Sunday, August 02, 2009

The number you have called has been changed.

The new number is Wake3d. Please make a note of it. Thank you.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pentecost and big surprises.

12Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"

13Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine.

Acts 2

Me: Do you know what that was?
Cop: I have no idea! That is the craziest shit I’ve ever seen in my life, AND I’M A COP!
Me: Ha. Yeah, it was weird.
Cop: You wanna sign up to be in the NYPD?
Me: No thanks.

Improv Everywhere

A year or so ago, Improv Everywhere did one of their famous pranks/performance art pieces at Grand Central Station. Watching the video can give you a sense of what it must have been like for these people. Consternation, amazement, disbelief were probably just a few of the different ways people reacted to the scene.

In a similar way, Pentecost threw people off completely. What did it mean? Why did it happen? Of course, the Improv event was timed, scheduled, planned, but the people watching it didn't know that. The observers at Pentecost didn't know what was transpiring either.

It is now around 2000 years since the birth of the church. Two thousand years. Yet we are still amazed. We are amazed at what God has done for us, in us and through us. Share your amazement. Happy Pentecost!

Friday, May 08, 2009


Might as well make the best of it, because here it comes again.

Here are some songs that talk about rain; some of which I like, some of which just get stuck in my head when it's raining, some of which I never heard until I started searching for rain songs.

Eurythmics: Here Comes the Rain Again

personal note: I saw Annie Lennox sing this live, while it was raining.

BJ Thomas: Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head (I saw BJ Thomas sing this, but it was not raining.)

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Have You Ever Seen the Rain and Who'll Stop the Rain (thanks Leah)

Rihanna: The Umbrella Song Not really my musical preference, but it's definitely a rain song.

The Beatles: Rain (with some sunshine, too)

Madonna: Rain

Clint Black: Like the Rain

Tom Waits: More than Rain

Carpenters: Rainy Days and Mondays (wish I had vid. for the Cracker remake)

There's a million more. Purple Rain, I'm Only Happy When it Rains. Rain seems to be a good topic for music. Snow doesn't seem to have as wide a reach. Lots of sunshine songs though. If I ever see the sun for 12 hours straight again, maybe I'll post those next.

Library web site

Linkage begets linkage. Currently if you search "chester county tn library" or "Henderson tn library" the actual library web page does not make the first page. I didn't venture past the second page because honestly, how often does any one go beyond the first?

Here's the official web page for the Chester County Library, located in Henderson, TN, which is a great library and has great resources. Free wireless? Yes. DVDs? Yes. Oh, they also have lots of books and staff that will gladly help you find what you need.

Chester County TN Library

Did you get that site? What, you want a pic too?

I got that from the official web site, which is for the Chester County, TN library in Henderson, TN. Here's the site. Did I already link that?

Chester County Library

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Feel Good Friday video

Brief background, "Starfish and Coffee" used to get a lot of airplay on XM Kids when we listened to it back before my kids moved on to other music. It's a great song, written by Prince. This video is of Matt Nathanson singing and having a great time with the song, and turning it in to a medley. It's his version (minus the medley) that was popular on XM Kids.

Matt will be at Memphis in May next Friday and I'm jealous of anyone who gets to go. (though I might pick Elvis Costello on Saturday if I had to choose a day.)

Watch it now before Prince finds out and strips the audio. He's mean like that.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wesley is funny.

Photo by flickr user Serendigity.

On this day in Wesley's journal, we have an entry from 1760 in which Wesley discusses the problems that Ireland has faced over the years. He bases his thoughts on a book written by Sir John Davis (which may be Sir John Davies, but I haven't looked thoroughly) regarding the history of Ireland, and it's interesting stuff, especially since it discusses issues which still resonate in Ireland. No, that's not funny.

What's funny is the entry above it, from January 16th:

One came to me, as she said, with a message from the Lord, to tell me that I was laying up treasures on earth, taking my ease, and minding only my eating and drinking. I told her God knew me better; and if He had sent her, He would have sent her with a more proper message.

I love that God worked through this man. It gives me hope that I can overcome my often sarcastic, petulant attitude.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Jesus and the folded cloth / napkin.

