A Prayer for the Advent Season

November 30, 2016
 
Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ. A United Methodist pastor wrote a special prayer which is easy for individuals, churches, or families to use during this season of anticipation. This video puts his words with imagery and features narration by the Rev. Gary Henderson. Easy to watch and share as an individual, or use before or during worship.

Advent Devotion

by the Rev. Jerry Chism

Oh Immanuel, God with us, truly in this Advent season we celebrate that you are not hidden in some faraway cloud, but you chose to be with us in the blur and mystery of our lives.

In the midst of lists and rush, you are with us as a song that echoes in our minds, as the light of a candle, as a card from a friend. They are signs of your presence.

We turn to you this season and pray that you would birth joy and healing, blessing and hope in us.
Let something wonderful begin in us — something surprising and holy.

May your hand be upon us. Let your love fill us. Let your joy overwhelm us.
Let our longing for you be met on a coming holy night. Immanuel with us once again.

Amen.

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.

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A Charge to Keep have I

February 24, 2016

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A World Worth Knowing

Lenten Spiritual Practices for Action

Wednesday 24, 2016

 

John Wesley described Methodism’s purpose as a movement in this way: to “reform the nation and, in particular, the Church; to spread scriptural holiness over the land.” The Wesley brothers came to this perspective after much Bible study and prayer. In eighteenth-century England, the Church of England was the national church. The Wesleys felt, however, that it did not speak to the needs of the people or address the social ills within the nation at the time. The Wesleyan understanding of mission took shape during this era as John and Charles addressed social needs like education, poverty, disease, and mental health in their preaching and teaching.

Methodist Christians began the first Sunday schools to teach children how to read. They collected offerings to alleviate the conditions of those in poverty. In a time when medical doctors were concentrated in London, Methodist circuit preachers carried copies of Primitive Physick with them, a book by John Wesley that helped diagnose and apply medical techniques to those who were ill.

Methodists also worked to change the appalling conditions in mental institutions and jails. By proclaiming the grace of Jesus Christ, the Wesleys brought change to many of the social ills in England. Persisting in this mission remained a challenge in the lifetime of the Wesleys. John was not always welcomed in places where he preached and ministered. Other Methodists faced contempt and ridicule.

James Logan, in How Great a Flame, tells the story of Martha Thompson, a housemaid in London born in 1731. While doing errands she passed a crowd of people who were singing outdoors. She listened to the singing and then noticed a small man who began preaching to the crowd. It was John Wesley. When she returned home and told her mistress what she saw, the mistress told her to avoid Wesley because “he will drive you mad, he will ruin you.”

Martha, however, returned often to hear John Wesley preach. One day during the singing of “The Lord Jehovah Reigns,” she experienced an inner peace, which Wesley called the “inner witness of the Spirit.” She continued to praise and give glory to God, even after she had returned home. Ultimately, this led to her committal at Bedlam, a notorious mental asylum. At Bedlam she continued to witness for Christ. Thompson was eventually released from Bedlam and remained an active Methodist Christian witness until her death.

Stories similar to Martha Thompson’s were common in eighteenth-century England. Methodists were often unwelcome in society, and their words and actions brought hostility. Charles Wesley, inspired by his reading of Matthew Henry’s commentary on Leviticus 8:35, wrote a hymn of encouragement to the early Methodists who were experiencing animosity from the public.

A charge to keep I have,

a God to glorify,

a never-dying soul to save

To serve the present age,

my calling to fulfill;

O may it all my powers engage

to do my Master’s will!

Arm me with jealous care,

as in thy sight to live,

and oh, thy servant, Lord, prepare

a strict account to give!

Help me to watch and pray,

and on thyself rely,

assured, if I my trust betray,

I shall forever die.

 

This hymn offers strength and comfort to Christians of the eighteenth- and twenty-first centuries alike, all of whom have received as their calling to fulfill, “to serve the present age.” The hymn speaks to all aspects of Christian ministry and mission. Whenever we sing this hymn, we reaffirm the call of Christ to engage in ministry with the world. O may it all my powers engage to do my Master’s will!

We may pay no attention to the meaning of these words as we sing them, but they speak of our common ties with Christians around the world to bear witness to grace through word and deed. We find one of the clearest statements of God’s will in Matthew 25:31-46 where Jesus speaks about the judgment of the nations. Jesus says to those at his right hand:

Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me” (vv. 34-36).

These words express the actions that Christ wills for us. Not only are these actions a charge we have been given, they are a charge we have to keep. God invites us to find deep satisfaction in the work.

For Your Growth

Read the words of “A Charge to Keep I Have” again. Consider why you believe that God thinks the world is worthy of redemption and love. Today, pray for each of the situations on the list you created the day before. Pray that God will bring reconciliation where division exists and justice where oppression rules.

Sent by: United Methodist Communications 810 12th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37203-4704 umcom@umcom.org   |  Phone: 615.742.5400


A commitment to excellence

February 21, 2016

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal — a commitment to excellence — that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”

Mario Andretti, Race Car Driver

Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes,

because an excellent spirit [was] in him;

and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. (Daniel 6:3 – KJV)


. . . to love many things

November 18, 2015

                   “Do all the good you can,

circle.cross.flameBy all the means you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can . . . ”

John Wesley

 

 

 “It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”   Vincent van Gogh, Dutch Artist

But I will sing of your strength,

in the morning I will sing of your love;

for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

Psalm 59:16

 


A Cheerful Giver

September 19, 2015

2 Corinthians 9:7

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion,  for God loves a cheerful giver.

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“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.”

Flora Edwards, American Author


Gifts from God

July 30, 2015

Talent is God-given; be humble.

Fame is man-given; be thankful.

Conceit is self-given; be careful.

John Wooden, coach

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Devotional

June 23, 2014
Take His hand, even though it means letting go of what you are holding on to.
Please His heart, even though it may not please others.
Wait for His time, even though your desire is to get it done now.
Obey His Word, even though you hear something different that is popular.
Follow His path, even though you see a valley ahead.
Trust His wisdom, even though you want to do it differently.
Give Him praise, even though you are going through something unpleasant.
Be at rest, even though you have every reason to worry or fear.
Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand. Proverbs 19:21
by Roy Lessin