About Bill Burch

Theology literally means "words about God." The divine Word described in human words--heavenly treasure in jars of clay. Bill is a practical theologian sharing his worldview. To misquote Lucy van Pelt: "Theological help 5¢--the doctor is IN!" Bill serves as the senior pastor at Northside United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He is married to Tracy who is a school teacher, and they have two adult children: Katie and Will. Their third "child" is a Yorkshire Terrier named Sam.

Memorial Day

During my childhood, Memorial Day signaled the unofficial start of summer. I never thought much about the holiday’s deeper meaning. For a boy, enjoying a day off from school seemed significant enough.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Major General John A. Logan issued General Order 11. It designated May 30 as Decoration Day—a time of remembrance for fallen soldiers. Arlington Cemetery hosted the first major observance in 1868. The annual event quickly grew into a national holiday.

Memorial-DayToday our nation observes Memorial Day on the last Monday of May. The holiday honors military personnel who have died during wartime. Parades, speeches, flags, and cemetery floral arrangements mark the occasion.

We remember the men and women who have given their lives in the service of their country. We also honor remember armed forces’ personnel who presently serve at home or abroad. Our liberties come at a high cost, and we recognize those who lay aside self-interest for their country’s sake.

We remember military families who also make their own sacrifices. Each member of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Reserves, and National Guard leaves behind a family at home. Our service personnel wear a uniform; however, parents, siblings, spouses, children, and friends support them on the home front.

This weekend fly the flag. Take your hat off when the National Anthem plays. Speak the words of the Pledge of Allegiance in a strong voice. Express your appreciation to a veteran. Visit a cemetery. Place a flower arrangement. Say a prayer.

Remember, and give thanks.

Suitcase Theology

This spring a group from Northside Church visited the Holy Land. I faced the pre-trip challenge of packing 15 days worth of clothes into a suitcase and carry-on. Let’s just say all of us regularly repeated our outfits on the trip.

Overstuffed suitcase in hallway

Experts say to pack a suitcase and then remove half of the contents. I didn’t quite honor this maxim. However, the knowledge that I would be the one lugging the luggage certainly provided an incentive.

George Carlin performed a routine about “Stuff.” The comedian observed: “A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it.” We can become consumed with taking care of too much stuff.

Packing for a trip forces a traveler to prioritize and choose stuff—not everything can be taken. And it turns out that many necessities are actually luxuries.

Jesus told a story entitled The Parable of the Rich Fool. The punch line asks: “What does it profit someone to win the whole world and lose his or her soul?”

Our stuff can weigh us down rather than free us up. Pack light in order to enjoy both the journey and the destination.

Things that Make You Go “Huh”

A TV commercial about some new prescription drug recently caught my attention. I don’t recall what ailment it purportedly treated. A tag line on the screen advised:Hydrate “Increased fluid intake can decrease the risk of dehydration.”

Things that make you go “Huh.”

Who knew that hydration could combat dehydration?

Just seems to be common sense. However, it’s been noted that common sense isn’t all that common. Some days any kind of sense seems to be in rare supply, indeed.

So here’s a list of things that make you go “Oh.”

  • Lost?               Read the Bible.
  • Anxious?         Pray without ceasing.
  • Lonely?           Attend church.
  • Blessed?          Give thanks.
  • Satiated?         Fast.
  • Gifted?            Serve.
  • Saved?            Testify.

And if you’re thirsty, drink some water.

Buckhead Driving Rules

We moved to Northside Church two years ago. For those new to the area, here are some helpful “Buckhead Driving Rules.”

