7070 Bent Tree Boulevard Columbus, Ohio 43235
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Putting a Name with a Face

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Funny Story:

I have this uncanny way of being appointed to congregations who have just published their photo directory. For the years I’ve been in ministry, my family had not been seated for a directory photo session, nor did I have the privilege of being in the directory as pastor. That was, until, I went to Church of the Master in Westerville. Though I did not have the timeline to have my professional photo taken, I squeaked in while an outdated photo of myself to be listed on page one. It was lovely.

But every time I went to visit a person who had not been to church in a while, I got the same response. “You do not look the same as that photo!”

As much as we like to think that we do not change that much, the miniscule day-to-day changes are compounded by those who do not see us often. Multiply that by a few hundred, and you get a church community.

I get it. I do not like to be confronted by the realities of no longer being as young as I once was. I dread having my photo taken as much as the next person. But hear the words of your pastor:

There are people who want to see your face. There are people who want to know your name. There are people who will join this faith community who will benefit from you overcoming your hesitancies.

Our directory is one of the most welcoming tools we have for ministry. When a person joins our faith community, they are gifted with the names and faces that will support them just like many of you have been supported. When they welcome a new child into the family… when they have surgery… when they lose a spouse or parent… when they transition into or out of a job or marriage… You are the faces they will look toward.

We look forward to not only our new directory, but your face in it!

(Haven’t signed up yet? Here’s your chance!)

Better Late Than Never…

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I awoke at 3:15 a.m. to a phone call. The nature of the call is irrelevant, but as I struggled to get back to sleep afterwards, I did what health experts say NOT to do. I looked at my cell phone screen, and as I did I saw an email from someone who had emailed me and asked why I didn’t post a blog yesterday.

I wanted to immediately email back with a fabricated excuse (because, you know, pride goeth before the fall), but the honest truth was that in the busy-ness of the day I forgot.

So here it is. Better late than never.

On Sunday afternoon, September 8, 2019, 322 people who love Jesus Christ gathered in the sanctuary at Linworth UMC for the purpose of a church conference. Our District Superintendent, Rev. Linda Middelberg, said in jest that it might have been the largest church conference over which she has presided. We gathered for the purpose of adopting our statement of inclusion.

While not all of those gathered were voting members, and we know that not all voting members were able to be present at the conference, 97% of the votes were in favor of the adoption of our statement of inclusion. The statement reflects the hard work of the Reconciling Ministries Exploration Team, the Administrative Council, and all of the members who prayed about and engaged the discernment process.

The statement is not perfect, and neither are we. Our statement of inclusion makes us a Reconciling United Methodist Church, not a Reconciled United Methodist Church. Our work is not complete; it is just the beginning. And for many people, it took too long for us to reach this point. I wonder how often we look back upon our shared history and think something like, “why did it take us so long to realize that ____ was an injustice?” All I can think of is better late than never.

Does it make the way that we have failed to fully embody God’s love in the past excusable? Absolutely not. But it does call us to recommit ourselves to the work that we know God is calling us to, which is to broaden the reach of our mission; the ways that we share in the love of Jesus Christ through Linworth UMC.

Photo Credit Dan Mitchell/Mitchell Multimedia

Tuesday’s Monday Musing…

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baptizatus sum

The words that Pastor Gene shared on Sunday have reverberated in my heart for the last 26 or so hours. It has been said that Martin Luther used to stare at these words to remind himself of the claim of God upon his life. I’ve muttered them throughout my day today, and as I went about my daily routine, a clear piece of glass with a shell fell from my pocket. It startled me as it hit the floor with a sharp crack. Sunday I had traded my rock in for a reminder of my baptism, just like many of you did.[1]

But the work of ministry is not always glamorous, and as such I went into the sanctuary today to tidy up after Sunday’s worship. When I picked up the glass vessels which contained reminders of our baptism, I discovered that some had dropped their rock directly into the vessel instead of placing it beside the vessel.

