Monthly Ministry highlight: Senior Connection and the Clothing Drive

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Senior Connection is a First United Methodist Church organization for seniors over 50! It is an ideal place for meeting new friends and a wonderful place for an evening of fun and socializing. Dinner and entertainment are provided the 4th Friday of each month (except November and December), and begins with dinner at 6 pm in the Christian Activity Center.

Some of our activities include numerous worthwile community and church projects ($4,210 was donated in 2018). We also sponsor making pillow cases for children in the cancer ward at the OU Medical Center (we made 220 in 2018). There are also one-day trips planned around the state of Oklahoma.

During the month of June, Senior Connection is sponsoring a clothing drive for the homeless and those in need in our area. Some collected items will be used in helping those who come to our Street Outreach Ministry every Tuesday and The remainder of the items will be taken to the Hope Center, where they serve homeless and people in need in our area. Some of the items collected will be used in their Thrift Store (the money made at the Thrift Store goes to buying paper products and food items for those in need.)

If you have gently used and clean spring /summer clothing to donate, please bring them to the foyer or Wesley Hall. A few needed items are:

Socks

Shoes for walking, light weight jackets

Straw hats

Baseball hats

Clothing of all sizes

It is not necessary to be a member of our church to participate in Senior Connection activities and we invite you to come join us. If you are interested or have any questions please feel free to contact Carol Crisp at 341-4014.

What’s in a phrase?

Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church.

Last week, there was some stir as to Pope Francis changing a phrase from the Lord’s Prayer. The line, “And lead us not into temptation” was changed to “do not abandon us to temptation.”

This has garnered some attention and some anxiety for those who hold the prayer dear to their hearts.

To be specific, Pope Francis did not change the language. It was proposed by an Italian bishops’ conference of the Roman Catholic Church and this was approved by the Apostolic See which includes Pope Francis but may also include other Vatican officials. For United Methodist context, this would be like a theological study of the church similar to Wonder, Love and Praise proposed by the Faith and Order Committee but then approved by the General Conference. Of course, a big difference here is that this new United Methodist study has not been used in worship for generations!

Pope Francis in the past has called into question the theological stance of asking God to “lead us not into temptation” in that it might lead us to believe that God “pushes me toward temptation to see how I fall.” If we believe that God does lead us into temptation as part of a spiritual experiment, this seems to stand against the fundamental notion of God’s grace and love that we receive in Jesus Christ.

Some may wonder if this will cause us to change how we utilize the prayer in our local worship. This particular change is Roman Catholic in scope and is specifically for churches that speak Italian. The English speaking Catholics have not addressed this particular phrase in their liturgical use. Protestants use their own liturgies that are approved by their own bodies.

While I utilize the United Methodist version of the Lord’s Prayer from our hymnal (#895) that includes the phrase, “lead us not into temptation” we actually have an Ecumenical version approved for our use if we wish (#894 in our UM Hymnal) which states “Save us from the time of trial”.

Some have berated Pope Francis for changing the prayer but if we look back to the original prayer of Jesus, we have to look at two similar but not identical prayers. Our liturgical prayer is patterned after Matthew 6:9-13 from the Sermon on the Mount. But we also have a shorter version found in Luke 11:2-4. Liturgical worship is the work of the people. How we express ourselves to God may change with the generations (our worship today is different from a service 100 years ago). We may hope that some of the ways we express our devotion and worship would be constant. There is a comfort we take from constancy in the midst of all the change we experience. But the ideas we express in our worship vary just as human language varies. I would say that this is why theology matters. How we communicate about God matters for the people who still need to hear. If I am only communicating about God in ways that I understand but have no regard for my neighbor’s hearing, then I may be doing a disservice to the Good News by placing my own need for familiarity above God’s call upon my life.

This Sunday, the liturgical church will recognize Trinity Sunday. This is doctrinal in nature in how we understand God from the basic Christian confession of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The default for doctrinal sermons is frequently lecture, more lecture and then is followed by even more lecture. As a narrative preacher, I try to tell a story that leads us to understand doctrine more fully. You’ll have to let me know if I’ve succeeded or not!

