Saturday, December 25, 2010
Pastor Sue Gross & Lay Speaker David Stanton, above, invite YOU.
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It's Christmas Day, Dec. 25, and The Dinner is FREE to all
from 2 pm to 4 pm
Tinney Chapel United Methodist Church invites the community to its third annual free Christmas dinner TODAY, December 25, from 2 pm to 4 pm, in the church’s spacious Family Life Center at 449 County Road 4620, just off FM 312, two miles south of Winnsboro.
There is no charge of any kind for the food and fellowship at this event, sponsored in the spirit of the season, for the Winnsboro community. Please be our guest.
Reservations are not required, but a head count would be helpful via the church’s telephone, 903-629-7696 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 903-629-7696 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 903-629-7696 end_of_the_skype_highlighting to Pastor Sue Gross or Secretary Jenna Nelson. You may also e-mail either at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, December 24, 2010
Christmas Eve Worship Service, part 4, Candlelight ceremony, led by Pastor Sue Gross
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Prayer After Receiving Holy Communion
You have given yourself to us, Lord.
Now we give ourselves for others.
Your love has made us a new people.
As a people of love we will serve you with joy.
Your glory has filled our hearts.
Help us to glorify You in all things.
Songleader David Stanton led the congregation in the final hymn, Silent Night, and the lights dimmed for a candlelight ceremony, beginning with the Pastor lighting a candle from the Christ Candle, then using the newly lighted candle to light those of each member of the congregation.
As the strains of Silent Night faded, Pastor Sue Gross gave the benediction.
Christmas Eve Worship Service, part 3, Holy Communion by Pastor Sue Gross, assisted by David Stanton
Click on any image above to view in larger format and/or click on the arrow below to view video of Holy Communion, served by Pastor Sue Gross, assisted by David Stanton.
Christmas Eve Worship Service @ Tinney Chapel UMC
Service of Holy Communion for Christmas Eve
Pastor & Congregation:
We do not presume to come to this your table, merciful Lord, trusting in our own goodness, but in your unfailing mercies. We are not worthy that you should receive us, but give your word and we shall be healed, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Great Thanksgiving.
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven and earth...we praise your name and join their unending hymn.
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Holy are you, and blessed is your Son, Jesus Christ...And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ's offering for us, as we proclaim the mystery of faith.
Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine...Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, all honor and glory is yours, almighty Father, now and forever. Amen.
click on any image above to view it in larger format and/or click on the arrow below to view the video of the Christmas Eve sermon by Pastor Sue Gross.
A Child Will Be Born
Christmas Eve Sermon by Pastor Sue Gross
Rev. Sue Gross began her message with a reference to having seen a production of Waiting For Godot, sometimes described as an absurdist play by Samuel Beckett, in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait vainly for someone named Godot. However, in the production witnessed by Pastor Sue, the interpretation was that Godot actually represented God, so the other two characters were, in fact, waiting for God, which resulted in an entirely different slant.
In this version, the two major speaking characters are in a one-sided discussion about two thieves on a cross, one of whom is saved. These two characters eventually agree on an absurd conclusion: They will kill themselves if Godot/God does not actually arrive. The obvious conclusion: If God does arrive, they will be saved, as was one of the thieves. The Pastor's point: Some are still waiting for God!
The good news, said Pastor Sue, is that no one need look any further than Bethlehem because the Jewish prophet Isaiah long ago--before the actual event--prophesied the birth of Jesus.
To us a Child is born, wonderful counselor, Mighty God, born in a manger because there was no room at the inn.
Here Pastor Sue mentioned that, during her visit to the Holy Land, she visited Shepherd's Field, where the shepherds were chosen to be the first to learn of the birth of the Son of God in a cave, symbolic of poverty, not honor. Luke tells us the story, reminded Pastor Sue, of how the shepherds were filled with fear despite the angelic message of great joy to the world.
All this, she said, came together for us in Bethlehem. What was joined together? The song of the angels and the Son of God.
Let us remember, she said, that the Savior is here for us, all of us, and the melody of the angels is a personal call to each of us.
Let us remember, too, the sign this event provides: a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. We should regard all this as up close and personal for the entire world, including each of us. God is not some abstract theological entity: Rather, God is very real.
Let us remember also that the angelic song is a song for us, bringing the news of the great joy of Christmas, another point that we should take as very up front and personal. The song is sung for all. It's a song that should also be sung by us to represent the good news of our Savior, the good news of our Sign, and the good news of our Song.
At this point, Pastor Sue related an anecdote about a TV version of a William Faulkner story titled Tomorrow, in which a cotton farmer (played by Robert Duvall) helps a woman deliver her baby, then builds a crib for the newborn baby. The mother, who realizes she is dying, asks the cotton farmer to care for the baby as if the baby was his own, and he agrees to do so. The mother, satisfied with his answer, tells the cotton farmer that the baby was born for him, a metaphor perhaps for the Christ Child who was born for all of us. To read more about Tomorrow, please click on the title of this Weblog post at the top of the page.
The Pastor concluded her message with a final anecdote about a young mother who is so busy reading her baby book that she neglects her crying baby, but is reminded by her own mother to put down the book and pick up the baby, perhaps another metaphor for how all of us should regard the Christ Child.
Click on any image above to view it in larger format and/or click on the arrow below for a video of part 1 of this Christmas Eve service.
Christmas Eve Worship Service, 2010, Part 1
Pastor Sue Gross, wearing her new white robe, a gift from her congregation, kicked off this year's Christmas Eve worship service by welcoming those who braved a cold and rainy night to attend.
David Stanton, Tinney Chapel's newest Lay Speaker, also served tonight as Lay Reader for Luke 2:1-20 and songleader for Christmas hymns, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear and What Child Is This, during part 1 of the service.
Luk 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
Luk 2:2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
Luk 2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
Luk 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
Luk 2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
Luk 2:6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
Luk 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luk 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
Luk 2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
Luk 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Luk 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Luk 2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
Luk 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Luk 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luk 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
Luk 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
Luk 2:17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
Luk 2:18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
Luk 2:19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
Luk 2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Pastor Sue delivered the prayer and read from the Old Testament, Isaiah 9:2-7:
Isa 9:2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
Isa 9:3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
Isa 9:4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.
Isa 9:5 For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.
Isa 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isa 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service 6 pm tonight @ Tinney Chapel
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Light A Candle Tonight, Dec. 24, At The Quintessential Country Church
If you would like to center yourself into the unique heights of Christmastime, come to Tinney Chapel tonight at 6 pm and light a candle during our brief Holy Communion Christmas Eve worship service.
Pastor Sue Gross will lead the service and serve Holy Communion.
The congregation will welcome you with seasonal love, and many will likely give you a Christmas hug, asking only that you pass it along.
It was Dickens who said it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmastime.
But it was Mary Ellen Chase who said Christmas is not a date: Rather it is a state of mind, and that is so true at the quintessential country church.
This is a church that knows how both to worship and to welcome.
So, just show up, and you will feel right at home. We guarantee it.
Many in our congregation spend the year putting up some of that old-fashioned Christmas Spirit in jars, and open a jar of it every month or so: They are members of the Tinney Chapel Ladies Group.