And I stood there, alone in the sanctuary, stunned.

Sometimes in our human failing, the work of living into our baptism causes harm to others. It is like we, whether knowingly or unknowingly, drop a rock into the beautiful blue, green, and clear waters of our baptism. That rock sinks to the bottom, a reminder of the people we have excluded, the people we have ignored, and the people that, to be honest, we would rather just not be around. But we’re not honest with ourselves very often. We say that all are welcome, knowing that our own biases and experiences still exclude and harm others. To be clear, God’s work within us at our baptism is perfect. It is holy. It makes us whole. Unfortunately our humanity gets in the way of being holy and whole.

This week I am spending time carrying this glass rock in my pocket as a reminder of God’s claim upon all who submit to the life-giving waters of baptism. I hope that as we at Linworth United Methodist Church turn our hearts toward the adoption of a statement of inclusivity, we would remember the covenant of baptism which is not discriminating.

Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?

Image is a clear piece of glass, approximately the 2 inches in diameter, shaped like a seashell. It is on a plain white background and the light glimmers off of the ridges of the shell.

 

[1] If you weren’t here or did not get a chance to trade your rock… or maybe you just want a reminder of your baptism… find me! I’ve got lots of reminders left in my office!

Record Keeping

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“People used to make records
As in a record of an event
The event of people
Playing music
In a room”

– Ani DiFranco

I’ve just finished reading the memoir of my favorite folk artist, Ani DiFranco (disclosure: her music is riddled with words some define as cursing and content some define as overtly political). I love the way that she defines her work of making music as the creation of records; not in the sense of vehicles that transport music, but as in the historical archiving of a space in time.

And maybe it is the fact that I’ve just received the photos my family sat for to be included in the new directory, but as I opened the envelope I could not help but get a bit philosophical. At first response, I was frustrated that the marker on my daughter’s hands was not edited out like I had hoped for. An otherwise perfect photo capturing her personality was “marred,” in my opinion, by this flaw. But what an incredible way for me to have recorded this season of our lives together as a family! This is the season where life is moving incredibly fast and the ways in which my daughter grows and changes remind me of the wonder of life together. I will always think of her abstract marker drawings from these days and laugh about how I’m just a head with arms and legs attached, scraggly hair a sign of her affection for me.

I wonder about how we view this snapshot of our lives together as a church. Do we look first to the flaws or self-determined deficiencies and then fixate upon them? Or do we find them full of opportunity for reframing? Do we think about all of the limitations of our space, or do we dream about life in ministry moving forward? Are we so concerned about our own feelings about a vote, or do we think about what our collective vote will communicate to the community and world which surrounds us? Do we fixate on vacant seats as empty or full of possibility?

What is the record we are making? And when we look back… listen back… will we remember the truth and wonder of what was or will we fixate on how we could have done “better?”

What events in our lives are the ones about which we would like to make records?

 

Fall Garage Sale 2019

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Garage Sale

RSVP & Share on Facebook!

Each year Linworth holds two garage sales that see people from all around our community come to the church to benefit important Linworth missions.

2018 Fall Dates:

Friday, October 18th: 9 AM – 7 PM
Saturday, October 19th: 9 AM  – 1 PM

* Tent opens at 8:30 AM on both days

The Mission of the LUMC Garage Sale is to:

  • Raise money for the LUMC Youth Programming and Mission Projects
  • Provide gently used affordable items to people in the community who need them
  • Contribute items to charities (e.g. , New Life UMC, Salvation Army, Kidney Foundation…)
  • Create a sense of community

If you would like to help and join in the fun there are many volunteer opportunities available including set up, sorting, organizng, pricing, repairing, moving furniture, measuring, sizing, greeting and orienting volunteers, helping with food preparation and serving, cashiering, assisting customers, and cleaning up.

Pick Up Policy

If you would like to help by picking up items for the Garage Sale, please read the Linworth UMC Garage Sale Pick Up Policy.

