Holy Conferencing web cast

March 14, 2017

“Holy Conversations / Tough Issues”
Live Stream: March 16

at 7:00 p.m. via Facebook Live

with Bishop Jones.

http://www.txcumc.org/bishoplivevideo

Bishop Jones will be hosting a live Q&A on March 16th at 7:00 p.m.

via Facebook Live to continue the conversation from the last live event.

To participate, you will want to “like” our Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/TexasAnnualConference/.

https://www.facebook.com/TexasAnnualConference/

Please feel free to submit questions in advance to:

communications@txcumc.org.

 

Behold how good and pleasant it is when the people of God dwell in unity! Psalm 133

 

For additional information on Holy Conferencing, click on

http://resources.michiganumc.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2015/05/2014_11_03_MI_Area_Guidelines_for_Holy_Conferencing_FINAL_ver_PCE3RFSH.pdf


“The invitation is to all:” A Wesley hymn devotion for Lent

March 11, 2017

A UMC.org Feature by Joe Iovino*

March 1, 2017, Ash Wednesday

This is the first in a series about hymns during Lent. Read more about musical devotions.

 

United Methodists are likely to sing Charles Wesley’s “Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast” sometime during Lent, the weeks leading up to Easter. The hymn invites everyone to receive new life in Jesus Christ.

Some people have a spiritual gift for making others feel welcome. Gifted parents make their sons and daughters’ fiancées feel part of the family on their first Easter together. Generous students and welcoming coworkers eat lunch with those who are new. Kind church members alleviate the anxiety of parents of squirming kids by offering a warm smile from across the row.

Jesus demonstrated the ability to turn a stranger into a friend. He ate with those whom others kept at arm’s length; chose a tax collector as part of his inner circle; and made Samaritans heroes in his stories. Jesus invited all to follow him, regardless of their personal history or social standing.

Lent: A season of welcome

Lent is often understood as a time that is all about us, the people who are already part of the church. We use the season to focus on our inner lives through fasting and abstinence and spend extra time in private prayer and devotion. We attend special worship services and Bible studies where we use old words like penitence that need explaining.

But Lent is also a time of welcome.

Baptism, the sacrament through which we are initiated into the Church, was a central part of the earliest celebrations of the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. Before the church formalized Lent into a liturgical season, they used the weeks before Easter to prepare converts to be welcomed into the community of faith through baptism.

In 18th century England, some people felt welcome in the church, while others did not. Righting this wrong was part of the impetus of John Wesley and the early Methodist movement.

The first Methodists were intentional about welcoming everyone. They preached where people gathered—town squares and fields near mines. In their meetinghouses, they educated children and distributed medical care to those who could not afford to see a doctor. They also visited prisons to share the gospel of Jesus Christ there.

These ministries grew out of what Wesley taught about God’s grace. He used the phrase prevenient grace to describe the love God has for everyone, even before we are aware of it (prevenient means “coming before”).

This also meant Wesley viewed the sacrament of Holy Communion differently from many of his colleagues. He began to celebrate an “open table,” which United Methodists still practice today. This means that regardless of church membership or lack of it, all who love Jesus, earnestly repent of their sin, and seek to live in peace with one another are welcome at the table where they can begin a new life of discipleship..

The invitation in song

Charles Wesley’s “Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast,” extends the invitation in song.

First published under the heading, “Hymn 50, The Great Supper, Luke 14:16-24” in Hymns for Those that Seek and Those that have Redemption in the Blood of Jesus Christ (Redemption Hymns 1747), the song invites us both to the communion table (see The United Methodist Hymnal #616) and to enter new life in Jesus Christ (see UMH #339). Together, the two occurrences in the hymnal use only nine of the 24 verses Wesley penned. Read Charles Wesley’s complete text here.

 

“Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast” performed by Rev. Clyde McLennan,

http://www.smallchurchmusic3.com.

 

The scripture reference in the heading is a parable Jesus tells about many who decline an invitation to a banquet by giving a variety of excuses. Wesley as narrator begins in the role of the servant charged with making the invitation on behalf of the host:

Come, sinners, to the gospel-feast,

 Let every soul be Jesu’s guest,

 You need not one be left behind,

 For God hath bidden all mankind.

 

Sent by my Lord, on you I call,

The invitation is to all.

