A God So Smitten

Today, I’m re-upping a quote from Kenda Creasy Dean. I don’t know about you, but I need the reminder.

“The Christian God-story emphasizes a God so smitten with creation that God chooses to enter creation with us, and stops at nothing—not even death—to win us back.” [1]

And according to scriptures like Romans 8.18-23, when God gets us back, all of creation will come with us. But what I like best about this statement is the use of the word smitten. I had never heard that word used to describe God’s love for us before. God’s love for us is so powerful, so profound, so vast and so everlasting that we’re always in danger of underestimating or understating it. I’m going to add smitten to the repository of words I use to describe the love that God has for us.

[1] Kenda Creasy. Dean, Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church (New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).

Voices: Augustine of Hippo on Riches

Below is the quote from the great theologian Augustine of Hippo. I find that I need to pray the closing prayer on a regular basis.

“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.” — Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 133

I’ll simply say Amen.

That Was On Me

Last Sunday, the old computer that we used for running the worship slides decided it didn’t want to work properly anymore. Since we typically have middle school or high school students (who use iPads for school) running the slides we decided to save money and replace the old computer with an iPad.

I plugged the new iPad in and had everything all set up, but I didn’t relay all the relevant information to the person running slides and sound. So the small snag we encountered during this afternoon’s worship service was my fault. Things have been relabeled to ensure that the next time something goes wrong, it will be something else entirely.

Voices: Not Left to Our Own Devices

I read this long ago, but I just came across it again this week:

The cross is not a sign of the church’s quiet, suffering submission to the powers-that-be, but rather the church’s revolutionary participation in the victory of Christ over those powers. The cross is not a symbol for general human suffering and oppression. Rather, the cross is a sign of what happens when one takes God’s account of reality more seriously than Caesar’s. The cross stands as God’s (and our) eternal no to the powers of death, as well as God’s eternal yes to humanity, God’s remarkable determination not to leave us to our own devices. — Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon [1]

Whether I’m looking at the general human condition, or simply my own life, I’m thankful that we have a God who does not leave us to our own devices.

[1] Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon, Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony, expanded ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2014), 47.

Additional Copies of Worship and Song

At present we don’t have very many copies of Worship and Song (the green songbook). We would like to have enough copies to place them in the pews throughout the sanctuary. For that reason the Memorials Committee is inviting people to donate a copy in memory of someone they love for $12. We hope to have someone in the narthex/lobby with bookplates you can fill out this coming Sunday.

May is Food Pantry Month

May is the month First UMC traditionally provides food and funds for the operation of the Community Food Pantry which helps supply food and utility funds for those less fortunate. The following is a list of the immediate needs of the food pantry:

Baking Supplies: cake and muffin mixes, frosting, oil, flour, and sugar
Canned Foods: fruit, vegetables, soup, condiments, and meat substitutes
Cereal: hot cereal, cold cereal, cereal and breakfast bars
Cleaning Supplies: laundry soap, dish soap, and hand soap
Paper Goods: toilet tissue, paper towels, napkins, and facial tissue
Pasta: macaroni, noodles, and spaghetti
Personal Hygiene: shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, women’s feminine products, disposable diapers, men’s shaving supplies, hand and body lotions, and creams
Meats: any kind of canned meat and fish, especially tuna
Miscellaneous: peanut butter, jelly, coffee, tea, ramen noodles, rice, dry beans, crackers, juice, syrup, instant potatoes, hamburger helpers, spices, salt and pepper, jello, and pudding mixes

Grocery bags (complete with a list of needs attached) will be available on Sunday mornings beginning tomorrow (May 5, 2019) and then throughout rest of the month to take home with you and fill, and then return the following Sunday or to the church office during the week. This year everything we receive will be going to the Community Food Pantry (not the Little Free Pantry on site), so feel free to bring larger items.

Changes to the Resolution

I have made some changes in the Resolution I submitted to the 2019 Great Plains Annual Conference. Along with the changes I included the following note:

The changes above (deletions crossed out and additions underlined) were made to avoid having the resolution declared out-of-order. They were made in light of Judicial Council Decisions 1297 and 1340 and after conversation with Bishop Saenz. I am disappointed the Great Plains Annual Conference cannot decide whether or not it’s money shall be expended for the purpose of enforcing the discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ+ policies found in our current polity, but I do not want the entire resolution to be declared out-of-order and set aside. I am hopeful that other means to the same ends will be successful.

If you no longer wish to have your name on the resolution you can email me at john@revcollins.com. (You will need to use the same email that you signed on with.) If you’re still supportive and have not yet signed the resolution you may do so athttps://goo.gl/forms/aG3y9HMlZNY8EoHD3

2020 Scholarship Applications

We recently announced scholarship recipients for the 2019-2020 academic year. Next year’s applications are already available on the downloads page of the church’s website. Next year’s applications must be completed in full and submitted to the church office or the AHS Counselors’ office by 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 8, 2020, to be eligible for consideration. If you’re going to submit your application before March 2020, I would encourage you to do so via an email to office@abilenefirstumc.org so that you have a record of your submission. I would also advise you to double check if you don’t receive a reply confirming that your application was received.

Link: https://abilenefirstumc.org/downloads/