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!

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).

 

A Letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions

**Update: for ways to assist families affected, see this post.

Dear Mr. Sessions,

You seem to be having a bad press week, sir.  I can imagine that is frustrating.  You are enduring a lot of criticism for what you believe is doing your job.  To make it worse, much of the criticism is coming from the Southern Christians you have counted on as a loyal base for so long.  It has been pointed out, Mr. Sessions, that you are a United Methodist.  I am a United Methodist pastor, so in this time of struggle, I feel it is incumbent on me to offer a couple of pastoral words.

You gave a speech today in Fort Wayne.  The prepared text is posted on the DoJ website. In that speech, you attempt to make a case for recent actions as right enforcement of established law.  I will leave questions about the logic and politics of your argument to those more qualified to assess them.  But, a little more than halfway through, you invoke Romans 13.  To be more specific, you seem to be referencing Romans 13:1-7

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but too bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; 4 for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. 6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

I understand the appeal of these verses for your argument, especially when they are taken in isolation.  However, I fear, Mr. Sessions, that you have not done the best exegetical work possible.  Three things are problematic in the way you are using these verses.

Context Matters

First, context matters, and you have not acknowledged the context of Paul’s letter.   You are attempting to justify the policies of one of the largest and arguably most powerful nations the world has ever known.  Paul is writing Romans to a marginalized, sometimes persecuted, minority trying to survive in the very capital of the largest most powerful empire the world had known to that point.  It is important to remember that is the same empire that would eventually behead Paul himself for his faith.

Paul’s comments here stand in line with the prophet Jeremiah’s call to seek the welfare of the city (even if you are an alien) and the words of Jesus.   When those in power are hostile to the people of God, we have to pick our battles.  However you, sir, are speaking for those in power about those who are the definition of powerless.  These might not be your words to borrow.

Romans 12 & 13

Secondly, if you are going to borrow Romans 13:1-7, you need to be reading it as part of the whole letter.  Stepping back just 11 verses or adding the next 3 verses into the conversation colors the meaning of your passage. For the whole of the letter, Paul has been building an argument about the character of a disciple of Christ.  In Romans 12:9-21, we get a climactic list of marks.

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Disciples are marked by love.  Love shows itself in affection, zeal, patience, and hospitality.  Love approaches relationships from a stance of humility and peace, and above all, it holds to good and trusts God to overcome evil rather than taking matters into its own hands.  This emphasis on love is echoed in Romans 13: 8-10.

8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

Taken between these two bookends, I think it is clear that Paul does not intend respect for political authority to overrule love of neighbor.  You do Romans 13:1-7 a disservice if you read it as a justification for rule of law devoid of compassion.  Part of the reason so many Christians are reacting to the treatment of migrant people on our borders is that it feels utterly devoid of compassion.  It is also worth noting that the reason many Christian leaders are reacting badly to your speech is we’ve read  Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  The German government of his day used this exact passage to rationalize many of their most heinous policies to the church.  Now, I am not calling you a Nazi, sir; there is far too much of that nowadays.  But you should be aware you are walking a thin thin line.  I would recommend Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship as well as Hannah Arendt’s On Totalitarianism.  They both have excellent reflections on the risks of co-opting the church into the work of the State.

The Role of the Church

Which brings me to the last point.  In your speech, it felt like you wanted the Church’s support. I know its hard to be out on a limb alone and harder still to field attacks from a quarter you did not expect.  But here’s the thing: it is not the job of the Church to sanction the policies of rulers. It is our job to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  At times we will do this by supporting legislation or advocating for marginalized people.  We will also do it by criticizing laws and policies that violate our principles.  The Church does not solely align with any political party because our first allegiance is to God; our work and our witness are devoted to God.  If you ask us to twist the words of the Jesus to suit the policies of any administration we are going to balk.  The God we serve ate with tax collectors and prostitutes. He welcomed gentiles, and the unclean, and children. He told us we would be judged, not by the prestige of our nation or the security of our borders, but by the way we treated the orphan, the widow, the poor, the alien, and the imprisoned.  It is not our job to concoct justifications for your actions, even if they are lawful.  Law and order, peace and security, those are your job.   It is the Church’s job to proclaim the kingdom of God.  I’m sorry that very little of what you have done lately lines up with that kingdom.

