Odds & Ends

It has been a tough and challenging time for humanity, hasn’t it? It’s hard to know what to say or where to begin. Today, I’ll refer you to the words of others who have helped me think about and process the hurt, pain, confusion, and sadness so many are feeling.

  • In Reaping the Whirlwind, Eric Crawford (WDRB) works through his feelings after being asked to comment on the recent shootings and protests in Louisville. Take your time with this one and pour over what he has to say. His writing is well worth it.
  • Esau McCaulley, a priest in the Anglican Church in North America and an assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, has written A Nation on Fire Needs the Flames of the Spirit for Christianity Today online. Based on his most recent sermon, this essay discusses how Pentecost can help the church find its voice during times of racial strife.
  • I’ve been blessed to be invited to join my best friend’s Sunday School class that meets over Zoom every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening from North Carolina. We are currently reading and discussing Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor, which offers “a way to find spirituality in those times when we don’t have all the answers.” It couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. I highly recommend it.
  • And, let’s not forget (how could we, really) that we’re still in the midst of a pandemic. If you’ve never looked at Kentucky’s COVID-19 website, I think you’ll be surprised by the wealth of information you can find there, including testing sites, numbers of cases by county, in-depth explanations of contact tracing, and what to expect if you’re contacted. Good stuff to know.

Last, but most definitely not least, I found the text of the prayer given by Rev. C.B. Atkins, pastor of First Baptist Church Bracktown in Lexington, during one of Governor Beshear’s recent press conferences. It was so moving to listen to Rev. Atkins’ words; I pray you find as much in the printed version:

“Let us pray together. Eternal God, the God of all people, because you are omniscient, there is nothing we can tell you that you don’t already know. So let me start by thanking you for clearing up busy schedules, for allowing us to pause to collectively acknowledge you today. We are aware that not all storms come to disrupt our life, some come to clear our path. Your ways are not our ways and your thoughts are not our thoughts. Isaiah reminds us that there is no searching of your understanding. So we did not come today to call you on the carpet to explain, we came to thank you for your power and willingness to sustain. 

“Worldwide COVID-19 has claimed 350,000 reported deaths, 100,000 in the United States, and 400 in Kentucky. These are staggering numbers of the arresting reality of this horrific pandemic. Still I refuse to be guilty either as a messenger of God or a man of color.

“I’m mentioning the racial pandemic that has been devastating a segment of your people in this country for over 400 years, emboldened now afresh by people in powerful positions in public places. It is not that the minority population has been silent, but rather that the majority population has been deaf. The high number of deaths from coronavirus has been needless, and the continuous deaths of innocent black men and women in this country is senseless.

“Frantic searches are underway in laboratories around the world for a vaccine for COVID-19. But even if one is discovered, and I pray it will be, but if we ignore the cure for that pandemic as we have ignored the cure for the racial pandemic, having done so for political, economic, and aristocratic expediency, then all efforts will ultimately be in vain.

“I pray God that you strip us of the false assurance that grows from pride in our powers and ignorance of our ignorance. After you strip us, then bathe us in compassion so our shared pain will generate a powerful passion that will eventuate in reaching a divine purpose.

“As dark as this day may be, I am assured you did not bring us this far to leave us now. Hatred, divisiveness, and even death are but finite happenings. We cling to an infinite hope. You’ve already given us the panacea for this and all pandemics. You have told us what is good and what you require, that is to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before our God. You have not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.

“If your people who are called by your name would humble themselves and pray, turn from our wicked ways and seek your face, you promise that you will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land. Comfort us, oh God. Guide, guard, and govern us. God of all nations. Known by many names. Do it through Christ Jesus my Lord. Amen.”

-Reverend C. B. Atkins 5/28/2020

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Cor. 13:14).  

Odds & Ends

Happy Saturday, everyone! Hope you’ve had a good week, are feeling well, and staying connected.

