Supplies for Girls, Inc. This Sunday (August 10)

Girls Inc Wish List

Girls Inc. has been a gracious host for us during our first year! Let’s be a blessing to them as well. They have a wishlist for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year. If you can pick up some of these items (or have some around the house) it would be a great help to them. Thanks!

  • Multicolor construction paper
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Legal notepads
  • Post-it flipcharts
  • Copy paper
  • Scissors
  • Sharpies
  • Markers
  • Dry erase markers
  • Highlighters
  • Multicolor card stock
  • Rechargeable batteries – Size C
  • Washable paint
  • Board games (new or used)
  • Card games (new or used)
  • Cloth for sewing
  • Wii games (new or used)
  • Eating utensils (forks, knives, spoons)
  • Aprons
  • Dish towels
  • Pot holders
  • Gardening tools
  • Jump ropes

Stump the Preacher (August 3)

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Do animals go to heaven? Why don’t we see miracles more often? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

A couple of times a year, I like to do a Q&A worship service I call “Stump the Preacher!” I do this not because I have all the answers, but because I think one of the best ways to  learn is by listening to each other’s questions. Questions often teach us more than answers!

Submit your burning theological questions, biblical confusions, and philosophical paradoxes to me via email (dave at saintjunia dot org), ask me on Twitter, or write it on an index card this Sunday. We’ll select a handful of questions to use during the service. The more questions we get, the better it will be. Come and bring a friend!

Online Worship and Bible Study

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We’re beefing up our online media presence over the summer! We know lots of people travel and want to keep in touch during the summer months. You can tune in live to our live stream to watch Saint Junia’s worship service on Sundays at 4:30 PM, or our Wednesday morning Bible study at 6:30 AM.

If you can’t watch the live service or Bible study, you can always watch the archive, or even better, subscribe to our RSS feed for video or audio podcast!

I plan to create a “best of” series of short videos and lessons over the summer as well, around two or three minutes each, that you can share with friends to let them know about Saint Junia and help spread the word. You can comment, send me prayer requests, ask questions, or suggest topics to me on Twitter.

If you’d like to support the expansion of our online presence, your gifts are always welcome! We’d like to continue to improve and upgrade our equipment and services so we can reach more people. Thanks for your help!

Jesus, Robots, and Aliens: Christianity and Science Fiction

Science fiction (and fantasy) often allow us to ask big questions about life and meaning by telling stories. In our June series, we’ll look at both classic and modern scifi, from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” to “Elysium.” We’ll deal with the ethics of genetic profiling in “Gattaca,” and challenge our assumptions about identity and consciousness with “I, Robot” and “Her.”

I’ve been looking forward to this series for more than a year. Come geek out with me as we tackle some challenging questions and watch awesome special effects!

June 1: Geek Culture and the Big Questions

June 8: Could We Change History? (Time Travel, Free Will, and Destiny)

June 15: Do Aliens have Human Rights? (Society and Moral Relativism)

June 22: Do Cyborgs Have Souls? (Identity, Consciousness, and Salvation)

June 29: Are We Alone in the Universe? (Meaning and Purpose)

Worship happens on Sundays at 4:30 PM at Girls Incorporated in Crestwood. I look forward to seeing you there!

Collecting Health Kits for Disaster Warehouse

One of the ways we Methodists in North Alabama stay ready for disasters is to prepare health kits for survivors. These health kits may be given out here in our home state after natural disasters, or they may be shipped to other parts of the world that need them. This is one way we support UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief. We maintain a Disaster Warehouse in Decatur which we keep stocked to respond to nearly any catastrophe.

This Sunday (May 18) we’ll be collecting health kits to send to our warehouse in Decatur. Here are the instructions and supply list for preparing a health kit. (You don’t have to include money—we’ll do that as a church). This is an easy project you can do as individuals, families, or small groups.

Thanks for helping out!

Good News for ALL People

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We started Saint Junia with the goal of reaching people who have been hurt, burned, or turned off to church in the past. Church doctrines that exclude people because of their sexual orientation, class, gender, political leanings, ability, or past history keep folks from hearing the Good News that is for ALL people—that God has already acted decisively in Jesus to renew all things.

God doesn’t wait for us to have faith to act on our behalf, either. Jesus holds open the invitation to doubters and skeptics as well as believers to follow and grow in faith, not by checking our brains at the door but by using our reason to wrestle with God and transform the world. We don’t shy away from hard questions and difficult issues, but we engage scripture, tradition, reason, and experience in our quest to know God better.

It’s exciting to see this message catch on with people. We’ve been growing over the last seven months that we’ve been worshiping weekly together, and I look forward to where God is leading us next!

If you’d like to worship with Saint Junia, be our guest! We worship on Sundays at 4:30 PM in the gymnasium of Girls, Inc (click here for a map). Child care is provided. I hope to see you there!

(Click here for one of my favorite sermons, “Why God is a Feminist“)

Music and Listening

There was a great interview with local musicians St. Paul and the Broken Bones on WBHM, which you can listen to here. I’m sharing this with you for two reasons: First, I think some of the things Paul Janeway talks about—disappointment with God or the church, the importance of passion and faith in his life—will resonate with St. Junia folks. Second, I think it represents something important about our approach to music.

I knew early in the planning stages that I wanted something different for music at Saint Junia. People have strong opinions about the music they like, and we know what style of music vibrates our spiritual antennae. We often label churches based on their musical and worship style: gospel, contemporary, traditional, etc. I wanted to find a musical style that would resonate with as diverse a group as possible: jazz, blues, and gospel.

We also tend to classify songs as “religious” or “secular,” but the Bible makes no such distinction. Song of Songs is a love song. Ecclesiastes is a blues poem. Many Old Testament stories are ballads of struggle and betrayal. In many of these stories, God is hardly mentioned explicitly—but the authors have an implicit understanding of who God is and what God is up to. The fact that all of these are in the BIble shows that the people who wrote and compiled the Bible experienced God in every aspect of their lives, not just the explicitly “religious” parts.

For this same reason, I believe that “secular” music has a place in worship when it fits with the overall theme and gist of what we’re doing. This is why we’ve done songs like Pharell Williams’ “Happy” and Bob Marley’s “One Love.” Plenty of churches have used songs by U2, Mumford and Sons, or Marvin Gaye, which often have Christian themes or refer to the Bible.

I love it when we sing a traditional hymn or gospel tune and a “secular” song side-by-side in worship, because I believe that fits with our mission: being a witness to God both inside and outside of the church, naming the way God is already at work and pointing out the sin and grace we experience in everyday life. My prayer for the community of Saint Junia is that we would become light in the world, illuminating for others the surprising ways that God is at work in human life, both inside the church walls, and outside of them.