Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Baptism! (Nov 9)

Shepherd and Judge

2014/11/23 Christ Church, Mountain Top, Christ the King
Prayer, Psalm 100
Children, Matthew 25.31-46
Message (additional reading), Ezekiel 34.11-24

Compare/contrast Matthew – Ezekiel
Familiar – unfamiliar
Future event (stylized telling, Bruner) – Parable
Sheep/shepherd – Sheep/shepherd
Judge – Judge … based on how we treat the poor
Apocalyptic – Apocalyptic
      For Matthew, the climax of the “end of the world” sermon (5th of 5)
      Advent – next week – always starts with apocalyptic discourse
      Both conclude and begin the Christian year with “the End”
      Ezekiel – apocalyptic language throughout
            Perfectly placed prior to our weekend of consumption
            Giving Tuesday

Focus today on Matthew, but before that … on Ezekiel:
      Judgment (earlier in chapter) on shepherds who “pasture themselves on the sheep” – leadership that is self-centered
      Judgment on sheep that take advantage of other sheep – will destroy the fat and strong because they have gained their strength by dominating the “runts”

Christmas couple with child
If you close your ear to the cry of the poor, you will cry out and not be heard (Prov 21.13)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Dr. Martin Salia, Sierra Leone

The Sierra Leone United Methodist Conference is in shock over the death of Dr. Martin Salia from Ebola. Salia, who was the chief medical officer and only surgeon at United Methodist Kissy Hospital, died after he was airlifted to the United States for treatment.
“We are trying to come to terms with the reality of his death,” said Bishop John K. Yambasu. “We never thought we would be losing one of our head doctors to Ebola.”
“He was everything to us,” Yambasu said, adding Salia was one of only a very few surgeons in the country.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Generosity: Our Act of Love

Our Consecration Sunday speaker, Rev. Dr. Dennis Otto, shares the message on 16 Nov. Please note: We had some technical difficulties in recording this message. The opening is missing, and the rest of it is presented in 5 minute segments. Use this playlist to see the whole thing.

All Saints

Our Golden Anniversary saints, recognized on Sunday 2 November.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Church Conference

A video message from our District Superintendent was shared at our 9 November church conference.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ebola Update - Full Church, Closed Hospital

June 8 was a bright and happy Sunday at the dedication and opening of Valunia United Methodist Church in the village of Monghere. Sierra Leone Bishop John K. Yambasu was among the distinguished guests, who also included the Paramount Chief James B.N. Vonjo III, the Queen of the Rosary School marching band and most of the village. A mini-mob scene ensued when the doors opened and excited worshipers rushed to fill every plastic chair inside the new sanctuary.
That was one of the first Sundays Yambasu warned the community about Ebola.
Now, months later, the Monghere community knows the grief of losing families and friends to Ebola. But church members still rush through the church doors anytime they open. “In situations of distress and calamity, Africans draw closer to God for divine intervention,” Yambasu said. “This is especially so when every attempt to contain Ebola seems not to work.”
On the first Sunday in November, members of Charles Davies United Methodist Church had a dedication service for 40 new chairs purchased by the men of the church. The chairs help with overcrowding. “People believe the house of worship is a place of solace,” the Rev. Sahr Fallah said. “So when they feel hopelessness; when they feel all is lost, the only place they can find hope is in the church.”
Kissy United Methodist Hospital was closed Nov. 11 after Dr. Martin Salia, chief medical officer and surgeon, tested positive for Ebola. Salia, the sixth doctor in Sierra Leone to be infected with the deadly virus, was taken to the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center near Freetown.
Sierra Leone United Methodist Bishop John K. Yambasu and Beatrice Gbanga, the United Methodist Sierra Leone Conference’s medical coordinator, held an emergency meeting at the hospital to talk about steps to protect the staff and make sure the hospital is disinfected immediately. “I was emotionally disturbed when I got news this morning that Dr. Salia had tested positive of Ebola. I prayed that the news might turn out to be false,” Yambasu said at the meeting.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Spiritual Pilgrimage in Korea (4): Generosity of Time

From our District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Tom Salsgiver:
One of the similarities of the South Korean culture and the American culture is how busy people are.  Talking with pastors we heard similar stories like we here in the US about how over-extended people are.  Education is so highly valued in South Korea that there is great competition for tutors for the best classes.  The graduation rate for High School in South Korea is about 90%.
In addition to the demand for study, most children and youth take music lessons of some kind, sports, physical fitness, martial arts.  Over and over we heard and saw examples of how busy people are.  We were told that often students with the amount of time they put into studying,  extra-curricular activities, and church they often get only 6 hours sleep.
I am not lifting this up as healthy—but setting the stage for what we in the US churches hear all the time—“my kids and I are so busy we don’t have time to do anything at church.”
Not so in the churches we visited.  Bupyeong Church where we stayed told us about how they train lay people as small group leaders and volunteers.  The church does most of its ministry with volunteers.   
In our culture where it becomes very difficult to find a volunteer to sit in the nursery, or serve on a committee, or spend 3 hours a week caring for the outside of the church, we saw a completely different understanding of church involvement.
In Bupyeong Church EVERY Saturday 40-50 come to clean the church.  All during the week we marveled at how clean this large building was.  It is these 50 people’s commitment to clean so that church money can go for mission and ministry.
Every week 8 people buy the flowers and come together to arrange them and put them throughout the church.  The arrangements while we were there were unique and lovingly done not by a florist someone paid—but by church members.