Spirit of the living God,
Fall afresh on me.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God,
Fall afresh on me.
United Methodist Hymnal, #393
Have you ever watched a child play with play-dough? It is a pretty new phenomenon at our house. Baby J hasn’t figured out that she can create things with the play-dough, but she sure loves breaking it a part (an elder in training?). As her little hands grip the play-dough, and squeeze it between her fingers, she pulls the dough a part creating a new piece.
Here is the thing: the play-dough doesn’t put up a fight.
It was made to be pulled apart and molded into new things. The original container-rounded shape of the play-dough is not its intended shape. It was created to be formed into something new. And if, during the creation process, it doesn’t quite turn out the way you wanted it, you start over. You roll that play-dough back into a big ball of dough and you start molding and forming all over again.
One of the things we do at our house now that we have a toddler is watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. It’s a cartoon on PBS based on characters developed my Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood fame. In one of the episodes, Mom Tiger teaches Daniel a song about using his words. “Use your words, and say how you feel,” they sing.
Here’s the song:
by Emma Johnston
“One of the most effective means of disengaging the church from the work of justice is making injustice a philosophical concept” – Soong Chan Rah.
Over the past three years, I was a full time seminarian at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. From the very first class, my faith was challenged. One of the most beautiful things of the seminary environment is that your faith is questioned, broken down, and then built up through deeper learning and understanding of Scripture and its interactions with other texts, and the ministry that we are engaging in during our internships.
In September of 2015, my small group and I endeavored to learn more about systemic issues in our world. Our focus was the death penalty and for them, and for me, it was a chance to challenge our beliefs and to engage in a conversation that is often not had on college campuses. We watched the movie Dead Man Walking, and some of the young women still felt like capital punishment was a viable option, whereas some were challenged to reflect more on the justice system that our country champions but on both sides, there was compassion and a willingness to listen and question themselves.
Esther: The Belle of Patience, Erin Weidemann, Bible Belles, 2016.
We are living in an age of superheroes. They are everywhere! At the movies, in comic books, on television, the toy aisle, on snacks in the grocery store, diapers, clothes. . . . I could go on. The creators of Bible Belles want girls to know that superheroes can be found in an unlikely place – the Bible.
Bible Belles came to be out of the concern of an aunt waiting to get something special and unique for her niece. So, a book about the biblical Hannah was written and assembled for the niece Hannah. This creative gift is giving birth to a series of books, the second of which is Esther: The Belle of Patience. Other heroes in the series include Abigail, Ruth, and Deborah.
Hate hardens hearts.
Fear narrows minds.
Bigotry slams doors.
This was my last sermon at Peakland United Methodist. I preached on Luke 7:36-8:3. This audio is from the Horizons Praise service, where we watched a YouTube video of a 1960’s commercial for the board game, The Game of Life. You can also listen on the Podcast app by subscribing here.
I was invited to participate in the Baccalaureate service for EC Glass on June 5, 2016. This is what I shared.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)
This is a season of celebrations. And you have a lot to celebrate – the final concerts, the final games, the final plays, the final exams. There are classrooms you will never walk into again. You have finished, and in doing so accomplished a lot, and that is worthy of celebration.
The following is the note I wrote for Peakland Pages, the monthly newsletter at Peakland United Methodist in Lynchburg.
In a seminary class we were asked to identify five theological rocks that grounded our ministry. These “rocks” were to be the things behind why we did what we did in ministry. I could only think of two: love God and love each other. For me, this is the bottom line of the gospel.
Mother & Son: The Respect Effect, Emerson Eggerichs, W Publishing Group, 2016
Mother & Son is a new book from Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love and Respect. Through his Love and Respect conferences, Eggerichs focuses on marital relationships. In this new book, Eggerichs turns his attention to the mother and son relationship.
As the subtitle suggests, Eggerichs proposal is that while it is important for a mother to show love to her son, showing him respect is key to his heart. Eggerichs suggests and coaches how respect-talk can transform the mother-son relationship.
Here is the audio of my sermon from May 29, 2016 at Peakland United Methodist Church. The text was Galatians 1:1-12, Luke 7:1-10, and 1 Kings 18:20-39. You can also listen on the Podcast app by subscribing here.