A Thank You from the Salina Rescue Mission

While Jenny and I were on vacation, the church received a thank you note from the Salina Rescue Mission for the pillow cases we gave them. Here’s the text:

Dear Friends @ FUMC Abilene,

Thank you for the large donation of pillow cases. It may seem odd for us to have this as a need but many men use pillow cases as laundry bags and often when men leave the Mission they take the pillow case with them.

Thank You, Chad Young

The Crisis in the U.S. Church

A lot of people have given their opinion on what is ailing Christianity in the United States, here’s Walter Brueggemann’s take:

“… the crisis in the U.S. church has almost nothing to do with being liberal or conservative; it has everything to do with giving up on the faith and discipline of our Christian baptism and settling for a common, generic U.S. identity that is part patriotism, part consumerism, part violence, and part affluence.” — Walter Brueggemann [1]

[1] Walter Brueggemann, A Way Other than Our Own: Devotions for Lent, comp. Richard Floyd (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017), 3.

Looking for Honesty Not Perfection

In my sermon this morning, I talked about our need to be honest with ourselves and each other at church. On Twitter this evening I found Shane Claiborne thinking (and tweeting) along the same lines. First, he tweeted:

People are not looking for Christians who are perfect … they are looking for Christians who are honest. [1]

Two minutes later, he followed that up with a response I am going to have to remember for future use:

When people tell me that the Church is full of hypocrites… I say: “No, it’s not … we always have room for more.” [2]

This is a great response because Christians are hypocrites, we do indeed fail to live up to our ideals, but that’s just part of being human. Anyone who manages to always live up to their ideals has set the bar pretty low. And it is an even better response if it can be said with a tone that conveys the fact that we’re not claiming to be any better than anyone else, but rather admitting we’re screw-ups just like everybody else.

We’re screw-ups, but we’re not content to stay that way. As Christians our ideals are set very high:

This is Church: A bunch of imperfect people falling in love with a perfect God,,, and trying to become more like the God we love, every day. [3]

We want to become more like the perfect God we love, but because we are fallen, sinful, and screwed up we’re going to fail some, perhaps most, of the time. We keep on trying again and again because the only way to avoid failure is to give up entirely and that’s not an option God has left us.

[1] Shane Claiborne. Twitter post, May 27, 2016, 10:21 p.m., https://twitter.com/ShaneClaiborne.
[2] Shane Claiborne. Twitter post, May 27, 2016, 10:23 p.m., https://twitter.com/ShaneClaiborne.
[3] Shane Claiborne. Twitter post, May 27, 2016, 10:32 p.m., https://twitter.com/ShaneClaiborne.

The Breakfast Club (with Content Warning)

Jenny and I will be hosting “The Breakfast Club” once a month this summer (and perhaps, if all goes well, into the fall). It will be a chance to gather for food and fellowship and the discussion of a (hopefully) good book. Our first meeting will be Saturday, June 17, 2017, at 8:30 at the Hitching Post Restaurant.* Our first book will be Tattoos On the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Greg Boyle. Copies will be available in the Narthex for $10.

Please Note: This book presents an accurate portrayal of Gregory Boyle’s experiences in ministry with gang members in East Los Angeles. As such in contains some vulgar language. You may want to consider skipping this book if that might offend you.

*Obviously if Abilene gets a new restaurant named “Tiffany’s” both the location and name of this gathering will be changed.

Summer Lunch Program Volunteers Needed

The following was received from Julie Mayden and lightly edited:

As in years past, Abilene First United Methodist Church is helping to provide volunteers to operate the Summer Lunch Program.  The program will be held at McKinley Elementary School, Monday through Friday, June 5 to July 28, from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. (no lunches will be served July 3-4).  A free meal is available for volunteers at 10:45 a.m.  Otherwise, volunteers should plan to arrive at 11:00 a.m. and stay until 12:15 p.m.  There is a sign-up sheet available in the narthex.  Please assist us in helping with this much needed and much-appreciated program.

All Saints/Memorial Sunday

This Sunday we’ll be observing All Saints/Memorial Sunday.  We combine the two because All Saints Day is the church’s ancient memorial day. As The United Methodist Book of Worship puts it:

All Saints … is a day of remembrance for the saints, with the New Testament meaning of all Christian people of every time and place. We celebrate the communion of saints as we remember the dead, both of the Church universal and of our local congregations. [1]

I’ll be preaching on 1 John 3:1-3. We’ll also celebrate Holy Communion, name the honored dead and recognize memorial gifts.

[1] The United Methodist Book of Worship (Nashville, TN: United Methodist Publishing House, 1992), 413.

If Not Us, Then Who?

I recently sent a copy of N. T. Wright’s The Challenge of Easter out to my Grandma Ocie. She reminded me of this passage in which Wright sets out the challenge that we Christians must take up today:

We live in a time of cultural crisis. At the moment I don’t hear anyone pointing a way forward out of the postmodern morass; some people are still trying to put up the shutters and live in the premodern world, many are clinging to modernism for all their worth, and many are deciding that living off the pickings of the garbage heap of post-modernity is the best option on offer. But we can do better than that. … The gospel of Jesus points us and indeed urges us to be at the leading edge of the whole culture, articulating in story and music and art and philosophy and education and poetry and politics and theology and even, heaven help us, biblical studies, a worldview that will mount the historically rooted Christian challenge to both modernity and postmodernity, leading the way into the postpost-modern world with joy and humor and gentleness and good judgement and true wisdom.

I believe we face the question: If not now, then when? And if we are grasped by this vision, we may also hear the question: If not us, then who? And if the gospel of Jesus is not the key to this task, then what is? — N. T. Wright [1]

We must not forget that we have the right message, but we must also remember “joy and humor and gentleness and good judgment and true wisdom.”

[1] N. T. Wright, The Challenge of Easter (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2009), 60.