Love Is

During the week when we celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day, meditate on the Apostle Paul’s description of true love:

Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. 

Love never fails.

Now faith, hope, and love remain–these three things–and the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8; 13, Common English Bible

My Mind

I saw this post on social media, and it captures how many of us often feel!

My mind is like my internet browser:

  • 19 tabs are open
  • 3 of them are frozen
  • And I have no idea where the music is coming from!

Prayer for the Day:

Lord,

Calm and quiet my soul.

Grant me the grace

to feel your enfolding arms

and to claim your peace.

Amen.

 

The Super Bowl Blues

NFL: Super Bowl LIII Handoff Press Conference

  • Good News:    Atlanta is hosting the 2019 Super Bowl LIII.
  • Bad News:      The Atlanta Falcons will not be playing.
  • Good News:    The Falcons will not collapse in the 4th quarter of Sunday’s game.
  • Bad News:      The Falcons collapsed all season long.
  • Good News:    The Falcons won some tough games.
  • Bad News:      The Falcons lost to Cleveland. Cleveland? Cleveland!
  • Good News:    Rise Up!
  • Bad News:      Fall Down.
  • Good News:    There’s always next year.
  • Bad News:      There’s always next year.
  • Good News:    Life should not be affected by how highly paid athletes play.
  • Bad News:      For some, it is.  
  • Good News:    If you want to hear the Good News, come to church this Sunday.
  • Bad News:      More will cheer on Sunday night than worship on Sunday morning.

Robes and Stoles, Part 2

Many professions distinguish themselves by distinctive dress. Examples include a deputy’s badge, a firefighter’s helmet, a doctor’s white coat, or a chef’s apron. Form often follows function although ostentation can also play a part.

Methodist clergy traditionally wear robes and stoles while leading worship. Last week’s blog traced the history of robes, and this week we are exploring the meaning of stoles.

StolesStoles are bands of cloth about four inches wide that are worn around a pastor’s neck and over a robe. The liturgical vestments can be made of cotton, wool, silk, polyester, and other natural or manufactured materials. The colors of the stole (traditionally white, purple, green, and red) correspond to the seasons and festivals of the church year.

Clerical stoles may have originally emulated Jewish prayer shawls described in Hebrew Scripture. Other scholars believe the bands served as imperial badges of office after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

The stole serves as a symbol of ordination. Theologically, it reminds clergy they are “yoked” to Christ, and pastors are called to imitate Christ’s servant leadership when he bowed to wash and dry the disciple’s feet.

Today the United Methodist Church authorizes ordained deacons and elders to wear stoles. Deacons, ordained to Word and Service, typically wear a stole diagonally off of one shoulder to the waist. Elders, ordained to Word, Sacrament, Order and Service, wear stoles that go around the neck and hang from both shoulders below the waist.

A clerical stole serves as a symbol of ordination in the Methodist Church. Varying widely in cost, color, fabric, and design, they serve as a reminder of the call to specialized ministry that all clergy share.

Robes and Stoles, Part 1

Many professions distinguish themselves by distinctive dress. Examples include a deputy’s badge, a firefighter’s helmet, a doctor’s white coat, or a chef’s apron. Form often follows function although ostentation can also play a part.

RobeMethodist clergy traditionally wear robes and stoles while leading worship. This practice varies, however, especially with the rise of contemporary services. People occasionally ask about the significance and symbolism of clerical garb.

Some scholars believe the practice originally emulated the robes worn by Jewish priests in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the early church, Christians donned a white alb cinched with a rope that symbolized their baptism.

Ironically, John Calvin inspired the robes most commonly worn by Methodist clergy today. The founder of Calvinism was a practicing attorney who wore his legal robe to preach. Judges still wear similar garments in the 21st century.

Authors also note that the Methodist Church historically has placed a high value on educated clergy. Clergy robes and academic gowns share much in common, including the use of “stripes” on the sleeves to designate a doctorate degree.

A clerical robe also serves as a symbol of ordination in the Methodist Church. Varying widely in cost, color, fabric, and design, they serve as a reminder of the call to specialized ministry that all clergy share.

Next week: Robes and Stoles, Part 2.

Teaching Preaching

This Saturday Northside Church will host the Atlanta College Park District Leadership Training. Party down! Yours truly will lead a session on “Preaching and Worship.”

But how does one TEACH preaching?

Seminary equips clergy with the basic tools to write a homily. Over time, ministers develop their own styles, methods, and processes.

I typically start with an idea accompanied by a title, topic, and Scripture lesson. Then I gather resources that inform the subject—background Bible study, illustrations, stories, Internet research, and more.

This is not a solitary pursuit. The Worship Team at our church meets weekly to exchange ideas and inspire creativity.

But preaching’s a funny business . . . .

Sometimes I write what might well be the finest sermon in the history of Christendom, and nothing stirs, not even a church mouse. Other times I stumble through a homily only to have people say it was the best sermon they’ve ever heard. On other occasions, people share meaningful quotes that I never said.

These moments remind me that preaching is a human-divine partnership. The Lord works in, through, and despite the minister. Paul said we hold heavenly treasures in jars of clay. Preachers are human beings tasked with proclaiming the divine gospel.

Also, teaching preaching is tough when the instructor is still a student himself!

There’s a Place for You!

The Northside Church theme for 2019 is: There’s a Place for You. Throughout the year, we will explore how the Lord has created a place for each of us in the kingdom of God, the body of Christ, and a community of faith.

The January Worship Series includes:

  • January 6 There’s a Place for You: A Community of Faith
  • January 13 There’s a Place for You: Purpose and Power
  • January 20 There’s a Place for You: Unity and Diversity
  • January 27 There’s a Place for You: Student Sunday

During the year, we will focus on Ephesians 4:1-6 where Paul identified unity as a chief characteristic of the church. He wrote:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

There IS a place for you at Northside Church every Sunday in January!