Showing You His Badge!

Exodus 17:1-7, Philippians 2:1-13 and Matthew 21:23-32

The scriptures this Sunday are about who has the authority and how people listen to authority. If you watch many detective or cop stories on TV, there are the innumerable scenes where the officer shows his badge to assert the authority to ask questions and to act if necessary. Authority is bestowed by state AND divine authorities which have either earned that right by vote or by virtue of truthful persuasion!

In this Matthew passage Jesus cites the authority of an executed prophet John and then tells a story of those who do what they are asked to do…..or don’t do!

What we will hear on Sunday is that God has authority but uses persuasion, example, and specific people’s lives rather than force to “get the divine will accomplished.” We will hear of those who listen and respond…..and those who don’t. It’s as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago!

Listen up all who will listen!

Prayerfully~~~†

Pastor Barry

The Things That Happen in Church

This Sunday September 20th is Homecoming at Kedron. Unlike high school homecomings everyone who shows up is a king and queen! To be more correct we are of a “royal family,” heirs apparent, but only one Lord who is Supreme. No other gods before us and we are not God. But we are again in that “Royal” family of the one God. We are one united group of brothers and sisters in all our diversity….even at Kedron UMC!

Our scriptures reflect both the wide range of life experiences in church and in society as well as the very personable, warm greetings by name of people that Paul had ministered with over the years.

So, at Homecoming we will have a wealth of memories of people, places and things connected with Kedron (and other churches) alongside our “living in the now,” with hopes for the future. Favorite hymns and testimonies and mutual histories will have us immersed in life together. This will be good and worthy of living forward into another year with each other as God gives us time and opportunity.

As you read this, think of someone to pass the word along to about Homecoming and check on them as you can. This pandemic year 2020 has taken its toll on our being together in community and in fellowship, so the aspiration is to recommit to staying in contact and “building up the body of Christ“ which is the Church.

See you Sunday in person, on line, and in our hearts!

Pastor Barry

Strange! But Salvation Arrives!

Numbers 21:4b-9, I Corinthians 1:18-24 and John 3:13-17

This Sunday we will emphasize Holy Cross Day which actually falls on Monday the 14th. The scriptures that highlight the Cross of Christ for this day involve the imagery of snakes! Most people quickly react negatively and, if they don’t just run, they are ready to change the subject! I don’t blame them! A good rule of thumb for snake seeing is “don’t touch but run!”

But throughout the Bible there are strange stories that require some effort to grasp in our 21st century experience. And even Paul knew that speaking of a crucified Messiah was “a stumbling block” to many (e.g. the Jews) and “foolishness to the Greeks (Gentiles).” And bringing images of serpents lifted up on poles is not helpful either!

But there they are. And somehow, finally makes for salvation for many. Wholeness and completion and security. In a time of international insecurity over a virus with accompanying unrest politically and socially, we need to hear of salvation, that which saves us wholly and “holy.”

So, we will hear of strange images and once very unexpected means of relief and rescue for Gods people. The end result is, as always for church and world, Good News!

Join with us in person and/or on-line this Sunday! Blessings!

Pastor Barry

Preparing For That Wedding and Other Last Days

Amos 5:18-24, I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and Matthew 25:1-13

The main text for this Sunday will be The Parable of the Five Wise and the Five Foolish Bridesmaids. Amos and I Thessalonians will support Matthew’s focus on being ready for God’s finale. This is the first of a series of sermons our congregants have requested to specifically address certain topics.

The Bible says there will be a conclusion to all creation as we know it. God does not plan for “all that is and ever has been” to just continue indefinitely with a never ending mix of good and bad.

And it goes without saying (much!) that we each will have our own ending. Be prepared says Jesus, Amos, and Paul. And be glad in spite of the dark drama that surrounds most endings.

The parable tells us there are some who may well be foolish in their preparation for either a personal ending or the eventual apocalyptic ending of the world.

All “bad and rough” years e.g. 1914, 1929, 1939, 2020 are rehearsals for both endings and new beginnings. As a Scout knows, as an EMT knows, as families know, as a chef knows, preparation is essential.

We will “practice” preparing hearts and minds this Sunday. Let us “keep our lamps trimmed and burning!”

Pastor Barry

You Talking To Me?

