Category Archives: Pastor Barry

Kings and Dancing

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19, Acts 13:16-23 and Mark 6:14-29

The preacher’s temptation is to take the easy way out and go on about the pros and cons of dancing. Perhaps we will touch on that since these dances in scripture are so vivid and have painful consequences.

The better choice is to see what is being said about kingly power, presence, and leadership. Both David and Herod are leaders in troubled times. Both have opportunities to set examples for their people and both succeed and both fail, miserably at times.

What our scriptures, especially the Acts text, want us to see and hear and point toward is that “Great David’s Greater Son” is the Final and Fully Righteous Victorious King! And works in kingly ways decidedly unlike David or Herod or Caesar for that matter!

Leadership is not for everyone, or certainly not leadership on the grand scale of a nation…..or that of the entire Universe! But this is the bold claim we offer in worship and in our daily walk with the Lord. We follow a different kind of King than ones we usually elect or those who force their way to power over others.

This truly sets us apart and asks us to consider ALL leadership in light of Jesus Christ. We always have to settle for imperfect leaders in the world but we have an ultimate standard by which we can watch and discern leadership and make judgments about following or not following earthly leaders where they lead us.

So in worship we proclaim who is our King and King for all! Citizens of a heavenly King take that kind of citizenship with them through the rest of their week!

Blessed be Great David’s Greater Son!

On toward Sunday and the Kingdom!

Blessings ~~†

Pastor Barry

What Thorn?

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10 and Mark 6:1-13.

We will see David off to a great start as King! Verse 9 declared that “he became more and more powerful.” In contrast, Jesus gets off to a very rough beginning in ministry in his hometown! “They rejected him,” and he can do only a few healings. By the time we are reading about Paul in 2 Corinthians, we see that the greatest of Apostles cannot be rid of “a thorn in the flesh.” And he speaks of being “strongest when he is weak.” Such wide ranging expressions of living the faith give us pause! “Did I read that correctly?” “What about MY thorn in the flesh?”

It’s a good thing to be together in worship so we can be reminded, as we look around the pews, that most everyone has had moments of power like King David and moments that just seem like unrelenting “thorns” stuck in either the body, the mind, or the spirit!

Worship doesn’t always give us power or explanations for pain, but surely points us toward the Person who can and will provide both of those needs! Jesus had an unbelieving hometown turn away from him but by the end of the Mark passage his disciples ARE doing the ministry of preaching and healing!

So, the final word for us, in spite of the “thorns” and “weakness” is that we can expect (fully hope) to make it through and in doing so….we do the work of God. What a King, an Apostle, and Disciples of the Master actually do when “all is said and done!”

All good reasons to worship and be together this Sunday! See you soon! Blessings!

Pastor Barry

Binding Wounds, Preventing Wounds

2 Samuel 1:1, 16-27, 2 Corinthians 8:7-15 and Mark 5:21-43.

In these passages we see a number of experiences common to all: grief over death, illness and it’s healing and being generous with your resources. Needless to say, these experiences come during national times of crisis, e.g. war, epidemics, economic hard times, as well as to all of us throughout our life span.

Christ’s church is not immune from any yet leads the way in responding to all these human conditions. Where would we be without the church?! I suppose we would depend solely on the goodness of the state (!). If history teaches us anything, the human institution of the state is a very mixed bag! As we acknowledge July 4th we recall that a government became oppressive to the original 13 colonies. Governments can wage war and death on its people! And governments can, at their best, care for its citizens.

The church, however, heals not kills, gives and rarely receives in kind, and is not an instrument of death whether for evil or for justice. Jesus sets the example time and time again. Render unto God….render unto Caesar…..know the difference.

As we receive and celebrate the Lords Supper, Holy Communion we are reminded to do this in memory of the One Crucified, Dead, yet Alive! No force of nature, state, or fallen people can overcome God’s Righteous One who lives for others.

Come this Sunday for Word and Sacrament believing that Jesus is the generous, merciful Lord of life, conqueror of death, and Ruler of all nations!