As a fellow United Methodist, I respect that you are trying to ground your moral decisions in Scripture.  I’m told you are a Sunday School teacher, so I suspect at some point you’ve walked through the Wesleyan Quadrilateral with folks.   I see what you’re trying to do here.  Taking a text and reading it with Reason.  But Tradition and Experience are also crucial parts of the process.  I think the pressure you are feeling, is the weight of the Christian traditions of hospitality and grace and brotherhood/sisterhood.  I think the outcry you hear is an echo of the Church’s experience with German concentration camps and Amercian internment camps.  The bishops of our denomination along with other faith leaders are calling to you and our Methodist understanding of community and moral reasoning ought to compel you to listen.

I understand that the policies you are implementing are lawful. (Though that does not make them good)  I understand they are a campaign promise fulfilled.  I understand that you may be acting out of the best of intentions for what you think is right for the country.  So plead your case on law, and politics, and intentions, but I would suggest leaving faith out of it.  Scripture will not support you, sir.  And if you are troubled by the outcry from the Church, then listen, heed our wisdom and relent.

You are in my prayers, Mr. Sessions, along with every family detained and separated at the border and every officer asked to enforce these policies.  I hope that you find both peace and wisdom.

In Christ,

Rev. Walker

 

PS:  Mr. Sessions, you and I both grew up in southern Methodist churches.  So I suspect that you know this truth: you do not cross the UMW.  Even today as a grown pastor I know when the UMW shows up in my office, they will walk away with what they want.  Partly because they are a powerful lobby, but mostly because for generations they have represented our tradition at its best.  They are the beating heart of our mission in the world and have often been the UMC’s voice of conscience.  There are excellent reasons you do not cross the UMW.  So I point you to their words:

We know the harm we are doing to children with this policy, which makes this deliberate separating of children from their parents for the intent of punishing the family particularly vile. This must stop now.

Liturgy of Women’s Experiences

Written by a team in response to the initial failure of UMC Constitutional Amendment 1 (2018)

Leader Copy

Reader 1: Jesus said “Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”  The stories of women are the stories of our faith. And so we remember the mighty women of God and the lessons they have taught us. Along with each, you are invited to name others aloud or in your heart.

Reader 2: In remembering Eve, we rejoice that we are each created in the image of God. We name those who show us God. [silence to name those who show you God]

Reader 3: We remember and rejoice.   In remembering Sarah, we give thanks for the spiritual mothers of churches and nations. We name those who nurture and mentor us. [silence to name those who mentor and nurture]

Reader 4:We remember and give thanks.  In remembering Hagar, we lift up those who have been passed over, forgotten, or cast out.  We name those who are frustrated or have left ministry. [silence to name those who have languished or left ministry]

Reader 5: We remember and lift up.  In remembering Lydia, we celebrate those who heard God’s call and would not take no for an answer.  We name those who opened the way for women in ministry. [silence to name those who opened the way into ministry]

Reader 6:We remember and celebrate.  In remembering Rachel and Leah, we repent for all the times women have competed instead of cooperating and for the times we have been played against one another. We name those women we should have treated better. [silence to name those should have loved better]

Reader 7:We remember and repent.  In remembering Esther, we honor those who take risks and use their power on behalf of others.  We name those who stand up for others. [silence to name those who take risks for others]

Reader 2:We remember and we honor.  In remembering Huldah, we acknowledge all who labored away from the limelight to learn the word of God and restore their communities.  We name those whose diligent work sometimes goes unnoticed. [silence to name those who have been diligent workers]

Reader 3:We remember and acknowledge.  In remembering Priscilla, we give thanks for all the places women’s leadership has been embraced and supported.  We name those places women are welcomed in ministry. [silence to name those who welcome women in ministry]

