Monday, May 21, 2007

Ascension Day Sermon: Jesus Walks

Sermon Texts
Ephesians 1: 15-23

What do we make of this strange testimony? In our day and age, the idea of our savior flying away in the sky strikes us as somewhat fanciful. How do we envision the scene—does Jesus peek over the edge of the cloud as he is whisked away like Alladin on a magic carpet? Does he raise up one fist and take off like Superman? The ascension is part of the creeds of the early church. What is important about this anyway?
A closer look at our scriptural tradition shows us that it is customary for God’s most important prophets to be lifted up from the Earth rather than perish and placed in the ground. Elijah and Enoch are said to have ascended into heaven. Elijah was carried away on a fiery chariot. The famous Rabbi of Alexandria, Philo, who was a contemporary of the Gospel writers and a favorite theologian among early Christians, wrote that Moses also ascended. John’s gospel speaks of Jesus being “lifted up,” as an implication of Christ’s death on the cross, lifted up in agony, an implication of Christ’s resurrection, lifted up in mystery, and Christ’s ascension—lifted up in glory. There is clearly more to this story than what is literally written.
The cloud that takes Jesus away is an allusion to the Shekinah—the presence of God formed in a cloud that can be found in the story of Moses receiving the law, and the presence of God in the tabernacle on route to the promised land, among others. In fact, Luke’s own gospel reports the descent of a cloud that covered the mountain at the Transfiguration of Jesus. And at this event, Moses and Elijah—both of whom ascended according to Jewish legend, are speaking with Jesus at that moment about what? Luke 9:30 tells us that they were speaking of “his departure, that would soon occur in Jerusalem.” All of these elements are linked together by the symbols chosen by Luke to report this story.
Ascension of Jesus/ Neo at the end of the Matrix. The Matrix is about Neo’s Mastery of the world that he used to know as reality. Through the help of others, Neo sees the world for what it is—a complex computer program that occupies the minds of every human on earth while machines use the energy from their bodies to power their society. Over the course of the movie, Neo is rescued from the Matrix by a group of revolutionaries, then learns to voluntarily enter the Matrix and learns to manipulate it. At the end of the film, there is nothing—not even death in the Matrix, which confines Neo to the laws of the world. The last scene of the film shows Neo taunting the rulers of the Matrix and then flying off—an illustration of his newly found power.
Ephesians tells us that our Christ was able to achieve a similar mastery of the world. “The world is under his feet, and he is above all power of the world.”
Are we to gaze up at the sky and imagine similar glory for ourselves? The two men in the sky tell us no—we are to wait for the power to come from on high down to us. How did Jesus master the world? The Holy Spirit came on him in the form of a dove at his baptism—he expressed this mastery in a no-holds barred Love for the entire Creation. He then said that he had come to baptize the world by fire. Next week at Pentecost we will talk more about this fire. It is a fire of Love. He Mastered the World by loving it. He conquered his enemies by loving them. This is not mere “fluffy teddy bear love” this love is called dynamis. Greek for tangible, visible power. Fire in souls. Fire of love so tangible and real it can be seen and heard by witnesses.
And so—instead of standing there gaping at the sky—the utter mysteriousness of our Lord should not inspire us to be navel-gazers on an individual hunt for enlightenment—We are to manifest this power in community. Paul commends his followers in Ephesus for their enlightened hearts—that they have seen Christ in his glory. And what is the most glorious aspect of Christ? What is it you see on Dali’s painting of the ascension? His feet! Isaiah 52: 7 says, How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."
Feet are important to God. There are many references to feet in the Bible. In fact, a search of the word feet in the Bible turns up 229 results. Foot turns up 100 more results. When Moses met God at the burning bush—God instructed Moses to take off his shoes—that he was standing on Holy Ground—God wanted God’s creation touching God’s creation. His bare feet and the solid ground.
There’s the story of the priests crossing the Jordan on the way to the promised lands. The text says that everywhere the priests lay their feet, the water dried up and the people crossed on dry land. God told the people to take 12 stones that the priests feet had touched and make them into altars. One for each tribe. The gospels tell us that on the night of Jesus’ betrayal. The last and most important thing he did for his disciples was to wash their feet. A woman anointed Jesus’ feet and then washed them with her hair—when the disciples objected, Jesus praised her.
