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Monday Musings

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.


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.

Sharing Songs and Stories

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Today I was immediately transported back to Camp Trinity on the outskirts of Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where Mrs. M., Mrs. C., and many other faithful leaders led the Vacation Bible Schools for the years that I was young. I stood in the back of Linworth’s sanctuary and watched my own small daughter mimic the motions of the big people around her, my heart sang.

After the opening, a few awesome VBS volunteers and I stood around chatting about our own childhood experiences. Longer in the past for some, the memories are still vivid. The communities in which we were raised imprinted upon us not only the stories of Jesus, but the sense of community which is meant to accompany the Gospel.

I’m astounded at the number of volunteers and the amount of energy the facilitating not only one, but two VBS sessions this week takes. It is a sight to behold, and I hope you’ll think about joining us in volunteering and in worship on Sunday. You, too, will get to lean on the everlasting arms with some new motions. And when you do? Think about the little voices that join you in singing. She is a 4 (and a half) year old who may be president someday. That shy guy? He may be your surgeon. The rowdy ones who cannot keep herself off of the steps of the chancel? She may be your pastor someday. The group of troublemakers in the back? They may be the community organizers which finally bring about the change that you’ve waited your whole life for. And the best part? They will do it all with the foundations of faith and community that they learned here: from us at Linworth United Methodist Church.

Monday Musing

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“You never regret a completed workout.”

Now… I’ve been pretty serious about my physical health for a while, I have never found the phrase above, meme-worthy as it is, to be wrong. There has not yet been a time that I haven’t been thankful that I at least did something to better my health.

So yesterday afternoon as I was perusing my social media, a friend posted the following:

Take your kids to church.
Make the effort. Wake them up early. Fool with the belts and the buckles and the fancy hair bows. Endure the sleepy, grumpy faces and the misplaced shoes. Run around like a mad woman gathering everybody’s everything and trying to get out the door on time. Hop to the car with a shoe in one hand and your make-up bag in the other. Give those babies a pop-tart and some milk and let ‘em eat it in the car. If its raining, get wet. If its cold, get a jacket. If you’re tired, go tired. But take those babies to church. You know why?
Because Jesus is there.
He’s there. And He’ll meet them there. And you too, Mama.
He’ll be there in the sweet smile of their Sunday School teacher as she greets them into their room. He’ll be there in the goldfish and the apple juice and the filling of their little bellies and hearts. He’ll be there in the hug from a sweet friend and the encouraging smile that assures you that they “just barely made it” too. He’ll be there in the sacred words read from the Bible speaking truth to their little impressionable hearts. He’ll be there in the worship and the raised hands and the watery eyes and whispers of praise.
So take them. Carry all of their Bibles and drawings and toilet paper tube creations. Sit by them in worship. Open your Bible and open theirs. Show them how to find the scripture the pastor is preaching from. Show them how to worship. Explain to them why He’s worthy of worship. Let them see you laugh and cry and praise and study. Forgive their wiggles and paper rustles and know that they’re listening even when it seems like they aren’t. Ask them questions and answer the ones they ask you. Introduce them to Jesus. Tell them of His greatness – his power – his faithfulness. Tell them with your words and show them with your life. Tell them what he’s done for you and how you’ve been changed by His grace and forgiveness and goodness and love. Tell them how they can be too. Point them to Jesus. Over and over and over again.
Take your kids to church. They’ll love it there. It’s the only place where they can go and just be themselves. They don’t have to “be” good enough or smart enough or athletic enough. They don’t have to perform for approval or achievement. They just get to go and hear how much God loves them. Just because they’re them. Just because He created them, they’re valued. Wanted. Their worth isn’t based on the grades they make or their ability to throw a curveball. Its not dependent on their performance or skill level. And they need a little more of that, don’t you think? A little more grace and a little less pressure. A little more love and a few less demands.
Take them to church. Before you take them to the ballfield or the dance studio or the gym. Before you take them on vacation or to grandma’s or to the backyard to play. Take them to church. Let them know its a priority. Show them it has eternal value. Let them see you set aside schedules and extra curricular activities and work and busy-ness to be present with the Lord in His house. I promise you won’t regret it. I promise you it won’t return back void.
Take them to church.
I promise it’s worth it.
“But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 19:14
© Megan Breeland Woodham, One Step Ministries


Being a pastor and all, I do not often get to experience this part of parenting. My fantastic spouse bears the Sunday morning responsibility of getting himself and the unpredictable little human with whom we live to church (and does so wonderfully, I might add). I try to leave the house before either of them are awake to take my own unpredictable self out of the chaos equation.

This was not the case yesterday. With my spouse out of town my poor kiddo got dragged out of bed earlier than normal to join me on the pastor schedule of church life. She was early into the office, sat through the worship prep. meeting, dutifully engaged the childcare staff for two services, sharpened pencils through an after worship meeting, and then ate a metric ton of pizza with the youth group. I don’t know who was more tired: her or me?! But you know what?

I don’t regret it.

It is hard to get kids to church. The post above reminds us. I would venture to guess that whatever stage of life you’re in, it is hard to get to church. You may have a body that hurts. You may have this one morning to rest up or sleep in. You may have other opportunities for community. You may have had a long week leading up to Sunday. You may have a long week facing you after Sunday. You may have been up too late the night before. You may have been up too early. You may not like to drive. You may not have someone to drive you. The list could go on forever.

But you won’t regret it.

The same way our bodies need a balance of rest and exercise, our souls need rest and exercise, too. I hope that in this faith community you find the ways to not only exercise your soul but also the place to rest and worship. Whatever is pressing in upon you that keeps you from worship, I hope you make the choice[1] to come. You won’t regret it.

… because if you’re not here, we miss you.

[1] Ask me sometime about the choices I make to allow a 5 a.m. run to happen. I do things like sleeping in my running clothes, set multiple alarms, and bribe myself with coffee, just to name a few.

Unpacking it All

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Well, I think I’ve unpacked almost everything in my office that needs unpacking. What I haven’t unpacked yet, however, is all that resides in my heart. It is tremendously difficult to leave a congregation as pastor, and it is an incredible honor to be welcomed by another. The past few weeks have been a roller-coaster of emotions for me. I think that more often than not we are spending more time trying to move past whatever emotion we are experiencing instead of recognizing that emotion for what it is and what has brought us to experience it.

So for now, instead of some great theological musing (because it is my hope that we have plenty of opportunity for that in the weeks, months, and years to follow), I’ll just leave you with a note of the humble gratitude that my family and me share after our welcome into the community of faith at Linworth United Methodist Church!

Draw the Circle Wide,
Rev. Anna Guillozet ~

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