Dr. Mosser's Blog Archives

  • December 30, 2020 - "Thank goodness: Finally, A New Year"

    This week, as you receive this e-mail or printed copy thereof, we will have entered into a new year—2021. Many people will begin plotting their New Year’s resolutions. Some individuals will attempt to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, or save more cash for a rainy day (if we are fortunate enough to get a rainy day in Texas).

     

    We did not celebrate the Wesleyan Covenant Service this year, as we so often do—well, at least once a year. The Wesleyan Covenant Service was a worship service/liturgy that John and Charles Wesley employed to help the Methodist people begin every New Year in a proper spiritual frame.

     

    This January 2021 is an excellent time to address our getting our mind, heart, and will right with respect to life, God, and our brothers/sisters. I hope you will tune in to this excellent time of year to reboot, regenerate, or resuscitate your disciplined path of daily and weekly spiritual practices. Among these practices could be: study, prayer, worship, fellowship, service, meditation, and generosity.

     

    Occasionally, we hear a well-intentioned person say, “It does not matter what one believes as long as s/he is sincere.” This sentiment is about as untrue as anything we will ever hear. The horrific day of 9/11—over twenty years ago—should put this kind of simple-minded and inane platitude to rest. What we think and believe does matter! It matters and for this reason, theology (God-talk) is of the utmost value. The “spiritual disciples” assist us into entering into God-talk or talk about God. This centers us and keeps our eyes on the prize.

     

    Beginning these first weeks of 2021, we have an opportunity to observe our faith in a disciplined and ordered way. We can, after all, only get better!

     

    Sincerely, your friend, 

    David Mosser

     

  • December 23, 2020 - "Christmas and the Wright Bros"

    In 1880 the Methodists in Indiana held their Annual Conference on the campus of a local college. The president of that college addressed the assembled Methodists and said, “I think we’re living in an exciting age. I think we’re going to see things happen in our lifetime that right now are just unbelievable!” The presiding bishop was so intrigued that he stopped the president by asking, “What do you see? What kinds of things do you mean?”

     

    And the president of the college said, “Well, all kinds of things, Bishop. I believe we’re coming into a time of great inventions. Why, I believe, for example, that one day we’ll be able to fly through the air like birds!” “You what?” said the bishop. “You believe that one day we’ll be able to fly?” “Yes sir, I do,” said the college president.   Read more....

  • December 18, 2020 - "Children and the Christmas Mystery"

    We adults sometimes have a more difficult time with the mysteries of Christmas than do children. The Christmas mystery requires a patient, quiet heart—and belief in miracles. One afternoon when a family was Christmas shopping, a seven-year-old girl was bouncing down the aisles with enthusiasm. Excited, her parents were by contrast, both tired and frustrated with long lines, traffic, and schedules. In short, they were grumpy.

     

    When the family returned home, the youngster sang Christmas carols while the parents barked at each other. Finally, the agitated father, told his child to “stop that singing and go to bed.”

     

    Heading upstairs to bed, she stopped, opened, and looked out a window. “Why did you open the window and let in the cold air?” asked her father. “Because I thought I heard the angels singing,” she answered. Still annoyed, the father said, “I don’t hear any angels singing and neither do you. Now get on upstairs and get into bed right now!” The little girl started back up the stairs, but paused and said gently, “Daddy, if you want to hear the angels sing, then you have to listen with your heart.” She, at that moment, hugged her father and moved upstairs.

     

    Listening to the Christmas story with our hearts, we may find something we have never heard before. This old story has the power to do new things to us and may transform our lives. May Christ be born in you! As happened in Bethlehem with Mary, may God find expression through us, too.

     

    Sincerely, your friend,

     David Mosser

  • December 11, 2020 - "Merry Christmas"

    A preacher friend related this Christmas story about “what goes around, comes around.” A decade and a half ago, the Denver Post ran a story of an odd incident. One Sunday morning, mere weeks before Christmas, a minister told of a family that was having a tough time. He then asked if anyone would help them have a better holiday. A young family accepted the project. The week before Christmas they loaded their pickup truck with a fresh evergreen tree, food, and gifts for the poor family. The family lived outside Denver. On the way, a rock slide caused a large boulder to hit the family truck, nearly demolishing it. The father was okay, but his son received a bad cut from broken glass and was bleeding severely. The father tried to flag down help. He counted one hundred and ninety-nine vehicles pass, before one stopped.

     

    The couple that stopped took the father and the boy to a near hospital emergency room. They stayed until the E R doctor finished the treatment. Then, they drove the father and the boy home. After leaving, the father realized he had not even asked the names of the caring strangers.

     

    On Christmas Eve, the aforementioned minister called the father and asked, “I know what happened last week when you tried to help, but we have gotten together more gifts and food. Would you be willing to try again?” The father said “yes.” When they arrived and knocked, the door opened. Not surprisingly, you already know who answered? It was the couple who stopped to help the cut-up little boy, the angels in the two-hundredth car whose names the father did not think to ask. They were the kind people who had taken them to the emergency room and then home.

     

    Coincidence??? We cannot explain it. I do, however, find the concept to be encouraging. Could we call it the spirit of Christmas? What we do does not always come back to us that quickly or that clearly; often, as far as we can tell, it never comes back at all. Yet, the Bible teaches that there is a kind of universal and divine justice that works itself out in the long run, that is, in the greater scheme of things. The idea that this is true is encouraging.

     

    Merry Christmas to each and all!

    David Neil Mosser

  • December 4, 2020 - "The Geese are getting fat ...."

    What does it mean to say that God comes to us? Or that we expect God to come? After all, God does not really have any place from which to come. Human creatures do not see God lodged among the stars. Nor do we measure God’s attributes in weight or dimension. When human beings say that they expect God to come, what they may mean is that they anticipate the One who makes all relationships and people whole. 

     

    This One, the Messiah, heals and brings hope to people who dwell in despair—those who sit in darkness. Messiah represents God’s unceasingly fresh fund of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. These gifts from God’s bounteous storehouse of goodness are what the gospel delivers. Perhaps we could say that first John announces. Then, Jesus delivers God’s good gifts to humankind. Christmas and Advent that precedes it, are the real gifts we need these Holy-days. Don’t miss out on the announcement among the tinsel and wassail.

     

    Sincerely, your friend, David Mosser

     

    P.S. Also, a big thank you to each household who turned in or mailed a pledge card. As of this writing, we are praying for many households to turn in cards. In any event, in this troublesome year of 2020, we set a high mark for congregational cooperation. Thanks especially to Chuck Whitacre and his crew, for helping educate our congregation about the “Joy of Giving.” We, by way of our church giving, meet people’s needs in our church, our community, and around the world.

  • November 27, 2020 - "Anticipating Christmas by Waiting"

    A great deal of life is simply waiting around for one event or another. In some churches all the talk is about waiting for the Lord’s return. Of course, if one were in the first century, as were those who read Mark’s Gospel, waiting for the final curtain of history to drop was part and parcel of what it meant to believe in Christ. Yet, Luke takes a longer view of the God’s timetable because Luke recognized that God’s time and our timetables may differ somewhat.

     

    We bear in mind that Psalm 90:4 relates about God’s time: “For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past or like a watch in the night.” Other people too have a perspective on waiting. For example, the late George Carlin, comedian (d. 2008) once quipped: “Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong.” Regardless of what we think about waiting, we all do it.

     

    To be faithful to our task as Christians is to encourage one another in the faith while we wait for the Lord’s return—whenever it may come. My friend Rod Wilmoth: from an unpublished sermon tells us a story about people’s worth and how they spend their time—in the meantime:

     

    There is a story of a king who wanted to honor the greatest subjects in his kingdom. He sent out his advisors, and they found 4 persons to be so honored. The day came for the presentation of the awards. The first man to be honored was a man of great wealth. He was honored because he had used his wealth to benefit so many worthy causes in the kingdom. The second man was a physician. He was honored for his assistance to so many who were ill and dying over the years. The third honoree was a judge. She had acted wisely and carefully in many cases which came before the courts of the land. 

     

    The fourth person to be honored stepped forward. She was an elderly woman, bent with age, wearing very plain clothing. “Why are we honoring this woman?” the king asked in some confusion.

     

    Came the reply: “Your majesty, this woman was the teacher of the other three.

     

    The way we spend our waiting time may matter a great deal to God—perhaps?

     

    Sincerely, your friend,

    David N. Mosser

     

  • November 20, 2020 - "Let's Sing of Thanksgiving"

              Nostalgia is a common noun that characterizes either “a bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past” or “the condition of being homesick; homesickness.” Nostalgia is a tricky thing. It sneaks up on us when we least expect it. Perhaps, an ordinary experience serves to transport us in time back. We arrive via our memory to a cherished or often overemotional remembrance of the way our life used to be. Science purports that the sense of smell is the most powerful of the five senses for jolting an individual’s memory. Perhaps for you the stimulus to harkening back to the nostalgic old days is hearing on the radio an old Hank William’s song or for those with other tastes—Billye Holliday.

    Each of these examples offers an impression of what nostalgia is. Most of us cling to these memories because they convey to us feelings of a more simple and less complicated time. Now and then it seems pleasant to remember days when we had few distinct responsibilities other than to simply being who we were.

                Thanksgiving is relatively easy to contemplate in terms of our past. Thanksgiving brings back familiar memories in a jiffy. Yet, Thanksgiving is also an attitude that projects into the future. For example, we might say, “I will certainly be thankful when . . . I get that promotion or that good paying job . . . or when the children are out on their own and I don’t need to worry about them so much.” We are good at pondering when we WERE thankful or when WE WILL be thankful. But about thanksgiving NOW—this is a difficult concept to abide in the present.

                Having a “Thanksgiving Song” in our hearts has much to do with celebrating God in the immediate moment. In a letter to William Allen White, General Douglas MacArthur wrote these heartfelt words about warfare that are appropriate today:

    The history of failure in war can be summed up in two words: Too late.  Too late in comprehending the deadly purpose of a potential enemy; too late in realizing the mortal danger; too late in preparedness; too late in uniting all possible forces for resistance, too late in standing with one’s friends (William Manchester, American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964, Little, Brown & Company, 1978, pp. 182-183). 