  • Speed limit signs are mere suggestions.
  • Blinkers are optional.
  • Peachtree Road is a 4 lane street divided into 6 lanes.
  • Construction at Peachtree and Pharr always blocks at least 1 lane.
  • “No Turn on Right” does not apply to YOU.
  • Horns work better than brakes.
  • The bumping sounds you hear are lane dividers.
  • Our zip codes are exempt from the hands-free, cell phone law.
  • Northside Parkway from Howell Mill to Paces Ferry is known as “The Quarter Mile of Death.”
  • Pot holes serve as speed bumps.
  • Neighborhood lanes make great shortcuts.
  • Others tailgate, you draft.
  • The car in the next lane cost 6 figures.
  • Traffic is light from 2:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.
  • Do not play “Chicken” with an Amazon delivery van.

The good news is Buckhead traffic will inspire your prayer life and make you cry out to God!

 

April Showers & May Flowers

April showers bring May flowers . . . and POLLEN—and it starts back in March.

Politicians divide the nation into Red and Blue. However, spring unites us as Yellow States!

pollenOver the past weeks, flaxen goo has covered cars, coated lawns, clogged throats, and congested noses. The golden gunk sticks like glue. After a shower, the streets appear to be paved in heavenly gold.

All agree that Georgia is beautiful during the spring. Trees bud, flowers blooms, and grasses grow. Azaleas, dogwoods, daffodils, and day lilies serve as harbingers of summer’s advent.

But the beauty can also be a beast.

The vast palette of buds and blooms produces a noxious cloud of allergens. A reading of over 120 is considered “Extremely High” on the pollen count. Many spring days feature four digit measurements.

Sooner or later, the pollen affects everyone with itchy eyes, sniffly noses, sore throats, and sinus headaches. Patients jam doctors’ offices, and social gatherings sound like tuberculosis’ wards. People pop antihistamines like Tic-Tacs and gargle Chloroseptic like water.

We all learn about the birds, bees, flowers, and trees. The Creator designed this intriguing, intricate process to insure the reproduction of flora.

I would never dare question the Master Gardener’s plan; however, there are spring days when I have enjoyed about as much as I can stand.

Anyone who lives in Georgia, however, better get used to the pollen. In the long run, allergies are a small price to pay for azaleas, daffodils, dogwoods, oaks, red tips, boxwoods, and day lilies.

In Matthew 6, Jesus told his followers not to worry. Then he pointed to the natural beauty all around them and said, “See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” If God cares for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, then surely the Creator will also care for us.

So breathe deep and give God thanks for the beauty of this earth—pollen, allergies, and all.

Broadway and the Church

This year Tracy and I purchased season tickets for Broadway in Atlanta. The productions at the Fabulous Fox feature both classic and contemporary musicals.

foxThe patrons who pack the venue reflect the city’s diversity. Different genders, ages, races, ethnicities, orientations, and religions unite for three hours in a shared love of the theater.

We sit together in companionable enjoyment: Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, gay and straight, young and old, black and white, Millennials and Baby Boomers. One common interest unites us for the length of a Broadway play.

The church is one body made up of different parts. We are a diverse and different people—some more different than others! No human commonality binds us together. We are a divine creation united in the name of Jesus Christ.

The body of Christ does not achieve unity by abolishing human differences and disagreements. We achieve unity by focusing on Jesus Christ who binds us together and not on the world that tears us apart.

In Ephesians 4, Paul 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.”

One.

Perhaps God’s people could learn a thing or two from Broadway in Atlanta audiences.

Easter Sunday Schedule

Easter Sunday Schedule

Northside United Methodist Church

2799 Northside Drive NW

Atlanta, Georgia 30305

www.northsideumc.org

8:30 a.m.                     Traditional Worship Service              Sanctuary

9:45 a.m.                     Contemporary Worship Service         Faith & Arts Center

9:45 a.m.                     Traditional Worship Service              Sanctuary

11:00 a.m.                   Traditional Worship Service              Sanctuary

11:15 a.m.                   Contemporary Worship Service         Faith & Arts Center

Easter animals will be present in the Wallace Garden.

Childcare for ages 6 weeks to pre-K  available during all services.

Christ the Lord is risen! Christ is risen, indeed!