John Wesley Quote

In his commentary on John 1:14 John Wesley writes this.  It is a great summation of our faith and what we believe.  It gives us a firm theology of Jesus that is expressed in John’s first chapter.

“Flesh sometimes signifies corrupt nature; sometimes the body; sometimes, as here, the whole man. We beheld his glory – We his apostles, particularly Peter, James, and John, Luke ix, 32. Grace and truth – We are all by nature liars and children of wrath, to whom both grace and truth are unknown. But we are made partakers of them, when we are accepted through the Beloved. The whole verse might be paraphrased thus: And in order to raise us to this dignity and happiness, the eternal Word, by a most amazing condescension, was made flesh, united himself to our miserable nature, with all its innocent infirmities. And he did not make us a transient visit, but tabernacled among us on earth, displaying his glory in a more eminent manner, than even of old in the tabernacle of Moses. And we who are now recording these things beheld his glory with so strict an attention, that we can testify, it was in every respect such a glory as became the only begotten of the Father. For it shone forth not only in his transfiguration, and in his continual miracles, but in all his tempers, ministrations, and conduct through the whole series of his life. In all he appeared full of grace and truth: he was himself most benevolent and upright; made those ample discoveries of pardon to sinners, which the Mosaic dispensation could not do: and really exhibited the most substantial blessings, whereas that was but a shadow of good things to come.”

And all God’s people said AMEN!

