Praying for Wilmington YM

 

I’ve been asked to share this calendar with Friends, so here it is. May your time spent praying for Wilmington Yearly Meeting be useful


1: Repentance

Monthly Meeting Focus: Ada Chapel Friends Meeting

“…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

 

2: Humility

Monthly Meeting Focus: Campus Friends Meeting

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13

 

3: Mercy

Monthly Meeting Focus: Centerfield Friends Meeting

“Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.” Daniel 9:18

 

4: Tenderness

Monthly Meeting Focus: Chester Friends Meeting

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit,if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” Philippians 2:1-2

 

5: Holiness

Monthly Meeting Focus: Cincinnati Friends Meeting

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”  Hebrews 12:14

 

6: Forgiveness

Monthly Meeting Focus: Cuba Friends Meeting

“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.” Luke 11:4

 

7: Faithfulness

Monthly Meeting Focus: Dover Friends Meeting

“Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” Psalm 85:10

 

8: Prayerfulness

Monthly Meeting Focus: Eastern Hills Friends Meeting

“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.” Jonah 2:7

 

9: Purity

Monthly Meeting Focus: Fairview Friends Meeting

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

 

10: Endurance

Monthly Meeting Focus: Fall Creek Friends Meeting

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6

 

11: Gratitude

Monthly Meeting Focus: Friends of Ballplay

‘Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

12: Honesty

Monthly Meeting Focus: Friendsville Friends Meeting

“Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.” Exodus 23:1

 

13: Teachableness

Monthly Meeting Focus: Hardins Creek Friends Meeting

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1

 

14: Centeredness

Monthly Meeting Focus: Jamestown Friends Meeting

“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” Revelation 7:17

 

15: Wisdom

Monthly Meeting Focus: Knoxville Friends Meeting

“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.” Proverbs 4:6

 

16: Compassion

Monthly Meeting Focus: Leesburg Friends Meeting

“…all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” 1 Peter 3:8

 

17: Generosity

Monthly Meeting Focus: Living Word Friends Church

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Corinthians 9:6

 

18: Courage

Monthly Meeting Focus: Londonderry Friends Meeting

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 14:27

 

19: Insightfulness

Monthly Meeting Focus: Lost Creek Friends Meeting

“…this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

Philippians 1:9-11

 

20: Righteousness

Monthly Meeting Focus: Martinsville Friends Meeting

“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18

 

21: Self-control

Monthly Meeting Focus: Maryville Friends Meeting

“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” Proverbs 25:28

 

22: Gentleness

Monthly Meeting Focus: New Burlington Friends Meeting

“…you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness…” 1 Timothy 6:11

 

23: Faithfulness

Monthly Meeting Focus: Rafter Chapel Friends Meeting

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice…” Isaiah 42:3

 

24: Goodness

Monthly Meeting Focus: Sabina Friends Meeting

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:3

 

25: Kindness

Monthly Meeting Focus: Samantha Friends Meeting

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace,expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6-7

 

26: Patience

Monthly Meeting Focus: Springfield Friends Meeting

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

 

27: Peace

Monthly Meeting Focus: Wilmington Friends Meeting

“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11

 

28: Joy

Monthly Meeting Focus: Xenia Friends Meeting

“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:3

 

29: Faith

Monthly Meeting Focus: Fairfield Quarterly Meeting

“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.” 1 Thessalonians 1:11

 

30: Hope

Monthly Meeting Focus: Friendsville Quarterly Meeting

“…hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5

 

31: Love

Monthly Meeting Focus: Miami-Center Quarterly Meeting

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:18

Belize Goal Met!

“We’re excited to announce that Oscar Mmbali’s pledge raising is complete! Thanks to donations from Friends across East Africa and North America, Oscar will be getting on his plane on August 1st to start his work in Belize City. We have been blessed and encouraged by the way that Friends have come together to support this new work to which FUM is being called…”

read more >>

2017 WYM Friday Small Groups

20170728_140636_36224790745_oCharlynn Gampher and Judy Sargent opened the session by leading us in singing Great Is Thy Faithfulness. Friends sang with harmony and gusto, and Judy remarked on how good Friends sounded and reminded us that choir practice is at 4:30 pm.

Dave Goff then gave his opening remarks, saying that he has been focusing all summer on preparing for this conversation. He spent time in prayer, asking God how to proceed.

He then shared that when Lost Creek called him as a pastor, he told them that he’s not gifted as a pastor. He knows himself to be gifted as a teacher, instead. He intends to bring that gift of teaching to these sessions since he has been studying these issues all summer.