It's true that, according to the calendar, Christmas comes but once a year, and it was a memorable Dickens character, Ebeneezer Scrooge, who eventually concluded that it's best to honor Christmas in our hearts and try to keep it all the year.
Remember that old-fashioned custom: Keeping Christmas?
Keeping it all year, at that.
So, come on out tonight, Dec. 24, and help Tinney Chapel honor the Christ Child, the Reason for the Season, and we promise to send you home with more than a song in your heart.
What's more, you are more than welcome to come back tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 25, Christmas Day, for a free Christmas Dinner!
"Remembrance, like a candle, shines brightest at Christmastime."--Charles Dickens.
Friday, December 17, 2010
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Christmas At The Old Tinney Home Place
By Joe Dan Boyd
Copyright © 2003 by Joe Dan Boyd
When Grandpaw Tinney turned over an acre of his farmland to establish what would become Tinney Chapel UMC, a Century had also recently turned. It was February 22, 1900, just 14 years after my Grandpaw, W. A. Tinney, left Alabama for what he hoped would be better farming prospects in Texas. The little church was erected less than a half mile from the sprawling, unpainted house where 18 children from my Grandpaw’s two marriages were raised.
By 1911, Grandpaw Tinney realized that his community needed not only a church, but also an educational system, so he gifted another parcel of farmland to form the nearby Vernon School.
Thirteen years after the birth of the church, my Grandmother, Elizabeth Gamble Tinney, gave birth to a daughter, Dolly Fay, who would become the youngest member of this agricultural aggregation at The Old Tinney Home Place.
It was a time when most Americans still lived on un-mechanized farms, a demographic which helps us to understand that era’s blessing on large families, which assured a readily available labor pool.
None of this was much different, in principle, from the demographics of an even longer-ago agrarian culture in a place called Bethlehem where the Virgin Mary gave birth to a Boy-Child named Jesus on the very first Christmas Day.
In the fullness of time, Dolly Fay would give birth to three children, but only my brother Tommy and I survived. Our older sister, Nelda June, died in infancy. Dolly died soon after Tommy’s birth, and our father, Dan Boyd, died less than two years later. We were immediately claimed by three mothers-of-the-heart under the same roof---Grandmaw Tinney (we called her Ma-Maw), Great Aunt Laura (we called her Yar) and Dolly’s sister, our Aunt Maude (we called her Bushy).
Tommy and I then became the last children to be raised on The Old Tinney Home Place.
By the time we were big enough to help on the farm, then sharecropped by Bushy’s husband, our Uncle Kay Cater, Tinney Chapel had been making disciples of Jesus Christ for four decades. The church had also by then become sufficiently well known that the enclave of small farms encircling it had itself acquired a geographic designation as the Tinney Chapel community.
Life for most Tinney Chapel community farmers was rustic, rural and ritualistic in that pre-World War II era, when most of us still did everything by hand or with the sometimes-stubborn aid of mules and horses. We milked cows by hand, churned butter by hand, butchered hogs and chickens by hand, picked cotton by hand and hitched up the mules by hand before a day of walking behind the plow.
At The Old Tinney Home Place, Tommy and I always had plenty of flickering coal oil lamplight to do our Vernon School homework. There, at Vernon School, our Christmas Season was always ushered in a few days early. The Big Boys (fifth through eighth graders) at the school always cut a cedar or pine tree from the playground area for our annual Vernon School Christmas program and gift exchange.
We always drew names for the Vernon gift exchange, but one year I got something extra, my best surprise Christmas present ever: Poochie, dog love of my life, whose picture is still framed prominently in my office! It was 1943, and I was in the fourth grade. A couple of years later, when I really knew how special she was, I recorded the experience, writing it by hand in a sixth-grade 8” x 10.5” The Spiral notebook, almost exactly as follows:
The complete and unabridged story of how I got Poochie, the perfect present.
The real holidays hadn’t started, but at Vernon School it was Christmas. Yes, even though Christmas was about a week off, Vernon School’s blackboards were gaily decorated with pictures of Santa, holly and Christmas trees. The fourth grade sat on the last row. All but one of the fourth graders were there. Norma Turner was missing.
Just a few days before, I had told her: “Sure, I want a pup. What kind is she?”
“Fice,” she answered.
Suddenly, the door flew open. The room burst into merry laughter. The girl, Norma Turner, put her lunch in the cabinet. Then, after Mrs. Burkett, the teacher, had quieted down the class, Norma put the pup she had on her books. She went to her seat, behind me. Recess finally came. I went to claim my pup, but---“We’re playing with it,” the girls told me, brushing me aside.
Imagine my surprise, and needless to say, dejection. Downhearted, I walked away. The girls then proceeded to play with it all the recess. Then finally the bell rang---classes again. So I had to wait until dinner.
Finally, after long hours the lunch bell rang. We marched out---the bell rang again---Into the house we thundered, grabbed our lunch and went to our seats. The girls again proceeded to get the pup from her sandbox and carried her to their seats---anyway I was not deprived of the pleasure of feeding the pup tiny morsels of food---indeed the whole school proceeded to feed her choice morsels of food. The pup must have thought she was in dog heaven, for all the choice bits she got.
When we finished lunch---the girls again proceeded to play with the dog---for about half or three-fourths of the period, they played with the tiny little white-black ball of Fice fur.
Finally---“Here, she’s all yours now,” said Norma,, handing to me the tiny bundle of fur. For the remaining part of the period, I played with and carried around the pup, which was finally---yes, finally, mine, all mine.
While the other boys and I played, the girls fixed the Christmas tree in the other room. Finally---bong---we lined up---bong---in we marched
---the puppy under my coat---we marched into the “Big Room,” where the higher classes resided---except at Christmas---then we all went in---and handed out the presents. The teacher usually gave us some candy and fruit also. So in we went and---sat down.
Mrs. Irene, the “Big Teacher,” teacher of higher classes, picked out some to hand out the presents. Finally, “Joe,” she said, “Do you want to or do you?”
“I have the puppy,” I said---Carl Casey said, “I’ll hold it for you Joe.”
But I didn’t. I just held her and let someone else hand out presents.
Finally, all the presents were handed out and---we went outside---Johnny A. Turner had brought the dog under his coat---so I did likewise. Johnny A. was Norma’s brother. So, with all my presents and my dog we piled in Mrs. Burkett’s car and went home.
When we got home and put our presents down, I went into the garden where Bushy was. I had my dog with me, as they knew nothing about it. “Can I keep her Bushy,” I asked.
“No,” she said, “I don’t imagine Kay will let you.”
I then remembered what Bud King had said as we were going out of the room. “That’s a squirrel dog, Joe.”
“Say that again,” I said.
“That’s a squirrel dog,” he said it earnestly.
So I said, “Bud said it was a squirrel dog.”
That night I told Kay the same thing---we made her a bed by the fireplace and put her in it. I wanted to keep her and it looked like I would.
I wanted to name the dog Trixie—--and I called her that for a few days but it looked like I was out-voted for her name turned out to be Poochie.
That is how I came to get Poochie---I was proud I had gotten her for Christmas.
