Kristen’s Korner
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November 27, 2019, 12:00 PM

Away for the Holidays



What do you do when you are away from loved ones during the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas? Do you volunteer at a local ministry? Maybe seek to be healthy and register for a 5k? Do you work your way through it? Or do you eat more dessert? Maybe plan a trip?

All these things are possible and within moderation are reasonable ideas BUT you and I both know it does not remove the thought of the person whom you are away from. Away can be used as adverb or adjective. In the form of an adverb it means from this or that place, to place something in another direction, to be apart. In the form of an adjective it means to be absent, gone, or distant.

In the Old Testament away can be seen in four ways. One in Isaiah 1:25 purging away to redemption is considered possible with obedience to God’s commands which leads to renewal. The second is in Job 1:21 where the writer makes sure we know that Job has things taken away and yet it states that he did not sin or charge God with wrong doing. The third is located in Ezekiel 18:31 in which God wants us to cast away our transgressions that we have committed against him. And last but not least, 1 Kings 19:2-4 where Elijah flees away to the wilderness.

  1. commands us to love our neighbors and so in choosing to volunteer could be away to be obedient. Seeking to be healthy and registering for a 5k is away to use your body for God’s glory. Being open to continual service is working for the Lord and casting your transgressions away as you seek to live into the calling God has placed upon your life. And my favorite is when Elijah breaks away, like on a trip, to rest and be feed. So, maybe dessert and a trip are good ideas? I think dessert maybe stretching it but nourishment is needed so seek to eat to for nourishment.

The last definition of away is a verb phrase meaning do away with, to stop, abolish. Jesus talks to his disciples about him going away. In the Gospel of John 14: 25-29 NIV

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.

I have a loved one I am away from today and my heart is heavy and the word, thought, and action of away is resting upon my shoulders. I also have loved ones that are away from me this year. It hurts, it is not easy, at times I wish I could skip the whole season if I am being honest and run away. But, you see I cannot. Not because I cannot physically run away or drive or fly, but because the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, is with me and I am still learning. What would happen if when we miss those that are away we prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide our time apart and for us to live into what God would have us do, instead of taking things into our own hands, failing to fix it, and remaining in away from what we need?

 

Almighty God, I pray for the away part of the Holidays. I pray for those who are away from their loved ones and those loved ones who have family away. Help us to see the guidance of the Holy Spirit during these difficult times. Let not our holiday time be spent wasting away from you. Amen.

 




November 16, 2019, 12:00 PM

Time to Decorate?



It is the middle of November and it seems that we are, once again, stuck in division. The division this time is between those that decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving and those that wait till after Thanksgiving to decorate. It is funny that we have forgotten that a lot of this is made possible by technology and our ability to have artificial Christmas trees. Anyways, I wonder why it matters what camp we are in and especially why it matters enough to post opposing views on social media?

Psalm 100 Enter his gates with thanks; enter his court yards with praise! Thank him! Bless his name!

Sounds like a call for us to biblically be aware of Grace as we go about our lives. Did you know only ten countries in the world have a thanksgiving kind of celebration? I am thankful for this time we call attention to offering thanks, but should we not be thankful all the time? It would be sad if we only celebrated being thankful for one day. It is my hope and prayer that we are thankful all the time for the many blessings God has gracefully given to us.

Luke 2:16-20 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

The Christmas story tells us that the Shepherds went in a hurry to find Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus. They did not plan and decorate for months in advance. They did not keep the information to themselves but shared with others the good news of the birth of our Savior, the one who came to free us from debt and sin. Why would be not celebrate this all year round?

The last verse in the Luke text says that the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. So the Shepherds were thankful and testified to the birth of our Savoir and it changed how they lived a life of abundance:

Last week I attended one night of The Roy & Joyce Cope Wyatt Lecture Series at Central Baptist Church in Bearden. The guest speaker was Diana Butler Bass and she was speaking about Gratitude her equation for Gratitude was Awareness of Grace + Freedom from Debt = Living in Abundance.

Looks to me that both thankfulness and searching for our Savior are important to this equation of abundance? It does not say if they are to equal parts or not but they are both needed.

Some years it may seem we are more able to be thankful than others and some years it may seem like we struggle to see our Savior in the mists of the messiness in the world. Back to the argument what comes first Thanksgiving or Christmas? Both are needed and important as they point to the real reason for both which is living in abundance with God. It reminds me of our UMC communion liturgy: Leader - Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. People - It is right to give our thanks and praise. The answer is not one or the other but do we do them with thanks and praise for what God has done for us.

Happy Thanksgiving & Merry Christmas, may your holiday season be overrun with abundance in living by the power of the Holy Spirit through the love of our Savior Jesus Christ.

