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Archive for the ‘Pastor’s Notes’ Category

What a GREAT Party!

Thank you, Campbell UMC!

There was such a huge group of people involved with throwing our 125th birthday party this afternoon, I am completely in awe. How lucky am I to be one of the pastors of this unbelievable congregation!

You are so wonderful, and it is a true joy to be in ministry with you. I can’t say enough how much I love you all!

Shalom – Andy B.

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Pastor’s Note – 8/24/10

I have a stone on my desk.  I got it a long time ago, so the writing on it is faded a lot.  But you can still just barely make it out, if you look closely and squint.

It says, “First.”

I keep it close to me, to remind me of the story from John, chapter 8, where Jesus calmly addresses an angry mob saying, “Let anyone among you who is without sin cast the first stone.” 

I keep that stone on my desk because there are times that I really, really want to metaphorically hurl it in the direction of some person with whom I am angry, or who I feel is in the wrong somehow, or even sometimes who is just bugging me.  Most of the time I can catch myself before I let loose; a glance at the “first stone” on my desk will remind me of that shocking story in John 8.

That story is shocking not because an innocent woman was about to be stoned by a crowd.  It is shocking precisely because the woman really was guilty of the sin the crowd had accused her of, and yet Jesus himself did not condemn her.  Earlier in the Gospel, John has reminded us that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the word, but to save it (3:17). 

And so, if Jesus himself did not come to condemn guilty people, but to forgive … maybe we should try to follow that lead.  It’s funny, isn’t it?  We can see ourselves in the crowd, we can see ourselves as the woman forgiven; but how often do we see ourselves as Jesus?  How often do we realize that Jesus doesn’t condemn the would-be stone throwers, either?

To borrow a well-worn cliché, it’s either forgiveness or it’s not.  Or said another way, forgiveness is either there for everyone or no one.  Now, that would be a shock!

Shalom – Andy B.

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Pastor’s Note – 7-26-10

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”  (Colossians 3:2)

When an athlete is experiencing a particularly good streak, she is often said to have “elevated her game.”  Or sometimes we would say he has “taken it to the next level.” 

Of course, the athlete in question is still on the same plane, feet on the same field as the rest of us, but we use the metaphor of elevation to describe something better.  Higher is, generally speaking, better – at least when it comes to metaphors.

So it is with the verse from Colossians above, and the idea of God being “up there” somewhere above us.  Of course we don’t really believe that God is “up” but we use the metaphor of “up” to describe and address God.  How many of us have gazed upward at some point in order to lament, “Why me, Lord?”

God is all around, within and among, above and below and in between.  “There Is No Place Where God Is Not,” reads the first line of a Charles Haddon Spurgeon poem.  God is everywhere, not just “above” us.  When this scripture calls us to look above in order to find Christ, I think it is using the real direction as a metaphor for “better.”  Simply put, when we follow Jesus we are supposed to live better lives than when we do not. 

And what does this “high life” look like?  Paul paints a picture with words later in the chapter: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and above all, LOVE!  Love is the force that runs throughout the elevated life in Christ, that “binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Elevate your game.  Elevate your life.  Seek that which is above, where Christ is. 

This Sunday, we’re going to talk about Elevation. 

I’ll see you in church,

Andy B.

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Pastor’s Note – 7-19-10

Sunday was Nelson Mandela’s ninety-second birthday.  Even a cursory reading of his biography amazes and astounds.  Imagine being imprisoned for 27 years, then upon being released finding it within yourself to forgive the people who held you prisoner.

In Matthew 5:44, Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  Mandela, experiencing adversity and persecution for his whole life, somehow found it within himself to show love and respect to people who otherwise might be his enemies.  The movie Invictus explores one way he did that, and convinced so many others to do so, as well.

“Love your enemies.”  It is surely one of the most difficult things Christians are supposed to do, isn’t it?  We would much rather love the ones who love us in return.   And of course, it’s not that Jesus doesn’t want us to do that, but rather that loving people who love you is kind of a no-brainer, anyway.  As he puts it (with a bit of a wry grin, I imagine), “Even tax collectors do THAT!”