3 Simple Rules #3 Stay in Love with God – Sermon

John 21:15-17 & 19
3 Simple Rules
Rule #3 – Stay in Love with God
09-23-12
I have the pleasure of doing a wedding in a couple of weeks.  The doe-eyed couple came and sat down on my couch in the office and I asked them about what their plans were for their wedding.  I asked them the question I ask all couples when they come to me wanting to get married.  I ask them, “So why do you want to get married?”  It is a simple question but you would be surprised on how many couples stumble over it.  This maybe the first time someone has ever asked them point-blank why they want to walk down this path.  By the way the correct answer to that question is “because I love him/her and I cannot imagine my life without him/her.”
During my little homily at a wedding I will remind the couple that marriage is hard work.  Marriage is something that is worked on.  We usually have this Hollywood idea about marriage.  We don’t realize that to live with someone for the rest of your life is hard work.  If someone told you that to walk hand in hand with someone for the rest of your life would be easy and that you can boil marriage down to “happily ever after,” is a complete and utter lie.  It takes dedicated, stressful, and at moments almost impossible work to stay in love with someone.  I know a couple that when they are at the end of their rope with their spouse they will look at them and say, “I love you but I don’t like you right now.”
We laugh and we giggle.  You might have chicken winged someone sitting next to because you heard the truth.  If you understood what I was saying and you agree with me then can I get an Amen?  If we all agree that staying in love with a human being is hard work, then why do we think it is easy to stay in love with God? 
There are people in this world that think when you become a Christian life gets real easy.  There are some preachers who sell that idea too.  But the truth is it is extremely hard work.  For the last two weeks we have talked about what it would be like to walk faithfully through life as a follower of Jesus Christ.  As United Methodists we point to the General Rules as a guide on how to live out our faith.  Those rules are; Do No Harm, Do Good and today we talk about, Stay in love with God. 
The more historic way of saying rule number three is “attending upon all the ordinances of God.”[1]  We usually think of ordinances when we think of Home Owner Associations.  It reminds us of a bunch of rules that we are not allowed to do in the neighborhood we live in.  But as Bishop Job put it in his book; “Ordinance is a strange word to our ears.  But to John Wesley, it was a word that described the practices to keep the relationship between God and humanity vital, alive and growing.”[2]
Then there is a list of practices that if we do on a regular basis our relationship with God can stay vital, alive and growing.  If we do these things then we will have the strength and ability to go through life without doing harm and spend it doing good. 
Let me read you what it says in the good book, The 2008 Book of Discipline;
                Thirdly: by attending upon all the ordinances of God; such are:
                                The public worship of God
                                The ministry of the Word, either read or expounded
                                The Supper of the Lord
                                Family and private prayer
                                Searching the Scriptures
                                Fasting or abstinence
There is your recipe for a healthy relationship and the ability to stay in love with God.  It is only that simple.  Like the other two rules, it sounds so simple but it will take a mature, deep and committed faith to live this out.  But these ordinances are important because as we do them we are reminded that God loves us and we fall into deeper love with God.
My youngest sister, Jodie, got involved with a group called Team in Training.  They do running and bike races all over the US to raise money for Leukemia and Lymphoma research.  My grandfather is a lymphoma survivor and Jodie decided to push herself to run a half-marathon in his honor.  She caught the running bug and soon my second youngest sister, Jean, decided to join her.  Now years later she has talked my oldest youngest sister, Julie and my mom to run a half-marathon as well.  (Yes by the way you caught that there are actually four kids in my family and my parents named us [in birth order] Jim, Julie, Jean and Jodie)  Now a half-marathon is 13.1 miles.  I know some people who if they wanted to go run a mile they could hop off the couch and do it without any problem.  But to run 13.1 miles is a little different.  That will take something called training.
We need to do spiritual training as well.  When we do these ordinances we are doing that spiritual training.  Since you are here this morning you are participating in the first way to stay in love God and that is joining in on a public act of worship.  When we gather together to worship God we are professing our love for God.  Who doesn’t want to hear they are loved?  We do this by singing to God our praises, offering up our sacrifices, i.e. money, and we have a conversation with God by going to him in prayer.  We do this in community with one another because Christianity is not a solidary religion, it is a community and so we gather as this community each week to fall in love with God and to express our love for God.
We also need to be reading God’s word.  We either need to be reading it or we need to be reading or listening to people’s opinions on it.  The Book of Discipline states that we need to read or expounded.  Expounded means to present or explain systematically and in detail.  There are these things called commentaries out there that do just that.  Commentaries go through the Bible and give you history, relevance, purpose, background and other meanings on what was written and why.  They can give you insights that you never knew and can take your understanding of scripture deeper. 
John Wesley was listening to the preface to the book of Romans that Martin Luther wrote when his heart was strangely warmed.  One of Wesley’s strongest moments of assurance and grace was felt as he was listening to someone read the Luther’s preface to the book of Romans.  [did you hear that, the PREFACE TO THE BOOK OF ROMANS, YAWN!!!]  God works in mysterious ways.  It is important to hear the opinion of scholars, theologians, church fathers and mothers talk about how they read the scripture.  It can give you insights you may never have dreamed.