Last year someone asked me about an email they received regarding the resurrection. Here's one version of it:

The Gospel of John (20: 7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes. The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed at the head of that stony coffin. Is that important? You'd better believe it! Is that significant? Absolutely! Is it really significant? Yes!

In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition. When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it. The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating, and the servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished.

Now if the master was done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, "I'm done". But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because the servant knew that the folded napkin meant, "I'm not finished yet." The folded napkin meant, "I'm coming back!"

He is Coming Back!

For those of you with limited time, let me just say this. That's bullshit. For those who want more info, keep reading.

Brett Royal posted this email recently on his blog, and the he agrees with me in questioning the authenticity of the story. I'm not a Hebrew scholar, and what I know about Jewish traditions at the time of Christ is roughly equivalent to zero, but what sense would this story make? Jesus knows and participates in master/servant relationships from the master perspective? He uses his burial clothes in the same way that people use napkins at a table?

The email explanation tells us nothing that the Bible isn't already telling us. The clothes let us know one thing which is obvious. The body wasn't stolen. He's coming back has been assured to us in many passages of scripture. We don't need a contrived, unsigned, unresearched email to tell Christians what they believe about the resurrection and the return of Christ.

There are a few sites that can back me up on this. is one of them. I also asked a professor who has well-known wisdom on the subject. This email tells us nothing that we didn't already know from scripture. It tells us a lot about our culture though. More on that later.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Jesus as a bald 40 year old.

When Paula asked me to play the part of Jesus several weeks ago, Palm Sunday seemed so far away. Now it's next Sunday. I'm nervous and definitely appreciate prayers, as do all the cast members. Here's a great depiction of one of the scenes. Of course, it's from the world's largest online illustrated Bible at The Brick Testament.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Do you look like Jesus?

This is one of the many images you can find if you search online for "Jesus of Nazareth". But of course, we don't really know what Jesus looked like.

This is also not a picture of Jesus. It's Andy Alexis-Baker, who runs a great web site called Jesus Radicals. In addition to not being Jesus, Andy Alexis-Baker is also not Jacques Ellul. This:
is Jacques Ellul. He really doesn't look like either of the other pics, does he? However, because Andy was the first person I can remember speaking Ellul's name, I associate Andy with Ellul.

Ellul was a theologian and philosopher, and if you go to Jesus Radicals, you can also tell that he has had a huge influence on Andy. Andy presented Ellul to me. He did it in a way that made me want to know more. Another friend of mine, who doesn't seem to have a pic online (but he's a good looking guy, trust me) later mentioned Ellul to me as well. I wanted to know more.

Most of us probably don't look like Jesus, but we are charged with presenting him, with discussing him and explaining how he has influenced us. We have to demonstrate this, not just speak it. I'm grateful that Ellul and Andy have both taken this task seriously.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Potentially dangerous sermon illustrations.

Really, this is the only way you can think of to illustrate your sermon ideas? A bow and arrow shot during church? When will the church stop writing its own parodies?

Parishioner, pastor cited for firing bow in church

Photo: Creative Commons, Flickr user Matthew McVickar

HT to UMJeremy

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pancake humor.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives keeps an online collection of 19th century newspapers. I believe the writers and readers of these newspapers were completely insane. Perhaps it was because they sprinkled lead on their eggs each morning, or their tendency to put opium in their puddings and Methodist sermons. To demonstrate this insanity, I offer you pancake stories from 19th century newspapers:

This one was in two different newspapers 10 years apart. It was just that good a joke, I suppose:

"John," said a stingy old hunks to his hired man,"do you know how many pancakes you've eaten?"
"No, I don't."
"Well, you've eaten fourteen."
"Yes? Well, you count and I'll eat."

I don't even know if I can believe this one, but it was right next to scarlet fever news and other items:

One directly Pancake Tuesday related:

Shrove Tuesday and its Pancakes.

