Tag Archive: Methodist

United Methodist Lectionary Scripture for Sunday, April 19, 2009

Acts 3:12-19

Psalm 4

1 John 3:1-7

Luke 24:36b-48

Prayer Focuses
1. Those who have suffered tragic loses
2. Those facing difficult decisions
3. Church food ministries around the world

Thought to ponder
“Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”  — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived in Germany from 1906-1945. He was a theologian, spiritual writer, a Lutheran Pastor who played a central role in the struggle against Nazism.

Links of Interest
Hoops turn fears into friendship
Youth fast today to change tomorrow


Lectionary, March 22

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for use in the United Methodist Church (UMC) this week:

Numbers 21:4-9

Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22

Ephesians 2:1-10

John 3:14-21

Everyone on facebook is doing a “25 Things” list in which they divulge juicy, interesting, and sometimes embarrassing “things “from their lives.  To date, I have not participated in this “25 Things” phenomenon.  However, I recently discovered another “Things list” that is much more fascinating…not to mention spiritually worthwhile.

Some might view John Wesley as fanatical in his diary and journal writing.  He logged everything he bought from the store.  He recorded every time he prayed, ate, and read Scripture.  For Wesley, writing was vital to his spiritual life.  In addition to his daily logs, Wesley’s diary entries were often responses to spiritual questions.

So, I present John Wesley’s version of the facebook “25 Things”: John Wesley’s 22 Questions.

1.  Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?

2.  Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?

3. Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?

4. Can I be trusted?

5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?

6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?

7. Did the Bible live in me today?

8. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?

9. Am I enjoying prayer?

10. When did I last speak to someone else about my faith?

11. Do I pray about the money I spend?

12. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?

13. Do I disobey God in anything?

14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?

15. Am I defeated in any part of my life?

16. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?

17. How do I spend my spare time?

18. Am I proud?

19. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?

20. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?

21. Do I grumble or complain constantly?

22. Is Christ real to me?

Lectionary, March 15

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for use in the United Methodist Church (UMC) this week:

Exodus 20:1-17

Psalm 19

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

John 2:13-22

The Sacred Smell of Ashes

I’m not a huge fan on scented candles, incense, or Glade plug-ins.

When I occasionally went to the Catholic church with my girlfriend or extended family during high school, I remember the incense filling my nostrils…causing me to sneeze, cough, and choke.  Was this “ritual smell” really necessary? I wondered.   We didn’t do this at our Methodist church.

This past week, however, my sense of smell changed.

On Ash Wednesday, I used a small, metal bowl to prepare the ashes I intended to place upon the foreheads of the congregation.  After the service, I brought the bowl home, and place it on my desk (until I could find another home for it).  With the bowl sitting there, and a few ashes remaining, that’s when my sense of smell changed.

Since Wednesday, the aroma from the ashes has wafted throughout my room. While I’ve been praying, studying, reading for school, preparing a sermon…the smell of burnt ashes has lingered.  And there’s been something special about the loitering smell. There’s something Holy.  Something reminds me of church.  The smell reminds me of Ash Wednesday.  It reminds me of sacred incense that filled the halls of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome (on my trip this summer). The aroma raising from the used ashes reminds me of Christ and the cross.  It’s as if I am breathing in the Spirit.  God’s presence seems oh-so-close.

Perhaps there’s always been something sacred and special about holy smells.  Too bad my nostrils are only now aware of the beauty.

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for this week:

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

Psalm 22:23-31

Romans 4:13-25

Mark 8:31-38

Hands, SandOh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me*

In our busy –and at times overwhelming—lives, so many things grab for our attention, time, and energy.  For some, schoolwork seems never ending.  For others, work always consumes our best efforts.  Likewise, family and friends beg for our attention.  Financial situations, health concerns, and strenuous relationships all weigh down our hearts and minds.

In response, many of us try to “manage” all of these things.  We try to hold on to these aspects of our lives, hoping that maybe we can make, shape, and mold them to out liking.  We want so badly to be in control of everything.  We cling to different parts of our lives, trying to hold it all together.

Ultimately, however, what happens when we grip and hold things too tightly?  Eventually we crush them.  We squeeze the life out of our livelihood.

Over the next 40 days, let us make Lent a season for letting go of those things.  Let us take the time to loosen our grip on those things that burden our hearts.  Let us “let go” of feeling as if everything depends on us.  Let us “let go” of our un-Christ-like emotions.  Let us “let go” of our worries that hinder our relationship with Christ and others.

During Lent – Let go…and let God.

This Lenten season, let God claim our fears.  Let God have our worries and heartaches.  Let God be in control of our lives.  Let God, and the forgiveness He offers on the cross, be the hope we cling to.

My friends, “letting go” and “letting God” is possible because we know that God never lets go of us.

* Lyrics from “You Never Let Go” by Matt Redman

Lots has been made of the long-anticipated Wesley Study Bible.  Yesterday, mine showed up at my door.  While I haven’t spent much time browsing through it, my initial impressions are positive:

– The brown and green leather cover is extremely nice.

– The Bible has a good “feel” to it.  Not too dainty, but not too cumbersome.  However, it is bigger than I expected.  It’s shaped much more like a square then a rectangle.

– The print font and layout is accessible (for the most part, see below).

– However, the “notes” at the bottom the page are little jumbled.  Basically, the notes are just continuous text with verse references in bold print.  Therefore, glancing to the bottom of the page to see if there is a note for the verse you want isn’t the quickest task.

– The discipleship and “Key Wesleyan terms” sections will be beneficial and fruitful for both clergy and laity.

Ok, enough of my grumblings.  Recently, The Wesley Report highlight a great interview with Bishop Will Willimon concerning the WSB, for which he was an editor.

Have you heard this sentiment recently?

“United Methodists can believe anything.”

Sometimes, the proclaimers follows his our her proclamation with, “And I love it that way!”

As a pastor, I hear this “fact” from many members.  Even more, I frequently encounter this attitude in the hallways of Duke Divinity School (where I am a student).

While, we (Methodists) are not typically known as theological giants, we certainly do not hold to a theology that allows for anything.  We have the Book of Discipline, the Articles of Faith, and orthodox Church creeds.  Even more, one might say that the UMC Social Creed and the General Rules also captivate the spirit of Methodist “beliefs.”

As Craig Groeschel points out, and Matt Judkins comments on, Methodists are often commended for their “social consciousness.”  While Methodists are to be lifted up for their work in the social sphere, relegating their theological convictions to the background casts aside the other half of the story.

We are Methodists, and we do believe in something…specific…Scriptural.

It’s time we recover (and promote) our theological depths…which are partially the impetus behind our social consciousness.

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