Wednesday, July 06, 2011

This week in Lake Wobegone, oh wait, Morris, Oklahoma

Howdy Folks! 

A lot is happening this summer here in Morris, OK!  We've been to Muskogee District Camp, had a church wide Independence Day celebration, and supported our community choir this last week alone!  Pastor Crystal is trying to get in the swing of things and figuring out how to keep everything from sliding off of the plate!  A few things to look forward to:

-Pastries with the Pastor- a few dates available and all are welcome to the parsonage for food and fellowship!
-Ad Board and Finance meeting second Wednesday of the month!
- VBS "Shake It Up Cafe"  August 1-4 and 7th
- Youth, Parent, and Volunteer Pizza Dinner Sunday, July 31 at 6 p.m.

We are also taking up special offerings for Joplin Tornado victims, Okmulgee Baby Shower, and for policeman Dewey McCollough. 

Please be in prayer for those on our prayer list and especially for our church members who are traveling on summer vacations!

May Our God Bless and Keep You!
Pastor Crystal

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Morris FUMC welcomes new pastor

Sunday June 12, Morris FUMC will welcome our new pastor Crystal Hughes.  We look forward to the gifts and graces she will bring to this congregation and to our community.  Crystal's husband Chris will be the associate pastor at Bixby FUMC.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Ascension Sunday, June 5 Sermon,


Sermon Notes

I’ve had a lot of fun joking about this scripture passage and it’s happening to occur on the last Sunday I have with you here today, but in many ways it is just the good news we need to hear today. 

What occurs in the before and during the ascension is a template for what should occur at those moments of ascension in our own lives. 

Just imagine what those disciples must have felt when the resurrected Christ—a man familiar and yet wholly new to them, said that it was time yet again for him to leave them. 

When he left them the first time he had been arrested, now he was making an appointment.

When he left them the first time he was lifted up on a cross, now he was being lifted up on a cloud. 

When he left them the first time the sheep scattered, they were afraid, despairing, and incredulous.  Now they were returning to Jerusalem as he had told them to, with great joy, and marching right to Zion to be in the temple. 

There’s a template here in this story of the ascension that I hope has been replicated in our lives.  It involves making some comparisons that I have never been quite comfortable with, but some that persist on account of my calling.  You see, one of my functions as your pastor has been to show you Christ.  To represent Christ.  When I have sat with you in hospital rooms or in troubled situations, it has been to remind you that Christ is with you in those moments of pain and desolation.  When I have held the hand of the dying, it has been to remind them and their families that Jesus Christ is the one into whose hands we are going.  When I have attempted to relate to you what I have learned and how I read and believe the scriptures, it is an attempt to “open your minds to the scriptures” as Jesus does. When I have broken the bread and lifted the cup, it is a reminder that in this meal it is Christ that makes himself available to us. 

There is an important difference though, between the one who represents Christ and the Christ himself.  I have almost certainly failed you at some point or another.  I have probably failed to show up, failed to encourage you or bring a word of hope, failed to adequately portray the one who never fails you.  Unfortunately, the only material that God has to work with to represent Christ on earth are sinners in need of that same redeeming that Christ offers. 

And so, though Christ leaves his disciples, and though Christ’s representatives, your pastors, may come and go, he and I leave you with a promise that I hope sustains you. 

Can you imagine being those original disciples.  They get a farewell from the Christ, and a promise that soon in Jerusalem they’ll receive another incarnation of God, only this time it won’t be an “in carne nation” or “in the flesh,” representative, but an “in spir ation” or “in the wind” representative.  And what do they do for those 10 days in between the two?  Is the life sucked out of them?  Do they have a major case of the blahs?  NO!  They are filled with joy and are continuously in the temple praising God! 

They go to Jerusalem where they are told to wait, and they wait on their tip toes.  The Bishop spoke about this kind of “tip toed” expectation that he noticed his son exhibited when he used to throw a fishing line into the water. 

What a witness!  And you know what—the holy Spirit has never left us!  I wonder if that faithfulness the disciples showed in the in-between time wasn’t Spirit borne after all.  John does relay the information that Jesus came and breathed on his disciples and told them to receive the Holy Spirit when he visited them on the day of his resurrection.   Perhaps they were given a little taste of what was to come on Pentecost. 

