Category Archives: Announcements

Voices: God With Us Where the Pain Is

In her commentary on the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt, Anna Case-Winters offers the following insight:

“The child who is Emmanuel—God with us—does not enter the world in ease and comfort; he is not born into privilege and power. Already, in his infancy, oppression and violence and terror have touched his life. But then, if he is really to be “God with us,” he will be with us where the pain is.”

When I’m hurting, it always helps me to remember that God is with me in my pain. I hope the same will be true for you. [1]

[1] Anna Case-Winters (Matthew: Belief, a Theological Commentary on the Bible (Louisville, Kentucky: John Knox Press, 2015), Kindle.

Voices: Hate Cannot Drive Out Hate

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. … The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
— Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We need to work for justice, but we need to do so with love, not hate. As we strive for justice in our church and in our nation, we must do so with love.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010), 47.

Letter from Bishop Saenz — 2

I’m replacing a previous post with this one after hearing Bishop Saenz make clarifications at our Orders and Fellowship Meeting last Wednesday (January 15, 2020).

Bishop Saenz has released a letter to United Methodists in the Great Plains Conference about the recently released Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace. The protocol allows traditionalists to leave the United Methodist Church with their assets. Those of us who remain would retain the United Methodist name and organization. (Please remember that the UMC’s position cannot change until there is a vote of the General Conference.)

Under the protocol, local churches would not be required to take a make a decision or take a vote. I see nothing to be gained in taking a vote here at First UMC; nonetheless, I believe there is a great deal to be gained from the discernment process the Bishop put forth in his letter. I invite you to enter into a time of discernment with prayer, the reading of scripture, and requests for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Please also note that while the letter refers to progressives, centrists, and traditionalists for the sake of clarity, there are very few United Methodists who fall cleanly and completely under any of those categories. (The Bishop told conference clergy, at a meeting last Wednesday, that he regretted the use of the binary categories of traditional and progressive in the letter.) I would urge you not to let these labels, and the place they have in our political discourse, skew your discernment. As the Bishop noted at our Clergy meeting, the post-separation United Methodist Church will have a place for everyone: progressives, centrists, and even conservatives. As he said, “Nobody is told to leave, everyone is invited to stay.” The United Methodist Church will continue to be a place of diverse theological backgrounds and outlooks.

Link to the Protocol:
Link to FAQ about the Protocol:
Link to Bishop Saenz’s Letter:

Church Office Closed

Abilene Schools are closed today because of the weather, and so the church office is closed as well. I’ll be working from home trying to catch up on what I missed during the clergy gathering in Lincoln, Nebraska. Feel free to call if you need anything.

Voices: Madeline L’Engle

“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?