Poochie was a gift to me, and I’ve called her the Perfect Present without fear of overstatement.
Someone, Kinky Friedman, I think, has said that while money may buy us a fine dog, only love can make a dog wag its tail, and my four years with Poochie proved the wisdom of that observation to me each and every we roamed over hills and meadows.
I also recall seeing a quote by someone named Roger Caras which made a strong case for having a dog in our lives: Dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole!
Without question, my grief at Poochie’s death was exceedingly profound, nearly five years after that memorable Christmas at the school founded by my Grandpaw Tinney. I could not have missed Poochie any less than if she had been a human member of my immediate family. I cried so, I scarcely could see.
Thus, I must have more in common with Kinky Friedman than our penchant for unusual country music. I read somewhere that Kinky’s vision of the Afterlife suggests that when we approach the gates of Heaven, all the dogs we’ve ever had in our lives will come running out to meet us!
That is a comforting thought, indeed, and lends credence to another of my favorite philosophers, Will Rogers, who once quipped that no one gets into Heaven by merit, else our dogs would make it and we, alas, would not.
I do hope to be reunited one day with Poochie, along with all the other Dear Hearts & Gentle People associated with my time on God’s Green Earth.
Meanwhile, back at the Old Tinney Home Place, Tommy and I helped Uncle Kay cut our firewood by hand and warmed ourselves in front of open fireplaces. It was on the mantle, above one of the two fireplaces in the Old Tinney Home Place, that we always hung our Christmas stockings!
Nearby was our Christmas tree, cut from the farm’s timbered area, and decorated naturally, without electric lights.
It was Tinney tradition that the kids wait in a remote part of the rambling Old Tinney Home Place so that Santa could come down the chimney and leave his presents, before all could gather around the tree for a family gift exchange. After Santa came and went, a designated adult came to the “waiting area” and fetched the kids, who then mounted a boisterous Christmas charge to learn what treasures Santa had brought them.
One Christmas, after Santa came, the kids were summoned by Wallace Bellomy, son of Lillian Tinney Bellomy and brother of Beth Bellomy Newkirk.
“Ole Santa has done come and gone, and he burnt his coattail,” Wallace announced with his always-pleasant smile. Later that night, Wallace helped me learn to ride in one of Santa’s presents, a pedal-pushed car with brilliant battery-powered headlights, perhaps the most elaborate gift Santa ever brought me. I pedaled it, up and down the dark hallway at The Old Tinney Home Place, until the battery-powered lights burned out.
But, that same year, Grandmaw Tinney’s personal gift to me, and the same to Tommy, was even more special: Identical books to each of us, large, hardbound, colorful, illustrated volumes titled, The Story Of Jesus.
I like to think of that Christmas as the time Jesus brought the Light to our Walk with the Lord!
Copyright © 2003 by Joe Dan Boyd
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Click on any image above to view it in larger format and/or click on the arrow below to view the video of the Plainsmen's Christmas concert.
Christmas with the Southern Plainsmen Quartet at Tinney Chapel in 2010
As soon as the Southern Plainsmen Quartet, Marcelle Slaughter, Jordan Mothershed, Allen Doyle and Mike Burkhalter, began to sing their stylized version of "Love Lifted Me," the congregation warmed up to the group on this chilly night at the quintessential country church.
As the concert program began to unfold, with Allen Doyle leading a standout version of “Sweet Beulah Land” and Jordan Mothershed leading “Heading Home,” Tinney Chapel was in the thrall of this enthusiastic example of Southern sacred group harmony, which made its second appearance here in as many years. Last year, at about this same time, many in this United Methodist congregation likely thought of John Wesley, Methodism's founder, when the Plainsmen sang "It Is Well With My Soul."
This year, let’s just say that their rousing version of “This Man Called Jesus”—a song which functions as both the Plainsmen’s theme and their testimony--compensated for any lack of direct references to the Original Methodist, John Wesley.
Marcelle Slaughter, a veteran of 32 years with this group, and the only remaining member of the original aggregation, is the Plainsmen's first tenor, or as they used to say in the old days of gospel quartets, the "high tenor," reminiscent of the sound once championed by "Sister" Loy Hooker, a much earlier exponent. In a post concert conversation last year, Slaughter admitted to remembering Hooker, but added: "That really was a LONG time ago!" And, indeed it was.
Another strong favorite of this night was "From A Star To Stripes," a song inspired by both Betsy Ross, who sewed the first American Flag, and the sacrificial legacy of Jesus The Christ, by Whose stripes we, as Christians, believe we are healed. Among the lyrics of this moving song, the Plainsmen sang: “Though there’s glory in Old Glory, it can never quite compare with the Glory of the Cross at Calvary.”
At about this same time, Marcelle Slaughter called on the congregation to honor all those in the building who have served in the military, and gave special attention to World War II veteran Woody Wilkerson, now 91 years of age, who happened to be wearing a patriotic red-white-and-blue veteran’s cap.
All this was reminiscent of last year when, during the Plainsmen’s concert here, Slaughter introduced a musical tribute to military veterans, as well as a salute to the freedoms that all Americans enjoy: "God Bless The USA," "America The Beautiful," "God Bless America," and--bringing this congregation to its feet--"The Star-Spangled Banner."
Just before taking a short break during the concert, Plainsmen leader Slaughter told the congregation how to follow the Plainsmen on the Internet:
“If you are on Facebook, we now have a Facebook page called, Southern Plainsmen,” he added.
One of the most popular numbers at this year’s Plainsmen quartet was a fast-moving song, “Getting Ready To Leave This World,” that highlighted all four harmonic parts of the group.
As the evening drew to a close, the Plainsmen sang a Christmas medley, including "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "Silent Night," "O Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem," and "Joy To The World." (See separate video available elsewhere on this Weblog post.)
But, no report of this year’s concert would be complete without mention of the marvelous song, led by Allen Doyle, called “Faces,” which tells us that when we all see Jesus, one of the things He has in store for us is a kind of PowerPoint collage of all the faces each of us have influenced in some Christ-like manner during our Christian walks on this earth.
As if saving the best for last, the final song was truly memorable: "Meet Us At The Table Of The King Someday,"
It was indeed a Christmas concert to remember, and you can view a small part of it via the previously mentioned video provided elsewhere on this Weblog post.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Adler & Hearne headline concert @ Art & Expresso with guests Nelson Privette, Gus Gustafson, Joe Dan Boyd, Susan Thames & Ramsey Sisters
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A Guest Gig With Adler & Hearne @ Art & Espresso on Market Street
It was a very good Friday, December 10, and more than Christmas was in the air along beautiful downtown Winnsboro's Market Street, perhaps better known, historically, as The Bowery, once home to a-baker's-dozen-or-so saloons.
In fact, Lynn Adler sang Adler & Hearne's original song, "The Bowery," inspired by the historical writings of Bill Jones, sang it two times actually on this evening, once for the early-birds and again for the late-comers to this concert scheduled for three hours: four pm to seven pm in the intimate venue of Art & Espresso, home of wonderful sandwiches, salads, beverages, ice cream and more.
