Voices: Frederick Buechner on Joseph

Many of you have already been to Great Plains Theatre’s excellent production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The script does not bring out the theological aspects of the story, but they are still there, just beneath the surface.

Frederick Buechner has a witty, concise, and enjoyable summary of the story of Joseph and his brothers that you can read in full here. Here’s his conclusion:

“Almost as much as it is the story of how Israel was saved from famine and extinction, it is the story of how Joseph was saved as a human being. It would be interesting to know which of the two achievements cost God the greater effort and which was the one he was prouder of.” [2]

Joseph’s individual salvation was intertwined with God’s plan to save the people of Israel. God’s deliverance of the people of Israel was ultimately for the sake of all the world. Both were saved that others might be saved; both were blessed that they might be a blessing. How can we not see that the same is true of each of us? [3]


[1] I’m biased because Liz is in the production as Rachel, but even so, this is an excellent production.
[2] Frederick Buechner, “Joseph and His Brethren,” frederickbuechner.com, August 16, 2019, https://bit.ly/2YT6AiZ.
[3] The alternate title of this post would have been “Save the cheerleader, save the world.” But I thought that might be too obscure a Heroes reference.

Voices: Be Present in the Present

“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present . . . gratefully.” — Maya Angelou [1]


[1] As quoted in Diana Butler Bass, Grateful: the Transformative Power of Giving Thanks (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2018), Kindle, 67.

Blessing of the Backpacks

Next Sunday Morning, August 18, 2019, we’ll have the blessing the backpacks. All children are invited to bring their backpacks up to the chancel with them during the children’s time. The backpacks, and more importantly, the children they belong to, will be blessed for the new year of school. School personnel are also encouraged to bring their work bags to worship and participate, but even if you don’t, we’ll be praying for you.

Couples in Alphabetical Order

We’re changing the way that the names of couples are listed in the church contact directory. Out of concern for any confusion that might arise from today’s sermon, we’re just going to use alphabetical order in future editions. E.g. your pastors will be listed as “Collins, Jennifer and John.”

Tithes, Offerings, and Payment Box

A secure dropbox has been installed in the office for tithes, offerings, and payments (e.g. books, coffee, etc.). This dropbox works just like a locking offering plate. You can use an offering envelope or the memo line of your check to designate your gift. Anything undesignated will go into the general fund.

Philippians Bible Study Beginning September 7

An eight-session Bible study on Paul’s letter to the Philippians is planned for this Fall. We’ll be using a short, $9 $10 study book by N. T. Wright, Dale Larsen, and Sandy Larsen. This study works for those who like to prepare and study ahead of time and for those who just want to show up and discuss the passage. 

This Bible study will start on Saturday, September 7, 2019, at 8:30 a.m. and continue every Saturday for a total of eight weeks. We can adjust the time in the weeks to follow if a majority of participants want to. You are welcome, indeed encouraged to bring a breakfast dish to share.

There will a sign-up sheet for this study in the narthex/lobby or you can send an email to john@revcollins.com.

Thank You to Summer Lunch Volunteers

I’ve twice said this from the pulpit, but I want to make sure that everyone who volunteered for the summer lunch program knows how much their efforts and assistance were appreciated. You have the gratitude of the school district employees who ran the program and the thanks of Jenny, Clark, and I (John) as well.

Voices: What Christianity Really Is

“I’m tired of having to explain to my children what Christianity really is as opposed to what they’re hearing it is from the loudest people.” — Jill Lang [1]

I’m just going to let that stand on its own, I can’t improve upon it.


[1] A personal conversation on July 30, 2019.

Special Music: Joseph and His Brother

Jenny and I went to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat last night at the Great Plains Theatre. It was an excellent production.* (Although I am biased as Liz is playing Rachel.) It also gave me another reason to look forward to the 10:30 worship service tomorrow. Layne Roate (who plays Joseph) and Natalie Szczerba (who plays one of the brothers) will be singing How Great Thou Art with Natalie accompanying on the ukelele. It promises to be a great, one-of-a-kind performance.

On a much less important note, I received a big box of chocolates from the Russell Stover parade entry on Thursday, and I plan to share it at the after-service coffee time.

*Shameless promotional plug: it really was a great production of a beloved musical. All the kids in it came through a special Bootcamp held in our basement. It’s not cheap, but they do offer $20 tickets ($10 for students) on Thursdays.