Nov 25 2014

Enter the Rainbow: Twila

My siblings and I have had three grandmothers: Nanny, Nana, and Twila. Nanny was our mom’s mom; she died in 2012. Nana was our dad’s mom; she died in 1989. Twila was neither our dad’s mom nor our mom’s mom. She was our grandfather’s second wife. And she was amazing.

Actually, she was my “grandmother” longer than Nana was my grandmother. Nana was amazing, too. And so was Nanny. Three amazing women that I am so happy to have had in my life.
In 1992, three years after Nana died, my Grandfather, “Daddy Monk” Bryan married Twila Stowe, who has been my grandmother since then. 18 years with one grandmother; 22 years with another. I’m a pretty lucky guy.
Twila died this morning.
I called her daughter and she said, “Mom adored you and your family. You brought her so much joy. She was proud of you.”
Daddy Monk and Twila used to love it when I would sit down at the piano and play hymns. I would jazz them up and ad lib here and there and they would be in the kitchen cleaning up after supper or something, listening, singing along. It brought me joy to bring them joy.
But then, ever so sneakily, I would start up with the verse of “Victory in Jesus.” Before I could even get to the chorus, here Twila would come storming out of the kitchen wielding a wooden spoon or some such utensil, an expression of utter disgust on her face, often accompanied by an inarticulate growl of rage. If I had given her time, I’m not sure but she would have thumped me on the head.
However, I would just give her a grin and shift quickly to “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” or some other Charles Wesley hymn.

Oo, did she ever hate “Victory in Jesus.”
Daddy Monk and Nana used to hang out with Twila and her husband, Mac. The two couples were dear friends. Monk and Mac (that would be Alonzo Monk and William McFerrin) were both bishops in the United Methodist Church. Mac died in 1988, and my grandparents (of course) stayed friends with Twila.
So when my grandmother died one year later, Monk and Twila stayed in touch. Over time their friendship deepened. When he was visiting our family he would go into the bedroom to call her and tell her goodnight. I used to do that in high school with the girls I was dating!
And then there were a few months there during which Monk and Twila AND Erin and I were engaged to be married at the same time! (Yep, both Jim’s dad and son were engaged at the same time. That must have been weird.) It was fun to share that time with them, both of us planning for weddings.
Twila was gracious. Classy. Gentle. Strong. Beautiful. Passionate. She had to be some special kind of woman, to be married to not just one but TWO United Methodist bishops in her life!
She was amazing.
We were hoping to stop in Dallas to see her tomorrow on our way to Austin for Thanksgiving. But she was ready to go. She said so. Her body was failing, and she was in pain. She let God know that she was pretty much done living this part of life, and God said, “Well okay then, come on.” And she left.
I just hope someone warns the angel choir not to sing “Victory in Jesus” any time soon, or maybe ever again!

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/twila/

Nov 25 2014

Rural Minnesota Ministry: Readings for Wednesday, Nov. 26, and Sunday, Nov. 30.

Hello Everyone,

Tomorrow night we will be holding “Thanksgiving Eve” worship services at both churches, 6:00 pm at Peace United and 7:30 PM at Grey Eagle UMC. How do we give thanks? For what do we give thanks? And to whom do we offer our thanks? Here is a short poem about thanks:

A GENEROUS LOAN

With what presumption have we dared to voice
“Thank You for home (although we hold the deed),
Our acre, trees, and flowers (ours by choice),
Our faithful dog and cat (though it’s agreed
No one can own the latter), each good book
(A gift, or purchased), all else we foresaw
That we should cherish, and have made to look
Ours by possession (nine points of the law).”

With what presumption have we called them ours,
And even felt unselfish when we shared them–
When, if the truth be known, they have been Yours
From the beginning, Lord! You have prepared them
For us to borrow, using as our own:
So thank You, Father, for this generous loan.

– Elaine V. Emans

Our readings for Thanksgiving Eve are:

Deuteronomy 8:7-18 – Deuteronomy, for the most part, is like the last will and testament of Moses as he instructs the people of Israel before they cross the Jordan and enter into Canaan where Moses can’t go. In this passage Moses tells them that everything the people of Israel will need will be provided by God. Moses also warns them of the temptation that comes with that blessing: forgetting God and assuming that they did it on their own. Isn’t that our temptation also as we live in a prosperous land? That all we have we got on our own?

Psalm 65 – The psalmist praises God and thanks God for all that has been provided.