Come all the world: come, sinner, thou,

 All things in Christ are ready now. (verses 1-2)

 

Wesley wants to be sure we each know there is a place for us at the communion table and in life with Jesus. If anyone thinks the invitation is not for them, Wesley is clear,

Sinners my gracious Lord receives,

 Harlots, and publicans, and thieves,

 Drunkards, and all the hellish crew,

 I have a message now to you. (verse 13)

 

Living the song

In the verses that follow, Wesley urges us who have accepted Christ’s invitation to become servants who invite others to come to the feast and enter into this new life of discipleship. He puts these words on Jesus’ lips,

Tell them, my grace for all is free,

 They cannot be too bad for me.

Tell them, their sins are all forgiven,

 Tell every creature under heaven. (verses 17b-18a)

 

Wesley then closes the hymn with a reminder that this gracious invitation is also a call to live a new life in Jesus that can begin today.

This is the time, no more delay,

 This is the acceptable day,

 Come in, this moment, at his call,

 And live for him who died for all. (verse 24)

This Lent, as we seek to strengthen our inner lives in preparation for Easter, let us also be people of invitation. May we not only come to the table ourselves, but invite others to join us in a relationship with Jesus Christ. With the words of Wesley’s hymn on our lips, we open the doors of our hearts, homes, and churches to welcome all to know the love and forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ.

 

*Joe Iovino works for UMC.org at United Methodist Communications.

 


Welcome to our newest members

March 5, 2017

We look forward, with God’s help,

to surrounding Carrie and Roger

with a community of love and forgiveness.

 

hands-glassWe will pray for them as they will pray for us!

 


An Invitation to Join us in Worship

February 28, 2017

Our friends and neighbors here in Sabine County are invited to join

us for an Ash Wednesday Service – Wednesday, March 1.

There will be two services;

Noon

or

6:00 p.m.

Our church is just down from the flashing light stop at 181 Milam Street, Hemphill.

ash.wed.service

 


10 ideas for a more meaningful Ash Wednesday

February 28, 2017

A UMC.org Feature by Joe Iovino* February 9, 2017

Ash Wednesday is an important day in the church calendar.

It marks the beginning of Lent, a season of preparation for the celebration of Easter.

This holy day is not a holiday from work, school, or most other obligations, so if we are not intentional in our observance it is likely to resemble any ordinary Wednesday.

To help us find ways to remember the holy in the midst of our routines—something we should strive for every day—we offer some ideas to consider.

1. Worship

Many congregations offer worship services on Ash Wednesday. In a typical United Methodist service, expect times of prayer, singing, confession and pardon, a sermon, and the imposition of ashes. The somber tone helps us reflect on our own mortality and the need for us to confess our sins.

If your congregation does not offer Ash Wednesday worship, Find-A-Church will help you locate United Methodist churches that do.

2. Serve

On Ash Wednesday, we remember that we are part of the entire human family, making it a great day to serve others. See if you can serve a meal during your lunch hour, or take a personal day to volunteer with a local Habitat for Humanity project.

Your service, however, doesn’t have to be with an organized group. You might instead choose to use your lunch hour to hand out sandwiches and sports drinks to the homeless in your city. You could also mow a neighbor’s lawn, or shovel the snow from their driveway.

3. Give

We encourage you to give to your congregation, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, and other organizations that serve others. Your generosity can also be creative.

Leave your server an above-and-beyond tip—maybe a 100% gratuity. Buy the coffee of the person behind you in line. Put money in the instrument case of a street musician. Purchase a paper from the homeless woman on the corner. Find ways to bless others with that which God entrusts you.

4. Abstain/fast

Giving something up for Lent” is a common practice for many Christians. Often, we give up a favorite food or try to kick a bad habit during Lent. Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is when this begins, but don’t confine yourself to food or habits.

Can you abstain from gossip or complaining for Ash Wednesday? What about defensive attitudes, fear, or anxiety? You probably won’t be perfect at this, but being mindful of times when these attitudes begin to take hold of your day can lead you to prayer.

5. Pray your day

Rather than setting aside special time for prayer, pray your day. Pray for the drivers of the vehicles and fellow mass transit passengers with whom you share your commute. Pray as you pass the hospital, police station, and government offices. Lift up the trash collector and the mail carrier. Pray as you write a letter, email, or Facebook post to an old friend. Offer sentence prayers throughout the day thanking God for your coworkers.

