Nobody Ever Explained It to Me Quite So Clearly
Everybody but Sam had signed up for a new company pension plan that called for a small employee contribution. The company was paying for the rest of the cost of the plan. Unfortunately, 100 percent employee participation was needed; otherwise the plan could not be implemented. Sam’s boss and his fellow workers pleaded and cajoled Sam to sign, but all of their efforts failed. Sam was convinced that the plan would never deliver what it promised. Finally, the company president called Sam inside his office and said, “Sam, here’s a copy of the new pension plan and here’s a pen. I want you to sign the papers. I’m sorry, but if you don’t sign, you’re fired, as of right now.” Sam took the pen and signed the papers immediately. “Now, would you mind telling me why you couldn’t have signed earlier?” said the president. “Well sir, nobody up to this point had ever explained it to me quite so clearly before,” replied Sam.
Like the president, I believe the Holy Spirit is trying to help us understand with heart and head that if laity and clergy can sign-on together to employ all the gifts the Holy Spirit has showered upon us, we can become the people God so desperately desires us to be. Secondly, as we become the person—the people—God created us to be, POWER is unleashed in and through us to be blessed and to be a source of blessing to our families, our communities and to this hurting world.
Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, nearly 500 laity and clergy gathered at the Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson to find out how we can be the disciples Jesus died for us to become. Those that gathered were from all 11 of our districts. So, I believe there is a good chance that at least one or more persons who attended were friends or fellow disciples of your congregations or neighboring congregations.
Ask them and others about this “Glory Sighting” that occurred in Jackson. In fact, ask them what is a Glory Sighting? What are Loving, Learning and Leading and what do they have to do with us being the people of God? Maybe you will discover like Sam—“Nobody up to this point had ever explained it to me quite so clearly before.”
Bishop James Swanson Sr.
An Invitation to All:
Holy Land Tour with Bishop Swanson
Includes Opportunity for Couples
to Renew Wedding Vows
Have you ever read a passage in the Bible and wanted to actually see the place where that episode happened? Maybe you listened to a sermon about the Sea of Galilee that was so vivid that you could almost picture it in your mind. Perhaps, the sermon stirred within you a desire to not just dream about the Sea of Galilee, but to actually sail it. Well, you are invited to travel with Delphine and I to the Holy Land. The place where Jesus was born, walked among humanity, performed miracles, died for us, and was resurrected.
We would enjoy walking with you and learning more with you in the land of the Bible. Come walk with us in Bethlehem Capernaum, Nazareth, Jericho, the Garden of Gethsemane and Jerusalem.
For couples who desire to renew wedding vows for their 2016 anniversary, this tour includes an opportunity for you to do that during our visit to Cana. This is the site of Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine at a wedding. We will be there with you!
The Holy Land tour is February 11-20, 2016 and the registration deadline is quickly approaching. Click here for more information, or you may contact Joy Carr at firstname.lastname@example.org for details too. We don't want you to miss out on this rich experience. Come and be blessed!
Bishop Swanson’s Statement on Same –sex Ruling
The picture of me above was taken on May 3, 2015 inside the Reichstag Building in Berlin, Germany. In case you do not know of the Reichstag, it is the building where the German Bundestag (the equivalent of our Congress) meets. The significance of the date May 3 is that it marks the 70th anniversary of the Fall of Berlin, eventually leading to the end of World War II (ending the terror of Adolf Hitler and those that followed him).
In the picture you will notice that my left hand is resting on a black block. You can also see several white labels. The white labels are the names of every person that has served in the Bundestag. The black block represents the period 1939-1945. This is the era that Hitler served as the Chancellor of Germany. No names are recorded for this cycle. It is evident that the leadership of Germany is determined to remember what happened during Hitler's reign and the atrocities committed during Hitler's regime. They are also committed to remembering the silence of those that should have spoken up.
When hatred and evil goes unchallenged, we can live to regret it. I was impressed that Germany is doing all it can to keep in mind what happened and not to do what many seek to do when history is so painful – forget that it happened. Every time I see the sign of our faith, the "old rugged cross," I'm reminded of the cruel death of our Lord by those who hated him. But the cross was not the end of the story, just like the evil perpetrated by Hitler was not the last word. There was and is the empty tomb.
Bishop James Swanson Sr.
Dear Mississippi Conference:
We join our hearts and voices with those of our fellow Methodist around the world in sending our prayers and support to those in Nepal and parts of India that were affected by the recent earthquake.
Below is a message from the World Methodist Council that was released on April 27, 2015.
Bishop James Swanson Sr.
Following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake this weekend in Nepal that claimed thousands of lives and thousands more injured, the World Methodist Council Social Justice & International Affairs Committee issued the following statement on behalf of the World Methodist Council:
We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the victims of the earthquake in Nepal, their families, and the surrounding nations. We pray for The Nepal Methodist Church to continue its mission and purpose amidst these difficult circumstances, and we acknowledge the relief and mission work being done by the Methodist-Wesleyan family members in that country. We ask that all continue to join hands in prayer for the victims and those who are affected. We pray and ask that the Methodist-Wesleyan family further engage in actions that will assist the country to move forward after this incident, following the words of John Wesley to, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” We believe that Jesus Christ continuously spread peace in the world, and we pray for His peace to cover all of the families affected.