It would be a good time, figured Lindy of Adler and Hearne, arguably the most famous musical duo in Greater Winnsboro, to try out some new songs and resurrect some oldies they haven't, for whatever reason, been doing regularly of late. Thus was the pace set for this eclectic, entertaining evening.
A few guests had also been invited to join Adler and Hearne during the three-hour gig, including two of Hearne's guitar students: Nelson Privette, a freshman in Winnsboro High School, and a promising prodigy on lead guitar, along with Susan Thames, whose ornately appointed guitar dazzled the audience as she accompanied herself on sad songs like "The Long Black Veil."
Other guests included Gus Gustafson, who arrived late, but in time for hot harmonica breaks toward the evening's end. The Ramsey Sisters were also late-comers, but are always welcome for their impeccable harmony and youthful enthusiasm.
Myself, Joe Dan Boyd, was the other invited guest performer, choosing to bring my recently amplified tenor ukulele, while singing four songs: "Paper Moon," "Darling Nellie Gray," "Redwing" and "The Glory Of Love." Two of those songs were learned long ago from my musical mentor, the late great Herb Cater.
But, of course, the evening belonged to Winnsboro's musical aristocracy, Adler and Hearne, who chose to sing "Salty Town" early in the concert, one of those songs filled with nostalgia for those of all ages, speaking to us of life before kids and grandkids, and of a simple life in general.
"River Of Wind" and "Second Nature" were also paired early in the evening, the latter song's lyrics describing how a sweet prairie can itself sing back to us with sissortails diving, for real or in memory.
"Addicted To You," a song that required 12 years for Hearne to complete a long-term journey of composition: "You needed space, so you took off to the moon," led somehow into Brer Rabbit's brier patch, causing the author to pine for a patch for the song's elusive lover.
Water was a popular motif in the lyrics of this unique concert, including songs like "River Wide, River Deep" and one of Adler & Hearne's signature tunes, "Goolsby's Pool," a favorite fishing haunt of my own childhood and now home to Adler & Hearne.
Among the hot riffs by the youthful and talented Nelson Privette were those associated with a tune called "Autumn Leaves," the bluesy "Soup's On" and a few instrumentals favored during the turbulent Sixties, and now recalled by a more settled Hearne.
"Cuddle With You" had to be one of the most charming of the night's song choices: "I'll be the onion, you be the stew, put me on the stove and call me done."
The Christmas Season was honored by one of Adler and Hearne's latest jewels, one written by Hearne and frequent co-composer Hal Greenwood, "If I Had Been In Bethlehem." So far, they have only recorded this amazing song as part of a multi-artist Christmas anthology, one that might be difficult to obtain at this point. The name of the anthology is "Hudson Harding Sampler, Vol. 5," in case you want to search for it online or in person. I bought the next-to-last copy in Lindy's bin.
"The Fly And The Spider" was another hit with this evening's audience, as was Susan Thames' version of "Your Cheatin' Heart."
One of my personal favorites from this dynamic duo is perhaps their best-known song, at least in this area, "My East Texas Piney Woods Home," which has become a kind of unofficial theme song for the Autumn Trails area and for Winnsboro in particular. It was also inspired by the historical writings of Bill Jones: "A long day for a dollar, and my soul is all I own.. in my East Texas Pineywoods home."
During the concert, Hearne, a master musician, switched easily from playing a Gibson mandolin, harmonica, a quirky green-colored Ibanez electric guitar and his two trusty vintage Gibson acoustic guitars, a 1959 model and likely his favorite, a 1948 Gibson that bears the same kind of troubadour scars as does the Martin named Trigger favored by Willie Nelson.
Nelson Privette, who Lindy says shows some of the same early promise as did his own daughter, Kate Hearne, played his Epiphone Les Paul electric, and stood out especially on such songs as "California Here I Come" and "California Dreamin'."
One of the most unique songs of the evening would be "The Ballad of Travis Arkie," which tells the story of the man known as Travis Arkie, who "had it made in that East Texas shade," and whose life seldom wandered from the path of what-the-hey. Of course, there was also that other song, "One Night In The Backyard," which detailed the ceremonial burials of childhood pets: a dog, a cat, a rat, a goldfish, a bunny, and..well, you get the picture.
"Pineywoods Breeze," a song that could carry the load of an album title, took us into the mystical world of firewood crackling, nightbirds singing and cabins looming in the deep woods. It's a never-to-be-forgotten tune.
When Gus Gustafson arrived, the concert began to wind down, with his harmonica echoing to tunes with names like "Ready To Die," "In The Skillet" and "Texas Will Have To Do."
Which seems a great way to end a concert of this calibre.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
David Stanton's debut sermon as a United Methodist Lay Speaker
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Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25
Joseph, Father of Jesus
Good evening! I am David Stanton. I’m a local lay speaker here at Tinney Chapel.
I know what you are thinking. Isn’t that Mollie of Winnsboro’s husband? Can anything good come out of Winnsboro?
Mollie and I joined Tinney Chapel in 2000 and I have been active in leadership, Bible study and worship. This is the first time for me to deliver a lay speaker talk.
When Pastor Sue began to develop our Advent services in early November, she gave me a list of topics and I chose “Joseph.”
Several days later, Mollie and I left for a trip to Barcelona, Spain with a two-week cruise back to Galveston. I thought I would have ample time to “be still and listen” to God. I did and through the Holy Spirit, the thoughts and words began flowing as the talk took shape.
As always with me, I had time to evangelize with many people of many nationalities and faiths and “my first homily” became the focus of great, rich conversations with Christians and non-Christians alike.
I met a Muslim in Houston who was leaving for Mecca, Saudi Arabia on his once-in-a-lifetime required religious pilgrimage.
I met a Lutheran Professor from Texas Tech, a Jehovah’s Witness lady from England, and a Canadian man who has the very same Nelson New King James Bible that Joe Matthews, Peggy Boyd and I recently got for our Jesus in the Gospels Bible Study. It’s a small and wonderful world indeed.
And then I met Warren from First UMC Sugarland who offered to share their Communion Outreach Ministry with me, a ministry that I hope to champion in our church community.
The last time Mollie and I were in Barcelona, we discovered a large Gothic church with multiple construction booms as if it were being repaired. Our intention, on this trip, was to visit the church and learn about it. Turns out that our hotel was a mile or so from the church and we walked to it.
Commonly called the Sagrada Familia, or Church of the Holy Family, it began construction in 1882, and 128 years later it is only half completed.
To our surprise, Roman Catholic Pope Benedict 16th, was in the city to celebrate Holy Mass and to proclaim the church to be a basilica. We spent most of Saturday there and although we couldn’t get in for Sunday worship, I took many pictures of the Pope on the TV from the hotel. I looked at it as a God thing.
I was raised as a Catholic; yet, it was here, at Tinney Chapel, in 2000, that I acquired my first Bible recommended by my Christian mentor, my associate, and my brother in Christ, Joe Dan Boyd.
It was here that I was spiritually reborn, attended my Walk to Emmaus in 2002, led and attended every major Bible study for a decade, and here that I answered the call to lay speaking; serving in the capacity of caring and leading and
This Advent season we are studying the main characters that make up the Christmas story. Last week, Angela Wylie talked about Mary. This evening we will explore the character of Saint Joseph. The name Joseph has been a part of my ancestry at least for the past four generations.
