The meteorologists (and my experience as a Georgia boy) tell me it won’t last, but the air was cool and crisp this morning. The summer, though technically not over until deep into September, is functionally over for most of us. Much of the drama of the “back-to-school” season is now past and we are preparing for “life after Labor Day” … settling (hopefully) into the rhythms of the school-year.
Speaking of Labor Day: Please be in prayer for the young people of our church as they travel to the Whitewater Express Outpost over the holiday weekend! On Saturday they will be rafting on the Ocoee and Nantahala rivers. On Sunday they will be tackling the ropes courses at the outpost. In addition to their times of adventure, there will be times to play, to worship, and to rest. Pray for their safety, for the relationships they are building (with each other, their leaders, and with God), and for Sabbath.
This September will be an exciting month for the Salem United Methodist church family. Our FALL REVIVAL will begin on Sunday, September 11th. That morning, as we gather for worship, many of us will be thinking about that terrible morning fifteen years ago when the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon were attacked and a plane went down in a Pennsylvania field. I will have other things on my mind that morning, too; and I won’t be alone. I will be thinking about my mom. That’s her birthday.
Our revival preacher this year will be my father, the Reverend Dr. Joe Peabody. He will be preaching at both services on Sunday morning and will be preaching on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights! The services on Sunday and Wednesday will be in the Sanctuary. The services on Monday and Tuesday will be in the Family Life Center.
On Saturday, September 17, we invite you to participate in Salem’s annual GREAT DAY OF SERVICE. We are looking for potential projects, project captains, and lots of volunteers. This a great way for Salem to continue in our effort to reintroduce ourselves to our community, demonstrating who we are and what God is like by doing good for others in Jesus’ name.
On Sunday, September 18, we will be celebrating HOMECOMING at both services, after which we will sit down to a covered dish meal with fried chicken provided by the church.
The fall is going to begin in a big way as together we proclaim — in word, in worship, and in service — the living hope to which we cling and on which we make our stand
The city was Rouen, in Normandy; the coastal region of northern France that most Americans know as the site of the D-Day landings during World War II.
The victim was Father Jacques Hamel. His age: 86.
The location was a worship service at a Catholic Church. He was celebrating Mass.
The time: this very morning. While we were still asleep, the stuff of our nightmares was actually happening.
Please join me in praying. I know it is in vogue to criticize people for praying. I realize that prayer alone is not enough. The Book of James is clear that faith without deeds is dead. But ceasing to pray is no answer. Have the courage of your convictions: Pray. Heed the scriptures: pray without ceasing.
As a place to start, I remind you of the prayer of St Francis; a prayer that, in submission to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, points us in the directions of righteous action as instruments in His hands.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
One recent Sunday we asked ourselves the question that Jesus asked someone he ultimately healed:
Do you want to be healed? Some translations render that question: "Do you want to be made well?" One translation asks: "Would you be made whole?"
The truth we must confess and redress is that we do resist healing. Sometimes we nurse our hurts with one another, like picking at a scab, keeping the wound
open and the pain alive.
Sometimes we settle for the life that our lives have become, and we resist (even refuse) having the life we could have because it would require leaving the one we have behind.
Sometimes we have so much invested in the source of our pain that we can't let go. Like the monkey whose hand is trapped inside a jar because he won't let go of whatever treat captured
his attention, we sometimes miss out on the deliverance, the redemption, or the healing we need (and really do want) because we want something else more.
As I've prayed for you today, that continues to be my prayer for us all.
I'm on vacation. Pray for my family because I'm typing this flat on my back in bed with a kidney stone hoping I don't ruin the trip for my family. Pray for Dad as he prepares to preach on Sunday 7/3).
Pray for Greg Meadows as he prepares to share with us on Campmeeting Sunday
(7/10). In years past we've had Breakfast with the Bishop (Mike Watson), Breakfast with the Boss (DS Sharma Lewis), Breakfast with the BigWig (DS and former staff member Dana Everhart). This year: "Grits with Greg."
"Earth's crammed with heaven, and every bush afire with God; But only he who sees takes off his shoes; the rest sit 'round it and pluck blackberries."
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I love blackberries. I really do. Perhaps that's why this line speaks so powerfully to me. How often and in what other ways than picking blackberries do I allow something good to get in the way of God's best?
