Packing and Praying

It feels like my whole life is in boxes right now… well, sort of.  Packing is well underway in my church office and in my home.  We are doing a lot of sorting, trying to figure out what we want to keep and what we want to give away… and what we should just throw away!  There is something terrifying and liberating when you realize you don’t need all of the stuff you have.

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Annual Conference

This weekend Stacy Braeske and I will be representing UUMC at the Missouri Annual Conference June 5-9.  The Missouri Annual Conference is the annual business meeting for the United Methodist Church in Missouri.  Every local church sends lay and clergy representation.  Stacy serves as our Lay Member to Annual Conference and attends and votes on behalf of UUMC.

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We See a Church! Campaign

This is the first time in the history of University United Methodist Church that we are doing a stewardship series and asking you to fill out a pledge card in the spring!  Last fall, Church Council voted to align our fiscal year with the academic year.  This means that our new 2014-2015 budget will begin on September 1, 2014 and run through August 31, 2015 and we are in the midst of a pledge campaign that culminates with consecration Sunday on June 1, 2014!

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A DAY and A WAY Worship

This past Sunday while most of our congregation was out in the U City community serving, pulling weeds, fixing steps, uncovering fences, painting railings and trimming shrubs, a few of us gathered in the sanctuary to sing and pray at 10:30.  Most of us were under 12 years of age and we had a delightful worship service with lots of props and movement.

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Preparing for Transition

It’s hard to believe that it is already May.  The time is passing quickly and my days at UUMC are drawing to a close.  I’ll be gone June 5-9 for the Missouri Annual Conference.  Soon after that, my final Sunday will be June 15 and my last day in the office will be Monday, June 16.  I’ll be on vacation the remainder of June, giving my family and me time to move to our new home in Wichita, Kansas. 

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Preparing for Youth Sunday

When I was confirmed, the confirmation class led the entire worship service.  There were only three of us and our pastor made each one of us give a mini-sermon.  Mine was from the book of Acts, the story where Peter has a dream and sees all kinds of animals (clean and unclean) mixed together.  (I know this because I am cleaning out my basement and I found a copy of it in a box!)

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Journey to the Empty Tomb

We are in the midst of Holy Week and we started out with a noisy palm procession this past Sunday. Don’t miss out on two special worship opportunities this week!  The worship service on Maundy Thursday remembers the final two commands that Jesus gave us the night before he was killed.  Good Friday remembers the final hours before Jesus’ crucifixion and death.  

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Holy Week

This Sunday begins the drama of what Christians call Holy Week.  Holy Week includes the days leading up to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.  The earliest allusion to the custom of Holy Week comes from the latter half of the 3rd and 4th century, so this is an ancient tradition!

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The Call to Serve

When I was in college, I was part of the Wesley Foundation, a United Methodist campus ministry.  This was a great group that grew into a family over my college years.  My first year, I felt like I was on the fringes of the group.  I showed up at events and most worship services.  I talked to people who talked to me and eventually most people knew my name and I knew theirs.  I was part of the community, but not fully part of the community.

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Practicing Radical Welcome

As we get further and further into the Lenten journey, the words of Stephanie Spellers are working on me.  Just in case you haven’t picked up your own copy of Radical Welcome yet, I want to share an excerpt from pages 46-47!

God wants to touch the places where we are brittle and make us soft.  God yearns to release the latches on our locked doors, and to open us once again to the fresh air and surprising movement of the Spirit.  One way that we experience this stretching and opening is by fully opening our doors and hearts to the people and cultures and perspectives on the margins of our communities. 

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Lenten discipline

Lent is a time to grow closer to God and the tradition of the church is to practice a special spiritual discipline during these six weeks leading up to Easter.

Many people choose to give something up as a way to fast during this season of penitence. Other people choose to take something up as a way to increase their awareness of God’s presence.

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The Gift of Community

I don’t know about you, but one of the things I love the most about this congregation is the wide variety of people, opinions, and ideas that are present within our faith community.  It is always enriching to me when I am able to engage in deep conversation with people in our church.  Sometimes I am affirmed in my way of thinking, other times I am challenged, but I always come away grateful for the interaction and the gift of community.

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...And to Dust You Shall Return

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.  Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

These unsettling words are the ones that we say every year on Ash Wednesday as we receive the sign of the cross on our foreheads.  The ashes are made from dried palms left from the previous year’s Palm Sunday.  The dried palms are crumbled and dried and then ground into a fine dust.  The dust is mixed with oil to create a paste that is used to draw a cross on each person’s forehead.

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Reflecting Together on Radical Welcome

Often, we serve a very personal Lent, using the time to reflect upon our own relationship with God.  While that is certainly important, this year, I am inviting the congregation into a communal reflection during Lent.

We’re invited to think deeply about what it means to be a church that loves all people and honors the image of God in every person.  This is one of our values as a congregation and we’re going to spend time reading, reflecting, and talking about how we are called to live this out.

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Upcoming Pastoral Transition

It is very difficult to share the news that I will be moving at the end of this appointive year (at the end of June 2014).  It is a move that I had not expected to come so soon and it has been a very difficult decision to make when we are in the midst of so many new ministry endeavors at UUMC.  I had envisioned being able to lead you through those changes. 

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United in Prayer

This Sunday in worship, we’ll be talking about corporate prayer—or how we pray together.  We’re going to take a closer look at the Lord’s Prayer.  This is a prayer that unites Christians across denominations and across the arc of history.   This is a prayer that has been translated into countless languages and has been memorized by countless Christians.

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A Challenge to Pray

How many times have you been in a room when the group leader invites a volunteer to pray and everyone just looks at their toes?

It can be challenging to know how to pray, much less how to pray aloud in a group!  But prayer is a Christian practice that each of us are called to cultivate.  Learning how to talk with God (and listen, too) is important as we walk this Christian journey. 

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