The Importance of Christmas

Bishop Scott Jones


A few years ago I attended a Christmas Eve worship service in contemporary style. That year the theme of the service was the purpose of Christmas and one of the songs was “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” It is #626 in our hymnal and the first stanza has these words:   Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand; ponder nothing earthly minded, for with blessing in His hand Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand.   It was not your normal ...

Calm in the Midst of the Storm

Bishop Scott Jones


We have experienced significant storms in recent weeks. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria caused great devastation in many places. Our recovery both in reconstruction of buildings and healing of emotions will be a long-term process. The metaphor of storms also fits our response to mass killings in Las Vegas, New York and Sutherland Springs, Texas. In each of these cases, an individual was able to kill large numbers of persons. How do Christians weather the storms of life? I am drawn to two ...

Opportunities to Be the Church

Bishop Scott Jones


There are always opportunities to be the church. The last few weeks in the southeast corner of Texas, the opportunities have been plentiful and major. I am grateful for so many who have shared the love of Christ in response to human need. When there is a disaster, Christians respond by serving those in need. We all have questions about why bad things happen, but Christ teaches us that such questions will not be answered. In John 9:1-5 he says, As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. ...

Following Jesus by Spiritual Practices

Bishop Scott Jones


We have dumbed down discipleship and made it too easy. God, please forgive us. Following Jesus is making a journey toward holiness. It is a way of life shaped by its goal: to love God with all of one’s heart, soul and mind and to love one’s neighbor as oneself. God has called us to a life of holiness where everything we think and say and do is motivated by these two great commandments given by Jesus in Matthew 22:36-40. The New Testament gives us many specific ways of living these out. One of ...

United Methodists Love All the Children

Bishop Scott Jones


We love all the children. Let’s take it word by word.   WE Deep in the heart of United Methodist people is a commitment to care for children. We baptize infants, helping them experience the saving grace of God from the beginning of life. We hold Sunday Schools, Vacation Bible Schools and special children’s celebrations. We have children’s sermons in worship and make a major focus on confirmation classes. In short, we have poured a lot of effort into discipling young people. It is who we are.   ...

Cultivate New Growing, Vibrant, Missional Congregations

Bishop Scott Jones


Why are there so many United Methodist congregations between the Allegheny Mountains and the Rocky Mountains? The Methodist movement was extraordinarily successful between 1790 and 1890 for three reasons. First, European immigration was changing the demographic make-up of the middle states. As settlers came to these areas, they wanted to create a civilization that would improve their quality of life. They not only built farms, ranches and businesses, but they created schools, colleges and ...

Investing in the Young

Bishop Scott Jones


How did I get to be 62 years old? When did that happen? Mary Lou and I discuss that often, because we still feel young. There are days I believe that I am still 27 years old. But then my attempts to handle athletic challenges like I did 35 years ago usually do not go well, and I realize I am no longer a young man. After all, I am now a grandfather of three girls. That changes my perspective So I am embracing our Conference’s focus on “Investing in the Young”. Our website says “’Young’ includes ...

Giving Your Life Away

Bishop Scott Jones


Lent is the season of sacrifice. People give up things for Lent and pastors often invite their church members to a higher level of spiritual discipline. This is all right and good, because it is a season that brings us back to some of the most important themes of the Christian life. Let me summarize it as three clear propositions: 1. We serve a Lord who modeled sacrifice. He left heaven to be born as a baby in Bethlehem, emptying himself for us and for our salvation (Philippians 2:1-12). 2. We ...

Every United Methodist Should be an Evangelist

Bishop Scott Jones


On several occasions I have preached a sermon on the Great Commission during which I look at the congregation, making as much eye contact as possible, and said “God has called you to be an evangelist.” I then pause waiting for that to sink in. Inevitably signs of discomfort become evident. People are thinking “That’s crazy” and “Who is this visiting preacher, anyway?” I know that such a claim pushes people outside their normal self-understanding. Some are thinking of Billy Graham filling ...

We are the Church

Bishop Scott Jones


“I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together! All who follow Jesus, all around the world, yes we’re the church together.” (United Methodist Hymnal, #558) The words of Richard Avery and Donald Marsh indicate that all who follow Jesus are, in some sense, the church of Jesus Christ. But what do we as United Methodists mean by that?   We need greater clarity about our understanding of church.   The first point to be made is that following Jesus as a disciple means belonging to a ...

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