Unexpected

punchThis happened about a month and a half ago. I decided to write about it, then not. But it still has some control on me, obviously, so I figure writing about it will release the hold it has. Well, that’s the theory.

It’s a Thursday evening, choir night in the choir loft, and we were about over with the rehearsal section, and were about to start with the prayer concerns. Someone in the tenor section made a comment about how the music repeats, and looked to him to note that we have to remember to modulate, i.e., go to a different key.
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Methodist church in Oneonta stands for LGBT rights; Karen Oliveto to speak May 17, 18

I was reading the website of the First United Methodist Church in Oneonta, NY. It’s a pretty special place whose motto is: Open Hearts Open Minds Open Doors. It is A Reconciling Congregation, which, in UMC parlance, means to “create full inclusion of all God’s children regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” I should note that my parents-in-law are member of the churchs.

The congregation did something rather remarkable, especially if you understand church polity. It held a:

Special Church Conference on Sunday, March 16… to discuss a resolution presented to the congregation by the Recon­ciling Ministries team of our church… After two hours of discussion, listening, amendments, voting, and tears, the special session of church conference voted to pass an amended resolution. It reads:

RESOLVED, that First United Methodist Church of Oneonta, New York will withhold 40% of its remaining apportionment from the Upper New York An­nual Conference in 2014 Continue reading

Can’t keep from singing

rogersingingThese pictures, above, my “baby” sister posted on her Facebook feed. I was 7 and 52, respectively. The first one, which was for Advent, was in some internal section, but the latter was right on the front page; in case you can’t read it, I’m rehearsing for the Faure requiem.

I reposted them on a Thursday – actually late on Wednesday night – and I was told that I was participating in Throwback Thursday. Continue reading

What Would Jesus Be Packing?

jesus-gun-wwjd41First I read that churches in Kentucky are using gun giveaways to help people find Jesus. Then, in a front-page story in my area, the pastor of a local Baptist church plans to give away an AR-15 assault rifle to the winner of a free raffle at an upcoming Sunday service.

From the Troy, NY church’s website:

We have decided to hold a special service honouring hunters and gun owners who have been so viciously attacked by the antichristian socialist media and antichristian socialist politicians the last few years. Our country was built with the King James Bible and the gun.

My theology is very different from this, and I struggled to understand. Continue reading

Knocking at Midnight: Martin Luther King, Jr.

I like to look for less familiar text for Martin Luther King’s birthday. Unfortunately, soundbites from his I Have a Dream speech, for instance, have been so torn from its context as to make it unrecognizable.

A Knock at Midnight (found here [PDF]) was delivered on 14 September 1958. It has some Cold War references that I removed, not because there aren’t modern day equivalents, but for clarity, and an attempt at brevity. The text was based on Luke 11:5-6, RSV: “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him”? It’s all MLK until the end.

Although this parable is concerned with the power of persistent prayer, it may also serve as a basis for our thought concerning many contemporary problems and the role of the church in grappling with them. It is midnight in the parable; it is also midnight in our world, and the darkness is so deep that we can hardly see which way to turn…

Midnight is the hour when men desperately seek to obey the eleventh commandment, “Thou shalt not get caught.” Continue reading

Church and state: Francis I

I found this graphic really interesting. The Socialist US Senator is embracing the Pope’s condemnation of “doctrinaire capitalism, ‘deified markets,” trickle-down economics, and the finance industry. He decried the growing gap between the rich and the poor, tax evasion by the wealthy, and characterized ruthless free-market economics as a killer that was inherently sinful.” I assume this will mean that the Pope will be painted as a socialist.

Francis, moreover Continue reading

Jesus would make a lousy dinner guest

A few weeks back, one of our pastors gave this great sermon. She started by asking the congregation to play that game whereby you invite three people, living or dead, to a dinner party. We were to share our picks with people sitting near us.

The pastor then said that most of us church folks probably had Jesus on the list, and the congregation murmured in agreement. But do we REALLY want Jesus at our soiree? Because He could be quite annoying.

Look at some examples: one woman, Martha, puts on a nice meal, yet Jesus sides with lazy Mary who is just hanging out listening to Him. At a fancy gala, Jesus allowed “that woman” to wash his feet – with her hair? He ate with sinners, including those tax collectors, who were ALWAYS ripping off people. Not to mention his last dinner where, by the end of the night, he had been denied, betrayed and taken off to prison.

I saw this story – don’t know if it’s apocryphal or factual Continue reading

P is for Pope Francis I

As I have noted, I’m a Protestant with an odd fascination with Catholic popes. The accession, in March 2013, of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, 76, to become the 266th head of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, especially when his predecessor, Benedict XVI is still alive, intrigued me.

I admit that I’ve enjoyed that he’s made some in the church hierarchy nervous, when he faults the church’s focus on gays and abortion, though that feels more like optics rather than actual change to me. He may be right, though, when he describes‘ideological Christians’ as a ‘serious illness’ within the Church.

More interesting to me is his suggestion, if it’s understood correctly in a secular press, that it’s OK not to believe in God if you have a clean conscience. Continue reading