Yes, feet are most important in the Bible—the spot where the ascension is said to have taken place is marked by a rock with what is reputed to be Jesus’ footprint in a rock. I bet almost every person has the anonymous poem “Footprints in the Sand” committed to heart. We long for a footprint of Jesus—one to show us where he’s been. One to show us where we’re going.
The disciples ask for an answer—is it time for the Kingdom to Come—are we going to be raised up as well? Jesus doesn’t give them that information—and he forbids speculation by saying It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
It seems that Jesus wants us to pay more attention to the footprints he left all over the Gospels. Yes, Christ’s feet take him to some surprising places—and he asks us to follow.
We have not yet referred to what is perhaps the most striking single phrase in the lessons for today, however. We read it in the very first verse of the book of Acts! That opening verse is startling. It must be read with the “enlightened eyes” to which Paul refers in the epistle. “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach . . .” Now there is a verse to bring a discerning reader up short!
Did Jesus not complete everything he was sent to do? Is this not the very meaning we have just suggested that is contained in his ascension? He has finished his work! He, himself, cried out, “It is finished” when he died on the cross. What more is there to do?
Yet Luke speaks of that which “Jesus began to do and teach . . . “ Has he made a mistake in his reporting . . . or has he seen more deeply into that of which he is writing than we are prone to see at first reading? Is he not speaking of that which Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “[He is] head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all”? There is every indication that Luke, beginning his account of the “Acts of the Apostles” (also properly called the “Acts of the Holy Spirit”) is telling his readers from the start of this second volume that “the body of Christ” is now hidden within and among and through those who will go forth in his name, bearing that Good News of Salvation as his “witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Meanwhile, we are reminded by the two men in white that “this Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Between now and then we are to keep in mind that which Jesus, himself, had emphasized in his last words recorded in the Gospel according to St. Matthew: “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20b) In short, although he is gone from any one place in this world he now becomes available to his people everywhere and anywhere. His presence is not to be sought here or there, in the sacred places or in the secular places, in the expected places or the unexpected places. He is not to be identified by location any more, but he is present everywhere at once, to every person as though he / she were the only person in all of creation and yet to all of creation as though no place were without him.
Where can we look to guide us? Sometimes the footprints of a ubiquitous Spirit are hard to determine. It is easy to hear about and read about the doings of Jesus, but not as easy to apply in our own lives. Perhaps one place to look is at more recent footprints.
We should watch the feet of those in this congregation now as well. We can see the footsteps of Christ guiding them as well. We don’t just come to worship to gaze up at the sky—we come to applaud each other’s efforts to follow the footsteps of Jesus. This is much more efficiently done if we use our mouth to actually reach out and encourage one another when we see our brothers and sisters following Christ. You might have to get out of your comfort zone to make a sincere statement to someone you don’t really feel like you know that well—but our “comfort zone” might actually be another term for “barrier” if you ask me.
So bring the Good News—bring it with the enthusiasm and the passion of our Captain! That is what Christ proclaims right before he ascends to heaven. It is in this moment that his disciples become apostles. Disciples are those who follow Jesus—apostle means “sent.” Those who are sent to spread the good news throughout the land. Paul echoes Isaiah in Romans 10:15—How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good news!” In short—our feet can look like Jesus’ feet. Our feet can become his feet. We need to keep the tracks fresh so that others may follow! Jesus’ footprints lead us toward Pentecost—the outpouring of the Holy Spirit—and we must set our faces toward that destination!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Good Article for your Sunday afternoon....or whenever

