Tomorrow’s Sermon

I (John) haven’t preached a sermon since May 12, 2019. So I’m really looking forward to preaching tomorrow (June 22, 2019). To make up for lost time, I plan to preach not one, but rather three sermons. Fear not, they will be short (about 5 minutes each). I’ll be preaching on 1 Kings 19:1-15; Galatians 3:23-29; and Luke 8:26-39.

God, Who Loves Strangers

Things have gone south for migrant children in Border Patrol custody. According to Rolling Stone:

The government is not required to provide migrant children in custody on the border with soap, toothbrushes, or adequate bedding, a lawyer for the Trump Justice Department insisted in court Tuesday [June 18, 2019]. A consent decree guaranteeing “safe and sanitary” conditions, the government argued, is too vague to be enforceable. The assertions left a panel of three judges for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals incredulous, with one stating plainly: “I find that inconceivable that the government would say that.” [1]

I’m glad the judges were “incredulous.” God’s concern for immigrants and refugees is clear throughout the Bible. An example (among many) can be found in Deuteronomy 10:17-19:

17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, 18 who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. 19 You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (NRSV)

“You shall also love the stranger” echoes through the demands of the law, the proclamations of the prophets, and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ who gave his life that we who were strangers might be made part of the people of God. We should not be satisfied with our country’s treatment of migrant children until it reaches the level of care and kindness we would want for our beloved children and grandchildren.


[1] Tim Dickenson, “Trump Administration Argues Migrant Children Don’t Need Soap” Rolling Stone, June 20, 2019. https://bit.ly/2XYfCqy. Rolling Stone is by no means my favorite source, but they had an article that was less political than many others and they provided source video at the end of the article.

Down Periscope

Recently we’ve been having some trouble with Periscope.com, the service we use to livestream worship services over the internet. So we’re switching to an audio-only service called Spreaker.com (I don’t like the name either). This should put less of a strain on the church’s internet connection, improve reliability, and increase the amount of control we have over our archives of the worship service all while maintaining the simplicity of our setup. You can find us at https://www.spreaker.com/user/afumc.

2019 GPAC Summary

There is a summary of the 2019 Great Plans Annual Conference available at http://bit.ly/2XA5TXkI plan to post about the Great Plains Annual Conference’s response to the 2019 General Conference in February when I get back from vacation. In the meantime, I will simply say that nothing has changed yet. If you affirm LGBTQ+ equality you have a lot of company within our Annual Conference. If you support the United Methodist Church’s current position, well the Annual Conference cannot override the actions of the General Conference.

Funeral Services for Wanda West

Wanda West has died. A Service of Death and Resurrection will be held this Friday, June 7, 2019, in the Sanctuary at 11:00 a.m. There will be a visitation from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. the evening before in the narthex/lobby. Tim Johnson will officiate as Jenny and I are in Colorado.

Or Perhaps You’re Just Acting Like a Jerk

Jesus indeed said, “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.” [1] Jesus predicted it and it does happen. However, when a Christian finds themselves hated, excluded, reviled, and defamed, it’s always a good idea for them to first do some self-examination and make sure they’re not acting like a jerk. I can confirm this from personal experience.


[1] Luke 6:22-23 (NRSV)

Funeral Services for Bill Sexton

William “Bill” A. Sexton passed away on Monday. Visitation will be on Thursday, May 30, 2019, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. in the narthex/lobby. A Service of Death and Resurrection will be held in the sanctuary on Friday, May 31, at 10:00 a.m. with a graveside service following at Keystone Cemetery near Manchester.

Praying for the President

1 Timothy 2:1-2 reads “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity” (NRSV). Because of these verses, we sometimes pray for the leaders of our government in the opening prayer on Sunday morning.

You may have seen a call by Franklin Graham for Christians to pray for Donald J. Trump this Sunday. That isn’t going to happen at First UMC. For starters, we usually pray for elected officials by position and not by name in order to be non-partisan. Also, if you think we should pray for Trump by name at the behest of Franklin Graham, I would ask you to consider how you would feel if the popular vote had carried the day, Hillary Clinton was president, and Jessie Jackson was asking us to pray for her.

In my own personal prayers, I pray for President Trump on a regular basis, just as I prayed for President Obama, President Bush, and President Clinton. As far as corporate prayer as a gathered congregation, I think our present policy is best.