To follow relief efforts on the ground in Nepal, please visit one of our Member Church links below:
Please send updates or additional links to email@example.com
A Moment That Would Last
It was two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and legal experts through cunning tricks were searching for a way to arrest Jesus and kill him. But they agreed that it should not happen during the festival; otherwise, there would be uproar among the people. Jesus was at Bethany visiting the house of Simon who had a skin disease. During dinner, a woman came in with a vase made of alabaster and containing very expensive perfume of pure nard. She broke open the vase and poured the perfume on his head. Some grew angry. They said to each other,
"Why waste the perfume? This perfume could have been sold for almost a year’s pay and the money given to the poor." And they scolded her. Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me. You always have the poor with you; and whenever you want, you can do something good for them. But you won’t always have me. She has done what she could. She has anointed my body ahead of time for burial. I tell you the truth that, wherever in the whole world the good news is announced, what she’s done will also be told in memory of her." (Mark 14_1:1-9 CEB)
In 1973, songwriters, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, penned the lyrics to one of Barbra Streisand's most popular songs "The Way We Were." It is a beauty song that flows with beautiful string instruments and movements that take you on a journey (if you are prone to let your thoughts get lost in lyrics and music that tell stories). Read the lyrics of the song and reflect on them in light of the Mark text where Jesus says of the woman that anoints his feet with expensive perfume,
“She has done a good thing for me...But you won't always have me. She has done what she could. She has anointed my body ahead of time for burial. I tell you the truth that, whenever in the whole world the good news is announced, what she's done will also be told in memory of her."
Now review the Bergmans' words to “The Way We Were.”
"Memories, light the corners of my mind.
Misty watercolor memories of the way we were
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another for the way we were
Can be that it was all so simple then or has time rewritten every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again tell me would we? Could we?
Memories, may be beautiful and yet what's too painful to remember we simply choose to forget
So it's the laughter we will remember whenever we remember the way we were"
Memory is a gift from God. It is a psychological process in which involves three stages.
First, the ability to receive, understand and process information. Some refer to this as encoding. Second, the ability to store or create a permanent record of the information that you have received, processed and understood. Third, the ability to recall or retrieve the stored information by uses a clue, or a marker that helps to initiate the recall procedure.
This is a gift to humanity bestowed upon us by the Creator. It is a God given gift. Think with me for a minute about how lost we would be if we did not have this gift of memory. There would be no accumulative effect of learning, no ability to communicate intelligently. There would be no sense of family or any such thing as organized religion, or a faith in Jesus without memory. Jesus literally declares that this woman's act of generosity insures that whenever "The Good News" is proclaimed, she will always be remembered. She will be remembered. It was an act of unselfish giving. She put the needs of another ahead of her own needs. And for this deed the story of this woman continues to be told.
This story remains with us to ask all who hears it, "What will you do with your life that will cause others to recall that incident as a mile marker that points others to Jesus?" Will your life be one that inspires others to think of Jesus? Are you willing to give of yourself in such a way that others will see it as a sacrifice of praise? Will your life be a sweet memory? Will you take advantage of opportunities that come your way to leave a marker that will remind the world that at one point in your life you surrendered your life to the Glory of God?
I pray for all of us that we would through the grace of God and that we would all experience in our life, a moment that would last.
Bishop James E. Swanson Sr.
God of us all,
You love us so passionately that you sent Your Son to help us
experience the fullness of divine love. And while we love you, we are not
often asked to risk our lives because of our faith.
This is not true for many of our sisters and brothers in Christ. Our
hearts break as we see more of them suffering and dying simply because
they are living as disciples of Jesus.
We pray for their safety and sanctuary. We pray that you will give them
grace in suffering. We are humbled by the witness of these martyred for
their faith. We pray for their persecutors, and that acts of violence and
persecution will cease.
Help us to grow in our commitment to live as Jesus' disciples. Remind
us that we are the One Body of Christ: when one member suffers, all
suffer. Stir us to pray unceasingly. And empower us to speak boldly.
We pray all of this in the name of our Savior and Lord, Jesus the
Teach them to your children, by talking about them when you are sitting around your house and when you are out and about, when you are lying down and when you are getting up. (Deut. 11:19)
2-7 Today it’s very clear that it isn’t your children who are front and center here: They weren’t in on what GOD did, didn’t see the acts, didn’t experience the discipline, didn’t marvel at his greatness, the way he displayed his power in the miracle-signs and deeds that he let loose in Egypt on Pharaoh king of Egypt and all his land, the way he took care of the Egyptian army, its horses and chariots, burying them in the waters of the Red Sea as they pursued you. GOD drowned them. And you’re standing here today alive. Nor was it your children who saw how GOD took care of you in the wilderness up until the time you arrived here, what he did to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab son of Reuben, how the Earth opened its jaws and swallowed them with their families—their tents, and everything around them—right out of the middle of Israel. Yes, it was you—your eyes—that saw every great thing that GOD did. (Deut. 11:2-7)