Author Archives: John Collins

Why We Use Four Purple Candles

We’ve been asked why we use four purple candles in the Advent wreath instead of three purple candles and one rose. That’s a good question. The following explanation is taken from The United Methodist Book of Worship which serves as a source of authority in matters of worship.

The Advent wreath is a simple circle of evergreen branches, a sign of life without end; its four Advent candles encircle a central white Christ candle. Some traditions use the color rose on the Third Sunday of Advent and for this reason use three purple candles and one rose candle. United Methodists, however, encourage purple for the whole season of Advent and therefore use four purple candles. [1]

[1] United Methodist Church, The United Methodist Book of Worship (Nashville, TN: United Methodist Publishing House, 1992), 261.

Church Directory Drafts Available

I have taken the raw data of addresses, phone numbers, and emails that Julie collated from the sheets you have turned in and reformatted it into the first draft of a church directory. This is only a draft, and I plan to print a revised copy sometime in January, therefore if any of the information about you or your family is in error, please let me know. Hard (that is paper) copies are available in the Narthex for everyone who turned in their contact information. If you don’t see one with your name on it and you want one, please let Jenny or I know on Sunday, and we’ll take care of it. Electronic copies have already been emailed to those who provided email addresses for the directory. If you use Google Docs and want access to an always-up-to-date copy, please let me know.

Prayer for the Day

This is the prayer at the end of the first devotion in the book Celebrating Abundance: Devotions for Advent by Walter Brueggemann.

Outrageous God, outflank our weary Christmas with the Advent miracle of a power that lies beyond us. May we receive this power, this new vision, which would set us free to live boldly into your dream for the world. Amen. — Walter Brueggemann [1]

[1] Walter Brueggemann, Celebrating Abundance: Devotions for Advent, compiled by Richard A. Floyd (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017), 7.

Sore Hand, Happy Heart

This morning I signed thank you letters to everyone who participated in the 2018 Stewardship/Commitment Drive. My hand is sore, my heart is happy and sincere thank you to everyone who took part. Please contact me if you participated, but don’t get a letter in the mail in a few days.

Hospital Stays: Another Reason We Need to Know

This morning I have another reason why we need for you to let us know when you’re in the hospital and desire a visit. I phoned Salina Regional Health Center and asked to speak with a parishioner. They told me they didn’t have a patient with that name. I tried the patient’s full name, they said nope, we don’t have anyone by that name. I called the parishioner’s spouse to make sure I had the right hospital and was told that yes that was the correct hospital. The spouse also gave me the exact room number they were in. I called the hospital back, and a different person answered the phone, this employee connected me immediately with just the name and no need for the room number.

If you’re going into the hospital and you want to be left alone for some peace, Jenny and I understand that, and we’ll happily respect your wishes. If you want a visit, be sure and let us know so that we can be persistent if necessary.

Of Ball Games and Prayer

Praying and telling God what is going on in your life is as if a parent could go to watch their child in a ball game and see it not only from the perspective of a spectator in the stands but from the child’s perspective, the coach’s perspective, the other players’ perspectives, an aerial perspective, the ball’s perspective, etc. all simultaneously; and then, when the game is over, enjoy every moment of listening to the child’s account of the game. That’s the way I believe it is in our lives. God already knows what happened, but God loves hearing our account of it—and we often learn something from the review. In the words of the funeral liturgy, God is “ever more ready to hear than we are to pray.” [1]

[1] United Methodist Church, The United Methodist Book of Worship (Nashville, TN: United Methodist Publishing House, 1992), 142.

Abilene Homes Tour Begins Today

The Abilene Homes for the Holidays Tour begins this afternoon (Saturday, December 2, 2017). I mention this because First United Methodist Church is part of the tour this year. Jenny and I want to thank the decorating committee for a church building that looks great. We also want to thank those who volunteered to greet and host visitors today and tomorrow and all the people who brought cookies. Don’t worry if you can’t take the tour, everything will be in full view tomorrow morning during worship.

The Reason for and the Result of Evangelism

One of the membership vows new United Methodists take is to support the church with their witness. Hal Knight explained why we seek to do this (and that “why” is not the answer usually given) in an article that I’ve been meaning to share for a long while. Here’s an excerpt the summarizes the article:

the primary argument for the gospel is lives and churches who in their relationships, their life together, and their outreach to others is motivated and characterized by love. It is both the reason for and the result of evangelism. [1]

I encourage you to head over and listen to the whole thing.


[1] Henry H. Knight, “Great Commandment Evangelism,” Catalyst Resources, April 6, 2016, section goes here, accessed December 01, 2017,

Already a Change

Already we have a change to the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany hymn schedule. Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus appears on the schedule twice, so we’re substituting in the anticipatory communion hymn Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence this Sunday (December 3, 2017).

Advent-Christmas-Epiphany Hymn Schedule

Below is the 2017-2018 Advent-Christmas-Epiphany hymn schedule. This is a working document and changes may be made.

December 3, 2017 — First Sunday of Advent
202 People Look East
3047 God Almighty, We Are Waiting
211 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
196 Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus

December 10, 2017 — Second Sunday of Advent
206 I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light
234 O Come, All Ye Faithful
220 Angels From the Realms of Glory
203 Hail to the Lord’s Anointed

December 17, 2017 — Third Sunday of Advent
238 Angels We Have Heard on High
203 Hail to the Lord’s Anointed
198 My Soul Gives Glory to My God
249 There’s a Song in the Air

December 24, 2017 — Fourth Sunday of Advent
196 Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus
227 The Friendly Beasts
230 O Little Town of Bethlehem
221 In the Bleak Midwinter
3052 God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen
228 He is Born, the Holy Child
218 It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
219 What Child is This
251 Go Tell it on the Mountain

December 24, 2017 — Christmas Eve
240 Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
246 Joy to the World
217 Away in a Manger
239 Silent Night

December 31, 2017 – Covenant Renewal Service
224 Good Christian Friends Rejoice
236 While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
229 Infant Holy, Infant Lowly
606 Come, Let Us Use the Grace Divine

January 7, 2018 — Epiphany
220 Angels From the Realms of Glory
237 Sing We Now of Christmas, verses 1, 3, 4, 5
254 We Three Kings
245 The First Noel

We had a request for O Holy Night, a carol that I love, but it is not in the hymnal nor in the supplements, probably because it is too difficult for congregational singing. Clark is at work attempting to arrange a soloist.

Only Two Kinds of People in the End

There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. — C. S. Lewis [1]

C. S. Lewis isn’t God, and The Great Divorce is not the Bible, but I think this understanding of hell is compatible with biblical teaching.

[1] C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (New York: Macmillan Company, 1946), Chapter 9.