Pastor's BlogPastor's Blog
by Rev. Kevin Miller

     Feel free to read and comment as I share my thoughts on a variety of topics that I hope you find interesting or uplifting.  

Posted by Kevin Miller on OP1er @ 13:52

AN OPEN LETTER TO WHOEVER HAPPENS TO READ THIS…

From: Kevin T. Miller, ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church since 2006, currently serving as Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Valparaiso, Indiana

The United Methodist General Conference held last week in St. Louis has come to a close, and the last few days have gone…well, I hate to say it, but I told you so:

  • Various media outlets have declared that the UMC faces “a likely surge of defections…” and that we are a divided church.
  • Nobody “won”!   This is a direct quote from a clergy friend who attended as an observer: “I am not jumping for joy. I am extremely discouraged by the level of dysfunction found in our top legislative body. We are broken, and this GC did NOT act in a way that contributed to healing any of that dysfunction.”
  • The rhetoric is still occurring with both sides accusing the other side of coercion and bribery for the votes of international delegates who make up roughly 42% of the worldwide church.
  • Pastors and laity are upset and threatening to leave the church because the vote didn’t go their way.
  • But, let’s be honest about it – if the One Church Plan had been adopted, the script would be identical with a different cast.   

If you are not aware, after much debate – which was rarely civil and often embarrassingly contentious – the delegates (representing churches on five continents) voted to adopt the “Traditional Plan” which maintains the language of the UM Discipline that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and prohibits self-avowed homosexuals from being ordained as clergy as well as our sanctuaries being used for same-sex weddings.  Clergy are also prohibited from officiating in such ceremonies. 

This section of the Discipline has been debated with passion and conviction at every General Conference since 1972 (the UMC was created in 1968 by a merger of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church).  But, regardless of where you fall on this particular issue, what has never been debated is what we still hold to be a non-negotiable truth: All persons are of sacred worth, created in the image of God.

If in any way, this decision has hurt you or made you feel that you are “less than” anyone else, know that your value to God through Jesus Christ has no boundaries; know that you truly are a person of sacred worth and you matter to God; you matter to the church, and you matter to me.  No matter what decision is made in any area of General Conference, this will always be non-negotiably true.

One of the challenges that comes with being the Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Valparaiso, Indiana is the wide diversity of theology and thought in the pews.  Since the decision, I have had conversations with some who enthusiastically support the vote; with some who strongly disagree with the decision, and with a few who are personally devastated and are rethinking their commitment to this church. 

Interesting factoid: The diversity of this church – more so than any church I’ve been connected with – reflects the diversity of the global United Methodist Church.  And to me, that is a strength.  If General Conference proved anything, it is that there is a wide diversity of deeply held opinions.  We are a small part of a global church, which includes the growing church in Africa, where homosexuality is a crime in 37 countries.  I’m not saying this is right; I’m pointing it out as a reality.  We are part of a world-wide ministry which means we stand with and support churches doing ministry in completely different contexts than our own.

The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, is often (incorrectly) attributed with writing, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things love.”  This thought didn’t originate with Wesley, but it is powerful and applicable for us in the church in 2019.  So what is essential?  I believe four things are absolutely essential in today’s church:

  • Collaboration – now more than ever, we need to work together, if not for the sake of the church, for the sake of Jesus’ message for the world.
  • Peacemaking – and peacekeeping.
  • Unity     (John 17:22)
  • Love     (John 15:14)

This should define us as a people and as a church.  Let us continue to be about the essential work of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

In a spirit of collaboration, peace, unity and love,

Pastor Kevin

Sue Clemens said...

Posted on OA1er @ 0:05 -
Thank you Pastor Kevin. I appreciated your words - essentials are essential!

Jodie black said...

Posted on OP4er @ 15:59 -
I appreciate your comments & the sermons leading to this General Conference. We are all God’s children & loved by his Grace. What a blessing to be part of His family.

Judy Hain said...

Posted on OP6er @ 17:51 -
I found it encouraging to read your comments. Thank you.

Marlene Versteeg said...

Posted on OA6er @ 5:42 -
Very good. I needed to hear this. Thank you for your leadership.

Harriet Fagan said...

Posted on OP6er @ 17:03 -
Very well stated. Thank you, Kevin, for your candidness and leadership.

Lee & Barb Ranger said...