All truth is God's truth. That was the message at the heart of my sermon on Sunday. Trinity Sunday (the Sunday after Pentecost) has been an opportunity in the life of the church to confront heresy and to remember the significance of orthodox teaching and of teaching orthodoxy.
All truth is God's truth. That doesn't mean that all that is said about God IS true, but it does mean that nothing that is true is ultimately a threat to God or to the Christian Faith. In fact, St. Augustine wrote in the fifth century:
"A person who is a good and true Christian should realize that truth belongs to [God], wherever it is found, gathering and acknowledging it even in pagan literature."
Even pagan literature like the Sunday comics. As a child I loved the Peanuts comic strip; still do. And as a teenager I discovered a book on my father's shelf: The Gospel According to Peanuts.
This summer, I'll be preaching (along with my father) a series of sermons that will be organized under that banner: The Gospel According to Peanuts. Each will be an opportunity to engage both life and the Bible in creative ways. Each will be an opportunity for the Spirit to speak and for us to respond.
Come worship with us!
If our faith has taught us anything, it must be that “how things SEEM” may not be “how things ARE.” Pain doesn’t get the last word, LOVE does. Grief doesn’t get the last word, HOPE does. Death doesn’t get the last word, RESURRECTION does. God is great at reversals! And aren’t we glad.
The great preacher, Fred Craddock, told a story I hope I’ll never forget. He had flown to Winnipeg, Canada, to deliver a series of lectures. His host had left him with the impression that, although it WAS the fall, it was early enough in the season NOT to need a heavy coat; so he didn’t bring one. And based on his telling of the story, I can imagine him saying to himself, “I hope my host was right,” as a light snow began to fall after his lecture that first evening. Sadly, his host was not!
His phone rang early the next morning and his host was on the line with the news that a freak winter storm had dumped FEET of snow across the city … shutting down the airport, thwarting public transit, and closing the roads. His host could not even get to him … either to take him to eat OR to bring him food. He was stuck.
His host did say there was a greasy spoon not far away that might be open for local foot traffic. So Dr. Craddock bundled up and set out in search of sustenance, but he trek was worse than he’d expected. When he arrived, the place was more crowded than he’d imagined. But while he was there, something happened.
Once he finally got a seat, he asked for a menu. The grumpy waiter (who may in fact have been the proprietor) said: “Why do you need a menu?” “We GOT soup!” Dr. Craddock asked: “What kind of soup?” And the answer came: “SOUP. We got soup? You want some soup?” And, graciously as ever, Dr. Craddock allowed as how that was just what he was going to order … some soup.
The soup came. And it was awful. Grey and nasty. Altogether horrible. But HOT … so he warmed his hands and sat there, he admitted, feeling sorry for himself. Then the door opened, and a rush of cold wind assaulted everyone inside. It was a woman. Alone. And cold.
The guy in the greasy apron asked her what she wanted. She said WATER. So he brought it. Then he flipped over his little pad and asked her what she was ordering (as if it could possibly be anything other than soup). She said that all she wanted was the water. He said she had to order something or leave. She said all she wanted was the water and a minute to get warm. He asked: “What do you think this is, a Church?” And he insisted: “Either you’re a paying customer or you’re gone.”
As he got louder, she rose to leave. And then that “something” that I said happened happened. As if on cue, practically in unison, every patron in the place (every PAYING patron in the place) rose to leave. And the proprietor, realizing – if not that he was wrong, at least that he was defeated – invited her … to stay
Dr. Craddock says that when he returned to his soup and gave it another try, he discovered something: it had the unmistakable taste of broken bread and poured out wine.
In the presence of JUSTICE, Christ is present. In the presence of COMPASSION, Christ is present. In the presence of LOVE and KINDNESS and GRACE, Christ is present.
On Sunday afternoon, as Andy and I said goodbye to our friend Josh, the punch and cookies (and other delights) that were available after the service had the unmistakable taste of broken bread and poured out wine. When you prepare a meal for a family like ours, it often has the unmistakable taste of broken bread and poured out wine. In our love, Christ is present. In our acts of kindness, Christ is present. And when we say goodbye, Christ is present!
Dan has been the Pastor of Salem UMC since June, 2017. He loves preaching, the Atlanta Braves, beach vacations, and precious time with his wife Brenda and their grown sons. Read More . . .