Sermon for Sunday, June 3: The Doctrine of Compassion

8580408850_6d45ee21e6You can listen to the sermon here. The full text is below.
Second Sunday After Pentecost — June 3, 2018 – Mark 2:23-3:6

 One sabbath he was going through the cornfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?’ And he said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.’ Then he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.’

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come forward.’ Then he said to them, ‘Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?’ But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. 

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If there is one subject in this world about which I know almost nothing, it is auto racing. So imagine my surprise when last Sunday, between morning worship and an afternoon funeral, I found myself immersed in an article about the Indianapolis 500.

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Reimagining Pentecost as a College Graduation

8580408850_6d45ee21e6What follows is the sermon I preached today at Reveille United Methodist Church. I entered the pulpit to Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance,” and wearing an academic robe and a mortar board and tassel, proceeded to imagine Saint Peter giving a graduation speech to the Jerusalem University Class of A.D. 33.

The Valedictory Address to the Jerusalem Class of A.D. 33 by Simon Peter

Douglas Forrester

Reveille United Methodist Church

Pentecost Sunday – May 20, 2018

Acts 2:1-21

Greetings honored guests at the graduation of the Jerusalem University Class of 33. I would especially like to greet those of you who have come long distances to be here in today. Greetings to all Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs. Welcome. This is an important and joyous occasion which has been a long time coming, and I want to say how wonderful it is to be here in Jerusalem, speaking on behalf of the inaugural graduating glass of 33. Truly, it is an honor to stand before you this day.


Frankly, it is indeed something of a miracle that I am even here today at all. I never considered myself to be either a public speaker or an academic. In fact, I never imagined being a student at all. However, our class had such a tremendous teacher who did amazing things for us, and who helped us to regard our lives, the world, and one other in an entirely new way.
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Guest Post: A Sermon by Council of Bishops President Bishop Bruce Ough

Screen ShotLet’s be open to Christ changing our minds, Bishop Ough tells fellow bishops

DALLAS – Council of Bishops President Bishop Bruce Ough has urged his fellow bishops to be open to Christ changing their minds as they counter disagreements and to be prepared to lead The United Methodist Church into unchartered territories.

Bishop Ough issued the challenged Sunday, February 25, 2018, at the opening of the special meeting of the Council of Bishops as the top leaders in the denominations began to receive an updated report from the Commission on a Way Forward.

In a sermon entitled “On Changing Our Minds,” which also dubbed as his presidential address, Bishop Ough called on his colleagues to unbind Methodists and guide them home.

“Let’s help our people empty themselves of the need to control one another. Let’s help our people empty themselves of their fear of the future and their fear of a changed church. Let’s help our people empty themselves of their obsession for security. Let’s not hinder or harm one another. Let’s take our people off the map. Let’s be open to Christ changing our minds,” he said.

BELOW IS THE FULL TEXT OF BISHOP OUGH’S ADDRESS
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The United Methodist Church and Gun Violence

8580408850_6d45ee21e6In my sermon on Sunday, February 18, 2018, I will refer to this denominational article, After the sermon is preached, the manuscript with footnotes will be available here as well.

UPDATE: The manuscript follows. The links I mentioned are in the body of the text.

Covenant: An Unbreakable Love and Trust with God — A Global Guarantee

Douglas Forrester

Reveille United Methodist Church

First Sunday in Lent —February 18, 2018

Genesis 9:8-17

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

In the Book of Job, when Job lost everything he had, including his ten children, he said, “The worst of my fears has come true, what I’ve dreaded most has happened.” (Job 3.25) Once again in our land mothers and fathers have faced the worst of their fears, as the worst of their fears have come true.

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Christmas in Rhyme

10986487_722263964557218_2041353398548451256_o.jpgWhat follows is the poem  I read at Reveille United Methodist Church’s 5:30 Service of Lessons and Carols. I wrote it in August after hearing a radio reading of poetry by the late David Rakoff, whose style and humor influenced the form of this poem. It was designed for a service already filled with scripture, liturgy, and music, where a traditional sermon would not have worked. I hope you enjoy it. Merry Christmas.

 

It is quite hard to fathom all one can say,
when Sunday and Christmas Eve fall on the same day
to those who have gathered in prayer and song,
all hoping the service does not go too long.
Though some will stay home and tend to fam’ly,
while searching for batteries, double-A, C, and D.

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Make A Flood Bucket!

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Reveille people: in worship tomorrow, September 3, 2017, I will be discussing flood buckets as a way to respond to the effects of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation in Texas. Flood buckets are wonderful resources for those helping with the recovery efforts as they are filled with cleaning supplies. We made one today as a family, and it was a lot of fun. The instructions are here, and we will have copies available at church. Get one to church by Reveille Day (September 10), and we will get it to Texas! This is a fun and easy way to make a difference.

As always, you can make a monetary gift here, and remember, 100% of your gift goes to the people in need, because the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) pays its administrative costs via a special offering churches like ours receive in March on UMCOR Sunday.

Reflections Upon Charlottesville

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 2.49.11 PMWhat follows is my monthly letter to the congregation, which is printed in our newsletter.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

– Romans 12:21

We lived in Crozet, a bedroom community of Charlottesville, Virginia for nine years between 2005 and 2014, while I was serving as the pastor of Crozet United Methodist Church. Tracy taught fourth grade for eight years in the neighboring Albemarle County public schools, and for one year, in the city of Charlottesville, at Johnson Elementary. Our youngest daughter Claire was born at the old downtown Martha Jefferson Hospital.

And now, it is somehow all different. On Saturday, East Market Street, the place where we once watched a parade, became a racial battleground. The Downtown Mall, where Ellen as a preschooler used to hold our hands and slide atop the fallen autumn leaves is now the place where Heather Heyer was murdered by a white supremacist who had driven to Charlottesville from Ohio. The verdant golf course we used to pass on our way into town is the site of the helicopter crash that took the lives of Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of the Virginia State Police.

We were vacationing in South Carolina on Saturday, when the violence took place. It was heartbreaking to watch on television and the internet: this evil imported into our quiet little city. It was a helpless feeling being two states away while hell was breaking loose a dozen miles from our old home. I cannot imagine what it was like to actually be there, in the midst of it all.

That Saturday night, I had a dream where I was supposed to take a document to the University of Richmond, and when I arrived on campus, I realized I had forgotten the document. As I began to return home (for some reason, on foot), two students began to harass me. They followed me everywhere I went, trying to get away from them, hurling epithets, insulting everything about me, pushing me from behind, threatening violence against me.

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