In contemporary educational theory, he said, teachers are encouraged to connect the knowledge being presented with the body of knowledge that the students already hold. Teachers are also encouraged to have students work together in small groups, so that they can learn from each other. Accordingly, he designed today’s session to reflect both of those emphases, saying:

“This is not a business session. This is a learning session.”

David and Jon Goff co-presented as father and son, and as two people who disagree with one another on “this subject.” Dave believes strongly that people who disagree with one another on “culture war” issues can work together and and love one another despite their disagreements, and offers his ability to work with Jon as an image of that reality. He reminded Friends that we are called to follow Jesus’ example of being in fellowship with sinners and welcoming everyone into the community.

Dave then took what he acknowledged to be an odd turn, telling us about the conflict between the singer Kesha and her producer and rapist, Dr. Luke. He asked us to consider Kesha’s new song, Praying, which he described as a song about offering forgiveness under the worst of circumstances. Dave said, “The hardest thing Jesus calls us to do is forgive our enemies, and yet here is this party girl who is demonstrating the way that we are called to love our enemies.”

Kesha | PrayingLyrics

Dave used this song to open our time together, then prayed for reconciliation and love to flow among us.

Jon began presenting a version of a powerpoint used at Quaker Knoll Senior High Camp. He then divided Friends into 12 small groups, each of which was tasked with considering a query. [nb: I have been told that the complete list of queries will be released through the Yearly Meeting office soon.] Groups were asked to choose a recorded and a presenter, to discuss your answers to the question without necessarily expecting to come to an agreement.

Jon offered a series of ground rules: introduce yourselves, be kind, be respectful, don’t dominate the discussion or shut people down. Consider this a private discussion unless somebody wants to share. He also offered this classic piece of cinema:

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Groups were called back from the discussion, and group representatives were invited forward to share their reactions to the query. After each group shared, Jon gave historical background to the questions, highlighting the ways in which the definition of marriage has changed over the centuries.

Unfortunately, due to time constrictions, we were only able to consider two of the six queries as the larger group. Some sense was given that we would continue considering these queries tomorrow, but as there is no time set aside in tomorrow’s schedule for discussion outside of business sessions, I don’t know when that would be.

 


 

Personal reflections: Kesha’s song is certainly sung with prophetic strength, but it remains to be seen which aspect of her song will prevail among Friends in Wilmington YM. I think that Dave meant to be referencing Kesha’s willingness to pray for Dr. Luke, which is repeated in the chorus:

I hope you’re somewhere praying, praying

I hope your soul is changing, changing

I hope you find your peace

Falling on your knees, praying

The verses, though, tell a more nuanced and powerful story of a woman breaking free of an abuser. She may wish him farewell, but there’s no sense within the song that this wish is accompanied by any desire to remain in relationship. She has become strong, due to her experience with her abuser, but the credit for this strength is hers alone.

Her abuser had her fooled, put her through hell. She had to learn to fight for herself and she is now proud of who she is.

“…no more monsters, I can breathe again…”

I hear this song as being less about forgiving those who have hurt us, although certainly there’s some sense of hoping that her abuser comes to repentance, and more about wishing farewell to someone who no longer deserves to be in her life.

But out of the whole song, this was the line that caught me:

“And we both know all the truth I could tell…”

Kesha’s truth-telling, here, is wielded as a weapon- possibly the only weapon that she has in this fight. This contrasts sharply with our on-going fixation on euphemisms. We seem unwilling to name what we’re even possibly fighting about. It’s “the issues that divide us,” or “the current conflict.”

Going into Wilmington YM’s business sessions tomorrow, I find myself wondering what would happen if people simply told the truth.

Kelly Kellum: Participating in Worshipful Work (Part 1)

 

This is Part 1 in a summary of a workshop on clerking Quaker Business Sessions offered by Kelly Kellum at Wilmington Yearly Meeting Sessions on July 28th, 2017


Kelly opened his workshop by reminding Friends that the work we do together as Friends is grounded in the work of God. The Quaker concept of Meeting for Business only makes sense when rooted in the real, corporate experience of Christ among us- and without that experience, what we have is just a decision-making process.

Kelly also connected this discussion to the broader conflict within Wilmington Yearly Meeting regarding marriage equality, saying:

 

This is the single question facing Wilmington Yearly Meeting this weekend: What is the presence in our midst saying to you, in this moment? I invite you to hold that question in prayerful silence for a moment, and then continue to hold it through the discussions this afternoon and the business sessions tomorrow.

