Seeker’s Circle Project Morning


Seeker’s Circle is hosting a “Project Morning” this coming Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. in Room B118.  In October, our unit began a New Day Camp project for 100 wooden hearts/shapes and 100 drawstring bags.  These are AGAPE - gifts to every child at camp that our UMW ladies will have made and prayed over, sharing our love in a very tangible way with these children of incarcerated parents.  We got a great start, but we need 100 bags, so we still have some work to do.

We need:
(1) Sewing machines and people to sew - (need confirmation of specifically who can sew and who has a machine for us to use).
(2) 12 inch square scraps of fabric - cotton or polyester work best (nothing fuzzy or that ravels easily).
(3) 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch ribbon - all colors.
(4) Fine-tip colored Sharpies - (these will be included in the group leader bags for the children to use at camp).

On Saturday, April 21, we will:
(1) Cut fabric and ribbon for bags (using a pattern).
(2) Sew bags and thread ribbon.
(3) Make “sample” hearts (they have already been painted).
(4) Sort materials into cabin bags (Ziplocs) for small group camp leaders.

Please RSVP by e-mail to Ellen Lyons (lyonsden5@cox.net) or text (405) 820-7729. We hope all of our circles are represented in helping to get this project completed.

Worship and Music Ministry Update

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

As you probably already read in Sam’s column, we will celebrate Confirmation Sunday at the 8:30, 10:50 & 11:00 services.  In most churches, including ours, it is held in late spring, which, unfortunately, coincides with graduation season leading many to believe that Confirmation is a graduation from Sunday School.  However, just as school is designed to give us the tools to become life-long learners, and graduation a symbolic sending forth; Confirmation instruction is a way for our students to become life-long disciples of Jesus Christ, and the Confirmation celebration a renewal of that commitment.

With that in mind, the real reason we hold Confirmation in the spring is that, for centuries, the universal church has recognized that it is important that Christians be confirmed in the shadow of Easter.  For it is only by Christ’s resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit that we are emboldened to live lives of faith.

In the sanctuary services, we’ll celebrate this joyful day with festive music that will emphasize the importance of the church and our need to continually renew our commitment to serving Christ and His kingdom.  Join us on Sunday not only to support these young members, but to give thanks for your own life of faith!

Does the Church Have Less Influence Today?

 

This is not a trick question.  When I grew up, it was very normative to be a Christian.  In fact, it was weird if you weren’t.

I had a couple of Jewish friends and when I found out they went to worship on Saturday, I felt sorry for them because that’s when all the good cartoons were on television.  If they tried to watch TV on Sunday, all they could see were worship services.  And by worship services, I mean Christian worship services.

There were plenty of things that were closed on Sundays and there was nary a school activity on Wednesday night.  It was easy to be a Christian because our culture didn’t allow for much choice in the matter.  Or at least, it made it easy to attend due to lack of competition.

In the Church today, its members are facing a very different reality.  There are loads of options during Sunday morning worship.  In fact, most of the congregation brings the options with them into worship today:

Cell phones.

These little wonders contain all the distractions one could ask for:

videos

books

games

articles

music

even voyeurism - err, I mean social media.

So people in today’s United States must actively choose to turn off the phone and engage in their faith.  And before you text me that your Bible app, prayer app, worship app, faithful living app, church app helps you in your faith, I meant turning off the phone in a metaphorical sense.

This is the sense that we must turn away from the world and try to hear what God may have for us.  I don’t mean turn our back on the needs of the world, I mean that we must turn away from the message of the world that constantly cries out, “It’s all about you!”

This Sunday, we will continue in the series, “Living a Resurrection Faith in a Post-Christian World” and I will try to address the question in today’s blog title.  We’ll look at Acts 4:5-12 and see how Peter’s word for the elders of the day is still Peter’s word for us.

And spoiler alert, the answer to the question, as always, is up to you.

In Christ,
Sam

Check out Sam’s Blog here:  http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com.
Photo by harrypope via Flickr.com.  Used under the Creative Commons license.

