Showing posts with label freedom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label freedom. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

LBC Marches in 4th of July Parade 2016

Lansdowne Baptist Church marched in the local Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, 4th of July Parade again this year. We grew in numbers as we marched, bringing an additional family into our march. Two of our members handed out invitations to come to our church so quickly, we'll have to double the numbers available for next year. Some of the viewers asked for them specifically. Once again, we created giant bubbles as we marched.




It was a great morning, filled with balloons, patriotic music from the high school marching band, cyclists on antique high wheeled bicycles (you want to talk with those riders when you can, they are fascinating), and riders in classic cars, a bus, and motorcycle. Candy was tossed, churches were represented, members and friends greeted along the way, and God blessed us with a beautiful day of temperate weather.

We look forward to doing this again, celebrating together with the community we serve.


For a longer reflection on the 4th of July celebration in Lansdowne, PA, see the 2014 post: https://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/07/lansdowne-pennsylvanias-4th-of-july.html


Friday, June 10, 2016

Penmanship Epiphany

Years ago, my grade school teacher told me to loosen my grip on my pen if I wanted better penmanship. It has taken me all these years to realize she was asking me to following the often repeated biblical admonition, "Do not be afraid." If I'd just loosen up a bit, trust in the guidance given and tools received, life (and penmanship) would improve markedly. Sure enough, a looser hold on a pen and life brings greater results. However, white knuckling it through writing and life are hard habits to break!

Wishing you all the blessings of a life far freer of fear. 

Give Judging Others a Rest

In this highly charged political season, let's follow some sound advice from Jesus and from theologian Henri Nouwen. Henri Nouwen writes in his devotional, Bread for the Journey,
Essential to the work of reconciliation is a nonjudgmental presence. We are not sent to the world to judge, to condemn, to evaluate, to classify, or to label. When we walk around as if we have to make up our minds about people and tell them what is wrong with them and how they should change, we only create more division. Jesus says it clearly, "Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge; ... do not condemn; ... forgive." (Luke 6:36-37)
If you have to evaluate, classify, and label, I hope you are in one of the sciences. Otherwise, along with judging and condemning, don't do it, please! Be friendly, be open, be hopeful, and offer a helping hand instead. And forgive others who have not yet learned this lesson and walk a darker, more difficult path. Pray that they will find this better way to live, and soon!  

Monday, May 2, 2016

Who Was I?



Sermon based on Acts 11:1-18 in which Peter, minding his own business in Joppa has an extraordinary vision, challenging his understanding of what is clean and proper. After that shocking moment, he is called by three Gentile men (Gentile grossly defined as "not us") representing the Roman centurion Cornelius. Peter and his crew are called to Caesarea to confer and eat with Cornelius and his family. Back home in Jerusalem, a faction of Christians are angry with Peter and insist he explain himself. A powerful moment comes when Peter sums up with the powerful question "who was I that I could hinder God?"

An exploration of the power of the Holy Spirit and consideration of where the Spirit might be leading us today. Listen, pray, and consider making Peter's question your own.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Be Thankful



Based on Colossians 3:12-17, this sermon explores the new ways of interacting with others Paul recommends. Paul calls for us all to strip away the vices Paul calls our "old clothes," replacing them with the "new clothes," the virtues, of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and love. It explores why these virtues represent a far more powerful way of interacting with others than we imagine. All of these virtues are bound together and supported by one other ... one not mentioned here.

Monday, October 12, 2015

What Must I Do

Sermon based on Mark 10:17-31, in which the "rich young ruler" as he has so often been called asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus' response is a call to us all to a new way of living in the here and now. Jesus also messes with the social order, as you will see.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Experiencing the Pope's Weekend in Philadelphia

The Pope’s visit to Philadelphia was a joyous event that was long anticipated by everyone in the city. Part of what it meant for the many employees in the Food and Nutrition Department at Philadelphia Hospital was a long weekend away from home. We were requested to sleep over in the building from Thursday, September 24th, until Monday, September 28th. There were many concerns with the situation, including sleeping accommodations, showering, meals, work hours, laundry and the like. Weekly “Papal Visit” employee meetings took place regularly starting in August, and the closer we came to the event, the more at ease everyone seemed.

The Hospital did a great job organizing our workforce and taking care of those concerns. Clean linen, brand new air mattresses and pillows, and gift bags were among the items given out. Free meals, bingo and other games, movie nights, theater-screen-sized television with feeds for all the events, and even NFL football broadcasts, helped everyone adjust to the sacrifices made to ensure a smooth operation during the minor Center City shutdown that took place. I have to commend our “PA Hospital Papal Visit Committee” for their efforts. It was amazing to see the teamwork from all departments during the long weekend.