The Jesus Memeby Leonard Sweet
Christians are not a perfect people. The church isn’t a perfect institution. But we worship a perfect Savior.
What, then, is our problem?
Why has tactlessness and tackiness become the Christian mark? Why has the Christian faith become so graceless, artless, joyless?
At a party, my dinner companion asked me why Christians are the ones who like to hover around the Tree of Knowledge, baiting the serpent and battling each other, instead of playing in the garden?
Why are so many people Christians today only because they found Jesus before they found other Christians?
I believe we’ve lost a down-to-earth spirituality. Over a 2,000-year period, we’ve jerked and tugged the Christian faith out of its original soil. Henry David Thoreau warned that words—when derived properly—come with the earth still clinging to their roots. But the earth has been shaken and scrubbed off the roots of our faith to the point where much of our fruit has become juiceless—as dry and sour as an old lemon.
The church may clutch Jesus to its side, but it no longer clutches Jesus to its inside. The church has embalmed Jesus in rules, codes, canonicities, and traditions that have everything to do with the church saving itself, and nothing to do with Jesus saving the world. As a friend put it, "If God so loved the world, why can’t the church?"
That’s why I’m weaning myself from talking about the church. I don’t even like to talk about Christianity. I now talk about the Jesus Meme.
What is a "meme"? It is to the social world what a gene is to the biological world. (It rhymes with "gene" as well.) It’s a design code that shapes and supports the fabric that a social organism weaves around itself—and a meme’s impact on an organism is either catalytic or cataclysmic.
With that in mind, I’m more and more convinced that some recombinant engineering needs to be done on Christianity’s memetic code to return it to its original form—the Jesus Meme.
Where have we departed from the Jesus Meme?
Christianity today is largely object based and church focused while the Jesus Meme is relation based and world focused. We aren’t being what we were created to be.
We don’t need more time off to meditate and medicate, to conference, to "re-imagine." That’s like a doctor prescribing a summer on the French Riviera for a bankrupt banker. We need a fresh outpouring of the Spirit that created the church in the first place. We need to replant the faith in the rich, biblical soil from which it’s been wrenched.
To that end, I’m now studying and lecturing on the three most definitive father-son stories in the Bible: Abraham and Isaac in the Old Testament, the Prodigal Son in the New Testament, and the God-the-Father, God-the-Son story throughout Scripture.
All three stories answer the same questions: Why did God create us? What does God want from us? What is the essence of "faith"?
The summary of the Hebrew answer: "To do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God" (Micah 6:8); the summary of the Jesus answer: "For God so loved the world..." (John 3:16).
The consistency between the Old and New Testaments is startling:
Faith is fundamentally a set of relationships—with God, with neighbor, with world, with creation. Faith in God—as well as being an encounter with the divine—is a relationship involving all of you and all that is around you.
Relationship is the essence of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, "God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity." The Trinity doesn’t deal with time, space, or matter—it deals with relationships.
Why did God create us? For relationships. God is a God of relationships. Reality can be experienced only through relationships. Hence the Hebrew concept of covenant. Hence the Jesus concept of salvation.
This is one of the things that distinguishes the Judeo-Christian tradition from other religions: God calls us into a relationship—it’s more than a wisdom tradition or a moral system or a path leading to higher and higher states of existence.
The essence of the Christian faith is as simple and complex as what physicists call a "super-string": God loves you and desires a relationship with you through Jesus, God’s only begotten Son. What’s true in physics is even more true in theology: The importance lies not in the things themselves, but in the relationships between things. Biblical thinking is less about principles and places than about patterns and relationships. Principles and places play supporting roles as nouns (e.g., "God is love.") But the main story is about patterns and relationships as verbs ("God so loved..."; "God loves you.")
What makes us human? What makes humans created "in the image of God?" In Imaging Christ: Politics, Art, Spirituality (The Villanova University Press, 1991), theologian Joseph Sittler bases his conclusion that the imago Dei "specifies a relation." Because for humans "there is no ontology of isolated entities, of instances, of forms, of processes, whether we are reflecting about God or man or society or the cosmos. The only adequate ontological structure we may utilize for thinking things Christianly is an ontology of community, communion, ecology—and all three words point conceptually to thought of a common kind. ’Being itself’ may be a relation, not an entitative thing."
COG agrees with Sittler. And what is COG? It’s the name of the first robot that emerged from Embodied AI (Artificial Intelligence). Embodied AI differs from Pure AI in that the former says that giving a machine intelligence means giving it a body that can enter into relationships. Ann Foerst—the theological advisor of the COG project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the director of its God and Computers Project—argues that "our humanity does not come from our brains or our body but from our complex interactions with the community. We are human because we must deal with other humans and the rest of creation" (Forbes ASAP, October 4, 1999).
So, the Jesus Meme is more than packets of theological information filled with objective rules or objectified rituals. The Jesus Meme is a life-or-death relationship with God through faith practices, stories, songs, beliefs, walks, ongoing traditions, upcoming technologies, and the connectedness of a social brain to the very Spirit of Christ. (The rediscovery of a relation-based spirituality is crucial to ministry with postmoderns—George Barna isn’t the only one arguing that to evangelize today’s teens we need to start by building relationships!
Which is why faith is about more than beliefs to be learned, it’s about bonds to be lived. Faith is more than holding the "right" beliefs, it’s holding the "right" (i.e., "the least of these") hands. As Christians, we’re judged not on the basis of how "right" we’ve gotten our beliefs but how well we’ve loved. The purpose of Christianity is to help people come to faith—in other words, to establish relationships with God.
And faith is accepting Jesus’ invitation to follow him.
Christian revelation is not a subjective experience. But Christian revelation is a person named Jesus who calls us into a graced relationship through faith. Each person receives a call from God through Christ. And what is the nature of that call?
Follow me.
The power of these two words will never be nuclear until they are no longer unclear. Jesus did not say "follow this teaching" or "follow this idea" or "follow this commandment" or "follow this ritual life" but "follow me" (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27; Matthew 9:9).
Follow me.
As Jesus elaborates on what "follow me" means, he reveals that it consists less in knowing this or believing that than losing oneself, denying oneself, bearing one’s cross, embracing the other, and following after him. Faith in Jesus isn’t intellectual assent to a set of beliefs but a relationship lived.
What is evangelism then? It’s inviting others into a relationship with God so that the Holy Spirit can make Christ come alive and live in them, so they can live in God’s fullness and providence. Evangelism isn’t leading people to information about Jesus or to right beliefs about Jesus—it’s leading people to relationships with Jesus.
The Jesus Meme is not a possession you wield, but a life you yield.
Follow me.
Leonard Sweet is the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at the Drew University School of Theology in Madison, New Jersey, and author of Soul Tsunami: Sink or Swim in the New Millennium Culture (Zondervan), AquaChurch: Essential Leadership Arts for Piloting Your Church in Today's Fluid Culture (Group), and A Cup of Coffee at the Soul Cafe (Broadman & Holman).

