Voices: William Faulkner

Yesterday, I preached on Christian freedom using Galatians 5:1-6, 13-25. Today I came across the following quote from William Faulkner: “We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” [1] Faulkner was talking about freedom in general, but his words apply to freedom in Christ as well. Let us practice holiness and love; that we might be truly free.


[1] William Faulkner, “On Fear: The South in Labor,” Harper’s Magazine, May 31, 1956, pp. 29-34, 34.

Some of My “Quirks”

This post was included in the CAUMC newsletter and printed as a bulletin insert, but I’m reposting it here to be thorough.

A few weeks ago one of the members at College Avenue UMC asked one of the members at Abilene First UMC what I was really like. The answer they got was: “John’s quirky, but you’ll like him.” It made my day to be called quirky. I plan to share my faith journey with you next Sunday, but for now, here are some of my quirks:

  • I use punctuation, including periods, in text messages. I’m not angry, I’m just 50 years old.
  • My sense of humor is “quirky.” I’ll try to keep it under wraps until we get to know one another, but I can’t promise anything.
  • I often laugh with my whole body.
  • Solemnity is not my default setting, but I can be solemn when I need to be.
  • I love books. Both the having and the reading.
  • You can just call me John. But Pastor John, Rev. Collins, etc. are also okay.
  • I like LEGO building sets to an extent that probably merits an intervention.
  • My sermons sometimes make references to classic movies like “The Princess Bride.”
  • I love questions (especially theological questions). Feel free to specify whether you want a short answer or a detailed one.
  • Sometimes, in a sermon, I’ll ask you “does that make sense?” A tweet from Twitter user @DrAmyPsyD explains what I’m thinking: “When I say, ‘Does that make sense?,’ it’s not because I don’t think you’re smart. It’s because I think that I am incoherent.”
  • My wife, Jenny Collins, is your District Superintendent (DS). Jenny can’t be my DS. My DS is Karen Rice Ratzlaff.
  • I’m a fan of the Oxford, a.k.a. the serial, comma—I even have a t-shirt. If you feel differently, I would love to have a friendly, ongoing feud.
  • I am not good with names, but I’m trying.
  • When I talk about “sportsball,” I’m not making fun of sports, I’m making fun of my lack of knowledge about sports. I’m happy to go to sporting events to spend time with friends/parishioners, but it is very unlikely that I will go by myself.
  • Sometimes I can guess what you’re thinking, but not often. I can’t read minds at all.
  • The photograph (soon to be) in my office of the old KSU football field with the message “Thanks John for being a great wildcat. Warm Regards, Bill Snyder,” was given to my Grandpa John. But having it so close to the current stadium would make him happy.
  • I went to Fort Hays State University, but my wife and three out of four of my grandparents went to K-State. I have a great deal of fondness for this University. (Including the fact that it was founded in 1863 as the nation’s first land-grant institution.)
  • My daughter, Liz, attends an institution of higher learning 85 miles east of here. Jesus said “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” so part of my heart is there.
  • I love learning new things and continue to study history (my major) in my spare time.
  • I’ve been told that don’t always recognize sarcasm. A sign would probably be helpful.
  • I get excited when good things happen. This sometimes involves a happy dance.
  • I’m not particularly eager to go to places/events by myself. Like most people, I get nervous going to places where I don’t know anyone (or even where I know only a few people). Many, if not most, parishioners want their pastor to be active in the community. The best way you can help this along is to extend an invitation to a ball game, a concert, a play, a club meeting, the parade, the fair, etc. You don’t need to pay my way. What my mother calls “Dutch Treat” is fine, even preferable.
  • I have been hooked on technology since the fifth grade when I was introduced to my first computer (a TRS-80) at school.
  • I love Phineas and Ferb. My favorite episode is “Rollercoaster: the Musical!”
  • My French nephews love my “homemade” (store-bought) cheesecake. They call me “Mr. Fake Cheesecake Man.”
  • I love both dogs and cats. (Dogs remind you that you are wonderful, loved, and made in God’s image. Cats remind you not to take yourself to seriously.) However, I tend to be allergic to most of them and so I avoid them. It’s not that I don’t want to make friends with your pet, it’s that I don’t want to spend 24-48 hours sneezing afterwards.
  • Feel free to call my cell phone (620-252-9622) anytime for an emergency and from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. for non-emergencies. Please note that calls received between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. will be answered and responded to coherently, but will not remembered in the morning.
  • I blog at revcollins.com. You can sign up there to have new posts emailed to you.

Worship — Sunday, June 19, 2022

I finally managed to overcome technical difficulties and get this video uploaded. This was my final sermon. (Services were not recorded on the Sundays I was gone.)

If you want to follow along with bulletin you can follow this link or the link in the menu above.

If you’re having trouble streaming our worship videos, you may want to simply download the entire video to your device and then play it. You can do that by clicking on the link in the Vimeo logo above and then selecting download.

You can make a contribution online via tithe.ly. Other options can be found here.

Previous worship services can be found at abilenefirstumc.org/onlineworship/.

A Quick Post to Wrap Up a Loose End

I want to make a quick post to wrap up a loose end. I got to talk to Rick Saylor at the Great Plains Annual Conference meeting. He had a great time worshiping with you on June 5, 2022. I got a lot of feedback about how you all enjoyed having him back. And I’m so happy that he was willing to fill in for me. The bad news I need to deliver is this: Rick had a great time, but he told me that June 5 was his last time to do that. He’s going out on a high note, and I admire his judgment.

One Final Time

I’m looking forward to worship tomorrow at 8:15 and 10:30. It will be my final Sunday with all of you. Jenny’s coming back to say farewell too (we didn’t have a chance to do much of that during COVID-19). We’ll have the sacrament of Baptism (Allison Sue Heger) at the early service and the sacrament of Holy Communion at both services. I look forward to feasting with you all one last time.

P.S. I plan to put this service online at: https://abilenefirstumc.org/onlineworship/

Weeping For Children

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”
— Matthew 2:18 (NRSVue)

There was a horrible slaughter at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas yesterday. There is very little left to be said about the school shootings that plague us, but there is a great deal to be done. Tears are appropriate, thoughts and prayers are good, but action is required. There are many of our representatives from whom action is long overdue.

Worship — Sunday, May 22, 2022

If you want to follow along with bulletin you can follow this link or the link in the menu above.

If you’re having trouble streaming our worship videos, you may want to simply download the entire video to your device and then play it. You can do that by clicking on the link in the Vimeo logo above and then selecting download.

You can make a contribution online via tithe.ly. Other options can be found here.

Previous worship services can be found at abilenefirstumc.org/onlineworship/.