Thursday, December 22, 2011


I have to admit I am a bit of a Methodist Geek...but more uniquely in the reading kind of way.
And I have been searching for a word that describes the collection of Methodist Memorabilia, is it Methophilia?

Lately, I have been cataloging my collection of Disciplines, and next it will be the Hymn books (I just have to find a good reference book for a Methodist Hymnograph)

I read all kinds of literature, and subscribe to countless (okay I could count them, but I don't) UM blogs, twitter feeds and Facebook friends and pages.

I recently opened up the UM Connector from the Oregon Idaho Conference, to find them quoting a Bishop from Minnesota, Bishop Sally Dyck (found online here: ) I have reprinted that here at the end of this post. And then a little more about the Nativity scene as we know it from another Methodist Blogger from Wales - Richard Hall is here:


The Smell of Christmas Is Not Always Pretty
By Bishop Sally Dyck*

Imagine this. You go to church, and the pastor dumps a bag of manure in the center aisle. Soon the stench begins to overwhelm the other aromas: the cologne people received in their Christmas stockings, pine branches, candles burning.

That might be the best Christmas sermon you could receive: a sensory message that jars your thinking about what Christmas is.

You see, the Christmas story begins with a certain stench. It’s not just the cattle in the barn, but an economic situation where the emperor is taking a census to increase taxes in an already depressed economy. Political situations where people live as captives. Personal situations, such as Mary giving birth away from home. Her new family being homeless.

Christmas was born in stench.

For many people this Christmas, life stinks. Today it stinks that Grandma has Alzheimer’s and sometimes doesn’t even recognize your voice. It stinks to get that cancer diagnosis. It stinks to endure surgery. For some, it stunk long before the economic downturn, before they lost their jobs, before they wondered if anything would ever be the way it once was, before they got cancer, before the divorce, before bad things happened. For others, the stink is fresh and new, overpowering in its physical and spiritual pungency. We’ve all faced times in our lives and with each other that stink.

But life stinks sometimes, whether we made the stink ourselves or it just happens to us like a pile of manure being dumped on our parade.

Yet, even in the midst of the stink, the message of Christmas is: God is with us . . . and there must be a pony in there somewhere!

But how will people know God is with us and there’s hope, like getting that pony, unless we who claim faith in Christ Jesus share that love with them?

It’s a sweet-smelling Christmas for others and us when we share the love of God, the love of family and a faith community, and a hope that only comes from Christ Jesus to make a difference in a world that sometimes really stinks.

* Bishop Sally Dyck is episcopal leader of the Minnesota Area

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Okay, so I probably need more help from my more scholarly friends out there on this one.

I have been preaching Wesley's forms of Grace - Prevenient, Justifying, Sanctifying and Perfected in Love, with the attendant actions of human kind, repentance, restoration, and holy action during the Advent season this year.

I have also been doing this backward, which means it was Prevenient Grace that I preached this past Sunday. As such, I delved a little into Augustinian Theology.

Now, this is where some corrective may be necessary. I understand Augustine to tell us that we are at Core, born into original sin, and therefore sinful. I held this in contrast to Wesley, who seems to say, we are at Core made in the image of God, and therefore Holy beings. Original Sin, then, in a Wesleyan context is our own "bent to sinning", which introduces Prevenient Grace. Prevenient Grace is God's permanent call to each of us that we are loved and desired for relationship. God doesn't sit idly by while we figure out whether to come back, but is constantly searching the horizon for our return (those who are hearing the story of the Prodigal Son in echo may have a fuller picture of the sermon).

Justification then is what happens when we return to God, but does not stop upon our return to God.

I dare say that Augustine might well be missing the Sanctification element of Wesley. For if we are at Core sinful beings, and justification restores us to God's presence, then there is no real chance of losing salvation for Augustine, which Wesley definitely says is possible - losing salvation that is.

Just thinking out loud, and checking myself.