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I'm excited to announce that St. James has a lot of activities planned for spring. On May 6th Erica Campbell will be in concert at our Paseo Campus. On Sunday, May 8th we will have a special tribute to mother's at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., and 11 a.m. at both campuses. On May 15th we will celebrate the birth of the Church as we recognize Pentecost Sunday. The sermon will be "Waiting to Exhale." On June 1st we will relaunch our Wednesday Night Live worship experience. We will have praise, prayer, and preaching. Dinner will be served from 6:00-6:45 and worship will begin at 7 p.m.
The week leading up to Resurrection Sunday is filled with all sorts of activities commemorating the life of Jesus. Here at St. James we had events just about every night of the week. There is always a great deal of excitement and anticipation as we draw closer and closer to the biggest day of the year. Then, on Resurrection Sunday the attendance is larger than normal, we seem to praise God harder, and we go out to eat an Easter Brunch with our families. But then comes Monday! It's almost as if we don't have anything else to look forward to. Resurrection Sunday has come and gone. Now, it's back to business as usual. Worship attendance drops back down to normal, at least until summer hits, and the excitement seems to have gone away. To me that seems strange considering we just celebrated Jesus being alive. We have hope because He lives! It seems that some say with their actions, "I've done my time, I've given my honor to the Lord and now I can get back to my normal life until next year." However, the resurrection changed the world. Jesus eliminated the norm (death) by way of the cross and the grave. So, let's not treat the resurrection of Jesus and the hope for our eternal salvation as if it is just a one day thing. Resurrection Sunday is every Sunday because JESUS STILL LIVES!!!
1. This is where I was nurtured in my faith. 2. This is where I received my calling into ministry. 3. This is where I met my wife. 4. St. James is full of compassionate and civic minded people. 5. God has a plan to restore the community through the people called St. James. 6. I love my church because we are now reaching people on the South side of KC through our Renaissance Campus. 7. The Renaissance Campus was once called Longview UMC and that is where I first served as a pastor.
I've always felt a little awkward about celebrating Independence Day. When America won its freedom from England it was a great day. However, black people were still slaves. Can I really celebrate a day when my ancestors were not freed? On the other hand, it is a day that unites the country. It is not a religious observance for a specific group. It is a day that everyone who lives in the U.S. can observe. On top of that, it is a day where we don't have to go to work. That's a good thing. While I will enjoy time with family and participate in lighting fireworks, in the back of my mind I know that July 4th is not really a day of Freedom for all Americans. The Independence Day that every human being can honor is Resurrection Sunday. On that day, Jesus freed everyone from the power of sin and death.
By now most of you have heard about the horrific event that took place at Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina. On Wednesday evening a white male attended a bible study at the church. After an hour or so he began shooting attendees. Nine believers lost their lives including the pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney. This is yet another example of how racism still exists in our society. Racism as displayed by this demented young man is a rarity. However, by no means is racism extinct. It is alive and well and seen mostly in the fabric of American systems more so than in individual acts. One clear example of this is in red lining, where minority communities are targeted by insurers and denied loans and insurance based on where they live. Racism can be seen in the very way we fund school districts in America. If schools are funded by property taxes then it stands to reason that poor/minority communities will receive fewer dollars than middle income communities. It certainly doesn't seem fair to the children. I could go on and on talking about systemic racism. The only way to begin healing and eliminating racism is to actually talk about it. One thing that I've noticed is that whites and black don't talk about racism together in a respectful and dignified manner. It appears the only time it comes up is when something like the shooting in Charleston takes place. It's time to stop ignoring the elephant in the room and let's talk!
Over the weekend I, along with several United Methodists from around the state of Missouri, spent time conferring in Springfield. Every year each Conference of the United Methodist Church gathers to meet and discuss and approve the budget, policies, and receive reports from conference sponsored agencies. Every four years we elect laity and clergy to serve as delegates to General Conference, which is the gathering of United Methodists from around the world. It is the responsibility of the General Conference to form the policies, procedures, and doctrinal standards for the next four years. In 2016 the General Conference will be held in Portland, Oregon for 12 days. The biggest issue at hand is the Church's stance on human sexuality. There are people on both sides: some who believe that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Others believe that homosexuality is just as much Christian as heterosexuality. The debate has gotten so heated that there is talk of an amicable split. I'm not sure what is going to happen but my prayer is that above and beyond anything else God's will be done. Please pray for the United Methodist Church.