We’ll be looking at Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 from the lectionary. I hope you’ll join us either in person or online (and you can always go back and listen to the sermon later if you are unable to be present on Sunday). Worship should be familiar as the familiar gives us spiritual comfort. But Spiritual comfort should then give us strength to fulfill our mission to fully love God and our neighbors! Tightropes are all about balance and moving forward.

In Christ,

Sam

Follow Sam’s Blog at www.precedinggrace.blogspot.com. Photo by PaoNu via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.

Senior Connection Clothing Drive

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During the month of June, Senior Connection is sponsoring a clothing drive for the homeless and those in need in our area. Some collected items will be used in helping those who come to our Street Outreach Ministry every Tuesday on our church property at noon. The remainder of the items will be taken to the Hope Center here in Edmond where they serve homeless and people in need in our area. Some of the items collected will be used in their Thrift Store (the money made at the Thrift Store goes to buying paper products and food items for those in need.)

At this time we will be collecting gently used and clean spring /summer clothing ONLY. At a later date, we will be collecting winter items.

A few needed items are:

Socks

Shoes for walking, light weight jackets

Straw hats

Baseball hats

Clothing of all sizes

Thank you for your support!

Pastor Sam and Daughter Kyla Elected to represent

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Our Senior Pastor, Sam Powers, was elected last week by the clergy of the Oklahoma Conference to serve as a delegate to the 2020 General Conference of The United Methodist Church. The General Conference meets every 4 years (outside of the special session in 2019 in St Louis earlier this year) and is the decision-making body for the denomination. Dr. Powers has served on the delegation since 2004 and was elected third out of seven spots(up from fifth last time).

The General Conference will be held in Minneapolis in May of next year. General Conference delegates also serve as delegates to Jurisdictional Conference which primarily elects bishops from the ordained Elders present. The South Central Jurisdiction will meet in Houston in July of next year.

Kyla Powers, daughter of Dr. Powers and band member for Worship on Hurd, was elected as the second alternate to Jurisdictional Conference from the lay delegates at Annual Conference last week. Ms. Powers has served as the Co-Chair for the Conference Council on Youth Ministries this year for Oklahoma and was the youngest delegate elected.

Since there are a total of 34 clergy and lay delegates elected from all the United Methodist churches across the Oklahoma Conference, this is quite an honor for our church to have not one but two delegates elected to serve!

A Pentecost Dream

Scripture Reading: Acts 2:1-21 (NRSV)

Pentecost is really the birthday of the church.  We see it emerge in this Sunday's reading and we look to celebrate who we are as a part of the body of Christ in mission to the world.

That being said, my current appointment has changed.  I am starting my sixth year as the senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Edmond but I am also starting my first year as the senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Guthrie.  In our denomination, this is known as a two-point charge.  They are commonly assigned when neither church can afford the salary and benefit package of a full-time elder.  

We are doing something different.

The opportunity came upon us rather quickly.  Late in the spring, I found out that Guthrie First was facing some financial difficulties which would force them into an appointment change at conference.  We were asked to consider if Edmond First might partner with them in some way so as to provide leadership that would strengthen their congregation.  After we analyzed the situation, we decided that we could offer some ministry that would be helpful to their context.

Starting in July, they will switch their worship times from the current 10:30 am time back to an 8:30 am start.  Our associate pastor, Rev. Trey Witzel, will be preaching this service and will bring musical leadership from our worship band from Worship on Hurd.  They will be back to Edmond in time for Worship on Hurd at 10:50 am.  Guthrie's Sunday school time will move from its current 9:15 am start to 9:45 am.  While an earlier start time doesn't sound ideal, Edmond's 8:30 am service is often the most well-attended of any of our four morning worship services.

They will have a part-time local pastor living in Guthrie with Rev. Kevin "Tank" Tankerson being appointed to this position.  He and his wife Alejandra Rivas-Tankerson will be living in the parsonage and they are expecting their first child in September!  Rev. Tankerson will cover some of the weekly pastoral care and evangelism duties for the congregation.