     

    Don’t let your thanksgiving in life be “too late.” Let there be a song of thanksgiving in your heart and in your life today. Authentic thanksgiving includes the past and the future, but most of all it celebrates the PRESENT!

     

    Sincerely, your friend,

    David Mosser

  • November 13, 2020 - "What Do You See?"

    The most creative minds I have ever encountered are those people who look at what everyone else looks at—and yet they see the unusual, odd, or the uncommon. This “gift” I would call a knack for noticing. A few have it; many do not. It all begins with a question: “What Do You See?”

     

    As a minister, I like to boast, to use a Pauline word, about how our church connects people. Our congregation is a progressive faith community and mission minded. Furthermore, we are Christians guided by a rich faith tradition. We like to think of ourselves as hands-on people who try to live out our Christian faith in the “nickels and dimes” of life. A question we like to ask is simply: What Do You See? How can we best capture the spirit of our home churches? One way is to ask: What Do You See?

     

    Take, for example, a large vacant lot in your community. What do people see when they look at it? Some see a park complete with swings, teeter-totters, and places for families to barbeque together.  Read more ...

  • November 6, 2020 - "Take Me to the Movies"

    Recently I was talking to two young friends from the church and one of them asked me about a movie I had referenced in the sermon. One thing led to another and the person asked me what ten films would I recommend to more well round one such young person with respect to cinema. It was a thought-provoking idea until said person said: “Please, when you give me the list, don’t make more than five of the movies “black and white.” Jeez?

     

    Candidly, I could not stop at ten films. There are just too many good/interesting or historical films from which to choose. So, I decided as best I could. Read more . . .

  • October 30, 2020 - All Saints

    This weekend as our culture celebrates Halloween, the church remembers and celebrates All Saints Day. It is a sacred day and time for the church to remember. Elaine Pagels writes in the introduction to her book Beyond Belief:

     

    On a bright Sunday morning in February, shivering in a T-shirt and running shorts, I stepped into the vaulted stone vestibule of the Church of the Heavenly Rest in New York to catch my breath and warm up. Since I had not been in church for a long time, I was startled by my response to the worship in progress—the soaring harmonies of the choir singing with the congregation; and the priest, a woman in bright gold and white vestments, proclaiming the prayers in a clear, resonant voice. As I stood watching, a thought came to me: Here is a family that knows how to face death (Beyond Belief, Elaine Pagels, New York, Random House).

     

              Indeed, we are a family. Although none of us wants to face death, yet we do so without blinking because, as Paul writes, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

     

    Our worship space is where we face death as the household of faith. This worship space is also where we sign on to bear one another’s burdens and afflictions. We gather on All Saints Sunday to remember and because we want to pay our last respects to those we loved and those who loved us.

     

    Sincerely, your friend, David Mosser

  • October 23, 2020 - Hospitality, Inc.

    As many of you know I am an avid admirer of Bishop William H. Willimon who presides over the North Alabama Annual Conference. Recently he wrote about his investigation of “growing congregations in order to learn more about why they are thriving.” Bishop Willimon was perceptive enough to notice that in the dynamic and growing congregations they had one thing in common. The familiar thread was that the growing congregations had the gift of hospitality. They knew how to make new persons feel welcome. Of course, we do not do what we do to grow. Rather we as a church grow because of what we do.

     

    One instance that Bishop Willimon put forth was that ushers, for example, did much more than simply hand out worship bulletins. Of course, they did that, but what he noticed was that ushers in vibrant churches were “people whom God had given the gift of hospitality.” Pastors who were asked about this each said that that visitors and guests early upbeat contact with ushers and people in the pews made faithfully growing church a piece of cake!

     

    I too visit a lot of churches and in the churches that people want to be a part of is the difference between faith for the exclusive benefit of “insiders” and an avid and loving concern for the “outsiders,” that is those who have yet to hear and to respond to the gospel. Our congregation has the art of Christian hospitality down pat. Yet we can always improve our service in Jesus’ name.  Read more ...

  • October 16, 2020 - Children's Sabbath October 18

    If you think these times are frightening for adults, and certainly they are, we might wonder about how alarming the past six months’ events have been for our children’s experience. Bombarded by news and images of too many things to mention. Yet, sometimes we forget that little eyes inevitably see and hear what adults see and hear. Modern children listen to and witness more information than any previous generation. It is also problematic in 2020 to be a child. Our children need our help in working out the baffling and complex world in which we live.

               

    We have nurtured this generation of children on television. For the most part it is impossible to shelter children from the seamy side of life that in earlier days most of us never had to face until we left home. Thanks to satellite and cable TV, and __________ fill in the blank) most children witness images and hear messages long before they are mature enough to disregard them. For many American children there is no one to interpret or explain what all this violence means or to set it in context. And when a child sees violence on the television screen, depending on the age, he or she does not necessarily know that it might not be happening right down the street. 

               

    The American Psychological Association provides parents with some concrete tips on how to help children survive under the distress of modern images of aggression, cruelty, and destruction.

     

    Question:  How can parents best help their children cope with a traumatic incident?   

    Read more . . .

     

  • October 2, 2020 - "World Communion Sunday 2020"

    We observe World Communion Sunday on the first Sunday in October. This day calls the church to be the universal, inclusive Church. Presbyterians in 1936 first celebrated the day. Later, the Federal Council of Churches in 1940 adopted the day. Shortly thereafter Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren churches celebrated it.

     

    If you are like me, you probably never paid much attention to World Communion Sunday. When I was growing up, our pastor would help our congregation celebrate this particular day by recounting one or another story about Christian mission from around the world. At the conclusion of the service, our pastor admonished us to be more world mission minded because, as Christians, we had symbolically celebrated the Lord’s Supper with Christians around the world. Perhaps, I thought this was a nice idea, but it never really stirred my imagination in any significant way. That all changed, however, ... Read more

  • September 25, 2020 - “You Have Made Them Equal to Us”

    “That’s not fair.” There are few parents, living or dead, who have not heard these words if they have multiple children: “That’s not fair. He got two cokes and a candy bar and I only got one coke and a candy bar.” The search for human justice and equity is forever with us. We hear it from labor unions, we hear it from the schools, we hear it in homes, churches, and service clubs around the nation. They got more than we did. If we are in tune with our culture, then we know the pain of this Matthew text. It is patently unfair, especially when we pride ourselves on equity and justice. This parable exposes our contemporary sense—although it must have been around since the time of Cain and Able—that other people have gotten more than we have and that we have not gotten what we deserve. Read more...

  • September 18, 2020 - "A Sheep in Wolves' Clothing"

    Please do not misunderstand me; I love the 23rd Psalm and the shepherding imagery. I use it often in my devotional life. I also understand the biblical context well enough to recognize the power of the shepherding image in an agrarian culture. The pastoral picture of the good shepherd is a valid one, no doubt. Still, I have enough experience with sheep to know that a human being likened to a sheep is not a compliment. Do I like someone comparing me with a sheep? If you are like me, and you understand Jesus as the good shepherd, then we also realize that we are like sheep. I am not sure I like that, no matter how important it is as a biblical image.

     

    The good news is this: although the analogy of scripture comparing human beings to sheep may be a bit unflattering, we are all in need of a shepherd. Accordingly, God provides Jesus for us—the good shepherd. In the paraphrased words of the book of Hebrews, God provided for us “a pioneer and perfecter” of our faith. Jesus comes to us as a good shepherd. The shepherd binds up our wounds. This shepherd protects us and makes us to lie down in green pastures. This good shepherd leads us beside the still waters and restores our souls. As a biblical image, it is one many of us cannot do without. That is, we cannot do without a shepherd, if we face our human existence with open eyes and hearts. 

     

    Hear Anthony de Mello’s parable:

     

         A sheep found a hole in the fence and crept through it. He was so glad to

         get away. He wandered far away and lost his way back.


         And then he realized that a wolf was following him. He ran and ran, but the

         wolf kept chasing him, until the shepherd came and rescued him and

         carried him lovingly back to the fold.


         And despite of everyone’s urgings to the contrary, the shepherd refused to

         nail up the hole in the fence (The Song of the Bird, Anand: India, 

         1982, pp. 200-201).


     David N. Mosser

  • September 11, 2020 - “Skool is Now upon Us!!!!!”

    As I mused on the beginning of a new school year here in Salado, TX, I remembered a story of a professor which might inspire us all.

     

    In 1947, the University of Chicago had scheduled Dr. Chandrasekhar to teach an advanced seminar in astrophysics. He was a professor at Chicago and a Cubs fan. At the time, he was living in Wisconsin, doing research at the Yerkes astronomical observatory. As an aside, Yerkes is near Kenosha, WI. Chandrasekhar planned to commute twice a week for the class, although it would be during the severe winter months.

     

    Registration for the seminar, however, fell short of expectations. Only two students signed up for the class. People at the school expected Dr. Chandrasekhar to cancel the seminar, lest he waste his time. But for the sake of two students, he taught the class, commuting 100 miles round trip through backcountry roads in the dead of winter.

             

    His students that semester, Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee, did their homework. Ten years later, in 1957, they both won the Nobel Prize for physics. So did Dr. Chandrasekhar in 1983.

             

    For effective teachers, there is no such thing as too small a class.

     

     

    Come, Worship

    Stay, Learn

    God, Serve

  • September 4, 2020 - "Labor Day 2020"

    As John Claypool reminds us on this Labor Day: “When we offer up our daily work to the glory of God and the benefit of our families and communities, we proceed to play our roles in the daily struggle to make God more visible in the world and bring God’s realm into fuller realization.”

     

    Labor Day is a day to celebrate the work we do in the world. Often, our work is one of the ways we define our lives and thereby celebrate our lives. I suggest that this week and in preparation for Holy Communion that we use the following prayer from Reinhold Niebuher, who offered it up to God and for us:

     

         O God, you have bound us together in this life.