Posted on OP5er @ 16:23 -
Thank you, Kevin. Regardless of the thinking and opinion of the worldwide church, we need to know your view of this important matter. You are our leader and we need to know that you agree that each of us is a child of God, and we are loved, unconditionally.

Brenda virden said...

Posted on OA8er @ 7:45 -
Thank you Pastor, I have needed your thoughts on this.

Joan McPherson said...

Posted on OA12er @ 23:59 -
Thank you!

Susan Larson said...

Posted on OP11er @ 22:35 -
Thank you and always remember don’t let anyone or anything keep you from joy in the Lord.

Margie Miller said...

Posted on OP8er @ 19:15 -
Thank you Pastor Kevin for your words and leadership

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Lenten Opportunities

Posted by Kevin Miller on OP2er @ 14:26

The term “Lent” comes from an Anglo-Saxon word, which means “spring.”  Traditionally, it has been used as a time of fasting and preparation for Easter.  This year, Lent at First United Methodist Church will be a time of worship, growth and reflection.  There will be multiple opportunities for you to participate and grow.  You can join in every opportunity or select those that fit into your schedule best.  In any case, you are invited take advantage of these opportunities as a way of building your relationship with Jesus.

Common Daily Devotional    Copies of the book, Divine Friendship will be available at the Events Desk in Fellowship Hall.  Each book is $11.  Take time daily to spend time with Jesus and renew and strengthen your friendship with him.  This encouraging book reminds us that we are beloved children of a God who deeply desires friendship with us.  Each daily meditation helps us realize that through friendship with God we will satisfy our hearts’ yearnings.

Wed., March 6                        Ash Wednesday Services        12:15 p.m.  &  7:00 p.m.        

Worship Series begins Sunday, March 10 with the theme, The Man from Galilee focusing on different aspects of Jesus from the perspective of Matthew.   Join us every Sunday morning at 8:00, 9:15 or 11:00.

20-Minutes with God – Every Wednesday during Lent..

We are joining three other churches and the Valparaiso Family YMCA to provide a truly unique ecumenical worship experience during the season of Lent.  Join us for 20-Minutes with God every Wednesday beginning at 12:00 noon as we worship with other faith communities and break bread together.  The format will be a short worship service followed by a light meal and fellowship.  A freewill offering will help offset the cost of the meal.  You are also asked to bring a non-perishable food item that will help our area food pantries.  Join us:

            March 13 – First United Methodist Church, 103 Franklin St.

            March 20 – St. Paul’s Catholic Church, 1855 Harrison Blvd.

            March 27 – Living Hope Community Church, 1115 Calumet Ave.

            April 3 – Trinity Lutheran Church, 201 N. Washington St.

            April 10 – Valpo Family YMCA, 1201 Cumberland Crossing

 

Study Groups – Brand: New – a 5-session study written and presented by Andy Stanley.

How should the world view the church?  Unfortunately, we’ve created a brand for the church that Jesus never intended.  But we have the opportunity to give everyone a Brand: New perspective.

The study is provided as a follow-up to the three Saturday morning conversations that took place on November 11, January 5, and March 2.  How is God calling us as a church and how can we re-create ourselves to reach the next generation?

This class will be offered at two different times:

Fridays at 10:00 a.m. beginning March 15 and ending April 12.  Led by Pastor Dee Miller and Janice Harris.

Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. beginning March 20 and ending April 17.  Led by Pastor Kevin.

If you miss a session, you can watch the week’s lesson on Right Now Media or at northpoint.org/messages/brand-new/

 

HOLY WEEK SCHEDULE

            Thursday, April 18      Holy Thursday Communion Service at 12:15 p.m.

            Walk With Jesus begins at 6:00 p.m.

EVERYONE is invited to this is a powerful, interactive, multi-sensory event that will guide you through Jesus’ last week on earth.  Designed especially for family members to experience together; this event will help all of us discover Easter in a new and unforgettable way. 

Families will gather in upper Wesley Hall and – (1) travel to Jerusalem for Palm Sunday; (2) sit down to witness the Last Supper; (3) pray in the garden of Gethsemane; (4) discover the sacrifice of Good Friday, and (5) celebrate freedom from sin at the empty tomb on the first Easter morning!     Join us as we bring Jesus’ last week to life!

Want to be part of bringing this event to life?   Come to planning meeting at the church on Tuesday, February 19 at 6:00 p.m.

           

Friday, April 19           Good Friday Cantata & Tenebrae Service at 7:00 p.m.

