Embracing our theology

Listening to Adam Hamilton caused me to realize that as United Methodists we need to embrace our theology. It is one that connects the head and the heart. Hopefully I can post more later.

— Post From My iPhone

Cluster Headaches

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of the new cluster model being introduced in my conference. On the surface it seems a positive move, but I believe in practice it will not be as beneficial as believed. Why? Geography. The idea is that United Methodist churches will ‘cluster’ together to do ministry in their community. While that may work with churches in a large city, it will not with those of us in smaller communities. The closest UMC to me is about 20 minutes away in a neighboring town. The communities are not the same. We are suppose to have four or more churches involved. If that is the case, that means we will have churches from four different communities. I could go on, but basically I feel it will be next to impossible for multiple rural area churches to come together and have a cooperative ministry to each individual community. With the price of gas, and the “time crunch” issues I believe there is a potential that individuals will choose either the cluster ministry or local church ministry, but not both.

I guess Google feels the same way. When I opened up this email from my DS about the cluster kickoff, I also noticed that Google had placed an advertisement to “End cluster headaches.” How did they know??? Perhaps I can bookmark this site for later use…

Coded diary of Methodist Church co-founder Charles Wesley is cracked after 270 years | Mail Online

 

A 270-year-old diary, written in code, has been cracked for the first time to reveal a secret history of the Methodist church, it emerged today. Link: Mail Online 

 

That’s the news coming from a UK site. The Rev Professor Kenneth Newport, Liverpool Hope University‚Äôs pro vice-chancellor for research and academic development was the one who ‘cracked’ the code. The article goes on to discuss some of his findings. None were particularly surprising really. Charles was horrified at the thought of leaving the Church of England. Charles didn’t approve of John’s marriage and there was a suspicion of lay preaching. All of this makes sense. Still, once published, this work will give more insight into some of the struggles of the Wesley brothers. Both with the movement called Methodism and with each other.

Rev. Newport also says he uncovered sermons and 9,000 hymns and poems. This could be the biggest contribution to Wesley studies, although, knowing some of the inner thoughts of Charles during the Methodist movement will be quite insightful too. According to Newport, Charles didn’t always agree with John (after all, they were brothers!). This may give us a different ‘flavor’ of the Methodist movement and some of the struggles involved.

I’m looking forward to this work being published. Sometimes when reading Wesley and his view of grace, going onto perfection, and Christian perfection, I forget that John too was human. He had his rough edges just the same as we do. Yet, God was able to use him mightily to transform both the Church and his culture in 18th Century England. Knowing that God uses servants that make mistakes, and have rough edges, gives me hope.

Movie Based on Wesley to hit Theaters in 2008

 

I’m not sure when this movie is coming out, but I know I will go to see it. It is being released by an Independent film company, so I don’t know how good the production will be. They say the movie is going to closely follow Wesley’s life. If that is the case, I’m sure the story will be interesting at least. I mean, after all, his life was pretty amazing (at least in my opinion). The Foundery Pictures website gives a bit more insight, so you can go there for more information, although they don’t list the date it will be released.

Kingdom of Hope

Lately I’ve found myself hopeful. This is unusual. I’m not usually that hopeful. In fact, I’m usually kind of a cynic. After all, what do I have to be hopeful about? I’m involved in a denomination that is struggling to survive. We don’t understand the culture. We can’t seem to figure out what we are doing wrong, yet we continue to offer up grand plans and ideas of structural changes (some drastic) that we believe will make a difference in, what I believe, is an ontological problem.

I find myself serving a church that has a wonderful history, but finds it difficult to reach outside the walls. The people are wonderful and loving, yet they find themselves fully involved in their own survival. The church struggles to make ends meet and has been doing so for at least the past 12 years. People continue to give more money each year, but the increases in insurance, energy costs and salaries leaves us wondering how we will continue from year to year. Leaders are difficult to find and it seems once leaders are found they are relocated for employment purposes. Yet, our church seems to be fairing better than the majority in our denomination.

So, where do I find hope? Where do I find consolation? To be honest it is a place where I wouldn’t have guessed. I shouldn’t be surprised, yet, I am. For I am finding hope in the parables of Jesus.

I find hope when I read that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It is so small…the smallest of all seeds, yet, from that seed a mighty shrub grows. One where the birds can find protection from the storms. One that is stronger and bigger than any other. When I read that, I have hope.

I have hope when I read of the farmer going out and sowing seed. He sleeps, he awakes, he sleeps again and that seed sprouts and grows. He doesn’t even know how it is happening, but it is. Then, at the right time, the harvest comes. When I read that, I have hope.

I have hope when I read about the man who found a treasure in a field and hid the treasure. He went back home and sold everything he had! Everything! He then we back and purchased that field and he was overjoyed. He gave up everything he had so he might embrace the one thing that could bring him joy. That brings me hope.

Jesus says God’s kingdom is like plants that grow, even though we don’t know why, and the smallest seed becoming the largest shrub, and a man giving up everything he has to embrace the One Thing that brings joy. I’m realizing that the kingdom of God isn’t about me. It is about God and what God is doing in this world. I can’t orchestrate it. I can’t control it. I can’t even really understand it or at times even see it happening. It’s okay when small things happen. It’s okay when I don’t understand where I’m being called. It’s okay that I am being asked to give up all that I have, so I might embrace the kingdom God invites me too. It’s okay, because God’s kingdom brings hope.

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