 

Friends broke into small groups in order to consider a passage by Margaret Springer of Canadian Yearly Meeting:

 

The most important unit of our Quaker structure is the Monthly Meeting. This is a group of members in one locality who meet every week for worship, and every month for business. One person is chosen as Clerk, to preside over Business Meetings and to facilitate the work of the Meeting. There are other officers and subcommittees, depending on the size and interest of the Meeting. These may deal with Finance, Property, Ministry and Counsel (pastoral oversight of members), First Day School, Library or current social concerns.

No vote is taken at a Quaker Business Meeting. It is a religious meeting – a Meeting for Worship for Business. After a person has spoken, there is silence. We try not to interrupt each other, or jump in too quickly with our own ideas, or speak more than once on the same topic. We work towards agreeing on the ‘sense of the Meeting’, which the presiding Clerk formulates and which is written down as a Minute. On the surface, this is the conduct of business by consensus. But what we are really trying to do is listen together for God’s guidance.

What if we cannot reach agreement? Then the matter is either laid down or laid over to the next Meeting. Yes, this can be a slow way of doing things. But when we all know that this is the way, we feel our individual responsibility to help things go forward. To make things happen, we have to put in the effort of really listening to each other, and search for that of God within ourselves.

This is surprisingly hard work. Of course there are times when meetings drag on because we are not prepared, or not listening, or not centred on God’s will. But in a Meeting for Business at its best you can see our witness to Friends’ testimonies being translated into action, with love and care and humility. And that is an exciting spiritual experience.

 

Upon returning to the larger group, Kelly asked Friends to consider both the roles/responsibilities of members and the roles/responsibilities of the clerk. Suggested responsibilities of members included preparing for being in corporate worship and making oneself familiar with the issues at hand, actually showing up, expecting the Spirit of Christ to show up, participating prayerfully in the 20170728_105336_35419813573_o (1)moment, and respecting the result of the process afterward rather than undermining the meeting.

When describing the roles and responsibilities of the clerk, Friends said that the clerk must be willing to set aside his or her own intentions. Clerks need to listen to what is being said by all Friends from all positions, and listen to the unifying voice of Christ within the body. Clerks also have the same responsibility as anyone else in the body to respect the process afterward.

One friend rose to highlight the end of the quote we were considering, where the writer speaks about the excitement of the process. She said that too often, we forget to look for this excitement:

 

“It’s amazing that we can work this way and that Christ’s presence is felt among us”

 

Kelly moved into the next part of his presentation by saying, “The primary work of each Friend is to bring his or her best or true self into the discerning work of the meeting or the community.” There is a shared responsibility among all members to maintain the order and the process, and to sustain the spiritual atmosphere that makes the work possible.

This shared responsibility means that our worshipful work takes place within a vulnerable system. This system can easily be run off course, intentionally or unintentionally, when we don’t bring our best selves into the work we are called to do.

Kelly offered several advices for participating in worshipful work:

> Be Prepared. This operates on two levels: both showing up with reports ready and having familiarized ourselves with the issues at hand, and also the spiritual preparation necessary for sitting together in business sessions.

> Be Aware of Contributing Spirits. Kelly illustrated this point with a story about attending a workshop on discernment which seemed, at first, to mostly be about demons and other evil spirits and how to expell them. But then, the presenter explained that she was not as interested in metaphysical spirits as in “domestic spirits,” the attitudes and motivations that we bring into our lives, our families, and our communities. Are we being led by spirits of fear, hopelessness, and anger, or by joy, hope, and love?

“We all come with spiritual gifts that we lend to the Quaker business process. It is helpful, then, to examine the spirits that we lend,” Kelly said. Self-examination helps us remember the fruit of the Spirit that guides our worshipful work: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

> Be Humble. Kelly offered a definition of humility as “knowing how much space we are to occupy at any given time.” Who in our meetings tend to occupy more space than necessary? Who needs to be encouraged to occupy more space?

Be Honest. So much good work is undone when Friends remain silent about their objections throughout the entire discernment process… until they get to the parking lot, where they can talk it over with their friends. One of the best gifts that we can bring to the worshipful work is our testimony of integrity. If there is a question or a concern, we need to name that openly, in worship. Kelly said,

 

“If we don’t name the concern, if we aren’t honest about it, it takes on it’s own unique life within our souls… and results in friction and factions that disrupt the unity and the sense of the meeting”

 

> Be Open Minded and Open hearted. Leave room for the Spirit to do transforming work within the community.