                                                The Seven Last Days performed by our Choir

            Sunday, April 21         Resurrection Sunday Celebration at 8:00, 9:15 & 11:00 a.m.

I'm excited about the opportunities for growth as winter turns to spring and we celebrate God's gift of His Son.  Join us!

PK

Sue C said...

Posted on OP7er @ 18:12 -
All these opportunities look awesome!!

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Posted by Kevin Miller on OA11er @ 11:55

The Road Ahead…

My in-laws shared some bad news with me recently: time accelerates when one retires rather than slow down. 

As I age, I find the days and weeks going by much too quickly.  What seemed like an eternity when I put something on my calendar arrives more quickly.  And so it is with the United Methodist Church’s General Conference coming up next month.

If you’re not aware, the United Methodist Church (UMC) is a world-wide denomination.  Every four years, delegates (clergy and lay) from around the world gather to celebrate ministry as well as set policy. This is called “General Conference.”   At the Conference in July, 2016, the delegates decided they had reached an impasse around divisive issues of homosexuality, the definition of marriage and rites of ordination.   These topics have been debated at the last 12 General Conferences (yep…48 years).

In response, the Council of Bishops formed a “Commission on the Way Forward” to bring back recommendations and called for a special General Conference to be held on February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri.  This time is now fast-approaching. 

Last summer, the Commission released their recommendations to the Council of Bishops – three plans that will come before General Conference for consideration, debate and, possibly, vote.  For a history and summary of the Commission as well as a summary of the three plans, explore these videos: https://vimeo.com/album/5619344

Whether you are fervently United Methodist in your doctrine and faith or don’t even know what a United Methodist is, this decision impacts you and this church.  Some of you have already decided that if General Conference makes a decision you don’t agree with, you’re gone!  Before you do that, I ask you to take a deep breath.

A couple of months ago, my best friend in ministry, and twice-a-month breakfast companion, and I decided to do something we’ve never done before – collaborate on a sermon series.  And the topic is General Conference.  So we went away for 24 hours and prayed and talked and prayed and outlined a sermon series called “The Road Ahead” that I’ll be preaching in the weeks leading up to the General Conference.

The vision for this series is to…

  •          Develop a better understanding and appreciation for who we are and where we are as a denomination.  What does it mean to be “United Methodist”?  How do we – as a denomination – make decisions?  What could all this mean for the local church?
  •          Appreciate the complexity of the issue.
  •          Acknowledge the divide…but don’t get stuck there.
  •          Instill a measure of hope that we stay in the conversation and most important, return to what matters most.  
  •          In the midst of all this, find and focus on the good news of Jesus Christ?

I’ll be honest with you.  This will be the most challenging sermon series I’ve ever encountered.  So I covet your prayers during this time.   My intent and goal is likely not what you think.  I am NOT preaching to influence or debate a particular position.

My goal is simply (or not so simply) present information about the church, how we got to where we are, and to address the question of the Commission:  “How might United Methodists bear witness to graceful and mutually respectful ways of living in the Wesleyan tradition amid enduring disagreements about same-gender relationships and related church practices?”

I’ll take it one step further: How do we as a church and as God’s people remain obedient to the authority of scripture while maintaining an attitude of holy compassion?

Join us for this series of messages.

Pastor Kevin

Sherry M said...

Posted on OP4er @ 15:50 -
Thank you, for your wonderfully spoken words of encouragement for us all who do live in such a complex society today. Gods many blessings, and we are praying for you.

Alice said...

Posted on OP7er @ 18:26 -
Psalm 71, . . . . even when I (and your church) am old and grey . . . do NOT FORSAKE me. We MUST DECLARE YOUR LOVE to the next generation.
And we know He will never forsake us . . .
As to these matters of "what would Jesus do". "it's in the BOOK".
Prayerfully & trustingly



Karyn said...

Posted on OP4er @ 15:44 -
Prayers for God’s guidance as you write and present these important sermons. Thank you for working to help us all through this complicated issue!

Sue C said...

Posted on OP1er @ 12:35 -
I’ll add you and your sermons to my 2:23 prayers.

Sue C said...

Posted on OP1er @ 12:34 -
I’ll add you and your sermons to my 2:23 prayers.

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Posted by Kevin Miller on OA11er @ 11:03

“May you live in interesting times.”

Legend has it that this quote was originally a Chinese curse.  One of a trinity of curses; the other two being, “May you come to the attention of those in authority,” and “May the gods give you everything you ask for.”

