Friday, October 12, 2012
Festival of Shelters. Anthony's Plot again hosted the week long Festival of Shelters, a biblical festival commanded by God in the Old Testament. This takes place on 5th Street and is done to raise awareness of homelessness, and poverty, just as God commanded the Hebrews to observe this to remember the time they were homeless, hungry and aliens. We at Hillsdale, a United Methodist Congregation, were invited to be part of this again for the second year in a row, by bringing our mobile soup kitchen and sharing food. Thank you AP!
Friday, October 21, 2011
Sooo, Thursday night I found myself back at the lot on 5th Street. The lot where things happened, the lot where i think I will look back and say, that's where my life changed - again. Thursday night the lot was empty, no one sleeping in cardboard boxes or tents. No signs of life, no painted signs of scripture or explanation. No one sitting on the steps waiting to engage a passerby to give a sandwich, a smile, or an invitation to listen, or join in a prayer service.
Anthony's Plot (check them out on fb), is what I describe as a neo-monastic community. They call themselves an intentional community loving and engaging those in need. Last week, to raise awareness of homelessness and hunger, members of Anthony Plot slept in cardboard boxes and other makeshift shelters in a vacant lot on 5th Street across from the downtown WS library. They invited Hillsdale to be part of the movement by sharing our food with the homeless and hungry folks several days. And we did. Yet, I found myself there at other times just hanging out and interacting w the homeless who would hang out there.
Then several of us from Hillsdale Church decided that wasn't enough, we wanted to stand in solidarity and support of the homeless, yet also with Anthony's Plot and what they were doing. So we stayed there Monday evening, and all night, and Tuesday morning joining in evening and morning worship, sharing what food various people brought. We sat, and talked and listened as those without homes shared their stories of life and how they arrived in their current situation. I saw those, with what we would consider nothing, share food, or what little money they had, with those around them. I saw love in action from the homed and the homeless. I was hugged by and I hugged people who hadn't bathed in days, people who didn't have tissue paper to blow their nose. I saw folks who were sick and hurting, physically, mentally and emotionally who didn't have medication that most of us get so easily. I saw people like you and I but for various reasons don't have a place to sleep at night. And I saw followers of Jesus love these people, empower them, and listen to them in ways of authenticity that you and I hope to achieve. I needed more, so I stayed again Tuesday night in the rain.
The best way I can explain it is that being there felt right. Were there times of apprehension?, and even fear?, yea, but despite that it felt right. It felt like Jesus was there loving those in need and me. As I process and ponder these experiences, the Heavy D song, 'Now That We've Found Love, What Are We Gonna Do With It?' keeps coming to mind. What do I do? What does God want me to do with this? It scares me. But not as much as living the normal, expected, american-dream type of life.
More later as I process this and evolve. God loves ya, me too! Kel out
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Friday, November 6, 2009
The picture is of the Clifton Bridge in Bristol. It was an awesome opportunity to preach and complete my Masters Degree in the land of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. When Wesley came to Bristol in response to an invitation from George Whitefield, he arrived and saw Whitefield preaching in places other than churches. Wesley saw this and was shocked, but joined in. In his journal he wrote, 'I submitted to being more vile, and proclaimed ... the glad tidings of [Jesus'] salvation to about 3,000 people.' Describing his offense of not preaching in a church Wesley wrote, 'I could scarce reconcile myself at first to this strange way of preaching ... having been all my life (till very lately) so tenacious of every point of order relating to decency and order, that I should have thought, the saving of souls almost a sin if it had not been done in a church'. In other words Wesley is saying that he had previously been was so focused on order that he nearly thought sharing the love of God outside a church was nearly a sin. I'm very grateful that Wesley changed his mind about that. Yet, I wonder what preconceived, man-made thoughts of order and decency do we need to change to share the love of God, even if it requires us to be vile? Think about it.
God loves ya, me too, Kel out
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
Hello from the land of Wesley! As you may of heard, most of England got snow a couple of weeks ago. For some parts, like Bristol, the most in 20 years. It kinda went like this: we got about 2 inches of snow on Monday, then 4 inches of snow Wednesday night. And then 6 more inches of snow Thursday night. By Thursday nearly all from earlier in the week had melted, so it still wasn't very deep. But is the most snow they have had in Bristol in 20 years. There's no sleds to be found. But plenty of snowmen around. The above pic taken was taken in a park. The buses and trains were canceled that Thursday and Friday, so I walked in the snow to get to college on Friday. Took 1 hour and 45 minutes. I had on plenty of clothes and was sweating most of the way. But don't know if I would do it again. I did get a ride home. The joys if being a student in England :).
