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Showing posts from 2012

Giving It All Away

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to talk with a gentleman who was visiting our church during an annual event.  After introducing myself as the pastor, the man felt it was necessary to tell me about his previous church experiences with many different congregations and the issues he had with each one, and the reasons he left those churches.  He then asked me the question, "do you preach about money?" to which I replied "I believe preaching about money and possessions is vitally important for Christian growth".  His response took me by surprise as he stated "I don't go to church anymore, and I certainly will not give money anymore because all the church does is give it away."  Wow!  My internal dialogue immediately began inside my head as I thought to myself how great it would be if the world really saw the Church doing this, and of course, if the Church actually followed through in giving it away.  I did respond to the man by simply stating "W…

The Creative Dilemma

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I have an issue (I know, just one of many I'm sure)... I lack creativity.  And yet I have a strong desire and craving for creative ideas.  BUT... simply thinking about being creative is painfully slow! and really quite honestly, drives me nuts just thinking about it.

SOOOOO... I blog about it, hoping that just maybe some mis-firing neuron hiding out in the cob web encroached recesses of my brain will miraculously become energized and send a scud missile full of nuclear creativity that causes my brain to explode with ideas... Hey, there was a moment!

Anyway, I was doing a Google search for "creativity ideas for un-creative people" (Just the search in itself may prove to be 'creative').  In the results I found a link for this, which basically says people who think creativity is a goal typically think the creativity of others is a load of bologna crap.  A light went on!  Really, a light went on somewhere in the muscle between my ears (I know, it's an organ, not…

Orange Barrels, 6AM, And Complaints

You've heard the phrase "cheaters never prosper", well another phrase rings quite true "complainers never prosper".  Yesterday morning, our local group of pastors met at my church for our weekly gathering to talk about "official" pastor things and to solve the problems of the world (okay, maybe I'm stretching this a bit so suffice it to say we met, drank coffee, and talked... a lot).  At one point our discussion was focused on the importance of praise in the lives of Christians.  For some reason that small discussion stuck in my mind as I went for my morning run today, but only after I sprained my ankle from thinking I was superman and could jump the hole the excavator had dug the day prior.  Needless to say, spraining my ankle caused me to utter a few words that were, shall we say, a little less than pastoral ;0)  and I continued to walk (ok, hobble) and began to complain how much it sucked that my ankle was sprained and how much I have been tryi…

A Tip For New Pastors - Get A Haircut

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As of July 1, 2012 I have been appointed to serve as pastor of Manchester United Methodist Church in Manchester, MI.  In the United Methodist tradition, our bishops along with the appointive cabinet have assigned pastors to their respective churches, and as a United Methodist pastor I have agreed to "itinerate" as the bishop calls and the Lord leads.

Upon arrival to Manchester, I realized that my hair was beginning to make me look like a shaggy dog and naturally I went for a haircut.  I found a great barber shop in downtown Manchester called Reed Barbering (yes, there really is a downtown in Manchester! And it's beautiful!).  As I sat waiting for my turn to be up, there were three other gentlemen ahead of me - two of them were farmers who had clearly been up and working longer than I had even been awake that morning.  I could tell that they were local farmers because of their conversation about crops and livestock, as well as the farm-fresh scent they brought with them …

Army Chaplaincy (and why I want to do it!)

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As some of you may already know, I am in the process of being commissioned as an Army Chaplain in the United States Army.  It is a decision that Maria and I have thought over, prayed about, and have continued to pray and think about over the past few years.  Just recently, I received notice that I have been endorsed by the United Methodist Endorsing agency.  When the certificate came in the mail, addressed to "Chaplain Aaron Kesson" I swallowed my own spit and almost choked (no joke!)  Now, I know that I cannot be officially called "Chaplain" in the sense of my role in the Army as of yet because I have yet to receive my commission, but the thought of it is very exciting!

