Month: March 2018

HOLY WEEK SERIES BEGINS MONDAY

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By LORETTA FULTON

On Sunday, we spread palm branches and shouted Hosannas as part of the Palm Sunday liturgy, the first day in Holy Week.

Monday starts a descent into darkness before Easter comes and we can shout “Alleluia, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.”

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services will be held in churches all over town this week. And, St. James United Methodist Church, 3100 Barrow St., invites the public to the final presentation of its Living Last Supper at 7 p.m. Thursday. Admission is free for the re-enactment.

A good way to get fully immersed into the liturgy of Holy Week is to attend the Holy Week Luncheon series, which is held daily at one of five participating churches. The schedule is printed below. The programs are free. Lunch, which begins at 11:30 a.m., is $7 or bring your own. The program starts at noon.

Theme for the series is “Out of the Corner of Your Eye,” with each minister reflecting on a particular scripture.

MONDAY
Location: First Central Presbyterian Church, 400 Orange St.
Speaker: Felicia Hopkins, pastor, St. Paul United Methodist Church
TUESDAY
Location: St. Paul United Methodist Church, 525 Beech St.
Speaker: Jonathan Storment, Highland Church of Christ
WEDNESDAY
Location: First Baptist Church, 1333 N. Third St.
Speaker: Susan Payne, interim pastor, First Christian Church
THURSDAY
Location: Highland Church of Christ
Speaker: Phil Christopher, First Baptist Church
FRIDAY
Location: First Christian Church, 1420 N. Third St.
Speaker: Cliff Stewart, First Central Presbyterian Church

 

Resurrection Before Our Very Eyes!

By JANICE SIX

Easter morning, pastors will proclaim from pulpits all across this land, “He is risen!” and in response congregants will exclaim, “He is risen indeed!” Alleluias that have laid dormant since Ash Wednesday will arise in response to the magnificent brass, timpani drums, and voices united in song. As the congregation stands to sing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” children of all ages, some infants and toddlers in arms, will process up the center aisle bearing fresh cut flowers, irises and daffodils, roses, and lilies, in a wide array of colors. My favorite are the wildflowers.

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Janice Six

Plucked from a vacant lot or the ally on the other side of the gate, wildflowers are watered only as God sees fit, yet these hardy survivors keep coming back year after year. Adorned in bright yellow, rich purple, vibrant pink, and delicate white blooms, the wild ones grow side by side for a season. Eventually, the blossoms wither and fade. Turning to seed, the wild ones either fall where they are, or birds in flight carry them to fields far away, others are scattered by the wind. Regardless where they come to rest, the seeds of the wildflowers stake their claim, put down roots, take hold, and hide away for another year.

The flowering of the cross is a spectacular sight to behold. To see the bare wooden cross– once shrouded in black and viewed as an instrument of death–being transformed before our very eyes into a vivid symbol of hope and life everlasting, moves many to tears. On this one Sunday each year, the flowers speak for themselves and the good news for the wildflowers is that they are just as welcome to participate in the flowering of the cross as the fresh cut flowers that have been pampered and nurtured in well-tended gardens and greenhouses. All are welcome! Let us pray that the same can be said of Christ’s church on the most well attended Sunday of the year: All are welcome!

Janice Six is associate pastor of First Central Presbyterian Church

PROPHECY AND PASTORAL CARE

By MIKE PATRICK

As a high school student, my understanding of prophecy focused on predicting or foretelling the future. Not long after that Hal Lindsey’s book, Late, Great Planet Earth became a best seller and a movie. A few years later, as a college student, I began hearing that prophecy dealt more with forth-telling or what we might call preaching. If what a minister preaches proves true, then at times it might foretell the future.

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Mike Patrick

Years later, I found a familiar passage that spoke about prophecy but added a whole different twist to the subject. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about spiritual gifts. Speaking in tongues had caused problems in the church and Paul addressed the issue. While speaking in tongues edified the person, prophecy edified the whole church; therefore, Paul preferred prophecy. In that statement, he describes prophecy with some unusual words. In 1 Corinthians 14:3, he says,

But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.

Paul uses three words to describe the purpose of prophesying: strengthening, encouraging, comforting.

The Greek text provides expanded perception. When he says prophecy should strengthen people, he means that it should build up, confirm, enlighten, or even restore people. Edify was the activity; edifice, the result.

When he states that prophecy should encourage people, he means that it calls others along your side, summons or invites them. It was the word used as a designation of the Holy Spirit (Paraclete). This exhorting, in one way, calls out to offer companionship or help.

