Sunday, August 2, 2015

Liberia honors the church for service during Ebola crisis

Richard Wiah, president of the College of West Africa, a United Methodist school, checks the temperature of student before he enters the classroom.
By Julu Swen
July 31, 2015 | MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS)

Prayers and action undertaken by the Liberian Council of Churches during the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2015 have been honored by the Liberian government with the distinction “Commander, Order of the Star of Africa.”
The World Health Organization on May 9, 2015,declared Liberia free of Ebola transmissionbecause no new cases had been reported for 42 days. The country continues to monitor illnesses and to test for Ebola.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a United Methodist, described the LCC as “champions of peace” for the effort toward containing and eradicating Ebola. “This award is meritorious and distinguished for your commendable acts of patriotism, which immensely strengthened the mutual cooperation between the Church and the State,” Sirleaf said.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Suitcase Man

From Mission Central, one of our partners, in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. The Bishop's Partners in Mission is raising $1 million to pay off the Mission Central Mortgage.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8 NIV)

Early in Mission Central’s ministry, a man came in one Friday carrying several suitcases he was donating in response to our advertisement.
We explained that we had not placed an ad and that he must have the wrong place. He assured us that he had seen an ad asking for donations of suitcases.
Finally, it became apparent that the man had purposely purchased suitcases at yard sales and it meant a great deal to him to donate them.  Somewhat reluctantly, we accepted them, having no idea what we would ever do with them!
The next Friday and every Friday that followed, the “suitcase man” dropped off suitcases!  He never shared his name – just wanted us to know he was responding to the ad!  Eventually we had about 30 or 40 suitcases piling up on a pallet.
One day as a missionary was touring the warehouse, he said, “I don’t know if you can help, but what I really need is about 25 suitcases, so that volunteers traveling to my country can bring clothing, medication, and other items in on a plane.”  We were able to give him all he needed and this started a suitcase ministry that has provided necessity-filled suitcases to missions all over the world!
The man who started all this never shared his name and after others started donating suitcases, he simply no longer came!
PRAYER: O Caring God, we pray that this servant of yours, whose heart was so committed to serving in this way, has been blessed. Make us always mindful that you use each and everyone of us to accomplish Your plans. Thank you for bringing people like the “suitcase man” into our lives! AMEN
(Harry Overholtzer—Executive Direction of Mission Central 2002-2008)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Why? And other unanswered questions ... (3): Then, Now, If

2015/07/26 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Job 28, selections
Children, John 6.1-21
Message, Job 29-31, selections

            Job, “fears God and shuns evil”
            Day 1
            Day 2
            Job’s friends, 7 days

            Why do bad things happen to good people?
                        They just don’t!
                        Job’s friends’ conclusion – there’s something wrong with you
                        Job’s conclusion
                        The gift of Job’s words for our prayers

Today’s text:
                        David Clines: “nostalgic”, “bitter”, “aggressive” (vol 18A, 1011)

            Then – first persons story-telling (unique)
                        I walked
                        I was in my prime
                        I delivered the poor
            Now – direct address to God (prayer!) as adversary
            If – a series of oaths, curses included
                        Rejects arbitration by the friends
                        Indicts God on charges, summoning God to court

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Methodism in Cuba

Cuban Methodist history, their church growth and U.S. church partnerships are considered in light of recent thawing of political barriers between the U.S. and Cuban governments.At the arrival of Communism in 1959, Cuba had 120 Methodist church buildings and some 70 Methodist pastors serving 5,000 members. Most pastors and many members left Cuba as Castro’s forces prevailed. These departures took place in a series of waves, extending into the 1980s. The Castro government’s initial constitution defined the country as atheistic, and by 1962, all 53 Methodist missionaries previously serving in Cuba had left. The 1968 United Methodist General Conference recognized the autonomy of the Methodist Church in Cuba, which was then electing its own bishop. 

Today, the Methodist Church in Cuba has more than 42,000 members and a worshiping community of 65,000—a remarkably large number for a Protestant denomination in a country with a Roman Catholic culture (by tradition) and a Communist government. 

Read the full article!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fresh Floors

Ken and Carol are in the midst of cleaning, stripping, mopping, and waxing the tile floors in the church. The top pic is of Ken mopping up after stripping. The bottom pic is a finished floor. It looks great!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Food and Fellowship

This past Sunday, our youth sponsored "Food and Fellowship" on the lawn - a great opportunity to connect informally with one another.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Vulnerable Confession

I recently finished, after many years of occasional progress, Saint Augustine's Confessions, his spiritual autobiography written as a prayer. In reviewing my notes and marks in the book, one prayer stood out afresh for its vulnerability and honesty:

Lord, before whose eyes the abyss of man's conscience lies naked, what thing within me could be hidden from you, even if I would not confess it to you? I would be hiding you from myself, not myself from you (10.2.2).

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Why? And other unanswered questions ... (2): Miserable Comforters & Innovative Hope

2015/07/19 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Children, 2 Samuel 7.1-14
Message, Job 2-27, selections

Review, plot:
      Fear God, shun evil … great man
      Fortune, children, health
      Backstage: God and the Satan, unknown to Job
This week: conversation between Job and his friends, not going well

      The Satan
      Patient Job (James 5.11)
            Should we receive the good at the hand of God and not the evil?
            Now: Curse on day of his birth … protest, then prosecute
      Job’s wife
      Job’s compassionate friends (7 days and nights in silence)
            Now: Job is their “project” … and they prosecute, so helpfully

Review, retributive justice:
      A fairness that underlies the world
      Correlation between what we do and what happens to us
      Both Job and friends take it as a given
            Friends: therefore, Job has done evil
            Job: therefore, God has done me wrong