The heart of the matter

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” 

Ezekiel 36:26

Justice is never achieved in a single verdict or judgment. Biblical justice – such as the prophet’s proclaimed – is an ongoing matter of difficult inner work and the searching of our souls and hearts.

Ezekial, speaking on behalf of God, offers us words of hope that we can be changed and our inward being can be transformed. God knows we can become callous and indifferent, fearful and withdrawn. In the words of the Hebrew Bible, we become “hard hearted.” God says indeed He will remove from us our callous indifference and our heart of stone – and transplant a tender heart within us.

While the verdicts for George Floyd’s life were rendered yesterday, the work of achieving true community continues. Methodist Home for Children is committed to doing the difficult inner work – questioning assumptions and prejudices, facile judgments and quick condemnations. We continue to pray that God will guide us until all of God’s children are living and thriving equally under God’s love and grace.

Please God, move within us, transform us, cure all of us of our heart problem. Amen.

– Rev. Bruce Stanley, President / CEO


The darkest of days

Pilate entered the Praetorium again and called Jesus and said to him, ‘Are you King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Do you say this of your own accord or did others say it to you about me?’

John 18:33-34

The mob howls outside, but here in the palace, all is calm. Pilate speaks quietly and thoughtfully with Jesus. He then steps through the curtain onto the balcony and addresses the noisy, angry crowd. Pilate returns to Jesus inside the cool stone room and then goes again out onto the balcony. Back and forth. Chaos and calm.

As he moves between planes, Pilate tries to discern who is this man that has been called ‘King of the Jews.’ Tension mounts.

There is tension between Jesus and Pilate, Pilate and the crowd, and tension within Pilate himself. As the story is told through action and dialogue, the violence escalates and, in the final twist, Pilate orders Jesus to be turned over to the troops and be crucified.

In this story, the true nature of God is revealed.

While the crowd’s mood changes from Palm Sunday (‘Hosanna!’) to Maundy Thursday (‘Crucify him!’), Jesus does not change. Whether Jesus is in quiet conversation or confronted by a screaming throng, he remains yet God. The crowd in Jerusalem for the Passover are like all crowds, fickle. Jesus is constant.

While Pilate prevaricates and shades the truth, Jesus proclaims. Even as Jesus is being handed over he remains resolute. No amount of torture or threat can prevent his will being done. The sacrifice upon the cross for us all reveals the great truth of God.

For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son, and whoever lives and believes in him will not die.

John 3:16

It is hard for non-Christians to grasp, but on this the darkest of days we hear the Good News of the Gospel. His sacrifice and our salvation are joined together. The nature of God is revealed. God’s heart is full of love, joy, grace, patience, and sacrificial giving. Jesus is revealed as being unchanging, unfailing, and full of grace overflowing.

As we worship this night, let us give thanks for his great gift of salvation and eternal life.

Rev. Bruce Stanley, President / CEO


6 year olds don’t belong in court

It happened in North Carolina recently – a 6-year-old boy appeared in front of a juvenile court judge on a complaint that he picked a flower near his bus stop. He was too young to understand where he was or what he was doing in court, so he colored with crayons at the defense table while a lawyer handled his case.

News of the case stirred outcry – Should we try a child who is young enough to believe in Santa Claus?

In this instance, the judge said no and the case was dismissed. But it’s not at all unprecedented in North Carolina. Our state has the lowest stated age of juvenile jurisdiction in the country – and the world.

It’s 6 years old. We want to see that change.

Two bills with bipartisan sponsorship – Senate Bill 207 and House Bill 261 – were filed this month to keep children younger than 10 out of the juvenile justice system; the House bill also requires evaluation for children ages 10 and 11 before a juvenile case is opened for them.

In supporting this legislation we stand with the Juvenile Justice section of North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety. We agree there are far better ways of intervening in a problem than exposing a young child to juvenile courts. Education, mental health, or human services are more likely to work – and to spare a child the lifelong social and health effects of a juvenile delinquency label.

Please contact your state lawmakers in support of legislation to keep children under 10 out of juvenile courts.






Foster & Adopt

Triangle and Pitt County Areas | Are you interested in fostering or adopting?

We have information sessions to answer your questions about fostering and adopting through Methodist Home for Children.

RSVP is required: Call 888.305.4321, ext.6, or email FosterandAdopt@mhfc.org.

On the agenda:
•  What it means to be a foster parent.
•  What the training & licensing process is all about.
•  What types of children are referred to our foster care / adoption program.
•  Dates for our next MAPP training class.

January
•  Jan. 14, online; 6:30 to 8 p.m.

March
•  March 16, online; 6:30 to 8 p.m.

May
•  May 20, online; 6:30 to 8 p.m.

July
•  July 13, Greenville; 6:30 to 8 p.m.
•  July 15, Raleigh; 6:30 to 8 p.m.

September
•  Sept. 2, Greenville; 6:30 to 8 p.m.
•  Sept. 9, Raleigh; 6:30 to 8 p.m.

November
•  Nov. 9, Greenville; 6:30 to 8 p.m.
•  Nov. 16, Raleigh; 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Remember to RSVP at FosterandAdopt.mhfc.org!



Kamryn

The place won’t open for 30 minutes but cars are already lining up. Inside, Kamryn stacks empty buckets, getting the ice cream shop ready. This is his first real job and it’s important to him. “I’m saving for a car,” he says. “Right now I’m looking at a Toyota 4Runner, but that could change.”

“His first car will probably be our old Pontiac out there.”

That dad comment comes from Jeff. And even though he and Marie have been Kamryn’s parents for only a few months, all three are comfortable in their roles – and they’re happy.

Like so many others, Marie and Jeff came to us in hopes of fostering or adopting children. Young children. Toddlers. “From the beginning we said ‘no teenagers,’ ” Jeff says. “But the first weekend Kamryn came for a respite visit – and the rest, as they say, is history.”

History. Kamryn’s now includes Marie, Jeff, six cats, and Grace, the dog. Their story together will stretch far beyond Kamryn’s last two years of high school and well into the future. It will include the college years, career choices, marriage advice, and – someday – maybe even grandchildren.

As they talk about what it means to become a family at this stage, Jeff says, “Kamryn has a good head on his shoulders. We are here to help provide boundaries, keep him on track.”

Marie adds, “I think he’s further along than a lot of people his age. He knows what he wants to accomplish in the next few years and he has a big-picture mentality of his future.”