The title of my talk is Joseph, Father of Jesus.
The Joseph of the New Testament, best known as the husband of Mary, and earthly father of Jesus, is mostly found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Joseph was a man of strong beliefs. He not only strove to do what was right, but also to do in the right way.
When his betrothed, Mary, came to him with the news of her pregnancy, he knew the child could not be his. Joseph decided he would break off the engagement, but he was determined to do it in such a way that it would not bring shame to Mary. He wanted to be just, acting with fairness and love. He had great respect for Mary’s character, but her story of being impregnated by God’s Holy Spirit was difficult for him to believe.
While considering this, he was visited by a messenger of God in a dream confirming Mary’s story and convincing Joseph that Mary had not been unfaithful. God instructed Joseph to marry the young woman and honor her virginity until the baby was born. Joseph obeyed the Lord.
This must have been, initially, very difficult for Joseph to reconcile in his natural mind. But Joseph had to be a very spiritual and faithful man of integrity.
It is not known how long Joseph was in the life of Jesus, but he realized from that moment that Jesus was to be very special.
When Caesar Augustus decreed “all the world should be taxed,” Joseph and Mary went from Nazareth to Bethlehem because he was from the house and lineage of David.
What a trip that must have been, but not one that was unfamiliar to Joseph, as he made his way each year to nearby Jerusalem for Passover.
This time, however, with Mary on a donkey, and at near term, it probably took them 8 to 10 days to travel the 80-plus miles.
Chances are that Joseph chose to go east, down the mountain to the river Jordan and follow it south to Jericho, then back up the mountain to Bethlehem.
Joseph functions as father and protector of Jesus during the journey and birth of the Child in the manger. He cares for Mary, and is thereafter the one who, together with Mary, is responsible for the Child being brought up in Nazareth.
Although not specifically mentioned, Joseph could have been the one who circumcised Jesus. Matthew’s Gospel clearly states that Joseph named Jesus as commanded by the angels in the dream.
And, once again in a dream, Joseph was instructed to flee to Egypt to avoid Herod’s wrath to kill the male newborns.
When Herod died, yet another dream told Joseph to return to Israel, but he was afraid of Herod’s son who succeeded him as principal ruler over the Bethlehem area, and Joseph decided to go to Nazareth in Galilee.
Each one of those moves that Joseph made fulfilled prophecies, the last of which was that Jesus shall be called a Nazarene.
God’s instruction left Joseph room to be flexible while still being obedient.
A word about Joseph as Jesus’ father:
If I were to ask you who Jesus’ father was, most of you would say, God, or, God through the Holy Spirit.
Let us consider that there are at least two types of fathers: a biological father and a legal father.
Here, God is the biological father and Joseph is the legal, earthly father who completes the lineage of Abraham and David to Jesus listed in Matthew, Chapter 1, and from Jesus back through David to Adam and God in Luke, Chapter 3.
Joseph’s role as father is important here. In Luke, Chapter 2, we are told that together with Mary, he brought Jesus to the Temple. First, on the 8th day when Jesus was circumcised, and Joseph named Him. And then after 40 days of purification of the mother, Joseph, likely paid for the animals to be sacrificed to fulfill the law.
Joseph was there when Simeon, the God-receiver, a righteous man of well over 200 years, who was waiting to behold the Christ before he died; and Anna, the prophetess, who literally stayed in the Temple, day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer.
Joseph presumably fulfilled the fatherly role of parent, teaching the Torah to Jesus, helping him to increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
Mark’s Gospel ties two facts together: That of Jesus coming from Nazareth and that of his profession as a carpenter. Joseph of Nazareth, the carpenter, taught his son, Jesus, the profession as was the custom of the time.
John’s Gospel mentions Joseph by name twice, once as Jesus was gathering His Disciples. Philip acclaims Him as the one “of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph (where Nathaniel replied, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” John’s interest is to show that He who was raised as son of Joseph of Nazareth was the one and same Son of God before the world existed.
Joseph and Mary continued fulfilling their parental obligation to the Temple by an annual Passover trip to Jerusalem. We remember the time when they left Jesus and returned three days later to find Him in the Temple conversing with the teachers. He informed His parents that He “must be about My Father’s business.” They accepted his response without question, just as He patiently returned with them to Nazareth, and remains “obedient to them” for the next 18 years up to the appointed time of His baptism and His divine mission.
When the Son of Man is ready to begin His proclamation that “the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,” Joseph’s role is completed, and he is no longer mentioned in the Gospel.
The Son of God obeys obedient Joseph as earthly father in preparation for faithful obedience to the mission entrusted to His heavenly Father.
Joseph, in my life, was my father’s father, my grandpa, Joseph Raymond Stanton. He named his first-born, my father, Joseph DeWayne Stanton. My father named his fourth son, my brother, Joseph, who died at age 19 in a vehicle accident. After his death, my youngest sister, Susan, named her first-born Joseph...and in 1996, my son, Scott, named his son Joseph Stanton.
Just as in Jesus’ time, fathers, brothers, nephew and grandson named Joseph proved to be God-fearing, obedient and just.
Let us pray: Oh, most mighty and awesome God, we thank You for Your Son’s earthly father, Joseph, and for his setting the good example of an obedient father and parent of Jesus, a protector, spiritual director and vocational teacher. In Your Son’s precious Name. And, let all God’s people say, AMEN.
Sunday, December 05, 2010
Sacred & Secular Sounds of a True Blue Christmas Concert
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Secular & Sacred Sounds of the 2010 True Blue Christmas Concert
Last Season, 2009, found Shannon Monk still riding the wings of a meteoric rise to sure-fire sell-out ticket status anywhere in Winnsboro, and praising her good fortune in encouraging several True Friends to form the amazing True Blue back-up band which is a perfect Christmas present for tonight’s December 5, 2010 Leading Lady who carries a torch for the music of her life, but especially for songs of this sacred season, one of which allowed her to open this, her second annual True Blue Christmas concert, by accompanying herself on one of her most prized musical possessions, a vintage Silvertone ukulele of the baritone persuasion.
Tonight’s concert, again at Winnsboro Center for the Arts, featured both Shannon’s tremendous talent and fetching two-piece costume of elegant maroon and black travel velvet, accented by her patented oval concert eyeglasses and high-topped boots that would soon set her feet a-dancing during some subsequent numbers.
Striding purposefully onstage, Shannon headed to the crown jewel of her instrument collection, the aforementioned Silvertone ukulele, constructed long ago of select mahogany, a stunning match for her own emotive, mature vocal tones, reminiscent of both rare rosewood and majestic mahogany itself.
Her decision to open the show by strapping on the vintage Silvertone, and strumming soft chords from recently installed Hilo strings, marked a confident departure from last season’s venue when Shannon sang her first set mostly from a rocking chair, switching for the second set to a more animated stand-up stance which allowed her not only to be more animated, but also to romance the microphone, a technique she had already mastered during earlier jazz-oriented concerts designed to showcase her true calling: torrid torch singer.
But her Christmas flirtation with the Silvertone was deliberately choreographed to be short-lived, perhaps even a stocking-stuffer tease.
After the first few bars of a combined Christmas Waltz/Most Wonderful Time Of The Year selection which functioned as both show opener and potential showstopper, the twin starkness of her nuanced voice, embellished only by soft Silvertone string vibrations from Hawaii’s Big Island, was interrupted by the sudden symphonic sounds of True Blue, the band that helped make Shannon locally famous: perky percussion from Rick Murray’s twin congas, mellow magic from Ben Scarborough’s electric bass, piano pyrotechnics from George Gagliardi, along with two guest performers, including the full guitar sound of Kurt Bittner’s 1990s Gibson and sensational brassy backup by saxophonist Richard Shanks.
The unexpected segue from acoustic subdued solo to the full, rich amplified band was a bit like switching a jukebox from Mozart’s Requiem to Beethoven’s mighty Symphony Number Nine—a jolt to the system, but a welcome one in the end, except perhaps for those of us in the full house who love the unique sound of a vintage baritone ukulele! Perhaps next year Shannon will do an entire number with just two instruments: her voice & her Silvertone!
But this season’s opener was sufficiently special for an appreciative audience that knew exactly why it was there, as Shannon caressed the microphone, warbling the lyrics of dreams coming true to a song in three-quarter time, wishing a Merry Christmas to an absent loved one.
Suddenly, yet another surprise, as the stage filled with background performers who helped put final touches on the opening number and would later grace the stage as Shannon’s guests, including Harold & Judy Shelton, the musical Ramsey Family (Carey, James, Emma, Johanna, Grace, Sarah Anne & Matthew), Brennan Murray (Rick’s son) and James Monk (Shannon’s & Michael’s son).
All of this was, of course, carefully choreographed by master musician George Gagliardi, who not only programmed the entire event, but also switched effortlessly from piano to guitar, served with Shannon as a co-narrator for the event and worked out all the arrangements for the concert and even composed some of the songs.
Shannon ended the opening combo number, emphasizing the sentimental lyrics (“most wonderful time of the year”) and watched the gaily costumed group depart the stage before beginning a Here Comes Santa Clause narrative bridge: “He’s making a list and checking it twice...Santa Clause is coming to town,” leading into a staged conversation with her son James whose punch line introduced him singing the still popular comedic Christmas song, All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.
Brushing back her concert-coiffed hair, Shannon moved into Merry Christmas Darling, a song that might very well have been inspired by someone just like her, and certainly a song with the kind of romantic theme that seems tailor-made for her unique vocal stylings. In this moving rendition, Shannon voiced the plaintive refrain that she and her loved one are apart, that’s true, but she can dream can’t she? And in her dreams, she is spending Christmas eve with the guy of those seasonal dreams. It is, after all, the logs on the Christmas fire, that fill her with desire to make this Christmas merry by spending it with the one she loves. On cue, the Ramsey Sisters appear just in time to assist Shannon’s finale for this number.
An instrumental selection followed, Baby It’s Cold Outside, a guitar duet, actually, featuring both Gagliardi on his Gretsch Country Gentleman model from the 1980s and Bittner on his 1990s Gibson. For this special number, Gagliardi remained seated at the piano, where his guitar was always either in use or safely propped to the side. Bittner kept his seat in the “orchestra pit” just below the stage.
Guest vocalist Harold Shelton, who is also musical director, with his wife Judy, at First United Methodist Church in beautiful downtown Winnsboro, reprised his acclaimed rendition of The Christmas Song, which he performed at last years first True Blue Christmas concert. His rich baritone is perfect for this Holiday standard about chestnuts, turkey, mistletoe and tiny tots with eyes all aglow, especially with a lighted Christmas tree on stage in the background. Complex guitar breaks were featured on Harold’s selection, which ended with his hands outstretched in a Merry Christmas greeting to the audience.
At this point, Gagliardi narrated his reasoning for including the Elvis favorite, Blue Christmas, in tonight’s program: How can it NOT be in a True Blue Christmas concert? It’s another favorite from last year’s concert, which was then an instrumental version, with Shannon this year interpreting the vocals perfectly, even bluer than expected, pulling the mike to a 45-degree love angle for radical romancing: “I’ll have a Blue Christmas, that’s certain, I’ll have a Blue Christmas; it’s hurtin’.”
(Blue Christmas was made so famous in our time by Elvis Presley that many churches now offer Blue Christmas services for anyone grieving over some measure of loss or disappointment during this normally most joyous Season of the year.)
But it remained for the next selection, Christmas Comes But Once A Year, to bring out the best of Shannon’s bouncy, bluesy, clipped vocal nuances, reminding one of Cher during her best bluesy years, performing a Sadie Thompson vocal-vamp on the TV series with then-husband Sonny Bono. It’s also this song which first sets Shannon’s dark concert boots a-dancing on this evening, as she moved back and forth, snapping and fanning her fingers to the raunchy rhythm when the lyrics call for putting out the fire. It is perhaps this concert’s supreme proof that Shannon is, first and foremost, a torch singer of the authentic school.
When Shannon introduces band member Rick Murray to sing Merry Christmas Baby, he approaches the mike clapping his hands, bringing the audience into the rendition with a call-and-response, semi-gospel-influenced clapping of each and every pair of hands in the house. Yet, his is an understated, un-dramatized performance, exactly on target to emphasize the seasoned breaks by both sax and guitars, with fabulous licks from bassist Ben Scarborough. Rick’s ending lyric caps the performance: “I’m all lit up, I’m all lit up, I’m all lit up...like a...Christmas Tree.”
The first set ends with Shannon sorrowfully singing Please Come Home For Christmas, using her hands now and then in the manner of a practiced hula dancer and not unlike that of a song interpreted in American Sign Language for a non-hearing audience. It is not, technically, a show-stopper, but it does end the first set.
At this time, attention is directed to the Winnsboro Center for the Arts gift shop, which tonight features photography by Lindy Hearne, and which will remain open for business through, and beyond, the Christmas season.
The second set begins with a Jingle Bells instrumental improvisation called Jingle Bells Meets Tequilla, featuring the healthy lungs of Richard Shanks and the nimble fingers of Kurt Bittner who forms complex barre chords up and down the neck of his Gibson. It’s an instrumental tour de force for True Blue.
Shannon takes the spotlight again with the stilted heels of her black concert boots, dancing to the rhythm of Rockin’ ‘Round The Christmas Tree, especially to the great guitar breaks by Bittner & Gagliardi.
It is guest performance time again as Shannon introduces two of her “favorite short people,” Ramsey Children Sarah Anne and Matthew, who first perform a charming dramatic comedy sketch in which Matthew requests that Sarah Ann read him a story, and she begins with the standard Twas The Night Before Christmas, when Matthew interrupts and requests a “cowboy story.” Without missing a beat, Sarah Ann switches to Twas The Night Before Christmas In Texas, with Santa wearing Levi’s, a red shirt, a 10-gallon Stetson, and Matthew is satisfied. Then, they sing a duet, That’s What I Want For Christmas, which includes Matthew’s lyric request: “And for goodness sakes, do away with tummy aches.”