The next ordinance is the Lord’s Supper.  In a couple of weeks it will be World Communion Sunday and the whole world will be coming to the Lord’s Table to feast at the heavenly banquet.  Like I have said as we have had communion here, John Wesley saw it as a means of grace.  It is a real and tangible way to come in contact with God.  There are two main ways that happens in the United Methodist Church.  It happens in our sacraments, Communion and Baptism.  If we are going to stay in love with God we need to come in contact with him…we need to feast with him.
The next is prayer, family and private prayer.  I am a firm believer that if you want your children to grow up and know how to pray then you need to mirror that in your own life.  Family prayer is important because it is time take, together as a family, to stop before a meal or before bed and to give thanks, lift up people who need prayer.  It is important because without communication any relationship will fall by the wayside.  You cannot expect to have a deep and committed marriage if you don’t talk.  You cannot raise a child if you never talk with him or her.  Communication is what prayer is all about.  It is telling God about our worries and our praises but then it is also take time to stop and listen for God’s response.  Show me someone with a strong prayer life and I will show you someone desiring what God desires and feeling close to God.
Searching the scriptures sounds a little daunting but it is getting into the word of God to find out the answers you seek.  If you are struggling with something there are pieces of the scripture that can help you out.  If you are struggling with doubt or questions about your faith, then look up the story of Thomas, some of Exodus, or read some of the Psalms.  If you have grief and worry then read Lamentations, Isaiah, the Psalms, or some parts of Matthew’s gospel.  There are ways the Bible can speak to your questions and concerns.  But one way NOT do it is simply open up the Bible and ask God to provide a message to you by stopping on a certain page and then placing a finger down on the page.  I am not saying God cannot work that way, but God gave us brains and the ability to think and so we can look up themed passage in the back of some study Bibles or in Bible Concordances.
This last ordinance is not a favorite among many Americans.  I say this only because it seems to go against our culture’s nature.  Fasting and abstinence are not really things our country was founded upon.  We are a country of plenty and the idea of doing without doesn’t gel quiet right.  How does not eating to connect deeper with God make sense in a culture that can super-size any meal we like?  How does abstaining from something make sense in a culture that says you can have it now if you want it?  They don’t but that is one reason why these can be so powerful to us. 
Let me walk you through the spiritual disciple of fasting.  Fasting is the act of giving up food for a certain period of time or on a certain day of the week or at a certain meal.  I know some people who fast every Ash Wednesday and do not eat anything until after the Ash Wednesday Service.  This gives them the right mindset as they go into the holy season of Lent.  I know others who will give up lunch on Wednesdays and the money they would usually spend on lunch they give to the church’s ministry to the hungry or to a local soup kitchen.  The key to fasting is as you feel hunger you realize how blessed by God you are and remember those who do not eat in our world.  This can give you great insight and a deep way to connect with God.
These are the ordinances, the ways, the spiritual disciplines that John Wesley encourages us to do to stay in love with God.  These are ways we can train our souls to be close to God.  Think about some things that you should have some training with before you actually do it.  Operating heavy machinery?  You need training.  Electrical work? You need training to stay alive!  Driving?  We want people trained how to do that before they get out on the road and there are some people who need to go back and get some more training.  Putting in an IV?  Anyone who has watched or experienced a nurse put in an IV knows that they need to be trained.  If not your arm will be black and blue and it will hurt like the dickens.  If all of these aspects and even more need training than our daily walk with God, the creator of the world, needs training too.
As we walk through life hand in hand with God we will need to push ourselves, train ourselves, motivate ourselves to stay in love with God.  We will have to be in love with God if we are going to be in the world and not do harm and do good.
In today’s scripture the Resurrected Jesus is on the beach and he calls out to the disciples who are fishing.  They have fished all night and didn’t catch a thing.  Jesus tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat.  When they do they catch more fish than they can haul in.  The disciples realize it is Jesus and are overjoyed.  So much so that Peter put on clothes and jumped into the water (we will expound on that scripture at another time).  They eat a breakfast of fish on the beach and then Jesus turns to Peter and asks him three times, “do you love me.”  After Peter answers yes three times, Jesus repeats, “Feed my sheep.”  What is interesting about this text is that it seems to be a throw back to Peter’s denials of Jesus.  How many times does Peter deny he knows Jesus on the night of his trial?  3.  How many times does Jesus ask Peter if he loves him?  3.  Jesus really wants Peter to love him.  He wants to make sure that no matter what will happen in the rest of Peter’s life that he will always love him.  Peter does but Peter also goes through some tough stuff which in the end gets him crucified upside down. 
Jesus wants you to love him as well.  He wants you to go out and feed his sheep too, by doing no harm and doing good.  To love God in a moment is easy.  To stay in love with God through a life time is hard and dedicated work.  The three rules we have gone over these last three weeks will guide us in living out our faith in our daily lives.  It takes a lot of work and a deep faith, but being a follower, believer, and lover of God is never promised as something easy.  Are you willing to abide by these rules and live them out to grow closer to God and to be God’s love for this world?
Let us pray…Teach us today to do no harm, to do good, and assist us so that we may stay in loving relationship with you and our neighbor.  Help us today to be an answer to another’s prayer so that we may be one of your signs of hope in the world you love.[3]  Amen


