Taking Big Steps
The other day at Mt. Hermon Retreat Center, listening to a Worship Leader at the National Camp and Retreat Conference a poem was quoted.
Dealing with the contradictions and challenges of faith, disbelief, and living and dying
The other day at Mt. Hermon Retreat Center, listening to a Worship Leader at the National Camp and Retreat Conference a poem was quoted.
Are you interested in coming to California? Did you enjoy your last vacation and want to live here now?
Any got a favorite GIS program they use.
I was speaking with a friend of mine the other day about how to develop Pride in the local church. It seems we do a pretty good job of this in most of our churches during pledge campaigns, but what are we doing to claim the change and the pride we have in the local church during the rest of the year.
As I continue to think about the Visioning process of Ojai UMC I am reminded to look at what a Vision is, and what it is not.
Lovett Weems offers a great piece on Budget Drives in this issue of Interpreter Magazine.
The Scripture comes this morning from 1 Samuel 3:1-10, and it is the call of Samuel.
A few years back I began the process for Certification in Camp and Retreat Ministry in the United Methodist Church. I am now due for my renewal in this certification, and so as I reflect on what I have done to maintain my credentials I will share some of the process and some of the things I learned from the experience.
The program was developed with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Division of Deacons; the General Board of Discipleship, Camp and Retreat Program; and Drew University, School of Theology.
Gavin shared an interesting bit about dissolving marketing.
Developing action plans:
What are we passionate about accomplishing?
What action plans engage our deep passion?
What actions and programs will help us fulfill this vision?
Who could do these programs and actions? To what details do we need to pay attention?
Are there opportunities for practicing intentional spiritual disciplines that will help us discern more clearly specific programs and directions toward which God is leading us?
What has to be changed?
Is there a willingness to enable people to practice acts of justice and mercy as part of their ministry within the church?
Is there a process of spiritual accountability within the congregation that offers leader a place to grow in their spiritual lives?
Visioning the “desired reality”:
Where would God like this church to be next year? Five years from now? Twenty-five years from now?
Why has God raised up this congregation in this community at this time in history?
As we listen to God, what is the desired reality for the future? How can we get a clear picture (vision) of what that would look like?
What positive difference is God calling our congregation to make in this community and beyond?
Where do our gifts meet the needs of this church, of the community, and elsewhere in the world?
Does the vision reflect the real ministry needs in this locality?
Is the vision exciting? Does it energize the people?
Develop a clear understanding of “current reality”:
What are our core values? How well do they propel us toward fulfilling our mission?
What are the gifts that God has given this church?
What are the trends in membership, worship attendance, participation in educational events, financial giving, and mission outreach for the last five years?
How effectively do we embrace diversity within our church?
When people visit our church and decide to go elsewhere, do we know why?
Is there clear understanding of the church finances? Are there unrealistic perceptions?
How well are we currently doing in making disciples?
How are we doing in reaching out beyond ourselves?
What community or world event has affected our congregation recently and how have we responded?
How are we perceived by our larger local community?
Do we comprehend the perspective of those outside our church?
What are the dreams and hopes of our community?
What are the current outcomes/results of our established programs?
As we enter into the Visioning Process with Small Groups to help focus our plans for the future of Ojai UMC I am reminded of several series of Questions we did a few years ago at Del Rosa UMC.
First Off: I have not suddenly become single...I am still happily married to my wonderful wife.
Yesterday I got a hair-brained scheme to try some variety of Cioppino.
Yesterday was the big day. The all church annual meeting kept us after church for a couple of hours as we discussed the reports from the various committees at Ojai UMC.
Sunday Sermon January 11
Sermon title: "Finishing School"
Sermon Notes:Acts 16:33 (New International Version)
33At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.
