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A Beautiful Reflection on Advent

Parker Palmer provides a beautiful reflection on the season of Advent, as found on The Work of the Peopl ewebsite.



A Homily and Liturgy for World AIDS Day

In 2006, I had the great opportunity to help curate and lead one of the best worship events/days of my life: the World AIDS Day events of 2006 in San Antonio, Texas. Below you will find a brief explanation of the day, the liturgy for the service, and the homily I preached. May God continue to inspire us to eradicate this terrible disease.

As John Thornburg has so beautifuly written:

Come, Holy Spirit, come, Holy Spirit;

break the chains our fears create;

teach us love and stifle hate;

help us rest, but not escape.

Come, Holy Spirit.


World AIDS Day 2006 


I was very fortunate this past week to lead in and participate in TPUMC's first annual World AIDS Day Service. One my esteemed colleagues, Evan Jones and I put it together. It was quite a learning expereince as we attempted to gather various agencies in the community together to host this service. What we had originally planned was to host an evening service and go from there.

Once we got on board with some of the San Antonio HIV/AIDS agencies things got a lot more complicated. Long story short, we ended up hosting the majority of the World AIDS Day events in San Antonio!

The schedule looked like this:


11:30: Die-in at Traivs Park/Press Conference (we were able to get three different news stations to cover the press conference)

 12:30-6:45: Reading of the names of those who had died of AIDS in San Antonio

7:00-8:10: Service at Travis Park

8:10-9:00: Candelight vigil and procession to the Alamo.

 I could spend a lot of time writing about this event, because it took a lot of time to plan but my primary interest was the service, so I'll stick to that.

For the service we enlisted the help of Dr. C. Michael Hawn, chair of the sacred music department at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University; Dr. David Heller, the organist at Trinity University, among many other things!; the Alamo City Men's Chorale, the Travis Park UMC Sanctuary choir, the director of BeatAIDS, our senior pastors, and Evan and myself. We also used some beautiful text by the wonderful John Thornburg.

The service began with a lovely prelude on the TPUMC organ by Dr. Heller and was followed by an Invocation to the Holy Spirit, with a congregational refrain provided by John Thornburg and a tremendous set of verses written by Alison Boone and concivied by Betty Curry. Tim Watt sang the solo verses and was incredible!

After that we had a call to worship written in haste by yours truly and then a welcome and introductions by the Revs Karen Vannoy and John Flowers.

Next, Dr. Hawn taught us an opening hymn (text also by John Thornburg) that he had put music to. (We used the refrain of that hymn as a reflection piece between each of the forthcoming homilies.) After teaching us the hymn, Dr. Hawn led us in singing pieces from South Africa, which was spectacular. Then he gave what I thought was a brilliant homily, interspersing kyrie's from around the world with reflections about HIV/AIDS in a global context. You'll see the rest when I post the order tomorrow...

Brief commentary: Michelle Durham, the director of BEATAIDS gave a very nice homily that involved her story as well as the affects of HIV/AIDS on the San Antonio community.

The Alamo City Men's Chorale sang Like a Bridge Over Troubled Waters, arr. Kirby Shaw and David Heller played a really interesting piece. (I want to hear the rest of it!)

Following all of this, I preached a homily and then the choir sang a truly inspiring piece by Lana Cartlidge Potts, our awesome organist and composer-in-residence.

All in all, we had over 150 people in attendance, lots of good press covereage and so-so attendance from the church, which is to say, not bad for the first year! We'll see what happens next year!



Now What? A Homily for World AIDS Day 


Here's the homily that I prehed last Friday. I used the manuscript as a jumping off place and riffed a bit more in the actual spoken homily.

Now What?

A Homily for World AIDS Day 2006

Tonight, friends, we are here together. That is important! Tonight, even if only for an hour or two, we are in community. Tonight we have sung songs, prayed prayers, and we’ve listened to beautiful music. We have raised our voices against injustice. And all day long we’ve been exposed to horrible, mind-numbing statistics. Statistics that remind us that there are 39.5 million people living with AIDS and that 2.9 million people have died of AIDS related illnesses this year. We have heard that there have been 4.3 million new infections this year. But beyond that, we remember the faces that those statistics represent. Those numbers, and the faces we remember, can cause us to feel the heaviness that all too often engulfs the world. Tonight, we might be caught in the darkness that shrouds our planet.

But the good in this is, for tonight, at least, we are together! And our togetherness should give us hope. Because it is in our togetherness that we remember our dead, we mourn our friends, and we miss our family. But we don’t grieve alone, because tonight we are together. This is a good thing because God never wants us to be alone.

