Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Star of Peace

Sermon December 20, 2009, Fourth Sunday of Advent, on Isaiah 9:2, 6-7a.  We are continuing to following the star.  This week we search for Peace.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Star of Joy

Sermon December 13, 2009, Third Sunday of Advent, on Luke 2:8-14. We are continuing to following the star.  This week we search for Joy.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Star of Love

Sermon December 6, 2009, Second Sunday of Advent, on Romans 12:35, 38-39. We are continuing to following the star.  This week we search for love. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Star of Hope

Sermon November 29, 2009, First Sunday of Advent, on the Scripture, Matthew 12:18-21.  We are following the Star of Bethlehem to the Advent of the Christ.  This week we hope!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Sermon November 22, 2009 on Galatians 3:27-29.  The Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State University football game is this coming Saturday, November 28, 2009.  This is a time Oklahomans lovingly refer to as Bedlam.  Since I preached on being thankful two weeks ago and we had a community Thanksgiving service this evening, I thought we should cover other events this week. 

The sanctuary was decorated in Orange and Red and we had our team fight songs before we entered into a time of praise.  I even wore a stole that was red on one side and orange on the other.  It was a fun service and I, for one, thouroghly enjoyed it. 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Money that Matters

Sermon November 8, 2009 on Mark 12:38-44.

Often we spend money without even thinking.  We complain when our bills are too great.  We long for that special something we do not have enough money to purchase.  We can spend $20 in one day, and look back and ask where it went.  Money is important.  It provides for our nourishment, even if we over consume.  It provides for our transportation.  It provides for a roof over our heads, electricity in the wiring, water in the faucets, heat when it is cold, and cool air when it is hot.  We know our money is important, but does our money matter?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Healthy Grieving

Sermon November 1, 2009, All Saints Day, on John 11:32-44.  Also on the recording is Raylene Hendrix singing "I Can Only Imagine." 

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Sermon October 25, 2009 on Mark 10:46-52.  The beautiful pianist before the sermon is Caitlin.

In the sermon I referenced a story about Jody.  A member of my congregation was Jody's sponsor at a Kairos weekend at the prison in which he was incarcerated.  During introductions, Jody, a young man, said that he was only coming for the cookies and the food.  On the last night he was sobbing on his sponsor crying out, "I'm going to die in here."  The sponsor did not understand, and during a conversation later with a clergy person working the weekend found out that Jody's sentence was life without parole.  This greatly disturbed the sponsor and he agonized and prayed all night long.  During the early morning hours, the sponsor distinctly heard God speak to his heart, "I can give him as much purpose in here as I give you out there."  The next morning a very tired sponsor came to breakfast to see Jody bouncing in like it was the greatest day of his life.  He told his sponsor that he just had his best night of sleep since arriving in prison.  The sponsor thought he had his worst. Jody was completely transformed.  Isn't it amazing what God can do. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Too Busy...Not to Keep Perspective

Sermon, September 27, 2009.  This is the second sermon in the "Too Busy" series entitled "Too Busy...not to keep perspective."  The text is Mark 9:38-42.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Too Busy...not to Resist Temptations

This is the beginning of a sermon series entitled "Too Busy."  This is the sermon for September 20, 2009 on James 3:13 -4:3, 7-8a.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Doesn't Sound Good

Sermon on September 13, 2009 based on the text Mark 8:27-38.  The recording is missing the prayer for illumination and scripture reading, so I have included the scripture text below. 

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

  Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’

Friday, September 11, 2009

Aida Refugee Camp

I have been putting pictures on my sight of the places I visited while in Israel and Palestine.  I found that my pictures turned out better than I thought (I took so many of them, some were bound to turn out okay.) 

One of the places that moved me was Aida Refugee Camp.  What originally started out in tents in 1948, is now in ramshackle buildings, built on top of each other.  The United Nations has set up schools and various other things for them until Resolution 194 is followed and they are given the right to return to their homes, if their homes are still there. 

Here are some images from this portion of my trip.

The key is symbolic of the door keys they have kept from their homes.  It signifies their hope in their return to their land.  This is the gate of the refugee camp.

These are children who were playing on the street during the time of our visit.  I have several pictures of them, they were so cute.

 The Pope visited the holy land in May.  He spoke at Aida Refugee Camp.  The people of the camp wanted him to speak outside, but the government did not want the wall in the film footage, so the Pope spoke in the gym of the UN Girls' School.

Again another key signifying their hope in their return.

There is graffiti on the walls, but there are also murals which depict their life and their history.

These are shots of some of the living conditions found in their camp.

 Olive trees amid the rubble. 

The UN Girl's School

The garden at the Lajee Center.  I think the garden is the best, because by planting something it means you have hope for the future.

The best place to seek God is in a garden.  You can dig for him there.  ~George Bernard Shaw, The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, 1932

I think that if ever a mortal heard the voice of God it would be in a garden at the cool of the day.  ~F. Frankfort Moore, A Garden of Peace


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Baptismal Fonts

I don't know if it is because I am clergy, or for another reason, but I had to take a picture of all the cool baptismal fonts in all these great churches I visited while in Israel and Palestine. This one to the left has hoses hooked up to it and a little white and blue box in the back. When we inquired about its purpose, we discovered this is to regulate the water temperature. Isn't that too cool! No more babies having those really wide eyes with that "what are you doing to me" look on their face. I also personally love the little shower nozzle about the font. This font is from Mar Elias Chapel.

The font to the left is at the Church in I'billin.

The one to the right is in St. Peter's Church in Jaffee.