Garage Sale Donations

Donate items to sell:

Furniture
Antiques/Collectibles
Housewares/Glassware/Linens
Holiday Decorations
Floral/Candles/Knick Knacks
Adult, Children, Infant Clothing
Ties, Belts, Luggage, Purses
Costumes
Office Supplies/Media
Arts & Crafts Supplies
Sporting Goods, Toys, Games
Small Appliances & Electronics
Baby Equipment
Tools/Gardening Equipment

Items we do not accept:

Large Appliances
Mattresses, Box Springs
Torn or Stained Furniture
Chemicals or Paint
Console Stereos
TVs
Old Textbooks or Encyclopedias
Cribs
Open Household Items
Garbage

We ask that any items you donate to the garage sale be clean and in working order. We will have recycling bins available for electronics that do not work and for cardboard.

Monetary and Food Donations: We serve lunch and dinner all week for volunteers and contributions of gift cards are greatly appreciated. In addition, we need cans or two liter bottles of soda, and bottled water. Other money to defray the expenses (e.g., the cost of the tent, dumpster, etc.) is also appreciated.

If you need items picked up or have any questions about the garage sale, please call the church office at 614-336-8485

Your Voice Matters

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Nestled among the shelves in my office is a photograph of one of my She-roes, Rev. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw. She was a physician. She was a suffragist. She was one of the first women ordained in the Methodist Church in the United States. She was a woman I admire both personally and professionally (and NOT just because we share a palindromic first name).

When I was little, I have such vivid memories of being dragged into the voting booth with my mom before her school/work day started. Her bribe to her children was the promise of a donut from Tasty Pastry if we behaved, and that was enough for me to sit at her feet for the few minutes it took her to cast her ballot. Now that I have a daughter of my own, I realize not only how challenging but also how important it is to take my child along with me to vote. I want her to see what I knew to be true in my upbringing. My voice matters. Hers matters.

Yesterday, August 18th, marked the day that the 19th amendment was ratified by Tennessee, giving it the ¾ majority. On August 26, 1920, that ratification was certified giving women the right to vote. The work that Anna Howard Shaw engaged would be diminished if I chose to ignore the right that I have been given. There are many alive today who remember when they, because of their gender or race, were not extended their right to vote, and I want to use my vote to amplify theirs.

As we’ve been examining our baptismal call to resist evil, injustice, and oppression, I am reminded of the ways that our faith is, inherently, political. Rev. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw knew it in the duality of her roles as both preacher and suffragist. I wonder why so many seek to separate their faith from their politics.

The words of Jesus are political in that they call us to not only be aware of but to care for those who are marginalized. The weak, the poor, the powerless, the oppressed: these are the ones who need voice. The widow and the orphan are not simply characters in the gospel story, they are people with names and with stories. Jesus is also clear about welcoming the immigrant and making space for all people to have dignity and resource.

Not only with the votes that we have but with the lives that we have, we are called to use our personhood to continue recognizing the personhood of others. Our voices matter.

There are also those within our church whose lives and whose callings are diminished and ignored, cast aside by the way we have chosen to structure the our church. Our politics are not just in the ballot booths, they also dwell among us in our pew and prayers. Their voices matter just as much as ours.

One of the saddest things as I reflect upon Rev. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw’s life is that she died just month before the ratification of the 19th amendment.

It is my prayer that those who are working and longing for equality in our country and in our church get to live into the fruit of God’s labors within us, not only knowing for ourselves but having the recognition that every voice matters. Every person matters. Every person is beloved.

Back to…

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It is that time of year again… the backpacks are packed and the lunches are packed. At least, this is the case for many students. As the back to school season approaches, we should all be mindful of that fact that returning to school is not happy for all people. No, I’m not just talking about the teachers who mourn their too-short summer breaks. For some students, summer is a reminder of lack of resources or broken families and communities. Some teachers have spent the summer caring for relatives or dealing with their own health too long neglected. Going back to school is a challenge, the doors of a building or a bus the reminder of hurts too deep to express.

