Author Archives: John Collins

Voices: Evil’s Days Are Numbered

“Evil is our doing, not God’s. We should not, therefore, seek to explain evil by including it in God’s plan. God does not will evil. God does not cause evil. God allows it, temporarily, while God is wooing us toward God’s self. On the cross the death toll for evil was rung, its ending begun. In this time between the times, then, evil roams about like a raging lion, chaotically spilling over the brim, causing destruction, mayhem, and death wherever possible. It does so because it knows its days are numbered. We must endure. We must hope. We must love. We must worship the one who is light and in whom there is no darkness.” — Rustin E. Brian [1]

[1]  Rustin E. Brian, Jacob Arminius: the Man from Oudewater (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2015), 109.

“This Holy Mystery” Schedule — Corrected

Below is the schedule for our “This Holy Mystery” (Communion) Study. I would encourage you to read one extra session ahead in case we move faster than expected.

November 17, 2019 — Pages 2 – 6
9:35 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. in room 206
OR 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in room 200.

November 24, 2019 — Pages 6 – 11
9:35 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. in room 206
OR 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in room 200.

December 8, 2019 — Pages 11 – 18
9:35 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. in room 206
OR 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in room 200.

December 15, 2019 — Pages 18 – 25
9:35 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. in room 206
OR 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in room 200.

January 5, 2020 — Pages 25 – 28
9:35 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. in room 206
OR 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in room 200.

January 12, 2020 — Pages 28 – 33
9:35 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. in room 206
OR 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in room 200.

January 19, 2020 — Pages 33 – 39
9:35 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. in room 206
OR 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in room 200.

Communion is Not a Prize for the Perfect

Today I was asked about the fact that Joe Biden, a practicing Roman Catholic, was denied communion in a Roman Catholic church because of his pro-choice stance in his public life. I’ve always found it interesting when a priest has done this to a pro-choice politician, because, as far as I know, it’s never been done to a politician who is pro-death penalty, even though both of those positions run contrary to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Francis was in full accord with the teaching of the United Methodist Church when he wrote:

“The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.” [1]

Jenny and I try to make sure we state the United Methodist requirements for receiving communion every time we celebrate the sacrament. The only requirements are contained in the words of invitation:

“Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another. Therefore, let us confess our sin before God and one another.” [2]

If you want to receive the sacrament, Jenny and I don’t have the authority to deny it to you. In line with United Methodist teaching, everyone who presents themselves (United Methodist or not, baptized or not) for communion will be given the bread and the cup. [3] Want to learn more about how the UMC understands communion? We’ve getting ready for a study on that, let me know if you’re interested.

[1] Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel (New York, NY: Image, 2014), Kindle, 38-39.

[2] The United Methodist Book of Worship (Nashville, TN: The United Methodist Publishing House, 1992), 35.

[3] I’m sure that I can’t even begin to imagine the fallout if we refused communion to someone and I have no desire to find out. This is less for fear of the consequences than out of a deep agreement with the sacramental theology of the United Methodist Church.

Vintage Years Next Sunday

Next Sunday, November 3, 2019, we will hold our annual Vintage Years Celebration and honor the “gift of years.” There will be a time of recognition for those members of our congregation who have reached 80 years or more, with special recognition for those who have reached 90 years or more.


If you are having a hard time reconciling our current financial shortfall in the general fund with all the landscaping work that is currently being done, we have a simple answer: memorial funds. All the work is being done is being paid for out of memorial gifts designated for landscaping. Hopefully, the work being done will honor the memory of those the gifts were given in memory of.

Abilene in Reader’s Digest

Abilene made the November 2019 edition of Reader’s Digest because of the Cedar House recovery center started by Patti O’Malley. It was part of their “The Nicest Places in America” round up. Our own Amanda Cormack has a quote in the print edition (but not online) that represents Kansans as smart, articulate, thoughtful people. Both of them have done us proud.


College Care Packages

The Youth Group will be accepting donations for the College Care packages beginning next Sunday, October 27 through Sunday, November 17, 2019. Things like ramen noodles, popcorn, pretzels, candy, gum, cookies, cocoa, etc. are welcome. We have 17 college kids to send care packages to this year as they prepare for final exams. If you would like to send them a note of encouragement, we will have a list of students and note cards available in the Narthex in November.

Candle Lighting Change

Over the last couple of months, we’ve been making an awkward transition in how the altar candles are lit, or more accurately in what happens after the service. Traditionally, following the service, the acolytes light their candle lighters from the altar candles, snuff the altar candles and then walk out to symbolically “carry the light of Christ into the world.” But if that’s the theological meaning, what does it mean that we snuff the altar candles? Does it mean that God has left the building (as the Glory of God left the temple in Ezekiel 10)? Another problem is that our candles are hard to snuff correctly, and when it’s done incorrectly, it damages the candles and candlesticks. To the Worship Design Team, it seemed like both problems could be solved by leaving the altar candles lit through the end of the postlude, and so that’s the new practice we’re trying to live into. And if you’ve made it to the end of the article, I admire your persistence.