What don’t we know? This month MidMaine’s facebook page runs daily quotes from really smart people who were really certain about something we now think is, well, NOT. My favorite so far is Albert Einstein’s "there is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will." I appreciate this one because he lived to see his certainty challenged and changed.
Most of us would really like to be sure of our future. And yet sometimes it seems like the more we know the less we can predict. We become boxed in by what we already konw and unable to see what we don’t.
One month from today Special General Conference 2019will convene in St Louis. Some in our churches anxiously wait and watch each incremental development. Some remain blissfully unaware, uninterested, or unable to wrap their thoughts around potentially momentous changes. Some have fastened like safety pins to one form of one proposal or another hoping it will fix things. Some throw up their hands in a “who knows” gesture.
By the way, did you know that the primary author of our church’s constitution (things we are certain of) was born, raised, and found Christ in MidMaine? Joshua Soulewas born in one side of our district , Bristol, and raised in the other, along the Sandy River in Avon. He was so certain of certain things that he became the first Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church South when we split over both abolition and the authority of bishops, tipping the United States into civil war with the split across our nation’s social fabric.
What shall we do in this month of not knowing, when so much is in the hands of others and when so much is at stake?
Be Loved:Immerse yourself in the scriptures that remind us of the depth and strength of love God has for each of us and every neighbor on the planet. Read a love letter to United Methodists by religious scholar Diane Butler Bass.
Pray:Please blanket GC2019 preparations with prayer by “weaving” your strand of prayer on the day indicated for your church. (Note: listed by church’s community)
January 23 ALL
January 24 Auburn & Randolph
January 25 Augusta & Rumford
January 26 Bath & South Thomaston
January 27 Belfast & Strong
January 28 Belgrade Lakes & Unity
January 29 Boothbay Cooperative Parish
January 30 Brunswick & Vassalboro
January 31 Gardiner & North Woolwich
February 1 Readfield & Bethel
February 2 Calvary & Bridgton
February 3 Lisbon & Cushing
February 4 Waterville & Harrison
February 5 Wayne & North Anson
February 6 Union & Skowhegan
February 7 Winthrop & East Pittston
February 8 Thomaston Federated & Dresden-Richmond
February 9 Waldoboro & Fryeburg Harbor
February 10 Camden & Rockland
February 11 Clinton & Searsmont
February 12 Fairfield & Searsport
February 13 Farmington & New Sharon
February 14 Friendship & North Searsport
February 15 Hallowell & West Cumberland
February 16 Minot & Wilton
February 17 Naples & Rumford Center
February 18 New Harbor & Damariscotta & East Monmouth
February 19 Round Pond & Fairfield Center & Monmouth
February 20 North Vienna & Kingfield & Sebago
February 21 Oakland Sidney & Salem & Sheepscott
February 22 North Pownal & Mercer & North Jay
February 23-26 ALL
Learn:RNS (Religious News Service) provides an excellent and easy to follow overview.of the general situation. And here are GC 2019 FAQs from fall listening sessionsacross New England. In MidMaine, you can join the February Lay Servant Ministry Polity Course in how the United Methodist Church works (and doesn’t).
Hope: That we may be led more fully in God’s reign as proclaimed by Jesus. Luke 4: 14-21
Remember: The world is full of things we once thought impossible. God's gaze is so much wider than our own!
Worship:The Prayer litany below was created by Rev. Stephen Bascom, United Methodist Church of Auburn, and shared with MidMaine Clergy on January 17, 2019. Permission is given by the author for use in local church settings.
Scriptural reflection based on Eugene Petersen’s translation of Psalm 36:5-10
God’s love is meteoric, God’s loyalty astronomic,
God’s purpose titanic, God’s verdicts oceanic.
Yet in God’s largeness nothing gets lost;
not a person, not a mouse, slips through the cracks
How exquisite your love, O God!
How eager we are to run under your wings,
To eat our fill at the banquet you spread
as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water.
You’re a fountain of cascading light,
and you open our eyes to light.
