This Sunday, I (John) will be preaching on John 3:1-17 with a particular focus on the familiar sixteenth verse. However, I’ll be doing this within the context of retelling the entire biblical narrative. Don’t worry though, I practiced this sermon on my mom, and it only went for 20 minutes.
I am a Christian because the story of Jesus is still the story I’m willing to risk being wrong about. — Rachel Held Evans 
 Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennesee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), Kindle, 164.
In the first published book written in English by a woman, Julian of Norwich recorded sixteen mystical visions. The book was published in 1395 when the world was no less a stranger to evil, sin, suffering, and death than it is now. And yet, from Christ, she had these words of comfort:
‘It is true that sin is cause of all this suffering, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.’ 
Evil, sin, and death are real and life is hard, but God is good, and in the end, all shall be well.
 Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, trans. Barry Windeatt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), chap. 27, Kindle.
I have been remiss in announcing the Baptism of Trace Jackson Larson, son of Shauni and Brady Larson, on July 22, 2018, at the 10:30 service. It was a delight to welcome Trace (and his mom) into membership at First United Methodist Church.
My friend and colleague, David Livingston recently wrote a blog post titled “The Power of And.” That got me thinking about the United Methodist Church in general and Abilene First UMC in particular.
You often hear something along the lines of: “we disagree, but we can be in the same church.” As I shared yesterday, I think it would be better if we said: “we disagree, and we should be in the same church.
I make this assertion because I firmly believe that in the church, God, through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, is working reunify humanity. As Paul wrote in Galatians 3:38: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” To have people of different persuasions and opinions sitting side by side in the same pew is one of the reasons God created the church. Here at Abilene First UMC, we’re doing that, let’s keep doing it.
The annual Fall Family Fun Event is today (Sunday, October 21, 2018) at 4:00 p.m. in Brown’s Park. Everyone is invited for hot dogs, s’mores, chips, games, pumpkin decorating, apple and doughnut bobbin’, a hayrack rides and lots of fun! Families are encouraged to bring a side dish to share.
When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. — C. S. Lewis 
I think back to this quote every time I want to revisit The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
 C. S. Lewis, Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories (New York: HarperOne, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2017), Kindle, 38.
Here’s the video of Rev. Dr. Mark Holland of Mainstream UMC speaking on the One Church Plan a few days ago (Wednesday, October 17, 2018) here at First United Methodist Church. You can visit them at MainstreamUMC.com/.
With Scripture, we’ve not been invited to an academic fraternity; we’ve been invited to a wrestling match. We’ve been invited to a dynamic, centuries-long conversation with God and God’s people that has been unfolding since creation, one story at a time. — Rachel Held Evans 
In my life, there are two different ways I would have taken the quote above. In the first part of my life, I would have hated it. Back then, I wanted to think of scripture exclusively as a book of good news, guidance, comfort, and consolation. I still like to think of scripture in that way, but I can no longer think of it exclusively. Having long ago encountered the more difficult and alarming parts of scripture, it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who has felt that I’m in a wrestling match.
 Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennesee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), 28.
“I know a great deal less than I used to.” — Nadia Bolz-Weber 
Amen. — John Collins
Nadia Bolz-Weber. Twitter post, October 16, 2018, 5:58 p.m., Link.
God regularly works through ordinary people doing what they normally do, who with a mixture of half-faith and devotion are holding themselves ready for whatever God has in mind. — N. T. Wright 
Hold yourselves ready for whatever God has in mind.
 N. T. Wright, Luke for Everyone (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 8.
Mark Holland is coming to present the One Church Plan this evening (Wednesday, October 17, 2018) at 6:30, but we will still have our regular (short) communion service at 6:00 p.m.