To-day is generally known as Shrove Tuesday, though the fact that it is so-called because in olden times people shrove themselves, that is confessed their sins to priests, is as generally ignored. The light-heared French have given it another name, Mardi Gras, signifying "flesh-meat Tuesday," the day when the "farewell to flesh" is pronounced. The masquerading and other amusements indulged in are by the antiquarians traced back to the Bacchanalia of the Greeks and the Saturnalia of the Romans, and Christian clergy have violently denounced them. In "merry England" the day was celebrated by the burning of effigies, cock-fights, throwing at cocks, games of football, and the "barring-out" of the schoolmaster. One of the customs then in vogues has been preserved to this day, principally among the Irish, and consists in the cooking and eating of large quantities of pancakes. In one of these is placed a ring, and the lucky finder is assured that he or she will be married within the coming year.

Aunt Jemima pancake flour has been around since at least 1892, and according to an ad "A Chicago policeman became polite from eating pancakes made from Aunt Jemima's Pancake Flour."

Pancakes also killed people on at least two occasions, both due to arsenic accidentally being put in the pancakes.

Mmmm pancakes.

Pancakes, lectionary and being subject.

So it's Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Pancake Day. I made pancakes and bacon for the kids. I ate some bacon, but I'm doing without the pancakes. They tend to make me sleepy, especially with the required glass of milk. Of course, I didn't do anything with Fat Tuesday or Ash Wednesday when I was growing up, but my children are far more familiar with the traditions of Lent and Holy Week. This is partly because of a seeming increase of Mardi Gras observation (Jackson, TN has 2 Mardi Gras parades now) and also because of the attempts by Methodist churches to stick to the Lectionary.

I'm glad the Methodist church has returned to the Lectionary. It gives guidance. It allows for us to be subject to something. I was recently talking to an acquaintance who, though she never stated it directly, made it pretty clear that she was not interested in being subject to anything. She was guided by her own desires in her work and home. If she couldn't do it her way, she wasn't really interested in doing it at all.

Of course, we all get like that. But if we can agree to be subject about some things, then we can work harder at being subject to one another. If the church can look at the pulpit and say "on this day, this is the text we will read" then it allows us to agree on something, which is better than we might do without such things.

Tomorrow, I will go get ashes on my head. I will be told that I am going to be dust. I will be there with others who will be reminded of the same thing, and we will remember the saints who have gone before us and with whom we share the life of the Kingdom. Come Lord Jesus.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Random thoughts on Transfiguration

I've been looking at this text all week. I've read the other parts of the Lectionary. I've read the commentary on the Lectionary. All I have is an unformed ball of clay. Literally. I bought sculpey. Plain white sculpey. Of course Robby had to have his own pack too. I guess it's a start. It fits with transfiguration any way.

Of course, part of my mission tomorrow will include a sort of "here comes Lent" reminder. Very few people in the class (including me) were raised on the Lectionary/Liturgical year. I remember a youth group pastor talking about Lent and he brought a Roman Catholic friend with him like show and tell.

How inadequate Peter, James and John must have felt. John's gospel doesn't include the story. Maybe he didn't even feel he had the words for the event? It's no wonder they offered to build tents, tabernacles, monuments to Elijah, Moses and Jesus. It was Jesus' transfiguration, but the disciples were transformed too.

They were told to be silent, they were told John the Baptist was Elijah. They were told that Jesus would rise from the dead. They had more information than they could process and they still had to go on, go forward, move to the next moment. They couldn't stop and build monuments.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Angel Food, FBI, IRS.

Last week I received a phone call. It was a pre-recorded message. This is basically what it said:

A single search warrant was executed today on Angel Food Ministries home office. Angel Food Ministries believes that this is an investigation of an individual or individuals connected to the organization, and not regarding the ministry itself, its service to the public or its host sites in any way.

The Board of Directors has pledged full cooperation with government officials.

Angel Food Ministries, welcoming its 15th year of serving food to those in need, reaches 39 states to hundreds of thousands of families with nearly six million boxes distributed in 2008. It is our mission to do that, and it will continue to do so. AFM is taking orders and is prepared to fill them as usu

Of course, I was concerned. My wife and I brought the information regarding Angel Food to our church about 3 years ago and our church jumped in and started working. Three years later we've served as many as 200 boxes in a month, and average close to 50 each month. We've picked up our food at locations in 4 different counties, and we've always felt like we were doing good work.