God loves ya, me too, Kel out.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Many of you have asked about my seminary work here in England. I'm at Trinity Theological College, a division of the University of Bristol.That's Bristol, England. A very significant place to United Methodists with a lot of Wesley history. The college building is several hundred years old and used to be part of an estate. In other words, it was a house. Maybe I should say a mansion. We Americans think about England and romantic quaint mansions like this. One thing we don' think of is heating a building like this. Like most old buildings here, it's hard to heat and COLD! But aside from that, I am enjoying the training I am receiving here. No, I'm not living on the estate, but am in the inner city of Bristol. Since I am unable to work due to visa restrictions, I have recently started volunteering one day a week at a homeless shelter operated by the Methodist Church. It's sad to see the number of folks who have some very normal problems, but no one to give them a hand when they need it, which results in homelessness. A lot seems to be caused by slight mental illness. Not bad enough to be fully institutionalized, so they are ineligible, but are unable to hold down a full time job and no one to help them stay on their feet. It's kinda scary when I think that Jesus said, what we do to folk who need food, drink, clothes, shelter and friends, we do to Him. (Matthew 25.31-46)
God loves ya, me too, Kel out
Monday, January 19, 2009
The Reverend Dr. King is a huge hero of mine. He didn't want to be a civil rights leader, he wanted to to pastor his church and lead his flock, but God called him to something more. Dr. King became a civil rights leader as an act of obedience to God.
A portion of his I Have a Dream speech:
"I have a dream. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old ... spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" Kel out.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
God loves ya, me too, Kel out
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Krispy Kreme in Oxford, England. Imagine my surprise as I walked around the corner and saw this.
God is awesome! What a great trip to England. As I have mentioned before, Christians only comprise 2-3% of the British population. This really saddened me, but it seems that this small minority is fired up for Jesus. And it seems like all of the dead wood & the branches that don't bare fruit have been cut off, as Jesus said in John 15.2.
These people in Bristol are engaged in some creative ministries of outreach. They are involved in making space in their churches for coffee shops where people of the community can come in have a good cup of coffee or tea, and learn about Jesus if they want. You have to know that these churches are located in inner city areas, surrounded by poverty, crime, homelessness, etc. and unlike in the Bible belt of the states, most folks in these areas don't know much about Christians, or a church, or Jesus. So a coffee shop is a great way to reach out to people in a non threatening way. So is a holistic healing center that a church and my friend are planning. They are seeking to create a place that address spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical healing, knowing that all of these areas are tied into one's spiritual life and relationship with God. Churches in Bristol are feeding the hungry and homeless for free. Imagine this, instead of requiring people to pay to eat, they GIVE meals to those in need one day a week.
What these are doing, are what we in the states need to be doing, assessing the needs of the community in which they find themselves and trying to meet these needs to engage these people. In doing so meeting people where they are and sharing the love of Jesus, instead of requiring them to come into the church on Sunday morning for the first time. If you've forgotten how intimidating that is, go by yourself and visit a church where no one knows you. I've been reminded of this lately as I have been visiting different churches to preach. It's pretty scary at times even for me as the preacher. So let's meet folks where they are in love and grace even if we have to go out of our way just as Jesus did to meet the women at the well.
God loves ya, me too, Kel out
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Wow, it's Resurrection Weekend. On Friday I was able to participate in a multi church cross walk and prayer session. If you think walking down the streets of Kville with about 300 other folks with a police escort makes you a bit shy as people wonder why we are walking with a cross, try walking down the sidewalk in inner city England with only 20 other people and have folks stare at ya. It does tend to make one a tad nervous, but we can either stand up for Jesus or be ashamed, and I didn't want to be ashamed. I thought about what Jesus said: "If anyone acknowledges me publicly on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before my Father in heaven. But if anyone denies me on earth, I will deny that person before my Father in heaven.",so I waved, smiled at, and prayed for the folks who laughed at us and mocked us.