FUMC VBS Needs Your Help

FUMC VBS Needs your help
We are gearing up for VBS and need your help to make it another fabulous year! Below is a list of needs, can you help by donating some of these items?

• Skinny Christmas Trees
• EMPTY Cereal Boxes
• Woodland stuffed animals
• Newspaper
• Elmer’s White Glue
• White, Brown and Green
     Spray Paint
• Masking Tape
• Sharpies
• Canoes/Kayaks
• Blue Streamers
• Little Tykes Log Cabin
• Brown, Blue, and Green  
     Butcher Paper
 • Wooden Crates
• “Please don’t feed the
     animals” sign
• Lanterns
• Blue Plastic Table Cloths
• Green Plastic Table Cloths
• Liquid Starch
• Pool noodles
• Fishing Rods
• Pine Cones

Music Ministry Update


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

Every Thursday morning, children from our Preschool venture over to the sanctuary for their weekly chapel service.  At the beginning of our time together, I usually ask them if they notice anything different about their surroundings and, with our church adorned for Easter, we had much to discuss last week!  One particularly observant student noticed that the large candle next to the baptismal font (known liturgically as the paschal candle) was lit.  It then occurred to me that some in our congregation might also be wondering why it’s lit throughout the Easter season.

Simply put, the candle represents both the pillar of fire that led Israel by night and the risen Lord who stands among us at Easter.  The word “pasch” comes from the Hebrew word meaning “pesah” meaning deliverance or Passover, which ties directly into the Easter story.  We intentionally keep this candle next to the baptismal font as a constant reminder of our own deliverance from sin and death through our own baptisms.  Likewise, if you attend a funeral at our church, you’ll find it lit near the casket or memorial photos as a powerful and tangible reminder of the resurrection.

As you worship with us over the next few weeks, take a moment to look at the beautiful paschal candle in its glory and remember with joy how Christ has led you to new life!

 

How Do I Relate to People of Another Faith?

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As our church continues the series, “Living a Resurrection Faith in a Post-Christian Society” we are examining what it means to be the church today.  Where to be American once brought the likelihood of Christian faith, that is not the case now.  This week’s topic is “How Do I Relate to People of Another Faith?”

In looking at the lectionary passage, Acts 3:12-19, we witness an encounter between Peter and the Jewish onlookers following a miraculous healing in Jerusalem.  Since this account was written over fifty years after the fact, it has the appearance of a Christian-Jewish dialogue.  In actuality, it would have been an intra-Jewish conversation since Christianity had not yet emerged as separate from Judaism at that time.  The shame Peter throws toward those in Jerusalem would have been as one Jew to another rather than as a Christian toward a Jew.  It also would have been from a minority population to the majority rather than as equals or from a position of power.

This makes a difference in power dynamics because someone in a minority position doesn’t wield the same kind of power as someone in the majority.

Later, after Christians became the dominant population, Jews became a minority group that were blamed for the death of Jesus.  During the Crusades, the Muslims were seen as the religious occupiers of the Holy Land that needed to be driven out.  Due to the distance between the countries in Western Europe and the Middle East, it was not easy or cheap to travel with armies that far.  Some felt that the Jewish populations were a good substitute because they were within reach.  In 1096, the Rhineland massacres took place in Germany which some historians look at as a precursor to the Holocaust.

The atrocities of the Crusades didn’t stop with Jewish populations.  In 1209, Pope Innocent III decided to crackdown on the Cathars who were Christians that didn’t submit to the authority of the Pope.  While they resided in the town of Beziers, France, they lived in harmony with the Catholics there.  The Crusaders recruited to eliminate the Cathars ended up slaughtering around 20,000 people in the town including women and children and then burned the town to the ground.  It was the French monk Arnaud Amalric who was later reported as being asked how they would tell the difference between the Catholics and Cathars in Beziers and replied, “Kill them all.  God will recognize his own.”  This has been paraphrased in later military endeavors as “Kill ‘em all - let God sort ‘em out.”

Even though the Europeans did not recapture the Holy Land during the Crusades, Muslim populations still have difficulty with the term “Crusades” and what it meant for the treatment of their populations (including women and children) during that time by the West.

As we look at our own history, if we are to have a conversation with someone of another faith, it helps if we recognize our previous shortcomings.  In the past, we have practiced dominance rather than dialogue.  It is time for us to see the death of the Crusade mentality in Christianity and allow the love of neighbor to be resurrected.  In this love, we practice respect for others - even those we would consider opposed to our faith.  This approach is Christ-like as we remember that Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

This may also mean that we need to repent of when we have been the persecutors - just as we rightly decry terrorism today, there are periods in our history that have not dignified our Christian witness.In Christ,
Sam

Check out Sam’s Blog here:  http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com.
Photo by Merrimack Collage via Flickr.com.  Used under the Creative Commons license.

Teacher Walk-Out - You Can Help!

As our teachers are advocating for all of our students, we think it’s important we support our teachers as they continue to strive to make Oklahoma’s school systems better reflect the care and compassion we all have for our students.

So in that vein, we are proud to join with our other United Methodist Churches in Edmond to do what we can to support our students and families.  Each UMC is taking responsibility for providing additional volunteers one day a week for our local YMCAs until the teacher walkout is complete.

Edmond First’s day of the week will be Thursdays, 9 am-3 pm.  We need 25 volunteers. Each YMCA will open their doors for students to have a safe space to be, and it is exciting to be partnering with them as we support Edmond teachers, students, and families.

If you would like to volunteer, please email Rev. Trey at trey@fumcedmond.org ASAP so we can begin preparing to be at the YMCA.

Music Ministry Update

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As I was browsing Facebook on Sunday afternoon, I enjoyed seeing many of my friends and colleagues posting statuses of great relief and joy as Holy Week and Easter concluded.  I too felt that relief.  After all, from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday, we offered sixteen services here at the church!  I estimate that over 100 people helped in various ways, whether it was by decorating the sanctuary and Wesley Hall, providing breakfast for devotions, or singing in the choir.  You get the picture. That said, it would be impossible to thank everyone individually for their dedication, so I will not dare make that attempt!  However, if you are among those that helped, please accept a hearty thank you and know that I speak on behalf of a grateful congregation.

While Easter Sunday is over, the truth is the celebration has just begun!  The season of Easter lasts for 50 days and will conclude on Pentecost Sunday, May 20.  Alleluia! Let us keep the feast.

Living a Resurrection Faith in a post-Christian Society

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The Easter season will continue for about seven more weeks.  During this time, the lectionary features various texts on resurrection appearances or on the theme of new life in general.  The church is certainly in need of resurrection.  My own denomination, The United Methodist Church, is facing a crossroads over human sexuality at a special called General Conference in February and I’ll be attending as a delegate.  Regardless of where the church lands on this issue, it appears that a split is not so likely as an exodus.

We also hear about the church in general within the United States being in a state of decline.  It seems that people are not attending worship as much as they did in the past.  Our culture is moving toward a post-Christendom vibe as being a “none” or someone who has no religious preference or activity is becoming the new normal rather than someone who is an active disciple involved in a local church.

Many times, we hear the longing for the good-ol’ days when our Christian faith seemed to have more influence.  For some this means the church of their childhood.  Others realize that church in that age wasn’t perfect either and they harken back to the early church when it was still led by people that walked with Jesus when he led his earthly ministry in the flesh.

The lectionary features the book of Acts which highlights the early church.  Acts is a wonderful book of faith that shows us the vision of what the church could be.  But it was written in hindsight and may not expose all of the warts it could have.  If you want those, you have to read the hands-on account of the apostle Paul in his letters to the early church.  So Paul’s letters really remind us that the church has always had some of the same issues in every age: it is composed of people.  While this is a great joy as we are made in God’s image, it is also a hazard because, well, we don’t always live up to our potential!

Over the next four weeks, we’ll be exploring this theme of what the church could be today in light of the changes going on all around us.