We still do. But now we have questions. Employee compensation in non-profits is a touchy subject, and based on the reports I've read (I'll put some sources at the end of the article for anyone who wants to dig a little deeper)the IRS gave the board at Angel Food advice to diversify when they began the work in 2000. They should have done that. They didn't, and as a result, voting themselves a large pay raise and taking out loans against the company looks suspicious.

I don't know where this story will end. I hope this weekend when we distribute food, we have more information, but it's not looking like it. The Angel Food Ministries website has no additional information (you get the quote from above if you click the Important News link).

We discussed this in class on Sunday and the consensus was that we carry on. This month we have more orders than we've had in about a year, and it continues to be more than $30 worth of food for $30. But we will be praying for discernment and wisdom as we try to follow God's will.

Angel Food site

Atlanta Journal Constitution

Public Opinion Online
Ministry Watch: list of issues with charities. (pdf file)
Angel Food and USDA partnership (pdf file)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

spiritual doctor

I went to the doctor last week for a muscle pain. My potassium's lowish, (it's Within Normal Limits, but on the low side) but I know what the problem really is. I need to eat better and exercise more.

In the same way, I have struggles in my faith for which I am aware of the real solutions. My potassium may be low, but a banana won't take care of the problem. I've got to give God time to help me. I've got to listen to the ways in which he would shape my life. I need to quit trying to do it myself. I need to pray and pray and pray. Lord hear my prayer.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

UMReporter - Black History Month

Donald Haynes always has great stuff. Don't miss his column on Methodists and Black History.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Willimon Road Trip?

The two general editors for the Wesley Study Bible (reviewed below) are Dr. Joel B. Green, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and Bishop William H. Willimon, who is listed on the packaging of the Wesley Study Bible as "Resident Bishop of the Birmingham Area of the United Methodist Church" but who is, I'm pretty sure, known in Methodist circles as the Bishop of North Alabama. He is also a rather prolific writer and speaks often at churches in his conference.

One topic he will be speaking on is "Reading the Bible Like Wesleyans".
This will be a discussion, led by Bishop Willimon, on the unique Methodist way with scripture. How does United Methodist "practical Christianity" inform our reading of scripture? Bishop Willimon will discuss the particular Wesleyan contribution to the study, interpretation, and embodiment of Holy Scripture.

This should be thorough (2.5 hours alotted) and informative conversation. I know some Methobloggers are discussing making the trip to Birmingham on the 7th of March, but I'm closer to Huntsville, and I'm thinking of getting a group from church together to make the trip on the 14th.

You can read more about the sessions and Bishop Willimon's thoughts about the project at the North Alabama Conference website.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wesleyans! Study Bible!

I wish I had not known about the Wesley Study Bible until it was already published and on the shelves. I'm not patient when waiting on preordered items and Cokesbury is probably grateful that I won't be calling them any more now that I have received my copy. Overall, I am very pleased with this version of the Bible and have no doubt it will be my new Bible for primary use. The Wesley Study Bible uses the NRSV and is published by Abingdon Press. If you are a member of any Methodist/Wesleyan heritage church or have an interest in Wesleyan thought, this is a great resource.

Shane Raynor, over at The Wesley Report did a brief review and I have similar thoughts in terms of the readability and feel of the book. There is also afacebook group which is discussing the merits and shortcomings of this new presentation of the NRSV.

Of course the notes are the important consideration for any study Bible, and this Bible sets itself apart in that regard, including significant details in the life and theology of John Wesley and other early Methodists. The sources for the notes are John Wesley's Notes on the Bible and the Bicentennial edition of The Works of John Wesley.

An example: on page 1199, with the story of the sheep and the goats, we have an inset on Wesley's friend William Morgan and his invitation to visit prisoners. Visiting Prisoners is one of the "Wesleyan Core Terms" which also include Physician of Souls, Lay Leadership, Tradition, Liberty, Mind of Christ, and I'd guess about 100 other topics. Thankfully, all these terms, as well as the "Life Application Topics" and the maps are indexed, but as one of the facebook users (Ron N.) points out, the index might be more helpful with page numbers. Instead, if you're looking up a life application topic or Wesley Core Term, the index only provides you with the book that it can be found in. Granted, they also list it by the order that it appears, which helps, but it's a fairly significant inconvenience, particularly for a group study setting. You can take a look at this indexing system yourself by downloading the free sample.

