Nov 06

Finding Ourselves Among the Saints

Two years ago Misty Copeland became the first black principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. At the time she told reporters, “I had moments of doubting myself, and wanting to quit, because I didn’t know that there would be a future for an African-American woman to make it to this level. At the same time, it made me so hungry to push through, to carry the next generation. So it’s not me up here — and I’m constantly saying that — it’s everyone that came before me that got me to this position.” In a world—and not just the dance world—where pictures of success are still often filled with white faces, Copeland has become a model of new possibilities for people of all races. To those, like her, who have faced difficult circumstances just because of the color of their skin, she demonstrates the virtue of persistence and destroys the lies of limitations imposed on them. To those who have not faced such difficulties, she embodies a new world that is not chained by past prejudices and expectations. Misty Copeland is a gift, someone whose accomplishments are not just to be celebrated for their own sake but also for the fact that they make the world around her a better place. Continue reading

Feb 06

You Have Heard: Blessed Are Those Who Hunger…

A little over three years ago, Clemson University shocked itself and the rest of the men’s college basketball world by defeating powerhouse Duke University. It was just the third time in the last 30 games that Clemson had scored a victory against Duke, and it came just after a humiliating loss to Florida State University. After the game, K.J. McDaniels, star forward for Clemson, told a reporter, “We were just hungry… We were just hungry, honestly.” Echoing McDaniels, teammate Landry Nnoko said, “We just had to eat” (Accessed January 10, 2014; Continue reading

Nov 30

House of Holiness

In one of his most memorable descriptions of Methodist beliefs, John Wesley once compared Christian salvation to a house. The house itself is salvation in Jesus Christ, made possible by God’s grace and not something we can earn or work our way into. The porch, where you approach the house, is repentance. The door, where you enter the house, is faith in Jesus Christ. And the interior of the house, where you live, is sanctification—growing in holiness. The point is, you can’t claim to be saved just because you feel sorry for your sins, or just because you have faith, but no works, in Jesus. You need the whole house, the whole picture, because salvation is about more than how you feel—it’s about how you respond to God. Continue reading

Jun 22

The Shape of Our Stories

When we become disciples of Jesus Christ, one of the most important and difficult things that happens to us is that we acknowledge God’s authority over the shape of our stories. We like to fool ourselves, of course, into believing that the shape of our story is all our own, that my story does not look like anyone else’s, that I can make my story into whatever I want, so that my life is unique. But all stories owe their shape to other stories. When people asked you, “What do you want to be when you grow up,” they were really asking, “What shape do you want the story of your life to take?” And maybe you said, a firefighter, or an astronaut, or a teacher. The details—which subject you would teach, or where on the moon you would land, or how many people you would save from disaster—were unpredictable, but the story you wanted for your life already had a basic shape to it. I’m guessing most of us stopped thinking about the shape of our stories a long time ago, but not all childish things are meant to be put away. Continue reading

May 18

Easter People Journey to Perfection

As Easter people, we United Methodists believe that we are on a journey to Christian perfection, or entire sanctification. In Article XI of our Confession of Faith, we read that Christian perfection is “a state of perfect love, righteousness, and true holiness” and that it “should be sought earnestly by every child of God.” And in our reading from 1 John 4 this morning, the word “perfect” comes up three times. Continue reading