Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jesus puts us in the difficult places

You may wonder, or maybe not, where I get my ideas for what I blog about. This blog is mainly about how we as Christians can live out justice in our world. Sometimes I have other topics that I address, but in general as I read the news or religous publications I look for things that catch my eye and then I talk about it. And so it is that I can upon this article.

It is about the importance of faith to those who are gay. It is a great article that defines the real issue about where churches stand homesexuality. "According to its website, more liberal denominations and Christians tend to view homosexuality as a civil-rights matter. They generally believe it is a fixed, unchosen, normal, natural and morally neutral sexual orientation for a minority of adults.

More conservative denominations and Christians tend to view homosexuality as a profound evil. They generally believe it is changeable, chosen, abnormal, unnatural and immoral behavior, regardless of the nature of the relationship."

Christians on both sides of the line debate the matter using scripture, experience reason and tradition. If you are struggling with this question you are in a good place. There should not be a single person who doesn't have a little bit of doubt about their beliefs on this matter.

The point of this particular article is that people who consider themselves gay are hurting. They are abused, made fun of, ostracized, kicked out of society. Put another way, it is exactly the type of people Jesus would hang out with.

We, the Church, have got to get the hate out of the message. No matter what you believe about this, we have to love those who are hurting. I hope you are challenged to pray, read scripture, think and care more because of this story.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Scandal alert: St. Philip's Youth Minister is getting arrested...sort of

Thats right. On October 28th I will be arrested at St. Philip's! For good. But not permanently. I am participating in a fundraiser for MDA and Jerry's Kids. I am raising money to help find a cure for muscular dystrophy in all of its many forms. If you do not know about md, it is a nasty disease that eats away at your muscular system and makes your generally weak and unable to function. Unfortunately many of the people that face the disease are children. The money not only goes to find a cure for the different forms of this disease but also for camps and retreats for those who are suffering. This is one way we can be the Church for a group of people who are probably often forgotten in the shuffle. If you are interested in helping out, here is my link: https://www.joinmda.org/roundrock2010/youth


And yes, on October 28th I will be arrested at St. Philip's around lunch time. You are welcome to come watch me get taken to 'jail.'


Thank you and God bless,

David McMinn
Jailbird

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Prayer for today...

God I am struggling today. Something bad has happened and I don't know how to feel about it. I don't understand why people turn to violence when they are hurting. I want to be angry at him but I know that is not your way. I pray for his family and for his soul, have mercy upon him. Lord I pray for the people at UT who are scared, I pray for the parents that are worried about their children.

Lord I pray for myself and for your people that we might be forgiven for what we have not done to teach this world about your love. Help us to comfort those who suffer and to bring your kingdom to our world. God give us patience, understanding and love to all those who need us today.

In Christ's holy name, Amen.

A Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:
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.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Social Networking and Christianity

This last Sunday at junior high youth we discussed being a Christian in a social networking world. This is an extremely important conversation that we need to have as a Christian because there is no direct scripture correlation to social networking. I can’t image the writers of scripture understanding facebook or half of the short hand that we tend to use today.

We have to use the principles that we learn from scripture in addition to our tradition, reason and experience through the help of the holy spirit to figure out what we are to do with things like this. Facebook, twitter, etc… are just tools. They are neither evil nor good, but can be used greatly for each. At youth we came up with our 10 commandments of social networking:
1. Don’t put something you wouldn’t want your mom reading.
2. Only get a facebook when your parents are ok with it.
3. Protect your login info!
4. Be kind! No put downs
5. Don’t spread rumors
6. Never tell your location
7. Leave your contact information off. Maybe even put your birthday but not the year.
8. If a friend posts something harmful they are doing or about to do, don’t ignore it.
9. Don’t add strangers!
10.Use common sense, show the face of Christ through your actions

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Music Tames the Savage Beast Within

http://wimp.com/remarkableexperience/

Watch the video. Music I believe is a direct link to our souls. If music can have that effect on a German soldier, what can musical worship do to you?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Student's Prayer


Dear God,

I leave today and I am a little nervous, but mostly excited.  Lord you gave Solomon wisdom to make the right decisions; I could use a little wisdom as I head away from home.  I know there will be lots of temptations, so go ahead and deliver me from those too.  I am gonna make new friends right?  Because most of mine are going in different directions and I don't know if those relationships will be the same anymore.  Take care of my parents because they are having a hard time with me growing up.  Help me be patient with them as I am anxious to do my own thing.  I do love them and I thank you for the lessons of life and faith that they have taught me.  Jesus, help me see this journey through your eyes as an opportunity to increase your kingdom through my actions in love you and loving my neighbor.  I am going to mess up, so please be patient with me and provide lots of forgiveness. I promise to try and hang out with you each day, but I will probably be distracted from time to time so a little reminder here and there would not hurt.  I don't suppose you have a Facebook huh? Well I will have to get your status updates from prayer and Bible study then.  God, help me find a community that is seeking you so that I don't get lost wandering on my own.  Keep me strong with that favorite blessing you taught me: May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you PEACE! Talk to you soon