This Sunday, will be the first in this series as I highlight Acts 4:32-35 and attempt to answer the question, “Is the Church in decline?”  In order to keep in line with the Easter season, I will contrast the death of the institution with the resurrection of mission.  If you are in the Edmond area, we hope you’ll join us for worship.  If you aren’t or are already active in another church, you can still join us online at your convenience for the full service on our Facebook page or for the sermon as a podcast or on our YouTube page.  Keep those hits coming whether in person or virtually and we’ll show the world that faith is still alive and well within the body of Christ!

In Christ,
Sam

Check out Sam’s Blog here:  http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com.
Photo by Fueling Creative Fire via Flickr.com.  Used under the Creative Commons license.

Music Ministry Update

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

By the time you receive this edition of The Messenger, we’ll be about to enter the most important three days of the church year known in Latin as the Tridiuum or, in English, “The Three Days.”  (If you’re wondering how Tridiuum is pronounced see me after church!)  It is a time of year that begins on the evening of Maundy Thursday and continues through the evening of Easter.  In some sense, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter are to be thought of as one continuous worship service.  These three services are interconnected and work together to tell the whole story of the faith we proclaim every time we take Communion: “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again!”

The word “Maundy” means “mandate” and at our Maundy Thursday service, we will commemorate two important mandates given from Jesus: the institution of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Super and His “new commandment” that we love one another as He has loved us.  The service ends with the ancient practice of stripping the altar and sanctuary following Holy Communion as a vivid way of showing the desolation and abandonment of the long night in Gethsemane.

On Good Friday, we will have a simple yet poignant service designed to hear the proclamation of the passion, pray for the life and health of the world and meditate on the life-giving cross.

Of course, everyone reading this newsletter probably knows what happens on Easter.  We will proclaim the risen Lord and the joy we have through our new life in Him with festive music, flowers, and pageantry!     

I hope you can join us for as much of the Tridiuum as possible.  Through these sacred three days, we will have a richer Easter celebration!

 

Youth March Recap


The youth have had an awesome March. We have been collecting food each week for Skyline in a healthy competition of mid-high vs. senior high. The senior high took the lead with over 200 items collected in four weeks. We hosted a District event of around 200 people in our gym where we played good ol’ fashion dodgeball. The mid-high team dominated by winning the mid-high bracket championship. Twenty-six youth and adults spent their spring break serving at Crosspoint camp. They picked up broken trees, raked leaves, placed a wooden cross on the beach, worshiped together, spent time on the lake, played games, and painted porches. It was a great week of mission and service. We ended the month with our annual Skyline Scavenger hunt, where we collected food for the final stretch of our church wide competition. We are gearing up and getting ready for a wonderful Sunrise service for Easter. We hope you will join us on April 1st in Wesley Hall at 7am.

Easter: Ways you can help


Easter is a special Sunday every year, full of joyful singing, children laughing, and bright clothing all around.  Easter is one day that everyone circles on their calendar, excited to worship our risen Lord.  

As our church continues to grow, parking spots become harder to find and our space in the pews becomes a little bit more intimate.  It is a wonderful situation to find ourselves in, new guests attending for the first time and members coming back.  It’s our goal to always be a welcoming church, embodying the United Methodist Church moto of “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.”  Below are three ways that you can help be hospitable on Easter Sunday.

1. Parking: We are encouraging all members to first look in our CAC lot and at our street parking options.  Let’s reserve our Wesley Parking Lot and South West Parking Lot for guests and those who appreciate shorter walking distances.

2. Seating: One of the biggest inducers of anxiety when visiting a new church is where you sit.  Please either sit in the middle of the pews, leaving space on the ends for guests to easily slide in, or if you have a large family, sit towards the inside aisles, offering plenty of space for new families.  And if you see anyone looking around for a pew, invite them to join you in yours!

3. Inviting: Share our Easter posts and pictures on Facebook! We all have people in our lives who are looking for a place to worship.

Holy Week has arrived!

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Our staff is in full swing to make this time meaningful for our congregants, our visitors from out of town and the wider community we reach.  

If you haven’t made it to our early morning devotions, we will still have a couple days left if you’re reading this by Wednesday.  Thursday will feature Rev. Dr. Joe Davis and Derek Smithee with a dramatic presentation and Friday will feature Rev. John Corbin.  The devotions begin in Wesley Hall at 6:30 am and end at 7 am and have been well-attended so far!