         Give us grace to understand how our lives depend

         on the courage, the industry, the honesty,

         and the integrity of all who labor.

     

         May we be mindful of their needs, grateful for their faithfulness, 

         and faithful in our responsibilities to them; 

         through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


    May this Labor Day be a day of thanksgiving for our honest work in God's Realm.  


    Sincerely, your friend,

     

    David Mosser

     

  • August 28, 2020 - "Start Close to Home"

    [27] Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. [28] And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. [29] Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? [30] Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? [31] But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:27-31).

     

    [14:1] Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1).

     

    [26] What should be done then, my friends? Read more ...

  • August 21, 2020 - "Why Should I Care?!"

    In light of the shape of our American society today, I want to lend my blog space to Rev. Tom Butts, Pastor Emeritus at FUMC Monroeville AL. His article answers the question: Why Should I Care?!

     

         Many of us find it quite easy to take a cavalier attitude toward the  problems of other people

         when those problems do not affect us. Oh, we are usually civil enough to offer superficial

         sympathy—“I’m so sorry that’s happening to you; the Lord will not give you more than  you can

         bear; just trust in the Lord and keep going; you will be in my thoughts and prayers.” We do not

         come right out and say: “Hey, that’s  your problem, not mine,” but

         you can sense that spirit in some  people’s attitudes.

     

         Retired Air Force Chaplain, Father Vern Schueller, recently sent me a  parable that reminded me of

         how we tend to view the problems of others, and how our unfeeling attitude can come back to

         haunt us. Here it is.  Read more ...

  • August 14, 2020 - "Soul Trouble"

    During the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us pastors been under tremendous pressure from some inside our United Methodist congregations. They want us to do some things that we may feel uncomfortable doing and resent us for not bending to their will. Of course, it is only a few, but it stings, nonetheless. Our natural inclination is to strike back.

     

    Instead, may we retreat to Charles Haddon Spurgeon to calm our “worse angels.” Here is what Spurgeon expressed to his students in his book Lessons to My Students. It is a good remainder to all of us, laity and clergy, who from time to time have “soul trouble.”

      

    The lesson of wisdom is, be not dismayed by soul-trouble. Count it no strange thing, but a part of ordinary ministerial experience. Should the power of depression be more than ordinary, think not that all is over with your usefulness. Cast not away your confidence, for it hath great recompense of reward. Even if the enemy’s foot be on your neck, expect to rise and overthrow him. Read more ...

  • August 7, 2020 - "Augustine's True Confessions"

    One of Western Civilization’s eminent literary geniuses was St. Augustine. Several weeks ago, I recommended his The Confessions to someone who asked about the inner struggle of good versus evil with which s/he contended. Each of us, even the least introspective will, from time to time, confront our own demons. Perhaps, Augustine’s own struggle will help clarify our journeys of faith. Augustine wrote The Confessions in the form of a prayer of self-confession. As a result, it may be good for our own souls to read and ponder it.

     

    Our appreciation of The Confessions has suffered from the fact that it has become a classic. As Mark Twain said in a speech in New York, 20 November 1900: “A classic is something that everybody wants to have read, and nobody wants to read.”  Read More...

  • July 31, 2020 - "Unlike Christ"

    Although I used this story below in a sermon 18 months ago, I deeply believe it is worth repeating. I will let you draw your own conclusions as to its value and meaning.

     

    Ernest Campbell’s story is one of risky redemption. He thinks it is safe to tell now—over 57 years later. Days after president John F. Kennedy’s Dallas assassination in 1963, a member of Campbell’s Ann Arbor, MI church called. She suggested that one thing the church might do to partially redeem the tragedy would be to provide Marina Oswald an opportunity learn English. Mrs. Oswald had expressed a desire to stay in the United States and learn its language better. Because it would have been politically foolish to bring this mission idea before the entire congregation, a few who represented the church’s executive committee got in touch with Marina Oswald in Dallas.

     

    In due time and in cooperation with the FBI and others, Marina Oswald came to Ann Arbor. She slipped into town at night by train while a battery of reporters was waiting militantly at the airport. She lived with an unpretentious family that takes seriously its devotion to God and its love for people. When pressed to finally do so, the church joined the University of Michigan in issuing a modest press release.

     

    Then the mail began to come in. Some were quick and hot to say that what the church did was unpatriotic. Others commented that the action was unwise, others unfair. (One woman said that she had belonged to a church for forty years and what it had done for her in all that time she could write on the back of a postage stamp.)

     

    Campbell answered every letter, rightly or wrongly, feeling it the obligation of his ministry to do so. He wrote in effect to each person who criticized, “The one thing you haven’t shown us is that what we have done is unlike Christ” (E. Campbell, in A Chorus of Witnesses, ed. by Long, Eerdmans, 1994, p. 169).

  • July 24, 2020 - "Change in Direction"

    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882) once said: “All things must change to something new, to something strange.”

     

    Well . . . I am changing my practice of how I usually pick biblical texts for both the bi-weekly Bible Study and for use in worship. I have taken an assignment for Abingdon Press to write a quarter of the Abingdon Bible Study Teacher’s Guide (ABST). I do this about every other year and will be writing this study between August and November 2020 for the Spring 2022 issue/quarter.

     

    I also know that very few people care about where the study texts for Salado UMC come from. Yet, for the 3 or 4 that will notice, I am going to write our studies from the below listed texts along with the dates for each. As this is a 75,000-word assignment, it will take considerable time, energy, and work.

     

    I just want you to know.

     

    Click here for the list of days and text from the ABST (International Bible Lesson Series).

     

  • July 17, 2020 - "Our Merry-Go-Round of Possessions"

    From time to time we hear a phrase that rings so true that we wonder why we didn’t coin the phrase ourselves. A valid anonymous quotation concerning our modern way of life states: “We Americans are people who spend money we don’t have to buy things we don’t want to impress people we don’t like.” Welcome to the 21st century culture of materialistic consumerism! Read more...

  • July 10, 2020 - "VBS 2020"

    In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, American churches are becoming valuable resources from a public health perspective. Most of us know that life-saving decisions can come down to valuing people over money, prioritizing humility over ego, and listening to the vulnerable over the powerful. These three values should be at the heart of the church’s mission. We have practiced these ideals through ritual and through conversation throughout our life. A public health crisis is simply a point in time in which these values become visibly practical, rather than simply countercultural.

     

    Other church habits—such as in-person meeting weekly, participating in Holy Communion, and passing a donation basket—might need to shift temporarily in the interest of the most vulnerable among us.

     

    Earlier, this summer we have also had another new experience as a church. Via volunteers and staff people, we have pulled off a wonderful on-line version of VBS. I have heard some pretty hilarious stories about the adventures of doing such. But we do them because we know our children are worth our time and effort!!!

     

    Why does the church do these things (VBS, youth missions, etc.) and why should many adults who have already raised their children care anyway?  

    Read More ...

  • July 3, 2020 - "Independence Day"

    John Adams, second president of the United States, was determined to live until the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence— 4 July 1826. At dawn on that day a servant awakened him. The gentleman asked Adams if he knew what day it was. Adams replied: “Oh yes, it is the glorious Fourth of July. God bless it. God bless you all.” He then slipped into a coma. In the afternoon Adams recovered consciousness briefly to murmur, “Thomas Jefferson lives.” These were his last words. Unbeknownst to Adams, Jefferson died earlier that same day.

     

    On the evening of July 3rd, there appeared a report that Thomas Jefferson was in bed and his life ebbing rapidly. Jefferson whispered to a young friend who was watching by his bedside: “Is this the fourth?” The man could not bring himself to say that it was not yet, so kept silent. Jefferson repeated the question and this time the friend nodded. A look of deep satisfaction came over Jefferson’s face, he sighed deeply, lay back, sank into a deep sleep. Jefferson died shortly after noon on the fourth.

     

    It is remarkable that these two brilliant leaders, whose resolve had so much to do with laying the foundation of our republic, were able to keep death away until they could celebrate that date so precious to them both. If you are a student of the philosophy of “life after life,” and/or if you use your imagination to put some content into your Christian understanding of life after death, or if you have any wonder about what happens and who we see when we die, then you will enjoy thinking about John Adams’ comment, “Thomas Jefferson lives” as he left this world. Jefferson had preceded Adams in death by only a few hours. Did these two meet up as they left on the “long journey?” Just saying . . . .

     

    As you commemorate Independence Day, think about these American leaders. We might all pray to God to reproduce their kind and do so quickly.

     

    Sincerely, your friend,

     

    David Mosser

  • June 26, 2020 - "Shadows From The Past"

    In view of all the falderal (disturbance, uproar, tumult, ruckus, clamor, brouhaha, furor, hue and cry, palaver, fuss, stir, to-do, storm, maelstrom, melee, turmoil, or disorder—you pick the descriptive noun of your choice) going on in our country now, I want to share an article from The Monroe Journal, 11 August 2011, by my friend Tom Butts, pastor emeritus at FUMC, Monroeville, Al.

     

        It is interesting, and sometimes frightening, to see how the past keeps casting shadows over our lives. There are patterns and responses that we learned as an adaptation to circumstances that are no longer with us. The responses we learned as a means of coping with and relating to life in the past may become detrimental to us if not altered after the circumstances that gave rise to them  no longer exist. There are images from the past that we hold in common, but some of them are highly personal, and we can only understand these images in the light of our personal history.  Read more...

  • June 19, 2020 - "Father's Day"

    I have a former pastor friend who wrote something weighty in a sermon on 22 December 1996—many years ago. Yet it still holds value for me. I hope it comes across as articulate to you as it was to me.

     

    He wrote:


          I admire my father.  He is now approaching his 80th birthday and he has decided that he is going to learn to use the computer even though I have always known that he is technologically challenged. The laptop computer is a gift that my brother in California gave him. 

     

         Unfortunately, the computer has a modem in it and so, for the last five weeks or so, my father has been trying to learn how to use e-mail. We have three sons in our family and all of us are familiar with e-mail and so he will shift in getting advice.

