Jenny and I are on vacation and will be gone tomorrow (June 3, 2018), but Amanda Cormack will be filling in.
The AFUMC Scholarship Committee met last night and awarded scholarships to the following students: Tucker Robinson, Kyler Schardein, Jaden Walters, Rae Schwarting, Gabe Johnson, Allie Walters, Marissa Schardein, Mallory Schardein, Keil Kelly, Jordan Luty, Ben Luty, and Andrew Schwarting. Congratulations!
We’ll be announcing this year’s Scholarship Recipients soon. However, next year’s applications are already up at https://abilenefirstumc.org/downloads/. Next year’s applications must be completed in full and submitted to the church office or the AHS Counselors’ office by 5:00 p.m., Monday, April 8, 2019, to be eligible for consideration. The scholarship committee will convene on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, at 7:00 p.m.
A Service of Death and Resurrection for Charlene R. Brown will be held at 11:00 a.m. today (May 29, 2018), in the sanctuary. Visitation will be in the narthex at 10:00. Interment will follow at the Abilene Cemetery. Jenny and I will be presiding. My apologies for the late notice.
Last Thursday (May 24, 2018), a diverse collection of older clergy (they refer to themselves as elders, but that’s a bit confusing because it’s often a technical term meaning different things in different churches) put out a declaration at a public worship service and the website reclaimingjesus.org. I recognize that said declaration is not perfect and that it represents only one perspective on our current situation. Nonetheless, it contains many things that I think need to be said. I don’t want to stray into partisan politics and I fear that sharing this link will be seen as doing just that, but I feel that my position as a preacher compels me to offer this as a much-needed affirmation of some core gospel teachings.
Here’s the link: http://www.reclaimingjesus.org/
If you prefer to read things when they are printed out there is a link to the declaration in PDF format at the bottom of the page.
What do you think? Feel free to let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The youth will have a Swim/Ice Cream party on Wednesday, May 30, 2018, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Karlene Taylor’s Pool, 509 Ridge Road, Abilene, Kansas.
My mom sent me this link, it’s a clip of a sermon from Bishop Curry (who preached at the most recent royal wedding). I love the way the preacher and congregation collaborate to more effectively proclaim the gospel. My favorite line:
“Love the neighbor you like and the neighbor you don’t like.” — Bishop Michael Curry
Daniel Burke, “Bishop Curry Warns ‘Somebody Woke up Jim Crow’,” CNN, May 25, 2018, accessed May 25, 2018, https://cnn.it/2LwEuzR.
In the past, I’ve tried to explain the continuity between our present bodily selves and our bodily selves in the new creation with a computer analogy from N. T. Wright. The analogy was as follows: when we die, God uploads our software to God’s hardware until such a time as God will give us new hardware on which to run our software. Seeing puzzled looks, I tried to elaborate and used the example of a time when I got a new iPhone. Adam Hamilton has a new book out in which he has done the same thing. Here’s his version:
How is it that our essential self continues when the brain, which seems to serve as our hard drive and central processing unit, no longer lives? And how does such a transfer from our physical body to whatever spiritual body God has prepared for us actually occur? I use an iPhone. My phone was several years (and three models) old and starting to run a bit slower, the charge wasn’t lasting as long, the memory was full, and the phone seemed to need to restart from time to time. So I purchased a new one. The new phone came with upgraded features. It was faster and had more memory and new capabilities. I opened the box, powered it up, and logged in using my e-mail and password from my old phone, and voilà: my pictures, songs, videos, e-mail, texts, apps, and files— all of my memories— on my previous phone showed up on my new phone, having been stored in “the cloud.” As I watched my new phone come alive, with all my old data on it, it struck me that this process was analogous to what Christians believe happens in our death and resurrection: everything that makes us us— our thoughts, memories, personality— will continue to exist, albeit in an imperishable (upgraded!) body, a spiritual body, with God.