[1]2008 Book of Discipline, ¶ 103, p.74.
[2] Job, Rueben, 3 Simple Rules. Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2007. P.53
[3]Prayer from the bookmark in the book Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living by Rueben P. Job.

3 Simple Rules #2 Do Good – Sermon

3 Simple Rules
Rule 2: Do Good
John 13:34-35 & Ephesians 2:8-10
09-16-12
When I was planning my preaching schedule for the fall I was not aware yet that homecoming was always the third Sunday of September.  I know now and next year I hope we can have a guest preacher come in maybe along with some great music as well.  Today though we will be sticking with this sermon series entitled 3 Simple Rules.  This is a three week look into the General Rules of the United Methodist Church which are; Do No Harm, Do Good and Stay in Love with God.
Last week we talked about do no harm.  I mentioned that doing harm is reactive, it is how we interact with the people we come in contact with on a daily basis.  If we are to live out the calling God has in our lives then we have to learn to react to life, to people, to situations by first doing no harm.  It can be a hard concept to wrap our heads around and the live out.  The rules sound easy, but like I mentioned last week, it takes a deep, mature and solid faith to follow it daily.  That is the same thing with this week’s rule, do good.
It sounds so simple it is almost silly, do good.  But then you hear a quote that many people attribute to John Wesley, the founder of our denomination, “Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.”  Well then that just gets a little more complicated then doesn’t it.
Where the first rule, Do No Harm, is a reactive stance on life, the second rule is proactive.  To do good means that we do not wait to do good, it should be something that flows out of us naturally and consistently as followers of Christ.  We see that in the scripture passages I read today.  In the John text Jesus says, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  Jesus is saying that if we are to be his followers, if we are going to go through the process of sanctification which makes us more Christ-like, then we will have to love like he loves.  Our love for our neighbors should lead us into life and doing no harm should be how we react to life.
We are created for this love.  It is something that is imbedded deep within us that needs to come out.  We have to learn to understand that we are created to love.  The Ephesians text shows us that because in verse 10 it states “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  God has created us in his image and placed in our DNA the ability and desire to love like he loves. 
Growing up I had a hard time swallowing meat.  Some of the tougher meats like pork chops and steak I would chew and chew and chew but never swallow.  I would fake having to go to the bathroom sixty times during dinner and somehow miraculously all that meat that I had packed into my cheeks was gone when I returned to the table.  My napkins were about twelve pounds heavier at the end of the meals with all the meat I tried to hide in there.  My parents would get so frustrated with me but eventually I grew out of it.  Recently I have noticed a trend in our daughter, Campbell.  My parents were over this week and we had some of those steamed whole green beans.  These are a little tougher than the cut green beans tend to be.  Campbell had finished most of her meal but she still had some beans left on her plate.  We encouraged her to eat them and she took a bite or two.  Then I look over and she is still chewing and chewing and chewing.  I asked her to show me the beans and she opened her mouth and showed me a wad of mashed up green beans packed into her cheeks.  My dad busts out laughing and I realize that this apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
I am sure there are moments when you have looked at your children or your grand-children and you stopped dead in your tracks because they were doing something that is just like you.  They had a reaction, they said something in a certain way or gave you a look and you knew that it had to be your DNS shinning through.  I wonder if God has those moments with us.  I wonder if God sees us doing good works and he sees himself in them?  I wonder when we are living out our faith by doing no harm and doing good if God smiles because he knows we are finally getting it and his image is shining through us in those moments.
We have to be careful though.  There is an idea out there that we can earn our way to God’s love through good works.  If we simply pile up more good works verses our bad works then we will be okay when we die.  But that is not true.  The good works we do does not earn God’s love but is an outpouring of the love that God has for us.
Did you all get that, I want to make sure that part is very clear.  As the Ephesian’s text starts off, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”  We receive salvation; we receive justifying grace; through the free, unmerited, unearned grace of God.  It is not something we can earn if we simply do a check list of things.  Salvation is free for all.  Where good works come in, is how we live out this free gift we are given.  Once we know that we are loved by God and crave to be like his son, good works flow out of that.  We do not do good works because we want to earn God’s love but we do good works because we are loved.  It is out of our faith and our love for God and our neighbor that good works should flow freely out of us.
But there are some things you have to give up in order to do these good works like God wants us to.  We have to give up control.  We give up control because God doesn’t define who good works should be for.  His love is for everyone and so our love, our doing good, should be for everyone.  It is easy to do good for those who look like us, act like us, and think like us.  It gets much harder when we are pushed to do good to those who despise us, don’t think anything like us, and look and act nothing like us.  Then doing good becomes really hard.  It becomes really hard because we no longer have control over who gets the good works.  We cannot pick and choose and we love to pick and choose.  But God’s love is for all and God chooses us to be the tools to share that love with the world, so we have to learn to relinquish control and do good to everyone.
At our culture’s core we are a WIFM culture.  WIFM stands for What’s In it For Me.  We want to know the purpose and guarantees of doing good before we do them.  If I help this person out will that person help me out later?  We are comfortable doing good within a certain predetermined boundary that we agree to because then we are not pushed beyond our comfort zones.  We tend to do good as long as we can control it and we can figure out how we can benefit from that act of love.
The truth is that to do good is a direct command from Christ and a serious challenge to all those who seek to follow him.  Doing good can “not be limited to those like me and those who like me,”[1] it has to be for everyone.  We should not have to wait to see if a cause or a person is worthy, it should flow naturally out of our faith in the one who came to save us and them.
But how do we get to a place where we don’t put ourselves first and learn to live as Christ lived?  The best way to do that is to figure out your true-self.  I know that sounded very Oprah didn’t it.  But we are all created by God and we all have the image of God in us.  The good news is though we are all different and have different talents, gifts, and abilities.  What I am good at is not what you may be good at and what you are good at I may be horrible at.  God has created us this way so that as we work together we do the best work possible.  As we find out what our gifts, talents and abilities are we learn how we can do the best good in this world.  When we find our God created self and share that with others, God’s love and good works are done.  Then it doesn’t seem like work, because it flows naturally out of our faith in God and how God created us.
I hope this past week you looked at how you reacted to the people and situations you encountered and asked yourself, “will I do harm by reacting in this way?”  This week I hope you will look towards ways you can share the love of God that is inside you with those of this world, even those who seem not to even be worthy of it.  Look deep inside to see who God created you to be and what he is calling you to do to share his love with this world.  Each week we pray, “thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.”  We can participate in the Kingdom of God in the here and now, not just in the life to come.  We do so by first doing no harm and second by doing good.  Next week we will learn how we can receive sustaining power to continue these first two rules.  But until then, may you do no harm this week and “Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.”
And all God’s people said…Amen.