One of the main problems Guthrie is facing is the graying of the congregation which is happening across the denomination.  Sometimes when we speak of our ever-upward creeping average age, we disrespect those faithful members who remain as the backbone of our churches.  We may do so unintentionally.  We may do so carelessly.  It likely comes out of frustration because we want our churches to fulfill our mission and if we do not reach younger generations, we realize that our shelf-life and relevance to the world are limited.

Our intent is to seek out younger families living in Guthrie and to gather them together.  We would ideally like ten families with elementary or younger aged children.  As we gather, we would seek for them to covenant together to attend this church as their family church.  This mission-mindset would be transformative to their families and it would also be transformative to the church.  Unfortunately, we can't simply pick these families off the tree and insert them!  We are seeking to network in lots of ways to seek them out.   We would invite you to be in prayer specifically for this effort.  If you know of any families that you would like for me to contact, please email me at sam@fumcedmond.org.  But the good thing is just like at Pentecost, God continues to be a part of this effort.  We are not doing this without some very important support!

As with any new thing, there will be resistance.  Notice in today's reading that as Peter reflects upon the vision of Joel that it sounds very egalitarian for the times - young and old, men and women, slave and free - all will receive the Holy Spirit.  But then this movement is accompanied by blood and darkness.  When the Spirit comes upon them at the beginning of the chapter, it comes as a "violent" wind.  No substantial changes come without a significant amount or stress or resistance.

Both congregations will worry about this new arrangement.  Neither have done anything like this before.  Edmond may worry about their staff.  Are they doing too much?  Are they neglecting the Edmond church?  Is this a distraction from their focus?  The fear is the loss of time and energy from their clergy and the possibility that this would curtail the growth we have seen in Edmond.

Guthrie has more to worry about since they have never met us.  How in the world do I relate to a three-headed pastor?  What if this new worship time is too restrictive for young families?  What if the new worship-style seems to foreign to what we know and love?  Will we continue to have a say in the governance of our own church or is this really a take-over?

If we can meet these questions head-on and be honest about our anxiety surrounding them, we will be much better off.  My hope is that the Holy Spirit will flare up in both congregations.  Imagine what an influx of young families would do to a congregation for worship?  Imagine if the sister congregation started thinking about its own mission once again and became more effective at reaching out to its own area?  If we adopt the vision for ourselves, it can become contagious.  We become mission-minded and focus our energy outward rather than inward toward ourselves.  Of inwardly or outwardly focused congregations, to which would you rather belong?

This Sunday, we will celebrate Pentecost.  We will recognize how the church began.  And out of our roots, we will find that the Holy Spirit is not finished with us yet!

In Christ,

Sam

A Note from Pastor Trey

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First, there are no words that adequately express my thanks for being employed at a place that provides paternity leave. Sloane turns one-month old this week, and being able to dedicate an entire month to living into my new identity as a father is something I do not take for granted. Though paternal leave is a right granted through our Book of Discipline, it is a privilege being at a church that that supports and celebrates the importance of paternity leave. I’d like to give a special thanks to Sam, our entire staff, and our lay people who have helped cover my responsibilities this past month. I have been able to have my focus on getting to know Sloane and supporting Addison; it’s one thing to be able to take leave and an entirely other to be able to leave well.

Second, I would like to invite you all to join in presence and prayer for my ordination service on Wednesday, May 29th. A special music portion begins at 6:30pm and the service starts at 7pm. The service will be at St. Luke’s Downtown OKC at 222 NW 15th St in Oklahoma City. There will also be a livestream online at https://www.okumc.org/annual_conference. I would love to see and take a picture with each of you at the reception following.

It feels poetic, appropriate, and spiritual that my first Sunday back will be June 2nd. I will be returning both as a father and as an ordained Elder in The United Methodist Church. There is not a church I’d rather be at, and I cannot wait for y’all to meet Sloane and to get back to engaging in ministry as we help connect people with God and neighbor!

A Turn in the Vision

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Lectionary Text for Sunday: Acts 16:9-15 (NRSV)

As we continue in Acts, we see that the Easter Vision takes a turn in several ways in today’s text.

We end up in Philippi and we have an entire letter from Paul to this church so we can see how their relationship began in Acts and thrived.