Reader 4:We remember and are glad.  In remembering Tamar, we grieve with all those who have told their story of neglect, injustice, or abuse and been discounted.  We name those whose stories were dismissed or disbelieved. [silence to name those who have been dismissed or disbelieved]

Reader 5:We remember and we weep.  In remembering the Levite’s Concubine, we lament for for those who are forgotten or who suffer violence yet remain nameless and voiceless. We name those who we often overlook but who are affected by the actions we take, or do not take. [silence to name those we have failed to protect]

Reader 6:We remember and cry out.  In remembering the women at the tomb, Mary, Mary, Joanna and Salome, we recall the first apostles, without whom the world might not have the resurrection story.  We name those who proclaim good news to the world. [silence to name those who proclaim good news]

Reader 7: We remember and proclaim the good news: Christ is risen and is still renewing the world.  In remembering the whole Church, we declare again our love for Christ’s bride.

Reader 8: Though the Church is not perfect it is being made so.  Though the world is broken it is being made whole. Though we have not achieved the promise of equality, we celebrate what God has done and continues to do in and through us.

All: We remember the stories of our foremothers and take up their mantle. We will run but not grow weary, we will rise on wings like eagles, for the spirit of the Lord renews our strength.  So we will continue to preach the good new until its promised glory is a reality for all. Amen

 

Participant Copy

“Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”  

[during the prayer you are invited to lift names up silently or aloud]

In remembering Eve…[silence to name those who show you God]…We remember and rejoice

In remembering Sarah… [silence to name those who mentor and nurture]… We remember and give thanks.

In remembering Hagar… [silence to name those who are frustrated or left ministry]…We remember and lift them up

In remembering Lydia, …[silence to name those who opened the way into ministry]…We remember and celebrate

In remembering Rachel and Leah…[silence to name those we should have loved better]…We remember and repent.

In remembering Ester…  [silence to name those who took risks for others]…We remember and we honor

In remembering Huldah…[silence to name those who are diligent workers]…We remember and acknowledge

In remembering Priscilla…[silence to name those who support women in ministry]…We remember and are glad

In remembering Tamar… [silence to name those whose stories were dismissed or disbelieved]…We remember and we weep.

In remembering the Levite’s Concubine… [silence to name those we have failed to protect]… We remember and we cry out

In remembering the women at the tomb, Mary, Mary, Joanna and Salome…[silence to name those who proclaim good news] We remember and proclaim the good news: Christ is risen and is still renewing the world.

…we celebrate what God has done and continues to do in and through us.

All: We remember the stories of our foremothers and take up their mantle. We will run but not grow weary, we will rise on wings like eagles, for the Spirit of the Lord renews our strength.  So we will continue to preach the good new until its promised glory is a reality for all. Amen

[Beyond Sunday] What are you Made for?

One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? 26 He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” 27 Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; 28 so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

-Mark 2:23-28

Every commandment of God is also a blessing, every duty a means of grace.  When we are called to stop a rest it is for the good of our own souls.  Yet when we turn God into a taskmaster, we limit those who hear the good news of Christ’s love    [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:

  • Where do you find rest in the midst of business?
  • Have you ever found religion as draining as it was life-giving?  Why do you think that was?
  • Who in our community needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ?

Do and share:

  • Take a picture of your Sabbath place or practice and share it on our Facebook.
  • Share a your sabbath prayer requests via Facebook or Twitter (@dpumc).

 

[Beyond Sunday] Coming by Night

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.2He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”10Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 11“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 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. 17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

-John 3:1-17

In the night, we stumble.  We struggle to see things as they are, even ourselves.  Nicodemus comes by night, thinking, perhaps that he has all the answers, only to have his eyes opened to a whole new way of being.    [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 that you later turned out to be wrong about?
  • How has learning opened your eyes or changed your faith?
  • What questions do you have today about faith?

Do and share:

  • Pick an object and take pictures of it in the morning, noon, evening, and at night.  Observe how the changing time of day, changes your perception.
  • Share a story of having your eyes opened via Facebook or Twitter (@dpumc).