I am also surprised that there is no concordance, something I think is an important part of any Bible calling itself a study Bible. This is, however, a Bible specifically designed as a resource for better understanding of the Wesleyan perspective on Scripture, and it fulfills that task. I'm looking forward to using it, as well as giving it to some of my Wesleyan brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Twitter, the web and bad impressions.

Several UM conferences now use twitter. I know of three, West Virginia, Texas and South Carolina. These conferences are doing good work.

That doesn't mean that I think you have to twitter in order to be an effective conference. Twitter does not make disciples, nor do good web pages, or great UM reporter inserts. However, it does show that you're thinking about such things. It shows you are looking for ways to communicate.

Look at the web pages for those three UM conference: South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia. They all have current events, relevant links and great information. They present the conference the denomination and the church well. Now, go look at some other United Methodist conferences. Pick three. There are some really bad ones out there. I met one of the people I follow on twitter because he was noticing how bad some of them are.

I know our conference budgets are limited. Budgets are being scrutinized everywhere. Many conferences are probably using volunteer help and hosting for their pages. Fine, have a simple web page with phone numbers, links and a calendar. But do whatever you're doing well.

If I go to your web page and get "upcoming advent celebrations!" what should I think? If you link me to another web page that doesn't have anything to do with the link I just clicked, how long do you think I'll stay on your site? If I email your pastors with a question or concern, how long will it take to hear back from them? I recently emailed a pastor with a comment: no response for six days and counting.

So what? I should do something. I'm complaining, but I can help. You can too. You're reading a blog, so you've got more experience than others in the church. Maybe you can help proofread the website for you church. Maybe you can just make sure to check the conference website once a week and encourage the guy who works on it. We have good news to share, peace to proclaim. Christ is Lord! Let us share the news in a way that is worthy of the King of Kings.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Christian non-Christian music

It now seems trite for a Christian to say "I don't like contemporary Christian music", but somebody's still buying all those cds and concert tickets or there would be no market. And actually, there's such a broad range of Christian music now that you can't lump it all together. Several people I know recommended Derek Webb, and that has kept me looking for good Christian music and finding lots of songs and streams that I hadn't seen before because of the tangled thickets of theologically and musically worthless songs that hid them.

However, I also like songs that have themes that are Christian even though they're not made for a specifically Christian audience. Musically these songs are often superior to Christian songs because they're not necessarily starting out with the message in mind. As a good Wesleyan, I see prevenient grace in these songs. God calls even when people may not realize the call is there.

This video is not a complex example of this idea. It's obviously a humanist perspective. You don't have to be Christian to appreciate it. It's also not a new song, just an old one that I came at through a twitter search. The producer's name is Christian Falk. It's not a type of music that I am drawn to, but it's worth hearing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

twitter, tech and the church

I'll admit I'm a newcomer to twitter, but I've been on the internet since it was in black and white, so I'm fairly comfortable with technology, and I think that twitter has some interesting possibilities for churches. Soon, I'll read a copy of Twitter for Churches but first I want to share a brief story that makes me wonder about many ways that this tool, and probably others like it, can be used.

I'm just getting into exploration of twitter, so I like to search for things. I found a local friend who tweets or twitters or whatever the proper verb is by using nearbytweets. Great. I searched for anything mentioning methodist using tweetdeck, though you can also just use twitter search.

When I was doing some searches, I found someone who was not happy with the church near his home. He was unhappy enough that he tweeted about it. This is feedback that the church could never get just by walking around the neighborhood, and it was good info. to have. What other ways might this help us to be better neighbors to the world?

I love facebook, the many apps available from Google and now twitter. Despite the fact that none of them were invented with the church in mind, I hope that churches can figure out the many ways that these tools can be used to strengthen the church, Lord willing.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Death, Jonah and Somerset Maugham

Jonah is the lectionary text I'm fixated on this morning. In 4 chapters, it has so much to say about us and our petulance. The inevitability of Jonah preaching to the Ninevites also reminds me of this old story, told here by W. Somerset Maugham. It probably helps that both stories take place in what is now Iraq.

The speaker is Death

There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threating getsture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.

Friday, January 23, 2009

First UMC Memphis cornerstone details

Here's the full release:

Historical artifacts from First United Methodist
("First Church") were revealed on this cold
and wintry day of January 17, 2009, as the cornerstone of
the burned out sanctuary was opened for the first time in
over 119 years.

The cornerstone, located in the last partial remaining wall
of the First Church sanctuary that burned October 6, 2006,
will be taken down soon by controlled demolition to be
reused in the new sanctuary design.

Balancing high upon the scaffolding near the limestone
brick cornerstone that reads, "First M. E.
Church, November 1889," Senior Pastor Rev. Martha B.
Wagley welcomed the crowd gathered at the church site at 2nd
and Poplar.

Bundled up in scarves, hats and gloves, the First Church
congregation, the First Church Building Committee, Carter
Hord of Hord Architects, designers of the new church campus,
Justin Grinder, of Grinder, Taber and Grinder, the General
Contractors, members of the West Tennessee Historical
Society, and friends of the church, listened and waited
excitedly as Rev. Wagley explained the significance of the

She said, "Almost 120 years ago our ancestors stood
upon this holy ground, lead by Bishop E.R. Hendrix, to
place a cooper box and its contents inside this cornerstone
and dedicate this once magnificent sanctuary after many
years of planning and sacrifice." She then read from
1st Corinthians 10-11, "According to the grace of God
given to me, as a skilled master builder, I
laid the foundation, and someone else is building on it.
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that
has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ."

With the help of Bobby Parnell, the mason performing
controlled demolition of this historic landmark, Rev. Wagley
gently removed the 8 x 12 inch cooper box housed inside the
reception cavity of the cornerstone.

To everyone's delight and relief, the copper box was
intact after nineteen decades and had survived the fire two
years ago.

After prying open the sealed box, Rev. Wagley delicately
retrieved each historical item that their First Church
ancestors had saved on November 19th, 1889, which included:

1. A silver quarter, the first contribution towards the
cost of the sanctuary building, given by Benjamin Abernathy,
church sexton, along with his photograph
2. Photographs of Revs. James W. Knott and Samuel Watson,
former pastors and J.W. Jefferson, a church member
3. A copy of the bible from the American Bible Society
4. A copy of the Methodist Church Discipline
5. Copies of the Methodist Hymn Books
6. A piece of the U.S. flag torn down in New Orleans in
7. A bottle of water from the River Jordan
8. The last Annual Report of the American Bible Society
9. A list of those who contributed to the sanctuary
10. A copper coin
11. Copies of the Appeal and Avalanche (Memphis Newspapers)
12. A copy of the Women's Advocate
13. A list of the names of the pastor, church members and
the Building Committee
14. A copy of the Nashville Christian Advocate

Concluding this emotional and uplifting morning, the Rev.
J. Barry Henson, McKendree District Superintendent, said a
prayer for this resilient congregation on this historic
occasion connecting the past, the present and the future
First Church, "As we gather here, we are standing on
the shoulders of the saints who came before us, those who
many years ago lead the way. We lean on the shoulders of
those here today who will rebuild the church - not only for
our children, but for those yet unborn, so that they may
worship on this holy ground again."

First United Methodist is the first church of any
denomination in Memphis, established in 1826.

The new sanctuary will be the 4th First Church house of
worship at the corner of Second and Poplar.

First Church is seeking donations to complete construction
and to realize their dream to continue in mission in
downtown Memphis.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

116 year old Methodist cornerstone to be opened.

From the Memphis Heritage Blog:

A piece of First UM Church history will be revealed Saturday January 17th at appx. 10am, as the contents of the cornerstone will be removed from the last remaining wall at Poplar and Second. The cornerstone was placed in the wall of the sanctuary November 19, 1889.

Haven't been able to find anything on what was in there. Will keep looking.

Multimedia in the Sunday school room

I want to be able to project, to hook up a computer, to watch, to listen and to teach. I think I might need a nice lcd tv, a projector and an easy way for anyone with a laptop to be able to hook up quickly. Then I have to find a good place to lock it up so that people can get it when needed but won't lose the remote. What systems are you using in your church? Portability is key. I'm thinking the typical "media cart" since I have one alreay paid for. Now just to find someone to donate a couple grand to get good gear. Oh, and I also want plenty of UM Hymnals, so that's probably another $500. Too bad I don't play the lottery.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Making a Meal of It - Witherington

I find Ben Witheringon's knowledge of the early church to be extensive and inciteful, but have not read it anywhere other than on his blog. I did finally borrow a copy of his look at The Lord's Supper. I trust his research, but I'm just not sure to whom I would recommend this book. Here's what I wrote at Librarything:

Mr. Witherington's book is useful for anyone wishing to look at the history of communion practices. However, his suggestions for how churches might practice communion seem to place more empasis on how the early church observed the Lord's Supper than on the practices of Christians through the thousands of years since. Simply because the early church followed certain practices does not mean that God has not continued to reveal himself through the sacraments of the church.

The other fault that I have with the book is that it seems to address the issue as if churches seem to be having controversial discussions of the topic. While I agree that there is vast difference between congregations in the ways the ordinance/sacrament is observed, I don't think any individual traditions are unsettled about how they are involved.

I really should have edited that a bit, but you get the idea anyway. I doubt that there are any groups who think they're doing it wrong, and Witherington doesn't seem so adamant about it as to warrant any change. Anyone else had a chance to read this? Thoughts? Here's what Witherington says on his own blog: BW3

Monday, January 19, 2009

Methodists and Opium

Though it comes from a newspaper account from Philadelphia, I'm still not sure whether I believe this story from 1803:

A late Chinese Edict, which prohibits the importation of opium into any part of that Empire, goes on to specify, "and all other drugs or articles whatsoever, that shall have been found to possess the same or similar effects; as Ale, Beef,Pudding, Methodist Sermons, Modern Epic Poems, &c."

Gazette of the United States (Philadelphia, PA) Tuesday, April 05, 1803; Issue [173]; col B

I'd still have a problem I'm sure.

Tiny Church

Even with that small church, I'd still probably come home grumbling about something.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pictures of world Christmas celebrations. has some wonderful pictures of Christmas celebrations. Some are odd, some are beautiful, but all are works of art.

End of the season.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The United Methodist Hymnal

I have come to appreciate the hymnal more and more over the years, finding it to be an important part of my devotional time. As one who enjoys singing, I have also tried to learn more about things like the metrical index and tune names.

I love the many prayers that are part of the book as well. The prayer below is from Charles Wesley and is on page 594. It is a wonderful prayer for illumination. It can be sung to two popular hymn tunes, Dix and Toplady, more commonly known as "For the Beauty of the Earth" (92) and "Rock of Ages" (361).

However, this takes a slight adjustment to the last line; "when thou comest on earth to abide" has to be sung more like "when thou comest on earth to 'bide" or "when you come on earth to 'bide" (to avoid the awkward comest).

Here's the prayer (595 is another great prayer by CW)

Come, divine Interpreter,
bring me eyes thy book to read,
ears thy mystic words to hear,
words which did from thee proceed,
words that endless bliss impart,
kept in an obedient heart.

All who read, or hear, are blessed,
if thy plain commands we do;
of thy kingdom here possessed,
thee we shall in glory view
when thou comest on earth to abide,
reign triumphant at thy side.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Cokesbury Sale!

Yesterday, I finally put together a list of all the books at Cokesbury that I've been waiting to get and just grimaced and pressed "submit order" and figured I'd eat ramen for most of the winter to help pay for the items I'd purchased.

Then, I go through my email and see this notice from Cokesbury. Did I cancel my order? Yes, I did. Hopefully tomorrow my items will still be available and I'll have saved a chunk of money.

Now you can order too. If nothing else, get together with some friends and preorder your Wesley Study Bibles.

For three days, Cokesbury may actually be able to beat Amazon's prices. Take advantage now.