To truly be doing what Jesus wants us to do, we have to love “enemies,” a very strong word indeed.  It means “hated” or “odious” or “hateful.”  One who is “hostile” and “opposing another.”  Not just annoying or grumpy or bitter people (although to be sure, we are supposed to love them too!), but people who are openly hateful.  Whoa!

            It is staggering enough to think of such an idea personally, but then consider inspiring others to think the same way, as Nelson Mandela did, and we are left shaking our heads.  But if we are to take the Great Commission seriously, to “make disciples” of all, that is exactly what we are supposed to be doing – not only loving others as Jesus loves, but inspiring others to do likewise.

            Well, let’s get to work,

            Andy B.

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Pastor’s Note – 7-12-10

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts.

            – William Shakespeare, “As You Like It”

Sometimes it is tempting to think of life as a drama that is being played out around us.  We slip into a kind of existential “role play” in order to get by from one scene to the next.  There is an assumed script for life and our job is just to speak our lines, make our entrances, hit our marks, and exit the stage at the appropriate time.

On the other hand, there are times that life seems random, even chaotic.  We wonder why things happen, we question our own choices, we seem to be tossed to and fro, blown about by trickery and craftiness and deceitful scheming.

There are people who believe that God has every single moment of every single life planned in every single detail.  There are people who believe that everything is random, guided by people’s choices and nature’s whims.

            In the movie “Stranger Than Fiction,” one man becomes a case study in free will.  Harold Crick’s life is being narrated, and he knows it.  Is the narrator describing what Harold is already doing?  Or does the narrator control Harold’s actions with her words?  Is he free, or not? 

            What does it mean to call Jesus the “Author of Life?”  (Acts 3:15, NRSV)

These are the questions, and so much more, we will be asking this week, in our ongoing series, “Campbell at the Movies.” 

I hope that you will choose to come and worship God on Sunday morning!

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Pastor’s Note – 6/1/10

Hey there, Campbell UMC,

What do worship services at Campbell and a fantastic jazz band have in common?  They will be together next Sunday morning, June 6th!

In all three services next Sunday, the music of worship will be provided by a full jazz band.  Woods Chapel United Methodist Church in Lee’s Summit has a jazz band ministry, and they will be in Springfield for the Missouri Annual Conference.  So on Sunday they will be here at Campbell to give their talent in worship.

One of our congregational directions this year is “More Connectional,” meaning cooperating with other United Methodist congregations.  This is a perfect example, bringing one ensemble in the music ministry of one UMC to the worship services of another.  We are also connected in a family relationship – our own Rev. Steve Johnson’s son plays trombone in the band!

Next Sunday is an opportunity for Campbell to display some of that phenomenal hospitality that we are so proud of.  In addition to being present for worship, extending a warm and gracious welcome to our guests from Woods Chapel UMC, and enjoying a worship experience together like none other, a special offering will be collected at each service to support this innovative ministry.  Please give generously in support and gratitude for our guests in worship.

Sunday will be swingin’! – Andy B.

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Pastor’s Note – 5-24-10

When the TV series “Lost” ended last week, millions of viewers were watching.  One thing that “Lost” did was play around with the rules of time; viewers were never quite sure if the scene we were watching was past, present, or future.  Past moments foreshadowed future events, present experiences paralleled happenings of the past, and ultimately the series ended in a kind of timeless moment that could have been any time, and every time.

This Sunday, as we continue our worship series on the Holy Spirit called “Let’s Get Fired Up,” we will also play around with the rules of time a little bit.  See, we’re going to be talking about HOPE, a profoundly future-oriented theme.  And we experience the future-focus of hope in the present moment because we recall what God has done in the past – past/present/future are all contained in this one timeless idea.

To help think about what hope is, we’ll turn to a passage in Romans 5 that tells us “…hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”  The source of Spiritual hope is God’s love.  Knowing that God’s love is given, we may envision the future with confidence, imagining the possibilities that God has in store for this remarkable creation.

In that last episode of “Lost,” just before operating on his spine, Jack says to Locke, “Everything is going to be okay.”  When Locke asks him if he really knows for sure that everything is going to be okay, Jack responds, “No, I might kill you.  I was just saying that to make you feel better.”  And they laugh.  None of us really knows exactly what the future is.  No one.  Having hope doesn’t mean we know for sure, it means that whatever happens, we’re going to be okay. 

Here’s hoping,

Andy B.

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