                [1]Job, Rueben Three Simple Rules:A Wesleyan Way of Living.  Abington Press, Nashville, 2007, p.36

Wesley’s Covenant Service – Sermon – 01/01/12

Wesley’s Covenant Service
01-01-12
The phrase, “This year will be different,” was probably said more times than people can count last night.  “This year will be different because I am going to the gym at least twice a week.”  “This year will be different because I will finally have the nerve to stand up for myself at work.”  “This year will be different because I will finally have the courage to leave him the next time he hits me.”  “This year will be different because I do more to help others.”  It is the time of year to set those New Year Resolutions.  Those attempts to change things in our lives that we want to change but only change for a month before it is too hard and we give up.  A resolution is simply an intention that is announced.  There isn’t much binding to it.
Covenant though goes deeper than a resolution.  A covenant is a binding promise to do or not to do something.  It seems to be an old word that isn’t used very much in our everyday language.  We don’t hear of people signing a covenant anymore.  We may talk about the marriage covenant between two people but beyond that the word and idea seems ancient.  Today, we will be moving into a covenant with God as we promise to follow him in this coming year and move into a deeper and more intimate relationship with him.
First of all let’s remind ourselves of what a covenant means.  There are five great covenants in the Bible.  The first one we usually learn in Sunday School when we were children.  After God flooded the world but saved Noah and his family from it through the ark God made a his first covenant.  Genesis 9 says, God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “I am now setting up my covenant with you, with your descendants, and with every living being with you—with the birds, with the large animals, and with all the animals of the earth, leaving the ark with you. I will set up my covenant with you so that never again will all life be cut off by floodwaters. There will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.”  God said, “This is the symbol of the covenant that I am drawing up between me and you and every living thing with you, on behalf of every future generation. I have placed my bow in the clouds; it will be the symbol of the covenant between me and the earth.”  God made a covenant not to flood the entire world again and has kept his promise.
A few chapters later in Genesis we receive the second great covenant between God and Abraham.  The first three verses of Chapter 12 say, The LORD said to Abram, “Leave your land, your family, and your father’s household for the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation and will bless you. I will make your name respected, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, those who curse you I will curse; all the families of earth will be blessed because of you.”  God promises Abraham that his decedents will be as numerous as the stars in the sky.  His family will be God’s special people and God will never forget them.
Eventually Abraham’s decedents turn into slaves in Egypt.  As they are suffering under the Pharaoh’s regime God remembers his covenant with them and promise to save them.  He uses this man named Moses to bring his people out of Egypt and then for 40 years they walk the wilderness learning to be God’s people.  It is while they are in the wilderness that God calls Moses up to Mt. Sinai and gives him their covenant.  Exodus 19:3-6, The LORD called to him from the mountain, “This is what you should say to Jacob’s household and declare to the Israelites: You saw what I did to the Egyptians, and how I lifted you up on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. So now, if you faithfully obey me and stay true to my covenant, you will be my most precious possession out of all the peoples, since the whole earth belongs to me. You will be a kingdom of priests for me and a holy nation. These are the words you should say to the Israelites.”  For the next five chapters Moses gives the Israelites the law.  The Ten Commandments start it off but it keeps going after that.  The law was God’s covenant between Him and his people, but as you know they were not too good at keeping it.
What is unique about this covenant is that it is temporary.  Through the prophet Jeremiah God says, “The time is coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.  It won’t be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant with me even though I was their husband, declares the LORD.  No, this is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel after that time, declares the LORD. I will put my Instructions within them and engrave them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.  They will no longer need to teach each other to say, “Know the LORD!” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD; for I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins.”  God promises to open up his covenant to include all of humanity, and erase all sins from the world.
