Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: united methodist church (page 1 of 2)

Guest Post: Two Tables

by Rev. Beth Givens

This week I celebrated the sacrament of Holy Communion twice in 24 hours. That’s not normal on a non-Sunday, and for a good United Methodist like me, I’m up to celebrating 4 times this week.

Seems we are needing a lot of Jesus.

Tuesday night, when I celebrated, it was a part of Election Day Communion.  Election Day Communion is a movement among churches of different denominations to draw people together amidst the divisiveness of an election season here in the United States. We offered Election Day Communion in our congregation.

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Guest Post: A Crack in the Glass Ceiling

Inconceivable-the-princess-bride-3983999-260-300

by Rev. Lindsey Baynham

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that 2016 has been the year of realizing what might be inconceivable is not. The year where the impossible is attainable and made real. To describe this feeling, I’ll use the phrase “glass ceiling”. The origins of this phrase are credited to the mid 1980’s when women were referring to this imaginary barricade of glass that prevented them from advancing, particularly in the workplace:

“Women have reached a certain point—I call it the glass ceiling. They’re in the top of middle management and they’re stopping and getting stuck. There isn’t enough room for all those women at the top…”[1]

But what if there was enough room?

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How to Help Louisiana

source: cbsnews.com

source: cbsnews.com

Louisiana is like a second home to me.  It is the place where my wife grew up, the place where I have family.  It has been hard and difficult knowing that people are still holed up in their homes when their streets are rivers. Many are still being housed in shelters, with no idea when they will be able to return home. The damage unknown.  One report calls this the worse destruction since Hurricane Sandy. The death toll is rising, and thousands of have been rescued.

It has been tough watching the news and updates on Facebook.

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Praying in the Woods

I left the house, most likely barefoot, and started walking through the woods. There was a path that had been worn in the dirt from all the other times I had walked this path. It is what I did when I needed to clear my head, ponder something, or escape from the stressors of teenage life. I would later have the epiphany that what was really happening was prayer. I was communing with the Creator.

There was an old stump by the creek where I would go and sit and think . . . . .I mean, pray.

Source: http://www.wildfrogphotography.com

Source: http://www.wildfrogphotography.com

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Guest Post: The Grasshoppers of Life

by Rev. Mark Winter

washing_3262c-2Read Joel 2:1-2; 12-17

My dad grew up in a Texas sharecropper’s shack during the Great Depression. He was barely a teenager when the “Grasshopper Wars” began. The winged insects darkened the sky like storm clouds, swooping down on crops and stripping them to stubble. Driving turned dangerous as the roads became slick with grasshoppers. Women grumbled because the pests chewed holes in their fresh-hung laundry.

Some 2700 years before this Dust Bowl plague, a battalion of grasshoppers invaded a country far from Texas. These “locusts,” as the prophet Joel called them, were any number of insects that resembled grasshoppers, but were usually larger and even more destructive: “What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten” (Joel 1:4, NRSV).

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Guest Post: The Reality of Ebola in Our Lives as God’s People

The Rev. Nancy Robinson is an ordained deacon in the Virginia Conference and, along with her husband Kip, missionaries to Sierra Leone. She reflects on the reality of Ebola in our lives as God’s people in the world.

Kip and NancyKip and I, General Board of Global Ministries missionaries to Sierra Leone, are currently exiled to the United States and are asked not to return until a later date to be determined by those in leadership; Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church and leadership in Sierra Leone. We are standing in the gap, sharing the story of an amazing people and help those here in the States to understand the context and put a face on what is a concern on all of our minds.

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Sierra Leone Bishop on Ebola Crisis

 

Bishop John Yambasu of Sierra Leone shares about the Ebola crisis in the video from the Minnesota Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Since Jesus Passed By

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A number of years ago while part of a work camp in Durham, North Carolina, I was assigned to work with a group of young people on the house of an elderly African-American woman. Before even meeting her, I was informed that she was a cancer survivor who had adopted her two granddaughters. I decided that I was not going to get to close to this woman. I was going to be there for the young people and minister to them. That, I had decided, was my purpose that week.

Why?

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Guest Post: Ash Wednesday

by Rev. Alan Combs

Lent Ponderings - jasoncstanley.comOn Ash Wednesday, we hear the words “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return” as ashes are placed on our forehead in the sign of a cross in order to remember both that we are mortals, that we are creatures of a Creator.  We remember also that our death and our life are wrapped up in the One we are following to the Cross.

