It’s January 20, 2021, Inauguration Day. Some are rejoicing, some are despondent. If you are rejoicing, I urge you to remember how you felt four years ago and be gentle with those who are despondent.
I’ve been asked what difference Dickinson County’s new mask mandate (Health Order #DK11-01) will make in our services this weekend. The only thing that has to be changed is that the signs requiring masks currently posted on our doors must be enlarged from 8″ x 8″ to 8.5″ x 11″. That’s it. Otherwise, we’re already compliant. A change that may be made will be for me to wear a mask even while preaching. (The order allows me to remove my mask for the sake of the hearing impaired, but I haven’t yet decided whether or not to do so. If I remain masked for the sermon, I have found a mask that better preserves the quality and clarity of my voice and I will publish my sermon notes online.)
I urge everyone who can watch online or listen on the radio instead of coming in-person to do so. I know that worship is important to many of you—it’s really important to me too. I understand that the experience of in-person worship is far superior to “virtual” worship. But, because of the increasing spread of COVID-19, Dr. Holmes, Bishop Saenz, and I all urge you to refrain from in-person worship for at least a month. That said, we will have services at 10:30 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, we have plenty of extra masks, and I do not intend to turn anyone away.* In our present situation, you are the person best able to weigh your spiritual needs against the risks of in-person attendance. All I know is that the potential danger of attending in-person is both real and dire.
* To comply with #DK11-01, I will reluctantly turn people away in the unlikely event that we have more than 30 people show up.
Don’t forget to enjoy an extra hour of sleep tomorrow (Sunday, November 1, 2020) as daylight savings time comes to an end and we “fall back” one hour.
Just in case you’re like me and you need to hear this:
It’s Friday, and you’ve done enough. I don’t know how much you managed to do, but whatever you did, you’ve done enough. You probably haven’t been productive by your previous standards, but by the standards of surviving a global pandemic, you’ve done enough. Your worth doesn’t come from what you do, but from the fact that God loves you. You are God’s beloved. And you are loved by God not because of what you have accomplished, but because you are made in God’s image. You are loved by God. That’s enough. You are enough. You’ve done enough. Take it easy on yourself. Follow God’s example and show yourself some grace. Follow God’s lead and show yourself some love.
We’ve had a generous donation of fifty cloth masks to the church. Please let me know if you (member or non-member) want one.
A friendly reminder that you can find an online Sunday bulletin, a PDF bulletin, and a children’s activity bulletin for the United Methodist Home Companion on the church website at abilenefirstumc.org/bulletin/.
When we decorated for Advent and Christmas this past Sunday, I realized that I had not taken the Advent Candles down to Cypress Bridge to be recast. I have now done that. They can be picked up on Friday. Cypress Bridge is closed on Saturday (because it’s the Sabbath). I really need someone or someones to remind me to pick them up on Friday so that we can have them for Sunday. A little help, please.
Yesterday from the pulpit, I explained that attending church conference is about as exciting as registering to vote or serving jury duty, but that just as those things are essential to a functioning democracy, so attending church conference is important to a functioning church. Yesterday afternoon, at the District Superintendents’ request, Jenny and I set in on a church conference in Chapman, and I stand by what I said, it was not exciting. But there was one exception, Dee Williamston, our District Superintendent, gave an excellent meditation/mini-sermon that made it worth the trip and the time. She’ll be sharing the same message tonight. I encourage you to attend. We’ll meet at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary.
Don’t forget to enjoy an extra hour of sleep tomorrow (Sunday, November 3, 2019) as daylight savings time comes to an end and we “fall back” one hour.
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.
Jesus indeed said, “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.”  Jesus predicted it and it does happen. However, when a Christian finds themselves hated, excluded, reviled, and defamed, it’s always a good idea for them to first do some self-examination and make sure they’re not acting like a jerk. I can confirm this from personal experience.
 Luke 6:22-23 (NRSV)