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Teens and Worship

This past Sunday our fearless leader, Dr. Dale Schultz spoke about passionate worship and you. He shared that the most important part should redefine worship for you. Worship is dynamic when our hearts are tuned to God. The two most important worship experiences of my life were very different. One was rockin praise With Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman. The other was an Anglican worship, high Church, liturgical experience. The point is, style doesn't matter if your heart is there. We all need worship, but especially you youth out there need worship. Our souls call out for the divine and if we are not giving our hearts to worship on a regular basis we become dry.  The kind of dry of a person walking through a desert who needs water.  What does worship feel like when we are devoted to God?  "The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus,  it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy."  Isaiah 35:1.  The teenage years are full of trials, of long patches of desert.  Worship can be a time to restore your soul to a creator with open arms.  Come to worship and see what it is like when you open your heart to a loving God.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I have been thinking about the concept of radical hospitality today as it pertains to our youth program.  The teenage years are an important time in the life of a person, and it is one of the most important times for faith development.  Something like 90 percent of the people who become Christians do so before the age of 18. It is a big deal we create a home for the young people in our Church.

In the last couple of years we have struggled to get our younger youth to commit to our youth group.  I believe it is vital for us to reach out to as many youth as possible and so starting this fall we are making some changes that I believe will allow our hopitallty be radical to teenagers in this important time.

We will have a separate night for the Junior High and the Senior High.  The reasoning for this is so that we can have activities that are tailored for each group.  Sunday nights will be focused on Junior High and Wednesday nights will be focused on Senior High.  To foster community between the age groups we are doing several things as well. The Senior High who are willing to put in the effort, will be allowed to attend as mentors on Sunday nights so that they can provide examples to the Junior High students.  Further, 8th graders will be given a choice of either night so they can transition into the next stage of our ministry.

In addition we will continue our tradition of serving our community by having a youth wide service project on the fourth Sunday of every month.  I am really excited about this aspect of the change in schedule because it will get all of us working together for the same goal and provide interaction between the two age groups.  This Sunday will conclude with a meal together; the old saying that a family that eats together stays together applies to Church families too!

Finally the way you can show radical hospitallity to these two groups is by volunteering your time to be with teenagers.  Studies have show that having adult Christians as mentors is an important part of the process of developing a wholistict faith for teenagers.  To put it simply: I need you! Maybe God is calling you to be a part of our youth ministry and this fall is a great opportunity to get started.  Please let me know if you are interested,

David

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday in Germany

It has truly been an amazing two days here in Berlin.  So much has happened and I do not even know how to put it in words. 

On Thursday I participated  in the Church and Society discussion in preparation for legislation.  There were several legislations on genocide and extrajudicial killings, but the discussion centered around the idea of giving Pastor's the right to perform same sex marriages in states and countries where it is legal for such things to happen.  After a lively debate, the legislation was recommended for affirmation by the general legislative body.

I am a little concerned about the three legislations about gay and lesbian marriage.  First I need to say that I struggle with the issue of Christianity and homosexuality.  The Biblical witness is pretty clear on its stance that it is a sin.  But there are many things in the Biblical witness that we have faithfully struggled with and decided through reason, experience and tradition that we would not follow the scripture literally.  Is homosexuality like women in the church?  It is the racism of our day?  These are faithful questions we have to struggle with if we want to be followers of Christ.  No one said it would be easy to be a follower of Christ.

I think, however that this legislation is not the step that is needed to change the stance of the Church.  It gives the pastors the right/responsibility to perform weddings (among other things) for gay and lesbian couples. They have the option to choose whether or not to perform the weddings were they are legal.  If this legislation passes it will put pastor's in the position of faithfully saying they don't agree with that lifestyle but possibly brought up on charges of sexual discrimination. 

Just a thought.  We will be struggling with this question for a long time.  As of the time of writing this, the legislation failed to pass in our GYPC but it still may be brought up an General Conference 2012.

On Friday we began our excursions to different parts of Berlin.  The unfortunate problem that I had was that I wanted to go on all of the different excursions!  I chose aspects of historical Berlin because it seemed to take me to the most places that I wanted to see.   We started out at the historical Berlin dome for an amazing multicultural and ecuminical worship gathering.  It was amazing to share that experience with my brothers and sisters around the world!  Of the experiences at the excursion that day, there were 2 that were the most poignant to me was an old Jewish graveyard and the Berlin Wall Memorial.

The graveyard was destroyed in WWII by the Nazi's.  They they turned it into a mass grave for soldiers who died in the war.  It was chilling to walk through this once holy place (I had to also cover my head) that had been desecrated.  It was a strange feeling to say the least.

