Tuesday, August 09, 2016

71st Anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki

Peace Statue, Nagasaki Peace Park
71 years ago today, at 11:02 in the morning, the US detonated a nuclear bomb called the Fat Man over the Japanese city of Nagasaki.  Over 70,000 people were killed in that explosion, and another 75,000 injured.  It was the second and last time a nuclear device was used in combat. 

Nagasaki Peace Park
Today, in the rebuilt city of Nagasaki, there is a beautiful Peace Park, littered with statues and monuments from all over the world – including the United States -- that all represent the prayers of people that such an event never happens again.  A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of playing in a concert of traditional Japanese music in the Peace Park, in honor of those who have lost their lives in war.

Dr. Parker plays the Shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese Bamboo flute,in
honor of those who have lost their lives in war
It is hard to conceive of the level of devastation that this weapon caused.  The photographs of the aftermath look like something out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting.  And what is, perhaps, more troubling is that it seems to have been unnecessary.  In his memoirs, Dwight Eisenhower noted that he felt that there was no need for either atomic bombing. Japan was already defeated and “was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face  Many other military leaders at the time concurred with Eisenhower’s concern.’.”

Given that situation, it is a little unclear why we dropped the bomb. There is speculation that it was deemed necessary to justify the cost of the Manhattan Project, or to demonstrate to the Russians the power of our arsenal; in other words, political – rather than military -- considerations. What is crystal clear, however, is that such an act must never happen again.


Charlie Parker

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

August Sermon Series: "I Can't Find it" ("Not in the Bible")

August Sermon Series - “I Can’t Find It” (“Not in the Bible”)
Last August, we engaged in a sermon series that received a great deal of positive feedback called, “I do not think that means what you think it means” (you can’t go wrong with a good “Princess Bride” quote!), focusing on often misused Biblical passages. This year, we’re complementing that series with one on lines that people often quote as being from the Bible, but which really aren’t. This should
be an entertaining and enjoyable way to dig into some important Biblical and theological concepts.

 Join us for these informative sermons in August!
Sunday, August 7 - “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves”
Scriptures: Psalm 121:1-2, I John 3: 16-18

According to a recent survey, over 8 in 10 Christians believe that this is a Biblical verse; many cite it as one of the 10 commandments. Originally, it is found in Aesop’s fables, and makes its way through history (particularly in Benjamin Franklin) as an example of pithy common sense. While there is a kernel of truth in it, it is also a dangerous bit of extremely bad theology.

Sunday, August 14 - “Everything Happens for a Reason”
Scriptures: Deuteronomy 30: 15-20; Matthew 10:29-31

The implication of this truism is that God somehow pre-ordains everything; and therefore even tragic events have some greater purpose. This is not only bad theology (i.e., says something about God that is not true), but fosters a sense of apathy about the state of the world, and allows us to not take responsibility for our own destructive actions. As in other areas, good theology will foster strong discipleship.

Sunday, August 21 - “Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner”
Scriptures: Matthew 7: 1-5; James 4: 11-12

This commonly used phrase often crops up in the LGBTQ debate.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

When a straight guy got saved by a LGBTQ church


One of the realities and gifts of performing music or theatre or dance is that you may never know how you will affect someone with your performance. It will give some people something to think about for the rest of the week. For others the reaction is more immediate. Many never say anything to the performer but still are appreciative. I'm sure this is true for preachers as well. Being a Reconciling Congregation allows us to share God's love in some unexpected ways and in some ways we will never know.

In a shoe-on-the-other-foot blog the author talks about how a United Methodist Church full of LGBTQ people helped a heterosexual man steeped in evangelicalism see his own worth and save him from a spiraling path of self-destructive behavior, because they modeled for him the concept that God loves us, just as we are, right now. Click the link above to read the article. - Kerm Towler

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Our Metropolitan Church's Response to Flooding in West Virginia

Dear Friends:

The recent flooding in West Virginia has been devastating; and, as we have done so many times over many decades, our United Methodist connectional system is responding.  In addition to offering your prayers, here is how you can help in being part of the response:

There will be collections at Wesley United Methodist Church (5312 Connecticut Avenue, NW) in the back of the Sanctuary and Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church (3401 Nebraska Avenue, NW) in the church office between now and Tuesday, July 6, at noon.  Wonderful Metropolitan members have volunteered to transport all of the donations to our Baltimore Washington Conference Center from which they will be delivered to a newly opened warehouse in Beaver, West Virginia.

The specific items that have been requested by the folks in West Virginia are:
  • Bottled water
  • Shovels
  • Mops
  • Brooms
  • Baby diapers
  • Baby formula
  • Baby wipes
If you prefer to make a monetary donation to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR),  please make your check out to Metropolitan Memorial, and in the memo line, write “UMCOR Advance #901670”.  You can either place it in the collection plates on Sunday or mail to the church office at 3401 Nebraska Avenue, NW, Washington, DC  20016. UMCOR has been responding to areas of need since 1940, and 100% of your donations go to the project you specify.

Charlie Parker

Monday, June 27, 2016

July Sermon Series - Mental Health in the Movies

July Sermon Series
Metropolitan Memorial - One Service at 10am in July and August
Wesley - 11am
For the last several summers, our sermon series have focused on Gospel messages running through movies. This July, we will explore films with themes around mental and emotional health. There are several reasons to spend some time with this issue, one of which is the way in which we continue to stigmatize those who wrestle with mental health issues. Depression, substance abuse, and any number of illnesses plague many members of our church community and our family, friends, and neighbors; and by stigmatizing these conditions, we often make it harder for people to get the help that they need. Additionally, mental and emotional health happens primarily through life in the community: when we build life-giving relationships and engage in transformative work. Come join us for “Peace of Mind: Mental Health in the Movies” during the Sundays in July!

On the Friday evening before each of these sermons, come watch the movie in the Youth Room (Room 206) at Metropolitan Memorial – with popcorn, of course!

  • July 1 at 7pm: the film Inside Out will be shown
  • July 8 at 7pm: the film The Soloist will be shown
  • July 15 at 7pm: the film A Beautiful Mind will be shown
  • July 22 at 7pm: the film Dead Poets Society will be shown
  • July 29 at 7pm: the film Birdman will be shown

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Litany for Orlando

On Sunday, June 19 our congregations planted rainbow flags
in honor of the 49 who were slain in Orlando.

Litany for Orlando

adapted from the UCC, Florida
Today we stand with the LGBTQ community in Orlando, Florida, and with all who are grieving for the victims of the massacre at a gay nightclub in the early hours of last Sunday morning.

Their grief is our grief.

We pray for the families and friends of the 50 who were killed.
We pray for the many injured and for their doctors and care-givers.

We renew our resolve as a church to work in Florida and in communities across America for the safety, dignity and freedom of our LGBTQ members and neighbors.

We renew our resolve as a church to work for sane laws that will curb the epidemic of gun violence in this country.

We now know the assailant was a U.S. citizen and a Muslim. We join with the leaders of Muslim communities in the United States who have denounced the attack in Orlando and the unreasoning hatred that motivated it.

The time has come for churches to end the spiritual violence they perpetrate against their LGBTQ members and neighbors. Preaching hate against others because of their sexual orientation or gender identity has taken a terrible toll of lives lost to suicide, and is incompatible with the teachings of Jesus Christ. We call on every church to stand with, and not against, the LGBTQ community.

We are angry, but we will not return hate for hate. Hate will not stop the cycle of violence--not in this country, or anywhere in the world. And so we remember at this time the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

- Patrisha House

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Bishop Matthews responds to Orlando tragedy


While in Zimbabwe, the news of the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., reached us. Like you, I am devastated by this act of hatred and struggling to make sense of the horrific tragedy. In times like this, we, as the body of Christ, must lift our voices in prayer for the friends and families of the 50 people killed and the 53 wounded. We must also expand our efforts to combat future such incidents of soul-shattering violence.

During our Annual Conference Session earlier this month, many members wore orange one day as a symbol of our support to end gun violence. It was a strong witness, but in the wake of the shooting, I can’t help but think that our church can do more. I invite you and your congregation to pray for discernment about how you might become advocates for this struggle.

I also believe we all must repent for any harm that our collective actions or words might have on the LGBTQ community, in this tragedy, and beyond. That is why all God-loving people must condemn this tragedy for what it was: a hate crime against the LGBTQ community. As people of faith, we are called not to judge people, but to love them. I pray this love will begin to offer healing in all the forms it is needed.

And for this moment, let us also just lift our broken hearts to God. Let us, together, seek the peace that passes all understanding, healing for our nation that seems too often divided, and acceptance for all of God’s children. We cry out in pain and disbelief. We mourn. We lift our hearts unto the Lord, and pray, confident that God hears each of our prayers, certain that God can overcome the hatred and the darkness that threatens. Let us be God’s light to the world as we find our hope in Christ, our Lord and our Redeemer.

Grace and peace,
Bishop Marcus Matthews
Baltimore-Washington Conference
United Methodist Church