One thing I always find so fascinating and helpful on Ash Wednesday is the Gospel lesson for the day.  It comes from Matthew 6:1-6, and 16-21, which contains this admonition from Jesus:

Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven (Matthew 6:1). 

Jesus goes on to describe the various ways that hypocrites practice things like their prayers and fasting out in front of others so that people can see them as pious.  Now here’s the curious thing.  Jesus gives this caution, and our next move is to put Ashes on our forehead and wear them out in public all day long, so that people can see we them!

It should immediately give us a holy gut check.  If we are showing up with this Ashes so that people will see how awesome we are, or, as is often the case, how much better we are than other people, that we might as well not show up at all.

Instead, we wear the ashes publicly to name that we are mortal and that we are sinners.

We don’t wear them to show how much we have it all together.  We wear them to show how broken we are, and how much we need Jesus.  It’s a public declaration of “I’m not OK” in a world where we try to hide any kind of vulnerability, so that we won’t be perceived as “weak” or having “baggage.”

The ashes are a public declaration of our baggage.

It’s also a public remember that we all will die, which is one of the great subjects we hope to avoid thinking about at all costs, even though in our society death surrounds us.

The ashes are a public declaration that we are all going to die, but that they are in the shape of a cross reminds us that there is One who came to do something about death. 

For me, Ash Wednesday’s power comes in how tangible it is.  To apply the ashes requires human contact.  We feel the texture of the ashes on our forehead.  They are just so visible.  They make us so visible. And so we guard our hearts as we heart Jesus’ words from Matthew 6 echoing in our hearts and minds.

Rev. Alan Combs is the pastor at Lane Memorial United Methodist Church in Alta Vista, Virginia.

My Call to Ministry Part 2

College was great! I had excellent professors who were mentors to me. B. J. Seymour, Steve Tuell, and Ira Andrews opened my eyes to the Bible and to the faith way beyond anything Sunday school had ever taught me. They also nurtured my call to ministry. They saw within me something that God was doing that I was still trying to get okay with.

My first semester at Randolph-Macon, the education class I took had us placed in classrooms to observe. We were to also teach one class. I was placed in a 7th grade civics class. Other than my limited experience in the youth ministry at the time, I didn’t know what to do in a civics class. Give me some marshmallows or a few rolls of toilet paper, and we can play some crazy games. But civics?

Part of the project was to interview the teacher of that class. We used his lunch break as our time to talk. I spent most of my time talking with him about faith and religion than I did about education. One day he flat out told me that if had it to do again, he wouldn’t teach. The amount of time he actually got to spend on just teaching wasn’t in comparison to the amount of time he spent doing all the other stuff.

Drs. Seymour, Tuell, and Andrews all encouraged me to go to seminary. They also encouraged me in making connections between pop culture and our faith.

After graduating from Randolph-Macon College in 2004, I went straight to seminary, attending Union Theological and Presbyterian School of Christian Education, now called Union Presbyterian Seminary. My time in seminary would send me into another whirlwind of discernment. I spent a lot of time struggling with whether or not I was being called to ordained ministry. There was no doubt in my mind that God had called me to ministry, but did my vocational calling fall under the heading of “clergy?”

My mentor at the time, Mary Sue Swann, and I spent a lot time discussing this. She would recommend that I read the book A Deacon’s Heart. Margart Ann Crain and Jack Seymour’s words were telling me who I was in a way I had never experienced before. These words affirmed my calling to ordained ministry as a servant leader in the life of the church, being a bridge between the Word and the world.

UMC Order of DeaconMore importantly, it introduced to me the Order of Deacon in the United Methodist Church. Mary Sue introduced to me that the image of clergy that I had – the solo pastor who preached every Sunday and “ran” the church – was not the only image the church had of clergy. I learned that I have a deacon’s heart, longing for the healing of creation, plus mutual and connecting ministries that reach the poor and the hungry; the sick and the imprisoned; the lost and the lonely.

My last semester in seminary, however, was a tough semester. All my classes were tough and demanding classes. My work load was the heaviest it had been in all my time in seminary. After graduating in 2007, I took a year to discern if ordained ministry was indeed where God was calling me. I felt in that last semester that I had not heard much from God on this. I audited a class that spring with Dr. Katie Cannon, whose words of wisdom helped me put things in perspective. That fall I enrolled to take three seminary courses that were required by the United Methodist Church, but were not required for my Masters in Christian Education.

The rest, as they say, is history. I was ordained as a Deacon in Full Connection at the Virginia Annual Conference in June 2013.

Ordained!

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