That is what coming to church is for some people. The doors of a church building don’t open to the memories of a caring community. For some, the church has held abuse and prejudice. For others, the church is a place with more intolerance than a person can handle.

We try our best to support students who struggle to go back to school. We hope to provide resources for teachers and school staff who give of themselves to support educating our young people. But for those who cannot bring themselves to set foot in a church? It is easiest for us to judge their choices and perpetuate the very attitudes which keep people out in the first place.

As Linworth United Methodist Church is seeking to welcome all people in the Spirit of Christ, we have before us a statement of inclusion. For too long LGBTQIA+ children of God have been harmed by the attitudes of congregations and denominations, the United Methodist Church being no exception. The statement, crafted by the Reconciling Team at LUMC to articulate the community which has historically gathered as Linworth United Methodist Church, would serve as a way to open the doors of our congregation to those who may be seeking an accepting and inclusive community of faith.

As students and teachers head back to school, will you join me in praying them and for those who are thinking about coming back to church?

——————————————-

(below are portions of the statement of inclusion)

Linworth UMC has a rich tradition of being a welcoming place for all people to worship God in a loving community of faith…

Linworth UMC welcomes and affirms LGBTQIA+ individuals into the full life and ministry of the church. Furthermore, Linworth UMC welcomes and affirms all people regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, physical ability, socioeconomic status, or faith background as part of our community…

…Therefore, at the invitation of Christ, Linworth UMC pledges to make space for one another, welcome one another, and love one another as God first loved us. 

This Is Not Normal

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I wake up early. It is not my preference, but I wake because it is the only time I can get a good workout in or it provides the few moments where I am functional but unreachable and unneeded by anyone in my household or in my vocation.

Something felt unsettled within me as I tried to fall asleep on Saturday night. Another shooting in another place weighed heavy on my heart. I woke up a few times during the night (which is not my normal), and at 3:30 a.m. I decided to surrender and wake up for the day, reviewing my sermon and spending some time in prayer. Like most people my age, I opened up Facebook absent mindedly. A friend of mine who has just welcomed a precious, tiny daughter into the world had just posted. “It figures,” I thought to myself, “that the person with the infant updates her Facebook at 3:34 a.m.”

Except that her status read, “Praying for Dayton.”

And so I began the searching. Google took me to CNN which provided breaking news coverage.

When I got dressed and ready to head to church, my spouse woke up just enough to tell me goodbye. “I love you,” he said.

“I love you, too… and there’s been another shooting.” I replied.

“Where?” he asked.

“Dayton.”

And with the same breath we uttered our hatred toward the bloodshed that had unfolded overnight. It is interesting, my relationship with the word “hate.” We teach our daughter that “hate” is not a word we use. But in this instance, hate felt like the only appropriate response. Not hatred of a person, but hatred of a climate in which mass shootings have become routine.

Even this morning, as I debriefed some of the weekend with Pastor Jessica, we agreed that whatever actions we take, we cannot allow our own responses to become jaded by the “normality” of these shootings. We cannot let apathy in.

I thought about this friend of mine from days gone by. What must it have felt like for her and her wife to hold their tiny, infant daughter in their arms as this news broke? I imagine it feels similar to the ways I feel sick when I think about children in schools engaging in active shooter drills. It probably feels similar to the way that Pastor Jessica felt as she processed this weekend’s events with our teenagers.

Our Bishop, Gregory V. Palmer, sent out the prayer that is at the bottom of this post.

Beloved, in the meantime, however, we must not let this become normal. The events and the emotions associated with them cannot become our routine.

Let’s keep praying. Let’s commit. Let’s act.