I pray that this in-between time, the few days this week between pastors who try the best we can to represent Jesus to you, will remind you that it is the Spirit’s presence and power that undergirds all that we do.  May we go out in joy and be led forth in peace.  The mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!  Amen

I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you,

The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ's body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.


Can you imagine how that Temple must’ve changed for the disciples?  When they had last been in it, their Master had been full of wrath at the money changers, Jesus had gone there and had been condemned by the Sanhedrin, the collection of priests.  Now they were “continually in the temple blessing God.”  Do you know who are the only people who are in the temple continually blessing God?  The priests!  Christ ordained a new priesthood and sent them to work.  

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day Sermon

Sermon texts:
Psalm 66: 8-20
John 16: 20-22, 33
1 Peter 3: 13-22

Notes:
It may have been a memorial day weekend when my whole mother’s side of the family visited the Mud Island in Memphis.  They have a miniture replica of the Mississippi river made from concrete that runs the length of an island that river pirates and outlaws used to meet on for knife fights to the death or other nefarious behavior. 

The hanging monorail train that shuttles you to the island from Memphis is featured in the Tom Cruise movie “The Firm,” and while you are there, you can also see the famous Memphis Belle B-17 Flying fortress.  This is the same model airplane that my grandfather flew in during WWII, and though he’d never really spoken much about his service (and even at 10 or 11 I could kind of read his discomfort when speaking about the experience that left his arm disfigured and shorter than the other), it was by that plane like that one that he had no doubt suffered for many hours in as he held his arm in place after nearly having it shot off, that I asked him to tell me more about his service.



There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless. 15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.


What can we, who benefit from the good that the veterans have suffered for, do for them?  Honor and memory. 
They deserve that, don’t they.  That’s what marks the difference between the righteous and the wicked.  We don’t necessarily get what we deserve out of life or death.  Sometimes the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer, but Peter reminds the newly baptized that though their baptism does not function as some kind of protective shield against strife and difficulties, it does make us part of a community who bears all things as one body. 

Think about your life and what you have brought to the world at large.  What will be those activities that have such an impact that they will be remembered when you are gone?  Will people some day gather at my funeral and reminisce about how much I enjoyed coming up with witty comments for other people’s facebook page?  “Man, that Nathan sure could give some snappy comments!”   No—what endures is a person’s contribution to things that are larger than oneself. 

Suffering for the faith.  John Wesley one of his co-workers had been thrown off a bridge to his death when they evangelized the rough mill towns of SW England. 

It seems that this man’s life was full of suffering, and yet he did something that will be forever memorialized.  He contributed in a positive way to an event that held tragedy. 

Interesting idea that you used to suffer quite a bit of persecution just for being a Methodist.  Perhaps when we aren’t suffering for our faith we end up suffering in our faith.  We atrophy.  Our spiritual muscles get weak.  Some of the early church desert fathers and mothers knew this about faith life, so while theologians bickered about the ins and outs of who God was and who Jesus was, they went out to the desert to subject themselves to the elements and desolation in an attempt to mimic Christ’s example.   

This Thursday is Ascension Day.  40 days after Easter Sunday, when some Christians mark the occasion when Jesus ascends into heaven and leaves his disciples with the promise of the Spirit’s power to guide them, as we heard about today. 

The Ascension means that Christ is not only risen, but that he reigns.  As he tells his disciples in the passage from John that we heard today, even when we suffer for being his disciples, we can  know that In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Monday, May 16, 2011

Centennial Sunday School Round UP!

Has it been a while since you've been to Sunday School?  Have you ever invited a friend to come to Sunday School with you?  Next Sunday is the time!


  Morris FUMC originated in the heyday of Sunday School, so we've been doing it for 100 years now!  Let's show our support for our Sunday School program by being here to meet under the trees in the front of the church at 9:45 May 22nd for a Centennial Celebration of Sunday School.  We'll have food and fun and stories and perhaps a little "living history."  There will be rides in an antique Model-T mini-car for the kids (the first Model Ts had just hit the production lines when our church was being formed!), and if you want to dress in "period clothing," that will be fun too!  We'll start the morning with some words form Pastor Mattox and anyone else who'd like to recollect on their memories of how Sunday school has evolved over our 100 year span.  Then we'll have some time for eating and lessons under the trees (which will serve as our version of the "bursh arbor" unless someone gets a wild hare and builds one this week!  Some folks have even talked about riding horse and wagons (or just horses) to the Centennial celebration.  The sky's the limit!