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Thank You, Bob Marley

One month ago today, February 26, on the last day of our United Methodist General Conference 2019, this song was heard floating over the delegates —

One love, one heart
Let’s get together and feel all right

As it was in the beginning
So shall it be in the end
Let’s get together and feel all right
Let them all pass all their dirty remarks (one love)
There is one question I’d really like to ask (one heart)
Is there a place for the hopeless sinner
Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own?
Believe me

One love, one heart
Let’s get together and feel all right

As it was in the beginning
So shall it be in the end
One love, one heart
Let’s get together and feel all right

Let’s get together to fight this holy Armageddon
When the man comes there will be no no doom
Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
There ain’t no hiding place from the father of creation

One love, one heart
Let’s get together and feel all right

Thank you, Bob Marley!

And may his words come true in our midst, amen?

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“Hearing Your Name Spoken in Love”

Kenneth Carder is a retired United Methodist Bishop. He is caring for his wife as she battles dementia issues. He recently wrote this, and has graciously given me permission to quote him here for you today —-

We take for granted hearing our name called by our spouse. However, Linda had not called my name in several months. Then this week it happed twice! Unexpectedly, she said “Kenneth.” My heart melted! There’s something special about hearing your name spoken in love! I’m reminded of God’s word spoken through the prophet Isaiah, “I know you by name, you are mine.”

Two words: wow, amen.

 

 

And In Worship Today, Then Ask Yourself This

In worship today, look around and ask yourself this —

Who’s missing?

— And then ask yourself this —

What can I do to correct this?

The Widow, Ebola, You & Me

Watching all eight episodes of The Widow brought some situations in places like the Congo painfully alive to our tv screen not long ago. Mercy.

Yesterday this was in our Conference’s “Week in Review” —

Attacks hamper Ebola efforts in Congo

East Congo Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda said he is concerned by the latest attacks by armed groups on Ebola treatment centers in the Congo.

“I invite the entire community of Beni and Ituri to help the response teams on the ground to eradicate this deadly disease and also avoid violence at Ebola treatment centers,” Unda said.

The attacks come as The United Methodist Church and others continue to fight a growing epidemic.

— Again: mercy.

Seems like a good time to ask ourselves if we’ve contributed to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) recently. Here’s one way —

https://www.umcmission.org/find-resources/media-gallery/videos/umcor-ebola-response

— And yet again: mercy.

 

For When There Are Shootings

Elizabeth Brick is the pastor of the United Methodist Church in Rancho Cordova, California. She wrote this last Sunday afternoon —

Today as I was putting away the fifty candles we lit for the victims of the Christchurch Mosque shootings. I heard myself say: “This is where we keep the candles for when there are shootings.”

Oh. My. God.

Teachers shouldn’t have to teach their students about what to do if there’s an active shooter.

Pastors, Rabbis, Imams should not need emergency plans for active shooter situations.

Children, worshippers, helpers, public servants should never have to fear attending school, church, or work each day.

And yet, today, putting away the candles, I recognized that I have a real place where I keep the actual candles that we use specifically when there are mass shootings in religious settings, schools, and workplaces.

Lord, have mercy.

— Amen and Amen.

Free Refills

“Free refills on the popcorn, right?”

One of my favorite things about going to a movie theater is the popcorn.

Oh sure, I love films, and have rarely missed The Roger Ebert Film Festival since my then 90+ year old mom turned me on to it. (Great story there; ask me about that sometime.)

I think I inherited my love of movie theater popcorn from my mom and dad both.

They’d send second-grade me to the movie theater on a Saturday afternoon with enough cash for a ticket and a popcorn and a soda. My friend John and I walked there together, full of excitement coming from our money and our new freedoms and the movies.

And the popcorn.

At home, Patty and I have Refillable Theater Popcorn Buckets. The printing on the side says they’re outdated by now, and can no longer be refilled at the theater for free. Or even for a small fee of like 25 or 50 cents.

But you and I are still very much refillable.

How? Be transformed by the renewal of your mind. (Romans 12:2)

Then then question becomes, with what are we refilling ourselves?

A good place to start: Whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Let’s practice that today, and I’m looking forward to seeing you back here tomorrow.

 

We’ve Drawn Lines in the Sand: Not for United Methodist Christians Only

Kyle Steward, colleague and real life friend, wrote this as he reflected on General Conference 2019 — 

Have we come for war, or at best a riot.

We have drawn lines in the sand. Yet we’ve been drawing them for so long and in similar places that the lines are beginning to look more like trenches.
We fire words like bullets, hoping to hit “them” more than they hit “us”.
We throw our histories, scholars, and scriptures like Molotov cocktails. Let it hit and watch it burn.

But we didn’t come here to die.

While the battering rams of injustice knock on our door, and the sirens of power hungry oppressors ring out, what do we do?
Do we seek shelter, run and hide? Where do we go? I hope you’ll run in to my arms because I’m running for yours.
Do we stand and fight? And if so, what are our weapons?

I only have space for two rounds here. My first shot is love and it’s followed by grace. And when I aim, it’s straight for your heart. Forgive me if I miss. I hope when you pull the trigger, your ammo is the same.

When the sounds of war ring out, I hope I will be standing next to you. We may be different, you and I. Maybe we can grow old together and play a good game of chess.

If we don’t make it out alive, may we be buried by streams of peace. Let our tombstone be tall trees of justice with roots that grow deep. Cover our grave with lilies of righteousness. And may the mountains of God’s grandeur be the eulogy that is read.

We didn’t come here to die.

But if we do, there is still hope. A resurrection day is coming soon.

Does anybody ever win a war? What do we gain? Who do we lose?

We didn’t come here to die.

Kyle, and so many faithful others like him, remind me of the future.

For whom and for which I am grateful.