Between working ten hours a day, providing ‘round the clock meals for all of our “stay-over staff,” I actually had the opportunity to attend the Saturday’s Pope Ceremonial events, around the Ben Franklin Parkway area. There were so many people of different faiths in attendance, including Jews, Baptists, Muslims, and Buddhists, along with the Catholics, and that’s just naming a few, in attendance to experience this global event. I could hear people having conversations about the Pope, Catholicism, religious beliefs, gay marriage, and many other issues. Some very deep and important discussions were taking place, sometimes between complete strangers. There was a spirit of love, unity, and respect that seemed to be present in the air and once the Pope arrived, there was tremendous excitement in actually seeing him in person as he passed by the crowds lining the streets. For me, it was a highlight of my long weekend.


I finally got to go home on Monday afternoon. I was tired, and my feet were sore, but I felt good. I was very proud of my co-workers, and also proud of a few thousand random people on the Ben Franklin Parkway, that happened to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience with me.


~Will Thompson

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Greatness



Based on Mark 9:30-37, this sermon explores Jesus' redefinition of what it means to be great. Are we up to Jesus' challenge to be great as defined by Kingdom values? Watch and see.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Abba Father

Based on Romans 8:12-17, this sermon explores how God's abundant love for us frees us from the shackles of societal expectation and intimidation. We are free to be the people God intended, a joyful people. Watch and see.



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

American Baptist Home Mission Societies - Documentary



American Baptists, touching many lives in many ways, bringing the good news and living lives that heal. Come and see what we are all about.

Peace!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Good News of Great Joy

For Christmas this year, wishing you all the joy of the shepherds when the angels told them of the coming of the long awaited Messiah. To the lowest on the social scale the angels came, making the shepherds who most looked down upon the messengers of good news of great joy for all people.  Here's how Luke tells the story in Chapter 2, verses 8 through 20. 
8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” 15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Meditation On Our Limits

In The President's Devotional, by Joshua DuBois, there is a meaningful passage by the Bishop Kenneth Untener from "Prophets of a Future Not Our Own" that reminds us of our limits ... and for whom we work. Bishop Untener wrote:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about:
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need future development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders, ministers not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

What a wonderful, humbling meditation. We are not going to do it all. We can focus on doing our small part well and taking joy in the fact that we were called to do that bit by the master builder. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

True Happiness Can Be Ours ... Really!


What do you know of happiness? It's written into the Declaration of Independence as something the individual is free to pursue ... but what is it, really?

In the nuts and bolts definition department, happiness is subjective; it is a determination that a person's current situation and concept of the good life are getting along nicely. True happiness comes from positive relationships, not stuff and not special places to go. In fact, to be truly happy, you need to make other people happy (Bible verses abound). Happiness is a byproduct of a life well lived with others, reaching out that helping hand, lifting up the folks around you, and being willing to accept others attempts to make you happy (accept the compliment graciously, don't be too proud to humbly accept help offered out of the goodness of another's heart)! Above all, true happiness can never come at the expense of others. Real happiness has a very moral component.

Happiness as so defined will elude those who seek it in consumerism (sorry advertisers), in fleeting and ephemeral pleasure/thrill seeking, and ruthless competition for limited resources against others in a pitched battle for dominance. No long-term happiness there. See how countercultural happiness has become?

Viewing happiness through this lens, unhappiness can become a very useful gauge of what is going on in the world around you. If a person is persistently, chronically unhappy, it's time for the individual to look around and assess his or her relationships with others. Has too much time been spent at the office? Have social relations with friends and family deteriorated? Has too much emphasis been placed on the next shiny thing or the accumulation of wealth for its own sake? Be objective here with your subjective state ... you'll learn something useful.

On a larger scale, if unhappiness exists and persists in a group you are a part of or a group near you, it is likely that group is suffering from some sort of injustice or abuse ... and could use a helping hand.

Returning to that nuts and bolts definition, it seems to me that if your concept of the good life is skewed to either the bright and shiny thing end or to the I must martyr myself for others end, happiness will always elude you. Happiness as defined and explored here requires resetting that concept of the good life to include positive relationships with others. This leads me to a fascinating link with the Old and New Testaments. In both, righteousness is defined as being in right relations with God and each other. It's about loving others as self, being willing to serve others (and humble enough to be served), and having faith enough to trust others. So, I guess, the righteous person in the Bible is a happy person, not a hectoring, forbidding person.

