Sunday, March 17, 2019

Reflections From Sunday Evening

March 17 is Saint Patrick’s day. It is a holy, feast day in the Church in Ireland. The story goes that Patrick was kidnapped by pirates from his home in Britain at age 16. He was taken as a slave to Ireland and was held there until he escaped and returned to Britain.  Later he returned as a Christian missionary and brought the Christian faith to replace a Celtic polytheism. He became bishop and eventually known as the patron saint of Ireland.
Later in history William invaded England and defeated King James ( who happened to be his father-in-law) and became King William of Orange. He saw the transition in England fron Catholicism to Protestantism.
Today the Irish flag is green, white, and orange. On St. Patrick’s Day Irish Catholics wear green and Irish Prutestants wear orange.
That is the brief history lesson and why I wear orange on St. Patrick’s Day.
On another note...
It was good to be in church on a weekend when the sun was shining and the sky was clear. Perhaps spring will soon arrive.
It’s been a good day. I hope you’ve had a good day too.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Reflections From Sunday Evening

Highlights from the weekend.  Saturday 3 young men were recognized as Eagle Scouts. This is a great accomplishment. The church is proud to be the sponsoring unit for Troop 314. We continue to watch young people develop in character and service.
Today 27 students were confirmed in “the faith and fellowship of all true disciples of Jesus Christ”.  It will be a joy to watch these young disciples grow in faith and discover many ways of serving the Kingdom of God. Confirmation is the result of dedicated adult leaders and committed families.
Today Max Bonikowski was presented for baptism. His parents pledged to hold Max in the guidance of the church and set an example that will sustain him as he accepts the gift of salvation for himself.
This afternoon we celebrated the life of Vernon Robinett. His witness and Christ-like character is an inspiration to all of us.
Everyone whose life was touched this weekend was different. There were a variety of gifts and talents. Interests are varied. Goals and dreams are different.
From birth to death we have this in common. The grace of the Lord Jesus sustains all. The Holy Spirit  touches everyone uniquely. It is amazing. We saw it this weekend.
It’s been a good day. I hope you’ve had a good day too.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Reflections From Sunday Evening

Well, that is only about 9 weekends with bad weather! Still, we had a hearty group out this morning, twice our usual Saturday night crowd and more live stream viewers than ever. So, the Gospel was shared and we worshipped. Signs of the times.
On another has been a challenging week for our United Methodist family. I will give an update tomorrow (Monday) evening at 7:00. It is meant to attempt to walk through the General Conference experience and help see where we are.
On another note...I tend to frustrate people who want me to “take a stand” whether it is in the current debate or a host of other issues. For good or bad I am pastor to many different people with different needs, views, and hopes.
I do not try to “make a point” when we are talking about issues that touch on many people’s relationship with Jesus Christ. My point is the Cross. The Cross points up to God. The Cross points from heaven to earth. The Cross points to the corners of the earth. My point has been made. Now I seek to follow that point in love and holiness; with grace upon grace and the Spirit without limit; with the Fruit of the Spirit and spiritual gifts; in character and conduct. 
My point is to follow Jesus. 
On another note...Yesterday I caught a little bit of the Royals spring training game on the radio. Royals announcer Ryan Lefebvre pointed out that in Arizona it was 75 degrees. Recognizing the anticipated snow, wind, and cold coming to K. C.,  he went on to say, but with the windchill it is more like 74. 
Good days are coming.
It’s been a good day. I hope you’ve had a good day too.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Reflections From General Conference

48 hours past the adjournment of the special called session of General Conference I wanted to share some thoughts.

The mood was somber. Tension grew. Pain was evident. Frustration and anger materialized.

At the end of the day the delegates voted down the One Church model, which would have removed all discriminatory language referring to homosexuality and given local churches the choice of hosting same sex marriages or not. Clergy would be given the choice to perform same sex marriages or not. Annual conferences would be given choices about ordaining self-avowed homosexuals. As with all these matters it is much more complex but that is the idea.

Later the conference affirmed the Traditional Model, which maintains the current position prohibiting same sex marriage and ordaining and appointing LGBTQ persons.

It was painful to witness LGBTQ persons suffer deep anguish at the outcome. My prayer is that we all commit to sharing the love of Christ with ALL.

At present the actions taken on the Traditional Plan are being reviewed by our Judicial Council. It could be two months before we know what actually was done. Such is the slow pace of action.

Much more took place but we can talk about that later when we can meet together. (Watch for an announcement. (EDITED TO NOTE: The Church Meeting will be held Monday, March 4 at 7 p.m.)

At this point I merely share my sense that PWC is most closely aligned with the principles of One Church. We are a diverse people with convictions across the spectrum. I am personally committed to pursuing a course of action that has the best interest of our church at heart. Certainly not everyone agrees and different opinions strengthen us.

The next months will give us an understanding of where we actually are. My hunch is we will be right where we were going into the conference.

This is an emotional time in the United Methodist Church, this is an emotional time in our own church. But the Holy Spirit is still able to comfort and empower his people.

I expect our church to continue to welcome all people, gay and straight, to know and claim the grace of God in Jesus Christ. I want our LGBTQ friends and family to know that many in our denomination grieve at the harm done. May forgiveness, grace, and reconciliation come.

For now we will all gather to worship, pray, fellowship, serve, and be the people of God. To the LGBTQ community we offer Christ.  We know that when we fail and fall short, Jesus never does. We continue to seek God’s best way forward.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Reflections From Sunday Evening and still do church together.

Today we talked about the upcoming special called session of our United Methodist General Conference. We realize that we are deeply divided regarding LGBTQ issues. The hope is to find a way forward where we live together as United Methodists despite our differences.
Frankly, it is hard to vision 844 delegates from around the world who are deeply divided, find a way that will be acceptable to everyone.  People of good faith have arrived at different positions on issues.
But it has become obvious to me that it is possible for people who have very different opinions to love one another and serve together.
At Platte Woods Church we are Democrats and Republicans. We sit on the same row in worship. We are in classes together.  We cheer for MU and KU. We like K-State and Iowa State. We cheer for Missouri State and even Nebraska. I pointed out it would be so much better if everyone was a Baker person. But we are all different.
We know how to do church together. We agree on many things. We also disagree about a lot. But when someone comes home from the hospital and we sign up to bring meals, no one asks what their position on immigration is. We just love, serve, and care.
Maybe we can show the larger church that it is possible to hold very different opinions and strong convictions and still do church together. Maybe the church will find a way to show the world a better way.
It’s been a good day. I hope you’ve had a good day too.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Reflections From Sunday Evening

I am sitting in our gathering space watching people enter the building for a special baptism service. We have a number of students in our confirmation class and some have not been baptized. Tonight is a special night. Young people will remember this experience all their lives. Their families will be grateful for God’s Grace. We invite members of our congregation to share in the moment.
I think about what we are getting ready for and I remember my own baptism. Pastor Louis Johnson baptized Jeff Lambert, Phillip Landers, Larry Kelly, and Steve Breon.
I remember. I watch others entering. Shortly we will celebrate baptism and professions of faith. Shortly we will join together and remember our baptism.
It’s been a good day. I hope you’ve had a good day too.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Reflections From Sunday Evening

I was blessed to be in worship today. So good to have Jake and Britton preaching. I am taking some time to plan the messages around the special called session of General Conferene coming in February as well as a series for Lent where we will be thinking about the idea, “Is God to Blame?”
This afternoon we had a church conference and talked about our vision for reaching the unreached in the Northland over the coming years.
I shared an insight I read from a church consultant. The context is how Church attendance is in a time of decline in the USA. The fastesr growing demographic on church participation surveys are the “nones”. These are people with no religious affiliation.
So, the insight is...Mainline churches see decline as the new norm. Growing, evangelical churches see decline as the next challenge to be met.
Which attitude do you claim? As for me, I choose not to settle for decline being viewed as normal. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been changing lives and the world for centuries. Jesus is still alive. The Holy Spirit continues to move. May God empower us to meet the new challenge of our time.
It’s been a good day. I hope you’ve had a good day too.