As a part of my application process, I had to submit an essay entitled "Why I Want to Be an Army Chaplain".  It sounded easy enough, until I realized it had to be one page exactly.  I wondered how in the world I was going to fit all my excitement and anticipation into one page.  Well, he…

Real Men Share Their Feelings

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I do not consider myself a feelings kind of person, nor do I talk nearly enough about my feelings with my wife.  However, we both experienced a weekend where we had no outside distractions, meals taken care of, and lots of time to spend talking about and expressing our feelings with one another.  This rare opportunity to spend time away from kids, work, and household responsibilities taught me a valuable lesson in re-committing to the marriage vows I promised to Maria about 9 years ago.  It's amazing that, even though our marriage has remained strong, we both needed this time to rekindle our relationship and I believe we are much stronger as a couple for it.

One big realization I had during this past weekend is that real men share their feelings, and here's the best part... It's sooooo worth it!!!  It has been easy for me to tell countless couples, either in premarital or marital counseling that sharing feelings is vital for a healthy relationship, and to offer them tools…

Stepping on Palms

This morning while preparing for our community Good Friday worship service to be held in our church today, I ran across several pieces of palm branches that were left over from our Palm Sunday worship this past week.  At first, I did not give any thought to the significance of finding these palms on Friday... But soon it hit me... The palms of celebration and welcome, the palms of hosannas and blessings, are the very palms that would be trampled upon by the feet of an angry crowd shouting "crucify him!", faithful followers of Jesus wondering "is he really the messiah?", and the bruised, blistered, sweaty, bloody feet of Jesus himself as he carries his cross to the place of death and torment...

For you...

For me...

For us...

What do the leftover palms speak to your heart today, on this Good Friday?

Why, Jesus?

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The following is the manuscript and audio from the sermon I preached this Palm/Passion Sunday at EUMC, entitled "Why, Jesus?"  Join the conversation...


“Why, Jesus?” Mark 15:1-39 April 1, 2012 Emmanuel UMC Rev. Aaron B. Kesson

Reading and hearing these words from Mark 15 sends shivers up my spine each and every time I experience them.  Unlike the words of the procession of palms, these words are wrought with despair, wrenched with hopelessness, foreshadowing betrayal and the experience of humiliation, and end with isolation and death.  You may be asking why we are hearing these words on this day.  I mean- Why don't we just stick with the waving of palms and the humble entry of Jesus upon a borrowed mule? - Why don't we simmer with the elaborate images of what it would have been like to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem, shouting hosannas! and blessed be the one who comes in the name of the Lord! as our hopes and dreams for Messiah have become closer to reality?  It wou…

The Cross and God's Victory

I love Easter.  I love hearing the children's excitement when they find the eggs that have been carefully hidden about the grounds of our church.  I love engaging in conversation and fellowship with members of my congregation during our morning breakfast.  And I love worshiping with God's people as we celebrate the risen Lord through songs, prayers, baptisms, and sharing in holy communion.  God's presence and love is experienced in a special way on Easter Sunday.  
But there is so much more to the Easter story, and so much more to our story.
Over the past several weeks of Lent, I have been reminded that the journey toward the empty tomb and the excitement experienced in the hearts of those who spoke with the risen Lord had been preceded by betrayal, denial, suffering, humility, and sacrifice.  The resurrection does not occur without pain, it does not take full effect without death.  In Hebrews 2:9, the writer states "(But) we see Jesus, who was made a little lower tha…

A 300 And Jesus? In the Same Night?

Let's just say that I won't be winning any PBA tournaments any time soon.  Most Monday evenings during the Fall and Spring, you will probably find me at the local bowling alley as I bowl (or, at least show up to the bowling alley!) on our church league in town.  This past Monday, I had the opportunity to witness someone achieving the highest score in bowling, a 300.  Immediately after the cheering and applauding, a sea of people lined up to congratulate the winner.  After shaking the man's hand, I sat back down with my teammates and heard one of them say "I wonder if his luck will rub off on one of us!"  Teasingly, I said "yeah, I'm sure his next game will be a 120 now because he's so excited and he transferred all that skill to us!"  
This experience led me to think about Jesus and the story in Mark 5:24-43 where the woman with the issue of bleeding was trying to get close to Jesus and touched his clothes and was healed (Mark 5:27).  Her number…

What I Learned About God On The Playground

When I look up at your skies, at what your fingers made-- the moon and the stars that you set firmly in place-- what are human beings that you think about them; what are human beings that you pay attention to them? You've made them only slightly less than divine, crowning them with glory and grandeur.  (Psalm 8:3-5 Common English Bible)
Yesterday was my day to pick Andrew up from school, and thinking that he would be released at a certain time, I arrived at the school only to find that I was about 10 minutes early.  Much to my surprise however was that he and his classmates were outside playing before school ended.  Immediately a smile was brushed upon my face and my heart warmed with great joy as I watched my son enjoying the company of his friends and living life without a care in the world.
As I sat in the van, continuing to look on at my son and hoping that he wouldn't see me yet, I wondered about how God might see us as we live our lives.  I wondered if God experiences the s…

Hope in the Ashes

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Life is short.

For some, this statement carries with it deep emotions and deep meaning of experienced loss.  For others, the notion that life is short serves as an excuse to constantly be hurried and rushed.  Eventually, we begin to realize that the notion of life being short is simply a reminder that we have one shot, and we are to make the most of this life.

For Christians, today marks a forty day period of self-reflection, self-denial, and re-focusing our lives upon God alone as our source of strength and hope.  A reminder that we are called to make the most of this life by focusing on the Creator of our lives.

Since around the 10th century, the Church (capital 'C' Church means the universal Church that was, is now, and will be in the future.  Little 'c' church refers more to a local congregation of believers) has practiced the imposition of ashes upon the foreheads of believers as a sign of turning from one's sins and being reminded of our mortality.  In the e…

Have We Missed the Point of Lent?

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Seven words have permeated the dialogue of social media, office spaces, churches, homes, and coffee shops over the past few days.  No, it's not "So when will the world end, again?" but the words "What are you giving up for Lent?"

Unfortunately, I think these words have become less and less meaningful as we have boiled the season of Lent down to a moment of pseudo self-denial as we "suffer" through our giving up of sweets, red meat, coffee, television, twitter, etc.  In fact, it seems to me that Lent has become more about the question than the journey.

Think about it...  We become so focused on what we are giving up that we forget about why we decided to give it up in the first place.  It is almost as if what we are giving up becomes more important than discovering why we have decided to participate in the first place.

Please do not misunderstand me, it is important to take care of ourselves and if you are giving things up in Lent to better yourself,…

Unclean

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Since the Summer of 2011, and our time at family camp, I have been inspired to write some forms of poetry.  I have several friends who write great works for poetry slams and sermons.  This is my first public "appearance".  You can hear me "spit my stuff" by listening to last Sunday's sermon "Lord, Heal Me" by using the sermon player at the end of this post.


Unclean
Reference: Mark 1:40-45

“Unclean! Unclean!” I cry out, a forced vocalized sentence of prison and pain, suffering, and shame, exiting from my mouth, covered from head to upper lip so that I do not share this ugly disease. Because I am a disgrace, I am unholy, and I am unclean, I am a wretch, an embarrassment to my name, an embarrassment to my family.
I walk with my torn clothes and disheveled hair, looking around to see if anyone, anywhere, even cares, as I traverse trying not to break that 50 foot barrier between those who are unlike me, those who are not considered unholy, unclean, and un-loved…

When God Waits for Me

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Can I be confessional with you?  Lately, I have been learning a lot from my quiet times spent alone with God.  And although I am far from being content with the amount of time I spend during my day with God, I am constantly amazed by the quality of that time spent.  Typically, when I begin my day in prayer and Scripture study I find that the day generally goes better than if I begin on my own.  Yet again, even though I know this to be true I continue to attempt things on my own.  When I begin my day without God, it is almost as if God is saying "go ahead, you'll be back, and I'll be here waiting for you".   How do you start your day?  Is God waiting for you to spend time with him?  Trust me, spend time with God whenever you can.  You won't regret it.