Paul writes that this church supported him in the early days of his ministry:

You Philippians indeed know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone. For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs more than once. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that accumulates to your account. I have been paid in full and have more than enough; I am fully satisfied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

Philippians 4:15-18 (NRSV)

It is fascinating that Paul initially goes to Philippi because of a vision that a man was requesting his help. He encounters women at the river and we see the conversion of Lydia. Since she owned her own business, it is not unlikely that Lydia was one of the supporters of Paul’s missionary activities. It is also possible that Euodia and Syntyche mentioned in Philippians 4:2 were two of the women that Paul met by the river that day.

This turn shows that the church thrived with female leadership. It was not likely Paul’s expectation but he has learned that God is going to utilize surprising candidates for furthering the church. He has taken a turn geographically in moving into Macedonia, he takes a turn culturally in witnessing to Gentiles and he takes a turn in leadership in placing women in positions of authority.

Just as women were discounted in Paul’s day, who might we discount for leadership in the church today? Who might God be using for furthering the church in the 21st century?

I hope that you’ll join us in worship (either in person or online) as we continue to see how the early church speaks to us in the church today!

Prioritizing the Vision

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Lectionary Reading: Acts 11:1-18 (NRSV)

“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

This sounds like something John Wesley would say but he didn’t.

In his tract, “The Character of a Methodist” he does write, “As to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.”

And so we have to figure out what is essential. We have to figure out what is the root of Christianity. We have to know what we are about as people of faith.

Within today’s reading in Acts, we see Peter re-evaluating what was essential. What does it mean to be uncircumcised and yet a believer in Jesus Christ? What does it mean to share in food that is considered unclean?

To the many of the people of that day, these were “essentials”. To suggest otherwise was to strike at the root of Christianity.

And yet, here we see Peter moving past them. How would he decide to do this?

What was his rubric?

It was what he saw as the mission of the church. The mission of the church was not to circumcise men (although this was laid out as a commandment by God). The mission of the church was not to observe dietary laws (also laid out by God). But the mission of the church was to share the gift of life in Jesus Christ with the world. All other things are subservient to the mission.

As we discover our own mission as the church, we have to prioritize our actions. How do the things we do help us to achieve this mission today? If there are things we are doing that were not helping (such as insisting on circumcision for adult men), then we may need to stop doing them.

Sometimes churches prioritize things that serve themselves. They seek to be comfortable rather than truly engage in costly discipleship. What kinds of things would we give up to offer life?

If a church puts out doughnuts, are they for members or visitors? Do they represent our hospitality or our comfort? What about coffee? (uh, oh). It is not wrong for me to partake of these things in my own church. But it may be wrong if I do so at the expense of the mission.

I will attempt to wade a little deeper into these waters on Sunday. I invite you to join me and hopefully we won’t pull each other under!

In Christ,

Sam

Photo by Deb Watson via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.

Connecting People with God and Neighbor

So our church is going to be yoked with another congregation for the first time in its 130 year history: First United Methodist Church of Guthrie who also has 130 years of history. In fact, our two congregations started on the same day: April 22, 1889 during the Land Run in Oklahoma. Before the world shrank, these communities were farther apart. Now we have people that live in Guthrie in our congregation and it would not be surprising if they had people from Edmond attending their church.

While our congregation has grown in recent years, the Guthrie church has not had the same narrative. They are in need of an infusion that will help them find new health. We will be providing them with pastoral and worship leadership starting in July. They will change their worship time from 10:30 to 8:30 am on Sunday mornings. Rev. Trey Witzel and our worship band will lead worship in Guthrie and then come and present the same service at 10:50 am for Worship on Hurd in Wesley Hall here.

We are looking for someone locally to provide missional, evangelical and pastoral care leadership for their congregation on a part-time basis.

We are looking to recruit ten families in Guthrie with young children to covenant to worship with the Guthrie church. This will give them a solid base for recapturing the multigenerational aspect that every congregation needs for health. It is difficult to recruit young families if they visit and there are no other people that look like them!

This new relationship fits with our mission statement, “Connecting people with God and neighbor”. Just as we seek to do that within our own context, we will also seek to do that with our sister church so that people in that community will also be transformed in the love of Christ.