Quotes for Ordination Papers
"Baptism is a sacrament of truth and holiness; and it is a sacrament, because it is the sign which directs us to God's revelation of eternal life and declares, not merely the Christian 'myth', but - the Word of God. It does not merely signify eternal reality, but is eternal reality." (Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans (London; Oxford University Press, 1933, p192)
(Understanding Baptism though the lens of Juergen Moltmann, as put together in a paper by unknown author)
"Christians become Christians by Baptism."
"As a gift of God baptism is the incorporation into Christ and the entry into the new covenant. Immerses the baptized in the liberating death of Christ, it washes away their sins, it raises them to a new life in the power of the resurrection of Christ and it gives them a new ethical orientation. Baptism is accompanied by the gift of the Holy Spirit so that the baptized find themselves fostered and guided by the Spirit."
'The baptism clearly is a sign for the repentance the forgiveness of sins"
"Baptism is differentiated from the process of receiving the Holy Spirit. In receiving the Spirit Christians are endowed with the power of God which makes them enter the realm of the spirit of God."
"They are endowed with the spirit, they bear it and they are expected to do his holy work in the world they live in."
"Being baptized is part of the comprehensive process"
(- Class notes from Theodore Runyon - Theology of the Church and Sacraments -)
(Responding to Barth and Moltmann)
"Baptism is three factors 1) call of God, 2) relation to God, 3) response to God and by God"
"Qualitatively all baptism is infant baptism"
"Qualitatively all baptism is adult baptism: It has as goal kingdom service and Christian maturity"
"Christ is the sacrament, who is the material means by which the Creator extends his blessing to all humankind."
 BEM par B1
 BEM par B2-4
 BEM par B 5
The two Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, are "outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace" (Offices of Instruction [Catechism]). Moreover, the Sacraments effect what they signify.
Baptism is not a status but instead a calling. It is a celebration of God's adoption. Baptism is about the call of God, the relationship to God of humanity, and the response of the individual to the call of God. Baptism is an amazing act of prevenient grace, that which we are unaware and yet surrounds us. Baptism is significant in that God has done something for the individual, not that the individual can do something for God. Baptism is a divine action. "But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5, NIV). Further, it is the church's action in recognition and adopting responsibility in that divine action. Baptism lays the foundation for future responsibility and achievements, both with the baptized and with the congregation that is present. All baptism is infant baptism theologically, 'while we were yet helpless'. God calls us to relationship through the Holy Spirit, and restores the relationship through Jesus Christ. In our baptism we are incorporated with Christ in relationship with God. But, the relationship with God does not end with baptism, we need to continually renew that relationship, which is where the Lord's Supper can be of benefit in helping us on the way to being perfected in love for God and one another.
We cannot be perfected in love on our own. We need God's help. Outler writes, "[God] has given us certain means of obtaining his help. One of these is the Lord's Supper, which of his infinite mercy he hath given for this very end: that through this means we may be assisted to attain those blessings which he hath prepared for us; that we may obtain holiness on earth and everlasting glory in heaven." ("The New Creation", John Wesley's Sermons: An Anthology; Albert C. Outler, Richard P. Heitzenrater, Abingdon Press, 1987, p.505) Communion is a means of grace, the way in which God comes ever closer to us. We have to take action to recognize God's presence and seek to be more Christ-like in our behaviors. Christ himself is The Means of Grace, the one through whom the grace of God is given in totality, to all of creation, not just humans. All of creation can be changed as the members of the community share in the bread and the cup, as it transforms them from the inside to react to God, and act in the world. Communion, in the remembrance of Christ invites us to partake in the life and death of Christ, that our very living and dying may serve God as Christ served God. Each of the meanings of the Lord's Supper preserves an element of the shared life in God. As the Lord's Supper, the meal Jesus instituted with the Disciples, we have a covenantal meal, with the blood of the new covenant "given for you and for many, as the forgiveness of sins." When we participate in Communion we celebrate koinonia, fellowship, with one another and with God, through the common meal of the body of believers. In the Eucharist give thanksgiving, and blessing for all that God has done for us, particularly in the remembrance of Christ's death for us on the cross. During the Communion we begin the preparation for mission, taking provisions for the journey, reminded that we are sent out from the common gathering to be in the world for the sake of the Gospel. Communion helps us to realize the covenant nature of baptism and seals us further in the task of transforming the world through the work of the Holy Spirit co-mingled with our spirits.