For those of you who are Android fans, I’m sure there’s an Android equivalent, I just don’t know what it is.
Adam Hamilton, Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times (New York: Convergent, 2018), Kindle, 212.
I don’t remember who it was exactly, but in one of the first two appointments I served, a parishioner, commenting on the discussion of the issue of homosexuality at Annual Conference, asked: “The Bible is so clear homosexuality is wrong, why are we even talking about this?” It’s a question that deserves an answer. Especially in light of the fact that we have already had people leave our congregation over this issue and that a special called session of General Conference will gather to discuss and debate removing the Book of Discipline’s prohibitions on the ordination and marriage of gay and lesbian men and women in 2018.
Jenny and I are not looking to change your mind about this issue. We believe that we seldom change our minds on significant issues like this based on a discussion, a debate, or even a book study. But we do want to help those who hold to a traditional interpretation of the biblical teachings on homosexuality understand how others who claim the name of Jesus Christ can affirm gay and lesbian persons. For those who are on the other side and affirm gay and lesbian Christians, we want to help them understand how they can hold this view without merely relegating the Bible to the status of an ancient and notably dated, book to be gleaned for inspirational quotes but otherwise ignored.
With those goals in mind, We’re currently reviewing God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships by Matthew Vines. Early in his book, Matthew writes:
Like most theologically conservative Christians, I hold what is often called a “high view” of the Bible. That means I believe all of Scripture is inspired by God and authoritative for my life. While some parts of the Bible address cultural norms that do not directly apply to modern societies, all of Scripture is “useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, NRSV). 
Nonetheless, Matthew has come to the conclusion that:
Christians who affirm the full authority of Scripture can also affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationships. 
That’s the view we’ll be trying to explain, and in the process, we hope to answer the question: “Why are we even talking about this?” Again, we’re seeking only to promote understanding, not to change minds (see the second paragraph above). The reason we won’t be studying and discussing a book on the traditional view: we all grew up and are already familiar with the traditional view.
We’ll have more on this possible book study soon. In the meantime, please don’t go anywhere—we would miss you just as we miss those who have already left.
 Matthew Vines, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-sex Relationships (New York: Convergent Books, 2015), Kindle, 2.
 Matthew Vines, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-sex Relationships (New York: Convergent Books, 2015), Kindle, 3.
Below is a list of the members of First United Methodist Church who have died since our last All Saints Service on May 28, 2017. We’ll be remembering and honoring them this coming Sunday (May 27, 2018). Please check the list and let me know of any additions or corrections that need to be made.
Irene P. Meyer, June 22, 2017
Richard Ray Danner, July 19, 2017
Joseph E. Couture, August 28, 2017
Saundra “Sandy” F. Heroneme, September 7, 2017
Marilyn Joan Holmes, September 21, 2017
Jon Dale Thayer, October 26, 2017
Shirley Reynolds, October 28, 2017
Don Hunt, October 31, 2017
Melvin G. Cox, October 31, 2017
Gerald E. Everett, November 23, 2017
Laurine S. Atkinson, December 16, 2017
Mary J. Hamill, February 7, 2018
Jill Royer, February 12, 2018
Mary “Maxine” Fiedler, February 17, 2018
Clarice Emig, May 10, 2018
Shane Claiborne has an excellent, succinct explanation for today’s celebration of Pentecost:
This past weekend Christians around the world celebrated one of our holiest holidays: Pentecost. Pentecost, meaning “50 days,” is celebrated seven weeks after Easter (hence the 50), and marks the birthday of the Church when the Holy Spirit is said to have fallen on the early Christian community like fire from the heavens (for this reason lots of Christians wear red and decorate in pyro-colors, and it’s also where the fiery Pentecostal movement draws its name).
Shane Claiborne, “Not Just Another Manic Monday: Pentecost And The Reconciliation Of Humanity,” The Huffington Post, August 13, 2011, accessed May 21, 2018, http://bit.ly/2IC5Y5k.