This strategy of yoking a struggling church with a healthy church is seeking to be an adaptive change to the problem of revitalization rather than a technical change. A technical change occurs when we see the solution to the problem. We may simply appoint another pastor. An adaptive change requires that we learn together what might be a new solution.

Systems resist change. I expect there to be resistance in both congregations to this change. Leadership guru Ronald Heifetz says that the change that people resist is some type of loss. Heifetz and Marty Linksy in their book, Leadership on the Line state the following:

“Adaptive change stimulates resistance because it challenges peoples habits, beliefs and values. It asks them to take a loss, experience uncertainty, and even express disloyalty to people and cultures. Because adaptive change forces people to question and perhaps redefine aspects of their identity, it also challenges their sense of competence. Loss, disloyalty, and feeling incompetent: That’s a lot to ask. No wonder people resist.”

Fortunately, we operate on the premise that we are called to serve Jesus in fundamental ways. When he asks us to carry our cross, it may be that the sacrifice we make is our comfort level. When we engage in new ministries, we must do so with a spirit of adventure because we recognize that we do not do so alone. God goes with us.

If you feel a sense of God’s calling in helping with this new ministry partnership – even in a small way, I would encourage you to email me. I believe that we are strong enough to make a difference in our neighboring community. That may be arrogant or brash. It sounds naïve. But I’ve seen the Holy Spirit at work through our people and I am ready to see what might happen if we give you the opportunity!

This Sunday, we will celebrate worship together in our usual time and place. As families celebrate Mother’s Day, I would invite you to bring your family members with you! I will do my best to not go long this week as I know there will be pressure to get to restaurants before the crowds. Some might want to bolster our attendance at our 9:45 service this week! We will continue to look at an Easter Vision with Acts 9:36-43. This particular story looks at the resurrection of Tabitha (I have trouble calling her Dorcas) and we will examine the vision of Resurrected Ministry.

In Christ,

Sam

What Just Happened within the Denomination and What is Happening in our Local Church?

The Judicial Council is the highest court within The United Methodist Church. It ruled last week on the legislation passed at the specially called General Conference of 2019 that took place in February. The large question was whether the legislation would be thrown out as a whole (there was precedence for such a decision in 2012) since pieces of it had previously been declared unconstitutional or whether the pieces that were legal would be allowed individually.

The Judicial Council ruled that the latter would be the case.

Pieces of the Traditional Plan which sought to more strongly enforce the ban surrounding the marriage and ordination of gay and lesbian church members were ruled to be allowable and will go into effect in our polity on January 1, 2020. The General Conference will meet again in May of 2020 and will revisit the issues.

A piece of the “gracious exit” allowing congregations to leave the denomination was approved by the Judicial Council but in conjunction with the current understanding that the Annual Conference would get to vote on whether or not to allow the church to leave with its property.

Within our own church, we have a variety of views on this issue which also reflects the wider culture at large. This is to be expected as churches are made up of a variety of people. We know that those hoping for a more inclusive stance are deeply disappointed while those hoping for the Traditional Plan may feel relieved. As a congregation seeking to hold one another in love, how we move forward together will define our future. We are a congregation that values discipleship in Jesus for a wide variety of people. We seek to grow in our love of neighbor. To do so for those who disagree allows us to grow deeper spiritually and is challenging. Fortunately, Jesus helps us in this important work. I continue to pray for our wider church and our local church. I find hope in the strong work of our local church as we strive to share God’s grace to the people we encounter.

One way that we will continue to share this grace will be discussed at an Administrative Council meeting this Thursday, May 2nd at 7:00 pm in the sanctuary. We will be discussing how we might be in a new partnership in ministry with First United Methodist Church of Guthrie. While only the Ad Council will be voting, we are also opening the sanctuary to all those who are interested in this work. This opportunity comes to us as a congregation that has shown tremendous growth within our conference. One individual in our conference recently declared that our church has shown the highest growth rate over the past few years of any church in our conference with worship over 100. If we can share this strength with another church, we feel that this is in accordance with who God is calling us to be.

