Posts Tagged grace

Dr. Linda McKinnish Bridges Elected Pres. of Baptist Seminary of Richmond

I met Dr. Bridges at the Chautauqua Institution in Western New York State in the summer of 1991. She was the Chaplain of the Week. She is one of the many reasons I fell in love with the place. Her sermon, “Grace upon Grace,” describes my life and has stayed with me to this day. She grew up in the area above Greer, South Carolina. Her father was a well-known mountain preacher. At the time Joan Lipscomb Solomon, a classmate at Furman with me, was writing the Daily Religion Column for the Chautauqua Daily. Joan and I met Linda for lunch one day and had a great time exploring our South Carolina connections. I have continued to follow Linda’s career and her outstanding Christian service.

“On Tuesday morning (March 21), trustees voted unanimously to welcome Dr. Linda McKinnish Bridges as the third president of BTSR. Dr. Bridges was selected after a comprehensive nationwide search led by a BTSR committee consisting of trustees, faculty and staff, with assistance from AGB Search. She will serve as the third president of BTSR, and comes to the seminary at the culmination of BTSR’s 25th anniversary.

In her comments, Dr. Bridges vowed to, “listen first, revere the symbols of the past, all the while ruthlessly renewing and revisioning theological education for the future.” Rev. Dr. Linda McKinnish Bridges will transition to her new role as President-Elect in May 2017, and will officially begin as president of BTSR on July 1, 2017.

The trustees at BTSR have chosen wisely. I am thrilled with the choice. She joins Dr. Molly Marshall, President of Central Baptist Seminary, as a second woman president of a Baptist Theological Seminary. “The mills of the Gods grind exceedingly slowly but exceedingly fine.”

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Thanksgiving in Lincolnton: A Family Story

163001_10150109229056614_7707360Dwayne and Donna_nMy sister, Jean, and brother-in-law, John,John Wallace and Jean celebrate Thanksgiving on the Sunday before the official day because their sons and their families have other obligations on the big day. Jan drove Carol and me to Lincolnton, North Carolina for the annual event.

The food was wonderful and over-flowing, but the presence of family and friends provided the real joy. The three of us from Charleston and one friend, Vegas, from Charlotte were lost in a sea of Donald Trump disciples all wearing his trademark shirts. We took our beatings with humility. Most of this was for the torture of Liz, Wesley’s girlfriend, who works for Green Peace and is a staunch Democrat. She could not be present for the beat down or so she claimed. Wesley is my Republican grandnephew who is working his way up through the Deneise and Wesleynew Trump Swamp in Washington. I am rooting for him to become the most  important, “Deplorable.”

There was real joy around Allison, my grandniece, and her boyfriend, Jimmy, buying their first house. Allison is a history teacher in Hickory, and Jimmy is a police officer in Charlotte. Justin, grandnephew, has just finished trimming his house with stone. He did most of the work himself. Everyone gazed with pride at the pictures.

This is the real America. Megan, a young vibrant Methodists Youth Minister, led in grace as we all formed a circle and held hands. Megan, better known as Pest, is also my grandniece. Later there were Corn-hole games in the front yard.

The obvious devotion that Darrel and Dwayne and their families show to my sister and brother-in-law speaks volumes about the love that glues this family together. Before we left everyone was treated to a hug and an, “I love you.” Jean and Bunky have established a loving, kind oasis in a world of Chaos. We are privileged to be a part of it. Thank you. The first picture is Dwayne and Donna. The second picture is Jean and John. The third is Denise and Wesley.

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You Are Graced for Greatness – Mary Lee Talbot -Chautauqua Daily

When Nelson Mandela walked out of prison after 27 years, he knew that he had

to leave the bitterness behind or he would still be in prison,” said the Rev. Cynthia

Hale. “The Father of the Nation [of South Africa] had to resist the urge of revenge. He needed to provide an example

of forgiveness.”

Hale preached at the morning worship service at 9:15 a.m. Friday. Her sermon title was “Work Your Grace” and the

scripture text was Romans 12:3-12. “When Mtibaa transitioned, President Barack Obama said, ‘Now he belongs to the ages.’ David Cameron, prime

minister of Great Britain, said, ‘A great light has gone out of the world.’ Mandela is remembered for being the embodiment

of grace, of operating with uncommon grace. That image led people to believe he fell from the sky,” she said.

“But everyone of us is graced by God. You may say, ‘Not me; I could never measure up,’ but you don’t know who you

are. God created you by design; just as Mandela was unique, so are you. All of us on earth are different, as our fingerprints

attest, but that is not what makes each of us different — it is God’s workmanship in you.”

Hale said that God graces each person with giftedness. No two people have the same gifts.

“Your gifts were tailor-made for you and you are graced for greatness,” she said.

In Romans, Paul spoke with authority about gifts, she said. He had written to the Corinthians five years earlier to

tell them that each person’s gifts are needed for the community to be whole.

“Paul wanted to make sure that the Romans did not have an inflated idea of the self, that they were not over intoxicated

with their own gifts,” Hale said. “Through faith comes the power of discernment to determine the nature and

extent of individual power and grace. “Paul also speaks to those who think less of themselves,”

she continued. “All are gifted; there is no big ‘I’ or little ‘you’ in the faith community. Don’t think that the community is

doing just fine without you.” Hale used the word “grace” to talk about gifts because

Christians are saved by grace and gifted by grace. “We don’t deserve what God has done in Christ. We are

gifted in a way that we could not imagine, we could not earn, buy, borrow or steal,” she said. “God is the giver of

every good gift and distributes gifts to us for a purpose.” Paul used the analogy of the body to describe how the

gifts of one work with the gifts of all. Each member of the body of Christ belongs to all the others and they work together

for the common good, “whether they like one another or not,” Hale said. When people are baptized into one body

they are connected by God’s spirit. “People come together from individual places and become

part of the community to serve one another and to serve the world,” she said. “We need one another and we are

essential to the success of every individual and the whole. That is God’s purpose in making us different and distinct so

we are equipped to carry out God’s mission and service.” Spiritual gifts are similar to natural gifts but the Holy

Spirit supersizes them, Hale said. “You may be a good speaker or fine singer, or you minister

to people in a way that changes their lives, you may have the tech skills or work among the least, but you are

set to change the world when the Holy Spirit energizes and empowers graces and turns them from ordinary to extraordinary,”

she said. She told the congregation that “we equip each other, we build each other up, because when we first came to Christ

we needed help. Pastors are not the only ones to whip — I mean equip — people into shape. Each person has the responsibility

to pick up another. “We are given different gifts to provide balance, to help the body mature. No one should have too many posts in the

community. Look at your neighbor and say, ‘I hope she is not talking about you.’ It is the nature of any community that

not everyone is using their gifts. Then people start to say ‘let the young people do it; I am retired and tired.’ My grandfather,

at 90, used to say, ‘Don’t rust out, wear yourself out.’ ” Hale said that church communities would never be all

that God would have them be unless everyone was working. “There is no unemployment among God’s servants. That

would be wasted opportunity. If you are graced, just do it,” Hale said. “Do it with enthusiasm, do it with joy. Work your

grace. Serve the needs of others. Be the ministers of God’s “Your gifting looks good on you, but it is not an ornament

to be worn — it is an instrument to be used for God’s glory.”

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Happy Valetine’s Day

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…”
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

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