Monday, May 14, 2007

Potato Bake this Sunday

This Sunday you can be a part of our mission trip this summer to San Marcos, TX. How? By bringing family and friends to our potato bake fundraiser after church (noon).
A $5 donation gets you a loaded baked potato, drink, and dessert, and the feeling of worth that comes with contributing to something meaningful.
Tickets are for sale in advance or at the door. See you there!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Congrats to our grads! Jessica, Lawren, and Matt (Lauren and Thomas too, though they couldn't make it to chruch)

Making a Home in Christ

1 John 4: 17-21
John 15: 1-8

As we celebrate the graduation of these five members of our faith family today, as well as all the mothers in the congregation I can think of no better scriptures than the two we’ve heard about “abiding” in Christ. John’s gospel and epistle passages summarize quite well the whole Easter message into two themes that illustrate very important elements of the Christian walk. We must abide in Christ and we will bear much fruit. And, We are commissioned to love one another because God is Love.
First, I’m glad that we are presenting you with Message Bibles today, because I think Eugene Peterson’s translation of the word “abide” really nails what that word means for us. Christ says, make your home in me and I will make my home in you. Christ illustrates this by talking about the relationship of a vine to its branches.
What do you envision when Christ says, “Make your home in me?” or “Live in me?” I have had the privilege of making that parsonage right behind the church my home, and by the way, now our front yard is lush and beautiful! Over this past year, I’ve gotten to the point where I can walk down the hall at the dead of night without turning the lights on. I know how many paces it is down the hall to get to the refrigerator. Just last week, I stumbled into the kitchen at 6:30 in the morning, got out some coffee, and prepared a cup before I think I even really woke up. When we make our home, we become familiar with it inside out.
Christ invites us to make a home in him. If you have ever received a letter from me, you may have noticed that I try to take this to heart when I sign the letter “In Christ.” By signing my letter “In Christ,” I’m letting the person who I’m writing to know that I have found Christ to be a wonderful home—a spacious and warm home.
The mothers whom we also celebrate today are typically responsible for making our homes warm and welcoming. Mothers have a presence that is felt in a home when you enter. If your home is like mine, then the mother of the household doesn’t spend her career inside the home, but for many, it is the mother’s workplace. And you’ve probably heard the saying that my mom has framed in her kitchen, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”
You graduates may remember not too long ago making forts out of blankets and chairs and whatever else you could find to make a little dwelling place all your own. Did you do this? Perhaps if not, you had a tree house that your own little refuge. Do you remember that feeling you got when you hunkered down in that fort? That feeling of contentment and security? I remember it as a kind of fullness in the belly. A sense of wonder and peace—for whatever reason, when I think of the word “abiding” I think of those little forts I used to make in my room or of the treehouse that a friend and I made out in the field by my house.
Jesus asks us to “Live in him,” to “make a home in him as he makes in us.” However, the result of this close relationship with Jesus—what Peterson describes as “intimate and organic”—the result of this intimate and organic relationship is not just a feeling of security and contentment, it is fruit! Jesus tells us that there is something produced by this relationship—and the more grapes that are produced, the more the Master Gardener will prune us in order to produce even more fruit.
So what is it that the grapes represent? Truth be told, there is probably a lot of applications for this passage—and you may find that a close connection with the vine gives you more power and enthusiasm to express your spiritual gifts, which could be one way to think about fruit. But today I want to focus on something a little more basic that is a fruit of the vine. It is something that the letter of John calls to our attention today. It is simply: Love.
John asks us in the first epistle to Love our brothers and sisters because that love is itself an expression of God. That love is itself an embodiment of our Lord. That love is itself a fruit of the vine.
This part of the letter is a perfect companion to the gospel text—the theme is the same. In verse 15, John says Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God's Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. 16We know it so well, we've embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.
So, making a home in Christ—abiding in Christ—means letting God live in us. It means taking up permanent residence in a life of love.
And so, those of you who are graduating this week and making plans to move to another city or state, I ask you—are your bags packed? Are you ready to make a new residence in a life of love? The letter tells us that “everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. Are you ready for the deepest relationship you will ever have?
Today is not the first day you have been involved in that residence—in your lives as preparatory and then confirmed members of the church, you have been learning about what is involved in that relationship—you have been gathered into Jesus’ arms as he gathers the children into his lap, as he gathers his sheep into a fold.
Now though, you have the opportunity to live in this “home” with a fuller appreciation for your surroundings. You know more about “the rules of the house,” you know more about the “foundation” of the house, you have heard some of the stories of this old, wonderful dwelling place that we call Jesus. Soon you will have the opportunity to choose to make your spiritual life an important part of your post high school life. As you move into new communities, you must establish your permanent residence in the heart of Christ. This is an address that will never change as long as you practice the faith.
One other thing that John tells us about this dwelling place though. If we make our home in Christ by bearing the love of Christ, we must understand that there is literally no room in the home for fear. The last part of the letter says it best, “This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we're free of worry on Judgment Day--our standing in the world is identical with Christ's. 18There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life--fear of death, fear of judgment--is one not yet fully formed in love.”
If we put our trust and our lives in Christ, if we make our home in Christ—then fear has to move out! We don’t have the room for that ugly old furniture! Fear of death? We can toss it out! Christ lives here! Fear of judgement? Put it on the bonfire! A fearful life is one not yet fully formed in love—so if we want to live in the continually close, organic, fruit bearing connection with our Maker, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, we’ve got to get rid of those things!
And a failure to love our brothers and sisters? That is usually a product of fear as well. That is a withering vine not connected to the source! The letter tells us that if we can’t love our brothers and sisters, whom we can see—how can we expect to love God, whom we cannot see? This is the tough part, because Christ opens our eyes to see that our brothers and sisters aren’t just the people we feel comfortable with—they’re the poor and the outcasts.
Jesus shows us in his ministry that they are sometimes those people we can’t ever imagine God loving in the first place. So if you find yourself “hating” these people, chances are that you might have sleepwalked right out the front door of your home in Christ and are laying face down in the ditch! Run back into your home as fast as you can—take a shower in the outpouring Holy Spirit and get the mud out of your eyes, because God says we don’t love God unless we can love those around us! Do you hear what I’m saying?Christ gives us an eternal home, and it doesn’t start when we die—it starts the moment we declare our faith and our hope and our love for Jesus Christ. Jesus wants to live in us so deeply that he gives himself to us in the bread and the wine. We ingest these elements of communion, and as we do so, we make room for Christ to move in. We take Christ into our bodies and live lives that are nourished and informed and imprinted by his life for us. When invite Christ to live in us, we abide in Christ.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

