Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: united methodist (page 2 of 7)

Day of Prayer Confession

In the Virginia Conference, today (Pentecost Sunday) is a Day of Prayer. Bishop Cho has asked the churches to be in prayer for renewal and revival for the church.  I tailored the prayer of confession in today’s traditional services for the occasion:

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Merciful God, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart. We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will, we have done harm when we should have done good. We have not stayed in love with you. We have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy. Forgive us. Renew us. Free us to be the church you have called us to be. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, transform us and shape us so that we may make disciples for the transformation of the world.

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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.

Sermon: The Lord is in This Place

VBS 2014 Ponderings

DSCN2128Last week was Vacation Bible School at Peakland United Methodist. It was my second VBS at Peakland, probably my 34th since birth – maybe 35th because I wouldn’t be surprised if I was at a VBS while in the womb. I’ve been pondering that this VBS was probably one of the best VBSs I’ve ever been to.

Perhaps it was the 100 children in the building.

Perhaps it was the close to 45 youth and adult volunteers who made it happen.

Perhaps it was the amazing curriculum from Group Publishing: Weird Animals.

Perhaps it was the excitement of putting loose change in a water-filled pool for Heifer International.

Perhaps it was the coordination across the generations in the various mission projects throughout the week.

Or perhaps it was the endless message of the gospel: Jesus loves you.

Every day during the week we were reminded just how much Jesus loves us. Even though we are left out, are different, don’t understand, do wrong, or are afraid, Jesus still loves us. We were often reminded of that love and that grace throughout the week. Even though we aren’t sure we want to be at VBS and scream and kick and hide under the table, Jesus loves us. Even though we hit our friend while on the playground or be difficult with our adult leaders, Jesus loves us. Even though we get really upset when we lose a game and stomp our feet, Jesus loves us.

Perhaps it was reading the blog posts that some of our adult and youth volunteers wrote about VBS. It was clear that there was a joy that moved way beyond the children to the volunteers as well. Perhaps it was leading the Bible story station with Pastor John. We took turns. I would go from telling the Bible story to 5-6 graders, to 2nd graders, to young 4-year-olds. The young 4s were the only group that did their Bible story in the “jungle” (also known as the Narthex). They listened – I mean – listened – to the stories and asked questions. They were engaged and willing to participate in the storytelling.

dscn2541-2Perhaps it was the willingness of so many of the children to let me wash their feet during one of the Bible stories (based on John 13). Even though they didn’t understand, they were okay with it. And even though I had to wash my hands a number of times that day to get rid of that “I just touched feet” smile, it was okay. Because something spiritual, something holy, had happened. We were being Christ-like.

And perhaps that’s what made this VBS so special. We were all being Christ-like. Yeah, we had fun with the puppets and the playground. We had fun making stuff – but most of that stuff was for other people, like our friends at the Williams Home or L’Arche. We saw some really weird animals, but at the same time we learned that its okay to be different, like our friend Ray who brought some of his weird animals for us to see. I saw children patiently and humbly help their classmates who were different adjust and remind them of what was going on. I saw adult and youth volunteers take special care for those children who needed a little bit of extra attention during parts of the day. And I saw parents, filled with hope, pick up their children and rejoice with them when they learned how much money they had raised for Heifer International.

It was a good week – it was an amazing week! And after a week or so of rest, we just might start planning next year’s VBS.

 

Flamingos

We held a fundraiser at our church for the Youth Mission Fund where the congregation could “vote” for someone’s yard (choosing from four people) to get flocked with flamingos by the youth. Their votes were in dollars. The person with the most “votes” won the flocking. Well, I won this year, and here is the flocking:

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