Any donation made to the First United Methodist Church Endowed Fund at the Dickinson County Community Foundation will be matched on Friday, March 20, 2020. You can make your donation from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in person at The Elk’s Club or online at http://www.donatedickinson.com. If you want to give, but can’t make it to the Elks on Friday, March 20, feel free to put your check in the offering plate, or bring it by the office before then.
“It is time to be loudly kind, to be obnoxiously compassionate, to be irritatingly loving. To say no to the corrosive power of contempt and to answer hatred with the strength of love. To stand up for each other. To refuse to return evil for evil and to say why that is. To have good courage and to proclaim that often. To be the strongly flavored salt we are and the beautifully bright light we are, not only on Sundays when we are all together, but even more importantly in all of those other quiet, normal times and places in our lives during the week. For being salt and light is not just what we are called to do. It is who we are. So let us live fully and loudly and publicly as who we are, for God will use our witness. And our world will change. We will be changed. That is our promise. That is our truth. Amen.” — Shannon J. Kershner 
 Kershner, Shannon J. “Adding and Shining.” Fourth Presbyterian Church, February 9, 2020. https://www.fourthchurch.org.
The deadline to apply for First United Methodist Church Scholarships for the 2020-2021 Academic Year is April 8, 2020. Applications can be found at abilenefirstumc.org/downloads/.
Received from Joan Anderson, USD 435 Board Clerk:
“Thank you so much for the hats, gloves, socks, and underwear that were donated to our district for our students. I never would have thought of socks and underwear, but they were the first things to go. Your kindness and generosity is greatly appreciated. On behalf of the USD 435 Board of Education, staff, and students, THANK YOU!”
Mary Jones has died. On Thursday, February 20, 2020, there will be a visitation in the narthex at 9:30 a.m. and a Service of Death and Resurrection in the sanctuary at 10:00 a.m. Interment will follow at Abilene Cemetery. Many of you have fond memories of Mary, and I would love to read about them. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) is looking to hire a Parish Visitor as Pastor Jenny Collins moves to become a District Superintendent. This will be a paid position of fewer than eight hours per week directly under the pastor’s supervision. You may submit your name (and, if you want, a brief statement of interest) to John Collins or Stacy Gonzales by Wednesday, February 26, 2020. The SPRC will consider applicants at their regular meeting on Monday, March 2, 2020.
The Board of Trustees encourages able-bodied members to park further away from the church on Sunday mornings. This way those who have difficulty getting around will be able to park in the front row.
Update: This also has the effect of leaving a space close to the building for first-time visitors and guests.
The work of salvation, in its full sense, is (1) about whole human beings, not merely souls; (2) about the present, not simply the future; and (3) about what God does through us, not merely what God does in and for us. If we can get this straight, we will rediscover the historic basis for the full-orbed mission of the church.— N. T. Wright 
We need to get this right for our own sake, for the sake of the church, and for the sake of the world. When they founded the Methodist movement, John and Charles Wesley got this right.
 N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (New York: Harper Collins, 2008), 200.
This Sunday I’ll be preaching on Matthew 5:13-20, focusing on 17-20. This is the scripture reading that I polled you about earlier on in the week. I started this sermon without knowing where I was going to end up. It has not been an easy journey, but I’m happy with the destination. I feel the Spirit has been with me and I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with you.
Augustine of Hippo was a great theologian and biblical scholar. He was a teacher who became the bishop of Hippo (in modern day Algeria). He was born in 354 A.D. and died of old age in 430 A.D. as the barbarian Vandals were besieging the city.
“They [riches] are gained with toil and kept with fear. They are enjoyed with danger and lost with grief. It is hard to be saved if we have them; and impossible if we love them; and scarcely can we have them but we shall love them inordinately. Teach us, O Lord, this difficult lesson: to manage conscientiously the goods we possess, and not covetously desire more than you give us.” — Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 133
Augustine’s influence on the western church was immense. Whether you know of him or not, whether you recognize it or not, how you think about God has been influenced by Augustine. I pray that the way he thought about riches might profoundly affect both your thinking and your living.
I received a notice of copyright infringement from a cable company this morning. Luckily it was for the previous church (where my email has somehow gotten stuck on the account). But it got me thinking about the possibility that the church here in Abilene could get one because of the way we offer free public WiFi. I would like to avoid that possibility. The expensive way to do it is through better equipment, the free way to do it is to stop offering public WiFi. Therefore, my question for the congregation: do you use the church’s public WiFi? If you’re reading this on the blog, you can drop me a line at email@example.com; if you’re reading this on facebook and twitter, you and comment below; or if you’re reading this in an email you can simply hit reply.
February is one of the months when we need volunteers to provide snacks (usually cookies) and prepare coffee and juice for the fellowship time after the 10:30 worship services. Volunteer(s) are still needed for this coming Sunday, (February 9, 2020). Drop me a line if you’re willing to volunteer.