May 11, 2022
Second Chances,
& What You Can
and Cannot Replace...

During this pandemic so many people have lost so much. Lives, friendships, relationships, employment, a sense of public safety, trust in medical and political leadership, normalcy of routine, and once-in-a-lifetime events - like proms, senior sports seasons, and graduations.

Lives lost can't be replaced. That is the saddest and most tragic part of this ongoing sickness.

Even though people are still testing positive, the numbers are less dangerous.
We are seeing our society return to some degree of normalcy...whatever normal has been or will be. While there are some things that cannot be replaced, maybe you can get a second chance to experience something special that seemed like it was gone for good.

I did.

Did I mention graduations? I actually graduated with my Doctor of Ministry degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in 2020. The piece of paper hangs in my office. But it wasn't handed to me by the Dean or President of the seminary during commencement exercises. I got it in the mail.

Wesley did not have in-person graduation exercises in 2020. Rather, names were read during a virtual graduation. Very understandable at the time. In 2021, in-person commencement was held for the combined 2020 and 2021 classes, but no family members were allowed to attend. I opted not to go because my wife and sons would not be there. I just accepted that what I learned while earning the piece of paper was the true priority, not the stroking of my ego from hearing my name echoing through our national sanctuary.
But then everything fell perfectly into place...and I mean EVERYTHING, for me to go and have an enjoyable, stress-free experience after six years of classroom work and writing, and two years of waiting to see if the pandemic would subside enough for the event to take place. The seminary gave me the green light to walk, April got time off from work, Luke had finished his first year of college classes, and we flew Eli up from Florida to D.C., AND Jeff Roberts graciously made himself available to preach on Mother's Day (even though the next week would be Youth Sunday and he's also preaching on May 29).

So off to D.C. we went...
I had been to our Nation's Capital for the two weeks of required classes on campus at Wesley Theological Seminary. During that time I was able to sight-see and walk the National Mall. But April and our boys had never been.

So it was great to take them and see these amazing, historic sites. We walked, and walked, and walked, A LOT. The mall is bigger than it looks on television. We took in the monuments, saw the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. We stood outside the White House, the United States Capital, and the Supreme Court.

As an American, you can imagine the feelings that come when you see these historic places. We even saw the Freedom of Speech in action as there was a peaceful protest going on outside the Supreme Court building. Regardless of how I felt about what they were saying, it was interesting to listen to people freely express their thoughts and emotions with such passion...a truly American moment.
When Monday came we boarded the bus to the seminary, and eventually the Cathedral, for the commencement. It was a beautiful day, and the grandeur of this majestic, historic, house of worship was on full display.

Wesley Theological Seminary was founded in 1882 and was originally located in Maryland. In 1958 it moved to its present location in Washington D.C. on a corner of the campus of American University, a research university affiliated with the United Methodist Church. A statue of John Wesley on horseback sits at this corner and we posed for a picture beside it.

The seminary has traditionally held its graduation exercises at the National Cathedral, which is not far from the campus. It is a moving experience to process down that looooong center aisle and finally walk across a stage where so many simple and glorious worship services have been held. Where funerals of Presidents have taken place. In a place where the remains of amazing Americans are interred and entombed, including the 28th President, Woodrow Wilson, Hellen Keller, and her teacher Annie Sullivan.

The Doctor of Ministry graduates were the last group to walk...and it's alphabetical by last name, so there were only about 3 people behind me.
As I stood by the steps of the platform waiting for my name to finally be called, I took one look around this amazing place and thought how lucky and blessed I was to be given a second chance to have this experience. I have a wonderfully supportive family, congregation, church staff, Superintendent, and Bishop. So many people who suffered major disruptions from Covid will never get a second chance like I did. When my full name was called, David Overall Weatherly, I thought how glad I was that my grandfather's name also echoed through this glorious space. He, my grandmother, and my parents would be pleased. I want to believe they too are living the greatest second chance any of us can hope for...eternity with Jesus.

For that, let us all give thanks and praise.
Remember...this Sunday is YOUTH
and GRADUATE Recognition Sunday!

***Sunday School at 9:00***
***ONE worship service at 10:00***

Come and worship the Lord
´╗┐as our young people lead us!
What if leaders wanted to LEAD more than FIGHT?
As I walked the National Mall and saw the seats of the three branches of our democracy...the White House, the Capital, and the Supreme Court, I said a little prayer hoping for some semblance of unity to occur within each and between each.

Politics today are so toxic, so divided, so partisan, and so shallow in thought that our country is often in gridlock because of our unwillingness to work together. Leaders don't lead anymore...they posture. They work to push a party agenda rather than a people's agenda. Both are equally guilty, equally inept, and equally devoted to maintaining their majority whenever and however they can obtain it.

A few weeks ago, our Bishop, William McAlilly sent a video link to the Cabinet of the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference. This is from March of this year. Rev. Andy Stanley is given the opportunity to be the Chaplain of the Day in the Georgia State Legislature.

His remarks are some of the best I've heard envisioning what REAL leadership could look like...in our government, in our churches, in our public school boards, in our communities.

Instead of a song, I sincerely ask you to listen to Rev. Stanley's message. Yes, it is almost 15 minutes long, but I believe it is worth our time and consideration.

...and please, hold your applause!
May our leaders be more
than mere politicians,
and our faith more
than mere religion...

Your pastor,
Rev. Dr. David O. Weatherly