Super Saturday Moves to June

We know many of you enjoyed the opportunity to set up your yard sale in our parking lot, or stop by and find some great stuff; and in any case enjoy Buzz’s famous chicken barbecue.  You can enjoy all that this year on:

Saturday, June 16, from 8am to 2pm.

Yard Sale space is FREE – call the office (610-932-9698) to reserve (tables are $10 to rent).

Chicken Barbecue Dinners (chicken, potato salad, beans, apple sauce, roll, cookie, drink) are $12 and will be available after 11.  Call the office to purchase your tickets.

Mark Your Calendar: Rolling River Rampage in July

I know you’re all looking past the end of the school year to the summer – so flip that calendar to July and reserve the evenings of July 22 – 26.

Sunday through Thursday, from 6pm to 8pm, we will be going on a Rolling River Rampage.  This is open for kindergarteners through 6th graders.  You can register online through the link below:

Oxford UMC VBS 2018

Roast Beef Dinner

We’re having a Roast Beef Dinner on Saturday, April 14th.

There will be seatings at 4:30pm and 6pm.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for children ages 3-10.

All proceeds go to support the mission and ministry of Oxford UMC.

Meal includes:  Roast Beef, Parslied Red Potatoes, Green Beans, Creamed Mushrooms, Cole Slaw, Apple Sauce, Roll & Butter, Dessert, Coffee & Tea, and Sweetened Ice Tea.

To make your reservations, please call the church office at 610-932-9698.

Lent/Easter Schedule – UPDATED

Have you made your plans yet for the Easter holiday?  Here is what is happening at Oxford United Methodist Church:

Sunday, March 25:  Choir Cantata at the 10:55 service – children’s choir and Spirit Bells as well  (8:30 worship service, and 9:45 Sunday School as usual)

Thursday, March 29:  Holy Thursday Service with Communion and (optional) foot- or hand-washing at 7:00pm

Friday, March 30:  Joint Good Friday Service at Allen AME Church (corner of 8th and Market Streets) at 6:00pm. (NOTE TIME CHANGE)  Refreshments following the service.

Sunday, April 1:   Community Sunrise Service at 7:00am on the green (intersection of Rts 10 & 472)                                                                                                                         Informal Easter worship at 8:30am, with Communion                                   Sunday School at 9:45am                                                                                                 Traditional Easter worship at 10:55am, with our                                             Quarter Ringers handbell choir, and Communion

 

A History of Violence = A Society of Fear

In Luke 16, Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.  The rich man ends up in hell for his sins (neglecting the poor) and wants to warn his brothers so they might avoid his fate.  Abraham tells him his brothers have the words of Moses and the Prophets – that is warning enough.  But the rich man says, “if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.”

To Abraham replies, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

I was reminded of this in light of the most recent school shooting, as people express the hope that this will bring about meaningful change to our gun laws.  I don’t think we will have meaningful change, until we have an honest reckoning of our history as a nation.

What Jesus is saying in the parable is that, when we don’t have a correct understanding of our past, it will keep us from understanding what is happening in the present.  The rich man’s brothers have not learned what they should have from Moses and the Prophets, so they will not accept the truth, even from one risen from the dead.  As long as Americans believe the myth that we are a basically peaceful and just people, a majority of us will accept gun violence as an anomaly that cannot be prevented.

The reality is, the United States of America is a nation steeped in violence.  We violently separated from Great Britain; we violently evicted Native Americans from their land; we violently enslaved Africans; we violently settled the issue of slavery (or states rights, depending on your perspective); we oppressed every wave of immigrants that came here from countries that we weren’t familiar with; we have been perpetually at war since our founding.  We have been involved in a war of some sort for 93 percent of our years since our founding.

If we weren’t a violent people, why would we make one of our first priorities in our constitution addressing the issue of arming ourselves?

The reality is that we, as a nation, have almost always seen violence as the answer to our problems, which makes violence the norm, and instead of making us feel peaceful, it makes us more fearful.  And the only way we see to defeat our fears is more violence, because we are afraid if we choose a less violent path, someone else will use violence against us.

I’m not saying all this so that we might feel guilty about being Americans.  I’m saying this because until we acknowledge how violence has shaped us, we cannot see how fear is now warping us.

So, how do we break the pattern?  Well, of course, the answer is Jesus Christ.

Seriously.

First, if you don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus, you at least have the model of someone who responded to the violence of his society with nonviolence, and though he died, he started a movement that, when it adhered to his ideals, brought about change.

Second if you do believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ (as I most definitely do), then you have the freedom from fear, so you can respond to violence in the only way that defeats it.

And that is with death:  our death.  We must allow our desire to respond to violence with violence to die, because that only brings more death.  We must allow our fear that someone might take advantage of us tomorrow to die, because that only permits more death to happen today.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are on very thin ice when you defend the unfettered right to own guns in the face of all the lives that are damaged by gun violence in our society.  When Peter saw the answer to the violence Jesus was about to face as taking up arms, Jesus told him to put away the sword.  Violence does not end violence: it only births more violence.  And violence never occurs without causing injustice.  When Jesus declined to respond to the violence against himself with violence, he established the path, the narrow path, he wanted his followers to take:  the nonviolent one.

