Tag Archives: Methodist

The Slush Pile

When creative writing was my thing, the Slush Pile was where your work went at a magazine or publisher, if it was unsolicited.  I assume the origin of the name has to do with how slowly the pile diminishes, the way that snow piles, mixed with all the dirt and junk take so long to melt.

Did you know that the last of Boston’s snow just melted yesterday (July 15)?  Hard to believe, with all the hot weather we have had here.  But, of course, that pile wasn’t just pure snow, but was full of all sorts of dirt and debris that kept the sun from being able to melt the snow back into water.

Hmm, sounds like a sermon illustration, doesn’t it?

If faith is letting Jesus Christ melt our cold hearts, then how much junk of the world do we let get in the way of that?  Can we let go of all that stuff?  It’s not easy:  after a while we let all that we have accumulated define us, and we have trouble separating ourselves out.  And in reality, we can’t separate ourselves out – could you remove the dirt from the snow piled at the end of your driveway?

As ugly as the snow piles look a couple of days after a snowstorm, they do look good again when the next snow starts to fall – they briefly look like crumb cake.  Our path back to beauty begins the same way:  not by trying to cover up our ugliness, but allowing Jesus Christ to cover us with his love.  And then we must trust in Jesus, that if we allow Him to melt our hard hearts we won’t be separated from our true selves or from Him, but only from all the junk that we’ve been swept up in along the way.

Trust in the goodness of God enough to let the Son shine on you.

I Could Be Wrong

(Or:  We Certainly Have to Live with Some Uncertainty)

I like certainty.  Don’t tell me my frozen pizza is going to take 23 to 28 minutes – give me an exact number!  I don’t want to have to check the oven again and again.  And speaking of numbers, nothing makes me more anxious than being at the deli counter when they’re not using their take-a-number machine.  How will I be certain to get my turn when I should?

Because we believe in an all-knowing God, I think we Christians believe that the answers for all our questions are there for us to find somewhere.  But I think we need to manage our expectations when it comes to getting clear and definite answers from God.  After all it was the tree of knowledge that God warned us against eating from.  In all his covenants, God never says, “I want you to follow me, and I will tell you everything.”

God is an ongoing revelation to us.  In Psalm 19 it says “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.”  There is always new learnings for the community of believers.

So, there are certain things we can be certain of, yet other things we should expect to remain uncertain about, even if certain people say we should certainly know.  And even what we think we are certain about, we need to take care how we demonstrate our certainty.  There was only one person who could know all things with some certainty, and how did he act?

When Jesus encounters Zacchaeus, he knows that Zacchaeus is misbehaving – maybe not by the standards of his society or profession, but by God’s standards.  And this is what Jesus does to convince him he’s wrong:  he invites himself over for dinner.  There is no scriptural recording of a lecture that Jesus gives him.  All he does is be present with him.

We seek tangible knowledge of all things, definite answers to life’s thorny questions, when seeking knowledge rather than trusting in God is the original sin.  We cannot set people right by telling them they are wrong, when we may be wrong ourselves.  We can only bring Jesus Christ to them, and let the presence of Christ convince them of what they need to do.

Oh, and let the presence of Christ convince us of what we need to do, too.  Because we might not be doing the right thing, ourselves.

So, the next time you are convinced you need convince somebody of anything other than the basic fact that Jesus Christ loves them, begin by telling yourself “I could be wrong.”    Seek to be Jesus for them, and let Love’s revelation, God’s wisdom guide them.

When I went to VBS as a kid, one of our craft projects was an ashtray.  An ashtray!  To encourage smoking!   We Christians do not always know what’s right.  All we know for sure is that God loves everyone.  Everyone.

 

Our Complicity in Charleston

It’s an inflammatory thing to call someone a racist, and we probably don’t have a shared understanding of what a racist is; but if you are a white person reading this post, you are probably a racist.

Please keep reading.

As a white male, I know the immediate response to the accusation of racism is to quickly categorize all the ways we are not:  we have friends of all races and cultures, we treat everyone the same, we own a Chris Rock dvd, etc.  But,  set aside your defensiveness for a moment and hear me out.

Racism is a human-created evil that begins with one race or culture believing it is superior to others, and then using the power structure to establish and perpetuate that belief.  For example, whites in America justified enslaving Africans by saying they weren’t as intelligent.  Then whites, who had the power, limited African-Americans’ access to education, so that they would continue to appear to be less intelligent, to justify their continued enslavement.  This is only the most obvious example:  a close look at most of the structures of our society (housing policies, location of highways, etc.) shows a perpetuation of self-justified oppression.

And once evil has a foothold, it doesn’t need a lot of help to grow and entrench itself.  It’s like a canal:  once the opening is made to the river where it can draw water from, the water just flows down the canal on its own.

And that is where we find ourselves today:  somewhere far down the canal, miles back from where some people ( scared and greedy, probably, who didn’t trust in God’s abundance for all) deliberately carved a path out of the river of life, where they believed they could ensure prosperity for themselves at the expense of others.  We were born into a boat on this canal, and that isn’t our fault, but as soon we became aware that this isn’t the river of life, and we didn’t begin doing the hard work of carving a path back to the river to prevent the canal from going any farther; we became complicit in its perpetuation.

So, what is that hard work?  Racism thrives on self-deception, so it begins with honesty.  If you actually do have deep relationships with people of color, get to a place where those friends can share painful truths with you.  In your relationships with other whites, do not permit untruths to go unchallenged:  why is a crime or act of violence committed by a white person always “an isolated incident”, but any wrongdoing by a person of color is demonstrative of true nature of millions of people?

Honesty is just the beginning – it must then move us to action.  We aren’t responsible for how and where we found ourselves in this world, but we are responsible for how we leave it for the next generation.

I learned a long time ago that we can be one of three things:  an active racist who engages in actions to keep other races oppressed; an active anti-racist who engages in actions to help liberate the oppressed; or a passive racist, who does nothing and allows racism to perpetuate.  There is no fourth option of being a passive anti-racist.  To do nothing, to throw up your hands and say there is nothing you can do, is to allow society to continue to flow farther from life as God intended it.

And that makes you a racist.

So let’ s drift no further, but get out of the boat, that we might find our way back to what God intended, instead of what fearful man created.

If you still feel defensive, ask yourself what you are doing to actively end racism.  If you are actually doing something, invite a friend to join you in that work.  If you aren’t then this message was for you.

Commencement

Next week Oxford Area High School will be holding its commencement ceremony, better known as graduation. Commencement and graduation are interchangeable in this instance, even though one means beginning and the other means ending, because graduation is both. In fact, every ending is a beginning.
And yet…
And yet, we come to places in our lives where we want to see new life, new growth, but we refuse to let anything end so that new growth can begin. We believe we can have it all. We use our DVR’s to record more television than we can possibly watch in a year, let alone a week. We schedule another activity for the kids, then complain that we don’t do enough as a family, so we add a family activity to the list, then freak out when our kids fall behind in their schoolwork.
Life is not about having it all: it is about having all that matters. Does your busy schedule serve you by giving you the fulfilling life you want, or are you just serving your busy schedule?
Jesus Christ came that we might truly live, and that life comes with death. First and foremost, it comes with his death on the cross. But it also comes with us choosing to let parts of our lives die that prevent us from experiencing Life with a capital L. Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls in to the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)
What seeds are you refusing to let go of, that are keeping you from the real abundance that Jesus has for you?

Welcome, to Oxford United Methodist Church

18 Addison Street, Oxford, PA 19363   610-932-9698

Thanks for stopping by to take a look around.  The website is still in its infant stage, but there are links to crafter information, and to giving to the church online.  Here’s a current schedule for upcoming events:

Tuesday, May 19:  Finance Committee at 7:00pm

Harvest Fair Planning Meeting at 7:30pm

Wednesday, May 20:  Missions Committee at 6:30pm

Senior Choir at 7:30pm

Thursday, May 21:  Softball Game at 6:30pm (at Harmony Park)

Friday, May 22:  Breakfast Prep at 9:00am

Saturday, May 23:  Buffet Breakfast from 7-10am (Adults- $6, Kids 3-10 – $3, Under 3 – Free)

Sunday, May 24:  Informal Worship, with Holy Communion

at   8:30am

Sunday School for all ages at 9:45am

Traditional Worship at 10:55am

Behold, The Pastor Is Making All Things New(er)!