This is followed by Carey Ramsey and the Ramsey Sisters doing Count Your Blessings, which Carey dedicated to Bonny Ramsey, his wife, who has been battling cancer.
Shannon is onstage again, singing another Christmas love song, What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve, in which she caresses the microphone stand, cradling and stroking the mike lovingly during this standout performance.
A Lesson For Daddy is the title of a charming conversation and song, about the Baby Jesus, Away In A Manger, by Rick and Brennan Murray.
If I Had Been In Bethlehem is a reflective musical analysis of what might have been if the singers—Lynn Adler and Lindy Hearne—had been there at the Nativity with the Holy Family. Written by Hearne and frequent co-writer, Hal Greenwood, an Episcopal Priest in Oklahoma, the song is punctuated by Lindy’s own finger-picking on a 1948 vintage Gibson guitar. The song’s sacred suggestions range far and wide, including: “If I were in the stable, I’d ask to hold the Child,” and “each time you ask forgiveness or pray that strife may cease, you open up your heart to the Prince of Peace.” Shannon tells the audience that it was Adler & Hearne who first encouraged her to sing in public. What a gift to us all.
The Ramsey Sisters and James Ramsey, who plays the cello, join Shannon for the strangely mystical Christmastime Is Here, a song that sounds otherworldly, almost as if could have been a madrigal. And the cello, one of my personal favorite instruments, adds a unique dimension to this evening’s concert.
Shannon then sings What Child Is This, a seasonal favorite which was included last year, but only as a piano instrumental by Gagliardi, accompanied by Scarborough, and which was a great hit at the time. This year, Shannon adds not only the mesmerizing lyrics, but her special styling which brands it as unforgettable to this audience.
This is followed by one of Gagliardi’s original compositions, The Christmas Child, which he sings to his own piano accompaniment and that of the entire True Blue band. He said he wrote the song as a reminder of the Reason for the Season. The lyrics do remind us, among other things, of how easy it sometimes is to need such a reminder during the hurry and scurry of shopping for Christmas gifts. But, as Gagliardi’s lyrics also remind us: It’s the Baby that has come to free us which fills us with hope, joy and the Reason for the Season.
O Little Town of Bethlem begins as an instrumental, with saxophone lead, followed by piano by Gagliardi, who then calls on the audience to sing along, a gesture which sets the stage for the next segment.
An old-fashioned Christmas caroling is on tap, as the stage fills again with most of the evening’s performers, who lead the audience in group songs, including Angels We Have Heard On High, O Come All Ye Faithful, Joy To The World and Silent Night. On Silent Night, with the stage darkened, candles begin to appear in the hands of the evening’s performers and are blown out at the end of the song.
House lights brighten the room, breaking the spell for this full house of True Blue fans of Shannon Monk, who graciously accepts their rave reviews, but reserves her own praise for the True Blue band and Winnsboro Center for the Arts.
Shannon concludes the evening with another original composition by George Gagliardi, I Believe In Miracles At Christmastime, a song with lyrics that dwell on the birth of a Savior, itself a miracle of high order, which leads to a kind of concluding punch line: “If growing up is losing that wonder, then call me a child, for I believe in miracles at Christmastime. As corny as it seems, I still believe in dreams, dreams that come true.”
And, one of my own favorite Christmas quotes: “Remembrance, like a candle, shines brightest at Christmastime.”-—Charles Dickens -END
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The Peaceable Kingdom: Fantasy Or For Real?
Pastor Sue Gross' sermon today, titled "The Peaceable Kingdom," was inspired by the Old Testament Scripture of Isaiah 11:1-10 in which the long-ago Hebrew prophet talked of the day when the wolf dwells with the lamb, the leopard lies down with the kid...and a little child leads them. And, oh yes, the lion eats straw like an ox!
That same Scripture inspired the now-famous painting of the same name, The Peaceable Kingdom, by Edward Hicks (1780-1849), himself a Quaker who was also commemorating the signing of a treaty during the 1600s between Native Americans and Colonists led by William Penn, also a Quaker, a religious faith with strong ties to the promotion of peace on earth.
The Pastor passed out copies of this painting, shown in the photos above (which may also be accessed by clicking on the title of this Weblog post at the top of the page, itself a live link providing more background on the art and the artist).
Pastor Sue made it clear that she doesn't think the world is any closer today to the ideal suggested by Hicks' painting than it was in any of the past centuries, which raises the question of the motivation behind both the Hebrew prophet and the Quaker artist: Will mankind ever experience such an idealized version of peace on earth?
Are we instead to assume that such a scene might actually materialize during the Second Coming of Jesus? Is the reality, if such is ever to exist, limited to what some call the millennial kingdom?
The strong sense that such an ideal is out of reach for humankind was emphasized by one of the Pastor's anecdotes about kids playing a game called "war," when an adult suggested they instead play a game called "peace," a concept so foreign to the kids that none of them had any idea how to go about "playing peace."
The Pastor also mentioned the degree to which modern war has progressed, with drone weapons able to kill unseen enemies simply with GPS guidance systems combined with bombs: No need ever even to see the face of a war victim! This technology, with wars being waged on several fronts of the world today.
No one actually feels completely safe anymore, even during peacetime, especially not children, said Pastor Sue, as if to emphasize how far the world is from being a peaceable kingdom, or anything close to it.
Still, the Pastor emphasized that she does not like to think of an End Time that involves a worldwide Armageddon. Rather, she prefers to think of the Second Coming of Jesus as a time when He will judge, not with such Armageddon-like violence, but with righteousness, grace and mercy.
Thus, in that scenario, we might visualize the wonderful arrival of the Prince of Peace as a true harbinger of The Peaceable Kingdom.
With some effort and deep faith, we might even begin to try to create our own Peaceable Kingdom in our homes, our churches and our work places, with the intention of spreading the notion, much like a viral video on the Internet.
Truly, suggested the Pastor, if we start living the spirit of The Peaceable Kingdom, and do so in a fear (awe) of God, then we stand a chance of becoming living examples of the disciples of Jesus The Christ, especially as others start to notice our examples.
Why do they seem so "at peace," others might wonder about us, and ask, she suggested.
Over time, what if our own local version of a Peaceable Kingdom truly "went viral," with others witnessing to having seen us live out the noble concept of a Peaceable Kingdom? Going viral means inspiring others to the same worthy goals.
It could happen, could it not?
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Certified Lay Speaker Angela Wylie Brings Advent Message On Virgin Mary
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Searching For The Real Virgin Mary
Today's search was for the Virgin who was Overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, became pregnant with the Child of Promise and who, heavy with that Child, rode a donkey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
The search took this congregation through hymns like What Child Is This, prayer concerns for our community, the ancient Scripture of Luke 1:27b-28 and a Meal of Holy Communion.
But, ultimately the search was rewarded most through the worldview lens of Certified Lay Speaker Angela Wylie, whose simple title for this most special sermon was a single word: Mary.
But it was Angela's unique perspective of East Texas Earth Mother and specialized educator of high school students that ultimately provided the brush strokes this congregation needed for the evening's portrait of God's unlikely choice to conceive and deliver the Christ Child and bring Joy To The World.