Gracious God we confess that “it does indeed feel like too much”. We want to run and hide when we are not shouting our outrage and helplessness. Quiet are hearts and “bid our anxious fears subside” that we might respond with courage to your summons to join you in the power of the Spirit to be present, to mend and restore. We pray through Jesus the Christ. Amen. (BGVP)

Some things to spur action:

Monday Musing – Seats and Stories

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The blessing[1] of being an extrovert is the tendency to verbally process. A few weeks ago in worship after the Laos team shared a slideshow of their experiences, I stood and reminded us all, off the cuff, that a picture is just a snapshot and that behind every picture is a story… a relationship… a setting. As I sat through the slideshow during the second service, I began to think about the relationships, the laughter, the stories, the memories of those photos.

And as I scrolled through my social media feed, there was a still shot of our worship service as captured on the live feed. What I saw were rows of chairs, sparsely populated, toward the front right[2] of the sanctuary.

If someone was scrolling, like I was, who did not know the story of Linworth, what would that snapshot have said to them? I don’t remember the church being empty (because it wasn’t), but everyone was seated out of the view of the livestream cameras. The snapshot does not give a glimpse of the vitality of our congregation, the welcome that many of you have shared as the entry point into your membership, the warmth shared in the passing of the peace, the richness of shared melody, or the hum of unison prayer.

Not only for the ways that those on the livestream see us, I wonder how we would be strengthened in our community if we moved forward in our sanctuary, choosing to sit together. Sure, sitting in close proximity may not always be comfortable. You certainly wouldn’t want to make eye contact with the preacher!! You may be closer to a squirmy kiddo than you are accustomed. You’re brave enough to leave the seat that you’ve known for the last two decades.

As I was talking about the seemingly empty seats in the front with a staff member, we immediately geeked out about a sociological concept coined by Émile Durkheim. The concept of collective effervescence states that a community can come together to communicate the same thought or participate in the same action.

I wonder how God’s Spirit may be felt differently with a change in our seating. A simple shift forward may propel not only the collective posture of the space but could draw us together in ways we cannot yet understand. The individuals gathered for worship could become a worshiping body, participating the same action of praise and thanksgiving to God, the collective effervescence coalescing us into the Body of Christ gathered at Linworth UMC.

So be brave. Move up. Scooch in. Rub elbows. And most importantly be energized by our worship to go out into the world as a servant of God’s grace.

 

 

[1] I know that not everyone thinks that verbal processing is a blessing. I can handle it. I talk too much sometimes.

[2] Stage right. Once a theatre nerd, always a theatre nerd…

ALL of Us.

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Growing up, our church bulletin listed the worship leaders each week. Next to the title “Pastor” was listed the name of the clergy person serving our congregation. Next to the title “Ministers” was the word: All.

One of the reasons I am a United Methodist is our very robust understanding of ministry. Ministry is not limited to the vocational work of the clergy. Ministry is the work of all those who are disciples of Jesus Christ. In fact, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church dedicates an entire section to “The Ministry of All Christians. Para.126 reads:

“All Christians are called through their baptism to this ministry of servanthood in the world to the glory of God and for human fulfillment. The forms of this ministry are diverse in locale, in interest, and in denominational accent, yet always catholic in spirit and outreach.”

I had an interesting conversation with someone after worship a week ago about an exciting ministry opportunity. This wonderful daughter of Christ said, “Well we’re so excited you’re here to do it!” I replied, “I’m here to give you what you need to do that work!”

I think it took her aback for a moment. Too often we think of the “work of the church” to belong to the clergy alone (and the church staff by extension), when in reality each of us is called to engage in ministry that is diverse in interest and (as the B.O.D. states) denominational accent.

I love that this statement is not limiting to us in the United Methodist Church. We believe that any person who follows Jesus has an important part in the work of the Church Universal. If we think that we get to just sit back and let someone else do all the work, we’re not fooling anyone!

So I wonder what your ministry is, believer. What are you feeling called to keep doing? What are you feeling called to start? What resources or support do you need to engage your heart’s work for Jesus? It does not have to be something big and spectacular, but it does have to be something.

We’re all in ministry together. Each of us. All of us.

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