Sunday, November 24, 2019

July through November 2019 sermons

I haven't posted any of my sermons since I've started my appointment at St. Elmo UMC.  I decided that I would post just the link for the audio for the sermons from the beginning of my time at St. Elmo UMC through the end of the church calendar year, Christ the King Sunday.

Maybe, eventually, I'll get around to posting the transcripts in the future (for future sermons), songs sung and/or played during the service, etc.

I post my sermons in case the message is helpful or encouraging to someone, somewhere.  If you desire to dialogue on any of the sermons, leave a comment below, letting me know which sermon you are referencing.  I'll get back to you.

May you be encouraged on your journey,


me, in front of St. Elmo UMC on my first Sunday, 7/7/19


July 7 "May Peace Be on This House" Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 

July 21 "Are We Listening or Preoccupied?" Luke 10:38-42

July 28 "Rooted in Christ" Colossians 2:6-15


August 4 "God's Faithful Love" Psalm 107:1-9, 43 

August 11 "God Speaks. Are We Listening?"   Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23 

August 25 "Rock of Refuge" Psalm 71:1-6


September 1 "For Whom Do We Labor?" Colossians 3:22-25

September 8 "In the Potter's Hand" Jeremiah 18:1-11

September 15 "Lost and Found" Luke 15:1-10

September 22 "Pray" 1 Timothy 2:1-7

September 29 "Rule of Life" 1 Timothy 6:6-19


October 6 "Increase Our Faith" Luke 17:5-10

October 27 "Poured Out" 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18


November 3 "Love For All God's People" Ephesians 1:11-23

November 10 "God Called All of You"  2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17 

November 17 "God Is the Strength of My Heart" Isaiah 12

November 24 "Living a Worthy Life" Colossians 1:10-20

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Bamboo Encounter--November 23rd

Today was the 7th meeting of Bamboo Encounter, a Wild Church Network church, and the 2nd meeting in rainy weather.  We had to use our windshield wipers while driving in, yet surprisingly, the rain began to ease off near the time of the worship.  However, in case of another band of rain, we met in the pavilion above the bamboo.  The screened in windows allowed outdoor access to hear the sounds of falling rain, to feel the breezes, as well as to see the views of the surrounding trees and the nearby bamboo.

When it was time for the reflection time, it has stopped enough to get outside and walk during our silent reflection.  I chose to do that, enjoying the light misting that was still present.

After the service was done, the sun started to break through the clouds.  Oh, well.  One cannot control the weather.  There was beauty in the rain, the wet leaves, etc.  Before we headed out, I did go into the bamboo to see it and to experience it.  I also took a moment to remember my baptism and to remember that I am a beloved child of God, using the pooled water in the hole of the rock.

There were three of us again today for the service.  Here is the order of worship that we followed:

Today's readings:
Opening Prayer (read in unison):
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
            the world and those who live in it.
Let the floods clap their hands;
          let the hills sing together for joy.
(Earth Gospel, page 93)
Scripture and additional readings (read by volunteers):
Psalm 36:8-9
“They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them to drink from your river of delights.  For with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light.”

Isaiah 58:11
“God will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.”

Reading:  Herman Melville
 “Say you are in the country; in some land of lakes.  Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in a stream.  There is magic in it…. Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded forever.”
Quote by Philip Britts: “Faith is like water at the roots.”

The sharing time after the reflection time was insightful, as always.  We spent some time talking about the Philip Britts' quote on faith.  We talked about watering the roots and how plants become accustomed to being watered daily, at a top level if the roots aren't allowed to grow deeply.  The roots will grow down as far as the water goes.  How deep does the water go?!?!  Oh, how I enjoy the sharing time and the opportunity for minds to engage in deep conversation as faith unfolds.  Sitting back and watching the Holy Spirit work is a privilege.
After sharing time, we moved into Holy Communion.  Today we used the same passages as we've used prior, but read from The Message translation.  After reading the Scriptures and blessing the elements, we served each other the holy meal of bread and fruit of the vine.

John 6:33,35 (MSG)
33 The Bread of God came down out of heaven and is giving life to the world.
35  Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever.

1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (MSG)
When we drink the cup of blessing, aren’t we taking into ourselves the blood, the very life, of Christ? And isn’t it the same with the loaf of bread we break and eat? Don’t we take into ourselves the body, the very life, of Christ? Because there is one loaf, our many-ness becomes one-ness—Christ doesn’t become fragmented in us. Rather, we become unified in him. We don’t reduce Christ to what we are; he raises us to what he is.
Today's song was "Father, I Adore You":
Father, I adore You
Lay my life before You
How I love You.
[Jesus, Spirit]

At closing we shared this prayer in unison:
 (from Earth Gospel: A Guide to Prayer for God’s Creation by Sam Hamilton-Poore, p. 98)
                                                                                            Based on Song of Solomon 8:6-7

May Christ set you as a seal upon his heart,
as a seal upon his arm;
for his love is as strong as death,
his passion as fierce as the grace.
Many waters cannot quench his love,
neither can floods drown it.

Nature was abundant today.  On the drive in, there were wild turkey and deer.  Both sets decided to cross the road in front of us.  On the way out, by the nature center, there was a turtle going against the flow of traffic.  The coloring matched the coloring of the fall leaves and the turtle seemed a little skittish and camera shy.  