Maundy Thursday worship on Thursday, March 29 at 7:00 pm in the sanctuary will feature Holy Communion for all as we consider Jesus meeting with the disciples for the institution of the sacrament.  We will also have foot washing in the East wing for those who would like to experience it (if you don’t have your feet washed, you will be in the majority).  I will be preaching on John 13:1-17, 31b-35 and my sermon title is “What Happens When I Get Tired of Serving?”  I’ll be referencing compassion fatigue as we think about this often undiscussed part of helping.  

Good Friday worship on Friday, March 30 at 7:00 pm in the sanctuary will feature the seven last words (phrases actually) of Jesus Christ.  Rev. Trey Witzel will be preaching on how we participate in the crucifixion and this will be an important meditation as we prepare for Easter.

Easter Sunday will feature a sunrise service in Wesley Hall at 7:00 am led by our youth.  My daughter, Kyla Powers, will be preaching and I look forward to simply worshiping to start my morning!  However, you may want to watch out for flying buttons coming off my shirt.

We’ll observe our regular worship times in our sanctuary at 8:30, 9:45 and 11 am.  The choir will be featured at all three services.  Worship on Hurd, our contemporary expression, will be at the normal time of 10:50 am in the sanctuary.  

I’ll be preaching all four services on Mark 16:1-8 and my sermon title will be “Sometimes Death is Easier to Embrace than Life.”  We’ll be looking at God’s triumph over fear and anxiety in our lives today.

One of the best things I hear about our congregation is the friendliness of the people.  I think that we offer our community a sense of grace and hospitality that is truly Christ-like.  However, as we anticipate larger-than-usual crowds, we need a good reminder to be extra-patient.  We especially want to be kind to parents with babies or little children.  It is not easy to get them ready for church and if this is not their routine, the children may have a more difficult time staying still.  Our nursery staff are wonderful but new visitors may not feel comfortable with leaving their child just yet.  When I hear a cry or a voice, I give thanks because I know there are many church sanctuaries that will never hear little voices again.

Lastly, I’m reminded of the story of a man visiting a church who arrived early to get a good seat.  When one of the matriarchs entered the sanctuary, she was frustrated to find the man sitting in her pew!  She promptly told him that he was in her seat (even though there was nothing designating it as such) and he quickly moved to another space.  Later in the service, the woman’s face turned red after the pastor announced how delighted they were to have their bishop visiting in worship that morning!  So you never know who you are entertaining!

I pray God’s blessings on your faith journey this week.  May you experience a blessed resurrection Sunday so that we all remember who we are!

In Christ,
Sam

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

Palm Sunday

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This Sunday will be the final Sunday in Lent.  We will celebrate Palm Sunday.  Interestingly enough, liturgically, this is also considered Passion Sunday where we remember the death of our Lord.  I suppose this is because worship leaders want people to understand some of what Jesus went through (they realistically know that not everyone will attend the Good Friday service).

Our congregation is fortunate enough to have Spirit Act leading us in worship this Sunday.  They will present the readings through the service so that we will be able to internalize the Passion of Jesus in ways we might not by just hearing it.  I think you will appreciate their work as we worship together.

Of course, we also have the Easter Egg hunt following the service on the lawn of our Boulevard property.  We invite you to bring your children or grandchildren, friends and family.  We will have food trucks available for you to purchase lunch and hope everyone will stick around for the fun!

Holy Week will start the Monday following Palm Sunday with our morning devotions.  They will begin at 6:30 am in Wesley Hall and will last about 30 minutes each day.  Breakfast will follow – we hope you’ll join us!

Our evening services that week will be our Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services at 7 pm in the sanctuary.  These are always meaningful and we usually have good crowds.  It is nice to celebrate with our church family and we hope you’ll join us!

The picture is from our camp down at Crosspoint (Lake Texhoma).  This is a beautiful campground and they have cabins available for families to rent if you need a getaway.  I’m there with our youth this week while we get some mission work done!

In Christ,
Sam

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