Friday, October 24, 2014

Wrestling Jacob

1. Come, 0 thou Traveler unknown, 
 whom still I hold, but cannot see! 
 My company before is gone, 
 and I am left alone with thee; 
 with thee all night I mean to stay 
 and wrestle till the break of day. 

2. I need not tell thee who I am, 
 my misery and sin declare; 
 thyself hast called me by my name, 
 look on thy hands and read it there. 
 But who, I ask thee, who art thou? 
 Tell me thy name, and tell me now. 

3. In vain thou strugglest to get free, 
 I never will unloose my hold; 
 art thou the man that died for me? 
 The secret of thy love unfold; 
 wrestling, I will not let thee go 
 till I thy name, thy nature know. 

4. Wilt thou not yet to me reveal 
 thy new, unutterable name? 
 Tell me, I still beseech thee, tell, 
 to know it now resolved I am; 
 wrestling, I will not let thee go, 
 till I thy name, thy nature know. 

Baggage Claim (3): Nothing Left to Lose

2014/10/19 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer, Psalm 85
Children, Genesis 32.1-21
Message, Genesis 32.22-32

I love the Jacob story, and I’ve repeated that a few times over the weeks we’ve been looking at his story.
      Baggage – sibling rivalry, mommy/daddy issues
      Destructive behavior – treating human connections as commodities
            “I hired you with my son’s mandrakes” (Leah to Jacob, 30.16)

Yet, this rascal is chosen and loved by God!
      Not because of anything he has done
      Even before he is born
An act of grace, a reminder that we are God’s simply because God is gracious, that we are loved simply because God is love.

But Jacob does not “get it”
      “Grabber”, his name, his birth
      Birthright & blessing – but never received his father’s approval
      Wealth – from Laban
He has fought for everything he has, he has earned it all
And that is an illusion – it is all a gift, it is all grace

The illusion of being my father’s equal – boxing

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spiritual Pilgrimage to Korea (1)

Reflections from our District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Tom Salsgiver:

            As you are probably aware, 32 pastors and spouses joined Bishop Park and his wife Lisa for a pilgrimage to Korea.  It was a phenomenal trip.  We not only learned so much, we observed churches alive and on fire for Jesus Christ who understands their sole passion is to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ.
            Over the next several weeks I want to highlight some of the things that I found helpful, inspiring and what I believe is God directed.  I hope some of the things that I write about will stir us in the Lewisburg District.
            We visited 6 churches and the Methodist Seminary of Korea.  All of the churches we visited are growing in numbers and in disciples.  Some of the pastors were quick to point out that this is difficult because of the culture in Korea.  Like the US, going to church is against the culture of the society in which they live.
Our host Church was the Bupyeong Methodist Church.  They are the epitome of a church who cares deeply for its community and for the unchurched.  They are also a church that takes hospitality to a new level.  (I’ll talk about the hospitality in another article.)
One of the links of all of the churches growth was that they were crystal clear as to their mission as a church.  Our host church understands that all they are about is bringing people to know Jesus Christ and to grow disciples.  If it doesn’t fit these two goals—they don’t engage in it.  It’s about their goal of bringing people to Jesus Christ.
Another church we visited called themselves the Joyful Church.  Their goal is to bring joy to the community through the Gospel of serving and to find ways to help make the community joyful in Jesus Christ.
This joyful church sees as their mission field the children in the community.   To serve the children, they built—with church funds—a 3 floor community center for the church.  The 3rd floor is a children’s library, the second floor a coffee shop for the community and the 1st floor a theater for performing.   This is next to their sanctuary.
The pastor of this church said that they opened this as a place for children.  He went on to say our only reason is to serve children in our community well.  To that end, they now worship 1,100 adults and 1,400 children.  They are clear about their mission and they do not stray from it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ebola program director

Dr. Olusimbo Ige is the senior program manager for Imagine No Malaria (INM) of the Global Health arm of the General Board of Global Ministries. 

Dr. Ige oversees the design, implementation and evaluation of malaria-control programs by United Methodist health boards in 16 African countries, which receive funds from INM. 

