Yesterday we sang the version of “Be Thou My Vision.” It put me in mind of the version that Francis Hendricks sang at Gary Coleman’s funeral. Here it is (from Francis’s own notes):
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me save that thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
Be my compassion, my love of the poor.
Break my distraction, so I can’t ignore.
The least of your children, the ones you adore.
For by them, Jesus, I worship you Lord.
Lord make us healers, of body and mind.
Give us the pow’r to bring sight to the blind,
Love to the loveless, and gladness for pain,
Filling hearts with the joy of your name.
High God of heaven, when vict’ry is won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heav’ns Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
At our meeting in Kansas City, I heard one of the best “explanations” yet of the parable of the workers in the vineyard.
“In one of Jesus’s wildest parables, he compares the kingdom to laborers picked up to work at all hours of the day (Matt. 20:1–16). The ones who work an hour are given a day’s wage. The ones who work all day expect ten times as much, but they also get the same amount. The employer is fair to them. He’s just exceedingly generous to the ones who worked less. In other words, God is fair at the end of all things. And God is generous far beyond fairness. When God takes stock of all things, God will be generous far beyond what we were able to muster workwise.”
— Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell and Jason Byassee 
“God is fair at the end of all things. And God is generous far beyond fairness.” That is good news. Let us set fear aside and simply do our best.
 Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell and Jason Byassee, Faithful and Fractured: Responding to the Clergy Health Crisis (Grand Rapids Michigan: Baker Publishing Group, 2018), 133, Kindle.
In light of the grief this church is currently experiencing both individually and collectively, I wanted to share the following quote from C. S. Lewis in a letter he wrote to a woman facing death in 1963.
“There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” — C. S. Lewis 
One of the great sure and certain hopes of Christianity is that those we have lost to death have gone on to better things.
 C. S. Lewis to Mary. June 17, 1963. In Letters to an American Lady (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1967) 117.
“If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone.” — C. S. Lewis 
 C. S. Lewis, “Good Infection,” in Mere Christianity (1952)
We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection. — C. S. Lewis 
 C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Kindle.
“If you are tired, keep going; if you are scared, keep going; if you are hungry, keep going; if you want to taste freedom, keep going.” — Harriet Tubman 
 Harriet Tubman as quoted in David P. Gushee and Colin Holtz, Moral Leadership for a Divided Age: Fourteen People Who Dared to Change Our World (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos Press, a Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2018), Kindle, 105.
“One of the greatest contributions of the Wesleyan movement is the idea that not everything that happens is what God wants to happen.” — Jeff Gannon 
Everything happens for a reason, but sometimes the reason is that we human beings are sinful, stupid, or both. We must not blame God for our mistakes.
 Rev. Jeff Gannon of Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, Wichita, Kansas at a Salina District Large Church Gathering, October 13, 2018. Meeting Notes.
“If you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.” — C. S. Lewis 
 C. S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia: Horse and His Boy, Kindle.
My main reference for yesterday’s sermon was John Wesley’s sermon, “The Use of Money.” Below is quote I want to share with you where Wesley makes the point that it is the love of money and not money itself that is the root of all evil.
“The love of money,” we know, “is the root of all evil;” but not the thing itself. The fault does not lie in the money, but in them that use it. It may be used ill: and what may not? But it may likewise be used well: It is full as applicable to the best, as to the worst uses.
… it is an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends. In the hands of his children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked: It gives to the traveller and the stranger where to lay his head. By it we may supply the place of an husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless. We maybe a defence for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain; it may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death!” — John Wesley 
John Wesley, “The Use of Money,” General Board of Global Ministries, accessed November 19, 2018, https://bit.ly/2NjHEbk.
“There is only One in the universe who is All-Powerful, and his only weapon is … Love.” — Stan Lee, Co-Creator of Marvel Comics 
 Juan Cole, “Remembering Stan Lee,” Informed Comment, November 13, 2018, accessed November 13, 2018, https://bit.ly/2QGVQfM.
“God has not given us the luxury of living in a simple time with a simple faith.”
—Bishop Ken Carter, Florida Conference United Methodist Church 
This is a hard, often unwelcome saying, but a true one nonetheless. We must study the Bible carefully, think deliberately, pray without ceasing, and rely upon the Holy Spirit to discern the will and ways of God in our time.
 Linda Bloom, Kathy L. Gilbert, and Sam Hodges, “Court Asked to Rule on Validity of Plans,” United Methodist News Service, October 23, 2018, accessed November 07, 2018, https://bit.ly/2SX96hw.
Biblically speaking, a prophet isn’t a fortune-teller or soothsayer who predicts the future, but rather a truth-teller who sees things as they really are—past, present, and future—and who challenges their community to both accept that reality and imagine a better one. — Rachel Held Evans 
Prophets sometimes told the future, but always they told the truth.
 Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), Kindle, 119.