Archive for May, 2008

A Wine Whine

Reason 4 Billion that the United Methodist Church ought to shake the dust of legalism from its feet and allow us to use wine: Grape juice does not keep very long. If your only option at the store is a quart of grape juice and you only need enough to serve yourself and an older couple, you wind up wasting a lot of juice.

I’m not even suggesting that we reject grape juice for our monthly communion services. What I would like is some leeway to use wine at my discretion. If I pop open a bottle of merlot, it’ll keep for quite some time and I can use it for a lot of different things: drinking and cooking jump into my head immediately.

I wonder if a deeper treatment is necessary in order to bring this discussion back to the table – one that seriously looks at the reasons for excluding wine?

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Reading the Bible

May 13, 2008 1 comment

I’m certainly not the first to notice Scot McKnight’s new blog series on Pastor’s Wisdom – that much I can tell from Google Reader. I want to jump in and link his latest post because I want as wide a range of people to read this as possible. I don’t know Kent Anderson from Adam, but I know his heart because I desire to do what he has been doing as a pastor – soaking himself in Scripture.

I’ll be the first to admit that I know a lot more about the Bible than I know the Bible. I’m working hard to correct that, though. A couple of years ago I picked up a copy of the NIV Bible in 90 Days and thought it sounded like a great idea. It covers 12 pages a day and a person can read the Bible in, wait for it, 90 days. After I bought it I read for a day or two then put it aside and haven’t thought about it since. 15 days ago, however, I picked it up as a part of my miraculous* daily time with God and I finished Deuteronomy this morning. It’s been a joy to get that involved in Scripture and I plan on repeating it again once I finish – probably with a different translation like Rev. Anderson mentioned. I’m not an NIV fan but it’s palatable. I’m going to squeeze the KJV in that process because, as one with an undergraduate degree in English, I ought to have read one of the most majestic pieces of English literature ever produced. It may not make a whole lot of sense in public reading, but no one can deny that it is a beautiful translation.

Ps 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

*It’s miraculous because I’m about 40 days into an every morning devotional time and I haven’t missed a day. Those who know just how undisciplined I am probably think I’m lying, but it’s true.

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My ordination certificate sits right above my computer. I confess that I don’t read it except to make sure my name is on there. I just looked up to read these words as a great reminder of my calling and vocation

Under the providence of Almighty God, I, a bishop of The United Methodist Church, have, by the imposition of my hands and by prayer, set this one apart for the work of an elder in the Church, to preach the Word of God and to administer the Holy Sacraments, so long as this person continues to be a faithful servant of Jesus Christ and adheres to and teaches the Gospel of our Lord and the doctrine of the Church.

It’s not even a reaction to what I was ordained to do, it’s the stipulation, as though this were a part of an ancient near eastern treaty. I’m ordained to do these things so long as. That’s a tall order, but I believe that I am pursuing as much as I am pursued by Jesus Christ. God has cornered me spiritually and I am grateful for his attention as he makes me into a disciple.

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Saturday Stuff

I have to thank Michael for turning me on to Bishop Will Willimon’s podcast.  I had not listened to one in some time, but I drove around in my truck for a little while this afternoon and listened to a couple of the more recent ones.  He really takes the “5 Keys to a Better _________” sermon to the woodshed and compares modern evangelical preaching like Rick Warren’s to the 19th century liberal preaching.  “5 Keys to a Better__________” means you don’t have to deal with the peskiness of what Jesus is preaching and calling us to.  I reckon we’ll never hear a sermon on the 3 Best Ways to Take Up Your Cross and Die.  Listening to Willimon makes me happy to be a United Methodist pastor.

Speaking of ways to take up your cross and follow Jesus Justin suggested this week that if the United Methodist Church were really serious about advertising Jesus’ call to follow him in this world, our advertising campaign wouldn’t be the current “Open Hearts…” that is seen everywhere but maybe “Narrow is the Way that leads to everlasting life.”  Before noses get tweaked, I’m not talking about narrow-mindedness but the extremely narrow, difficult, precipice traversing, and perilous path that is following Jesus.  That’s just if we’re honest, though.

One final thought, and this might be a post for a later time, but there is quite a bit your average pew sitting evangelical could learn from the gay groups within the UMC.  They don’t get their way every four years yet they keep showing up with hope instead of leaving.  How many evangelicals, when they don’t get their way in church, take their bottoms to a pew in another church that will soothe their egos for a time before moving on to another one?  (I’m thinking about this a lot since our church is facing a decision that is going to run off a few people no matter which way we decide and that is really sad.)

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