Prologue to Peace and Reconciliation
When we speak of a Way Forward, we tend to sketch it with the definition of our own conviction and point of view. Surely God, we tell ourselves, must see things as we do! Yet near the edges of our certainty, we hear a voice (Can it be God’s voice?), saying, “Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past. Now I am doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert, and streams in the wasteland…”
Reconciliation with God
When we sing, “Let peace begin with me,” we admit that we cannot give peace that we have not experienced within. If we are at war with ourselves or are unable to accept ourselves as God created us, we cannot give peace to others. It is more than sitting still and being quiet. We know much too well the feeling of being still, yet seething with inner anger. It is only when we love the ‘self’ God made that we are free to harmonize with the rest of God’s created world.
Sound a tone of healing.
For those who have experienced family ties that are strong, healthy and nurturing, the feeling of belonging may be taken for granted. For those who have not experienced such a gift, ‘family’ may be the source of pain or sorrow. We cannot know peace if we are upset with someone close to us. How tragic it is when a family relationship is severed or strained over a misunderstanding or violation of trust.
If you are troubled by family disharmony, perhaps yours or that of another, breathe a prayer of forgiveness into the fractured family.
Sound a tone of healing.
Family of Faith
In John 17, Jesus prays that his followers, the Church, would be one. Yet how divided we are! Rather than complement, we compete. Instead of building one another up, too often we talk one another down. We assume that we have the truth and others do not. How silly.
If you know someone who feels alienated from the body of Christ, the Church, pray for a gift of reconciliation.
Sound a tone of healing.
During this past year, our district has been pierced with violent acts of tragic proportion. These have made headlines, but there have also been acts of grace and compassion. Thank God for those who are first responders in times of crisis and for those who show courage and compassion when trouble comes.
If you know of someone in our District community who is hurting, offer a prayer for intervention and recovery.
Sound a tone of healing.
Racial tension with law enforcement. Acts of protest by this one or that one. Strident tension between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots.’ Red states vs. blue states. Immigration problems. To ‘wall’ or ‘not to wall.’ Inner-city strife. The social problems are many and over-whelming.
How do we find peace in a pluralistic country like ours? What does it say on our national coin? In God We Trust.O, that we might become one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!
I invite you to offer a prayer for national health.
Sound a tone of healing.
If you look at the earth from outer space, you do not see the divisions of nations, religions, ideologies, etc. that splinter the human family. But for those of us on the planet surface, we are bombarded with fear, terrorism, war and rumors of war. Peace may seem unreachable.
In God, the unreachable enters the very heart of the human condition. Born in a Bethlehem stable, the Prince of Peace gave his life to reconcile all to God. When that happened, death itself shifted to reverse. Peace begins with a changed heart, forgiveness for an historical grievance and a willingness to build toward the future.
If you feel led, come forward to ask for peace for a specific world challenge that needs God’s healing power and grace, then tap a tone for healing.
“What do you do?” It’s a common question.
If you haven’t thought about the answer lately, maybe the first month of a new year is a good time.
“What do you do” is quite like “who are you” but feels safer to ask for some reason, more focused, specific, defined. Asking “who are you,” depending on the context, can either sound defensive or overly familiar. It’s the question on people’s minds as John the Baptizer comes out of the wilderness at blockbuster force. Instead of answering “who are you, the Messiah?” John tells them what he’s doing. He’s quite clear about his role. He is there to baptize with water and shake people awake for who will come next, to prepare those who hear him for forgiveness and repentance. (John 3: 1-22).
Those hearing John then asked him, “what should we do?” His answer? Share freely, take only your fair share, don’t misuse your power. As I read these words, I hear John asking me, “what do you do?”
I love the way this tumultuous passage (brood of vipers, ax at the root, prison) begins with John taking a run at the wall of authorities (Tiberius, Pilate, Herod, Philip, Lysanias, Annas, Caiaphas) and ends with Jesus slipping into the river as part of the crowd as we hear heaven’s voice tell Jesus who he is, “you are my son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased.” The rest of the story Luke tells is about what Jesus does.
The way is prepared for us to meet Christ. The season of fruit bearing is upon us (Luke 3: 8). In a time when the question, "what can we do" is too often net with a shrug of the shoulders and an offhanded, "what are ya gonna do," what will we do? Who will we be? What will we hear the heavenly voice say to us?
Karen L Munson
A pastor and artist, I'm wondering while I'm wandering through God's marvelous creation.