2 Corinthians 9:6-15 – I have often used the beginning of this reading to emphasize generous giving. But notice the theme of the reading. God gives generously so that we will give generously. God gives the seeds so that we can sow them thereby increasing the harvest. It does no one any good to hoard the gifts we have received, for when we give, generously, we receive in abundance the righteousness of God.

Luke 17:11-19 – This very familiar story is the basis of thousands of sermons on giving thanks. Ten lepers, who, by definition, are the epitome of social outcasts, ask Jesus for healing. Jesus tells them to go see their priests. On the way they discover that they have been healed. One goes back to Jesus to thank him. Turns out that he is a Samaritan whom Jews thought were as bad as lepers. Did the other nine, whom we assume were Jews, kick him out of their group because he was a Samaritan? Did the Samaritan know that he would not be welcomed by the Jewish Temple priests? Or did the nine continue on to the Temple knowing that that is the place to encounter and thank God while the Samaritan return to Jesus knowing that Jesus was where he had an encounter with God?

Our readings for Sunday, November 30, the First Sunday of Advent, are:

Isaiah 64:1-9 – At the opening of this passage, Isaiah asks God to reveal God’s self; to come to earth and do something dramatic like God did in the past. Isaiah feels that God must be angry because the people have sinned and God has withdrawn. The key verse, perhaps, is Isaiah’s recognition that we are still God’s children and that God will mold us into who we shall be. The metaphor is God as the potter and we are the clay. What will God mold you, your family, and your church into?

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 – The sentiment of this Psalm is similar to the Isaiah passage. The psalmist, Asaph not Solomon, starts with the metaphor of God as the Shepherd of Israel. However, this shepherd is missing and Asaph wants God to return. The skipped verses then turn to the metaphor of Israel as the vineyard that God has planted, but God has broken down the vineyard fence to allow looter to steal the fruit. The last three verses states that if God were to restore the people the people would be faithful.

1 Corinthians 1:3-9 – Remember that the First Church of Corinth is a troubled and divided congregation. It amazes me that Paul still gives thanks to God for this congregation. Notice what Paul says the congregation has been blessed with. Notice that Paul believes God will strengthen them for the future coming of Jesus. God has been faithful and will always be faithful for we are continually being called into fellowship with Jesus.

Mark 13:24-37 – Every year the first Sunday of Advent is also the first Sunday of the church year. Every year on this Sunday we begin another Gospel, Matthew, Mark, or Luke. And, every year, we start that Gospel near the end during Jesus’ last days leading up to his betrayal, arrest, trial and crucifixion. Why start there? Why don’t we start with the Christmas story instead of trudging through Jesus’ dreary speech about troubled times ahead? Perhaps, as someone once said, the beginning is in the ending. We should pay attention to what is happening in our world, like watching the trees in spring, to understand the coming of the Lord. If the waiting seems too long, don’t give up.

May the Lord bless you in all that you do and may you always keep waiting and give thanks.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

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Nov 25 2014

Holli Long: Thank YOU ~ A Giveaway and Black Friday Deals

As we come to the close of my first season photographing families and faces other than my own children’s, or should I say, in addition to my own children’s, I wanted to take a moment to say thank you.  Thank […]

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/thank-you-a-giveaway-and-black-friday-deals/

Nov 25 2014

UM & Global: Circuit Riders in the Eastern Congo

The General Board of Global Ministries recently published a story about the missions/evangelism strategy that the UMC is employing in the Eastern Congo Annual Conference.  This strategy is to go around to small villages and cultivate churches ther…

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/circuit-riders-in-the-eastern-congo/

Nov 25 2014

Mitchell Lewis: Thanksgiving, Hope and Resilience

If you want to be resilient, be thankful. And if you want to be thankful, be hopeful. That might be the message of the American Thanksgiving Day. You can see the connection between resilience and thanksgiving in our national history. From the story of the pilgrims at Plymouth to Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation, Americans seem … Continue reading Thanksgiving, Hope and Resilience

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/thanksgiving-hope-and-resilience/

Nov 25 2014

UMR: Scott Brewer named associate general secretary for Administration and Operations

General Board of Higher Education and Ministry General Secretary Kim Cape has announced that Scott Brewer has accepted the position of associate general secretary for Administration and Operations. He begins employment on January 5, 2015.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/scott-brewer-named-associate-general-secretary-for-administration-and-operations/

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