Monday, March 29, 2010

Palm Sunday on the Mount Airy Charge

Palm Sunday on the Mount Airy Charge, we had palms for the congregation to wave during our first hymn. Joanne had found the song online at a children's sight. At the end of each line there are words in parenthesis and those words were to be shouted. At the point where we shouted we would also wave the palms, during the second verse we waved thoughout the verse. If you have a problem with acting a little childish in church, get over it. It was fun and there were a lot of smiles. I think that is an excellent way to start a Sunday service.

"When He Comes!"

(Sung to the tune “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain”)

He’ll be riding on a donkey,When he comes (Praise God!)
He’ll be riding on a donkey, When he comes (Praise God!)
He’ll be riding on a donkey, He’ll be riding on a donkey,
He’ll be riding on a donkey, When he comes (Praise God!)

We'll be waving our palm branches, When he comes (Our King!)
We'll be waving our palm branches, When he comes (Our King!)
We'll be waving our palm branches, We'll be waving our palm branches,
We'll be waving our palm branches, When he comes (Praise God! Our King!)

We’ll be shouting out “Hosanna!”, When he comes (God’s Son!)
We’ll be shouting out “Hosanna!”, When he comes (God’s Son!)
We’ll be shouting out “Hosanna!”,, We’ll be shouting out “Hosanna!”,
We’ll be shouting out “Hosanna!”, When he comes
(Praise God! Our King! God’s Son!)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Finished the First Year of Course of Study

Well, I made it through my first year of classes for the United Methodist Church at Duke University. The last morning I took some time to go into the Duke Chapel and get a few photos. It really is an impressive place. The vaulted ceilings, the arches, the stained glass windows, the quiet echoes; all set an atmosphere of the Holy.  It is such a contrast to our modern, utilitarian churches, that can be easy mistaken for a theatre or gymnasium. When you walk through these doors, you have no doubt that you're in church. Though there is no sign, no one speaks aloud, only whispers.
Our last class of the year was Pastoral Care. We had the good fortune or better yet divine blessing to have the outgoing director of Course of Study, Rev. Nathan Kirkpatrick, to teach our class. When I attended my first class back in September, I was told the he had a love for local pastors and that he had our back. Several people came up and told me how jealous they were that we had him teaching our class. This was my first real time of being able to sit, talk. listen, and learn from  him. When he was teaching, you could tell what things he was  passionate about, you could see it in his eyes. It was really good class.

These are some of the members of our class. The eight of us were is Licensing School 2008 together.   We're all Local Pastors serving around the state of Virginia. We will all get together at Annual Conference in a couple of months.
When I was driving home from Duke on Saturday afternoon, I heard this song on the radio. I had heard it many times before, but this time was different. I can't really explain it, you'll just have to take my word for it. Anyway, I just wanted to post it on here for you to hear. It just seemed to sum up what I was feeling when I was heading home from my first year at school.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Zhu

On Saturday night Gordon Goh, who I worked with at the hospital for over 20 years, called and said he had a big favor to ask of me. Gordon attends the Chinese Church at Beulah Baptist Church. It seems that there was a couple, who also attend the Chinese Church, and they wanted to get married on Tuesday, three days away. 

I agreed to officiate the wedding. I had no questions about the couples status, preparedness for marriage, or faith. I know Dr. and Mrs. Wu, who pastor and teach the Chinese Church. I also know that Dr. Wu was giving the bride in marriage and that he would never do that if they were not well prepared. It helps to know those in leadership and their standards. The bride's name was Suzanne and the groom was Frank.
On Sunday I got a call from the couple and was told that they were planning a rehearsal on Monday evening. They asked if I would be able to attend. Since I wasn't sure how you could have a rehearsal otherwise, I figured that I had better show up. I seems that the bride's name was HaiYing Sun and groom's name was ChangJiang Zhu. I needed to do some pronunciation practicing. Their selection of the day for the wedding was the anniversary of the day they met two years ago.