This Sunday, we will continue to explore the book of Acts (9:1-20) as we look at our Easter Vision. This particular text reminds us to trust the vision as Saul (Paul) had to trust Ananias and Ananias had to trust Saul and both had to trust God. This isn’t easy to do but the results can be very rewarding!

In Christ,

Sam

Continuing the Easter Vision

One of the problems experienced in the early church was persecution. When you are seeking to change how people perceive the world as Christianity definitely was, there will be pushback.

The disciples were arrested and then brought before the council. What they told them was in our lectionary reading for Sunday, Acts 5:27-32:

27When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, 28saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.” 29But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. 30The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” (NRSV)

These words are important for the early church and they remain important for us. How do we obey God rather than human authority? This is something every Christian asks from time to time.

I’ll be speaking to this on Sunday as we look at confirming our faith over conforming to the world. I hope you’ll join us! Our 11 am sanctuary service will be featuring our 2019 confirmation class joining so this will be an extra-special Sunday! Trey will be worshipping via livestream on Sunday since we anticipate he and Addison’s baby daughter Sloane’s arrival this week! I will be preaching the circuit and will join Worship on Hurd for the first part of the service.

Our Administrative Council will be meeting Thursday, May 2nd at 7:00 pm in the sanctuary to discuss some new opportunities for ministry with First United Methodist Church of Guthrie. I’m inviting anyone in our church to attend. If there are any votes to be taken, the council members will vote but the congregation is welcome to come to hear what is on the horizon. As a strong church, a part of our future may be helping some near-by sister churches to find their footing in this 21st century landscape. I see this as a way that we can further our unique United Methodist witness to the world. If you can’t be there with us, there will be a write-up in the Messenger the following week.

I pray God’s blessings on you as we celebrate the Easter season together!

In Christ,

Sam

Holy Week Devotions

In five powerful devotions, we will explore the symbols the Gospel writers use to tell the story of Jesus’ journey to the Cross beginning next Monday through Friday at 6:30 am. These symbols tell us a coherent transformative story that points us to God’s will for our lives. These symbols link the creation story to the crucifixion story.

Monday, led by Rev. Dr. Sam Powers: The Word made flesh--Incarnation.

Tuesday, led by Don Vaught: The Upper Room

Wednesday, led by Alan Herndon: Christ healing the blind—bringing light to those who lived in darkness.

Thursday, led by Michaela Drain: The Anointing at Bethany

Friday, led by Joe Davis: Crucifixion--The crucifixion of Jesus shows us that we do not need to fear death.

Join us in in our Main Building as we journey through the next week to learn and grow. Breakfast will be served after devotions. Children are welcome to attend with parents.

With What Shall We Come Before the Lord? We Bring our Witness!

Scripture Reading: John 12:9-19 (NRSV)

This Sunday is Palm Sunday! We are excited to begin Holy Week with a wonderful celebration of worship in each of our services. We will wave palms in each of our four worship services and our choir will join them at 8:30 and 11 am for the sanctuary. Since there is a celebratory nature to Palm Sunday, we have hosted our Easter Egg Hunt after church each year on this day.

This year, we will have two food trucks (Fat Sosa’s and Fill Me Up Cheesesteak) that have been very popular at Heard on Hurd. They will begin serving at 11:30 am for those that have attended an earlier worship service. We are encouraging our church members to make it a festive day and join us for lunch even if you don’t have children participating! Megan could still use a couple dozen more plastic eggs with candy – you can email her at megan@fumcedmond.org if you can bring some!

For the actual worship service, Palm Sunday is liturgically connected with Passion Sunday since the following Sunday will be Easter. This means that while there is the celebration of Jesus enteringx Jerusalem, we know that his stay leads to his arrest and crucifixion. We’ll be finishing up our Lenten series, “With What Shall I Come Before the Lord?” with the sermon featuring the idea that we bring our witness to God. What does a witness look like that contains not only great joy but acknowledges the great pains that are real in this life?

Spirit Act will present a dramatic response to the sermon with a dialogue between the Jewish sign maker who is presented with the task of making the “King of the Jews” sign to go above the cross of Jesus and the Roman soldier who brings Pilate’s request. It will punctuate the sermon and take you into holy week with a question for all of us.

