We have adjusted the worship schedule. We will have one worship service at 10:00 on Sunday Morning beginning August 9, 2020. The service incorporates the best of our traditional and contemporary worship experiences. Come a little early for some extra music that you will love!
This Sunday, we will wrap up the Parables and Lessons series with “Parables and Lessons”. The focus scripture is Mark 4:26-32. These two parables illustrate our place and work in the Kingdom G-d is building. Indeed, this is our Father’s world. The video message is under “Pastor Bill’s Message”.
Work for us to do
We have news that Legacy Ranch has received many more children and they have several needs. Some of the children are babies. For those not familiar, Legacy Ranch is a residential home for kids removed from their homes for various reasons. They need toilet paper, paper towels, wipes, masks, sanitizer, diapers, clothing and shoes of all sizes. They need cribs. Let’s collect a huge pile of these items at the church and we will get them out there.
More work to do. The Luling Lions have again partnered with the schools but instead of the annual “stuff the bus”, they are collecting donations to help offset the cost of the computers the kids need to learn from home. We will take up a love offering to help the Lions on August 9th. Or leave the donation at the church.
Friends, as I have said, no pandemic is going to stop us from doing the Lord’s work!
Friends, please see the Book and Bible Study tab for a new proposal for a ZOOM book study. The 5 week Adam Hamilton book, “Unafraid”.
August 9, 2020
Message: Parables and Lessons
Mark 4:26-29. He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
In his lessons and parables about the Kingdom of G-d, sometimes Jesus talked about people. And so, we have the woman who lost a coin, and swept out the house until she found it. And she rejoiced greatly. Invited her friends and neighbors to share in her joy.
Then, there are the shepherd parables, and the lost sheep. The Good Shepherd leaves the 99 to go search for the lost one, and when he finds it, he rejoices.
And we have the parable of the good Samaritan and that of the prodigal son, teaching us about G-d’s kingdom, how we treat each other and about G-d’s unconditional love for us. Each parable offering us lessons to live by, day by day.
In another group of Kingdom parables, Jesus used his Father’s natural Kingdom as an example. Illustrating the Kingdom of G-d that is here and the one that will come. Teaching us how to live now so that we can live later. We find something beautiful in those parables because we too are drawn to nature. We find Creator G-d in nature and it seems we can get closer to G-d when we consider the world around us. After all, this world is Exhibit “A” in the case for G-d.
This is my Father’s world
And to my listening ears
All nature sings and round me rings
The music of the spheres
This old Hymn tells of how nature speaks to us and we celebrate G-d’s creation even as we learn from it. So, this morning’s parable of scattering seeds and their slow, imperceptible growth seems right and true to us. But we are an impatient people. Too often, we want life in a time-lapse mode, but that is not the way of G-d’s Kingdom. Seeds take time to grow, and it is hard to perceive that they are growing over a short period of time. Their growth seems mysterious to us because we do not understand the deep secrets of life. For all that scientists can do, they can’t create a single blade of grass.
Not a single living flower.
Not a stalk of grain.
And so we just watch for G-d’s Kingdom to come, and it seems so very slow to us. But even if we cannot perceive it, that Kingdom is coming. That Kingdom is settling in. Good things are happening, even if we don’t realize it.
Betsy Fry was an English Quaker. In 1813, she visited Newgate Prison in London. It was the women’s prison and it was overflowing with women and children, in the most horrible conditions. They slept on straw and fought over meager food rations. They were dirty and had little in the way of clothing. G-d touched her heart that day, and Betsy Fry became one of England’s most noted prison reformers. Over her lifetime, she proved how better conditions improved behavior. How rehabilitation was a better solution than harsh punishment. Eventually, she established schools for the children who were incarcerated with their mothers. She had sewing and knitting classes so that the women could learn a trade. Eventually, slowly but surely, the prison system for women in London was reformed and other countries took note.
Look at the prison system today. Not perfect, but over 200 years, see what has been done. And it started out because one woman saw something that cried out to her. And from that modest beginning, look at what happened.
G-d’s kingdom grows like that. Change seems imperceptible, but a long view gives us a better understanding of what is being done. The work in G-d’s kingdom is constant. It is inevitable. And we are called to be patient, and to be prepared, because we do not know when the end of the age will come.
And with that in mind, then Jesus told a second parable.
30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
Back in the Biblical times, everyone knew that a mustard seed was just about the smallest seed around. The mustard plant of those times was likely black mustard, that grows to 8 feet tall and looks like a tree. It indeed has branches and although there is doubt that birds would nest in the plant, there is no doubt that birds used the mustard tree for protection and shade. Birds love the seed, so they are often found on the ground eating the seed that has fallen.
So, what was Jesus getting at when he compared the Kingdom of G-d to the mustard tree? Probably, That the tiniest of things can grow into something substantial. Just a mustard seed portion of faith can move a mountain, as Jesus would preach in Matthew 17:20.
I have been watching instructional videos for what are called “river tables”. A plank of wood is cut longways and the cut edges face out. The center is a channel or several channels. And the woodworker fills that channel with a liquid epoxy. Now here’s the thing. Before the pour, the woodworker mixes in just the tiniest amount of dye or pigment. Green or blue usually, and just that little bit of dye colors the whole bucket of epoxy. That seems amazing to me. I am going to try that one day and it is pretty much guaranteed I will use too much of the dye.
So, in our parable, we have this tiny seed that grows into a substantial shrub. In Bible times, a tree or big shrub was symbolic of a nation. Starting out small, but with deep roots and becoming large and strong. Protecting and providing for its people. The primitive church in the time of Jesus started out that way. Just a few disciples in Palestine. And see what it has grown into. And so, we are taught not to be discouraged by small beginnings. Everything has a beginning and seldom a grand one. If it is G-d’s will, what we start will grow and bear fruit and will thrive.
But here is the thing. In the parable, Jesus doesn’t say that one particular kind of bird nests in the shade. Not just a quail or a dove or a sparrow. But all the birds come to that tree. And so it is with the church.
I finish with a story.
A church was building a grand cathedral in which to worship. It came time to decide upon the central stained-glass window theme. What biblical truth would it proclaim? So, the committee met and decided on a theme from Ann Shepherd’s hymn: “Around the throne of G-d in heaven thousands of children stand”
They chose a celebrated artist to paint the picture from which the window would be fashioned. The artist fell in love with that project. He worked hard and fast, even sleeping in his studio so that the work would be completed on time. He was almost done.
That night as he slept, he heard a noise in the studio. He went to see and to his horror, there was a stranger with a palate in his hand working on the painting. “Stop!” he cried. “You will ruin my picture!” The stranger said, “I think you have ruined it already.” The artist asked, “How is that?”
“Well, said the stranger, you have many colors on your palette, but you have used but one for the faces of the children. “Who told you that in heaven there were only children whose faces were white?”
“No one” said the artist. “I just thought of it that way.”
“Look” said the stranger, “I will paint their faces in every color and shade of every race.” “They are all there, for they have all answered my call.”
“Your call?” said the artist. “Who are you? The stranger smiled. “Once long ago I said, “Let the little children come to me and do not stop them, for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs.” “I am still saying it.”
Then the artist realized it was the Master himself, and as he did so, he disappeared from his sight. The artist looked at his picture. It was so much more wonderful now with its children with faces of every color. In the morning, the artist rushed from his bed to the painting, and found it as he had left it. He knew all of what had happened in the night was a dream. Although that very day, the committee was coming to inspect the painting, the artist seized his brushes and his palette and went to work. And he began to paint the faces of the children in every color, just as in his dream. All the children from all over the world. When the committee arrived, they approved and said, “Why, it’s truly G-d’s family at home.”
Friends, we are trying to understand the mix of people who watch the video and those who read it on the website or in the email sent out on Sunday. If you read the message, please just send me or the church an e-mail. That will help understand our ministry so much better. Thank you. Pastor Bill
A PROMISE FROM AN OLD FRIEND
The 23rd Psalm
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The “home” posts below are old ones. But they reflect the life of the church before the Corona virus and inspire our return to our mission of worship and service.
This Sunday, February 2, we will celebrate a Candlemas, United Methodist style, as we continue our Spiritual Gifts sermon series. The Light has come into the world! And we offer our gifts to make the Light better known. Come and worship with us!
and Bake Sale. December 7, 2019 from 10:00 to 2:00. Friends, this will be here before we know it. This sale helps finance our outreach and mission ministries. And speaking of outreach and mission, our winter clothing ministry was a huge success as we served almost 200 people, just in time for that frigid norther that blew in.
Community Las Posadas at 2:00 on December 8, starting at the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation and finishing at First United Methodist. Music, fun, food and a pinata for the kids. Come walk with the Holy Family as they search for a place to stay.
Winter Clothing Ministry
The next event for the Outreach/Missions Committee will be the Winter Clothing Ministry which will be held on Saturday, November 9 from 9 to noon in the Fellowship Hall. Breakfast tacos will be served. Please help us collect warm jackets, coats, hats, mittens, and clothing for children and adult, and blankets, space heaters and any items to help keep local families warm this winter. Items may be gently-used and clean. We have been able to keep over 60 children and their families warm each year due to the generous donations from you. You may bring your donations to the FUMC Fellowship Hall on Tuesday through Thursday the week of November 3rd between the hours of 9:00 am and 1:00 pm. If you have items that you would like us to pick up, we would be happy to do
so. Just call the church office at 830-875-2711. Thank you, Candice. FUMC, Luling Outreach Committee
November 3 at 10:00 (Combined Worship Service)
Friends, we will come together as one body to celebrate the Saints of our church. It is at 10:00 and we will consider the witness of the Saints, calling us to climb down from our trees and come to our Lord. Our focus scriptures are 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 11-12 and Luke 19:1-10.
“A Conversation on the Music of Fanny Crosby”
October 27, 2019.
Folks, we have a real treat for our Sunday worship services on October 27. Tom Townley will bring us a musical conversation on the hymns of Fanny Crosby. Our October worship services have celebrated the music of the church and we will conclude the series with one of our most beloved hymn writers, Fanny Crosby. “Blessed Assurance”, “I Am Thine O Lord”, “Praise Him! Praise Him!”, “Close to Thee” are just a few of the songs we will hear and sing. Come and bring some friends!
We hosted a quilt show on September 28 and our sanctuary was filled with beautiful quilts. Some were over 100 years old. And the Bake Sale was a tremendous success, generating money for the UMW Mission Fund.
Huge Health Fair and Flu Shot Clinic will be on September 17 at the Church Fellowship Hall from 3:00 until 6:00 p.m.
New Book Study on “Living as United Methodists”. What does it mean to be a United Methodist? How are we alike and how are we different from other denominations? These will be topic of a six week study beginning Sunday September 15 at 10:00 (Sunday School hour)
We will Bless the Backpacks (and our students and teachers) in both services on August 25th. So bring your backpacks, rollers, carry-alls, totes, briefcases, lunch pails, satchels and whatever else you take to school (or work) and we will offer God’s rich blessings.
August 25’s sermon is “Back to School”, but we will consider what we might learn from the Native Americans. The book “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” by Kent Nerburn will provide a perspective on learning and tradition from the Native Americans. This is the same author who wrote “The Wolf at Twilight” we used last year to focus on the wisdom of the Native Americans.
We will offer hygiene kits for the junior high students to keep in their backpack or locker at the Stuff the Bus fair on August 23. If you would like to help with this ministry, just contact the church office. Stuff the bus is sponsored by the Luling Lions Club as one of their many service projects. What a wonderful group of dedicated people!
Being a Christian is about being Spirit-led. Belief is not enough. We need conscious contact with God. The Book of Acts is a record of the disciples doing just this: learning how to be Spirit-led, Jesus leading them from the inside out. Now it’s our turn.
We will study and dialogue about the Book of Acts of the Apostles at Mom’s Front Porch on Wednesdays into December beginning on September 11th from 12:05 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.
As a text, we will use, Acts: 24 Studies of Individuals and Groups by N.T. Wright which can be purchased through various bookstores or online vendors.
The Bible Study will be led by the Rev. Mark Bigley of Church of the Annunciation, Episcopal and Pastor Bill Knobles of First United Methodist Church.
Come join us and bring a friend as we learn more of what it means to be Spirit led.
Mother’s Day Worship on May 12, 2019. We will worship at 9:00 and 11:00 and honor those special women in our lives. Moms come to us in many ways. Biological moms, grandmothers, great grandmothers, aunts, the neighbor lady who looks after us. All can be mothers to us. So, come to church and let’s have a great time of praise.
We have added a prayer wall to our church for Lent. As with the Western Wall in Jerusalem, this is a place to prayer and leave prayers in the cracks and niches in the wall. Anyone is welcome to do so. The prayers will remain personal. The Pastor will pray them and come Easter, we have a plan for them.
We begin our Lenten Journey with the imposition of ashes from 7:30 in the morning until 9:30, Wednesday the 6th. The sanctuary will be open. Just come on in and we will be there. Our Ash Wednesday worship is at 7:00 in the evening. The Homily is “Desperate Prayers”. Our text is Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 and Luke 18:9-14.
Our Candlemas 2019!
Bearing the Light into the Church
Gathering in the Narthex
LasPosadas was such fun as the Holy Family went in search for an inn. We are so thankful to our friends at the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation who helped host the event. And next year will be even bigger and better!
Trunk or Treat 2018 was a great success. Here is Mamie and she is ready! We wisely moved the evening inside as we knew a storm was going to blow in. So, we stayed dry and so did the kids (mostly). Thanks to all of the workers who prepared such a nice evening for the kids!
And speaking of the workers, here are the men. Hard at work. Ok, they did set everything up and deserved some of that candy.
This photo of our altar, as prepared for the Bishop’s visit, might just be my favorite. See the stained glass reflected on the table? So beautiful. And the folks who prepared the altar and made it shine. They are beautiful too.
We were so very blessed to host the Pastors and Professionals conference at our church with Bishop Robert Schnase and Superintendent Marcus Freeman. The singing was robust, the preaching was heartfelt, the message was informative and the food was “over the top” good. Thanks to so many of our humble servants who made this event such a blessing!
Sunday the 14th is “Children’s Sabbath”. The Message is “God Sightings”. Where have you seen God lately?
September was our “Jewish Heritage” Preaching series. We had a Sukkot in the Narthex
Health Fair at “Stuff the Bus”
Our Wesley Nurse helping kids with socks, socks and more socks and some shoes too
Children’s Time on August 19. Sometimes we are like this rough old board. A few cracks. Some places that are rotting. A few holes. But God does not just toss anything away. He makes beautiful things! Even from an old piece of wood. Even from us! Especially from us.
“Safe Gatherings” is the Conference’s new training and background checking for those who work with children, youth and vulnerable adults. So, those who teach Sunday school, VBS, visit shut-ins, work with children/youth need to have this training. It comes in three parts. The first step is to register at safegatherings.com. Registering will initiate the background checks and references requirement. There is a fee which of the conference will pay part and the church will reimburse you for any excess. The second step is a relatively painless computer training program we do individually at our own pace. The safe gatherings webpage will lead you into this training. The third step is an interactive session you can either do in person or at a webinar. Go to https://riotexas.org/safe for times and places. We might just schedule a training at one of our close churches and go as a group. “Safe Gatherings” will be required beginning right after Annual Conference (July 1), but it sure ma