Welcome

Welcome to the scribblings of one Methodist pastor.  Here you will find devotions, sermon clippings, pastoral letters, and other assorted thoughts and reflections.  The most significant categories can be accessed through the menu at the top.  These include:

  • Beyond Sunday: These are follow up materials related to sermons I preach.  If you would like to hear the audio for the sermon, it is generally posted by Tuesday on my church’s website.
  • Open Source Liturgy: Prayers, readings, and sermons series crafted by myself, my team, or posted with permission.  You are free to use and adapt these with attribution.  Pictures or stories of how they worked for you are always appreciated.
  • Faith and Art:  For more than two thousand years artists across the world have produced moving works based on Biblical texts and the stories of the Christian faith.  I use many of these in preaching but often can’t delve fully into them so the extra reflections end up here.
  • Leading: Reflections on leadership, change, and being a pastor.

Enjoy!

[Beyond Sunday] Reaching Out

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. 41 Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house, 42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying.

As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. 43 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians,[l] no one could cure her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. 45 Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter[m] said, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.” 47 When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

49 While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.” 50 When Jesus heard this, he replied, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.”

-Luke 8: 40-50

We heard from Rev. Jim Bankston about what it takes to reach out to our neighbors.  This is part of our church’s 2 year Vibrant Church Initiative [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • How many of your neighbors are like you? (age, race, income etc)
  • How often do you come into contact with people who are unlike you?
  • The woman who was healed had suffered long with a bleeding, odorous illness.  When you come into contact with people like that, how do you respond?

Do and share:

  • Journal each night about every person you talked to that day.  Note how they were like you and how they were unlike you.  Based on your notes, how well do you deal with those outside your comfort zone?
  • Visit a sick friend or elder this week and share a story or picture in our Facebook group or on Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] It is Well With My Soul

38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing.[a] Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

-Luke 10: 38-42

Everything about our culture encourages us to side with Martha.  We are told that if we work hard we will succeed.  We are told everyone should do their fair share.  We are told that if you don’t have something it is because you didn’t work for it.  Yet God’s favor cannot be earned by our work.  Grace is given and calls us to rest at the feet of the Lord.  Our lives should balance both activity and contemplation in their turn. [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • Describe a struggle you encountered that you could not work yourself through.
  • How do you spend time resting with God?
  • What happens to your soul if you do not rest?

Do and share:

  • Set aside a whole 24 hours for rest this week.  Document how keeping a Sabbath changes your week.
  • Find a video of your favorite praise music and share in our Facebook group or on Twitter (@dpumc).

 

In the Promise Land Justice is Extended to All [Immigration in Scripture 2]

I started this series to briefly look at six ways scripture talks about immigrants and immigration.  The treatment of migrants and asylum seekers in the US, especially along the southern border, is a daily conversation in the media and among friends.  Several excellent books have covered these topics more extensively than I can here; a few recommendations are listed at the end.

Theme 2: There Shall Be for Both a Single Statute

Migration has been a part of human life since before recorded history.  We move around.  We get pushed out by drought or famine; we flee war; we trade goods; we seek better weather; we get curious about what’s on the other side of the mountain/river/canyon/forest.  As we discussed last time, the ancestors and people of Israel were themselves, migrants.

It is while living as aliens in Egypt that Israel grew from a clan to a nation, a people.  When that people was oppressed, God led them out of Egypt and back to the land that was promised to their ancestor Abraham.  It is during the sojourn in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan, that the Law of the Israelites began to take shape.  Many Christians will recognize Exodus 20: 1-17 as the Ten Commandments.  These are the gateway into the law that would form the basis of the Mosaic covenant. (so called because it is made under Moses).  The entire section is comprised of chapters 20-23 and sets the conditions by which Israel will be the people of God.  In Exodus 23:9 the law gets around to the question of how immigrants and strangers should be treated.

You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.  In the promise land justice is to extend to all.

In the promise land justice is to extend to all.  That theme of equality under the law continues through Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers.  As the law is retold, expounded and interpreted, the status of immigrants to the land remains the same.  Leviticus 19 lays out what it means to be ritually and morally holy.   According to verses 33 and 34, to be holy means to treat the stranger and the alien the same way you would treat a citizen of the land.  That command is echoed again in Numbers 15 and Deuteronomy 1.

An alien who lives with you, or who takes up permanent residence among you, and wishes to offer an offering by fire, a pleasing odor to the Lord, shall do as you do. As for the assembly, there shall be for both you and the resident alien a single statute, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you and the alien shall be alike before the Lord. You and the alien who resides with you shall have the same law and the same ordinance.
– Numbers 15:14-16

Distinctions between citizens and aliens would develop over time (more on that next time) but the intent of the law seems to be that Israel’s special status as a chosen people did not entitle them to a higher class of rights, but rather placed on them the burden to treat all people as creations of God.