Well, we find ourselves living in interesting times, and I would propose to you that, in the church, this not a curse but an opportunity.  In the midst of the rhetoric and chaos defining our time, I am finding people who have never sought after God are seeking.  People who have never stepped inside a church are looking for truth and civilized decency, and thus the opportunity.

“Interesting times” are not unique, but when we study history, we find time and time again the church has been a force for God’s truth.  The Dark Ages received its name honestly.

After the Roman Empire fell, chaos ruled.  Factions developed, barbaric war broke out and an entire continent seemed lost.  But one force prevented it: the church.

Instead of conforming to the barbaric culture of the time, marked by destruction and confusion, the medieval church was countercultural.  As the chaos spread, thousands of mission houses opened all over Europe.  They were characterized by discipline, creativity and order lacking in the world around them.

Monks opened schools and shelters for orphans, widows and paupers.  Hospitals and farms were established as well as roads cut and bridges built.  People were drawn not so much by the hospitality and compassion, but by the discipline and dedication of these religious missions.

By holding fast to the basics of a civilized society – faith in Christ, education and civility – the monks and nuns brought light into the darkness of the age, and eventually Europe emerged from the Dark Ages into a renewed time of cultural creativity, education and art.

Today’s “interesting times” are just as dark, and the world seems more sophisticated than when Rome was destroyed.  But today’s barbarians wear pinstripes instead of animal skins, and pretend to entertain while, in reality, enabling divisions, lies and darkness.

Like the mission communities of the Middle Ages, is it time for the church to serve as mission outposts of truth, decency and civilization in the darkening culture of our “interesting times”?

Sherry M said...

Posted on OP4er @ 15:57 -
Yes and an Amen. Gods blessings.

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The Legacy of Josh Hader

Posted by Kevin Miller on OA10er @ 10:10

In yet another example of irrational behavior and youthful impulsiveness, a 24-year-old professional baseball player is dealing with the logical consequences of hateful and inflammatory posts to Twitter he made as a 17-year-old. 

Josh Hader is an all-star relief pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers.  On July 17, as he was pitching in the All-Star Game, someone anonymously re-posted Hader’s 7-year-old inciting tweets.  He first became aware of this after he left the game.  To his credit, in a postgame interview, he didn’t deny or try to justify his actions, but held himself accountable (as opposed to whoever reposted Hader’s comments who hid behind a pseudonym, but I digress).  He has since met with and offered contrite and tearful apologies to his teammates, coaches, and Major League Baseball executives.  “These were never my beliefs,” he said. “I was young.  I was saying stuff out of ignorance and that’s just not what I meant.”

I don’t know whether or not Josh Hader is a Christian, but I admire the way he has handled himself the last few days.  Let’s be clear about this: I am in no way endorsing or agreeing with what he said in his post, (If you would like to read the content of the posts, use Google.  I personally find the comments too distasteful to even quote here), but who among us can’t empathize with Josh? 

Jesus invited a crowd of accusers, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.”  (John 8:7)  Maybe it’s just me, but I’m thankful that I was not the same person at 24 that I was at 17 (and for that matter, that I’m not the same person today that I was at 24).  Do any of you want to be 17 again?  At 17, I had more answers than questions.  40 years later, I find myself with more questions than answers.

So what do we learn from this?

Think before you post…  

Proverbs 15:1-2 says, A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

At some point, we’ve all played the role of the fool.  I learned a long time ago never to respond emotionally.  Think about the long-term implications before you hit the “post” or “send” button, and, if possible, wait 24 hours before doing it.

Remember there is no “unsend” button. 

Take responsibility for your actions and words.

Galatians 6:4-5 reads, All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads.

These word precede the classic “we reap what we sow” in Galatians 6:8.  Along with Josh, we feel the weight of our actions that hurt others.  Following Jesus means that we commit all our actions and words to him.  Are your actions and words honoring Christ today?

Children and youth NEED mentors and guides.

It’s interesting to me that, by law, people need to be a certain age to drive, vote, join the armed forces, and purchase cigarettes and alcohol.  Why?  Because we understand that they are still children who lack the cognitive and emotional maturity to make responsible decisions.  But anyone with a computer or cell phone can post any message they want to the world.