 

 




November 11, 2019, 11:53 AM

A lesson from Nestor



It is that time of year again, no I’m not talking about eating or shopping, it is Christmas Movie time. I don’t know about you all but in our household we have certain movies we watch during this time of year. There is one that we stumbled across about ten years ago because it was attached to the 1964 Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. It was released in 1977 and is titled, Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey. Yes, I’m serious. 

Nester and his mother are thrown out in a snow storm during the time of the Roman Empire and his mother covers him to keep him alive and she does not survive. Later, Nester comes across a cherub named Tilly. She encourages him to begin a journey to Bethlehem. Tilly tells Nester “Your ears can do wondrous things no other ears can do. The sounds they hear will guide you on a path that's straight and true, and then you will save another, as your mother once saved you." I will not ruin the story for you but, let’s just say, Nester helps someone special get to Bethlehem and his giant ears protect them in a storm. 

I love the line about the sound his ears hear will guide him on a path straight and true. It is so easy this time of year to be surrounded by the crowds and Christmas music that we forget to truly listen to each other. It is also easy to limit communication to text, e-mail, or Facebook posts and we miss the opportunity to fully understand the point someone is making by the intonation in their voice. My hope and prayer this Advent Season is that we would truly listen to the sounds around us and the voices in our conversations with others. May those holy moments guide us on the path that is straight and true to Bethlehem where our Savior was born on Christmas day.




February 6, 2019, 2:00 PM

I was not born a United Methodist


I was not born a United Methodist. I was baptized in the Presbyterian Church by a female minister, and I carry her name as my middle name, Ann. My father was born and bred in the Catholic faith. My mother was a Scotch Irish Protestant. I remember visiting lots of churches, I even embarrassed my parents when we were walking into one church by asking what kind this one was. When I was approaching what would be my first communion in the Catholic Church, my parents were discerning between raising us kids in the Catholic faith or joining the Methodists. My father studied all he could gather about the history of United Methodist, he had pastoral mentors in the large church that answered question after question, and my mother well she prayed. One day when we were at worship in the Methodist Church at the end of the service my Father stood up convicted (all I remember was it seemed bright that day brighter than I can ever remember it being inside a church) and started to walk to the front of the church, my mother turned and grabbed both us kids and followed suit. 

So what??? So why does this matter.... I was not born Methodist. The method that guided John Wesley (he did not intend to create a separate church from his origin) guided my family and brought two different views into one concept of service and worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It united two faiths into one family. I was not born United Methodist,but it united my family and in years to come provided a place for my gifts to be of service uniting my love of Jesus and desire to spread the gospel news of his great love. So what??? So why does this matter.... What moved my father that day to leave what he knew and to for a time be disowned by his Catholic family.... What moved my mother to grab her children and head to the alter and to later bear the burdens of service and hurt and pain of two pastors in the family.... The light, The HOLY SPIRIT, the advocate, the wind, the fire ..... I was not born a United Methodist. So what??? So why does this matter.... The Method we follow matters, it’s part of what unites us and the Holy Spirit’s movement (if we continue to seek it, search for it, remain in worship and prayer) will guide us to once again be United Methodist... that is what united me to the Methodist and I believe that is what can United the Methodists. 

Come Spirit Come...

 




January 18, 2019, 12:00 PM

All are Welcome. All are Worthy



January 18, 2017, 6:57 AM

 

 

This week we celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and I was reminded of an experience I had in August of 2015. I had the honor of being a part of an Immersion class with my Doctoral Program at Wesley Theological Seminary. We lived in Birmingham, AL and toured the state studying the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights leaders, and the formation of the civil rights movement. I worked with Dr. Anthony Hunt and about a dozen other class mates. I was humbled to get to be part of this learning experience and was the youngest in the group and only Caucasian person. 

During this trip we went to the church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. served and preached. The group was having a good day and we were all taking pictures and having conversations. Some could not wait to stand behind the pulpit where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood and preached, with a large part of the group consisting of preachers it was a great honor. Someone would step up and a friend would take the picture and so on and so forth. I stood at the side of the church looking at the stain glass. As we began to wrap things up we took a group photo in front of the pulpit. 

Dr. Hunt reminded us we had another place we needed to go to visit and to finish up what we were doing and head out. And then he looked at me and he asked, “Kristen, have you taken your picture behind the pulpit? Here give me your phone and I’ll take it for you.” I hesitated and dropped my head, I told him I was not worthy to stand there. His answer to me was, “O yes you are. That is what part of this was all about, that all are welcome, all are worthy and I believe Dr. King would say you are worthy. And your children, they need to know you have been here and what you have seen.” And so I looked up and approached the pulpit and stood, stood where so many had gone before me so that others might be able to come after them. May we appreciate those that have gone before us and prepare for those that are yet to come for the glory of God’s kingdom. 

Galatians 3:28 (NIV): “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” 

God Bless, 

Pastor Kristen

 


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