Grace & Peace to you First Gonzales,
I enjoy reading and find that reading is often the best way to prepare for sermons, find wisdom and guidance, and also a way to connect to new ideas and insights. I thought I'd share what I am currently reading.
For the better part of the last ten years, I've turned to Richard Rohr's Wondrous Encounters during Lent. Each day is a scripture reading and brief devotional, it has been a great source for me in my personal Lenten practices throughout the year. Rohr takes the reader through the lectionary readings of Lent and offers insight on how we might pray for what God desires for us.
I am also reading the book for our Lenten Study this year, Seven Words:Listening to Christ from the Cross, by Susan Robb. This book has brought new life to the words of Christ on the cross, bringing them into a much more personal context as we journey the Lenten season. Robb has skillfully brought the words of Christ into our modern context and helped her readers connect them to the immediacy of what is challenging our society. Even if you can't join us for the Lenten Study, Robb's
book is worth reading.
I also often turn to Short Stories by Jesus, a biblical commentary on the parable of Jesus by Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School. AJ Levine brings a wonderful perspective to the parable of Jesus and offers valuable context for how Jesus' audience would have heard the parables. I love hearing Levine perspective as a historian and Jew and the lens for hearing Christ's parable anew.
In an effort to hone in more fully on my word for 2021 (balance), I am reading a book by modern theologian Rob Bell, How to be here. Bell offers insight in how to be more purposeful in how we live, but also opening ourselves us to heeding the calling God has placed in our lives. Bell's writing draws the reader in and invites us to consider how we are living our lives.
Finally, I am reading Tempered Resilence by Tod Bolsinger. Bolsinger has written several books on Christian leadership and management, but this book in particular looks at leadership in and after crises and most pointedly in a pandemic time of great change.
I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to thank Cathy Vittoria for all her work in organizing and facilitating for our church garage sale. In September Cathy came to me and said she wanted to do a church garage sale. Having been at First UMC Gonzales for a little over a month, I didn't quite know who Cathy was. But I quickly learned that when she says she is going to do something, I should go ahead and count it as done.
My expectation of the sale was that we would raise about $2,500. I completely underestimated the work, planning, and follow through Cathy and her team would do. Cathy recruited volunteers and a co-organizer, Brenda Walker. Together, they raised $6,000 for our our church's general fund.
Cathy& Brenda, to you and your team (I would name you all, but I dare not forget someone), I say thank you. Thank you for leading such a big project, for following through, and for making it such a successful fundraiser for the ministries of the church.
Rev. Ali Young