Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Longview United Methodist Youth joined the Vancouver District "Cool Whip Night"

Did you know that cool whip makes a very effective hair gell?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sermon Notes Sunday September 17

Mark 2:1-12

Home is where the Heart is.

I have a number of places that I might call “home.” Partly it depends on who you are talking to and where you are at the time. Sometimes when I lived in Dallas I would call home Seattle simply because it was easier than saying Rochester, WA and then explaining no, not Washington D.C., WA State.

Today’s Gospel Reading tells us that Jesus is at home. We don’t often think about Jesus being at home. Often we think of Jesus wondering around with people following him. Yet, we know that there were times when Jesus had a place he called home. In the Gospel of Mark that home is Capernaum.

Capernaum is a small fishing village along the Sea of Galilee. The remains of the first century place are visible today and there is a church that hovers above the reported site of this home described in the Gospel of Mark. All that remain are some stone foundations but you can get a sense of the tight community that existed in the time of Jesus. The town itself is smaller than our 5 acres at LUMC. The “streets” or walkways are pretty narrow between the houses. It wouldn’t take a whole lot of people to block the entrance.

The paralytic’s friends are pretty audacious. Climbing on the roof and ripping it apart so that they could lower their friend down to Jesus. They go to every effort to be sure that their friend might be made whole by Jesus.

I imagine that as the paralytic’s friends lowered him down to Jesus they were anxious and hopeful. With each effort they were brining him closer to his best hope for healing. I imagine they were anxious, wondering if this was actually going to work. What if it didn’t work? What if their friend is never healed?

The healing itself is extraordinary, Jesus says “your sins are forgiven.” What does sin have to do with his paralysis? There is this folk religious idea among some in ancient Judaism that sin is what causes our troubles. So some in the village and perhaps, this man himself, believed that it was his sin that caused his paralysis. So Jesus welcomes and heals him by declaring that his sin is forgiven.

I don’t know if it was sin that paralyzed this man but I do know that there are times when I have been paralyzed with guilt. You know those moments when you are so overcome with the guilt of your actions that you don’t know what to do next, you simply wish you could make the situation go away.

Jesus knows that the healing we need is not only physical healing but the healing that we need is spiritual. We need to come to Jesus and be released from sin.

Sometimes all we need to find this healing is to come to a place where Jesus is. Hopefully, we won’t have to tear the roof off the building, but if that is what it takes, may we have the strength to do it. Home is where we are free from sin and death and free to live and love!

What effort are you willing to go to so that your friends might come closer to Christ?

What Sin do you desire for Christ to heal in your life today?


I received a comment on the blog and I posted it with some hesitation, but I thought it was good for a discussion. The comment is attached to the post "Love your enemies." The comment was anonymous and I was hesitant to post a comment when someone refused to put their name to it. If this becomes a problem in the future I will refuse comments without names.

What saddens me about the poster's comments is the attempt to win points and the concluding attempt to save my soul.

It would have been more helpful had the poster desired to enter into a dialogue about those things that we obviously disagree about. A dialogue is an open discussion where we do not enter it trying to score points and to "win" but we enter the discussion in an effort to listen and learn.

The poster states, "And the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong. As a minister, you cannot ignore one section of the Bible in favor of another and ignore it in the name of truth and justice and your quest to "welcome" all people." I am not ignoring the Bible. I take the Holy Scriptures seriously as the foundation for my faith. I read these Scriptures with all the gifts God has given me with my ability to reason, with the traditions of the church and with my religious experience. The Bible's statements about sexuality are not clear to me. Our English translations of Hebrew and Greek are not universally agreed upon. We have some idea but not a clear understanding of what Paul was talking about when he used the words,
"arsenokoites" or "malakos." Is Paul condemning male prostitution or pedophilia or consentual loving partnerships? A strong case can be made for the first two, in which case I agree totally. Prostitution is immoral. Pedophilia a heinous immoral act. Is that the same as sex in a loving partnership between two people of the same gender? I don't think it is.

Grace and Peace,


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sermon Notes, Sunday September 3, 2006

Welcome Home
Genesis 18:1-8

When have you been a stranger and welcomed by another? If you are like me those moments when someone has received you as a special guest have left an impression on you. It can be a humbling experience. Hospitality can change your life.

Interestingly the word in the New Testament for hospitality is philoxenia or “love of the stranger.” New Testament people are called to love the stranger, not fear them. When Jesus teaches about hospitality it is about loving one another.

Luke 14 Jesus is the guest at a Pharisee’s house. He offers advice about hospitality. “do not sit at the place of honor”, “do not invite your friends”, “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame.”

Romans 1:11-12 Paul says, “For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged in each other’s faith, both yours and mine,”

In welcoming one another our faith is strengthened. We have shared a number of moments where our love of the stranger has strengthened the faith of another. Sometimes it was for the one who was welcomed, sometimes it was for the one welcoming, sometimes it was mutual.

It will take continued effort to welcome the stranger into our community of faith. Each of us must be willing to love the stranger. You never know when the next member of LUMC will sit for the first time as a guest in “your” pew.

You are the welcoming team for LUMC. There are some items that it would be good for us to remember as we become ready to welcome the stranger.

Gathering and greeting time. It is vital that the entrance to the church be a positive experience for our guests. Some of our guests have been building up the courage to come to a church for a long time. Some of their experiences in church have been harmful and they come wounded and fragile. Some want to talk with many people, some simply want to sit down. We must find the right balance of attentiveness and giving space.

Make an effort to remember the names of those who sit near to you. NAME TAGS are helpful for this. Some people are visual learners and need to see your name as well as hear you say it.

“Passing the Peace” or “Holy hub bub” as I have heard it called. Again we need to have the appropriate balance of welcome without smothering.

It is important that you let us know that you were in attendance but also to set the example of writing your address and other contact information in the attendance pads when they are passed out. With this information we are able to deliver a gift for our visitors and inform them about the ministry of LUMC.

“Fellowship Time” can be one of our strengths but we need to be diligent. It is tempting to sit with our friends and catch up, yet when that happens we might be unintentionally forming “cliques” that exclude others.

Sermon Notes Sunday August 27

A Beacon of Hope
Luke 4:14-22

Why do you suppose that Jesus made that proclamation that he did? Did Jesus make his claim so that he would become famous? Did Jesus hope that he would have a lot of followers so that he could become prosperous? Perhaps Jesus wanted to become a King or a Bishop (yes I know they didn’t have Bishops yet.)

It seems to me that Jesus chose this reading from Isaiah because he knew that now is the time to bring good news to the poor, now is the time to release the captives and bring sight to the blind. Now is the time to let the oppressed go free. I believe that we are being called to continue to find ways to follow our Mission Statement.

Beacon of Diversity
We will continue to be a Church where everyone is welcome to worship and grow in faith. We will work with our local community to bring a better understanding of diversity.

Becoming a Disciple for Jesus Christ
Discipleship is more than a one time event. While it is important to make a commitment to Christ, that initial commitment must be followed by a lifetime of commitments.

We are not inviting others to a quick decision or an easy answer. We are inviting others into a spiritual journey. A journey that experiences the great joy of a new birth. A journey that experiences the grief of death. A journey that has obvious signs of the activity of God. A journey that sometimes seems void of anything Holy.

I believe that there are thousands of people in Longview and Kelso who are spiritually hungry. Our task is simply to invite others to share their spiritual journey with us, and we will share ours with them.

Our efforts to continue to grow are not for our glory. It is not so that the preacher feels good. It’s not so that we feel more popular. Our efforts to grow are so that others can have similar experiences of the living God.