I saw the trees first. As I was driving between Fairfield and Wayne City on Highway 15 yesterday morning, enjoying the early morning sunshine and the flowers in bloom in various front yards, my gaze was captured by two rows of trees covered with white flowers. I don’t know enough about trees to say what kind they were, but they were the same sort of tree I had seen in quantities of one or two in yards or randomly along I-64 the day before. Even from a distance, it was evident they had been planted on purpose. Then I saw the sign . . .
My life and faith have been shaped by GIFTED LAITY. So has yours. Men and women in my neighborhood, family or church composed these short stories where our lives intersected in Ft. Smith, Ark.
He always talked about dying with his boots on. And for 49 years of active ministry, Rev. Eugene Black served the former Southern Illinois Conference. After taking a year off in retirement, he returned and served 14 years as minister of visitation at Mattoon First UMC. Over the past two weeks, as nearly 300 persons gathered for visitation and the funeral service, many more joining us through cards and expressions of sympathy, I have heard stories of how my father made a difference in many people's lives -- many of them after he retired from active ministry. But I would say there were some guiding principles to my Dad's life that made the difference in the impact he had on people.
Here's the updated information on what is going on in Washington, Brookport and Gifford in long-term recovery efforts in the aftermath of the Nov. 17 tornadoes.
Four United Methodist churches in central Illinois announced the Hope Swings in Washington mission project last week. Youth groups from Illinois, Missouri and Florida will travel to Washington over seven weeks this summer to build and distribute swing sets to families who lost their homes during the Nov. 17 tornado. More than 70 families have already requested swings sets, and the project’s goal is to build 100 swing sets total.
For 2,000 years Christians have declared the tomb is empty because Jesus was raised from the dead. The church has chosen to believe the post-resurrection testimony of these who walked, talked and followed Christ. Post-resurrection testimony from Jesus’ disciples and friends is all I need to undergird my belief that Jesus got up from the grave early Sunday morning with all power in his hands. A familiar Easter song sums up what I think about the Empty Tomb, "...he lives within my heart!"
I invite the Laos to take up their God-given ministry, to function as the body of Christ and/or the people of God unafraid to love God and neighbor with an even greater passion. Should we accept God’s challenge in faith, we’ll accomplish “far more than we can imagine or think.” To do so, it takes the entire body of Christ gifted and committed to be in ministry and mission for God.
The quest for peace continues to be elusive and will probably only occur when leaders on all sides of the conflicts -- be they between governments, religious faiths or denominations -- decide that the cost and pain of the status quo (doing nothing) is greater than the cost and pain of reaching an agreement and then following through with the tenets of that agreement.
In sending God's Son to the world in the form of Jesus, God provided a masterpiece that was just exactly what the world needed. The gift to the world is priceless, showing master craftsmanship with a desire to shape, in intricate detail, a relationship with humanity. And unlike the Nissan Brothers, there is no need to have cheaper products to fit smaller budgets because God's resources were infinite and the price was such that everyone could afford it.
We are created for community. Humans are social beings that have been created for covenant with God and community with others. But in order to have community, there has to be an outlet where love and grace flows. For the new ordinands, a lone ranger pastor may be able to survive and even thrive for awhile in ministry, but like Sunday's metaphors show, they eventually die. The truth also applies to laity as well.