> Be Stewards. Spiritual gifts are resources to be spent wisely. Get the right people into the right tasks, so that the person best suited to recording isn’t repairing toilets while the best mechanic is preparing a children’s message and so on.

> Be Patient. This process can be sloooooooow. Let it work. It’s always more efficient, in the end, to do the work well then to do it poorly and quickly and need to undo and rebuild.

> Anchor the Meeting. Kelly described this with a story of his time as clerk of Friends United Meeting, at a time when the organization was going through challenges. One faithful Friend came to him and said that she was being called to be an anchor for the group as they labored together. She stepped aside from the discussion to simply hold the meeting in prayer. Kelly said, “I can’t tell you how meaningful that was to me.”


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…more later…

Megan Fair Speaks at Wilmington Yearly Meeting

When I enter an office to lobby anybody, and I don’t care what side of the aisle they’re on, I’m always nervous. I do remind myself that God is in the room, and that there is that of God in everyone, including myself—brings me strength, brings me joy—and in the person that I’m speaking with. I can lose track of that during the conversation, if a few things are said that kind of shock me. But it’s kind of like deep breathing.

To go back to that understanding that there’s that of God in this person, and that’s who I’m speaking to… I’m not speaking to the fear, I’m not speaking to whatever training the person has given themselves to get through the world as they see it. I’m speaking to their better part, to that of God.

-Ruth Flower, legislative director at Friends Committee on National Legislation

Megan opened her session with a Quakerspeak video on FCNL, which featured Ruth Flower:

 

Megan then spoke about the Ladder of Engagement: an image which breaks down the process of getting more involved in lobbying into manageable steps. FCNL encourages Friends to consider climbing one more rung to become more engaged. The ladder image serves to welcome more people into the lobbying process.ladder of engagement

As a way of helping Friends climb the ladder together, FCNL is working on building advocacy teams. These begin with three or four people in a community who are willing to work together. Once these teams contact FCNL, they will send out a trainer to help them understand their role in the lobbying process.

Then, the team participates in a monthly phone call and a monthly action together. The phone call keeps them informed, and the monthly action keeps them involved.

According to FCNL’s website:

The power of Advocacy Teams comes from each team member’s commitment to changing Capitol Hill for the better – and the knowledge that we’re stronger together.

You will build an ongoing relationship with your members of Congress.

You will learn how to work with the media to see the news you want.

You will foster a network of advocates in your community.

You will help your members of Congress become champions for peace and justice.

You will change Washington for the better.

Friends broke into practice groups of four or five people, to help us imagine what this might look like. We were given the option of “lobbying” on either preserving access to healthcare or opposing an expansion of the military budget. To guide our imaginations, Megan gave us copies of the “Lobby Visit Roadmap” that she was given when she first went on a lobbying trip for FCNL at seventeen. Here’s the roadmap:

Introduce yourself and those with you.

Thank the representative/senator for something they’ve done that you agree with. (this may require research)

Make the “ask.”

Give facts and tell stories to support the ask, keeping the emphasis on stories rather than expertise.

Solicit follow-up questions.

Thank the representative/senator for the time.

Repeat the “ask.”

Leave behind documents supporting the ask.

Follow up with their office.

Friends had productive and inspiring conversations as they imagined themselves lobbying as a group. What could we be thankful about, with regard to the imagined politician at the meeting? What supportive stories would we tell?

Megan Fair, a member of Wilmington Monthly Meeting in Wilmington, Ohio, currently serves on the FCNL’s Executive Committee and is the clerk of the FCNL Field Committee. She lives in Seattle, WA, where she works as a Civil Rights Assistant Manager for the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Washington (CAIR-WA), a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Megan credits Wilmington Monthly Meeting’s hosting of the Christian Peacemakers Team with directing her toward work in the Middle East and interfaith work with the Muslim community.

Megan obtained her BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. While at Guilford, Megan was a Quaker Leader Scholar and completed the School for International Training’s Modernization and Social Change program in Amman, Jordan.

Genesis Roundup

The English word Genesis is derived from Greek, and is used to refer to origins and beginings. In Hebrew this book has a similar title – Bereishit – which is the first word of the book: “In the Beginning.”