It is interesting to see how the New Testament writers sometimes picked up the metaphor of strangers in a land.  The idea of being a resident alien came to describe how the Church–whose home was the kingdom of God– operated in the world.   For instance Ephesians 2:12-13 reads:

remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

This metaphor serves the dual purpose of strengthening the Church against outside pressure and uniting formally distinct people into a single Body of Christ.  The identity of “Christian” comes to trump nationality or ethnicity especially in regards to how we treat a brother or sister in Christ.   We are no longer strangers or aliens to one another but citizens of the Kingdom of God and members of Christ’s family.  This does not erase whether one was born Jew or Greek, but eliminates the notion of privilege status for either.  In an extension of the Law, we treat all our brothers and sisters as creations of God, redeemed by Christ and therefore entitled to our love.

What It Means Today:

All due respect to Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Paine, but the truth is a stateless person is a rights-less person.  Without a government, an individual’s rights exist only as far as their fellow humans are willing to recognize an obligation towards them.  This theme of scripture argues that because the people of God (first Israel and now the Church) know what it is to be foreign and alien, we must honor–and even fight for– the basic dignity of every person regardless of race, nationality, or immigration status.  The issues surrounding immigration and the law may be more complicated, but that does not change the Biblical assertion that all people are created by God and should be treated with a measure of equality.

There are people who will argue that if someone crosses the border illegally, that to be arrested and separated from your children is equal to the treatment a citizen would receive if they broke a law.  This is less than have true.  Yes, if I as an American citizen broke a law, I could be arrested, imprisoned and, if I had children, they would not be imprisoned with me.  However, the conditions under which migrants are detained at our Southern border, the way that children are treated and the lack of a coherent system for tracking and returning children who are separated makes this a false equivalency.

While the treatment of children with incarcerated parents is far from perfect, the first attempt is often to place them with family as soon as possible.  In the event they do enter the foster care system, records are kept.  Their location is known and (at least in theory) their welfare is monitored.  They are not housed in tents or overcrowded barracks.  They are not frequently taken across state lines without a parent’s knowledge.  When parents leave prison, there is a process by which the can locate and be reunited with their child.  The fact that our Department of Justice and HHA have no records connected children to parents and attempted to require parents to pay for DNA testing to recover children the DOJ stripped from them and lost in the system speaks volumes about how unequally we view migrants and citizens.

The central question Christians should be wrestling with is not, “What did they do?” but “Who are we?”.  Are we a people who enshrine inalienable rights as an endowment by our Creator; or do we hold rights humans rights to be a part of the rule-of-law contract and thereby forfeit if a law is transgressed?

For Reflection:

  1. Take a look at news stories about immigration from the past two months.  Where do you see scripture or faith invoked?  Is it used to argue for equality or distinction?
  2. In the letter to the Colossians, Paul writes:  

But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive[d] language from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

What bearing might those words have on our present struggles?

3.  Are there recent immigrants in your family?  What was the experience of their first few months in America like?

For a more in-depth look at migration in general, check out Global Migration: What’s Happening, Why and a Just Response by Elizabeth Collier and Charles Strain.  For reflections on immigration to America specifically, pick up Christians at the Border by M. Daniel Carroll R. or Welcoming the Stranger by Matthew Soerens and Jenny Yang.

 

[Beyond Sunday] He Still Does (Miracles)

They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him.  He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?”  And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.”  Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.  Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.”

-Mark 8:22-26

The ways in which God works can be strange.  Sometimes, they are all but invisible.  Maybe the reason we don’t often experience miracles isn’t that God is absent or silent, but that we are blind to see what’s going on around us. [hear sermon audio] 

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • What is something you thought you knew, but later learned you were wrong about?
  • How did learning you were wrong change your view of the world?
  • What might make it difficult for the Disciples to see Jesus as he truly is?
    • What about the crowds who followed?
    • The Pharisees?

 

Do and share:

  • Be the miracle: This week keep your eyes open for someone who might need assistance or kindness.  Let God use you to be the blessing they need.
  • Share the story of a miracle God has done in your life in our Facebook group or on Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] How Great Thou Art

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

-Psalm 29

In the midst of life’s storms, it’s easy to lose sight of how God is working in our lives.  We focus instead on the winds of worry and the waves of emotion.  But God is Lord of all.  And if we truly believe that is true, then nothing else can be lord of our life, not even our own fear. [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • What storms are you facing today?
  • When caught in the storm’s onslaught
    • What do you fear?
    • What do you give power?
    • Where do you see God at work?

 

Do and share:

  • Draw or paint a picture of your storm and share it on our Facebook Group.
  • Find a video of your favorite praise music and share in our Facebook group or on Twitter (@dpumc).

 

For You Were Strangers [Immigration in Scripture 1]

The treatment of migrants asylum seekers and families crossing the border illegally has become a national conversation of late.  Christian scriptures have been invoked by politicians and protestors to justify a variety of positions.  As people of faith, we should try to understand America’s immigration policies and call for appropriate action to fix broken systems.  But, to define “appropriate” we need a working knowledge of what the Scriptures say about immigrants and strangers.

This series of posts is a VERY brief primer on six themes.  Several excellent books have been written on immigration through the lens of Scripture. For a more in-depth look at migration in general, check out Global Migration: What’s Happening, Why and a Just Response by Elizabeth Collier and Charles Strain.  For reflections on immigration to America specifically, pick up Christians at the Border by M. Daniel Carroll R. or Welcoming the Stranger by Matthew Soerens and Jenny Yang.

Theme 1: You were once aliens

Deuteronomy 10:19 says “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt”.  Any discussion of immigration and scriptures has to wrestle with the fact that the people of God were, more than once, aliens in a foreign land.

Deuteronomy is framed as a retelling of the sacred Law before the people of Israel enter into the promised land.  The promise of that land was first given to Abram (later called Abraham).

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.

-Genesis 12:1-2

Abram leaves Ur, his homeland, and comes to reside in Canaan.  God’s promise that this will be the land of his descendants is reiterated, but for three generations the family lives like perpetual migrants.  They reside in tents, they move from place to place with their flocks.  They leave and go to Egypt when there is a famine.  Isaac and Jacob, Abraham’s descendants, each return to Ur for a time.  Even when Sarah, Abraham’s wife and Isaac’s mother, dies and Abraham must secure a place to bury her, he speaks of himself as an alien in the land.

 “I am a stranger and an alien residing among you; give me property among you for a burying place, so that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” The Hittites answered Abraham, “Hear us, my lord; you are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places; none of us will withhold from you any burial ground for burying your dead.”

-Genesis 23: 4-6

For the first five books of our scriptures, God’s promise of the land is stable, but the people’s residency is fluid.  Through the end of Genesis, the migrant experience is primarily a positive one*.  But then there comes another famine, and Isreal (Jacob) once again takes his family to Egypt because his son Joseph has become a court official.  That whole generation resides in Egypt until their deaths.  The Israelite community grows.  And then Exodus makes this ominous transition:

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.

-Exodus 1:8

The Egyptians come to fear the Israelites living among them.  Out of that fear, they become ruthless and cruel.  The lives of the Israelites become so bitter and oppressive that they cry out to God for salvation.  God raises up Moses, does miracles and signs, and finally leads the Israelites out of Eygpt.  But God does not want the people to forget what it was like to be aliens in Egypt.

Deuteronomy chapter 10 recounts Moses receiving the (second) tablets of the Law and God summarizing their essence.  Core to what it means to be Israel is this understanding: that God is just, that God provides for the widow, the orphan and the stranger, and that, having been strangers yourself, you should reflect God’s love for strangers among you.

The call back to the Hebrew’s time as residents and then slaves in Egypt will show up time and again across the scriptures of the Old Testament.  Generations later, when David recaptures the Ark of the Covenant (with the tablets of the Law) from the Philistines, the people sing a song recounting the great deeds of God, including how God protected the people when they were immigrants:

When they were few in number,
    of little account, and strangers in it,
wandering from nation to nation,
    from one kingdom to another people,
he allowed no one to oppress them;
    he rebuked kings on their account,
saying, “Do not touch my anointed ones;
    do my prophets no harm.”
-Psalm 105: 13-15

As we’ll see later, the people do forget.  Later prophets will cite the treatment of strangers and immigrants as one of the reasons for the downfalls of Israel and Judah.  When the people forget what it was to be alien and oppressed, they are cast into exile.  They become immigrants in a strange land once again.

What It Means Today:

It is both presumptuous and risky to rob a Biblical narrative of its context and conflate it with the modern day.  However, these stories have been told for millennia because they contain important lessons.  America has often described itself as a nation of immigrants.  98% of us have at least one ancestor who arrived in the territory in the last 500 years.  The stories of those ancestors are varied.  Some fled persecution, others were destitute and seeking a better life, some came for higher education, some brought desirable skills, some were criminals, some did not come here by choice.

We, like Israel, have to wrestle with our own history of being aliens and strangers.  That does not mean open borders and unrestricted immigration.  In the next two posts, we’ll look at how the law of Israel set boundaries and privileges for immigrants in their midst. However, if we are taking the Biblical witness seriously, our history should instill in us a desire to act justly and with mercy towards present immigrants and asylum seekers.

Yesterday, the Administration missed a deadline to return very young children to their parents.  They have laid out no clear plan for how families will be reunited.  They changed the policy for dealing with asylum seekers and migrants without a way to humanly hold people in detention.  They are turning their backs on immigrants who willingly offered their lives in the service of this countryThey are delaying or denying asylum seekers due process and creating an environment of uncertainty and fear even for those who have abided by the law.  There is no mercy in these acts. Is there even justice?

When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God…
-Deuteronomy 8:12-13 

For Reflection:

  1. Where does immigration play a role in your family’s history?
    • How did your ancestors come to the country?
    • How where they received when they arrived?
    • How has their experience shaped your story?
  2. Read the first chapter of Exodus and imagine you are an average Egyptian.
    • As the Pharoh’s attitude toward the Israelites changes, what language is used to describe Israelites?
    • How is the treatment of the Israelites justified?
    • Do you agree with their treatment?  Why or Why not?

Feature Image by Joel Tanis and available for sale online.

*Arguably the experience worked better for Abraham than Sarah and it was not without its compromises.  Read the whole story in Genesis 20.

[Beyond Sunday] Way Maker

Now those who were scattered went from place to place, proclaiming the word. Philip went down to the city[a] of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah[b] to them. The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did, for unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, came out of many who were possessed; and many others who were paralyzed or lame were cured. So there was great joy in that city.

Now a certain man named Simon had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he was someone great. 10 All of them, from the least to the greatest, listened to him eagerly, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they listened eagerly to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed. After being baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place.

-Acts 8:4-13

God will always makes a way.  Even when we are uncertain about sharing our faith.  Even when we feel the audience is hostile or alien, still God will make a way.  Are we willing to be God’s way in the world? [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • What situations in your life seem like insurmountable obstacles?
  • What are you most afraid of in that situation?
  • What would be the best possible outcome for all involved?
  • How do you pray about that situation?

 

Do and share:

  • Share a story online of a time God helped clear a way for you.
  • Find a video of your favorite praise music and share in our Facebook group or on Twitter (@dpumc).

 

6 News Stories You Might Have Missed (and why you should care)

This week has been like a news tsunami.  15 min after Justice Kennedy announced his retirement yesterday, I had to turn off all news notifications and walk away.  It just felt like a constant onslaught of hard, hurtful, and heartbreaking headlines.  Yet flipping through my feeds this morning, really only two issues were catching attention:  the plight of migrant families and the after effects of Kennedy’s resignation.  Both important stories, but there is a funny paradox in onslaught.  When we are overwhelmed by a constant stream of new (or seemingly new) information, very little of it actually catches our attention.

For people of faith, there is a great deal we that needs our attention.  So here are 6 stories I noticed this week.  Few of these have an unambiguously correct response, but all touch on matters of faith and ought to be a part of Christian conversation right now.

1. Concern over the erosion of the “rules of war”

The modern rules of warfare are intended to protect civilians, refugees, and aid agencies seeking to help them.  However, in conflicts across the globe, the “rules” are being circumvented or flat out ignored, leading to greater brutality and long-term damage.

Why the Church should care: While the modern rules are rooted in the Geneva Convention, Christians have long advocated boundaries on violence and respect for life in the midst of conflict.   Not to mention, many of those aid agencies coming under fire are backed and run by churches and faith-based organizations

Check out: The Rules of War Are Being Broken.  What Exactly Are They?

 

2. Peer Groups Help Lower Stigma of Mental Health Issues

Loneliness, depression, and anxiety are reaching epidemic proportions in American culture.  Coordinate conditions like addiction, suicide, and debt are rising along with them.  Creating spaces for people to be vulnerable seems to help them navigate difficult moments and reach out for professional help when they need it.

Why the Church should care: The church should be about offering good news of life and hope.  At our best, we know how to form groups and model the kind of vulnerability and accountability that can be helpful in dark time.

Check outStudent-peer organization helps erase stigma tied to mental-health issues

 

3. Hate Crime Charges in Virginia

Almost a year ago, a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville Virginia turned deadly when a young man rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters killing Heather Heyer and wounding several others.  He was charged this week with 28 counts of hate crime acts.

