Oak Hill Hikers – Something New From Something Old

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Oak Hill Hikers went on a hike this past Saturday. We hiked at Mount Mitchell State Park on the Commissary Trail.  We had 8 people and hiked 4 1/2 miles. Our devotion is below. Feel free to use this as you like. Remember to follow the Creative Commons Copyright guidelines listed below.


Something Old From Something New

Materials Needed: Index cards or small pieces of paper, crayons or pencils, Bible

The Commissary Trail runs along a on old logging railroad from the early 1900s. Once logging was banned, it became a railroad to bring tourists into the mountains. Following the removal of the railroad, it became part of the trail system at Mt. Mitchell.

When one purpose for this trail became was done, it transformed into something else, and again. It grew from logging, to tourist transport, to hiking and biking in the beautiful mountains. Its purpose and form changed.

In our life we know there are always things to changed, transformed, and made new. I think of my grandfather who too old used railroad ties to create his cow pasture or my dad taking tin from a fallen barn to rebuild a shed.

Scripture often speaks of old things becoming new:

Wedding at Cana

John Chapter 2

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They don’t have any wine.”

Jesus replied, “Woman, what does that have to do with me? My time hasn’t come yet.”

His mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby were six stone water jars used for the Jewish cleansing ritual, each able to hold about twenty or thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some from them and take it to the headwaiter,” and they did. The headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine. He didn’t know where it came from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.

The headwaiter called the groom 10 and said, “Everyone serves the good wine first. They bring out the second-rate wine only when the guests are drinking freely. You kept the good wine until now.” 11 This was the first miraculous sign that Jesus did in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

-www.biblegateway.com

The water transformed into wine for the glory of God. It is good and abundant wine for the wedding celebration. God’s glory is working within this transformation. This glory is often connected to the Kingdom of God in the parables:

Growth of God’s kingdom

Luke 13:20-21

20 Again he said, “To what can I compare God’s kingdom? 21  It’s like yeast, which a woman took and hid in a bushel of wheat flour until the yeast had worked its way through the whole.”

-www.biblegateway.com

The woman’s working of yeast into the leaven is what does the transformation. I can play with flour all day and it not turn into bread, it needs the transforming power of God’s glory to change it into something. The thing is, the amount of bread the woman makes is so much that it could feed the whole community. God’s glory made that into a gift for the community.

We all have things in our lives that can change. I want us to take some time to think of things that we can change to celebrate God’s glory and God’s gifts to us. It may be that you have physical items that you can use to celebrate God by changing them or doing something new with them. You may have a gift or talent you have that when shared and combined with God’s love can spread to the community. It may be how you spend your time or money and how that can grow or change.

Allow 5-7 minutes for reflection

Sharing (Allow people who are willing to share, not everyone has to share)

Close in Prayer

 

A Sunday School Class Struggles with #Charlottesville

IMG_20170813_125853Today, the day after the acts of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville, Virginia in which white nationalists staged a protest which turned very violent, my Sunday school class met, because it’s Sunday. It is a class of people mainly in there 60s and older (I am the one lone 31 year old). There are often over forty of us. Different people in the class take turns teaching (I teach once about every three months). We use the United Methodist Adult Bible Studies quarterly which follows the Uniform Series.

Today, the lesson title was “Called to Break Down Barriers.” The scripture was from Acts: Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. At the beginning of the class a lady spoke up that we need to pray for what is going on in Virginia. The teacher did a good job providing background, and then the discussion of marginalized populations began. It eventually led to the discussion of Charlottesville.

Everyone agreed these sort of violent acts were wrong. Especially Klan, Nazi, and White Nationalist activities. Many of these people were growing up during World War II and were young adults raising kids during the Civil Rights movement. They know the things that occurred. The horrors and acts of evil which people faced and fought against.

They struggled with the fact that young people could be so filled with hate. They did regret the loss of history and historic monuments, they are southerners and this is still part of their heritage. However, they were honest that these are often become symbols and vessels of hate and violence and completely denounced any violence and hate. There was some comments on the #BlackLivesMatter protests needing not to be violent either — but they did acknowledge that it was not all the people in the movement who were violent, and that they had a right to protest. Still, there was struggle and discomfort. A desire to heritage preserved but a solemn acknowledgement that these are symbols of hate and oppression.

As we moved toward the end of class, one person shared that they had recently been approached by a white supremacist offering her literature, when she realized what it was she gave it back and adamantly assured the man that his not what she was about or believed. She then shared that she hoped we could all have the courage to stand up against this sort of hate.

These people are imperfect but want to understand and really do want to change. However, they need teachers, curricula, space, and time to discuss and explore appropriate responses. Can our churches, pastors, and leadership provide such space? This is my hope.

Mountains to Sea Trail

img_20170731_143027.jpgFollowing a conference I attended a few weeks back in Nashville, I stopped on my way home in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While there, I visited Clingman’s Dome, which is also the beginning of the Mountains to Sea Trail, a 1000 mile trail stretching across North Carolina, and ending at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

I only completed roughly one mile of the trail, but it was a symbolic start to an adventure I hope to engage over my life. Hiking continues to become my favorite hobby, and teaches me a great deal about nature and who I am. It is rare that I go hiking and do not learn about a new native plant or animal in the area. I learn about the history of the area as well as the local culture. It brings me closer to the people I hike with and closer to God through spiritual exploration.

I hope to hike on this trail for the next several years and probably decades (with 1200 miles, this will take a while), with many people and on occasion, on my own. Hiking furthers my understanding of myself, others, and life in general, and focusing on a trail that traverses the state I call home, particularly the rural areas of the state, allows me to engage and reflect on my academic and ministerial pursuits.

Stumbling upon a #RuralUMC

A new irregular series is starting because of a car battery dying. A week or so ago I got a call from my wife that her car battery died. I jumped her car off and then she went on about her business in my car while I drove her car around to charge the battery up. It didn’t work and I got a new car battery for it the next day. However, I did get the chance to find a rural UMC I had not been to yet in our community. Arneys Fairview UMC:

I know a little about this church. Their current pastor worked to form this church from Arney’s Chapel UMC and Fairview UMC in rural Burke County. It is currently growing and looking at it’s options for increasing parking. It still has the old outhouses outside the church. They are presumably not in use at this moment. They still own their other building and were interested in offering it as a space for a Latinx congregation.

Whenever I see a little random #RuralUMC and have time, I will stop and take a few pictures to share!