For more, see the Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling, p. 494.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Lansdowne, Pennsylvania's, 4th of July Parade


During the march, many groups, many balloons

The DAR prepares in the background

On July 4th, Lansdowne throws a parade for everyone to enjoy. Those marching represent a wide variety of organizations in town, including churches, clubs, Veterans organizations, the DAR, political organizations, school bands, string bands, and more. I caught up with my friend Nancy, the pastor of the Presbyterian church, whose members are involved every year. The were passing out leaflets about the church and Nancy told me they have someone new come to the church every year based on their efforts. I could tell turning out and participating in the parade was important as I moved along the parade route and heard people commenting on Nancy's nice church as they participated.
March prep on the side streets

I was representing Lansdowne Baptist in an informal way this year, walking along the parade route, meeting wonderful people involved in the parade and watching, handing out all the flyers I had about our church, which people readily accepted, and receiving multiple flags from a young member of the boy's swim team, which was handing out American flags to everyone who they could reach in the crowd. I gave each of mine to some person who had been missed, knowing my new friend would soon give me another.

Friends and Presbyterians both represented
It was a wonderful parade, a very civic-minded project, and one for which tropical storm Andrew behaved itself, holding off on rain until the parade was over. Next year, I hope and intend for LBC to formally participate in the parade. We shall see. This is one of those moments when God is calling us all out to be part of the larger community. Right now in the United States, only 51% of churches do that. I'm hoping this friendly turnout and wonderful parade will encourage us to do more ... and to have a positive impact on our community when we do.
Being Philadelphia, we had string bands!

Parading in style!
String band in Hawaiian shirts!
Our 4th of July flyer about LBC
Come join our family. ALL are welcome here!

For a meditation on our freedom from the apostle Paul, see: http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/07/paul-reminds-us-of-our-freedom-always.html


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Paul Reminds Us of Our Freedom ... Always


With the July 4th celebration of the independence of the United States, I was reminded of Paul's message to the Romans (chapter 6, verses 1-11) ... and to us all. Paul tells of what we have been freed from and what we are freed for by Jesus Christ.


Paul told the Romans that when they chose to follow Jesus, they received freedom from sin and freedom for a life in God through Jesus Christ. Freedom from sin meant freedom from sin’s penalty, sin’s power, and sin’s practice as a way of life. This was the newness of life Paul’s readers were to accept and live out. Paul asked his readers, “How can we who died to sin go on living in it?” Why would they want to, is the subtext. Here we have to step back from the modern concept of freedom a bit.Today we see total freedom as the ability to do whatever we want, whenever we choose. Not so with Paul back in the day. Freedom from sin was freedom for obedience to God. In Paul’s world, you were always going to be bound to one force or another. The choice was whether you would be bound to, “enslaved by” to use Paul’s language, sin and death, or to God in Christ Jesus and life eternal. There was no third way. “By no means!” That's what Paul would say. 

Living in freedom from sin and freedom for God’s true life and service for others seems like an awful lot of work, especially when we are tired and worn from all our other obligations. Like the first century followers of Paul, we too are tempted to ask “can we just keep to our old sinful ways and let God’s grace abound and handle it?” Paul responds to us just as he did to his original readers and hearers. “By no means!” He reminds us of our baptisms. In doing so, Paul reminds us of who we really are—even when we are frazzled—of what we have chosen, and what we have been freed from.

He is like that loving parent who gets his child’s attention when that little one is being naughty by saying, “That isn’t like you. You’re a better person than this.” We are called to walk in the new life ourselves and to believe that others can do so as well. This is important. We are not to be like that pigeon-holing boss who assigned everyone a specific label early on and never saw them any differently. We are to believe in the grace of God through Jesus Christ for ourselves and for others as we strive to live righteous lives, lives in which we are aligned with God and to service for others. We are to believe, like Paul, that we cannot occupy two spaces at once. We cannot live in the arena of sin and the arena of God. We must strive to convince ourselves that we no longer live in that old arena. We are free from sin and free for full life walking with God and helping others to do the same. We have to tell ourselves that the life of sin is the life dehumanized in which people are victims who suffer and die. In doing so, over time, the life in God’s arena becomes force of habit.

This will always be a challenge. There will be mistakes along the way. God forgives us when we ask for that forgiveness and are determined to try again. However, once the habit is set in place, we discover that in time, we do not wish to walk in the old sinful ways (sin being seen as actively working against the will of God for your life and walking away from God and God's ways) but choose instead the freedom to walk with God and to love our neighbors as God wishes us to do ... our neighbors being everyone. 

Enjoy your freedoms this 4th of July and always.