Jim McDonald's blog

To Delight in the Child

When we begin life's journey, we ask or wonder about two questions.

The first is "who am I?" This question also gets raised at others times in the afternoon and evening of our lives, but here at the beginning, we wonder if we are wanted here in this place. Is this a safe place for me to flourish, to pay attention to my gifts?

Let up without letting go

This month Mother Nature let fly many arrows from her quiver. From multiple hurricanes, to the recent earthquake in Mexico, to the record heat in our own backyard, we continue to be reminded that life can often be unpredictable and messy.

The Evening Time of Our Lives

This month we have watched in sometimes shock and sometimes awe at how nature can inspire both fear and wonder in us. We continue to send our thoughts and prayers to those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Due to the overwhelming response to the UMCOR donation challenge, the Mission, Justice and Community work area is once again offering a matching grant challenge of up to $2,500 for donations to disaster relief through UMCOR made starting this Sunday through the end of September. Thank you for your support of this important ministry.

Dancing with the Saints

This past week we all watched with dismay and sorrow the devastation created by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey as it hit Texas and moved across the state to Louisiana. The images of homes and towns completely covered in water were almost overwhelming. Yet among those pictures we also saw those of neighbors helping neighbors, of first responders carrying victims to safety and of strangers reaching out to save others.

When Two Worlds Collide

This Sunday, we will be reflecting on 2 Samuel, Chapter 18, where David receives word of the death of his son Absalom - a son he loved dearly, but who had become a rival against him.

This ancient story of anguish relates to life today, where we are often called to step between two worlds.  First, there is our "taken-for-granted" world of everyday expectations and responsibilities; and then there is the other world, that sometimes collides with this, when we receive word of a tragedy, or the death of someone with whom we are close, that takes our breath away. 

Trust and Esther

This week several of our youth traveled to United Church of Rogers Park in Chicago to help with their annual Summer Camp for neighborhood children. This mission ministry is a wonderful opportunity for our youth to share their faith, time and attention with a new generation.

Finding Your Voice

This week things were quiet at church as many staff, youth and adults made their way to Wesley Woods for our annual Church Camp. We had such a great turnout this year, we needed three buses to get everyone there! The campers spent the week. Branching Out as they learned that they are always connected to one another and to God by Christ through Bible study, games and music. We were excited to welcome everyone back home safely this morning.

Watch While Weeding

Did your father ever try to teach you a lesson by telling you a story that maybe wasn't quite clear at the time, but sooner or later you realized how it spoke to your life? Parables are often like that; a simple story that reveals an unexpected truth. Jesus often used parables to communicate his message. Sometimes his parables were fairly straightforward and other times they were more allegorical.

The Walls Come a Tumbling Down

This week marks the start of Pentecost, the season in which the spirit of God broke down the walls that create misunderstanding. Whereas there are those who want to build walls, Pentecost runs counter to that seeking to promote understanding and acceptance amid diversity. On Sunday morning, I will preach on the Pentecost Story found in Acts chapter 2.  We often read this story in truncated form focusing on the spirit that created understanding, but forget to mention the economic dimensions to Pentecost, how the sharing of gifts created a new community.

Random

Typically, when I read through a scripture passage for preaching, I get bored. Not because I'm a rebellious type, though I guess I am of sorts, but more because I'm always looking for fresh ways to explore meaning. So after reading Matthew 13:1-9, The Parable of the Sower, for this week's sermon, "Random," I wondered what would happen if I lopped off the interpretation of this parable and just focused on the story, hence the term random. And there came a sermon.

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