If you look to your left, you’ll see the promised website updates happened sooner than expected.  There is some crafter information available for the Harvest Fair, and a donation button for you to give to God through the church.

(But, Pastor, can the site look, you know, a little nicer?  Like with pictures, and stuff?)

That’s next, I hope.

In the meantime, let’s give our praise to the One who truly makes all things new, the One who makes it possible to start each day with hope for ourselves, for those we love, for our relationships with one another.  Let us give thanks and praise this day to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

No one came to this page today without some brokenness, even if you’re having a great day.  Jesus Christ offers healing to you, that you might be made whole, that you might share the wholeness of his love with others.

So, pray this prayer:  Great God of Heaven and Earth, I thank you for this day, and every day you give me to enjoy your creation, and to discover your Son within all those I encounter.  I confess that I am often blinded by my fears to that love you offer.  I have allowed my fears to box me in, and I have bruised myself, crashing into the walls I have created.  Free me, God, for joyful obedience.  May the power of your Son’s love bring new life where I only see death.  And by your Spirit guide me to places of real joy and real fellowship.  Amen.

So, here’s what’s on tap for you at OUMC:

Thursday, May 7 at 7:00pm:  We are hosting the National Day of Prayer Service in our Fellowship Hall.

Friday, May 8 at 6:30pm:   Softball game at the A.A. fields.

Saturday, May 9 from 10am to 2pm:  Matthew Terry is having a fundraiser for his American Music Abroad trip.  A silent auction of jewelry and some other items, plus several vendors will be there, with a portion of their proceeds going to Matthew’s trip.

Saturday, May 9:  Youth Spaghetti Dinner is POSTPONED.

Sunday, May 10 at 8:30am:  Informal worship with Holy Communion

Sunday, May 10 at 9:45am:  Sunday School for all ages.

Sunday, May 10 at 10:55am:  Traditional Worship beginning with our monthly hymn sing, and featuring our Spirit Bells and our OUMC Band.

Monday,  May 11 at 6:30pm:   Softball game at the A.A. fields.

Tuesday, May 12 at 6:30pm :  Mother-Daughter Banquet

SUPER SATURDAY!

At Oxford United Methodist Church, this Saturday is SUPER SATURDAY!

This means a fantastic plant sale, yard sale and chicken barbecue.

If you would like space in our parking lot for the yard sale, please call the church office.  Space is free, and tables are available to rent for $10

The chicken barbecue usually sells out, so make sure to get your tickets early by calling the church office.

And the selection of plants, including hanging baskets, and special Mother’s Day arrangements will be incredible as usual.

Oxford United Methodist Church

18 Addison Street, Oxford PA 19363

610-932-9698

On Sunday mornings, we have:

Informal Worship with Holy Communion every week at 8:30am

Sunday School for all ages (including adult) at 9:45am

Traditional Worship, with Holy Communion on the first Sunday of the month at 10:55am

Peace Be With You

Welcome to Oxford UMC’s new website.  Bells and whistles are on their way.  In the meantime, come meet us in person!

Oxford United Methodist Church – 18 Addison Street, Oxford, PA 19363

610-932-9698

pastor@oxford1851.org

Sunday Schedule for April 26:

Informal Worship at 8:30am, with Holy Communion

Sunday School for all ages at 9:45am

Traditional Worship at 10:55am – Children’s choir will be singing!

Our guest preacher at both services will be Jere Worrell, Christ Servant Minister from Church of the Open Door in Kennett Square.

 

Slowly, But Surely

Happy Easter!  We are now in the Easter Season, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  During the Easter season, we see how the disciples came to a full understanding of Jesus as the Messiah – if you notice, they found the empty tomb puzzling, and even a little scary.  But, as Jesus appeared to them, slowly but surely all he had taught them before became clearer.

What is your understanding of Jesus Christ?  Is it clear to you how much he loves you?

Slowly, but surely, our website is moving along.  You’ll notice we added the United Methodist News Service feed, so there will always be a little something to see.

And don’t forget:  here’s our Sunday Schedule-

8:30 – Informal worship service, with Communion

9:45 – Sunday School for all ages, including adults.

10:55 – Traditional worship – this Sunday we have the hymn sing to begin the service!

18 Addison Street, Oxford, PA 19363