Sunday, March 29, 2015

Luke 19: Seeing Jesus on Palm Sunday

Luke 19 contains an account of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. There are several powerful lessons one can derive from this chapter; as I was reading this morning one problem and one solution stuck out to me the most.

The problem is being able to see Jesus. 

In the passage there are two occasions where people had difficulty seeing Jesus because of a "parade," if you will. The first involved a short man named Zacchaeus, and the second was the crowd on the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem. 

They cannot see Jesus and this, for discipleship to happen, is a must. For it is in seeing Jesus that we finally see truth. Truth about life, reality, and ourselves. Again, this is vital for everyone. 

The solution comes to us in two parts. First for individuals and then for the church. 

1: Individuals who desire to see Jesus, must place themselves in a situation that will allow them to see him best. As in this passage, solitude is typically the best place - Zacchaeus climbed up the tree, away from the crowd. 

The crowd often skews our vision of Jesus, so it is best to separate from them for a spell; perhaps to read through the gospels and pray, and allow a clearer picture of Jesus to flood your mind. But this is something you or I must do. It won't be done for us. 

2: The church (those people who are disciples of Jesus) is responsible for helping those who can't see Jesus get a better view by lifting him up, but this only happens through obedience to the word of Jesus. In the second passage his disciples were asked to go and do something unusual; namely, take a colt that didn't belong to them so Jesus could ride on it. The obedience in this act caused Jesus to be able to sit at an elevated position as he rode into town. Now all the Zacchaeus' of the world could see him clearer than before. 

There are several people desirous of an encounter with Jesus, but they cannot see him because of the crowd and their lack of intent, and sometimes because the church is not lifting him up, as she should. 

My prayer this Palm Sunday is that, individually and corporately, a desire to fix ones gaze upon Jesus would become an ultimate thing. And having done so, like Zacchaeus, we might experience salvation or help others do so through our obedience. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Incoming Transition Letter to Friendship UMC

To the people of Friendship United Methodist Church,

My name is Meshach Kanyion, and it is with great joy that I am writing this letter to introduce myself as your new senior pastor beginning June 28th. On Tuesday, April 24th, I had the honor of meeting with members of your Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) and District Superintendent, Brian Brown. I was excited about joining you before this meeting, but after hearing from each person on your SPRC there was a sense of confirmation that accompanied my joy. I believe there are great things in store for FUMC.

But let me first share a little about myself. I was born in Nigeria, but spent the majority of my early years living in places from Scotland to Tulsa, OK, with my missionary parents. Eventually we settled in North College Hill where I graduated from high school in 2001.

Right after high school I joined the United States Marine Corps reserves. While serving in the Marines I also attended and graduated from THE Ohio State University in 2007. This is  where I met my beautiful wife, Ashanti. As of this letter we have been married almost 8 years, and we have 5 children: Charlee (7), Sameera (5), Elias (3), Trinity & Gabriel (2). As I type this letter we are on a family vacation in North Myrtle Beach and Gabe is trying to eat sand and sea shells… Back to the letter.

Our journey has taken us to several churches where I have served in different roles. I started off as a youth pastor, and from there I've served as an Associate, Senior, and Executive pastor. I am currently in the midst of a two-year residency (you can ask your SPRC what this means) at Epiphany UMC in Loveland, OH.

This brief bio brings me to the present. I believe there is a grand opportunity for Friendship UMC to continue the mission you began as a congregation long ago. That mission, which is well stated in your mission statement, is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. You have been faithful to this mission in different ways, and you’ve had great pastors encourage you to never become complacent, but to seek new ways to realize this vision. It is my hope that together we can discern the will of God, and follow Jesus Christ into the next season of fruitfulness at FUMC, as we bring the kingdom of heaven to bear upon Wyoming and other surrounding communities.

Until then I will be praying for you in this season of transition. I ask that you would pray for Pastor Stu and his new congregation at Miamisburg St. James, the people of Epiphany UMC, and all other churches and families experiencing the itinerant system this year. I’d also ask that you pray for my family and me whenever you can; even a short “God help them” will do. :-)

I look forward to meeting each and every one of you in person. If you happen to run into me at one of the upcoming district or conference events, please introduce yourself to me. 