On Sunday, we’ll start reading Genesis together. (We’ll start with Genesis 2, but don’t worry, we’ll be back for Genesis 1!) Here are some tools that you might find helpful in understanding the book as a whole:

Enter the Bible provides a summary, outline, background, introductory issues, and theological themes for each book of the Bible. The link is to their resources on Genesis.

Here is another good historical introduction and outline of Genesis from Biblica.

If you’d rather watch a video than read an article, check these out: The Bible Project on Genesis: Part 1, and Part 2.

If you run across something else that you think should be included, leave it in a comment!

 

Narrative Lectionary: Introductory Resources

This school year at Wilmington Friends Meeting, we’ll be journeying together through the whole arc of Scripture. We’re starting in the Garden of Eden in Genesis, working through the story of Israel, comparing and contrasting the Gospels, reading some of the earliest recorded documents of the Church, and ending in the City of God from the Book of Revelation. Buckle your seatbelts, Friends: this is going to be an adventure!

Each Sunday morning, unless we are led otherwise, our Scripture passage will be taken from the Narrative Lectionary. Here’s an overview of what’s coming, taken from their site:

The texts include the major episodes in Scripture. They are arranged in a narrative sequence to help people see Scripture as a story that has coherence and a dynamic movement:

  • From September to mid-December the preaching texts begin with the early chapters of Genesis, move through the stories of Israel’s early history, the exodus, the kings, prophets, exile, and return.

  • From Christmas to Easter there is sustained reading of one of the four gospels

  • From Easter to Pentecost the texts are chosen from Acts and Paul’s letters.

During the week, I’ll be posting daily readings here connecting between one Sunday and the next. If you read them all, by May you’ll have read a little bit from every book of the Bible. If you skim most of them and read some of them in depth (because let’s be honest, right?), you’ll still learn things you never knew about Scripture, see themes and motifs that you hadn’t noticed before, and walk away at the end of the Sunday School year having been both challenged and blessed. I hope you’ll join us on this journey, and I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Here are some links that you might find helpful:

Bible Gateway – The Bible’s not just on paper anymore! Read or listen online!

9 Things Everyone Should Do When Reading the Bible – Good advice for anyone.

Friendly Bible Study – We aren’t following this proceedure, but I think you’ll find the five queries helpful.

A Quaker Approach to the Bible – Henry Joel Cadbury’s view.

 

Quasidaily Gazette: 09.02.15

From Alise Chaffins, on the destructive nature of gender roles:

…I am increasingly tired of the shock that so many complemantarian Christians have when it comes to how their teachings play out in real life. Because when we take a minute to examine what they teach about gender roles, it is a set-up for sexual failure in many marriages.

From Mark Joseph Stern, on the empirical terribleness of Liberty Counsel:

More and more, it’s beginning to look like the Liberty Counsel is taking Davis for a ride, using her doomed case to promote itself and its extremist principles. Davis has certainly humiliated and degraded the gay couples whom she turned away. But I wonder if, on some level, she isn’t a victim, too.

Quasidaily Gazette: 09.01.15

From Bill Finch, on kudzu:

Kudzu has appeared larger than life because it’s most aggressive when planted along road cuts and railroad embankments—habitats that became front and center in the age of the automobile. As trees grew in the cleared lands near roadsides, kudzu rose with them. It appeared not to stop because there were no grazers to eat it back. But, in fact, it rarely penetrates deeply into a forest; it climbs well only in sunny areas on the forest edge and suffers in shade.

From Beth Woolsey, on teenagers,

Here’s the truth: you screw things up, friends. Sometimes ENORMOUSLY. Certainly daily.

And here’s another truth: so do we. Absolutely. HUGELY. And just as often.

Turns out, we are, all of us, a mess, and also magical and magnificent. Incredibly magnificent.

From J. R. Daniel Kirk, on freedom:

Jesus calls followers for one major reason: to do everything that he does.

Jesus proclaims the good news. He calls followers for this purpose and sends them out to do so.

Jesus heals the sick. He calls followers for this purpose and sends them out to do so.

Jesus exorcises demons. He calls followers for this purpose and sends them out to do so.

Jesus goes to the cross. And… what?

Generous Church

Welcome to Stewardship Sunday! I know some pastors like to announce their stewardship drives in advance, to allow time to solicit funds, set goals, and so forth. Me, on the other hand- I like it when you come to church on Sunday rather than finding some convenient reason to stay home, so I like to make it a surprise and then ask the ushers to lock the meeting room doors.

Because here’s the thing: every single one of us is guilted, at every turn, by a well-meaning person or organization looking to take a little bit more: