Jarrod Johnston

Author's details

Name: Jarrod Johnston
Date registered: March 16, 2013
URL: https://plus.google.com/116262322368847600588

Latest posts

  1. The Liturgy Nerd: Good Reasons Why I Haven’t Written Lately — October 20, 2014
  2. The Liturgy Nerd: The One Where We’re Adopting a Baby — August 5, 2014
  3. The Liturgy Nerd: Visions and Dreams — July 15, 2014
  4. The Liturgy Nerd: Numbers Weren’t the Focus — May 6, 2014
  5. The Liturgy Nerd: Holy Wednesday 2014 — April 16, 2014

Author's posts listings

Oct 20 2014

The Liturgy Nerd: Good Reasons Why I Haven’t Written Lately

Original post at http://www.liturgynerd.com/2014/10/good-reasons-why-i-havent-written-lately.html

Friends, ministers, nerds,

It's been a crazy few months!  This school year we made the decision to go full-time at Perkins.  Nine whole hours of big work.  Systematic theology, moral theology, and evangelism are on the menu this fall, with a Jan-term class on soteriology, followed up with more systematics, Old Testament, and maybe, I dunno a little world religions or preaching for a little flavor.

It all adds up to crazy town for my family, because, hey, I work full-time in pastoral ministry as well.  I'm not complaining, I'm certainly not the first person to do this, and we aren't the first family to go through it.  But we're trying to wrap things up - we see the light at the end of the tunnel, where all daddy has to do is ministry.

However, this isn't even the biggest thing that has kept me from writing at the pace I had been for so long in this space for nerds of liturgy.

This happened as well:

One of the best days ever.  That little girl being held by a happy judge?  She's officially ours, as of that blessed day.  Four months earlier than she had to be.  I've come to think of our short fifteen minutes in court as something very sacramental ... Other adoptive parents would probably feel the same.

I don't remember all of the questions our lawyer asked us under oath.  I remember her asking us that we knew we were waiving a six-month waiting period that was there for our protection as much as the child.  Yes, I said.  She's been ours since she was two minutes old (literally, the cord was cut and she was brought straight to us, kicking and screaming ... one of the best moments ever, ever, ever).  We were never going to give her back if we had a choice in the matter.

I remember her asking me, first, if I would love our daughter always and forever.  Covenantal language, if there ever was.  I answered in the affirmative, as well as other perfunctory questions.  Leanne also answered them.

It was so short and sweet,  And she was ours, for real, forever.  Little man has a little sister, and things couldn't be more beautiful and God-blessed.

Having two kids has dramatically changed our family ... In amazing ways.  But writing for fun has gone down the list to be sure.  Unless people want to start reading portions of my impending Credo for systematics?

Didn't think so!

However, because it's my favorite thing I get to do in ministry, I do have a couple of fun sermon series I'll be throwing out here for Advent/Christmas, and for Epiphany and the following Sundays.  Those will arrive here shortly, complete with graphics and worship helps for Advent.  It's always fun to share!

So, that's the news and I look forward to adding a little more here as I get a chance!

Grace and peace to you all, my fellow nerds!  

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/good-reasons-why-i-havent-written-lately/

Aug 05 2014

The Liturgy Nerd: The One Where We’re Adopting a Baby

Original post at http://www.liturgynerd.com/2014/08/the-one-where-we-adopted-baby.html

It's been quiet out here, and for good reason ... In the middle of summer school (six weeks of intensive Methodist-centric study at Perkins), our baby girl was born.  We've been in the adoption process for about a year now and were about to pause things for a little while when a family was brought into our lives, just after Easter, with a need we were called to meet.  Our baby girl is now six weeks old (she's been with us since she was about two minutes old) and it is just amazing to have such a tangible witness in our home to God's goodness.

God has blessed us every step of this journey.

On July 6 I intended to offer a sermon, but it ended up being more of a testimony on the amazingness God worked to bring us our baby girl.

July 6, 2014 - Celebration from FUMC of Arlington on Vimeo.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/the-one-where-were-adopting-a-baby/

Jul 15 2014

The Liturgy Nerd: Visions and Dreams

Original post at http://www.liturgynerd.com/2014/07/visions-and-dreams.html

"Responsible change is a far more faithful pattern of obedience to Christ than the most devoted immobilism can ever be." - Albert Outler, "Visions and Dreams", sermon at the Uniting Service, April 23, 1968.

It's been a while since I've been able to write here in this space.  I haven't even had time to check in ... It's been a crazy summer.  I just finished the UM History/Doctrine/Polity block of classes at Perkins.  A pretty intensive run of course work, four hours a day, four days a week.  It was like moving to some foreign, Methodist country, learning a new language ... The Way of Salvation ... Boards and Committees ... MEC to MPC to MECS to EUB to UMC to ... to ... to ...

Am I supposed to have a mind like Christ Jesus?  Or John Wesley?    Board of Ordained Ministry here we come.

Annual Conference was in there.  An amazing full-time pastoring job was in there.  A grace-filled family that understood the level of data daddy was loading into his brain causing things around the house to just 'not compute' sometimes.  More on that particular facet the of craziness later.

It was a fascinating journey this summer.  I think I love our UMC a lot more than I did before.  I certainly understand it better.  Of all the things I read (and there was a ton, as you might expect), perhaps that most engaging and challenging read was Albert Outler's sermon at the the uniting service that created the United Methodist Church out of the union of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren in Dallas, TX on April 23, 1968.

Entitled "Visions and Dreams", Professor Outler made a few bold statements towards the future of the church, comparing this new (at the time) UMC to the new Christian church at Pentecost, not so much as there was a specifically brand-new thing beginning - but that it was time to start a brand-new way of doing ministry in Christ's church.  A call to be a church fully catholic, fully evangelical, fully reformed.

The meanings of the terms catholic and evangelical are well-known.  By catholic, Outler called for a fully 'inclusive' and 'open' church.  Dialogue in our church today suggests we aren't there yet.  The call to be evangelical was to be a church "radically Christ centered", to spread the word that the "Gospel is the good news that is God’s love that pardons, heals, and reconciles, God’s love that demands that we be fully human and opens up this possibility, for us, God’s love that can sanctify our memories and our hopes."

It's when Outler gets to being a church "truly reformed" that makes me pause and reflect.  He's not telling us to be Luther or Zwingli or Calvin.  He means something different and entirely relevant to us today:

A church truly reformed is one that is open, intentionally and on principle, to creative change of every sort (in teaching, discipline and administration) – not haphazard or reckless change but not timid and grudging either.

Ah, so a church that is truly reformed is completely open to being re-formed.  Get it?

With the debates going on in our church today over human sexuality this single statement calls me to wonder: do people think that the Church of Jesus Christ, the United Methodist Church in particular, has arrived?  That we are as a church body entirely sanctified as we are today?  That we are as inclusive as we need to be?  In Outler's time, the church was struggling through the real matters of desegregation.  It was stipulated in the union of the new church that the segregated African American central conference in the US would be dissolved into existing conferences.  That was a real struggle for the church that would mostly be done by 1972.  It actually wasn't until 1972 that any Book of Discipline had a statement on homosexuality.


This isn't to belittle either side of the debate in today's church.  I just think we have bigger fish to fry.  It's time to move towards the vision set back in 1968.  Can we still be a fully catholic, evangelical, and reformed UMC?

This week the lesson in worship will be on the often told encounter at Bethel between Jacob and God - in a dream.  A dream where God lays out the plan for Jacob and his descendants, a prosperous dream whereby all of the people of the world would be blessed by Jacob's descendants.  It's an awe-inspiring text, but it wouldn't be until Jacob would wrestle with God at Peniel (much later) that Jacob would accept God's plan for him and his family.  I just wonder, are we following God's dream for this church?

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/07/visions-and-dreams/

May 06 2014

The Liturgy Nerd: Numbers Weren’t the Focus

Original post at http://www.liturgynerd.com/2014/05/numbers-werent-focus.html

It's been a little while since I've actually had time to write something over here ... School, work, family.  Sometime these worlds collide and something has to come off the list!  I'm in the midst of prep for finals, final paper writing, all of these things to wrap up my first year of MDiv studies.  It's been a good year, but there've been quite a few hurdles to overcome in terms of making it all work together and be in full-time ministry.

We're in the midst of our preaching series on Acts right now, where we'll be until Pentecost Sunday.  This Sunday's reading comes right after Peter's Pentecost sermon, Peter preaching for conversion of the multitudes in Jerusalem to the Good News of Jesus Christ.  3,000 would be baptized into the new faith, knowing that their lives would need to be completely different in light of their profession.  That they would be the first church, the first community of believers.

What were their membership vows?  It wasn't really written down in that way.  No specific talk of prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.  But all of those things do happen.  Our reading for this week, comes at the end of Acts 2:

The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. All the believers were united and shared everything. They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved. [CEB]

They were devoted to Jesus, devoted to one another.  They at together, shared so that everyone had enough.  They praised God, they prayed.  And the Lord went to work with them, bringing new people into this fold of radicals daily.

It just strikes me that numbers weren't their focus.  A holy life of praise, prayer, and community was.  And in living that way, numbers came.

When the Methodist movement got off the ground, there was a desire to be known as a People of the Holy Spirit.  People that would listen to God's call and then go a do.  To go forward with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit into the world in love.  Numbers weren't the specific focus, but numbers came.  Numbers that spanned continents, and still do.

But, it would seem that the focus has shifted.  There's less focus on a holy life, and more on the numbers.  People want to talk about biblical faithfulness and what that looks like all day.  I wonder, however, if the church looked back to the model of the original church as spelled out in the Book of Acts, I wonder what would happen?  If all people just ended up in the same pot together.

I'm just riffing here.  I save outlines and bullet points for sermons and papers.  But I go to classes that feel like small groups, and I attend small group studies that feel like sermons.  Because numbers aren't the focus, finding our faithfulness to God's call to the community is.  It's not something that can be set apart in the busyness ... It's a constant pursuit.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/05/numbers-werent-the-focus/

Apr 16 2014

The Liturgy Nerd: Holy Wednesday 2014

Original post at http://www.liturgynerd.com/2014/04/holy-wednesday-2014.html

Today's Gospel Reading - John 13:21-32

Announcement of the betrayal

After he said these things, Jesus was deeply disturbed and testified, “I assure you, one of you will betray me.”

His disciples looked at each other, confused about which of them he was talking about. One of the disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was at Jesus’ side. Simon Peter nodded at him to get him to ask Jesus who he was talking about. Leaning back toward Jesus, this disciple asked, “Lord, who is it?”

Jesus answered, “It’s the one to whom I will give this piece of bread once I have dipped into the bowl.” Then he dipped the piece of bread and gave it to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son. After Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” No one sitting at the table understood why Jesus said this to him. Some thought that, since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus told him, “Go, buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So when Judas took the bread, he left immediately. And it was night.

Love commandment

When Judas was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Human One has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify the Human One in himself and will glorify him immediately.

Let us pray:
Is it I?  Am I the one who betrays you?
Am I the one who doesn't notice the poor in our midst?  Or am I the one that does notice ... and does nothing.
Who sees starving children and does nothing.
Who sees those who are vulnerable around me and keeps going on my way.
How can I live a life that glorifies you, God? 
I need your help.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/04/holy-wednesday-2014-2/

Apr 15 2014

The Liturgy Nerd: Holy Tuesday 2014

Original post at http://www.liturgynerd.com/2014/04/holy-tuesday-2014.html

Today's Gospel Reading - John 12:20-36 - Jesus Teaches About His Death

Some Greeks were among those who had come up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and made a request: “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” Philip told Andrew, and Andrew and Philip told Jesus. 
Jesus replied, “The time has come for the Human One to be glorified. I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their lives will lose them, and those who hate their lives in this world will keep them forever. Whoever serves me must follow me. Wherever I am, there my servant will also be. My Father will honor whoever serves me. 
“Now I am deeply troubled. What should I say? ‘Father, save me from this time’? No, for this is the reason I have come to this time. Father, glorify your name!” 
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 
The crowd standing there heard and said, “It’s thunder.” Others said, “An angel spoke to him.”
Jesus replied, “This voice wasn't for my benefit but for yours. Now is the time for judgment of this world. Now this world’s ruler will be thrown out. When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me.” (He said this to show how he was going to die.) 
The crowd responded, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Human One must be lifted up? Who is this Human One?” 
Jesus replied, “The light is with you for only a little while. Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn't overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness don’t know where they are going. As long as you have the light, believe in the light so that you might become people whose lives are determined by the light.” After Jesus said these things, he went away and hid from them.
Let us pray:
Majestic Jesus, shine a light in our hearts today as we walk with you towards the cross.  Can we give our lives over to you?  Can we walk the path that you've set before us?  Speak into our lives today, strengthen us to overcome the ways of this world that we might magnify your light for those around us.  Amen.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/04/holy-tuesday-2014/

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