Simply, Christians become Christians by Baptism. The great thing about God is that Baptism is not the only door into the Christian life. John Wesley reminds us of another method, that of Communion. He held that Communion is "a converting ordinance", that in the taking of the bread and the cup one can become a Christian and God's grace and mercy is imparted to the individual seeking after God in the coming to the table. We have tangible elements of the Sacraments, the water, the juice and the bread, and in each of them we take an inward vow to God, that changes us and mirrors itself into the world.
20 Random Things about me.
I am aware that the Bible speaks against pride in many ways.
Kevin Watson at deeplycommitted has started an experiment to see how much social capital Methodist bloggers have. This experiment was prompted by the feeling among some Methodist bloggers that United Methodism does not always do as good of a job as it could at getting the Wesleyan message out there, particularly on-line. So, he wants to see how many views a YouTube video can get if Methodist bloggers work together to promote it. The experiment is to see how many hits the video will receive in two weeks.
If you want to participate you can: First, watch the video below. Second, copy and paste this entire post into a new post on your blog and post it. Third, remind people about this experiment in one week.
Based on the results of the experiment, Kevin will get in touch with the folks at Discipleship Resources and let them know the ways in which Methodist bloggers are often an underused resource.
Here is a link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ISKTrScpzQ
The Vision Statement of the Cal-Pac Conference is "To Be The Cup Overflowing".
Works of Piety:
-The Lord's Supper
Works of Mercy:
-Feed the hungry
-Clothe the naked
-Heal the sick
-Care for the ailing
-Visit those who cannot attend (prison, infirm)
-Shelter those in need
-Welcome the stranger (means going out to-cf. Martha when Lazarus has died, the Prodigal Father)The Conference is aiming to do this through:
I began a new program this week to try and help me find a new shape in 2009.
For the twelve days of Christmas I post the explanation of those days. My comments from Ace Collins' book Stories Behind the Best Loved Songs of Christmas are in italics.
The song goes, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…"
The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn’t refer to an earthly suitor, but it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. i.e. the Church.
|1st Day:||The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge because she would feign injury to decoy a predator away from her nestlings. She was even willing to die for them. |
The tree is the symbol of the fall of the human race through the sin of Adam and Eve. It is also the symbol of its redemption by Jesus Christ on the tree of the Cross.
|2nd Day:||The "two turtle doves" refers to the Old and New Testaments.|
|3rd Day:||The "three French hens" stand for faith, hope and love—the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1 Corinthians 13). Or the three gifts of the Magi - Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. |
|4th Day:||The "four calling birds" refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.|
|5th Day:||The "five golden rings" represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.|
|6th Day:||The "six geese a-laying" is the six days of creation.|
|7th Day:||The "seven swans a-swimming" refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.|
|8th Day:||The "eight maids a milking " reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount. The maids a milking reminds us that Christ came for everyone, even the lowliest of persons, like the milk maids of England at the time |
|9th Day:||The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.|
|10th Day:||The "ten lords a-leaping" represents the Ten Commandments|
|11th Day:||The "eleven pipers piping" refers to the eleven faithful apostles.|
|12th Day:||The ‘twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles’ Creed: belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, made man, crucified, died and arose on the third day, that he sits at the right hand of the father and will come again, the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.|
The short story is that for today's sermon I developed a few tidbits for the congregation from Ace Collins book Stories Behind the Best Loved Songs of Christmas
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.
Usually I love the morning. I tend to wake early in the day. Of course, I will admit that having a child who likes to get up at 5AM for her morning feeding tends to ease that routine into being more commonly.
There was a time when I planted a garden or two every year at the parsonage. I had a blast. I planted all kinds of things and called it an experimental garden.