6. Make something

Some of us reflect and pray best when our hands our busy, making today a great day to create something. Get back in the workshop and spend time cutting, sanding, and gluing. Sit at a piano and let the music flow. Take out the paints, glue, clay, and other supplies to create a work of art.

As you create, be mindful of our Creator who longs to be in relationship with you.

7. Be still

Others find meaning in stillness. Try a practice like centering prayer by lighting a candle and pausing before the presence of God. Take a yoga class—some churches and spiritual directors offer holy yoga. Enjoy a cup of coffee on your deck. Listen for the crackling wick, the wind, the birds, the voice of God.

8. Clean something

Ash Wednesday is a good day to get a jump on your spring cleaning. Spend an hour with the junk drawer, that cabinet at work, or organizing the files on your hard drive.

As you remove things you no longer need and reorder those you do, be mindful of the ways God “cleans” us. The Bible tells us “As far as east is from west—that’s how far God has removed our sin from us” (Psalm 103:12, CEB). As we get things in order, we remember that Jesus gave his life so that we might be free from our sins and know new life.

9. Burn something

When you finish cleaning, take some of the papers you no longer need to the fireplace, light them, and watch them burn to ashes.

The ashes our pastors smudge on us during Ash Wednesday worship come from the burning of last year’s Palm Sunday palms. They remind us of our mortality and call us to repentance—seeking God’s forgiveness for our sin, both the things we have and have not done.

The ashes you’ll generate in the fireplace are not the same, but can serve as a similar reminder that your sins are forgiven. As the smoke rises up the chimney, know your prayers and life in Christ are rising to God as well.

10. Forgive and seek forgiveness

As we pray for God’s grace, we should also seek forgiveness from those we have wronged. Ash Wednesday is a great time to go to those you have hurt.


I HAVE SEEN THE WORK OF GOD, AND IT IS WONDERFUL

February 27, 2017

Words can’t contain the wonderful work I saw God do over the course of my nine-day trip to Burundi. I will do my best to describe circumstances and events of the trip, but I am certain my words will fall short in giving God the glory He deserves for His work.

tylerbriggsTyler is top left

Tyler is the middle son of Milton and Liz Briggs and grandson of Barbara Briggs.

What did I learn?

That God had more for the Americans to learn than the Burundians. I am fully convinced that this trip was turning point in the lives of each person on our team. The lessons learned will propel each of us into a more intimate relationship with the Father and more fully devoted life of ministry than ever before.

That God loves me more than I could ever imagine – Being immersed in this ministry setting for five days was incredible. I experienced God’s love for me through each person that I encountered, through my team, through the ALARM staff, through the Burundian men with I could only communicate with non-verbally or through a translator, through worship in the Kurudni language I could not understand, through the Holy Spirit’s testimony in my heart, and through quiet moments with the Father in the morning and evening. Metaphorically it was a week-long bear hug from God!

Prayer makes difference – There has never been a five day period in my life where I have prayed more. I prayed before my feet hit the floor, prayed in private each morning as I met with father, prayed throughout the day as I made specific petitions to the Father to provide wisdom, courage, and boldness, and prayed with thanksgiving for hours at the end of each day celebration the wonderful work of God among us.

That everything we taught in Burundi, applies in America – I pray that the teachings of God’s truth impacted the Burundians, but I pray that they impacted me and the team more. The call to faithfulness that we made to the Burundians is the same call we must live out in Fort Worth, Texas. We need not travel around the world to teach and practice these things; we have a much greater and daily opportunity to do so in America.


Faithful Discipleship

February 14, 2017
vci logo

 Please join us on Saturday, February 25 for a workshop that will help us take our church communications from “good to great.”

presented by April Canik, Communications Consultant (and Assistant Communication Director for the Texas Annual Conference)

Saturday, February 25 from 9:30 – 3:00

First UMC Hemphill

 

Effective communication makes people feel valued

and provides connection to meaningful experiences and relationships.

Being a valued member in a community of believers inspires people

to share the same love and caring with others. This is what John Wesley

called a response to God’s transforming grace in our lives.

RSVP to Donna @ 787- 2183

You are blessed to be a blessing. What does that mean?

By virtue of our baptism by water and the Spirit,

God calls all Christians to faithful discipleship, to grow to maturity in faith

(see Ephesians 4).