This font is found in the Roman Catholic portion of the Church of the Nativity.

Remember your baptism and be thankful!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Children of I'billin

On my trip to Israel (which I have been woefully negligent about blogging), I had the opportunity to see many children. Happy, healthy, smiling children. Happy, hopefully healthy, living in poverty children. Children who do not know what to think about this group of Americans who seem to have blown in like a breeze, only to blow right back out again. I love to people-watch, and children are my favorite. Children are children, the world over. Here are a few of my children of the village of I'billin.

Not a Spectator Sport

Sermon August 30, 2009, based on James 1:17-27.

Monday, August 17, 2009

We Can't Do it Alone

Sorry this is a little late being posted. Have a blessed week.

Sermon August 16, 2009, on Ephesians 5:15-20.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


As I shared my photos of streets earlier, I thought I would post some of the other more "artistic" pics of doors.
Doors to the chapel at Mar Elias

Door in I'billin

Door to Church of the Annunciation

Door in Ba'ram

Door in Aida Refugee Camp

June 4, 2009 Day 2 in Israel

June 4, 2009
This morning I woke early, somewhere around 5 a.m. Not so much because I couldn’t sleep, but because that seems to be when the sun rises here. Before breakfast, Sandy and I went up to the roof to look at the town and school. Wow! What a beautiful view. I realized last night that the landscape is not flat like Oklahoma, but in the dark I really had no idea. The steep drive up to the school could have just been at the school, but no the entire area seems to be on a slant! From the roof you can see the dome of the school’s chapel, the minaret of the mosque, a couple of crosses indicating churches, and pretty much the whole village of I’billin. The word “village” is interesting because when I think of a village, I think of a very small community, not even a town. However, this “village” was bigger than I imagined. It sure beats the “village” where I am currently living.

The breakfast was wonderful, even the coffee which was instant and which I typically do not like, and we were all eager to begin work this morning. I have realized my ignorance with electricity in other countries as the first thing I did was to blow up my blow dryer. Oh well, my hair isn’t the important thing anyway.

Before we worked, we went on a tour of the chapel and auditorium. The Mar Elias Educational Institution (MEEI) was founded by Father Elias Chacour, a Melkite priest, who had a dream of providing a quality education for the children in the area. He began with a kindergarten, which I found out means ages 3-5, so more of a pre-school and kindergarten. It now has over 2500 students from Kindergarten (3 years) through college.

As we were waiting to leave for the tour and the work detail, we were waiting in the foyer of the elementary school. (The guest house is on the fourth floor of the elementary school.) There were children waiting in the parking lot with luggage and we learned that they were going on a field trip for the weekend to Jerusalem. How cool would that be! Can you imagine in 7th and 8th grade your field trip was for a weekend and it was to Jerusalem!

The premise of the school is based on the eight Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, with an emphasis with “blessed are the peacemakers.” The Beatitudes are written on the steps leading up to the chapel. They are written in Hebrew, Arabic, English and French. The chapel is beautiful, but Kathryn, a volunteer at the school who gave us the tour, told us they only use the chapel for special occasions. In 2001 Father Elias Chacour, or Abuna (which means father) was announced to be the recipient of the Niwano Peace Prize. The chapel was built with the monetary award. The symbol on the floor of the chapel commemorates this award.

We painted a classroom this morning and accomplished quite a bit. We will finish working on the classroom and hallway tomorrow. While we were working on the classroom, I watched the students as they were on a break through the classroom window. Amazingly enough, they acted like normal teens. Of course, I say this tongue-in-cheek, because I didn’t expect anything different. From the graffiti we were painting over in the classroom, I can say they are pretty much just like American teens in that English was the language of choice for the more “colorful” graffiti!

After lunch and a rest for the heat of the afternoon, we went down to the viliage of I’billin. I’billin is a Christian/Muslim village whose inhabitants settled here from at least three different villages after the Arab dispersal and dispossession of 1948. We were guided by Elias, the care taker of MEEI. Elias is a pretty common name and would be translated as Elijah. In fact the school is not named for the priest, Father Elias Chacour, but for the prophet Elijah. And there is Elias the caretaker, and later there will be Elias the tour guide.

Elias proudly showed us his home town and led us through the streets of the village. He was raised here and still lives in a house that houses his brother and his family, as well as his parents. His sister lives across the street with her husband and his family. It is a pretty tight knit community and everyone was very warm and welcoming.
The children were out playing in the streets and would come up to talk to us. We took their pictures and showed them on the digital screen. We saw Elias’ church as well as the local Boy Scout meeting place, which was very interesting. The scout master, we found out was the best man at Elias’ wedding. He was very proud to introduce us to his friends and family.

Getting to the village was the easy part. The hard part was going back up the steep hill to MEEI. Once we arrived, we were entirely wiped out. After we had a team meeting with devotions and discussions of what we learned and saw that day, we turned in for the evening.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Powerfully Weak

Sermon July 5, 2009 based 2 Corinthians 12:5-10, and Mark 6:1-6a. There will be more about my trip coming this week. Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Few Pictures

Today I am going to post a few pictures from my trip. Considering I took over 2200, I will not be posting all of them, not that all of them are post-worthy. These were some that I really liked, artistically speaking. I will post more photos with upcoming diary posts. I hope you enjoy. I have several categories of these photos that I particularly like; people, doors, architecture, etc. Today, I am posting street scenes.

Street in Jericho

Shop in Nazareth

Street in Jericho

Street in Nazareth

Street in Aida Refugee Camp

Street in Bethlehem

Street in Jerusalem