wanted was shelter from the storm and thought that he had a barn that would work just fine for that purpose. So he went out in the cold and opened the barn door for the birds to come in. Still the little birds were drawn to the light at his window. He tried to shue them into the barn, away from the house, and still they pinged against the window. The man tried making bird sounds in the barn to draw the birds in. No luck! Frustrated that the birds were so stubborn, the man thought, “If I was just one of them. I could get them to understand the way to go.” With that, the Christmas bells started to chime.

I really liked that story in that it explained a lot of how I feel about Jesus. Following Jesus makes sense to me in that He tried to lead by example, to do as he wanted us to do. He tried to point out our errors and give us another way to act. jesus was the Great Teacher.

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 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.

The Son has Returned

It was a beautiful day. Bright sunshine, blue skies, slight breeze and music enjoyed by all. This was the setting for the sermon at DUMC last Sunday, October 22nd. We had the service outside as part of the Fall Festival. There were games, a bouncy house, a fun slide, prizes, food and music. Can you tell what I really liked?

Of course there was a sermon too. Continuing the parabole of the lost, this week the story of the prodigal son was explained. It seems that many storytellers gloss over the fact that the son that asked for his inheritance early was viewed as wishing his father was dead. The whole village was up in arms over the rude behavior of the boy. Pastor Teresa looked at how the village would have acted towards the boy as he returned — how they would have been ready to ridicule and harass the young man as he came back. That is until his father did the most unexpected thing — welcomed the child back with open, loving arms. Our Father wants to welcome us in the same way.

This past Sunday was a glorious day — a beautiful, yet hot, day. It was great to spend it with good friends and food. It was fun to listen to the host of singers that shared their talents with us. It was even funny when the canopy we were under tried to blow away. But it was the thought that we are always welcomed here in our Father’s house (or yard) that should have us running with joy.

Are you lost?

This week’s sermon discussed the paraboles of the one sheep of 100 that got lost and the one coin of ten that the lady lost. The almost comically mental image of the lady lighting a lamp in midday and doing Spring Cleaning even though it was not spring to find that one coin will stick in my mind for a while. But maybe it is only comical to me to because I have been there. I have searched the whole house with every light on to find my keys or my glasses or some other everyday item.

But what if you were the one lost coin or the one lost sheep? Far from where you belonged? alone? afraid, maybe? trapped? Would you not want some one to search for you?

Jesus searches the world everyday for the ones who are lost, alone, frightened! He searches in darkness and light. I know that he searched for me when I was wondering in the light. My faith walk was never true. I grew up believing but believing in what? God, surely. Forgiveness, most definitely. Needing to be in a community of believers??? There I faltered. I did not grow up in a church; I did not grow up reading the Bible; but I believed in God and Jesus. I am thankful that Jesus kept searching for me even though I was only alone without my community of fellow believers. I love my church family very much and I love to help develop a church family for others. Others may have been lost in darkness; needing God to search for them even harder than for me. But I am thankful none the less.

Next Sunday we will hear about the Prodigal Son. Now there was someone else lost in the light; fallen from grace; alone without a community to belong to. I will listen and glean a new meaning from the story as I relate to being the one that was lost.

The Busy Season

Tis the Most Wonderful Time of the Year….

I love Fall – October and leaving turning colors and temperatures dropping.  November with lots of holidays and time off from school.  Then comes December and Advent and Christmas and carols and singing and lights.  but this is busiest time of year too.  Candy to buy and hand out,  fruits and nuts to buy and bake into cakes, cakes and pies to decorate and all the food to eat.  ‘Tis truly a season to be thankful.

But how many of us take the time to truly be thankful?  Do you pray regularly?  Giving thanks and praise for all that you have in your life?  Or do you merely survive one holiday to spring into action for the next?

Our pastors are delivering a series of sermons on committing ourselves to God.  First we talked about reading the Bible regularly and yesterday Pastor Erin reminded us to pray regularly while in her PJs.  (Nice touch, Erin.) . My mother asked as we drove home if I read my Bible regularly and I had to answer no, but I get a verse a day on my phone, does that count?  It doesn’t really count if you don’t take time to read it.

But it is the busy season.  I have places to go and people to see and things to do and food to eat  Practice for the Christmas Play and Christmas Cantata and after-Christmas Choral show are coming up.  I’m not in the choir, but still… it is the busy season.

God knows you are busy.  He is busy too.  But like your parents and grandparents, He would like to hear from you..  Unlike your parent, God is easier to get hold of.  Any time, any place, you can pray!  You can pray while pulling weeds from a stone garden, or driving to the next event or practice, or right as you are going to sleep, or right when you get up. There are no special words to say, nothing special formula that has to be followed.  God would get bored if we all said the same thing everyday the same way.

So take the time to pray!  Call your Father! then call mom and dad too.


Mother’s Day

This evening, DUMC’s United Methodist Women hosted a Mother-Daughter Potluck Dinner.  It was great!  There are a lot of great cooks in our midsts.  Chicken, ham, turkey and stuffing, salads, and casseroles filled the tables.  Tea, lemonade, water, and coffee was on hand.  I was stuffed during the meal and again now just thinking about it.

The program that followed was a tribute to all women.  Some Psalms were read, a devotional about women followed, and a retelling of the interactions of Jesus and his mother continued the theme.  Then Rev Erin Daniels and her family filled the sanctuary with song.  Songs of praise were beautifully harmonized by three generations of the Gibson women, even included the little ones in the presentation. Despite the technically issues that were had, the ladies made a lovely presentation.

It was a wonderful thing to see my church family come together to celebrate the female strength that is helpful to so many in so many ways.  Thanks to the UM Men for cleaning up after the dinner.  That was a nice touch to a wonderful evening.