Why the Church should care: Racism and violent retaliation are sins.  We as (Wesleyan) Christians are called to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.

Check out: Federal Hate Crime Charges for Driver at Charlottesville White Nationalist Rally

 

4. SCOTUS changes the rules for Public Employee Unions

Among the flurry of Supreme Court rulings in the last few days was Janus v AFSCME.  In its judgment, the Court overturned precedent to declare that dues could not be compelled from non-union members even if they benefit from union activities.

Why the Church should care: Because of the Biblical mandate to care for the poor, many churches were on the frontlines of creating and supporting the labor movement of the 20th century.  Specifically if you are a United Methodist, we have a resolution statement on our position.

Check out: Supreme Court deals a blow to rules against forced fees for government workers

 

5. Rolling back some protections for Red Wolves

The Interior Department announced this week that they are changing the way they manage the endangered American red wolf.  The change includes allowing landowners to kill wolves who stray onto their land.

Why the Church should care:  I’ll confess, I’m not qualified to assess the good of this particular issue, but the article made the list because it is the latest in a rash of reversals in ecological policy.  The church’s response to ecological issues usually ranges from apathy to resistance.  However, scripture both charges us to be good stewards of God’s creation and reminds us that redemption is not just for humanity.  We should probably pay more attention to this stuff.

Check out: Interior Department plans to let people kill endangered red wolves

 

6. Casa Vides

Need a moment of hope, read/listen to Youth Radio’s story about volunteers at Casa Vides.  Casa Vides provides shelter for people coming out of ICE detention or who evaded border control.  Recently, they’ve been housing parents who are attempting to reunite with their children.  Two college students share their experience serving.

Why the Church should care:  As we push for better conditions for those detained at the border it is crucial to provide models of what that might look like (don’t just name the problem, be part of the solution).  Additionally, it does my soul good to be reminded of the hope offered in the leadership of young people.

Check out: In Texas, a summer job that helps provide temporary refuge for migrants.

What stories do you think are flying below the radar this week?  It is easy to get overwhelmed with so much going on.  Take care of your soul, but stay aware, friends.

 

Sidenote: The crisis on our Southern border continues to unfold.  While the Executive Order was a first step, it is still unclear what the plan is to keep families together beyond 20 days or to reunite separated parents.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some discussion of Scriptures dealing with immigration and the church’s response.

3 Ways to Aid Children and Families in Detention

Greetings friends,

As the crisis created by the DoJ’s “zero-tolerance” enforcement unfolds, many people are looking for practical ways they can help.  There are several good articles floating around the internet, but here are 3 things that captured my attention:

1. Lend Your Voice

Perhaps the single most important contribution you can make to a lasting solution is to call your Senators, Representatives, and the Department of Justice to demand an end to inhumane conditions and family separation.   You can support immigration enforcement and still demand better conditions for those detained.  The ACLU has made it easy.

2. Support Legal Services for Parents and Children

The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services provides legal services and representation for those in the asylum and immigration system.  Because migrants are not citizens they have no guarantee of legal representation.  You can financially contribute to their support and reunification fight by donating through Facebook or the RAICES website.

3. Send Needed Items

The United Methodist Committee on Relief has partnered with other organizations to provided toiletries and other items needed by children and adults seeking asylum and facing detention and deportation.  Items can be purchased through an Amazon registry and are shipped directly.

As I write this, we are awaiting a press conference on a possible Executive Order.  Whatever the content of that order, these forms of assistance will be important and helpful.

**Update: Text of Executive Order

[Beyond Sunday] Oh For a Thousand Tongues…

O For a thousand tongues to sing
My dear Redeemer’s praise!
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the world abroad
The honors of Thy name.

He breaks the power of cancell’d sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood avail’d for me

In Christ, your head, ye then shall know,
Shall feel your sins forgiven;
Anticipate your heaven below,
And own that love is heaven.

-From O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

We are created to praise God.  We praise because of all God has done.  We praise because of all the things God is about in the world.  We praise simply because God is God.  And in singing our praises, we steadily formed in a faith that transcends even words and melodies to become the song of our heart and the rhythm of our lives.    [hear sermon audio]

 

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

(from Spiritual Classics ed. Richard Foster)

  • How can I enhance the experience of worship for others?
  • In what ways can I guard against the worshiping experience of others?
  • In my life, how can I avoid needless criticism and complaint?

 

Do and share:

  • Make a list of your favorite hymns and songs that have formed your faith.  Reflect on what it is that makes a particular hymn dear to you.
  • Find a video of your favorite praise music and share in our Facebook group or on Twitter (@dpumc).