There are some high season in the life of the Church. The most important holy day of the year is Resurrection Sunday. Without the Resurrection there would be no reason to follow Jesus of Nazareth. He would be consider another great prophet, but not a savior. The second most significant day in the Christian calendar is not Christmas but Pentecost. While the birth of Jesus is important his birth alone does not impact our lives or shape history the same as Resurrection Sunday and Pentecost. It's at Pentecost where the followers of Jesus were actually empowered intellectually, emotionally, courageously, and gifted-ly to do what Jesus told them to do. Without the giving of the Holy Spirit the Church would not exist because it could not function as the representation of Jesus in the world today. It is on the day of Pentecost that God, as promised, poured out the Holy Spirit on the followers of Jesus. Enabling them (and us today) to carry on the work of Jesus. I realize that Pentecost falls on Memorial Day Weekend. It is an opportunity to take a short vacation. However, this is one of the most important days in the life the Christian Church. Let's not overlook the significance of Pentecost, the day in which the Church became the Church. God Bless, EC3
Now that we have made it past the cold winter months it's time to enjoy the warmer more pleasant months. May is a month of celebrations. We honor our mothers on Mother's Day and it is also the time in which students graduate from school. There are graduation ceremonies and parties almost every weekend. It means traveling to see our friends and relatives walk across the stage to receive a diploma or degree. May is also the time when most children get out of school for the summer. That means families have the opportunity to go on vacation.While spring and summer are considered vacation time and fun time it is a challenging period for many congregations. Because people are traveling church attendance is down. Moreover, giving is down during the summer. I encourage people to take time off, however, the church can never take time off. As long as people are hurting the church has work to do. The is no vacation when it comes to Kingdom Building. So, as you are preparing to take time off this vacation season please remember (in your giving) that the work of the church must continue on. If you can't make it to worship on Sundays try to worship with us on Wednesday nights. It is also important to remember that we should not rob God by giving our tithes to our travel agent. What belongs to your agent belongs to your agent and what belongs to God belongs to God. Have a great summer!
As a huge fan of kickboxing, MMA, and Boxing there was no way I was going to miss the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. While I believe Floyd Mayweather is one of the most skilled boxers of all time, I'm not a real big fan of what he represents. Floyd Mayweather teaches our children, by way of his persona, that life is all about money. He flaunts it, he wastes it, and believes he can do anything because he has money. He also teaches, by way of his actions, that women are no better than the ridiculously expensive cars he owns. They are property. Unfortunately, I knew he would win the fight, however, I did not cheer for him. In addition to the fact that I am a Pacquiao fan I cannot cheer for an unrepentant abuser of women. Sadly, it is precisely because of his public persona that so many in the African American community love him and ignore the fact that he is a repeat domestic violence offender. How is it that we can celebrate the worst part of our community while at the very same time claim to try to make it better? I, like Floyd Mayweather, am in need of God's grace. I have fallen short and continue to fall short of God's glory. But I refuse to ignore and glorify my faults. Maybe Floyd has reconciled his shortcomings with God and only portrays that image in public because so many people adore it. When it is all said and done I know that I am in need of God's grace just as much as anyone else. But I would hope that we can learn to stop celebrating ignorance and begin appreciating humility.
By now everyone has heard about the death of Freddie Gray while in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department. We don't know exactly what happened but something did happen! The video of his arrest shows that he was in pain when they put him in the transport van. One hour later he was in the hospital where he died from a severe spinal chord injury. What? In the last year we have seen a number of cases in which black men have died at the hands of law enforcement. There are some who continue to deny the fact that there has been racial profiling and police harassment in the black community for decades. I've been harassed and family members have been harassed, this is nothing new! The only way this will begin to change is first, admission that there is tension between police departments around the country and neighborhoods of color. Secondly, there has to be honest dialogue that leads to acceptance, appreciation, and understanding from both sides. Thirdly, there has to be cultural sensitivity training in every police academy in the U.S. Likewise, people of color must reflect on how we respond to police whenever we are stopped and questioned. Lastly, people of faith must continue to pray and look to our God for strength, guidance, patience, and change. Dr. EC3