Exodus 3:1-15, Romans 12:9-21 and Matthew 16:21-28

Robert Deniro, famous American actor, made the remark an international expression after his performance in the movie Taxi Driver In 1976. It can be said in various ways to indicate both sarcasm or seriousness.

As we read and hear the three scriptures for this Sunday’s worship we might ask ourselves if each passage is asking us to respond “You talking to me?!”

Moses is suddenly challenged in front of an unnatural burning bush to go and lead a captive people out of oppression. Jesus bluntly addresses the attitude of his disciple Peter as that of Satan: “Get behind me Satan!” And Paul preaches to congregants how to respond to the Good News of God’s unmerited favor upon them. Go and do likewise to your neighbor and even unto your enemies.

We should be listening closely this Sunday to whom are the words addressed: Me? Us? And to what end: daily discipleship and/or a wakeup call for a particular vocational or missional path?! Moses, I want you to do this! Peter, I want you to think about what you just said! Disciples in every congregation, here are concrete ways you live out your discipleship!

I’m going to believe someone will hear this Sunday and take it to heart: “You talking to me?!”

Blessings as you live as a disciple of Jesus Christ!

Pastor Barry

Nehemiah

So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. – Romans 14:12

Nehemiah, the great rebuilder of Jerusalem, is a great example in the Bible of leadership, faith, and unshakable commitment. He didn’t let the huge task of the long-delayed restoration of Jerusalem discourage him. He realized that it was never too late for God’s people to begin the process. He took direct and forceful action. His faith, wisdom, and courage kept him focused on his goal. He was determined to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. He faced foreign opposition and discord amongst his own people, but the wall was completed in just fifty-two days. An incredible feat!

Soon after this victory, Nehemiah directed the people toward a second phase of restoration. He called upon the great teacher Ezra to lead the people in a study of the Scriptures. Confronted by God’s word, they were soon in tears because they could see the truth of how far they’d strayed from God’s law. They confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors. They accepted responsibility for generations of unfaithfulness on the part of their people and grieved openly before God.

When Nehemiah returned to Babylon, however, the people returned to their sinful ways. Nehemiah found himself once again putting the Jews back on a right path. This example of short-term restoration shows how prone we are to drifting away from what’s right if we’re not held accountable. The encouragement: it wasn’t too late to rebuild the wall, and it’s not too late to rebuild your life. Begin by doing the next right thing!

Heroes may not be braver than anyone else. They’re just braver five minutes longer. – Ronald Reagan

May God Bless each of you this week,

Chaplain Rob

Elvis and Other Gifts

Exodus 1:8-2:10, Romans 12:1-8 and Matthew 16: 13-20

Once a week, we gather in-person or on-line to worship. Before the health safety concerns of COVID19 we also could meet for Sunday School, weekly Bible study, other studies, hands on mission, multi church fellowship and meals together. It’s harder now to have these activities and will be for a while.

And on both sides of a Sunday worship, we have a total of 12 days which have a huge influence on what we see, do, believe, and act upon. In this unchosen season of limited congregational gathering, we need to step up our “spiritual reading” of those 12 other week days! By that I mean step up our paying attention to God’s daily gifts that come from our culture and society. For instance, how do we read the gift of Elvis? This past week was the anniversary of his death. How do we remember him and his gifts of music and entertainment? And other entertainers and public figures? And this past week we remember the anniversary of the Constitutional Amendment giving women the right to vote. Society and community give us numerous situations to maintain as well as change.

Add to these another hundred events that have somewhere within them a gift from God.

Our three scriptures emphasize the gifts of people in our lives especially in scripture but also in the here and now of our lives today. Exodus speaks of the midwives who obeyed God and saved Moses the infant. Paul reminds of the gifts each believer has to offer to others. And Jesus goes so far as to tell one of disciples that he (Peter and his confession) will be the initial gift that the church will be built on!

So, what can we hear and see during the week, outside our hour of group worship, that reminds us (and those we come into contact with) that God brings the gifts of others to us for blessings and for service!?

How does Elvis still bless us? And the work of another generation of women (and men) to bring forth full participation in our democracy? The gifts of God bestowed upon us are present throughout the week outside the walls of the church. Let us recognize and give thanks on all the days on each side of Sunday’s worship. We see and hear and receive so much from that which is all around us. Let us see God at work blessing us in so many ways day in and day out in the lives and gifts of others.

Sunday we will hear of ancient midwives, disciples, entertainers, church, activists, and even Elvis!

Blessings!

Pastor Barry

Working Things Out

Genesis 45:1-15, Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 and Matthew 15:21-28

Fifty-five years ago The Beatles released their hit song “We Can Work It Out.” A song about keeping a romantic relationship going. The list of “working it out” songs seems endless. Another song by the band Canned Heat says, “Let’s Work Together.” Probably very predictable since things go well and then….they don’t.

Our scriptures this Sunday all highlight the theme of not so much our working things out but how, when, and where GOD works things out. Who could see Joseph coming through his ordeal of betrayal, exile, and slavery to the point that he forgave his brothers and was reconciled with them? How could Jews and Gentiles ever be brought together after generations of living so differently from each other? How could a suffering Gentile woman thought of as a “dog” ever find acceptance and healing? Paul and Jesus give us answers and examples.

There is no end to scriptures confidently asserting that “God is all about Providence” or that “working things out” over time. Since we are locked into our past and present we find it hard to see the future. Our only contribution is faith and love in the present. Given how dire our human situations become it is imperative to hear what God is up to. And to hear, as we wait in our troubles and conflicts, that faith and love make a huge difference in our waiting until we arrive at God’s good future.

So, hold on since you are being held by God until that day!

Blessings as we head toward Sunday worship!

Pastor Barry

Out of the Pit, The Storm; Surprised But Safe!

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28, Romans 10:5-15 and Matthew 14:22-33

Seems like an early August sermon should be about the end of vacation and leisure and about back to school and work! More celebration than sadness! But this Summer has everything out of whack! We continue under the strain of 2020 perils. Summer routines and work and school and church and community life are way different for most of us this year.

Even so, the scriptures seem spot on. Joseph the youngest son of Jacob is done in by his own older brothers, Peter is sinking in the rough waters, and Paul points to salvation in spite of our failing efforts. Though the fallen world, our weak flesh, and many adversaries make life quite hard and troubled, we are reassured whatever “the evil intent against us, God intends to make good come out of our situation.”

That comes down to a matter of faith. Trust. When you are in the middle of feeling “no way out,” the best attitude, in spite of evidence to the contrary, is to trust that I too will climb out of the hole, come through rough storms, and arrive safe and saved!

Sometimes the best the Church can do while everyone is waiting for rescue is to repeat what it knows best: “All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” Romans 10:13. Sometimes the best the Church can do is to wait out the storms……together….in the same boat.

Let’s join together in worship and service and trust this coming Sunday and week ahead.

August blessings!

Pastor Barry

WWE Moments In Scripture

Genesis 32:22-31, Romans 9:1-5 and Matthew 14:13-21

Several will note the professional wrestling reference in the sermon title. WWE (WWF) is one of the most famous wrestling corporations in US history. It struck me that all three of these Bible passages are about “wrestling” (struggling) with someone or something pertaining to the spiritual life.

Jacob wrestles with a “man” (angel?), (God) until Jacob is blessed. But he is also wounded. Paul wrestles and agonizes in Romans with his Jewish heritage, the Old Covenant, his family of origin. Jesus struggles with both the execution of John the Baptist and the demands of the crowds who now flock to Jesus the healer. He needs to be alone for a while in a remote place but the crowds unrelentingly seek him out.

These are examples of “spiritual wrestling.” Wrestling may be the oldest “sport” referred to in the Bible! But here it is not a sport but an intense soul struggle with God and Gods people in a fallen world.

So, this Sunday we will hear references to wrestling entertainment in popular culture as familiar background for far more important spiritual struggles that Jacob, Paul, and Jesus were engaged in. And before we leave worship we will be called to remember our own “soul wrestling” in both our past and in our present.

So, as you know full well John 3:16, some of you will also recall a famous wrestling catchphrase from the Nineties WWE: Austin 3:16 (!). If you are a certain age or had children growing up in that era you may have had to listen and do your best to explain the differences between the Bible passage and Stone Cold Steve Austin’s borrowing 3:16 for his wrestler image. I did!

Read these passages in preparation for worship and consider you own “spiritual wrestling.”

Blessings in your struggles!

Pastor Barry