I look forward to going into the bamboo each month.  Though today's service was in the pavilion, it was still as serene and peaceful, listening to the sounds of nature/creation and seeing them too.  I enjoy putting together the prayers and Scriptures each month and gathering with whoever is able to make it to worship in the space.
As the quote by Stephen Chase goes, "Nature is spiritual practice."

Debra Dickerson

Additional photos from today: 


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Harriet, the movie

Last night I went to see "Harriet"-- the movie of Harriet Tubman with a group of folks from church as we continue our discussions on race and justice after having studied Austin Channing Brown's book I'm Still Here recently.  There were 17 of us that were able to get out last night for the movie and all of us were able to go out for a bite to eat and to discuss things afterwards.  Though I had known the name and some of the history of the underground railroad, until last night, I had not known the woman nor the intricate details of a well run system to save people's lives.

The movie was well done.  As one of the teachers in our group mentioned, it was historically sound from the language to the action.  It didn't sugar coat things.  It was real.

I'm still reflecting this morning.  Writing while reflecting might not be the smartest move.

What stands out to me?

One thing that I don't think I ever knew or if I did, I didn't remember is around the name or names of this historical woman. All I have ever heard is Harriet Tubman. What I learned is that Harriet was her mother's name (though folks called her Rit) and she took that as her freedom name, keeping her husband's last name.  So she became Harriet Tubman.

Names are meaningful and powerful.  In that moment of being able to choose a new name to identify yourself, Minty (Ariminta Ross) chose to use her mom's name and her husband's surname, keeping two strong connections to family.  That was a powerful moment for me to observe as I understand the power of names and name changes.  (See my blog post about names here.)  I also connected with it because as she took on her mother's name, that is my mom's name, Harriet.

It was also interesting to see that she became named by others Moses because she led people out of slavery into freedom.  Another powerful name, but this one given to her by others for the work she was doing.

Another thing that stood out to me was her faith.  She prayed.  She connected with God.  She sought guidance from the Divine.  She trusted the One Voice.  I don't know why, but I wasn't expecting that.  It makes me want to learn more about her and more about her pastor, Reverend Samuel Green, who helped her get away and also helped others.

Reverend Samuel Green was a pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  He was a free man, having bought his freedom in 1833 after his slave owner passed away and willed him freedom to be purchased.  He played an integral role in helping folks to freedom, as shown briefly in the movie.

Making the choice to run or stay. Crossing land and water in the dark. Going back for others who needed help.  Being the guide.  These things and many more continue to swirl around in my mind.  There are split second decisions that have life time consequences, just as there are well thought out decisions that have life time consequences.  We all have to follow our hearts, our convictions.

Harriet's mantra was to "be free or die".  What does "being free" mean for me, cisgender, heterosexual, middle-aged, middle class, Caucasian, female, pastor?  One thing that I know it means for me and to me is that I am to use all of who I am--my freedom, my understanding, my knowledge, my resources, my privilege, my power-- for the sake and benefit of others.

In the movie, Harriet had a speech about that, in a way, too.  She told folks that they had been free for so long or forever, that they had either forgotten or didn't know or understand what it meant to be enslaved.  She went on to share examples.  She reminded them why it was still important to fight for the freedom of others, even when we are free.

I'm still reflecting.

If you have a chance to see the movie, I encourage it.

Below are some links of interest that you might want to check out, including a suggested reading list.

May we continue the journey of being free and helping others to freedom.




Focus Features Film Trailer for Harriet
What's Fact and What's Fiction in Harriet
The Imprisonment of Rev. Samuel Green (PDF)
Reverend Samuel Green and the Original Colored People's Methodist Episcopal Church (National Park Service)
Must-Have Harriet Tubman Books for your Literary Collection

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Listen With the Ear of Your Heart

I have been reading through a book by Stephen W. Smith, Embracing Soul Care: Making Space for What Matters Most.  If something stands out, I have created a meme with textgram and shared it on my Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Here are some of those:

Today's chapter is "Listening for God" and a quote by Benedict of Nursia caught my attention: "Listen and attend with the ear of your heart." (113)

What does it mean to listen with the ear of one's heart?

As I reflect on that, Psalm 46:10 comes to mind: "Be still and know that I am God."  I often pray and reflect on this verse in this hourglass prayer format:

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
Be still.
Be still.
Be still and know.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know that I am God.

I can hear best when I am still.  Not always 100 percent physically still, as it can also be a quiet walk on the river walk or in the woods that stills the noise around me to allow me to listen with the ears of my heart.

Taking/making time for self care/ soul care allows me to listen with the ears of my heart.

As I am more healed and whole, I can better hear and respond.

Listening to God.

Listening to others.

Listening to self.

Listening is a critically important skill.

The chapter mentions the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4a in which we are called to listen: "Hear, O Israel...". Check out Deuteronomy 6:4-9 for the passage in context. Verse 5 is a key verse on living for me.

The chapter mentions other verses on listening.

The one that speaks most to me today is the one from 1 Samuel 3:9-- "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening."

This is the response I hope to have. I hope to be in tune enough to respond, to continue listening, and to be able to go forward on the journey.

Learning to listen is a spiritual discipline and one that will continue to unfold the rest of my life.

I am still learning.

Most mornings I spend time listening. This morning it was a little too cold to be outside to listen to the wind blow, so I watched from inside, with Cliff.

I am reminded that not everyone has that luxury. As I watch and listen each day, my response to listening is "here I am".  Then we see what adventurous encounters occur next.

Peace on your journey,