The Berlin Wall is beyond description.  The fall of the wall was one of the most significant events of my life time and to walk through the area where is used to be impacted my life.  I will remark more on this later.

I will also blog about my experience at the concentration camp.

God bless!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Welcome to Germany

I finished my trek across the Atlantic at about 11am (4am central standard time) when I arrived at the Estrella in Berlin. Nothing too exciting from the flights, except for being extremely cold while flying across the ocean and getting maybe one hour of sleep.  That's ok because I don't feel jet-lagged at all even after my 4 hour nap.

After checking in and registering I decided to do some unguided sight seeing.  Without a map. Not a word of German in my vocab.  (OK well danke does count!)  It wasn't a total failure as I enjoyed walking around seeing the differences in the way this city is laid out compared to cities in the US.  I really wanted to enjoy some good German food (this was our only meal not taken care of) but I could not even read the signs to see what I was ordering and I was shy about jumping up and asking the person.  So that was a fail and I was a little disapointed in myself that I ended up eating at McDonalds.  Fly across the ocean to eat at McDonalds. I don't even like McDonalds!

All in all it was still fun walking around the city.  I look forward to tackling that again and using some of the great public transportation here.

I did get to meet two interesting new people, Molly King from Virginia/Nebraska and Sarah Cissy Kunya from the East Africa Annual Conference.  My roommate is also an Africa from the DRC so I am looking for some good cultural exchange!  I hope my natural shyness does not get in the way.

We ended the night with worship and that was pretty good. It was neat that I could put on my headsets and hear people worshiping in different languages. 

Keep us in your prayers that we can share our cultures and diversity but yet keep in mind that we are all children of God.  I will try to blog as much as I can about my experience and look for pics on facebook!

God bless from Germany!

David

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bahamas Arrival

We made it safe and sound and are staying at St. Micheal's United Methodist Church at the grace of the congregation and Rev. Stubbs. We met the staff of BMH, Matt, Abe, Sarah and KP. We are looking forward to a great week of fun and hard work. Tomorrow is our excursion day that includes a trip to Fincastle Fort, the Straw Market, lunch at a local restaurant and wait for it...Paradise island. Look for updates each day!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

An end to my sermon but not the end...

From Ellissa Slape:

As I pulled into the HEB on 620, the rain was coming down in sheets. An elderly lady loaded down with bags, barely covered with a rain poncho made her way towards O’Connor. I quickly exited the parking lot, drove up beside her and asked if I could give her a ride home. She simply replied, “No English” and kept walking. Although I don’t speak Spanish, I was able to communicate that I would like to give her a ride home. Cautiously, she agreed. I drove her home and we said our good-byes.

I didn’t even go back to the store. I kept thinking about your sermon last Sunday. This was my freedom. I was able to help someone from another culture that spoke another language without wondering if I “should’ or even “could”. The more I thought about it, not only was it my “Freedom”, but also my “Responsibility” as a Christian. We often get so caught up in our own lives and take our own freedom for granted we forget our responsibility to others.

What is your story of Freedom and Responsibility

Rev. McMinn

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Free at Last, Free at Last!

Martin Luther King Jr. was free to lead a violent rebellion against an oppressive state.  He was free, and many of us, if we lived in a society that treated us like the way the US treated the African American community would respond with violence.  But King was a Christian.  And he had finer understanding of that than I think just about anyone else had in the 20th century.

King was free to live out violently.  Instead he listened to Christ's words and chose a path of active non violence that changed a country.

That was King's story.  What is your story of living responsibly free? How are you making a difference? How are you writing the end of my sermon?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Wine into Old Wine Skins

Mark 2:22: And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.

What a curious scripture we have here today.  I ran across this in my daily reading and I began pondering on it.  Jesus is talking about the sabbath with the Pharisees and then all the sudden he pulls out two pithy statements about new patches on old cloaks and new wine in old wine skins.  Curious indeed.

The religious powers that be of Jesus day where the Pharisees.  They were the keepers of the law and they kept to it very strictly.  Jesus is bringing a fresh, new way of experiencing God that if was kept to this old way of doing religion would make the wineskin burst.  There are two challenges to us in this scripture.  The first is the fact that we can't let our faith get stale.  Anyone who has exercised can tell you that you can not keep doing the same exercises in the same way if you want to continue to grow in strength.  You have to change it up to shock the muscles.  I believe that we have spiritual muscles in much the same way.  It is the job of each generation of faithful disciples of Christ to exercise their spiritual muscles in new ways.  We need to continue to reevaluate what we believe and what we do through the lenses of scripture, experience, tradition and reason.  We do not go about this process 'willy nilly' and change things on the whim of culture.  That is the second perspective we can learn today.  While we do need to be aware of when we need new wineskins, we don't go changing the way we do things and how we believe just because of societal pressure.  It is a careful and delicate process, but one that needs to be done, especially in our society of immense cultural change.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

World Cup Greatness

I have been captured by the world cup this year! I could not help but be captivated by the US team that has faced adversity but persevered.  In their second game, the referees disallowed a goal that should have counted and given the US a win.  That goal and another goal in the third game almost cost them a chance to advance.  Instead, with less than three minutes left in the game the US was able to score a goal, allowing them not only a chance to advance but to win their pool.  Perseverance.  The team lived it, and we as Christian can learn a little something from their actions.