There’s no guarantee that, even if a youth has a mentor, they won’t do or say (or post) something stupid.  But this event lifts up the fact that all children and youth have a need for solid role models in their lives.  Kids will be kids, but more than once, I’ve had to remind someone (even a few adults) that their pastor is reading their posts.

You are never too old to help influence a child.  The Psalmist pleaded with God to use him for the sake of the next generation:  Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, ‘til I declare your power to the next generation.  Your might to all who are to come.  (Psalm 71:18)

Remember the lesson of the marbles: every Sunday matters and we’re playing for keeps.

Nobody is beyond the reach of God’s grace.

Romans 8:31-39 says exactly this: Nothing can separate us from God’s love.

I’ve heard it too many times: “God won’t forgive me for what I’ve done.” Don’t believe that lie.  Nothing and nobody is beyond the reach of God’s grace.  As Josh was pitching in the All Star game that night, there was also someone in the stands holding a sign that said, “John 3:16.”

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

If you want to post some good news that you will never need to apologize for, post this!

Whatever is in your past, God is willing to leave it there.  Will you let Him?

Becky Kirkpatrick said...

Posted on OA10er @ 9:06 -
This post resonated in me especially with the recent accusations in the political arena. I truly believe that people need to except responsibility for what they have done, no matter what consequences happen from admitting it. I had not heard the story of Josh, but I applaud him. He certainly cleaned the slate and I love that he sincerely apologized. I hope he also asked for forgiveness. Thank goodness God does not hold onto our sin when we say a sincere “I’m sorry.”

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Responding to what's happening at our borders...

Posted by Kevin Miller on OP2er @ 14:59

     A day doesn’t seem to go by without news or opinions about what is happening at the Mexican-American border.  As many of you do, I often feel helpless and overwhelmed about how to respond.  If you heard the sermon on June 24, you heard part of a response – to care, to pray, and to ask how we can help those working closest to the situation.

     Our own Bonnie Albert and I have been corresponding over the last week about this and below is her most recent, and insightful response.  Bonnie is well connected with agencies and missionaries through her ministry.  We, as United Methodists, are connected to a wider church and are in a position to help make a difference.

     Please read Bonnie’s response and prayerfully consider your next step in this crisis.  May God continue to provide His insight and wisdom.

 Pastor Kevin

 

  1.     Prayers are necessary for working through and understanding immigration and all the issues of justice around whatever action is taken. 
  2.     Gather Information.   What does the church say about immigration?   What does the Bible say?    Read, read, and read some more.    
  3.     Know the facts (and today this is not easy to do); know the sources of information, and be aware of an author’s bias.  How is it that Christians can take two very opposing views on immigration?     
  4.     Get together with others who are concerned about the situation for discussion and sharing of the facts.  For further study, consider study in parts and come together again to share information. 
  5.     Learn how Indiana is touched by the recent changes in policy at the southern border.
  6.     Contact your U.S. representatives.   Be aware of what is taking place legislatively.  Based on your information in previous study, weigh in on what legislation is being formed. 

     Sometimes trusting those in the trenches is a way forward. They have done the vetting, they have been doing this for a long time and there is no need to reinvent the wheel.   We can financially support groups we trust.    

 

  1.     Justice For Our Neighbors (njfon.org) is a spin-off of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and operates in states around Indiana. Illinois and Michigan have a strong presence.  Donate funds to help the legal teams around the country to assist clients with the paperwork and understanding the resources available to them.  The case loads are on the rise.   Resources are stretched.     
  2.     Holding Institute – (holding-institute.org) Located in Laredo, TX is a community center named after a missionary by that name and this place has ministered to the families and children coming across the border seeking a safe place to live for over a century.  Valparaiso 1st UMC has sent money to them in the past as has the Indiana Conference Bishop’s Christmas Offering for Children grant. 
  3.     The Welcome Network in Northwest Indiana. (thewelcomenet.org)   While not specifically tied into what is taking place at our southern border, they realize the longer the crisis goes on, the more likely it is they will be working with families coming from this time period.  Tony Burrell is the executive director there and he has spoken at our church on two different occasions.    

Sue said...

Posted on OP10er @ 21:34 -
Thank you Bonnie and Pastor Kevin

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"Something More Powerful . . ." by Pastor Kevin Miller

Posted by Pamela Gonzalez on OA10er @ 10:41

Has the world gone nuts in the last couple weeks, or is it just me? I’m not as outspoken on social causes as many of my colleagues but allow me to make an observation.