     

         First, he will make long distance phone calls to California, then he will talk to my other brother in New Albany, and finally, if he is really desperate, he will call me for advice. “How can you help me make this e-mail work?” Occasionally, we will get messages through. More often, the phone rings and he says, “There is something wrong here.” I say, “You have to turn on the machine, Dad.”

     

         He said something recently that I found very provocative. He said, “You know, this gift is a wonderful gift if I only had a son that came along with it.”

     

    There is a lesson about Father’s Day here. The most important thing about our gifts to others is the self we include with it.

     

    Sincerely, your friend,

     

    David Mosser

  • June 12, 2020 - "Happy  Families"

    As we move into June and have been more or less sequestered since March, many of us have learned more about our families than we ever dreamed. We, a month ago, celebrated Mother’s Day/Festival of the Christian Home and now we near Father’s Day. Because of the situation we occupy, I, of late, began to muse about families.

     

    The first sentence in Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina reads, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Reading this sentence, we wonder: “What does Tolstoy consider a happy or an unhappy family?” Cleverly, Tolstoy grabs our attention, thereby arousing our interest. Tolstoy lures readers into the story by ingeniously suggesting we ask ourselves whether our own family is happy or unhappy and by what measure. 

     

    This writer’s technique is what good journalists do—they call it “the hook.” It is also an appropriate description for how the Bible arrests our attention. Unsurprisingly, some contemporary folks are not interested in the Bible because they think it is an old book that has little to say about human life today. Yet, if you feel lust or envy or if you slander the good name of other people through gossip—or ponder adultery, greediness, wickedness, deceit, decadence, pride, or even folly—then this Bible/book has something for you. Or if you tell white lies to put others in a bad light, then this book we call the Bible may be right up your alley. 

     

    So, because some of us have a little more time in our new domestic routines, perhaps spending more time at home during this season of Pentecost, I invite you to get re-acquainted with the book that knows you better than you know yourself.

     

    Sincerely, your friend,

    David Mosser


  • June 5, 2020 - "Trinity Sunday"

    Trinity Sunday (7 June 2020) is a day that helps us try and understand Trinitarian theology. The doctrine of the Trinity is an attempt to come to grips with God’s mystery. As St. Augustine once wrote: “A God without mystery is not God.” A priest at Clonard Monastery in Belfast, in trying to help his congregation understand the Trinity wrote:

     

    Jesus didn’t sit down with his disciples one day and say “Today I’m going to explain something very complicated; I’m going to try to explain it in the simplest language possible.” He didn’t say that nor did he do it. Instead what Jesus does is that he points to a few different things. And the first thing Jesus points to is the fact that “God speaks.’ God actually talks. And that’s what makes our tradition, Christianity, totally different to other religions. God speaks. Remember that great line from Christ—“He who has seen me has seen God the Father.” 


    Romans 5:1-5 reveals that the Holy Spirit is the means by which God pours God’s love into our hearts: to comfort and strengthen us in times of hopelessness and trial. Read more


  • May 29, 2020 - "Trust: A Key Ingredient"

    Have you noticed that frequently it is the snares of people’s own making which entraps them? Someone once told a student that s/he was not too bright. Yet, despite the judgment’s inaccuracy, even the smartest people move through life under such a misapprehension. Entombed by the misconceptions of others is plainly a tragedy.

     

    Did you know that an African impala can jump to a height of over ten feet and cover a distance of greater than thirty feet? Yet zoo-keepers secure these magnificent creatures in zoo enclosure with only a three-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall.

     

    Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see. Freed by faith from the flimsy enclosures of life we might remember that only fear allows entrapment. As we move into summer may we renew our spirits as we wait in prayer and patience for us to physically gather for worship and praise God.

     

    As Paul writes in Romans: “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24). As we wait, we know that in due course we will return to Sunday school and study together in the fellowship of the spirit! God makes us strong when we willingly participate in God’s great plan for us.

     

    Sincerely, your friend,

    David Mosser


  • May 22, 2020 - "Fame?"

    Do you know what Aldersgate Day is? If not, don’t feel bad, many Methodists probably can't say exactly what it is. 24 May 1738 was the day John Wesley experienced a spiritual transformation that led to the earnest start of the Methodist movement. Wesley's faith had pretty much lived in his head, but not his heart. Wesley devoted himself to “Scripture, Tradition, and Reason,” but what was missing was personal experience of Christ in his life. The important thing I want to bring up is that at the time of Wesley’s Aldersgate experience—John Wesley was in no way famous. 

     

    Not long ago one of my colleagues from another part of the country telephoned with a question. Read more

  • May 15, 2020 - "Say, What?"

    When I was about eight years old, I saw an episode of Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone.” The program began with a burglar running down a back ally fleeing from the police. As he attempted to vault a cyclone fence, not heeding the police directive “to halt in the name of the law,” they shot him—dead. The television program next “flashed forward” to a heaven-like scene. Everything was beautiful. The burglar had a guide who was the picture of sophistication and class. He even had a British accent like Sean Connery.

     

    The next fifteen minutes of the episode of “The Twilight Zone” showed this criminal-type reveling in his new home. He ate all the food he wanted and never gained an ounce. In front of him was a constant banquet table filled with all his favorite foods. He went to the gambling table and never lost. Whether the game was cards, dice, roulette, or pulling the handle on a slot machine, the guy never lost once. The stocked bar had any and every beverage this man could have ever desired. Naturally, young and beautiful nubile women constantly surrounded him. His every wish was his host’s command—no one withheld anything from the burglar. 

     

    But after a while he became bored, what with winning every time and having every wish fulfilled only by speaking. So, he asked his host: “Say, my friend, when I lived on earth, I was nothing but a rascal and never thought of anyone but myself. Now I have come here and everyone treats me like a king. What gives? Why did I get to come to heaven?”

     

    His host only replied: “What makes you think this is heaven?”

     

    Sincerely, your friend,

    David Mosser


  • May 8, 2020 - "Mother's Day/Festival of the Christian Home"

    Reflecting on Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday offers us a chance to ponder the commanding influence of mothers. While that influence is not always positive, it is always powerful. Let’s face it, the more distant we get from childhood, the more we idealize our mother. Perhaps that is natural—and positive—unless we push it too far. Nothing helps that process develop more than the death of our mother. My mother died back in July of 1995, and that is 25 years to absorb that loss.

     

    The death of a parent is always a watershed event in life. In a sense, it leaves us emotional orphans when our second parent dies. It severs an extended emotional umbilical cord by which God has formed our identity. It takes what has always been an evolving image and freeze-frames it into place. Mother becomes a still-life in the museum of memory. Some of us know about that from experience, and if our lives run their natural courses, all of us will eventually undergo such an experience.

     

    As I reflect upon my mother’s life this Mother’s Day, I grasp that she was not perfect. Of course, she had faults, (we all do), but for now I need not recollect any of them.  I see her at this moment in my idealized memory.

     

    Mother’s Day is a good time for all of us who lost mothers to revive that idealized image of “mother” and draw strength from it. It is also a good time for us whose mothers are yet alive to intentionally add positive experiences to important and treasured memories for our children.

     

    Mark Twain once quipped, “My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.”

     

    Who said that mothering couldn’t be fun?

     

    Sincerely, your friend,

    David Mosser

     

  • May 1, 2020 - "Just Wait"

    As I talk to people in our congregation and other various caucuses, I have noted how many people just look at our time now in sheltering in place (the “recent unpleasantness”) as marking time until real life begins again. Yet, real life happens when one is alive regardless of the outward circumstances.  

      

    Many inconveniences occur to us that are unexpected, some of which are the consequence of our own action or inaction; some of which are for reasons beyond our understanding, and some are completely beyond our control—such as the world-wide pandemic. We each spend time and effort dealing with the unexpected. Not all of it is bad, but all of it requires adjusting and rearranging our lives to accommodate what has happened. Our life’s quality depends, not so much upon what happens to us, as upon how we respond to life events. Read more...

  • April 24, 2020 -  "The Future"

    Recently, in and around Salado, there has been a lot of talk about our village’s future and my guess is that for people of faith this is a staple. During the relaxing summer months that will soon be upon us, perhaps it is a good idea for us to mentally prepare for the future in and around our church as a people of faith.

     

    We are already doing this with our SUMC Discernment/Long Range Planning Committee. Of course, much is up in the air with COVID-19, but that should not deter us from planning and mapping out about where we go next as a church. The idea of preparing, planning, and mapping the future reminded me about a vacation-type idea I once read about.

     

    There is an ancient sea superstition that, inevitably, one wave comes along to a beach that is greater than any waves that have preceded it. Some people call it the “Ninth Wave”—and this is the wave that surfers wait for as they just seemingly sit on their surfboards. The Ninth Wave is the culmination of the sea and wind. There is not greater force. To catch the Ninth Wave at the crucial moment requires a special knack, the timing of movements to mount it at its peak. This is why I admire surfers—their timing has to be perfect. Anyone who has tried surfing knows it takes a special skill!

     

    I pray that we as a church can continue our spiritual work as we try catching the Ninth Wave that is no doubt approaching Salado, Texas over the next few years. It is a wave which we will either ride or fall into. Either way it is now on the horizon.

     

    Perhaps God can transform us inside SUMC so that we can help others see God’s kingdom.

     

    Sincerely, your friend,

    David Mosser


  • April 17, 2020 - "From Frustration to Creativity"

    Most people are weary of social distancing and sheltering in place, but my question is: “If we are released too soon, what happens if the virus makes a comeback and we have to start all over again?” Just saying.

     

    When in high school I had a prized possession, a Waterman fountain pen, from a generous relative. I have long lost track of that Waterman, but wish I still had it for it was a very good pen.

     

    A few years ago, I heard a story (or maybe read one) that made me miss my Waterman pen even more.  Read More

  • April 10, 2020 - "Life Is Not Fair"

    In the midst of self-isolation and the day to day problems it raises, there is something fundamental that we all might remember: Life is not always fair—even to us!