Then when David was King God made another covenant to bring forth this idea of a new covenant.  We read about it during this time of year.  2 Samuel 7:12-13 state, “When the time comes for you to die and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your descendant—one of your very own children—to succeed you, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a temple for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever.”  This lineage that God sets up is found in the first part of Matthew and Luke’s gospel.  Matthew and Luke follow the lineage of David to prove that Joseph is from line of David.  Both of these lineages prove that Jesus followed the covenant that God had planned out.  If not Jesus could not have been the Messiah because God would have broken his covenant with humanity.
Then on Christmas morning, God put on flesh and dwelt among us.  It is in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we receive a new covenant.  As Hebrews 9:15 puts it, “This is why he’s the mediator of a new covenant (which is a will): so that those who are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance on the basis of his death. His death occurred to set them free from the offenses committed under the first covenant.”  In our liturgy for communion we echo this idea.  I hold the cup up and quote from 1 Corinthians 11, He did the same thing with the cup, after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me.”
God’s new covenant is found in his Son.  It is what his son did that makes it possible for God to fulfill all the previous covenants with humanity.  It is through Christ that God can call anyone his people because it is through the Word that became flesh that we can be called children of God.  It is through his suffering, death and resurrection that our sins are forgiven and we can be restored.  God loves us.  God loves you.  And it is through his Son that we learn of this great love for everyone.
The purpose of this service is to remind ourselves of our commitment to God and to reaffirm our promise to follow him.  John Wesley adapted this service and wrote about it many times in his journal.  On New Year’s Day in 1775 he wrote, “It was, as usual, a spiritual experiences…I do not know that ever we had a greater blessing.  Afterwards many desired to return thanks, either for a sense of pardon, for full salvation, or for a fresh manifestation of His graces, healing all their backslidings.”  Usually when Wesley would visit a Methodist they would hold this service while he was there.  Traditionally they are held on New Year’s Day in order to start off the year right by telling God that we will make a covenant with Him to follow him and do his will.
Let us take a moment to prepare ourselves to make this covenant.  You will see the liturgy for the service in your insert and please follow along.  It is very interactive and you have a lot of things to say.  But please do not say them haphazardly.  Say them with meaning and say it from your heart.  At the end of the service there will be another time of silence when you can sign this covenant.  Then take it home and put it someplace where you can you will be reminded of this promise you made to God for the rest of the year.  So now, let us ready our hearts and souls to make a covenant with God for 2012.
(Read liturgy from page 290 of the United Methodist Book of Worship)

An (YouTube) Experiment

This is from a couple of bloggers but David over at A Walking Paradox posted this: So far it is up to 252 views on YouTube which is a lot higher than when Gavin posted about it.

Kevin Watson at deeplycommitted has started an experiment to see how much social capital Methodist bloggers have. This experiment was prompted by the feeling among some Methodist bloggers that United Methodism does not always do as good of a job as it could at getting the Wesleyan message out there, particularly on-line. So, he wants to see how many views a YouTube video can get if Methodist bloggers work together to promote it. The experiment is to see how many hits the video will receive in two weeks.

If you want to participate you can: First, watch the video below. Second, copy and paste this entire post into a new post on your blog and post it. Third, remind people about this experiment in one week.

Based on the results of the experiment, Kevin will get in touch with the folks at Discipleship Resources and let them know the ways in which Methodist bloggers are often an underused resource.

Here is a link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ISKTrScpzQ