Just a few items to mention:

  • Missions, outreach, and everyday expenses don’t stop for COVID-19. Donations to NCUMC may be mailed to P.O. Box 194, New Castle KY 40050.
  • Bible Study on Philippians, Wednesday nights @ 6:30 with Cory on Facebook.
  • Recommended reading this week is from Scot McKnight at his blog, Jesus Creed. His essay, “Wasting the Crisis” is a call for us to think about how the COVID pandemic has provided many of us with moments of clarity and learning — things we shouldn’t let go to waste as we emerge from the crisis.
  • I’ve been doing some independent study of the Letter of James and will be sharing a little of what I learn here on our class site. Just a little personal Bible study… nothing formal by any means, but I certainly welcome discussion!

Calling All NCUMC Guest Bloggers! If there’s a spiritual, scriptural, or general Christian topic you’re interested in writing about (or something you’ve read that you’d like to share) send me a note via Facebook Messenger. I would love to post your contribution here on Sunday Morning, Continued. Be brave and add to our online conversation!

Closing today with a bit of humor…

Show Me, Lord

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.”

Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.

~ Mr. Rogers

 

Today, keep your eyes peeled for needs…

swing push

…and be a helper.

Break Time

I’m taking a few days off from blogging to catch up on some reading. Be back soon with (hopefully) lots of good things to share!

REMINDERS:

  • Bible Study on Philippians, Wednesday nights @ 6:30 with Cory on Facebook.
  • Missions, outreach, and everyday expenses don’t stop for COVID-19. Donations to NCUMC may be sent to P.O. Box 194, New Castle KY 40050.
  • Stay healthy at home, give yourself a break occasionally from all things news-related, and practice showing mercy and forgiveness.

Have a lovely weekend.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor. 13:14)

Odds & Ends

  • IMPORTANT REMINDER:  Beginning tonight at 6:30, Cory will be on Facebook Live leading a new Bible Study on Philippians. As Cory mentioned this past Sunday, Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi should be an interesting read for us since Paul wrote this letter during his imprisonment. Hmmm… just what can be accomplished when you can’t leave where you are?  We shall see!
  • In anticipation of tonight’s Bible study, you might be interested in this  (approximately) 5-minute video from The Bible Project:  New Testament Letters: Historical Context. While the examples given in the video are primarily from Romans, it still provides good information on how to approach any of the New Testament letters.
  • It wouldn’t be an “Odds & Ends” post without a Christianity Today link! This week I’m recommending the article Resurrection Hope Extends Beyond Easter Sunday, by Jarvis J. Williams, an associate professor of New Testament interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.
  • And please remember… Missions, outreach, and everyday expenses don’t stop for COVID-19. Donations to NCUMC may be sent to P.O. Box 194, New Castle KY 40050.

 

I close today with one of St. Benedict’s prayers. God be with us.

O gracious and holy Father,
give us wisdom to perceive you,
diligence to seek you,
patience to wait for you,
eyes to behold you,
a heart to meditate upon you,
and a life to proclaim you,
through the power of the spirit
of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday of Holy Week

A Few Odds & Ends

  • Missions, outreach, and everyday expenses don’t stop for COVID-19. Donations to NCUMC may be mailed to P.O. Box 194, New Castle KY 40050.
  • The Bible Project has released a new video on Gospel of The Kingdom. In this video, the writers trace the origins of the word “gospel” and how it ties the story of the Old Testament together with the story of Jesus and his announcement of God’s kingdom. Jesus brought God’s rule and reign to the world in a very upside-down way, which is the best news you could ask for!
  • If you have a little time on your hands and are looking for additional worship, please check out the Asbury Seminary Chapel Archives. There are even a few messages specific to the COVID-19 challenges we’re facing. I always enjoyed attending chapel services when I was on campus in Wilmore. Very special.
  • Christianity Today published a short essay called, “Simple Church.” The author describes his experience of church before big screens and multimedia (which I remember very clearly). I think you’ll find it a good reminder that no matter where we all are this Easter Sunday morning, church has not been cancelled!flowers-png-transparent-background-2

 

From Today’s Lectionary Reading

Hebrews 12:1-3 (ESV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor. 13:14)