For the sake of America, Christians need to put not America first, but Jesus Christ first, even as that makes us “un-American.”

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are not here for ourselves, or for our nation, but we are here for the oppressed who like Lazarus hunger at our gate for justice and mercy.

The Oxford Great Date Night – February 9

Hey couples!  Celebrate Valentine’s Day early by coming out to the  Oxford Great Date Night on February 9!

Storyteller, singer and plain funny guy Mark Cable will be entertaining us at 7pm in the Penn’s Grove Auditorium (301 S Fifth St, Oxford).  Free dessert at intermission!

Tickets are $20 per couple.  While tickets may be available at the door, don’t wait until the last minute to reserve your spot!  Call the church office (610-932-9698), or learn more at the Oxford Great Date Night Facebook page:   https://www.facebook.com/events/1167307443399355/

Holiday Schedule at Oxford UMC

We hope you will make us a part of your plans this holiday season.  Here are some of the special services that are happening at OUMC:

December 10 – 10:55am –   Our Senior Choir will present its Christmas Cantata.

December 17 – 10:55am – A quiet worship service for those who aren’t feeling so festive, or are overwhelmed by the busyness of the season.

December 24 – 10:55am – A special family-friendly service featuring our Quarter Ringers handbell choir, and our children’s choir.  Not quite the same as our evening service, but great for folks who have other family traditions in the evening.

December 24 – 6:30pm – Our Quarter Ringers will play music of the season for a half hour, followed by our Candlelight Christmas Eve Service at 7.

Every Sunday we also have our 8:30am informal worship service with Holy Communion, and Sunday School for all ages at 9:45.

God’s Idiocracy

To donate to UMCOR Disaster Relief work – visit our donate page for the link.

I stole the word idiocracy from Mike Judge’s film of the same name – about a future where society has become so dumbed down that an average person today  is now the smartest.   In Mike Judge’s world, the term meant “governing by idiots.”

I’m using the word, not because followers of God are idiots, but because we are fools:  or at least we should be.  And “foolocracy” doesn’t sound as good.

It has been the temptation from the very start for followers of Jesus Christ to seek respectability, forgetting that we are following the very personification of God’s Foolishness.  Is there anything more foolish then making an offering of your only son to the same people who have shown again and again that they have a hard time doing what you ask of them?

And God’s offering of Jesus to the world is not out of the ordinary:  it is the culminating act in a  whole history of foolish behavior going back giving us the freedom to obey or disobey in the garden.

The point, though, for us is not to trying figure out why God has been so foolish, but to see how we can be foolish in our own way.  It is God’s foolishness that gives us the joy of knowing Jesus Christ:  our foolishness can help do the same for another.

The Exponential Power of Love

Last week, we added a third dog to our family. Her name is Bailey and she is nine years old. After only a week with us, she ran away, and she disappeared pretty quickly (she is half beagle and half pug, so she’s not very big). There was, like, one initial sighting of her, and that was it. After searching for a couple of hours, we figured someone had picked her up, and was waiting until Monday morning to have her microchip scanned.

Then just before dark, some kids found her about a quarter mile from our house – but she ran off into the woods. I liked it better when I thought she was in someone’s house for the night. It got dark, and we went home, figuring in the morning we would go back with some food, and find her then. But I was not very hopeful: we only had her a week, so I expected by morning she would be farther away, and harder to find.

At 6:30 in the morning, a friend called to say her husband thought he had seen the dog in our yard. We rushed down the stairs, and as Jennifer looked out the front door, there was a scratching at the back. There was Bailey! I think the word miracle gets tossed around a little too liberally, but this was at least miracle-ish.

And after the initial rush to pet and praise Bailey for making it home, all I wanted to do was pet and praise the other dogs, who had never left. That’s the exponential power of love.

Jesus tells a very familiar parable in Luke 15:11-32 about a man whose older son is resentful when he celebrates the return of his younger son. The older son sees love as a finite quantity, and if his father is overjoyed with the return of his brother, he must not have that love for him. But what the father explains to him is, he is overjoyed with his son’s presence every day, and the joy he has for his younger son’s return is only increasing his joy for his older son’s continual presence.

We don’t know how the older son responds, but if we are honest with ourselves, we know how we would respond – skeptically. We fear scarcity more than we trust abundance. It is why we overindulge on so many things, because we don’t trust that they will come again.

But love isn’t like that. Love builds on love; love feeds on love, and as Paul says, Love never ends. That’s why people love their third dog as much as their first dog, their fifth child as much as their second, their best friend from college as much as their best friend from kindergarten. That is why we can love our enemies – it doesn’t deplete our love for our friends, but only makes the well run deeper.

Love doesn’t run out, but the time we have to express it does. So don’t let a moment go by without love. An act of love is never a waste of time, but it is a waste of time if you are not choosing to love.

Praising. Caring. Serving. Sharing.