Music Ministry Update

Andrew Schaeffer, Director of Music Ministries
andrew@fumcedmond.org

I’m confident that I speak for everyone in the choir & and instrumental ensemble when I say that we were honored to present the cantata “Come Rejoicing” to such a large and appreciative congregation last Sunday. As with any larger-scale work, it was a labor of love and we hope that it glorified God by helping you to center your hearts in the Advent and Christmas story.

Our musical celebration of the season will continue this Sunday! At the 8:30 service, our newly formed “Encore Choir” will present some very lively music they’ve been working on for the past few months. Our instrumental ensemble will hold forth at the 9:45 service, and both the Chorister and Junior choirs will sing seasonal music at the 11:00 service. Given that variety, every sanctuary service will be a little different. I pray that, like the cantata, these expressions will warm your heart and help us all to glorify God during this special time of year!

Longing for Justice

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Longing for Justice

Lectionary Reading: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 (NRSV)

When I was in elementary school, a bully got the best of me.  It lasted for over a year until we moved to a different town.  The kind of humiliation that comes with being bullied by someone else impacts people in different ways.

For me, I vowed never to let anyone bully me again even if it meant getting beat up.  This meant for some close calls later in school but I never felt that same kind of antagonism.

What it left in me was a sense of embarrassment over my past.  I thought about getting even.  I thought about going back to the old neighborhood and challenging him to a fight.

There seemed to be some wrong that was done to me that needed to be righted.  I wanted justice.  I wanted him to hurt just like I had been hurt.  An eye for an eye after all.

As I matured, I realized that these fantasies about revenge were not helping me.  I was not growing as an individual.  In fact, they were holding me back.

I realized that I needed to forgive the bully whether I ever spoke to him in person or not.

It was difficult but I asked God’s help and I was able to forgive.  My guess is that I had thought a lot more about him than he ever thought about me.  But after I forgave him in my heart, I quit thinking about him.  It became less embarrassing as I recognized that I was just a child.  I realized the pain that he must be going through in order to inflict pain upon others.

Certainly, if this was behavior that was continuing rather than in the past, this would be a different situation.  But it was something that had ceased.  It was only continuing in my mind.  It’s a terrible thing to let someone have that kind of influence over you.

And so as I consider God’s justice, I think that this means something different than human justice.  We try to even things out but God deals in mercy and forgiveness.  We experience the forgiveness of God more fully when we have dealt with truly forgiving another for a wrong done to us.  Isaiah reminds us that God’s covenant is everlasting.  As we look toward the nativity once more, we see that God is willing to be vulnerable so that we might know divine love.  Even though this seems maybe one-sided or unfair, because of the love God has for us, God may feel that we are getting what we deserve.

Grace.

And so Christmas gives us a glimpse of God’s justice.

In Christ,

Sam


"Batman" by Ed Merritt via Flickr.com.  Used under the Creative Commons license.

Music Ministry Update

Andrew Schaeffer, Director of Music Ministries
andrew@fumcedmond.org

Join us this Sunday as the Chancel Choir presents the cantata “Come Rejoicing” by Jonathan Willcocks! Weaving together traditional scripture passages, familiar Advent and Christmas texts along with thrilling new music, “Come Rejoicing” will be a fitting way to prepare our hearts for the birth of Christ.

In years past, these cantatas have been very well attended – nearly always to capacity at the 8:30 & 11:00 services. This year, we pleased to announce that the cantata will be presented at all three sanctuary services (8:30, 9:45 & 11:00). So, if you want to avoid larger crowds, perhaps you might consider attending the 9:45 service.

No matter what service you attend, the Chancel Choir prays that you are blessed by the music!

Longing for Comfort

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Longing for Comfort

Lectionary Reading: Isaiah 40:1-11 (NRSV)

There have been times in my life that I have needed comfort from painful situations.

As a very small child, I remember getting an earache that seemed as if it was tearing a hole in my head.  My mother prepared warm sweet oil and poured it into my ear and it alleviated my pain.  She held me after applying it and the combination of pain relief, warmth, and her rocking sent me back into a deep, comforting sleep.

When I was a little older, I had a splitting sinus headache.  I was already in bed and my father came and held my forehead with his strong hands in a way that gave some relief.  He held me like that in silence until I fell asleep again.

As a young man, I experienced surgery extracting kidney stones.   When I awoke, my wife Sheryl was there in the room and her presence was reassuring knowing that she was watching out for me.  She later told me that right before surgery, the nurse brought something for her to sign.  She began to read it over and the nurse seemed a little put out.  Then Sheryl discovered that the papers indicated someone else's surgery!  The nurse apologized profusely and didn't rush Sheryl when she returned with the appropriate chart.  That story made me doubly glad that Sheryl was there for me.

Pain is easier to manage when we experience it within the bounds of others helping us to cope.  Studies have shown that human touch actually speeds up the healing process.  Seeing a loved one often causes the brain to release natural painkillers which helps with endurance.

How are we comforted by our faith?  This Sunday's lectionary text immediately calls to mind for me Handel's Messiah.  This important work declares the love of God for us through Jesus Christ.  It opens with the Isaiah passage with a tenor soloist holding out an elongated "Comfort Ye."  It is the desire of God for the prophet to bring comfort to a people in exile.  This speaks to us of who God is.  It speaks to us of what God comes to do in Jesus Christ.  It is one of my favorite passages and it prepares us for Christmas.

In Christ,

Sam


Picture by Katy Tresedder via Flickr.com.  Used under the Creative Commons license.

Music Minstry Update

Andrew Schaeffer, Director of Music Ministries
andrew@fumcedmond.org

Though we still have 5 weeks until 2018, with the glorious celebration of Christ the King Sunday this past Sunday we marked the end of the liturgical year.  Now, we can turn our focus to Advent and Christmas!

Strictly speaking, Christmas does not officially begin until the evening of December 24, though the celebration of Christmas will begin to blend into Advent beginning on December 10 when the Adult Choir will present the Cantata: “Come Rejoicing” at all three traditional services.  It will be a stirring combination of readings, hymns and other selections that I know you will treasure.

Then, on Sunday, December 17, when you’ll hear our new “Encore Choir” at 8:30 while all the Children’s choirs will sing music of the Advent/Christmas season at 11:00.  Since Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, we’ll only have one morning worship service at 10:00 that morning which will feature beautiful organ music as well as selections offered by our youth Praise Band.  Those of you who heard them at worship on November 19 will surely realize what a treat that will be!

Longing For Presence

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Longing for Presence

Lectionary Reading: Isaiah 64:1-9 (NRSV)

Thanksgiving has come and gone.  The insane quest for just the right gifts for your loved ones has likely commenced.  The decorating of the homes has begun.  Our household even managed to get a tree up already!

For many, Christmas is "the most wonderful time of the year."  What makes it so special?

There are parties to attend and lots of goodies to eat.  There is Christmas music on the radio and in the stores.  There is the annual debate over whether one should say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays".  There are church cantatas and candle lighting.  There are school programs and specials on television. 

There are cards to write and cookies to bake; gifts to wrap and family to see.

 

We spend extra time thinking about others - even if finding the right gift is frustrating because they really have everything they need.  But even if buying the right present is difficult, we are still moved in some way in our generosity toward others.

For some, the rush is too much.  The hustle and bustle has taken away the special feelings we may have once cherished.  Within the Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown is trying to capture that Christmas spirit that seems to be eluding him because of all the commercialization.  Instead of buying the shiny aluminum tree for the Christmas pageant, he buys the sickly looking tree that looks like it needs some love.

This compassionate twist is what makes the story enduring. 

It reminds us in some way of the Gospel story.  Jesus is vulnerable as a baby - born in a manger rather than in opulence.  God's vulnerability is contrasted to the might of Rome in that day.  And yet, the one who has ears to hear recognizes which is ultimately more powerful.

This Advent, we will be exploring our "Longing for God" as we explore the prophetic readings from the lectionary texts.  As we reflect on Isaiah's passage today, we can see the people longing for God's presence.  As Advent begins, we remember that this is an important part of our preparation for Christmas.

In Christ,

Sam

Music Ministry Update

Music Ministry Update
Andrew Schaeffer, Director of Music Ministries
andrew@fumcedmond.org


November and December are always busy yet joyful months in the worship life of our church. As I look at my calendar, I just realized that we will celebrate a different festival nearly every week until January!

This Sunday, we’ll continue our month-long focus of Thanksgiving by singing and hearing some of the great Thanksgiving/harvest hymns of the church expertly led by the Adult Choir, Youth Praise Band and Chorister Choir.

Looking ahead, I encourage you to mark your calendars for Sunday December 10 when the Adult Choir will present the Cantata “Come Rejoicing” at all three traditional services, and Sunday, Decmber 17, when you’ll hear our new “Encore Choir” and all of the Children’s choirs sing music of the Advent/Christmas season.

While I’m at it, I’ll take the personal liberty of informing you that my annual Christmas concert at the Guthrie Scottish Rite will be on Saturday, December 16 at 8:00.

As you’ve read, lots of great music is in the works! Now would be a great time to start thinking of a friend you’d like to invite to church this Advent season!

Adopt-a-Street

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The final Adopt-a-Street litter pick-up event for 2017 was held on Saturday, October 28th with a combined group of 15 FUMC and Scout Troop 77 volunteers.   This community service project was initiated in the Fall of 2009.  We completed 3 street clean-up events per year, starting with Covell Road from Broadway to I-35, then moved to Sooner Road from Danforth to Coffee Creek.  Thanks to all the dedicated people who made this project a success!  From its beginning, over 100 FUMC volunteers have participated in this project- several working in nearly every event!  Our Scout troop and their leaders have joined us for the last two events.  Now, Troop 77, under the leadership of Velvadapu Rao will take on this project of helping make our community a better place to live.  Mr. Rao will let us know when they plan to do their clean-up events, and have given an open invitation for any FUMC helpers who would like to join them! THANK YOU to all who have participated.  And Blessings to the Scouts who will continue with their service on this project.

The Power of Trust

Learning to swim takes a lot of trust but the end result is very rewarding.

Learning to swim takes a lot of trust but the end result is very rewarding.

The Power of Trust
Lectionary Reading: Matthew 25:14-30 (NRSV)

I’ve seen creativity shut down in groups plenty of times.

Someone may come up with a creative idea that is a little too creative.  It seems unfeasible and not realistic for actual implementation.  And so the idea is sneered at, laughed at, scoffed at.  At worst, the presenter of the idea is ridiculed.

The creative person doesn’t add any more to the group process after this point.  Their voice has been effectively silenced.

As group dynamics go, there are certain rules to brainstorming sessions.  One of the primary rules is that when brainstorming, there are no stupid ideas.  Everything, even the most ridiculous, gets written on the board.

To ease anxiety, we let people know that just because something is written down, doesn’t mean that it will be adopted.  Brainstorming is not the time for critique.  It is the time for thinking outside the box.

The great thing about ridiculous ideas is that they may spur thinking toward something different and new that is not ridiculous.  It is just unique.  I’ve also seen this happen time and again.

The reason that the rule of “no stupid ideas” is so important is that it gives permission to be a little silly.  We can laugh with the person in delight but never in derision at the person.  This creates an atmosphere of trust.  When we begin to trust one another, we pull in a variety of viewpoints.

Otherwise, the loudest voices always dominate because they shut down quieter thoughts.  In a group process using brainstorming, the less vocal participants are given time and permission to share their ideas.  The experience and outcomes are always richer when the entire group enters into the process rather than hearing from only a minority.

This Sunday’s gospel reading is a well-known parable for many dealing with the owner entrusting money to the servants.  As you read it over, how does a lack of trust stifle the creative use of the money with the third servant?

As we continue to examine gratitude and thanksgiving this Sunday, I will be preaching on this parable with the examination of how trust and thanksgiving intertwine.  I trust that you’ll join us if at all possible!

In Christ,

Sam

Check out Sam’s Blog here:  http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com.

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

Giving Tree Coming this Month


Now that we are in November, Christmas is right around the corner and our Giving Tree will be up in the Sanctuary and Wesley Hall Foyer on November 19.  This will be your opportunity to select a card from the tree and provide a gift for those within and beyond our community.   Gift cards on the tree will be available for 2 weeks, Nov. 19 – Dec. 3.  This year your Church and Society Committee has decided to once again support Christmas Grace Program (under the Methodist Church’s Skyline Urban Ministries) and The Heifer Project.  There will be a few additional cards on our trees providing board games to Sunset Elementary.

Christmas Grace provides Christmas gifts to families who register thru Skyline.  These families are screened and only allowed to participate every other year in this program.  Our church will receive lists from several families and  a card for each person will be placed on the tree.  Price range will be $30-$50.  Gifts need to be wrapped (except for Sunset Elementary Board Games) with Giving Tree cards attached.  They are due back to the church on Dec. 3.

The Heifer Project International is a non-profit organization dedicated to ending world hunger and poverty and caring for the earth.  They provide livestock, trees, training and other resources to help struggling families build sustainable futures.  Plus, each family who receives an animal agrees to give one of their animal’s offspring to another family.  Our gift cards will allow you to make a contribution towards the purchase of an animal (the cards will reflect a range $10-$150, but any contribution will be welcome).

We hope that our Giving Tree will not only provide a touch of Christ’s love to those outside of our church family but to those within our church family as well.  This is a great opportunity to enrich your Christmas season.  Thank you!  Janie Johnson (396-2458) or Carol Crisp (341-4014)

Prioritizing Our Lives

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Sunday's Lectionary Reading: Matthew 25:1-13 (NRSV)


I never liked the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids.  It feels more like a morality play than a parable.  It has a ring to it of The Little Red Hen or Aesop's The Ants and the Grasshopper.

There is nothing wrong with a good work ethic. 

There is nothing wrong with rewarding effort given.

The apostle Paul even states that "anyone unwilling to work should not eat." (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

Of course, he is referring to Christians simply waiting on the second coming of Jesus.  They believed that the end was near and yet Paul was practical enough to know that the idle should not rely upon others bending their backs on their behalf if they are able-bodied.

The difference for me in this parable is that it follows along nicely with a works righteousness theology which doesn't always fit with the idea of grace. 

Works righteousness is what we would like to see in the marketplace where work would be valued appropriately.  But it may not be what we would like when it comes to our spiritual lives.  This is because we may have a deep and underlying sense that we could be doing better. 

 

Okay, I have my moments but I'm not this bad!


I'm often the lazy cat saying, "Not I" when asked to help plant the wheat.

I'm often the grasshopper whittling away my time while others stockpile for winter.

And I'm often the foolish bridesmaid who is looking to my friends to see if they have any oil to spare for my lamp. 

I can easily identify with those who are left on the outside looking in.  It is hurtful imagining Jesus saying to me, "I do not know you."

Because I believe compassion and grace are core components of Jesus Christ, I am forced to look deeper into my interpretation of this parable.  It seems that we are looking at priorities.  For Matthew's gospel, the oil may indeed reflect good deeds.  This parable asks us, "What do we realize spiritually through our participation in good deeds?"  And conversely, "What are we lacking in perception when we remain idle in works for others?"

As we continue to look at thankfulness as an overriding theme in worship, this Sunday I'll be preaching on "The Priority of Thanksgiving" as we look together at this gospel reading.  As always, there will be four opportunities for you to hear it on Sunday morning - and more if you livestream our Facebook feed or watch it later at your leisure.  Trey Witzel will be preaching at the Late Night service at 7 pm and I would encourage you to drop in if you miss Sunday morning!

In Christ,

Sam

Youth News and Updates for October

Youth News & Updates

October Recap- First Friends hosted a lock-in with Jones UMC for Fall Break. They discovered ways they can serve right in their community and on a global level. The group learned about the ministries of the United Methodist Church locally and globally. At the lock-in the group made hygiene kits for the hurricane victims and served at Skyline Urban Ministry. At Skyline, they learned about all the resources that the ministry offers all while setting up the Christmas store, sorting clothing and shoes in the clothing closet, and helping customers shop in the food resource center. They have also been collecting pennies for Puerto Rico this month. They ended their month with a great time at the District Monster Mash Halloween party hosted by Grace UMC. It has been a fruitful month for First Friends and they look forward to participating in the Crop Walk next Sunday!

A Month of Thankfulness

Some thanksgiving activities are a little bizarre but amusing nonetheless!

Some thanksgiving activities are a little bizarre but amusing nonetheless!

Lectionary Reading for Sunday: Matthew 23:1-12 (NRSV)


We associate quite a bit with November.

Sports fans think about Bedlam which usually occurs during the month and fans of the Cowboys and Sooners usually pay a little more attention to the hype in the upcoming week.