    In her book, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Amy Kelly quotes William of Tyre following a particularly crushing defeat. "Surely", he said, "no one may question the acts of God, for all God’s works are just and right. But it remains a mystery to the feeble judgment of mankind why our Lord should suffer the French, who of all the people in the world have the deepest faith and most honor him, to be destroyed by the enemies of religion."  Read more


  • April 3, 2020 - Easter: Is it Worth the Climb?”

    In a sense the whole of our Christian year points toward Easter. It seems like a long an arduous journey for only one day that emerges as a whole liturgical or worship season. However, as we might ask a mountain climber “Why do you climb mountains anyway?” they would no doubt respond when asked— “Because it is there!”

     

    Several years ago, on television I watched a National Geographic program about the climbing of Mount Everest. [As an aside, Neil and I heard several lectures while on our ship from the first woman to scale the peak! She was British.] What struck me most about the television program was that the expeditions had a lot in common with the building of God’s realm through the ministries of the church. Leaders make mistakes and the followers get both tired and discouraged. Yet, the result is worth the price. We participate in the Kingdom or Realm of God because that is why God created us.

     

    The Easter may we sing and praise God for the gift of Easter—and the resurrection!

     

    Sincerely, your friend,

     

    David Mosser


  • March 27, 2020 - "What to Do?"

    An older movie I like is Out of Africa. It is based on the writings of Baroness Karen von Bliksen-Finecke (under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen) and her life in Africa. In the film, Meryl Streep as Karen, says “when the gods want to punish you, they answer your prayers.” Funny thing is until the COVID-19 outbreak I had heard many people say things like: “I sure wish I did not have to go to . . . school, work, etc.” The inference was “I would just like to stay home today!” Read more

  • February 7, 2020 - "On Corrupting the Innocent"

    Sometimes as I go back and read random notes, I discover something that was especially delectable as a slice of human behavior. Recently I ran across one such note.

     

    Lloyd Steffen wrote in The Christian Century how when King Frederick II, an eighteenth-century King of Prussia, visited a prison in Berlin, the inmates tried to prove to him how they had been unjustly imprisoned. All except one. That one inmate sat quietly in a corner, while all the rest of the prisoners protested their innocence.

     

    Seeing him sitting there oblivious to the commotion, the king asked him what he was there for. “Armed robbery, Your Honor.”

     

    The king asked, “Were you guilty?”

             

    “Yes, Sir,” he answered. “I entirely deserve my punishment.”

     

    The king then gave an order to the guard: “Release this guilty man. I don’t want him corrupting all these innocent people.”

     

    Every now and then, one understands the truth and the truth will set that person free.


  • January 31, 2020 - "At Peace with Ourselves"

    Doris Mortman once wrote, “Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have.” I can’t say as I have ever heard of Doris, but I think I would enjoy visiting with her. When Paul was writing out of deep gratitude to the church at Philippi, this is one of the things he wrote:

     

          “I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress” (Philippians 4:11-14). 

     

    It takes integrity to finally be able to say who we are. Of course, that does not mean we stop trying to grow or do what Wesley urged when he wrote and spoke of “going on to perfection”—that is “being made perfect in love in this life.” The integrity comes by finally and simply making a stake in life that says “I stand for these things.”

     

    In this vein, and as we begin a new year striving to be what God created us to be, Socrates’ words have a ring of helpful truth about them: “The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”


  • January 24, 2020 - "Just Saying....."

    As a continuation of last week’s blog message share that I once asked a twenty-something year old what I could write about in my blog. The twenty-something said: “Anything but religion!”

     

    This was an interesting way to frame the content or anti-content of a blog— “Anything but religion!” I was somewhat vexed by the response as the question was absolutely in earnest. Yet the more I thought about it and looked around, listened to people, and read things in the newspaper, I realized that many of the issues that hang up “religious people” have little or no interest for college age students.  Read more...


  • January 17, 2020 - "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day"

    On Monday, 20 January 2020 we as a nation will observe Martin Luther King’s birthday, although he was in fact born at noon on 15 January 1929. Many folks deeply appreciate this day and how it shapes our best inclinations as human beings. Of course, when we celebrate the civil rights struggle that Dr. King led America through in the 1960s, it also brings to mind Jesus’ words in the first century. In Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount we read: ….read more

     



  • January 8, 2020 - Bon Voyage

    As many of you know, I will leave with my son Neil on 9 January 2020 to travel by ship from Southampton, England. We are sailing basically to Australia and back—with many stops along the way. Some of you have asked where exactly we are going and what follows is a rundown. To be painfully detailed, and among other locales, we will go to Malaysia, Jordan, Vietnam, Egypt, Mauritius, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Australia, Italy, Singapore, Indonesia, Spain, Namibia, South Africa, Hong Kong, and England—not in that order, of course.

     

    It is a journey, no doubt, and we are using some of my vacation time unused from the 1980s and 90s, believe it or not. Thank you for your prayers.—dnm


  • Read more about David & Neil's Travel Adventures

Dr. David N. Mosser's Blog 2017-2019


  • September 13, 2019 - It is Well with My Soul

    I have heard the hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul,” (UM Hymnal, # 377) many times in my ministry, but I never knew the moving story behind the song until recently. Read more...

  • September 6, 2019

    As we are in the first few weeks of a new school year, please read what my friend Rev. Thomas Lane Butts, Jr. has to share. This “LISTEN TO THE CHILDREN” newsletter article is from FUMC, Monroeville, Alabama, a few years ago. Read more...

  • August 30, 2019 - Labor Day

    The late John Claypool (d. 3 September 2005) reminds us on this Labor Day: “When we offer up our daily work to the glory of God and the benefit of our families and communities, we proceed to play our roles in the daily struggle to make God more visible in the world and bring God’s realm into fuller realization.” Read more...


  • August 23, 2019 - The Intuitive Mind

    School begins for all of us soon! It is curious but only those who have suffered under all the teaching and reading and instruction are in a position to appreciate the gift of a good education. I recently re-read a quote I copied from Frank McCourt’s book, Angela’s Ashes: Read more...

  • August 16, 2019 - "Haunting Stories"

    My friend and a person who has preached for me at FUMC of Georgetown, Graham, and Arlington in the past, is a minister named Tom Butts. He is the pastor emeritus in Monroeville AL and has written a thought-provoking article. This story is for people like us who need reminding that what we do as a faith community is so important. Our common life on behalf of others is why God keeps us in business. Please study Dr. Butts’ words: Read more...

  • August 9, 2019 - “The Truth Will Set You Free”

    We rarely see the people behind the spectacular accomplishments of others. For every success, there are people behind the scenes helping us accomplish great things. In the summer of 1989, Mark Wellman, a paraplegic, gained national recognition by climbing the sheer granite face of California’s El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Read more...

  • August 2, 2019 - “Good Things in Small Packages”

    In 1947, the University of Chicago, scheduled Professor Chandrasekhar to teach an advanced seminar in astrophysics. He agreed to teach it because Dr. Sheldon Cooper was not in the class. At the time, Chandrasekhar lived in Wisconsin, doing research at the Yerkes astronomical observatory. He planned to commute twice a week for the class, held during the harsh winter months. Read more...

  • July 26, 2019 - “The Confidence of Knowing”

    On 15 July 1986, Roger Clemens started his first All-Star Game. In the second inning, he came to bat, something he hadn’t done because of the American League’s designated-hitter rule. He then looked out at his forbidding opponent, Dwight Gooden, who the previous year had won the Cy Young Award. Read more...

  • July 19, 2019 - “The Truth Will Set You Free”

    Lloyd H. Steffen wrote in The Christian Century how when King Frederick II, an eighteenth-century King of Prussia, was visiting a prison in Berlin, the inmates tried to prove to him how they had been unjustly imprisoned. All except one. That one sat quietly in a corner, while all the rest protested their innocence. Read more...

  • July 12, 2019 - “Never Give Up”

    In June of 1965 Winston Churchill gave the commencement address at a British university. At this time, he was physically infirmed and some attendants helped him to the podium. Then he held on to the podium for an exceptional amount of time. Read more...

  • July 5, 2019 - "The Fourth of July"

    This weekend is the Fourth of July weekend. As originally conceived, Independence Day was a day of national celebration to remember the signing of the Declaration of Independence on 4 July 1776. We as a nation have also traditionally celebrated the day to recall our memory of the principles for which someone somewhere founded us as the United States of America. I say this because we are at least as much of an ideal as we are a nation. Read more...


  • June 28, 2019 -“Do the Truth . . . or abide its Alternative” 

    Life often presents us with truth that seems too painful and fierce for us to face. Yet, one of the gifts of truth is to help us see our way clear to confront it. The bad truth is better than a good falsehood. 


    An old story tells of a desert nomad who awakened hungry in the middle of the night. He lit a candle and began eating dates from a bowl beside his bed. He took a bite from one and saw a worm in it; so he threw it out. He bit into a second date, found another worm, and threw it away also. Reasoning that he wouldn’t have any dates left to eat if he continued, he blew out the candle and quickly ate the rest of the dates. 


    Many people prefer darkness and denial to the light of reality. 

    Come, Worship

    Stay, Learn

    Go, Serve

  • June 21, 2019 - Keeping Secrets: Sometimes Not So Good

    Occasionally we keep secrets for our own advantage, but other time the sharing of information is too important to keep to ourselves. One Mercedes Benz TV commercial of many years ago shows their car colliding with a cement wall during a safety test. Read more...

  • June 14, 2019 - Trust: A Key Ingredient

    Have you ever noticed that people are often trapped in the snares of their own making? Someone told a student that he or she was not too bright and even the smartest people can go through life under such misapprehension. It is a tragedy to be trapped by the misconceptions of others. Read more...

  • June 7, 2019 - Vision, Don't Leave Home Without It

    About 400 years ago a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a town site. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness. Read more...

  • May 31, 2019 - What is a Methodist?

    As we approach Annual Conference in a few weeks, the above question is perhaps on our minds. A de-commissioned comic once said about Methodists on National Public Radio: 

    We make fun of Methodists for their blandness, their excessive calm, their fear of giving offense, their lack of speed, and also for their secret fondness for macaroni and cheese. Read more...

  • May 24, 2019 - On Memorial Day

    We all vow to remember the important things in life, but it is very difficult, as the story I share proves. 

    My friend Will Willimon illustrates our high-minded intention of remembering with a story of just how difficult memory is for not only individual people, but whole communities bent on never forgetting. Willimon quotes Luminere, the man who invented motion pictures over one hundred years ago. Concerning the idea that people can immortalize motion on film Luminere said, “Death has been overcome.” Read more...

  • May 17, 2019 - Letting God Help Us Become Better

    Jeph Jacques once remarked: “You ought to expect better of people. It encourages you to be a better  

    person yourself.” One of the assumed articles of our faith is that God can take what we are, work with us, and create something in us new and better. Read more...

  • May 8, 2019 - Hammer Time!

    I came upon this amusing story in my dentist’s office many years ago. Read more...

  • May 1, 2019 - What Would You Do?

    Recently I have been studying 1 Peter. Here is an attention-grabbing text: 

    6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 8 Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. 10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the power forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 5:6-11). Read more...

  • April 26, 2019 - Dr. Mosser's Blog

    Easter is not just a day of the liturgical year; it is a season too. As such, this Easter season is a season of hope. Spring has sprung and everything is now in its fullest bloom. Faith too offers hope to a world mired in despair. Are you part of the problem—or part of the solution? Read more...

  • April 19, 2019 - Dr. Mosser's Blog

    Today is Good Friday. If there was ever a day in which hope needs to manifest itself, then it is this day. Tonight will be a night of music and singing. We need a song in our hearts tonight of all nights. Come and hear our Salado UMC choir do superb and spiritual things for us as they offer their wonderful ministry to God and us. Read more...

  • April 12, 2019 - Dr. Mosser's Blog

    We often reveal ourselves to others by what we believe and by what we do. Anonymity and Christianity rarely mix well. The irony of a phone call I recently received did not escape me. My family was out of town and I was in my office at about 12:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. The phone call was from a desperate young woman who said she needed help, but she said she was afraid to tell me who she was or what her problem was. Over and over again, she kept saying, “but I need help.” To be able to give help or receive help, people must know each other and we do this through communication. Read more...

  • April 5, 2019 - Dr. Mosser's Blog

    Many people know my son Neil as he has been here in Salado for a few months. He is on some of your minds these days as he is hiking the Appalachian Trail for just under 2200 miles. Neil also served in the Peace Corps in Madagascar for over two years. This fact reminded me of a story regarding the Peace Corps and our coming now to the end of Lent and entering Holy Week. Read more...

  • March 29, 2019 - "Waiting and Waiting"

    A great deal of life is simply waiting around for one event or another. In some churches all the talk is about waiting for the Lord’s return. Of course, if one were in the first century, as were those who read Mark’s Gospel, waiting for the final curtain of history to drop was part and parcel of what it meant to believe in Christ. Yet, Luke takes a longer view of the God’s timetable because Luke recognized that God’s time and our timetables may differ somewhat. Read more...


  • March 22, 2019  - "The Tracks We Leave Behind"  

    A few years ago, I came across a newspaper story in Washington state. The article was about graffiti, but not the kind that “artists” spray in many urban neighborhoods. It was rather the kind that we could call 1800s graffiti. Some workers found the graffiti inside the Washington Monument. Here is the story complete with dateline. Read more...


  • March 15, 2019 - "The Irony of It All"

    Recently, I was reading a book re-recommended to me by Rev. Estee Valendy titled The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction by the late Eugene H. Peterson who readers best known for his paraphrase of the Bible called The Message. In a nutshell the book reminds us that simply being busy is not a faithful answer to God’s call. We know that for example that doing the right things is as important as doing things right. Because we can never be “enough” for our world, guilt and regret too often lead us down a path on which we would rather not travel. Read more...

  • March 8, 2019 - "Repent - Not Stylish"

    From Ash Wednesday onward the time of Lent is about repentance and putting our spiritual houses in order—in order to receive the good news of the gospel. Lent is a time we journey toward Easter. Lent offers those who take the journey seriously an opportunity to experience the authentic joy of Easter. Just as Jesus overcame the grave at Easter, Lent helps us take stock of the things that we may overcome in this life, by God’s grace, in order to be more devoted to God’s summons. Read more...

  • February 28, 2019 - Response

    I have decided to post a portion of my friend’s response to the General Conference ruling this week. Andy Stoker, Senior Pastor of First UMC Dallas, has a position with respect to the decision, but he fairly lays out what he thinks happened. We will continue to discuss this matter for the foreseeable future.—David N. Mosser

    ...


    "Sisters, Brothers, and Siblings in Christ, I greet you in the name of the Incarnate Love of Jesus Christ from St. Louis, Missouri.   


    The United Methodist Church called a Special Session of the General Conference to discuss matters of marriage and ordination of persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) in the life of our denomination. After a day of prayer, a day of review of the Commission on the Way Forward, and a day of legislative committee, I am compelled to write you a compassionate word as I am with your appointive clergy staff as delegates and observers to the proceedings of this Special General Conference. 

     

    God has created this beautifully diverse world. Scripture is our guide. Tradition is our reflection. Experience is our shared-life. Reason is our conversation-partner. Jesus embodied a Love where meeting people in the streets he would recognize them as 'beloved.' The Holy Spirit continues to call us to grow, connect and serve all of God’s beloved children. The Church is a place where we grow in our discipleship and the place from where we are sent to serve. 

     

    We are witnessing change in our Church. Having open conversations about biblical interpretation and how we steward our monies for the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world is a watershed moment. The conversation is hard, just as any critical conversation in family might be. We are in a critical conversation as a global Church. The proceedings today represented our denominational standing with our LGBTQ daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and neighbors. There were those who were assured by the convening and still others felt hurt, harmed and hated. 

     

    Jesus said, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” This is the vision, reality and great hope for the kin-dom of God. . . .

     

    Today, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church voted in its afternoon session to affirm our position of restrictions on the ordination of LGBTQ persons called by God to ministry and restrictions on our Church to celebrate same-sex weddings by our clergy and/or in our churches. . . .

     

    The United Methodist Church is at an impasse. However, (we) will continue to be the welcoming, encouraging and life-affirming people as God has called us. . . Through those years, the Methodists continued to refine itself through splits and reformations-. . . Today is like every other day: we will welcome all our neighbors. We will baptize. We will celebrate holy communion. We will proclaim the Gospel. We will read to a student in an elementary school. We will feed the hungry, visit the prisoner, heal the sick, and love one another. 

     

    I will see you on Sunday. Your clergy staff will see you on Sunday. We are better together!


    We are held, in God’s Love,


    Andy"




  • February 22, 2019 - Cheers and Jeers

    Sometimes I wish I did not read the “Cheer & Jeers” column in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Several years ago, one Michael Polansky, complained about a local TV station airing beer commercials on Sunday morning when children might be unsupervised. He wrote: “Parents might not realize that their children would be exposed to a beer commercial on Sunday morning." Read more...

  • February 15, 2019 - On Listening and...Hearing

    Years ago, in my Navarro College (Midlothian campus) philosophy class we read Tom Regan’s essay entitled: “The Case for Animal Rights.” Of course, animal rights in Ellis County generally gets little affirmative press—one of my students even commented that until we read this essay, she did not even know that animals had any rights. Certainly, for mainstream Texans, many of whom believe that eating meat is a God-given right, this essay was something of a distasteful annoyance. So, we debated the issue in class—which every semester seems to get people juices going. To get a flavor for Regan’s essay which we read I offer an excerpt. Read more...

  • February 8, 2019 - "On Corrupting the Innocent"

    Sometimes as I go back and read random notes, I discover something that was especially delectable as a slice of human behavior. Recently I ran across one such note. Lloyd H. Steffen wrote in The Christian Century how when King Frederick II, an eighteenth-century King of Prussia, visited a prison in Berlin, the inmates tried to prove to him how they had been unjustly imprisoned. All except one. That one sat quietly in a corner, while all the rest of the prisoners protested their innocence. Read more...

  • February 1, 2019 "Dibs on Certain Times"

    Many of us can remember that Sunday morning and Wednesday evening were times set aside as “church times.” This meant that no one else—not schools or the Elks or Kiwanis or Girl Scouts or music lessons or “anything else in all creation” could separate us from the time of prayer and worship that we need as human beings. Read more...

  • January 25, 2019 - "A Person Who Believes What He Says"  

    The famous eighteenth century philosopher, David Hume, had friends who chided him because he went to church every Sunday to hear the Orthodox Scottish minister, John Brown, preach. Defending himself, Hume said, “I don't believe what he’s saying, but he does. And one day each week I like to hear a man who believes what he says.”

     

    Come, Worship

    Stay, Learn

    God, Serve


  • January 18, 2019 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Observed

    When I think of the brief and intense life of Dr. Martin Luther King, I remember this haunting little verse by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

     

    "My candle burns at both ends;

    It will not last the night;

    But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –

    It gives a lovely light!"

    Read more...


  • January 11, 2019 - Baptism of the Lord Sunday

    Baptism connects us to generations of Christians before and after us. It is a bit like seeing a sliver of a section of Old U.S. Highway 40 and thinking that is all there is. Yet, beyond our immediate perception there is much, much more. Read more...

  • January 4, 2018 - What will 2019 Bring?

    The apostle Peter said to the people on the day of Pentecost, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (See Acts 2). Yet, Peter’s word is appropriate as we face the dawn of a new year this month of January 2019. Read more...

  • November 30, 2018 - An Advent Devotional

    Read: Hebrews 1:1-4

    Advent begins this coming Sunday. Advent is the Christian season that helps us spiritually prepare for Christmas and the coming of the Christ child. Zechariah 9:12 (NRSV) reminds the faithful: “Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.” Read more...