Dr. Ige says of her work, “I am excited about working towards a future where African children and women no longer fear untimely death as a result of malaria. Being able to support efforts that help prevent, educate and treat malaria in the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in Africa is a unique privilege that I am very grateful for.” 

Dr. Ige is a public health physician with a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery, Masters in Public health and fellowship of the West African Post-graduate College of Medicine. 

Prior to her work with UMCOR, Dr. Ige held a position with USAID/Malaria Action Program for States as the Management Capacity Building Officer in Southwest Nigeria. 

(From the 08 Oct 2014 UMCOR hotline) Dr. Ige is also program manager for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pounding the Pastor

Thanks to everyone for your gifts for Pounding the Pastor - over five times Pastor JP's weight, 1036 pounds (as of the Oct 5 count). And thanks to Shirley & Lee and Bruce for serving on the food pantry board.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Baggage Claim (2): Jacob Meets His Match(es), or You Can't Buy Love

2014/10/05 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer, Psalm 46
Children, Genesis 28.10-22
Message, Genesis 29.1-35

As we ended the message last week, we pointed out that Jacob had been chosen by God, Jacob had been loved, before he was born, before he had done anything good or bad. And, once we got to know him, it was easy to see that he was no Eagle Scout. The fact that God would choose a rascal like Jacob is an act of grace, a reminder that we are God’s simply because God is gracious – not because of anything we have done to earn it or anything we are that deserves it. We are simply loved because God is love.

Today, we continue the story with this …
Momma’s boy, away from home for the first time
Fleeing his brother
Looking for a wife, to “meet his match”
      Stubborn man, uses a stone for a pillow “as hard as his head”
            (Michael Card, Genesis 28.11)
            He’s always gotten his way
                  What happens when he doesn’t?
                  When he “meets his match”

      Marriage as a match for families – finding a girl from the “right family”
      Marriage as a financial transaction (bride price) – not about romance
Deconstructed centuries later in Song of Solomon 8.7b:
      If one offered for love
      All the wealth of one’s house,
      It would be utterly scorned
You can’t buy love.

RENT: “I’ll Cover You” (Angel and Collins, lyrics Jonathan Larson)
I think they meant it
When they said you can’t buy love
Now I know you can rent it
A new lease you are my love
On life, be my life

Connections as commodity, as transaction - TODAY
If I am totally fulfilled in our sexual relationship, I will be faithful
If I am totally fulfilled emotionally,
If you live up to my expectations,
Why porn, prostitution … not just poverty but also because connection is a commodity.

Sunday School

The music class and the youth class having fun and learning lots.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Long Term Response to Ebola

Since June 2014, the General Board of Global Ministries’ United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and Global Health unit have been working in collaboration on a global scale to coordinate an integrated approach in response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. 

Community education about the disease, health worker protection and psychosocial counseling for affected people and their families are the strategy’s three prongs, said Dr. Olusimbo Ige, of Global Health.

To date, UMCOR and Global Health have worked together to ensure that grants totaling $400,000 for educational programs, protective equipment and other Ebola-related supplies have been provided primarily to United Methodist health boards in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.

“Our approach is to work closely with United Methodist health boards in affected countries, listening closely to them as they identify needs and strategies we can support,” said Rev. Jack Amick, UMCOR executive who heads the organization’s International Disaster Response unit.

Amick is in charge of disbursing UMCOR emergency funds, while Ige advises that distribution in the case of the Ebola response. Together, they hold a weekly conversation by telephone with the United Methodist health boards in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

It has become apparent to the international humanitarian community and the governments involved with this crisis that the epidemic will likely have a long-term negative impact on the health systems, economies and social practices of these countries. 

Global Ministries is partnering with local health boards, bishops, missionaries, UMCOR technical offices and others to enable a long-term approach that not only responds to the current Ebola crisis but, also, helps strengthen healthcare capacity in the region to make it better prepared to meet any possible future crisis.

This long-term, integrated approach reflects the established standard for response to health crises and issues of sustainable development. To financially support these immediate and long-term goals, please write “Ebola response” in the memo section of your check. This will ensure that funds go where intended.

(A news release from The United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries)

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