I want to get local with you for just a moment. This church has not always been a place that was about compassion, and dignity and respect for all. This church, especially in the matters of race, had a bit of a reputation for exuding judgment when it should have been exuding love, compassion, and working for justice. But now, it is doing those good things, as are many churches across the world.

In churches and in religious communities across the world where just ten to fifteen years ago HIV/AIDS was a horrible stigma for anyone to have, many of those same communities are now working to be in solidarity with those who have AIDS and to be in community with them. The church is working on treating everyone with dignity and respect.

As the sun rose in Washington D.C. this morning there was a live feed on CNN from Foundry UMC in Washington D.C. where their prayer vigil for World AIDS Day was beginning. As the sun passes from the east to the middle of our country, we have had events, prayers, and remembrance here at this church. As the sun continues its journey to the west, churches and religious communities from Texas to New Mexico, to Arizona, to Nevada, to California, and to Hawaii are having services to mark World AIDS Day and to remember those who have left us. Truly, the church and religious traditions of all kinds from all over the world are raising their voices to the heavens this day: this should give us hope as well!

But, if you are at all like me, you find yourself asking the question, now what? Some of you have been in this struggle since the beginning, over twenty-five years ago, and some of us are here for the first time.

All I can tell you is this: what we are doing tonight makes a difference and we need to continue this work. We must continue to lift our voices with our friends from around the world. Certainly we do this in remembrance of those who we have lost, but we also raise our voices to say that HIV/AIDS is the greatest pandemic humanity has ever faced. We raise our voices to remind the world that it is not o.k. to compartmentalize AIDS as just a “health” issue for “those people” because it is truly a “human” issue! We raise our voices to say that AIDS, along with global poverty, are the defining issues of our generation. We must remind the world that the global AIDS pandemic will not and cannot be solved without solving global poverty. It is a tragedy of the first order that thousands of children, women and men will die today because the world refuses to give them medicine!

Together we have to remind the world that it cannot ignore these issues!

Let us remind the world, not only with our voices, but with our hearts, with our minds, with our hands and our feet as we leave this place. Let us show the world what it means to love unconditionally and to work for justice. Let us shine light into a world that is all too often filled with darkness.


We need to continue to open people’s eyes, so that they may truly see the cost of this horrible disease. The world needs to be reminded constantly that we are about to lose a generation of people in Africa, that AIDS is a very real pandemic in the United States and around the world. Not only do we need to educate, to teach, and to prevent this terrible disease but we must also remind the world of the intrinsic goodness of God’s creation.


We must remember that, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, that God, who is good, created us, all of us, that God has formed us, and that God loves us and redeems us. When we pass through the waters, when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, God is with us. God has made you, and you are precious in God’s sight. Let us take this word into the world to love our friends and those who would oppose us. Let us shine light into the world, because God is with us!

Let all of God’s children say: Amen!


World AIDS Day Liturgy



Here's the liturgy from last week's World AIDS Day service.



December 1st, 2006

7:00 p.m.




Prelude Psalm Prelude (Psalm 40:1-3) Craig Phillips Dr. David Heller, organist

I waited patiently upon the Lord;

he stooped to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the desolate pit,

out of the mire and clay;

he set my feet upon a high cliff

and he made my footing sure.

He put a new song in my mouth,

a song of praise to our God;

many shall see, and stand in awe,

and put their trust in the Lord.

Invocation of the Spirit Come Holy Spirit Thornburg/Potts

Come, Holy Spirit,come, Holy Spirit;break the chains our fears create;teach us love and stifle hate;help us rest, but not escape.Come, Holy Spirit.

Soloist verses by Alison Boone

On a road in the wilderness Phillip saw the eunuch

who was searching for the wisdom of God,

and Phillip offered him understanding, good news and acceptance,

acceptance as a child of God.


To the house of the Roman guard

Peter went with a vision full of animals reptiles and birds,

and God said “Peter, don’t call anything unclean that I have made,

for I have made all things clean.”


To the outcast and alien seeking God’s communion,

God says, “I respect no distinctions or walls,

and I will gather up all who seek me into my holy mountain,

for all shall be welcome there.”


*Call to Worship

The One: Gracious God, tonight, we have gathered from across this city, from many

places, and for many reasons. We gather to remember:

The Many: May we never forget those who have been lost to us because of

HIV/AIDS, God, we commend our brothers and sisters to you.

The One: Loving God, we gather because of love:

The Many: Show us a glimpse of your love, O God, so that we can be empowered to

love one another.

The One: Eternal God, we are here to worship and to ask for justice!

The Many: Yahweh, you are our Creator, and we worship you! You desire your

creation to be made whole: send forth your justice to our hurting world.

The One: Source of all Light, we are here for hope!

The Many: Send us your light, Lord, for we live in an all too often dark world.

All: God, may we worship you tonight and always by being fully human, by

becoming what you would have us to be, and by loving you and our neighbors with the fullness of our being.

--Rev. Joe Stobaugh


*Hymn Be Tender with the Ones You Know Thornburg/Hawn

Solo: Be tender with the ones you knowwho hold their sadness deep inside;be reconciled for any meanness,insult, ridicule, or pride.

All: Say and do the things that strengthen;be the carriers of grace.Let us be the onesin whom our neighbors see God’s face.


Welcome & Introductions: Rev. Karen Vannoy & Rev. John Flowers




Freedom is Coming




Homily: Dr. C. Michael Hawn


Sung Refrain:

Say and do the things that strengthen;be the carriers of grace.Let us be the onesin whom our neighbors see God’s face


A Time of Meditation

“The Peace may be exchanged” from Rubrics Dan Locklair Dr. David Heller, organist


Homily: Michelle Durham, Director of BEATAIDS


Sung Refrain:

Say and do the things that strengthen;be the carriers of grace.Let us be the onesin whom our neighbors see God’s face


Musical Presentation: Bridge Over Troubled Waters arr. Kirby Shaw

The Alamo City Men’s Chorale; under the direction of Jennifer Whatley


Homily: “Now What?” Rev. Joe Stobaugh


I Have Called You, You Are Mine Sanctuary Choir

Text: Isaiah 43:1-7; Music: Lana Cartlidge Potts


Benediction Evan Jones


Lighting of the Candles



Come, Holy Spirit & Be Tender with the Ones You Know © John Thornburg, All rights reserved. #A-712713


Worship Leaders:

The Rev. Karen Vannoy, Travis Park United Methodist Church

The Rev. Dr. John Flowers, Travis Park United Methodist Church

The Rev Dr. C. Michael Hawn, Perkins School of Theology

Dr. David Heller, Trinity University

Lana Cartlidge Potts, Travis Park United Methodist Church

The Sanctuary Choir of Travis Park United Methodist Church

The Alamo City Men’s Chorale

Michelle Durham, BEATAIDS

Evan Jones, Travis Park United Methodist Church

The Rev. Joseph Stobaugh, Travis Park United Methodist Church


A Great Quote from Brother Roger of Taize


"When the Church is intent on loving and understanding the mystery of every human being, when tirelessly it listens, comforts, and heals, it becomes what it is at its most luminous: the crystal-clear reflection of a communion." --Brother Roger of Taize intent 



To wait with trust

I just returned from a glorious jog (which is something of a contradiction in my life) around my neighborhood this morning and I am pleased to report it is going to be a beautiful day in North Texas! I found myself thinking about Advent and what it means to wait. More specifically, what, if anything, am I waiting for this Advent? Do I have a sense of expectancy or will the rhythm of the holidays drown out the still, small voice of God?

As the exercise progressed I came back to one of the returning themes in my journey: trust. We wait for things unseen, or, at best, we wait for things that we have seen obscurely. The birth of a child, meeting a new friend face-to-face for the first time, waiting to receive a package in the mail, the Reign of God, to name but a few examples. The question began to morph: do I trust God enough to wait with joyful expectancy for all that is to come? Have I experienced the gift of the presence of God through the Spirit in such a way that I can trust God's goodness and God's love to be stronger than evil, stronger than hate, stronger than the toxic mixture of sentimentality and consumerism that so often marks this time of year?

At that moment in my morning exercise, just as I was pondering the depth of God's love, grace and justice, and how I had been blessed to experience it in the past, a flock of wild geese began honking in the distance. I watched them rise over the trees, turn directly overhead and then fly off in the distance and I felt a great sense of assurance that I could continue to trust God and to wait with joyful expectancy for all that is to come this season!

In Celtic spirituality, the lone wild goose is marked as a symbol for the Holy Spirit in all of it's unpredictable wildness. I'm not sure what a gander of geese represents but I am going with strength in numbers! I have no doubt that God is at work and active in this world and that God has created us to partner with God in co-creating this world. Though I am not sure what will unfold this season, I am excited to see what's next! May we all be open to receiving and then embodying the wisdom, compassion, strength, humility and justice of Jesus this season.


The Blog!

The Stobaugh family has just wrapped up a wonderful Thanksgiving. There's not much better in life than time spent with family and friends, good food and conversation and a few moments of unscheduled quiet time for reflection about how God has blessed us. I hope your Thanksgiving (for our American friends!) was filled with blessings as well!


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