  • November 23, 2018 - Thanksgiving and our Rituals

    From time to time, people ask me why we should go to church. I would like to cite a specific example of how ritual functions—and worship is part of the Christian ritual. 

    A timely example of ritual is our secular celebration of Thanksgiving, which by the way, we model on the Hebrew notion of giving thanks to God. I suggest secular simply because Thanksgiving Day has been set aside for national thanksgiving to God by our presidents from at least as far back as Abraham Lincoln. In point of fact, for Christians every Sabbath Day is a day of thanksgiving. Thus, in a way, Christians should be experts at giving thanks to God. Read more...

  • November 16, 2018 - I Am Your Church Budget

    This week I want to let our church budget have a say as we contemplate our response to our Stewardship Education Series titled: “Celebrate God: Return God’s Gifts!” 

    Through me, families are launched in marriage, persons are baptized, and the young are trained in Christian character. 

    I provide a Church School and youth activities for your children. Read more...

  • November 9, 2018 - Why People Give

    In September 2007 my friend Tom Butts, pastor emeritus at FUMC, Monroeville AL wrote an article that answers the question “why are some people generous?” Our Stewardship Education Series this year is titled “Celebrate God: Return God’s Gifts!” Tom Butts offers us some good things to ponder. Read more...

  • November 2, 2018 - Celebrate God: Return God's Gifts!

    Our Stewardship Education Series this year is titled “Celebrate God: Return God’s Gifts!.” We celebrate our Loyalty Sunday—the first Sunday in December—just a mere four weeks away. Then we make an estimate of what we will give the church to do ministry in 2019. A difficult task is easier done when we know that we are not alone in the struggle. It is easy to give up if is just me, but there is a synergistic flow of energy when it is us. Read more...

  • October 26, 2018 - Whose?

    Here is a story to remind us of who we worship and to whom we belong. 

    A man went out hunting alone. He had the good fortune of killing an elephant, but no matter how he tried he could not bring the elephant back home. He hurried back to the village and appealed to his fellow villagers to help him bring his elephant home. They asked: “Whose elephant is it?” The man said with pride: “It is mine.” The people refused to help him. Read more...

  • October 19, 2018 - Faith Means Be Prepared

    This past week I visited Niagara Falls for the first time. It is impressive and I was astounded at its beauty. It also reminded me of a story . . . . Too often in life an emergency arises and those caught in it are unprepared. The Boy Scout motto of “be prepared” is not a bad motto for most of us. Read more...

  • October 12, 2018 - A Little Kid Story

    In his book Stress Fractures, Charles Swindoll writes: 

    I vividly remember being caught in the undertow of too many commitments in too few days. It wasn’t long before I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at unexpected interruptions. Before long, our home started reflecting my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable. Read more...

  • October 5, 2018 - Change or Die!

    For years, the opening of The Wide World of Sports television program showed “the agony of defeat” of a painful ending to an attempted ski jump. The skier appeared in good form as he headed down the jump, but then, for no apparent reason, he tumbled head over heels off the side of the jump, bouncing off the supporting structure. Read more...

  • September 28, 2018 -“The Evangelism Principle” or “How to Promote Your Own Church” 

    I hope that like you I try to do my best to invite people to our church and its worship. When I run into folks who are new to the area or those that I know do not have a church home, I always invite them to be a part of Salado UMC. We have so much to offer people of every age and stage of life. It is for this reason that I believe in this congregation working together. Read more...

  • September 21, 2018 - "Is it Worth the Climb?"

    Several years ago, one of my pastor friends lost a church member who had fallen off the side of a rock face. Read more...

  • September 14, 2018 - "It is Well with My Soul"

    I have heard the hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul,” (UM Hymnal, # 377) many times in my ministry, but I never knew the moving story behind the song until recently. Read more...

  • September 7, 2018 - "Listen to the Children"

    As we begin a new school year, please read what my friend Rev. Thomas Lane Butts, Jr. has to share. This “LISTEN TO THE CHILDREN” newsletter article is from FUMC, Monroeville, Alabama, a few years ago. Read more...

  • August 31, 2018 - "Labor Day 2018"

    The late John Claypool (d. 3 September 2005) reminds us on this Labor Day: “When we offer up our daily work to the glory of God and the benefit of our families and communities, we proceed to play our roles in the daily struggle to make God more visible in the world and bring God’s realm into fuller realization.” Read more...

  • August 24, 2018 - "The Intuitive Mind"

    School begins for all of us soon! It is curious but only those who have suffered under all the teaching and reading and instruction are in a position to appreciate the gift of a good education. I recently re-read a quote I copied from Frank McCourt’s book Angela’s Ashes: Read more...

  • August 17, 2018 - "Haunting Stories"

    My friend and a person who has preached for me in several of my churches in the past, Tom Butts, pastor emeritus in Monroeville, AL has written a thought-provoking article. This story is for people like us who need to be reminded that what we do as a faith community is so important. Our common life on behalf of others is why God keeps us in business. Please consider Dr. Butts’ words: Read more...

  • August 10, 2017 - Too Much Recognition?

    We rarely see the people behind the spectacular accomplishments of others. For every success, there are people behind the scenes helping us accomplish great things. In the summer of 1989, Mark Wellman, a paraplegic, gained national recognition by climbing the sheer granite face of California’s El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Read more...

  • August 3, 2018 - Good Things in Small Packages

    In 1947, the University of Chicago, scheduled Professor Chandrasekhar to teach an advanced seminar in astrophysics. He agreed to teach it because Dr. Sheldon Cooper was not in the class. At the time, Chandrasekhar lived in Wisconsin, doing research at the Yerkes astronomical observatory. He planned to commute twice a week for the class, held during the harsh Mid-Western winter months. Read more...

  • July 27, 2018 -The Confidence of Knowing

    On July 15, 1986, Roger Clemens started his first All-Star Game. In the second inning, he came to bat, something he hadn’t done because of the American League’s designated-hitter rule. He then looked out at his forbidding opponent, Dwight Gooden, who the previous year had won the Cy Young Award. Read more...

  • July 20, 2018 - "The Truth Will Set You Free"

    Lloyd H. Steffen wrote in The Christian Century how when King Frederick II, an eighteenth-century King of Prussia, was visiting a prison in Berlin, the inmates tried to prove to him how they had been unjustly imprisoned. All except one. That one sat quietly in a corner, while all the rest protested their innocence. Read more...

  • July 13, 2018 - "Never Give Up"

    In June of 1965 Winston Churchill gave the commencement address at a British university. At this time, he was physically infirmed and had to be helped to the podium. Then he held on to the podium for an exceptional amount of time. 


    He stood with his head down. But finally, with the voice that had called Britain back from the brink of destruction sounded publicly for the last time in history: “Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.” Read more...

  • July 6, 2018 - "The Fourth of July"

    This week was the Fourth of July. As originally conceived, Independence Day was a day of national celebration to remember the signing of the Declaration of Independence on 4 July 1776. We as a nation have also traditionally celebrated the day to recall our memory of the principles for which someone somewhere founded us as the United States of America. I say this because we are at least as much of an ideal as we are a nation. Read more...

  • June 29, 2018 - "Do the Truth...or Abide its Alternative"

    Life often presents us with truth that seems too painful and fierce for us to face. Yet, one of the gifts of truth is to help us see our way clear to confront it. The bad truth is better than a good falsehood. Read more...

  • June 22, 2018 - "Keeping Secrets: Sometimes Not So Good"

    Occasionally we keep secrets for our own advantage, but other time the sharing of information is too important to keep to ourselves. One Mercedes Benz TV commercial of many years ago shows a Mercedes Benz automobile colliding with a cement wall during a safety test. Read more...

  • June 15, 2018 - "Trust: A Key Ingredient"

    Have you ever noticed that people are often trapped in the snares of their own making? Someone told a student that he or she was not too bright. And sadly, even the smartest people who are told such tripe can go through life under such misapprehension. It is a tragedy to be trapped by the misconceptions of others. Read more...

  • June 8, 2018 - "Vision: Don't Leave Home Without It"

    About 400 years ago a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a town site. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness. Read more...

  • June 1, 2018 - "On Nuptials"

    Since June is wedding season, so called, let’s look at wedding business! 

    One parable of grace is Jesus’ “The Parable of the Wedding Banquet.” The version I offer came not from the Gospels, but rather from The Boston Globe (June 1990). 


    "Accompanied by her fiancée, a woman went to the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Boston and ordered the meal. The two of them poured over the menu, made selections of china and silver, and pointed to pictures of the flower arrangements they liked. They both had expensive taste, and the bill came to thirteen thousand dollars. After leaving a check for half that amount as down payment, the couple went home to flip through books of wedding announcements." Read more...

  • May 25, 2018 - "Memorial Day"

    As we make this Memorial Day pilgrimage, let us not forget who gave us the freedoms we enjoy. Let us remember: Read more...

  • May 18, 2018 - "A House Divided Against Itself"

    Since this coming Sunday is Pentecost, I thought I would write about the church—since it is its birthday. Friedrich Nietzsche was a provocative, and still much quoted, 19th Century German philosopher. He was a severe critic of religion, especially the Christian religion. He once suggested that “The last Christian died on the cross.” And, concerning Christian evangelism, he said: “If the church wants the world to believe in redemption, then the church ought to look a little more redeemed.” Read more...

  • May 11, 2018 - "The Mommy Test"

    One of our alert church members sent this to me and I am thinking it is worth the time and effort to read it:  I was out walking with my 4-year-old daughter. She picked up something off the ground and started to put it in her mouth. I took the item away from her and I asked her not to do that. “Why?” my daughter asked. Read more...

  • May 4, 2018 - "The Positive and Negative Golden Rule"

    Scripture Verse: “Do not say, “I will do to others as they have done to me;  I will pay them back for what they have done’ ” (Proverbs 24:29). Read more...