This life that we live is full of hard knocks, difficult times that leave us questioning how it is that we can continue.  Paul, the writer of much of the New Testament, understood adversity.  In speaking to his student Timothy he says: "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."1 Timothy 4:6-9

I do not know why we suffer, why we need to persevere but I do know that God is with us, giving us strength to continue on.  Sometime through the difficult times their is something wonderful on the other side waiting for us and we, like the US soccer team, need to continue to fight the good fight because we know God will be with us.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Way Forward

The world can change. We can change. I truly believe this, and I think that it is an important concept of Christianity.  There are many Christian world views, but one of the most common is the idea that the world is the way the is and that is how its going to be.  This idea was the dominant theme for Medieval Christianity.  The King was the King because God made him that way.  The surf was poor, because God had made him that way.

We still have vestiges of this thought in our current spirituality.  In popular Christianity, the entire goal has become to 'convert' or 'save' souls for the afterlife and not worry too much about changing the world.  I believe that if we examine some things that Jesus said we will see that Jesus was not just about life eternal after death, but in creating a kingdom of God on Earth through divinely inspired human actions.

One example is something we all are probably familiar with, the Lord's prayer (where Jesus says pray this). Christ says, "On Earth as it is in Heaven" (Matthew 6:10). Jesus tells us to pray for earth to be like heaven, for God's kingdom to come to earth.  Now if you define the Kingdom of God as heaven, then you would argue that Jesus is discussing the end times.  But I don't think that is what Christ is doing here.  Jesus goes through the rest of the sermon on the mount telling us, his followers, how to live.  If it was only important where our souls end up, I don't think Jesus would spend so much time on our actions, would he? As I continue to blog, I hope to help recast Jesus' words so that we don't over spiritualize them and those, amazing, powerful statements can lead us to live differently.  To try to change the world.

Here is a great story of people simply living out the great commandment of Love God, Love neighbor and creating a little bit of heaven on earth.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thoughts on Hell

Hell is not a subject that is talked about very much these days, but I believe we need to understand hell, to understand what Jesus wants us to do with our lives.  Jesus talks about hell many times.  Let me rephrase that, Jesus is translated as using the word hell many times.  Lets check out a few verses shall we? First lets look at the sermon on the Mount.  Matthew 5:22, "But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." And a few verses later, 5:30, "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." 

The Greek word used is geena transliterated as Gehenna which is an actual, physical place south of Jerusalem.  Most Christians when they see the word hell they think of a derivative of the Medievil/Catholic/Mytholigical hell rather than a Biblically defined vision.  In fact, most of what we think of hell can be attributed to Dante Allegri and John Milton. 

Jesus was a Jew, and he would of had Jewish sensibilities but more than that he was speaking to a Jewish audience and he would speaking in a language they would understand to communicate to them this new way of life, this Kingdom of God. Yes the words that Jesus spoke transcend time but sometimes we have to dig deeper than the surface level to find meaning.

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=115&letter=G ) Gehenna was the Valley of Hinnom where people sacrificed children to Moloch and it became synnomous with hell (Not Sheol, which is another, different word used for a different meaning of a different place. More about that another time).  But this hell of judgment was not permanent.  Sinners would spend 12 months there and either be purified, or if they were truly evil they would go on and their souls would be destroyed.  Sounds a little like purgatory huh?

So that is the context of the word, and what Jews of Jesus' day would probably be thinking about.  So what is Jesus trying to communicate here? Well since Jesus did not go out and define what his definition of Hell was, he was probably communicating their definition of Hell.  So it is possible that Jesus meant a temporal (as in not permanent) place of judgment.  It is also possible that he was using something of a hyperbole.  I am assuming that Jesus did not want everyone to walk around blind and with no hands, so that means this is not a direct command to have us mutilate ourselves.  Perhaps Jesus was using hell as a way of saying, "Hey! This is important, you are doing something that will cause you lots of pain!"

I hope that this blog has caused you to think, I was not intending to provide answers just more questions.  What would it mean if Jesus was not talking about an eternal hell, but a physical hell?  What if he meant that the hell is an earthly place that we create by our evil actions and intentions? Maybe our thoughts of hell are correct but we need to focus on a less spiritualized gospel and more of physical lived out gospel of hands and feet. 

Let me know what you think!