When he concludes that prophecy should comfort people, he means that it should console or cheer up.

So there is a sense of pastoral care in prophecy because it aims to strengthen people by building them up, to encourage by motivating a companion, and to comfort others by consoling. These aims could address issues such as depression, sluggishness, and sadness.

To speak prophetically is to speak profitably. For the persecuted in apocalyptic times, predicting the future provided hope. For the abused of social injustices, prophetic preaching brings relief by declaring what is right and just. For the Christian who struggles with life’s journey, prophesying can edify, encourage, and comfort.

Perhaps a third view of prophecy, rather than limiting it to fore-telling or forth-telling,

would be fort-telling. Prophecy becomes pastoral care when bringing fortification.
Mike Patrick retired as Chaplain and Ministry Education Coordinator after 27 years at Hendrick Medical Center.

LIFE FROM AN EMPTY TOMB

By DANNY MINTON

It was the fall of 1967 while I was a sophomore at ACC. One of my grandparents had passed away, and I had to borrow a fellow student’s car to get to the funeral. The car was an old Volkswagen Beetle. It was one of the original ones that did not have a gas gauge. You would just drive until the car’s tank was empty.

Danny Minton

Danny Minton

As I was traveling north of McKinney in “no man’s land” territory, the engine began to sputter as the gasoline tank became depleted. Then I remembered the one important instruction that my friend had told me. Instead of the gauge, it had a lever on the floor that shut off part of the tank. You’d fill the tank up and then close the lever to protect your surplus gasoline supply. When the main tank became empty, you would move the lever over to open the gasoline reserve giving new life to the automobile and allowing you plenty of time to get to the next filling station.

Without that lever and excess gasoline, when the tank of the automobile ran dry, it would just die, leaving you stranded along the roadside. Knowing that lever was there and that it would give the vehicle new life gave me the confidence to drive a car without a gasoline gauge and without worrying about if I needed to stop and fill up or not. I knew that even though the car died it only took the flip of a switch to bring life back.

Years ago, a man named Jesus, the Messiah, the son of God died a brutal horrendous death. The pain and the agony that he endured was more than any of us could be expected to bear. He faced scourging, beatings. He was mocked, laughed at, spit on, and finally nailed to a wooden cross, humiliated in front of a huge crowd. Hours later, hanging in pain from that cross he lifted his voice to God and died.

He died for us, becoming a sacrifice for our sins. Some of his followers removed him from the wooden execution tree and laid his body to rest in an unused tomb that one of them owned. To all around he was dead. To the king and soldiers, he was dead. To those who watched him removed from the cross, he was dead. To his followers he was dead. Yes, he was dead as the stone that covered the grave rolled securely into the channel dug in front of the tomb opening. Guards stood stationed outside the tomb to make sure no one stole the dead man’s body. His life had come to an end.

It is early on a Sunday morning and with the Sabbath now past, his followers come to give his body the proper care for burial. When they arrive, they are shocked to find the tomb empty, his body gone. They came to prepare a dead man for a proper burial but instead found no body at all.

They had forgotten about the switch. Even Jesus’ followers had forgotten that he had told them, “Destroy this body, and in three days I’ll raise it again.” They thought he was dead. They thought someone had taken his body. The tomb was empty. In the end, the tomb had to be empty. Without it being empty there was no access to the reserve, the future, that part of life that only exists after we die.

Life became ours because of the empty tomb. It was at that moment that death was defeated, and life given to all that follow him. In our life we move along knowing that somewhere along the line, likely without warning, much like the little Volkswagen I drove, we will eventually come to an end, empty, dead. However, the one truth we can hold on to is that when that time comes our next step, much like the lever on the floor, gives us our reserve, a new life to carry us the rest of our journey. Our reserve exists in the form of an empty tomb.

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“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ

40 ‘BIGS’ NEEDED IN 40 DAYS

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More than 150 Abilene kids are waiting for a mentor. 100 of those kids are boys in need of a Big Brother.

Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity with professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Children served, called Littles, are matched with a volunteer Big Brother or Big Sister based on common interests, personality, and experiences. Matches spend time together 2-4 times a month.

In the Lunch Buddies program, matches eat lunch, read, or play games together at the Little’s school. Matches in the community-based program may enjoy their time tossing a
ball around, going to a movie, eating out, or doing some other fun activity they choose together.