We will have many different opportunities for Holy Week. Our devotions will be each weekday morning from 6:30 to 7:00 am in Wesley Hall and this year, we will be exploring the meaning of the symbols of Holy Week. We will follow each devotion with breakfast. These are the following themes for April 15-19:

Monday: “The Word made Flesh”

Rev. Dr. Sam Powers

Tuesday: “The Upper Room” Rev. Don Vaught

Wednesday: “Blindness” Alan Herndon

Thursday: “Anointing” Michaela Drain

Friday: “Crucifixion” Rev. Dr. Joe Davis

We will also have 7 pm services on Thursday, April 18 for Maundy Thursday and Friday, April 19 for Good Friday.

And I will also be speaking to the United Methodist Men’s breakfast this Saturday, April 13 at 8:00 am!

I look forward to this wonderful time in the life of our church as we approach Easter – I hope you will avail yourself of some of these opportunities to grow closer to God!

In Christ,

Sam

Don’t forget! You can follow Pastor Sam’s ongoing daily devotions for Lent at www.precedinggrace.blogspot.com

Ice Angels Comes to Edmond, New Opportunity to Serve Our Homeless

Every January, leadership committees come together to strategize and set goals for the upcoming year. We have a culture of excellence here at FUMC, meaning that we never want to be content and rest on the ministries of the past, instead looking at new ways we can connect people with God and neighbor.

One way Sam encouraged our committees this year to live into our mission statement is by creating quantifiable goals. By setting these specific goals orients us to a posture of not only reaching them, but trying to set the bar higher and higher in the following years.

One of the goals for our Church & Society committee was to add a new church-wide mission opportunity, and I am excited to invite you to partner with us in serving the homeless! For the past year and a half, Ice Angels has traveled to SW 11th and Walker once a month to feed the homeless and hand out clothes, toiletry kits, and sleeping mats. In 2018 FUMC helped feed over 1,000 people!

As the program has grown, Ice Angels was brought under the guidance of Skyline, and with their visionary leadership by Rev. Debbie Ingraham, Skyline is helping launch Ice Angel sites across the Oklahoma City Metro area, with one of them being on our Boulevard property right here in Edmond every Tuesday from noon-1pm!

With What Shall I Come Before the Lord

Parents try to get their children ready to leave the nest. As they grow, the basics are to feed, clothe and shelter them. Education is also expected by our society. Most parents hope that this will lead to higher education which will lead to gainful employment.

Some prepare their children for success in these areas better than others.

There is a balance between doing everything for your kids where they can’t function on their own and doing nothing for them where they don’t feel supported and loved. Sometimes it feels like walking a tightrope!

Children will often attain the educational levels that their parents attain. When they are encouraged, they will exceed them. Unfortunately, the poverty cycle often continues this same pattern. If parents are uneducated or underemployed, this doesn’t often lend to breaking the cycle because the next generation may not be taught to value the things that lead to educational or occupational success.

Sometimes when we attain success, we become so enamored with our achievements that we believe we are self-made. If I look at my own life, I remember that I was taught a work-ethic by my parents. I was given an expectation of higher education so that I sought the highest degree for my profession. If my parents had not instilled these in me, I would not be the person I am today.

This Sunday, we will continue with the theme, “With What Shall I Come Before the Lord” for the fourth Sunday in Lent. Our lectionary scripture is rather short: Joshua 5:9-12. We are seeing the Israelites move from the desert to the promised land. We know that they were receiving manna for food as they wandered and now they will eat from the what the land will provide. This breaks the cycle of dependence in a way – they will work to feed themselves now.

The temptation will be to forget that God has provided for our needs. After several generations, they may forget that God took care of them in their time of need. They may develop a sense of entitlement rather than blessing of the land they have. Of course, we may have that same sense of entitlement without even realizing it.

This Sunday we’ll examine that we continue to bring our sense of dependence on God even though God has designed us for independence. This dichotomy is important for us as people of faith for our own happiness but also as we spread this Good News to others! I hope you’ll join us for worship on Sunday!

In Christ,

Sam

Don’t forget! You can follow Pastor Sam’s ongoing daily devotions for Lent at www.precedinggrace.blogspot.com