All over the world Sunday people will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and what this means for us. I have the honor of preaching on this most Holy day at Victory Church in Exeter. I'll be in England, preaching to an Indian Assembly of God congregation that meets at a Baptist Church. I hope you have a significant, joyful, and meaningful Resurrection weekend. Praise God Jesus is risen! God loves ya, me too, Kel out
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Before coming to England, I had heard how Christianity had declined here. I heard how when you drive around you see all of these former church buildings which are now taverns, pubs, museums, etc. The church to the left is now a used car lot.
As I write, there's a women's prayer group going on downstairs and I hear them playing the guitar and singing How Great is Our God, one of my favorite songs, and it is beautiful.
It is heartbreaking as I go through town and see all of these former churches. Why is this? Is America headed in this direction? You see, YOU are the Body of Christ. If we don't do God's will and the work He has for us to do, this is what happens. One of my good friends, Pastor Otto, has on the closing of his emails a quote from someone that says, "We are the ones we have been waiting for."
We Americans are highly indebted for the Christian teaching and nourishment that began here in Bristol and headed westward to us. It's sad to see this decline in an area where generations of Americans have benefited from Wesley, his teaching, his lay pastors, and what evolved into the United Methodist church, etc. The folks I am here with are trying to change this decline. They are involved in some creative ways of reaching out to folks, meeting them and their needs wherever they happen to be in life by reaching out, loving and sharing.
Jesus said if we love Him, we will obey His teachings (John 14.15). Some of us would argue is His most important teaching is for us to make followers (disciples). How are you doing in that area? I know, it's tough and everyone thinks that's the pastor's job, but if you're a Christian, it's your job. But instead of telling someone what Jesus can do for them, tell them what He has done for you! If you have nothing to tell, then you may not have a relationship with Jesus. John writes, "And we can be sure that we know him [Jesus] if we obey his teachings. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s teachings, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. (1John 2.3-4)
Will the place you worship be a car lot in 50 years? What are you doing to prevent it? Are you sharing Jesus? Today is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week when some 2000 years ago Jesus headed into Jerusalem to die for you and me. He died for us, what are we doing for Him?
God loves ya, me too, Kel out
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Cheers and hello from England. I am here in Bristol getting adjusted and seeing the different ministry opportunities. Friday I met Peter and Jane in downtown Bristol. They are Anglican Church missionaries who lived across the hall from me in Bethlehem. It was awesome to see them. It had only been a couple of months since I had seen them, but I had really missed them. They showed me around town and then went to "The New Room". This is the oldest Methodist Church in the world. We attended a lunch worship service and participated in a Lenten Holy Communion. Here's some info about Wesley and this church from a website with a comment or two of mine added. After studying Wesley for years, it was awesome to be here.
John Wesley first came to Bristol at the pleading of George Whitefield in 1739. Whitefield was leaving on a second visit to Georgia and, before he sailed, needed Wesley to sustain the work he had begun. Once the Bristol churches had been closed to him, Whitefield began to speak in the open air to the people of Kingswood, "proclaiming the glad news of salvation".
Wesley was unsure about the ecclesiastically irregular field preaching and came to Bristol somewhat reluctantly. At first he was taken aback by what was happening and wrote he "could scarce reconcile myself to his (Whitefield's) strange way of preaching in the fields". But a few days later, with the departure of Whitefield, he "submitted to become more vile" and in the brickyards preached to (he estimated) 3,000 people.[I love that, Wesley became "vile" and stepped out of the norm to share the good news of God's love, let's do the same] He continued preaching to the poor in the open air, gathering those who responded into religious societies which met in people's homes. Within weeks their numbers had increased so much that a new meeting place was needed. He bought a small patch of land and built what he called "our new room in the Horsefair".
It was used as a dispensary and schoolroom for the poor people of the area as well as for meetings and worship and for 18 Conferences. The Bristol Conference charged with the deepest significance was held in 1771 which took an open stand on the issue of "free and sovereign and universal grace", as opposed to Calvinism.
It was here, in a small room, that the Methodist class-meeting originated which became the basis for membership. The place is still known today by Methodists throughout the world as "the New Room" - the oldest purpose-built Methodist building in the world and the first-ever Methodist chapel, the only building which takes us straight back to the beginning of the Methodist story.
For those who are Methodists (and many others),our heritage is that of meeting people where there are, going to them, not waiting for them to come to us, stepping out of our norms, even to become vile in our own eyes, to share the good news of Jesus. Let's remember that and get out there. Jesus said to GO and make DISCIPLES, not to sit and wait for them to come! I'm preaching Sunday, prayers are appreciated. God love's ya, me too, Kel out!