“Our goal is to successfully serve 635 children this year. To meet that goal and serve the children of Abilene well, we need more volunteers to join us as mentors, especially men. In honor of our 40th year in Abilene, we are excited to launch our Real Men Mentor: 40 Men in 40 Days campaign on March 22nd,” says Megan Tolle, director of public relations and recruiting at BBBS of Abilene.

“Young men in our community need more men to look up to…that’s the biggest thing. Mothers are generally always there. All of us firefighters can attest to that,” states Deputy Chief Mike Burden, volunteer Big Brother and BBBS board member.
BBBS’ Real Men Mentor: 40 Men in 40 Days campaign, sponsored by Weathersby Roofing, will run March 22 through April 30. Men who are interested in learning more about volunteering as a Big Brother are encouraged to inquire online at http://www.bbbstx.org/volunteer or call Megan at 325-674-3139.

Men who complete an application and complete a scheduled interview will be counted and receive a “Real Men Mentor” shirt or ball cap. For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters programming and opportunities to volunteer, visit bbbstx.org or call Megan Tolle at 325-674-3139.

MAKE YOUR LIFE A WINNING SEASON

By DANNY MINTON

Growing up in a small town, the big summer event was Little League baseball. As they reached the age of around 12, the boys in town would anticipate the summer when they would first be picked to play. Baseball was big in the ’50’s. In Plano, the boys would be anxiously waiting by the phone the Saturday the teams were picked to see to which team they would be assigned. We had four teams in our league, the Colts, Sports, Athletics and Lions (If my memory is correct on the last one).

Danny Minton

Danny Minton

Every boy wanted to play for the Colts. They were the best team for several years. They were winners. They had the athletes from the prior year who would carry them to the championship again, so that’s where the newly selected recruits wanted to be as well. Like the others, I waited in anticipation for the call with the hope of being a blue and white Colt that first summer.

The call came from one of my friends. “Danny,” he said in a tone that I could tell even hurt him, “you were selected to the Sports.” When I hung up, I was devastated. Not only did I not make the Colts, but I was also on the worst team in the league. It was the team that had not won a single game the year before and was the worst in the last several years. The Sports, could it get any worse? The answer was a definite, “Yes.”

I bought my red and white baseball cap and headed out to the first team meeting. Even in disappointment, I looked forward to my first baseball uniform. The Sports’ colors were red and white. When it came time to distribute the uniforms the coach did not have enough of the red ones, so two of us got the colors of the old team, gray and green. I was one of the two who got the “different” one. Not a very good start for something you were excited about in the beginning. The other player with a green uniform quit so I alone was left as odd colored standout. It could not get any worse, right? Wrong!

My first time at bat was in a practice game with you guessed it, the Colts. Since I was small, everyone moved up on me. To the other team’s surprise, I was a better player than I looked. I connected with the first pitch and got a hit to right field. Then on first base, it happened. The pitcher threw the ball to pick me off, and I got back to the base but did not notice the old “hidden ball” trick. The first baseman acted like he threw it back, but instead held the ball. I stepped off the base and was promptly tagged out. I was again devastated. I sat by the fence and cried.

The bright spot was that I received my red and white uniform after a couple of weeks, we tied for second place that year and the following year tied for the division lead. Later, I was selected as one of the all-stars as the second baseman. Even though the beginning was rough, I never gave up and enjoyed several summers of small-town baseball.

The Bible teaches that “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). Sometimes we are going to face tough challenges. The easy thing is to give up. We can just quit and move on. But giving up accomplishes nothing compared to the rewards that can come our way from sticking through the tough times. It is through facing trials and hardships and defeating the tests that come our way that we become stronger in our spiritual lives. The apostle Peter is a great example of this. He was called down for rebuking Jesus, his faith wavered as he walked on water and he denied Jesus at his trial. Yet he became the greatest of all the apostles.

So next time life gives you a green uniform and puts you in a last team situation think about the future. Turn that unfortunate circumstance into a winning season of your life.

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Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.

Psalm 31:24

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ

ST. JAMES HOSTS LIVING LAST SUPPER

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Reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper

Thirteen cast members, plus crew, will present the annual Living Last Supper at St. James United Methodist Church, 3100 Barrow St., March 24, 25, and 29.

The first drama was presented in 1998 and has been held every year since then. Performances, which are free and open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m.  An offering will be taken.

The set is a large table at the front of the sanctuary, where Jesus and his 12 apostles shared the last supper. The set is based on the painting, The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci.