Author Archives: John Collins

Voices: Courage

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.” — C. S. Lewis [1]

Let us take courage and love our neighbors.


[1] C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York, Harper Collins, 1952), chap. XXIX, Kindle.

Palm/Passion Sunday

This coming Sunday (April 5, 2020) is Palm/Passion Sunday. The United Methodist Home Companion will be led by Jenny Collins (Holy Communion) and John Collins (Preaching). In addition to the two of us, Angie Hoerner will accompany hymns on the Piano (recorded), Jason Vinduska will be reading scripture (recorded), and Anna Gugler and Carson Woodworth will be our special musical guests (also recorded). Liz Collins will be in the control booth. We hope you can join us via 1560 AM on your radio or Facebook Live via abilenefirstumc.org/live/.

Link: abilenefirstumc.org/live/

Do No Harm

Love Your Neighbor.001.png

Jenny and I weren’t planning on opening up the sanctuary for worship anytime soon, but we have now been asked by the Annual Conference to suspend all in-person worship and meetings until further notice. We’re happy to comply with that request. Part of the reason for doing so has to do with the first general rule authored by John Wesley for the people called Methodists: do no harm.

When the World Falls Apart

I’ve made Psalm 46 part of my regimen for daily devotions. I’ve found that for this Psalm, and for many parts of the Bible, I prefer the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) to the Common English Bible (CEB). However, for the second verse of this Psalm, I’ve found the CEB invaluable. I’ll get to that in a minute. Here’s Psalm 46 from the NRSV:

1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
Selah [1]

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah

This Psalm has a lot to say to my heart in the midst of a crisis, but even more when I consider the meaning of the first part of the second verse. As the CEB puts it: “That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart.” This phase isn’t meant literally (although that would also apply), but figuratively, the way we usually use it. We need not be afraid even when the world falls apart. “In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.” [2] Psalm 46 has offered me a great deal of solace; I hope and pray that the same might be true for you.


[1] The exact meaning of Selah (which has been left untranslated in Hebrew) is not known, but a bit of instruction as to how the Psalm was to be sung in ancient Israel.
[2] From A Statement of Faith of the United Church of Canada.

Small Groups Meeting by Zoom

I’m happy to report that both Power & Light (the after-school program for children) and the Youth Group will be meeting today by Zoom. Jenny and I can arrange Zoom meetings for any other small group in the church as well. Please let us know if your group wants to give it a try.

Closed to Better Love Our Neighbor

This morning, I went down to the church, refilled the little free pantry, and posted the signs pictured below. I know that not all churches are following the same course of action, but I believe that this is the best way for our congregation to love our neighbors as ourselves during this time of crisis. If I were a medical professional, I would want folks to isolate themselves to “flatten the curve.” If I were a member of a vulnerable population, I would want people to stay home to reduce the chance that I would contract COVID-19. We’re working from home, broadcasting and streaming our worship services, and meeting by Zoom video conference to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

COVID-19 Signs