For the shoppers, there is Black Friday, when the retail stores finally get into the black for the year financially.  This usually involves lots of lines, lots of sales, and more than a little bait and switch for the big box stores.

For Oklahomans, pecans usually begin to fall this month and can be collected for some tasty snacking (or pies if you are crafty in the kitchen like my mother-in-law).  I am reminded of these because we have several pecan trees on the church property.

Nature lovers enjoy the fall foliage turning brilliant colors.  The leaves used to change in October but that month seems to be warmer now.  I know because I swam in an unheated outdoor pool more than once within the last couple of weeks.  So November has become the month for seeing all the variations of orange, red and yellow.

Aside from all of these things, I think most Americans associate November with Thanksgiving.  Children perform in plays involving pilgrims.  Turkeys abound and we usually feast with family.

Growing up, we spent a lot of Thanksgivings in Houston, Missouri.  My mother's mother lived there and we had all of the usual suspects on the menu: turkey, ham, green beans (hers were better than any I ever had), sweet potatoes, hot rolls (I liked to put the cranberry sauce on mine) and of course, dessert.  Pumpkin pie was always a staple during this holiday with a lot of Cool Whip dolloped on top!

I have pretty good memories associated with all of these things.  I am grateful for my family as they shaped me in important ways.  They taught me gratitude and I try to maintain a grateful attitude. 

This month, we will look at a sermon series on thanksgiving.  Being thankful has all kinds of benefits.  We are happier when we count our blessings.  We are healthier too.  Being grateful deepens your relationships and allows you to go father in your career.  So how do we develop thankfulness?

This month, we will be looking at the gospel of Matthew from the lectionary and this particular Sunday, we will examine how thanksgiving takes humility.  It also happens to be All Saints Sunday (another thing the religious may associate with November) and we will remember our loved ones who have died in the past year.  Our gratitude should extend to these friends and family whom we appreciate and whom we miss.

I hope you'll take the time to join us for worship if you're in town.  We now worship at 8:30, 9:45 and 11 am in the sanctuary and 10:50 and 7 pm in Wesley Hall - five chances to cultivate your thankfulness!  And of course, if you miss them, you can check out our livestream on Facebook which can be engaged at any time.  I'm looking forward to a November where we realize our many blessings! 

In Christ,

Sam

Ice Angels Update


At our Fall Orders meeting, Sam, Don, and I were challenged by the question: “Are you willing to take the next step?” Well, Edmond First is taking the next step with our Ice Angels program!

When I first introduced Ice Angels to the congregation, I made the pledge to have a standing appointment every Wednesday to take whoever wanted to serve down to SW 11th and Walker to help feed the homeless.  Due to such a huge response, our church’s involvement is growing starting in November.  

Edmond First is now “sponsoring” the third Wednesday of every month, taking over hosting duties for Ice Angels.  What this means is that we will be cooking a meal, provided by Skyline Urban Ministry, from 9-noon in the kitchen in the CAC.  We will then deliver the food downtown and volunteer from 1230-1, and then wash all of the dishes, with the hope of being done by 3.

The goal of taking ownership of the third Wednesday of every month is 1) to encourage a higher concentration of service and 2) offer more time slots to serve.  While everyone is welcome to serve from 9-3, you also have the options of cooking from 9-noon, serving from 12:30-1, and helping clean up from 1:30-3.

I look forward to serving with y’all on the third Wednesday of the month through our Ice Angels ministry!

Pastor Trey

 

Music Ministry Update



by Andrew Schaeffer, Director of Music Ministries
andrew@fumcedmond.org

This Sunday is a seminal day in the universal church as Christians from all over the world will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Though the Reformation was championed by Martin Luther, the Methodist church is a direct result of this momentous event, as it was birthed from the Church of England which in turn was birthed out of the Reformation.

Needless to say, this celebration is not just for Lutherans. In fact, this Sunday at 4:00 at Epiphany of Our Lord Roman Catholic Church (7336 W. Britton Rd), Christians from all over the OKC metro will gather for a celebration of music and word. Our own Michael Cross will serve as an MC, I’ll be playing the Postlude and several of our choir members will be singing.

It is my hope that you can make plans to join your brothers and sisters across the metro as we celebrate God’s saving grace across a variety of denominations! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.