News from Church Council

Tonight, the church council adopted a covenant for the protection of children, youth, and vulnerable adults that makes a committment to providing background checks through the Oklahoma Conference for everyone over the age of 18 who has direct contact with kids, youth, and vulnerable adults. If you're interested in more detail, we'll get you a copy of the covenant. In the meantime, if you are a worker with one of these groups, drop by the chruch to fill out the form! It is confidential, and will be filed in OKC with the conference office. It costs you nothing, and it is a good way to communicate our committment to children and youth in our community.

Also, the finance committee would like to invite the church, and especially all the contributors to the "Travel Savings Fund" to a month of discernment. The finance committee has noticed that over $3000 has been sitting untouched in a savings account for some time now as the church has contemplated the pros and cons of buying a church van. The consensus has generally been that a van's costs would outweigh its usage for our faith community. So the finance committee has proposed that we open the fund to be used for van rental and/or mileage recompensation for those willing to use their autos for church functions, including any church-related travel. (SASSYs trips, mission trips, youth trips, etc.) We know that there are many who contributed to this fund with the idea that we had the goal of getting a church van though, so we want to make sure we have every opportunity to hear from those who wish to have input on the decision. Another idea could be moving the funds to an account with the UM Foundation that would give a higher rate of return as the money sat in an account. If you wish to comment on this post, you may, or just call the church or write an email or letter. We want feedback!

Springfest/Silent Auction at Circle of Care, our UM Children's Home

Here is an email message I received and wasn't able to bring to church (since I wasn't there) this past Sunday. If you don't have plans on Saturday, consider going to Talequah to participate!

Greetings: Here is a "friendly reminder" of the upcoming Spring Fest. One new feature has been added. We will also have on display a Marine flying memorial to all Vietnam Veterans, the huge YL-37 Sikorsky helicopter. This is the big one that holds about 20 people. It was also known as the "Ugly Angel" by many, but I'm sure their hearts pounded when they heard and saw it coming. During the many missions she flew, it was fired upon many times by the Vietcong. Today she wears 54 patches over bullet holes. They operated out of every major air base in 1-Corps, S Vietnam , hospital ships and many aircraft carriers. The historic YL-37 is flown today with some of her surviving crew members, bringing to life the role in history she played to a new generation of young people as part of the "hands on" educational process. And she will be here on our campus for our Spring Fest. Come and enjoy seeing her!

Spring Fest will be on Saturday, May 12th from 1-6 PM. The event will also include: a Art Show with local artist Mike Daniel, a Car Show, a Silent Auction, music, face painting, pony rides, a petting zoo, open tours through our girl's cottages, burgers and trimmings for sale at the concessions, and ending with a Chapel service conducted by our Chaplin, Rev. Linda Pope .

I am asking that you and some of your groups help us with the silent auction before and on that day. We need donations for the silent auction, and helpers to help set up, and tally for the event. If your UMW groups, SS, UMM, or others would like to help make or gather items for this even, PLEASE... do so. Many enjoy making the theme baskets like they use at the UM Boys Ranch Rodeo, or certificates from retailers and businesses that provide services are also much welcomed. Quilts are a big seller, floral wreaths and centerpieces are also 'hot' items. Actually I've seen some very unusual items that went over well at these types of evens, so really there is no limit to what a person or group could come up with for a donation to the auction.