Monday, December 28, 2009


Recently we have seen a couple of trillion snowflakes in the Philadelphia Area. For some snow is a welcome event, for others a hardship but whatever you think about snow there is not much one can do about it. One might wonder about God sending snow on a Sunday closest to Christmas when those critical offerings will make or break a church budget. We know that in all things God works for good those who love God and are called according to God’s purpose (Romans 8: 28). So we need not fear the future or the bills or the budget as ultimately God is in control, making a way out of no way.

I would want to take note about snowflakes as they teach us profound truths about God. A snowflake is a tiny molecule of frozen water vapor. Every snowflake has 6 sides as that is the shape of the molecule but although they are all 6 sided, that is where the similarity ends. There has never been, nor will there be, two snowflakes that are totally identical in pattern. That gives us a tiny glimpse at the awesome creativity of God, who does not settle for sameness but is constantly creating and recreating. As we serve this God, that creative Spirit can work through us to create new things and new plans for service and ministry. When it is the “same-old-thing” the Spirit of God has not been called in to help. Seek God’s creativity to pattern your life in this New Year.

Another lesson of the snowflake that we never seem to learn is the power of community. One snowflake is about as fragile and insignificant as can be. I remember as a student in school looking at real snowflakes under a microscope but struggling to keep the glass slide at ice-cold temperatures because the slightest warmth would melt them in an instant. Yet if a couple trillion snowflakes come together they have tremendous power. They close schools, block traffic, and stop every manner of business that you may have planned.

Thus it is true the likes of you and me. Individually we are weak but when we work together with others we can do great things. Getting people to cooperate is sometimes not easy but the results can change the world when we do. All the great movements of social justice that ever happened on this planet came about because a group of people got behind it and worked together. There is no good on this earth that cannot be accomplished if the humans would work together and make a snowstorm happen…a snowstorm of goodness, justice, kindness, peace, and love.

Whatever you have planned in this New Year, partner with others and stand back and be amazed at what God can do. All the tools we need in life we already have in the Body of Christ. Let’s use them and find ways to put aside our differences and wage some peace in this world.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Monday, December 21, 2009

What to Do When Church Gets Cancelled

It does appear that we will be having a “white” Christmas this year. It would be hard to imagine all of this snow melting before Christmas and there is always a possibility that more might be falling next week. It appears that just about every church had to cancel its services on December 20th and some had low attendance on Dec. 6th and Dec. 13thdue to less-than-perfect weather. One might wonder why the Lord sends snow on Sunday in the first place. Doesn’t the Lord know we need the offerings to make the end-of-the-year budget? Doesn’t the Lord care that people tend NOT to make up their offerings as much the following week when weather is more favorable? Didn’t the Lord see all of these cantatas and pageants we had been practicing? What do we do when church gets cancelled?

We thank God! Ephesians 5:20 says to “Give thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Thanking God in all things is a prayer of faith, faith that trusts where you cannot see, for the provisions that will come from a faithful God.

We still have worship! You don’t have to physically go to church for worship. Worship can happen in your homes. One family is gathering their neighbors into their homes this morning for worship because their church is closed. Another church is holding services at 4 pm because it is likely that the snow will be cleared by then. Some churches offer internet worship where the pastor’s sermon can be viewed live using Skype technology. If you can’t do any of that then you can hold worship by yourself or with whoever is in your house. Sing familiar hymns, pray, read the scripture and give testimony of what God has done for you! Christians are not the same as children who get out of school work when snow cancels school. Worship is a relationship with a living God, a joyful, important, life-giving, soul-feeding experience. We don’t skip it because the doors of the church are closed. We continue the worship where we are. The Spirit of the Lord is not only present in our stone structures. God lives in your heart.

Give your tithes and offerings! Giving offering is not dependent on being in a pew when an offering plate is passed. Giving money is the barometer of your heart! It is a gift of devotion that we give out of love for Christ. If we only give when we are in the pew, then that makes worship comparable to a spectator sport or going to the movies. A relationship with a living God requires a response and giving of our wealth is a vital part of that response. Holding back our money is a sign of spiritual immaturity and it means that you are in the driver’s seat of your life and not God.

Enjoy the snow! Thank God for next year’s harvest that snow is preparing us for! Worship God! Give from your heart! Be blessed!

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Monday, December 14, 2009

Baby Names

When a family is expecting a new baby they often spend much time and even money buying books to find out the meaning of names. They select the new child’s name with great care because names denote character and even a sense of prophecy about the person’s life and destiny. Such was the case with the Bethlehem baby, whose birth we celebrate on December 25th. The Christ Child, according to the Angel Gabriel, was to be named “Jesus” because he will “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus was indeed sent to be our Savior and that is the tidings of great joy that the angels sang about on Christmas night. Jesus also was called “Wonderful Counselor,” “Ever-lasting Father,” “Prince of Peace,” “Emmanuel” and many other insightful names. Indeed Jesus is all of this and more. His name is above all names. He desires his name and his character to live and reign in your heart and life….at Christmas and always. Tell people about the name of Jesus and live the name as his agents here on earth today.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Monday, December 7, 2009

Molasses, Garlic Salt and Rum

During the snow last weekend I heard a newscast on TV that explained that some states are using new compounds on the icy roads instead of salt. They are experimenting with molasses, garlic salt and rum with great success. They are more bio-degradable, less expensive and doing a better job. The financial crisis has encouraged these experimentations and the new compounds are helping states to stay within their smaller budgets.

In our churches and ministries we have been experiencing a financial crunch in recent years and it is an opportunity as well as a crisis. Sometimes indeed “less is more.” A better way can sometimes be the more affordable option. The gift of having less is the creativity it produces and in that creativity can come a surprising blessing. In Romans 8:28 reminds us “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose.” The “all things” here can include having less funds to work with or less people to do the work.

Molasses instead of salt is a sweeter deal. What lack has God placed in your life that is really a blessing in disguise?

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

Thursday, December 3, 2009

“We Gather Together to Ask the Lord’s Blessing”

This beloved hymn is sung throughout the church year but especially during Thanksgiving. The original text was written in 1626 after the Dutch people became free from Spanish domination. It was later translated into English by Theodore Baker (1894). The translation is clever in that the rhymes come in word pairs. Each describes the salvation of God.

Chastens and hastens (his will to make known)

Wicked oppressing cease from distressing

Beside us to guide us

Ordaining, maintaining (his kingdom divine)

From the beginning the fight we were winning

Let thy congregation escape tribulation

May you celebrate the hastening, guiding, and triumphant God described so well in this hymn as you celebrate Thanksgiving this year.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson

High Hopes

If you know anything about the Phillies, (which I didn’t but I am learning), there was a broadcaster by the name of Harry Kalas who used to sing about “High Hopes.” It is a song about an ant that was able to knock down a rubber tree because of his “high hopes.” Indeed many a baseball game has been won because of “high hopes.” But here we are in football season but more importantly we have just begun Advent Season. It is the ultimate time of “high hopes” because we are hoping for the coming of Christ. With Christ all things are possible. As Paul says: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Where are you having doubts and fears? What are you hoping for? Put your trust in God in all things. Expect the impossible! Even at Christmas time we are Easter people, finding life in the midst of death and hope where there is no hope. Bring some hope to a hopeless situation this week. Even the smallest ant with hope can knock over life’s rubber tree obstacles.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson