The [not so] crowded ways of life

“Where cross the [not so] crowded ways of life…”

“Where cross the crowded ways of life,
Where sound the cries of race and clan,
Above the noise of selfish strife,
We hear your voice, O Son of man.”

“Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life”
by Frank Mason North
The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 427

The text for this hymn first appeared as “A Prayer for the Multitudes” in the June 1903 and later was made into the hymn that it is today. New York City served as the backdrop for the writing of this hymn and its text showed the concern for people in poverty, workers rights, and the plight of women and children.

Rev. North was the co-author of the Methodist Social Creed (1908)* which came about as a part of the Social Gospel movement led by Walter Rauschenbusch, whose “A Theology of the Social Gospel” (1917) later codified.

Though this hymn was written over a 100 years ago, it feels as salient and needed as ever.

May we continue to hear the Voice of Christ above the noise of our day.

*historical info and details from C. Michael Hawn who is University Distinguished Professor of Church Music, Perkins School of Theology, SMU—in his article for UMCDiscipleship.org.

church #music #drone #atlanta #covid19 #atl #ngumc #umc #hymns #socialcreed

social distancing + social media

social distancing + social media // Week 2 // Lent Digital Declutter 2020

Week 2 of my Lenten Digital Declutter with some thoughts on social distancing, the difficulties of this week given the COVID19 pandemic, live streaming online church @ogumc, & our innate desire to connect with others.

#socialdistancing #digitalminimalism #digitaldeclutter #lent #ngumc #umc #atlanta

Less, But Better // a Lenten Digital De-clutter 2020

In order to have a more meaningful Lent I am resolving to do “less, but better” through a Lenten Digital De-clutter using concepts from Greg McKeown’s “Essentialism” school of thought and Cal Newport‘s writings on “Digital Minimalism.”

In what may seem strange, I’ll be writing and vlogging about it in order to keep me honest in an accountable way and to share my attempt to have a more meaningful Lent through this Lenten Digital De-clutter in order that I might do “less, but better.”

“Faith, Lived Minute by Minute”

“Faith, Lived Minute By Minute” // Dr. Nora Colmenares’ Germany reflection filmed at the Dokumentation Center in Nuremberg, Germany (https://museums.nuernberg.de/document…)
// this film is a part of a series sharing our Continuing Education group’s experience in Germany (Berlin, Chemnitz, Fürth/Nuremberg, Göppingen, Albstadt) to learn about resistance, healing, reconciliation, and asylum seekers & refugees.
Our group seeks to be “Intellectually Curious, Socially Holy, and Conscious” and to explore ways that we might help pastors, institutions, and other groups to appreciate people of difference and work together across lines of race, class, and other boundaries.
This 2 year initiative is funded through the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church’s Academy of Clergy Excellence (ACE2) Program. http://ngumc.org

“Juden” // Dr. Everhart video reflection from Germany

“Juden” // Rev. Dr. Dana Everhart’s reflection on the Garden of Exile at the New Jewish Museum in Berlin, Germany.

// this film is a part of a series sharing our Continuing Education group’s experience in Germany (Berlin, Chemnitz, Fürth/Nuremberg, Göppingen, Albstadt) to learn about resistance, healing, reconciliation, and asylum seekers & refugees. Our group seeks to be “Intellectually Curious, Socially Holy, and Conscious” and to explore ways that we might help pastors, institutions, and other groups to appreciate people of difference and work together across lines of race, class, and other boundaries.

2019 ACE Germany Tuesday (Berlin)-43

This 2 year initiative is funded through the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church’s Academy of Clergy Excellence (ACE2) Program. http://ngumc.org

Prayer for June 30th, 2019

the morning prayer written for June 30, 2019 at Oak Grove UMC
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God of love and compassion,

We gather this day to celebrate the death and resurrection of your son Jesus the Christ,
Who came and dwelt among us to show us how to live, how to love,
and how to carry out your commandment to love both you and our Neighbor.

We pray this day that you would remind us of your deep compassion and care for the poor, the marginalized, and excluded;

We pray that you would remind us of how you saw no boundary too great to cross–
that you came and transgressed even the boundary of the human and the divine through the incarnation of your son Jesus, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
AND that you invite us to tear down barriers that separate our human family.

Help us remember that you call us to even sometimes, like those faithful people in our gospel story today, to tear a hole in the roof and join in your work
to make a way where there was no way
that those who need to be found might be found in you.

We pray today O God
that you would comfort those who are separated from their families:
for children and migrants at the border,
for parents in Atlanta incarcerated and unable to see their families,
for families separated by divorce and discord.

We pray for those who feel left out by society and the church,
and we pray that through this community of faith they might sense your divine love, which is willing to literally move heaven and earth to be known to us and to know us.

We trust and lift to your divine care
all those who are receiving care and recovering in hospitals,
and those on our prayer lists who await surgery and treatment,
and for our senior pastor Glenn Ethridge and his family.

We pray for all those who have died and for their loved ones— may the families and friends know your peace and love through us.

God of compassion,
we ask that you would help us to be faithful,
to follow your call to be like Jesus,
and to be empowered by your Holy Spirit to be the church here and now.

With Your grace, heal our hearts.
With Your grace, unite us in action.
With Your grace, repair our communities.
With Your grace, help us to find a way to welcome all children everywhere,
That they (and we) may know that Jesus loves them,
Not just because “the Bible tells them so,”
But because they have known Your love in real and tangible ways,
And they (and we) would know that nothing,
absolutely nothing, can separate them from Your love.* 

We ask this prayer in the mighty name of your son Jesus of Nazareth, Amen.

*a portion of this paragraph from the UMC Prayer for Solidarity with Migrant Children, alt.

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Resiliency + Rest + Creativity

“Kids are full of life and wonder.
They’re growing.
They embody the creative spirit.
We want all these things as grownups.”
Len Wilson in his book
Think Like a 5-Year-Old: Reclaim Your Wonder & Create Great Things

It is important to practice self-care in doing this Christian life for the long haul.

It is important to have a keen sense of self-awareness and knowing when you need —it is absolutely essential to our faith and to our lives.

We need to find ways to include the contemplative in our life—practices that slow us down, and help us reflect, rest, and learn–space to be able to wonder as we wander this life and journey of faith.

For Christians, spiritual practices of contemplation, prayer, reflection, and stillness help propel us as leaders into the community—these practices of reflection and contemplation help ground us in God’s Love and in our true selves.

From this place of stillness and stability, which is found in a sense of belonging in community, we have a communal capacity to act and risk in living out our faith.

Video: Mobile Soup Kitchen On Ponce

“When you know someone by name, you give them more value.” -Daniel J. in the Mobile Soup Kitchen story that we created for Laity Sunday at Oak Grove UMC to highlight the work of Lay people and volunteers.

I’m honored and proud to have helped share this story through film.

To get involved:
Thurs 1pm: Sandwich Making in Oak Grove Fellowship Hall
Friday 11:45am: Mobile Soup delivery beings at Oak Grove Kitchen and goes to Mercy Community Church on Ponce at ~12:15/30pm — contact Virginia Sowell at virginia.sowell1@gmail.com.

Thank you Daniel, Virginia, & friends for sharing this remarkable story of mutualistically encountering welcome, kindness, & Jesus through the work of the wonderful community and people at Mercy Community Church and Oak Grove UMC.

// Music is “Human Qualities” by Explosions In The Sky.

#church #community #ponceyhighlands #Ponce #virginiahighlands #ATL #ngumc #film #story #homelessness #housing #feeding #mercycommunitychurch #umc #dslr #cinematography #canon

Name It and Claim It

The title “Half Truths” comes from Rev. Adam Hamilton’s book of the same name — but the sermons are our own here at Oak Grove. We’re talking about things that have a kernel of truth and are rooted in truth, but are used in unhelpful or inaccurate ways in relation to scripture and the life of faith. Many of these statements have become very common in the mainstream Christian language and practice: “God Never Gives you More than you can handle” — “God helps those who help themselves” — “Everything Happens for a Reason” — and this sermon looks at “Name It and Claim It,” the so called “prosperity gospel,” and what it truly means to be “#blessed.”

Listen here: http://ogumc.org/sermons/name-it-and-claim-it/