  • April 27, 2018 - “Deliver Us from Enemies: Fight Fire with Prayer”

    A church in Georgia published a rather long prayer list. They thought it would be helpful to identify the reason for each one being on the list. Read more...

  • April 20, 2018 - “A Walking Billboard for the Christian Faith”

    When Harland Sanders began his Kentucky Fried Chicken business, he had little money and no assets for advertising. So, he grew a little beard, got a white suit, and as a Kentucky Colonel he became a walking advertisement for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Read more...

  • April 13, 2018 - Share Something Good

    A few years ago, newspapers in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, carried the story of a man who not only planned his own funeral, but also attended it—alive and well. Read more...

  • April 6, 2018  -  "The World Needs a Day of Prayer"

    Scripture Verse: “The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me” (John 16:32). Read more...

  • March 30, 2018 - "Relax...the End of the World Only Comes Once"

    As we near Easter Sunday and we welcome others on the journey to the cross, I offer you a brief witticism that I hope will make you smile: Read more...

  • March 23, 2018 - "Perhaps a Made-up Story . . . that may be True"

    [Please do not read this if you are easily shamed or made to feel guilty].  A young woman named Sally relates an experience she had in her seminary class one day. Her professor, Dr. Smith, provided the day’s lesson. She notes that the students knew beforehand that Dr. Smith offered his classes elaborate object lessons. Read more...

  • March 16, 2018 - "Focus on Christ"

    My friend, retired pastor Kent Millard, shared with me part of an absorbing speech by Dr. Leonard Sweet. Sweet is an engaging speaker and told that hanging down in the center of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem—where Israeli soldiers surround Palestinians—is a huge ostrich egg. In fact, many churches in the Middle East have an ostrich egg hanging in the sanctuary. Read more...

  • March 9, 2018 - "Timing is Everything"

    We are now in the midst of the season of Lent and it is a time of prayer, fasting, spiritual reading, and another handful of spiritual disciplines that Christians practice to prepare for the joy that will come after Holy Week—the celebration of Easter. Before we celebrate however there is a time of preparation—and that is the intention of Lent. Read more...

  • March 2, 2018 - "Cheer & Jeers"

    Sometimes I wish I had not read the “Cheer & Jeers” column in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Several years ago, one Michael Polansky, complaining about a local TV station airing a beer commercial on Sunday morning when children might be unsupervised, wrote: “Parents might not realize that their children would be exposed to a beer commercial on Sunday morning.” Read more...

  • February 23, 2018 - "Door to Liberation"

    Lent is the time from Ash Wednesday until the dawning of Easter morning—or in some traditions—Holy Saturday. Between now and Easter what we call “Spiritual Disciplines” is the order of the day for believers. Lent is an appropriate time to address spiritual disciplines. Lent is the season of the church year when we walk with Jesus toward his ultimate destiny on the cross. For believers, Jesus’ death on the cross and the self-discipline that it involved is nothing less that the most positive model of faithfulness. In the sense of renewing our confession of faith and deepening our relationship with God, we can learn much from Jesus about divine values and meaning. Read more...

  • February 16, 2018 - "Lent 1 and Luke"

    Because our chief Gospel for year B of the Lectionary is Mark and because Mark does not have a temptation story of Jesus per se, I would like for us to consider Luke this first week in Lent. Luke 4:1-13 opens Lent for us and I suggest reading this text as a devotional. Instead of recounting each of the three temptations, that is—the temptation to turn a stone into bread, a temptation to worship something besides God, and the temptation to test God—I ask that we consider one implication of these temptations together. Contrary to popular opinion, people regularly are tempted at their points of strength and not tempted at their points of weakness. Read more...

  • February 9, 2018 - "We Get Jesus with our Christianity"

    This Wednesday all day long, we begin our Lenten journey toward Holy Week and Easter. So, you know one thing for sure—when you come to have ashes imposed during our worship service (6:00 pm in the Worship Center) then know that you get God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit with the deal. Read more...

  • January 26, 2018 - Our Christian Resume

    “On Errant Resumes” 

    Like most preachers I remember a time when everything went right when speaking to a group of people. Several years ago, a local service club asked me to do its program. Because most of them were well-heeled business people, I decided to begin with an amusing look at some items appropriated from actual resumes of job seekers. Some of them were funny, but in a sad, pathetic sort of way.  Included in the errant resumes were these seven statements: Read more...

  • January 19, 2018 - Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

    The week of Christian Unity is the 18th through the 25th of January, 2018. During this particular week we ponder and pray about the notion of harmony between Christian brothers and sisters. I suppose we will think about getting along with other religions sometime in the future. Read more...

  • January 12, 2018 - Baptism of the Lord Sunday

    Baptism connects us to generations of Christians before and after us. It is a bit like seeing a sliver of a section of Old U.S. Highway 40 and thinking that is all there is. Yet, beyond our immediate perception there is much, much more. Read more...

  • January 5, 2018 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Observed this coming January 15

    For faith, Samson, Jeremiah, John the Baptizer, Peter, Paul, and Silas all spent jail time. Possibly some of the best preaching and witnessing to our faith came straight out of jail. Read more...

  • December 29, 2017 - "'Twas the Week After Christmas"

    Now that the “Big Day” is over and we are trying to get back to normal, whatever that may be, perhaps we should try to figure out how to keep some of Christmas in our lives. People tend to feel “let down” after such an intense celebration. It takes intentional effort to keep the spirit of Christmas alive when it is over. So many things mitigate against it. Several years ago, Howard Thurman wrote a free-verse poem about taking Christmas beyond December 25th. Read more...

  • December 22, 2017 - “The Christmas Candy Cane Story"

    A candy maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would tell the story of Jesus so he made the Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ. Read more...

  • December 15, 2017 - "The Christmas Truce"

    I want to share a story from Tom Butts, pastor emeritus of FUMC, Monroeville AL.

    Have you ever heard the story of the Christmas Truce in 1914 during World War I? I had heard fragments of it, but always thought it was mostly myth. Read more...

  • December 8, 2017 - “The Thrill of an Unconventional Christmas

    As some may know, the Del Webb Corporation has built a number of senior retirement communities. Each one of these cities is impeccably designed and is almost a portrait of perfection. I visited Sun City West for the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce about twenty years ago and found the Sun City to be disconcertingly flawless. There was no trash on the grounds and everything was built to certain very precise specifications. Against the backdrop of the perfection of the Sun City concept was a story that I think captures our Advent theme of waiting and watching with joy and expectation. Read more...

  • December 1, 2017 - A Few Random Thoughts for Advent

    "Advent is the season of Christ’s coming. This is a strange notion for us, because our lives are built around going . . .  But we never go to Christmas. Christmas is always coming . . ." Read more...   

  • November 24, 2017 - A Thanksgiving Story

    “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). There is a story about Winston Churchill that recounts that as a young boy, Churchill fell into a lake on his family’s estate. It so happened that the gardener’s son came by, saw young Churchill, and jumped in to pull him out of the water, thus saving his life." Read more...

  • November 17, 2017 - Thanksgiving is Not All That Complicated

    One of my favorite writers, Erma Bombeck, died in 1996 of cancer. She, like many people in my own life who have had cancer, understood that life is lived in the present. Our time on earth is not something that we can always control, but we can choose the kind of attitude we have about life and others while we are yet alive. Ms. Bombeck reminds us of her attitude in what she wrote for Redbook magazine in October 1992: Read more...

  • November 10, 2017 - Veterans Day 2017

    Saturday is Veterans Day 2017. As I think over my ministry I wish I knew how many soldiers of our Armed Forces I have buried who served our country with distinction. Someone once told me that war was an undertaking that revealed a person’s truest self. So, this weekend we stop and pray for both the memories of our war dead as well as for peace. Perhaps the psalmist puts it for us best: Read more...

  • October 27, 2017 - All Saints - A Day to Remember

    All Saints Sunday means more and more to me as more and more of my friends on this side of the sod are now entering “the dearly departed.”  Read more...

  • October 21, 2017 - You Can Be an

    Evangelist . . . Invite a Friend to Church!

    I have been thinking about what an average United Methodist Christian could do for our church without too much effort. Read more...

  • October 13, 2017 - What We Leave Behind Says a Lot

    Several years ago, a family called on me to celebrate a funeral service for their grandmother who once attended the church I pastored. Read more...

  • October 3, 2017 - The Darwin Awards

    Keeping a sense of humor—as well as our faith in Christ—may be one of the ways we retain our sanity in the midst of what appears to be worldwide chaos. Thus, I am amused each year when the Darwin Awards are awarded. Read more...

  • September 26, 2017 - Gifts

    One of the best things a church can offer any of us is a place to use our gifts. Combined every congregation has a vast arsenal of things that they can do if they are but willing and able to offer themselves as volunteers in some kind of mission. Read more...

  • September 19, 2017 - 15 Things Teenagers Ask...

    I have no idea where I read this. Since on September 22nd our very own Salado UMC will hosts the 5th Quarter for area Youth after Salado Eagles Homecoming Game, I reasoned that it was worth thinking as some young people do this week. Here are fifteen things that teenagers ask about when given the chance to do so anonymously: Read more...

  • September 8, 2017 - Kids [still] Say the Darndest Things

    Working with youngsters always is both challenging and rewarding. Kids are always energetic and often force us to look at things in new ways. As a pastor I have always enjoyed teaching confirmation because the youngsters never fail to bring me new insights and perspectives on scripture. Read more...

  • September 1, 2017 - Listen for a Change

    My retired pastor friend Tom Butts from Monroeville, AL, wrote a story long ago that I have never forgotten because it is to true and so helpful for the prospect of being Christian and human—which I take to be the same thing. Can we listen? Read more...

  • August 10, 2017 - Civility and/or Respect

    From time to time even people in the church get into some sort of conflict or another. It happens everywhere. I see it in the youth, youth choir, Sunday school, Women’s group, men’s group, college classrooms, faculty meetings, marriages, families, state legislature, the United Nations, and on and on and on. So the issue is not if or when we will run into conflict, but the real question is how we handle conflict. Read more...