Author Archives: John Collins

Voices: Eugene Peterson on Providence

I was going to share the quote below in tomorrow’s sermon, but it ended up on the cutting room floor.

“Providence, God’s goodness and blessing that keeps us alive, is often confused with God’s providing for us whatever we think we want or need.” — Eugene Peterson [1] 

This is well put, I would only add that at the end of this life (whenever that comes), God’s providence sees us through death and out the other side.

[1] Eugene Peterson, The Pastor: A Memoir (Harper Collins e-books, 2018), 154, Kindle.

You’ve Got a Squirrel in Your Attic

There is a squirrel in the parsonage attic (which is our home, but your house). I’m not having a lot of luck getting rid of it. I scared it off and boarded up the hole, but it chewed its way back in. I’m going to try a number of things to make the attic less attractive to squirrels. The first of which was a rag soaked in apple cider vinegar, the third of which may be strobe light, and the second of which is the playing of loud music whenever we’re not in the house. Any requests for the playlist or suggestions of another solution?

Voices: An Equal Right to an Opinion

One of my colleagues in Norfolk, Nebraska, Neil Gately, is preaching a sermon series about being United Methodist. His most recently preached a sermon was titled “Think and Let Think.” A key point of the sermon was:

“Everyone has an equal right to an opinion, but not all opinions are equally right.” [1]

This is important. As United Methodists, we want to have open minds, but we don’t want our brains falling out.

[1]. Rev. Neil Gately, phone call, August 19, 2019

Voices: Frederick Buechner on Joseph

Many of you have already been to Great Plains Theatre’s excellent production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The script does not bring out the theological aspects of the story, but they are still there, just beneath the surface.

Frederick Buechner has a witty, concise, and enjoyable summary of the story of Joseph and his brothers that you can read in full here. Here’s his conclusion:

“Almost as much as it is the story of how Israel was saved from famine and extinction, it is the story of how Joseph was saved as a human being. It would be interesting to know which of the two achievements cost God the greater effort and which was the one he was prouder of.” [2]

Joseph’s individual salvation was intertwined with God’s plan to save the people of Israel. God’s deliverance of the people of Israel was ultimately for the sake of all the world. Both were saved that others might be saved; both were blessed that they might be a blessing. How can we not see that the same is true of each of us? [3]

[1] I’m biased because Liz is in the production as Rachel, but even so, this is an excellent production.
[2] Frederick Buechner, “Joseph and His Brethren,”, August 16, 2019,
[3] The alternate title of this post would have been “Save the cheerleader, save the world.” But I thought that might be too obscure a Heroes reference.

Voices: Be Present in the Present

“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present . . . gratefully.” — Maya Angelou [1]

[1] As quoted in Diana Butler Bass, Grateful: the Transformative Power of Giving Thanks (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2018), Kindle, 67.

Blessing of the Backpacks

Next Sunday Morning, August 18, 2019, we’ll have the blessing the backpacks. All children are invited to bring their backpacks up to the chancel with them during the children’s time. The backpacks, and more importantly, the children they belong to, will be blessed for the new year of school. School personnel are also encouraged to bring their work bags to worship and participate, but even if you don’t, we’ll be praying for you.

Couples in Alphabetical Order

We’re changing the way that the names of couples are listed in the church contact directory. Out of concern for any confusion that might arise from today’s sermon, we’re just going to use alphabetical order in future editions. E.g. your pastors will be listed as “Collins, Jennifer and John.”

Tithes, Offerings, and Payment Box

A secure dropbox has been installed in the office for tithes, offerings, and payments (e.g. books, coffee, etc.). This dropbox works just like a locking offering plate. You can use an offering envelope or the memo line of your check to designate your gift. Anything undesignated will go into the general fund.

Philippians Bible Study Beginning September 7

An eight-session Bible study on Paul’s letter to the Philippians is planned for this Fall. We’ll be using a short, $9 $10 study book by N. T. Wright, Dale Larsen, and Sandy Larsen. This study works for those who like to prepare and study ahead of time and for those who just want to show up and discuss the passage. 

This Bible study will start on Saturday, September 7, 2019, at 8:30 a.m. and continue every Saturday for a total of eight weeks. We can adjust the time in the weeks to follow if a majority of participants want to. You are welcome, indeed encouraged to bring a breakfast dish to share.

There will a sign-up sheet for this study in the narthex/lobby or you can send an email to