Peace and Goodness,

Rev. Meshach Kanyion

Outgoing Transition Letter to Epiphany UMC

Dear Epiphany family,

In July 2013 my family and I came to Epiphany as a result of the West Ohio Conference Residency program. This program provides an opportunity for young pastors to learn how to lead a congregation by learning from an already thriving church. I had my eye on a few churches where I hoped to land and spend my time as a resident… But instead I got stuck with you, and you got stuck with me. ��

Thank God it happened that way! Just look at some of the opportunities I had during this residency:
  • Growth Is God’s Promise Capital Campaign
  • Participation on Building Committee 
  • Organizing summer worship at McCormick Elementary School 
  • Several Staff & Pastoral Transitions 
  • Temporary Opportunity to lead during the summer
  • Successful Wednesday Night Large Group Study (I’ll never forget those 10 weeks)
  • Church Leadership Team
  • Integration with different committees
  • New Executive pastor role
These and many other signatures of Epiphany will forever remain with me. Because of your hospitality, trust, and friendship (not to mention the love you've shown my family), I have received far more from this residency than I hoped. It is because of your faithfulness in ministry that Epiphany was selected to receive a resident pastor. And now, it is because of you that I am more prepared to serve God faithfully in another location.

That new location will be Friendship UMC located in Wyoming, Ohio, where I will serve as senior pastor beginning June 28, 2015. Their mission statement is: “To be disciples; to go and make disciples.” I am very excited to join them in this process, even as you continue the same process here in the Loveland/Milford area. 

My last day serving here at Epiphany will be June 14th, 2015. After that I will no longer serve you as pastor, but will continue as your brother in Christ. Until then let's continue together the mission that God has given us, so that those who we encounter, will be met with the love and spirit of Jesus Christ. 

Your grateful pastor and friend,

Rev. Meshach Kanyion

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Friday, February 27, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

Farewell: Dick Lewis

This week a gentleman who attends the church I serve died. His name is Dick Lewis. I haven't known him for very long, but I learned much from him in the short time that I did know him. See, Dick was a man who was cut from a different kind of cloth. While most people say things like, "Everything is possible," Dick had a way of breaking things down systematically in order to realize the possibility. Examples of this can be seen in his excellent career, his motor crossing endeavors after turning 45, and his bevy of golf and shooting awards. I tell you, the man wouldn't just try things, he would approach them with the intent of mastery. I enjoyed visiting with him because each time he would share a different story. It was almost like sitting at a bus stop with Forrest Gump.

Dick had pancreatic cancer. Those who are familiar with this variety of cancer understand that the chances of surviving it are very low. When I learned that this was Dick's diagnosis, and after visiting him a few times, I didn't think it would be long. Against hope I thought, "any day now we will get the sad news." But the news didn't come. In fact, rather than getting worse Dick seemed to be getting better. To be honest, at times I forgot about his cancer. It seemed to me that Dick, the man who dissected everything in order to master them, had mastered pancreatic cancer. 

As I visited with Dick I quickly learned that his favorite season in the church year was Lent. He particularly loved Ash Wednesday service. He told me that although he traveled much he made it a priority to be in church every year for Ash Wednesday and Easter. In fact, a great source of pain for him was that he missed Ash Wednesday in 2014. 

As we prepared for Ash Wednesday in 2015 it seemed only right to have Dick take part in the service. He happily agreed. On the day of the service we had bad weather. I remember calling and telling him that he need not feel any obligation to come to the service if the conditions were bad. He responded, "It is an obligation." You must understand, he didn't mean obligation the way we come to speak of it. He wasn't suggesting that it's something he didn't want to do, but he was going to because it was his duty. No, he was going to be present because it was, to him, a privileged duty. Whether he read or not he was not going to miss another Ash Wednesday service.

That night I had Dick read Psalm 23 for us. Now, I am a bit of a blockhead; I didn't realize that some people may connect Psalm 23 with death. Unfortunately that is where it is primarily heard or seen. Had I been a thinking man I probably would have been sensitive to this and given him a different passage to read. But in hindsight I think God used my ignorance marvelously. 

Now the last words several of us at church heard from Dick were:
I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.
Indeed you will, Dick. I'm grateful for your life, and the legacy you have left for us to ponder and learn from. You will be missed, my friend.

Requiescat in pace.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Bonhoeffer on Freedom and Self-Discipline

If you set out to seek freedom, you must learn before all things mastery over your sense and soul, lest your wayward desirings, lest your undisciplined members lead you now this way, now that way. Chaste be your mind and your body, and subject to you and obedient, serving solely to seek their appointed goal and objective. None learns the secret of freedom save only by way of control. 

- from Ethics