To begin, Angela actually read a somewhat longer Scripture, Luke 1:26-38, and also paid special heed to the prophetic Word of Isaiah 7:14. This Child was indeed to be special, born of a Virgin and in circumstances most humble.
Angela stressed the intensity and the drama surrounding this young girl and her angelic visitor, reminding us that most First Century Jewish girls were married at about age 14, the approximate age of today's Twenty-First Century high school freshman. So, Angela assumed that Mary might have given birth to Jesus at about age 15, still a very young age by today's standards, an age when one might be getting ready to become a sophomore in high school.
It was here that Angela took special note of just how God has chosen to surprise humanity with His divine choices: A shepherd with a speech impediment (Moses) to lead the Children of Israel out of captivity, a raving enemy (Paul) of the Way of Jesus to become perhaps the greatest Christian missionary of all time. We got the picture that Angela was painting for us: Did God use poor judgment in His choice to be the mother of Jesus, the Son of God?
As it turned out, God also knew what He was doing this time. The young Virgin named Mary proved wonderfully obedient, accepted the assignment and performed magnificently, from the Joy of that first Christmas to the chaos of the Cross when only she and the Apostle John were there to witness her son's agony, sacrifice and, most of all, the precious Blood of Atonement.
Mary was virginal, young and obedient. Angela compared Mary's reaction to that of Zecharia, dwelling on his initial unbelief and the punishment he received for that single act. Mary, on the other hand, accepted the word of the angel, embraced the honor inherent in her assignment and sang the praises of God.
Angela noted that Joseph also was obedient, and that the couple dutifully made the arduous journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, this fulfilling the prophecy that Jesus would be born there.
As an aside, Angela speculated: I daresay that Mary never again rode a donkey while nine months pregnant. Angela compared the likely discomforts of that donkey ride with one of her own long-ago road trips that she would just as soon have avoided, a very unpleasant trip to Yellowstone and non-stop return.
Angela also mentioned what she called the unnatural visitation of the shepherds who came to witness the newborn Christ Child after themselves receiving an angelic prompting. She discussed the impact of Simeon and Anna at the Temple, and even the time when Jesus astonished the scholars in Jerusalem despite his own youth at about age 12.
Mary was a dutiful mother for all of Jesus' life, Angela concluded, although she conceded that perhaps Mary meddled a bit at Cana. And, despite the apparent tragedy of the Cross, Mary experienced the joy of Jesus' Resurrection.
Angela's conclusion: If we, like Mary, are obedient to God's Will, Jesus will take care of us as He did His own mother at the Cross when he charged John with caring for Mary. To receive His care, we need only reach out with our heart, soul and mind to accept this marvelous Gift of Eternal Life.
Angela's message concluded with the congregation singing Lord Of The Dance.
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Methodism's Lonely Stepchild: Rural Ministry?
I'm no credentialed theologian, and have not been to seminary. But I am a certified lay speaker in the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church and have completed several of Methodism's Disciple Bible Study programs, spent a decade leading an adult Sunday School Class and have held many of the leadership positions at Tinney Chapel UMC, which was twice awarded the Marvin T. Judy Award for excellence in Rural Ministry.
I am primarily a writer, having spent my adult life as a journalist, mostly for Farm Journal, the world's largest farm magazine, and subsequently spent several years as chair of the North Texas Conference Communications Commission. Each month, I write a column called Tinney Talk for our church's print newsletter, and the following is my submission for December 2010. Please note that the title of this Weblog post (at the top of this page) is also a live link to the United Methodist Church's "Town and Country" section for the Global Ministries Website.
In other words, I know about this resource, but the column below reflects my frustration at seldom seeing any results at the meetings I attend and seldom reading anything about it in the publications I see. If you care to react to the following column, contact me at:
TINNEY TALK, Observations by Joe Dan Boyd
TINNEY CHAPEL UMC was created for, and once excelled, in a type of ministry that once dominated Methodism, and likely dominated most other major religions, but is seldom even mentioned at the District or Conference meetings I currently attend. Nor have I heard it mentioned much at similar meetings over the past several years. I’m talking about something that may have been conveniently forgotten or politely ignored for reasons related to political correctness, assuming that such an attitude exists in theological circles.
RURAL MINISTRY is the unmentionable subject, a topic that has seemingly been systematically excised from allowable seminar topics or even district training days, for that matter. Oh sure, we hear quite a bit about small-membership churches, and issues that are considered worthwhile in helping them get on board the theological train bound for that elusive destination: Growth!
BUT MOST SUCH EFFORT is not actually related to Rural Ministry, something that once rated a high position in the North Texas Conference, when the Town & Country luncheon was one of the hot tickets every year. District Superintendents and even Bishops attended that event, and some of them brought words of wisdom to programs honoring winners of the coveted Marvin T. Judy Award for excellence in—remember that?—Rural Ministry.
SO, WHAT HAPPENED? I think the problem might have begun when our Conference decided to downgrade, or virtually eliminate, the Town & Country Commission a few years ago. Certainly, the prestige of the Marvin T. Judy award has declined since that action.
DON’T GET ME WRONG. I think Methodism is definitely concerned about the future of its small-membership churches, as it worries about the overall declining UMC membership. But, that’s an economic consideration, a survival response. Nowhere do I get the idea that Methodism has any concern at all for Rural Ministry, the special brand of applied theology designed to meet the needs of farmers, ranchers and followers of agrarian ideals. This in a denomination of 35,000 U.S. churches, 25,000 of which I’m told are rural. What’s wrong with this picture?
The following response received today, Dec. 1, 2010:
I hear your concern about addressing the specific needs of rural churches. I have given a presentation specifically on Dynamic Ministry in Rural Settings in two other judicatories.
I have not seen a lot of new material come out of the GBOD (Town and Country Church office) and, in fact, my understanding was that it does not receive a significant amount of funding from the general church.
Having said that, there are some issues that most churches have in common regardless of whether they are rural, urban or suburban – the need for great hospitality, a robust guest follow-up system, engaging worship, meaningful discipleship, a vision that extends beyond the walls of the congregation, an understanding of changing culture and technology, etc. When judicatories address these kinds of issues, they are addressing things that should matter to churches in rural settings. Obviously each church will need to contextualize the information so that it can be applied in a way that is relevant in its setting. This is where the transformation process offers smaller and rural churches a great advantage – access to a coach to assist in that process so that the church can be as effective as possible!
The Hinton Rural Life Center offers some material related to churches in rural settings. In my interactions with them however, they have not expressed much of a focus or interest in helping rural churches grow.
Cooperative Parish Ministry can offer some great synergies for rural and smaller congregations. That may be something to explore. Information about cooperative parish ministry is found in on the DNA Coaching web site. Given the struggles of UM churches and the soon-coming retirement of so many clergy, cooperative parish ministry for the purpose of transformation may be rediscovered within the UMC.
Thank you for your passion.
Dr. Don Nations
"helping you perform at a higher level"
A second response has just been received today, Dec. 1, 2010:
Hi Joe Dan, thanks for your thoughts on the rural church. I’d like to publish something on this topic in 2011.
Sheron Patterson, Editor
North Texas Methodist Reporter