Although I “grew up” during the 1970’s, I was heavily influenced by the turmoil of the ‘60’s.  You see, my oldest brother served in Vietnam, so even though I was young, I became socially aware of the world around me.  The news was dominated by demonstrations against the war and made statements like, “Question authority!” and “Don’t trust anyone over the age of 30!”  Reflecting on it became part of my family’s dinner conversation.

I don’t remember either of my parents saying this, or exactly when, where or how I developed this thought, but here goes: All those demonstrations and riots and pickets and protests didn’t accomplish anything. Using violence to react to violence has never ended well…and I don’t think it ever will.

Understand I’m not talking about limiting anyone’s freedom to assemble and state their opinion.  In the midst of all this turmoil, I remember a simple, but powerful lesson: “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”  In other words, in this country, anyone has the right to express their opinion…whether I personally agree with it or not.  No matter how stupid or misguided someone’s opinion is…they have the right to express it.  And reacting violently to another person’s opinions doesn’t change anything.

During the 1960’s, there was one man with a different vision who used something more powerful – a peaceful use of a biblical worldview. Martin Luther King brought about change by encouraging non-violence; by promoting peace and by intercepting hate in exchange for love.  And he died for the sake of that cause.  Centuries ago, a man by the name of Jesus of Nazareth used the same strategy and his death and resurrection changed the world

If you really want to change the world around you, get to know this Jesus. During his final discussion with his disciples, he told them, “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27 NLT)   Allow this gift to work in you.

Peace in this world is usually defined as the absence of conflict. The peace of Christ is confident assurance in any circumstance.  The world around us focuses on sin, fear, uncertainty, doubt and so many other forces at war within us.  Jesus said he will give us this peace if we are willing to accept it from him.  This is the peace that really does go beyond our understanding, and that truly changes hearts to transform the world.  What do you think?

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

St. Francis of Assisi

Steve Cronk said...

Posted on OA9er @ 8:30 -
As I write this, my wife and I are nearing the end of a three-month stay on Sanibel Island, Florida. Yes, the weather here has been wonderful, the seafood has been fresh, and outdoor exercise has been invigorating.
But, there really are no islands to escape to. The recent shootings here in Florida are a salient and grim reminder of that. I have been a Methodist most of my life, and have been active in the Valpo church since the 1970s. I have dear friends there, and it has felt quite natural and right to worship there. But, like your older brother, I grew up in the 1960s, and I totally disagree with you about the power of protest and demonstrations to evoke change. Either you stand for something, or you fall for everything. I believe in prayer, but I don't believe that God will do for us what he has empowered us to do. It is too easy simply to "pass the buck" to God, fall down on our knees, and expect Him to "fix it." That is why merely sending "thoughts and prayers" to grieving students and families in places like Parkland, Florida, rings hollow. Why isn't our church encouraging people to march against gun violence in Chicago or Indianapolis on March 24? Why isn't our church taking an unequivocal position on gun control? Why isn't our church speaking out for immigrants, against the building of a wall, and for social and economic justice? Where is our social gospel? Oh, I know, the Methodist Church is worried about membership, as all mainline churches are. But, I would argue that we are talking about moral issues here, and our country will continue to toss and turn at sea until we have the courage to steer it in the direction of Christ. I did not agree with Jacob Williams on everything, that's for sure. But, I was once chairperson of the Staff Parish Committee, and I understand the organizational norms of our church. My bet is that you have been brought in to settle things down, and to take a more middle-of-the road approach. I am certainly not going to tell you how to do your job. But, our young people aren't in the church because they do not see adults creating a world which is better than the one our folks left us.

Susan Gleason said...

Posted on OP4er @ 15:29 -
Thank you. Very well said.

Susan Gleason said...

Posted on OP4er @ 15:29 -
Thank you. Very well said.

Cindy Felton said...

Posted on OA9er @ 8:58 -
Pam, I so appreciate your thoughts here and in our weekly newsletter. You have made communication your ministry and I always feel closer to Christ after reading your words. Absence of conflict is not the goal Christ has for us - it is the blessed assurance that He loves us that brings true peace sustaining us through our own conflicts.

Keith Kirkpatrick said...

Posted on OA9er @ 8:18 -
Very thoughtful and well said.

John kemler said...

Posted on OP12er @ 11:12 -
Love your commentary and the prayer at the end of it. Make me an instrument of your peace, Lord.

Lani said...

Posted on OA10er @ 9:46 -
AMEN!

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