When Joanne and I got there on Monday, we found that they had decorated the sanctuary with a boat load of flowers. The entire isle that the bride would walk down was lined with flower rope. The platform had a flower draped arch and potted flower on the railing in front of the choir loft. All the decorations were impressive, since they had already told us that besides the Bride and Groom, and Joanne and me, they were expecting seven guests. They wanted a small wedding, but not an underdone wedding.
On Tuesday evening, the groom asked if we could start a bit late. I told him it was his wedding and we'd start when he was ready. Apparently, he had left something at home and had to run and get it. So we began at 7:30 rather than 7:00, not a big deal. Now, we had made a few planned modifications in the service. First was that they both had something they wanted to read to each other. Second was that when they lit the unity candle in place of music I would read a scripture. I also printed out their names and placed them on each page of the service, just so I could get them correct.
When the time came for them to read what they had prepared, it went great. They probably could have written their own service. When HaiYing was reading hers, she read 1 Corinthians 13, the Love chapter. That was the scripture that I had planned to read during their lighting of the unity candle. Fortunately I had prepared another scripture. So, I slipped one into the back of the book and the other into it's place.
The service went very well. Especially since we had emailed the parts that they would be saying to them the night before so they could practice the English pronunciations. I was told later that I did a good job on the names, I do hope so.
 After the service ChangJiang and HaiYing, Mr. and Mrs. Zhu, told us that they had made dinner reservations at Golden Corral for everyone. Golden Corral is a buffet type restaurant, which was good since we could all get what we wanted. But, by the time we arrived at the restaurant it was 8:30 and they were scheduled to close at 9:00. The manager said not to worry, everything would remain available until we were finished. The man cooking the steaks stayed until we were done and the waiter was continually checking on us. I do not know very many restaurants that would have been so gracious. Kudos to Golden Corral on Wards Road in Lynchburg. If you get a chance to eat there, please, tell them thank you for what they did for the newlyweds.
ChangJiang and HaiYing Zhu, may your life together be richly blessed.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Final Tally

A final update on our Haiti Relief Program. We collected $390 to send to the missionaries in Haiti and a good load of items to go to "Gleaning for the World" to be sent to Haiti. We want to thank everyone who contributed financially or with items to be sent. Please continue to pray for Haiti and those who minister there. The news and television have moved on to "more pressing" things, but the suffering goes on and the needs are still there. It is time for the church to arise and step out.

Arsenic and Old Lace

A little over a week ago, Joanne and I went to see Brian Daniels perform in the play "Arsenic and Old Lace" in Danville.
Brian played a character named Teddy, who thought he was Teddy Roosevelt. He ran around shouting "Bully!" and thinking he was digging the Panama Canal, when he was actually digging graves in the cellar for he sisters. He was outstanding! He and the entire cast put on an excellent production.
You might say that Brian's portrayal was off the ground. We had a great time.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Trying Something New (at least new for us)

 For Christmas Courtney and Dave gave me a digital voice recorder to use for my classes at Duke. I just can't take notes as fast as I once could and I needed some help. If I could figure out how to cut out the class chatter and discussion, so that I only had the lecture recorded it would help. Hopefully I'll learn how to do that as time goes on.
It seemed that there should be some other way to use this cool little device. We decided that we would try to record the Sunday sermons on the recorder. Then I could take it home, download it onto the computer, and then burn it onto a CD to be taken to those homebound and in nursing homes or given those who missed that Sunday. Not that I think my sermons are so noteworthy as to be saved and passed on, but it seemed that it might be a good way to keep folks connected to the church and let them know we haven't forgotten about them.
  My first attempt resulted in a blank CD being given out. I am definitely not the most tech savvy person you will ever meet. But, I've figured out what I did wrong and the next CD will have two Sundays on it. We started with Sunday the 21st, the first Sunday of Lent. The one problem is distribution. By the time I take it home, download and makes the copies, its the next Sunday before we get them delivered. So we end up a week behind. We'll have to work on that. We're also not sure if everyone has a CD player at home, but that can be easily remedied.

I know larger churches have sound systems that can record the service and CD copiers that can turn out dozens of CDs in the time it takes me to make one copy. But, there is no reason a small church can't get the job done, too. Maybe in the future we'll update our sound system and include some of things that will help us be a bit more efficient. For now, what matters is that we keep our people connected to the church and that they know that they have not been forgotten.