“We do not bring people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how long they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.” — widely attributed to Madeline L’Engle
It’s easy, during the Christmas season, to see the truth of this statement. The trick for those us us who follow Christ, is to hold onto that truth all year round. When someone who is not a Christian has encountered with you, do they see the light of Christ or darkness?
Leaders of diverse factions within the United Methodist Church are offering a plan of separation to avoid further infighting within the church over LGBTQ+ inclusion. You can read the article, the “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation” itself, and a set of FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) online.
If any of this inclines you to leave, please come talk to Jenny or I first. I have nothing further to offer below but idle speculation:
1. I think the chances of this passing are pretty good. [But I also thought that about the One Church Plan, which failed to pass.]
2. I have no reason to imagine that Abilene First will not remain a part of the United Methodist Church.
3. Even if the plan of separation passes (a big if), I do not think non-affirming folks in this congregation need to worry about an openly LGBTQ+ pastor being appointed here anytime soon. I believe that the conference knows that this church is not ready for that. I would remind you that were a woman appointed here as senior pastor (and not as part of a clergy couple), that in and of itself would be a first. Members of the congregation who are ready for an LGBTQ+ clergy person will have to content themselves with the fact that such folks are being appointed within the denomination. (Remember the above disclaimer about all this being only idle speculation.)
4. Regardless of what happens at general conference, I would encourage the Church Council to endorse Jenny’s and my decision to only perform weddings when at least one person in the couple is an active member of the church (or a previously active youth who graduated and moved away). That would mean that when the issue of a gay wedding arises for this particular local church, it will come up within the context of a beloved member wanting to get married in the church to which they belong. I know of no LGBTQ+ members of this church who are currently engaged. My goal here is not to cut down on the number of gay weddings in particular, but to cut down on the number of weddings that are simply using the building as a backdrop.
Links: https://bit.ly/37zyfFL, https://bit.ly/35nbqDH, and https://bit.ly/2SR3YOs.
This past Sunday (December 29, 2019) Jenny and I had the honor and pleasure of baptizing Robert Patrick Cormack, the son of Amanda and Chris Cormack, at the 10:30 service.
It’s the first day of 2020, which is a good time to pray “A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition.”
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,
Praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely give all that I am and all that I have to you.
And now, O glorious and Holy God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen. 
 There are numerous versions of this prayer floating around in books and online. Because of that variety, I’ve felt free to choose the phrases I hold best suited from several different versions. The closest thing to an authoritative version is found in The United Methodist Hymnal as number 607, but the language there is somewhat dated.
Those of you who like to read the Bible on your phone might consider the “Our Bible” app. It available on iOS and Android for free at www.ourbibleapp.com. What I love about this app is that it has the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) and the CEB (Common English Bible) translations that we use in worship. This is an inclusive, LGBTQ+ affirming alternative to the YouVersion Bible App.
We will be having the Youth Lock-in on Thursday, January 2, 2020. We will be going to “SKYE” in Salina from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. and then coming back to the church until 8 a.m. on Friday.
If your child is planning on coming, please let Wendy know by Tuesday December 31, 2019, so we can arrange enough transportation. There is no cost for the youth to attend but will need to provide own money for snack and drink while we are at SKYE. Youth are encouraged to bring snacks, drinks, movies, blanket, pillow, etc. for our time at the church. We will have breakfast Friday morning.
If you have any questions contact Wendy Robinson.
On New Year’s Eve (Tuesday, December 31, 2019) the church office will close at 12 noon. It will be closed all day on New Year’s Day (Wednesday, January 1, 2020).
Merry Christmas Everyone! And may the Holy Spirit pour out the blessings of the Christ child upon you. I had a great time at all three services yesterday (although I may have been a little bit “punchy” by the 11:00 p.m. service. Being with God and being with so many of you meant a lot to me. I want to render thanks to our staff and the many people who volunteered to help get it all done. Special thanks to Bill Burwell, Sara Burwell, and Sue Murry, who volunteered at all three services. You went above and beyond.
For Christmas today, we plan to livestream all three services via facebook. Regardless of whether or not you have a facebook account, you can watch them here.
Bishop Saenz issued a message for advent. Due to some technical difficulties we were unable to share the message with the 10:30 worship service. You can watch it below.
If you are wanting your contributions to be recorded for 2019 your check must be in the church office by noon on December 31, 2019. Any monies received after that date will be recorded as 2020
Youth are gathering at the church this morning in preparation for delivering groceries to a local Abilene family in need. They purchased $200 worth of groceries for this family with money earned from their fundraisers. Wendy is proud of our youth and you should be too.