Be blessed in this knowledge and in this faith!

Pastor Barry

Always Something

Opposition.  Antagonists. Enemies. The Empire.

Even on a personal scale, whether it be illness or injury, grief and loss, debt or financial woes, interpersonal conflicts, there seems to be THAT which we are “up against.”

In these scriptures, you find the memorable David versus the giant Goliath, Jesus against the angry sea waves, Paul recounting those who have opposed his ministry of the Good News of Jesus the Christ. Struggle. How we wish we were “at ease in Zion!” Those days are, for most of us, few and far between. There will “always be something.” It might be low from day to day on a scale of 1-10 but invariably the “10s” will arrive in life!

Perhaps we should come to worship each time with struggle in mind but ultimate peace hoped for. And maybe hope for peace and reconciliation in the daily mix! The church worships because we have faithful examples, e.g., David, Paul, believers in every generation, family and friends with us indicating God is still at work in our midst “calming the angry waves!” Even worship can be a struggle when your day has been darkened by forces against you. But, avoidance of the faithful community at worship is not the answer. To be together in our struggles IS the answer. We are stronger together than alone.

Come together this coming day of worship and find our way forward against whatever “giant” you and I and we are facing on the field of life!

Peace and hope~~!

Pastor Barry

Fathers, Children, and Seed Planting

John Wesley, father of millions of Methodists, had no children, no offspring. His marriage was not particularly a happy one. Yet, he was a father. Just look around the world!

This Sunday we will give a measure of honor to those we call father, to those who were also “dads” of sorts to groups of children on ball fields, clubs, Scouts, schools, and churches. Men who cared and helped us grow up and grow in the Lord. Biological fathers, step-fathers, uncles, older brothers, coaches, teachers, others who appeared as mentors and guides. Like “Dads!”

Our Mark text is about growth. And how even the Kingdom of God takes time. It’s “in our midst” but not hardly complete….just yet! Growing! And in I Samuel, the Word for us is about sons who can be leaders, even kings with power and authority. And the act of calling, responding, growing into…..maturity and behavior that points to the Reign of God in our lives, our communities.

Just as these words and acts of God manifest themselves in our two congregations, in different ways with different histories, (yet all siblings of the One Lord) we accept that we are still seeing the Kingdom of God grow in our midst, like a small seed into a large bush, like children growing always into spiritual maturity even we “can’t always see the growth ahead, we continue by faith” II Corinthians 5:7.

So, we remember those who left us examples, tool kits, game plans, who took us to church, put up with our missteps, misadventures, and did it, hopefully, with patience and wisdom. When they inevitably failed at times we remember what they took us to hear about at church: forgiveness and hope!

For the “fathers” still with us and those of us called “father” we look to the Heavenly Father to be our guide and show us the Son who never “forsakes us, never leaves us!” Play ball, do the chores, walk that walk, keep that faith, learn the trade, listen to that call….to be that “somebody for somebody else!”

Bring that “inner child” and any other child with you to worship this Sunday!

Pastor Barry

Who’s In Charge Here?!

Summer is time for back yard, camp, picnic fun. Kids will choose up and play games. Who gets to go first? Who gets to pitch? Who gets to take the lead on the hike? Youngest? Oldest? Strongest? Most athletic? Pick straws? Rock, paper, scissors? Somebody take the wheel!

In our Samuel text, leadership has been done poorly, so they want a king like other nations. God reluctantly grants their request through Samuel the prophet. In Mark, it’s clear that many disagree with the direction Jesus is heading and with his authority! Conflict arises! Paul, to the church at Corinth, where there was plenty of conflict and resistance to him, stays determined to not give up. God will come through for us.

Yes, as communities and families and tribes and institutions we invariably, in due time, will have conflict, need leadership to work through the troubles, and are called upon to believe God is with us in our struggles.

We value peace and harmony so much because we know how hard it is to get there! And when we are at peace, we are all glad! It is just hard to stay put in peace! Maybe we need a leader! Jesus has some things to say about that and steps up to the dismay of his family and the religious leaders.

Let’s listen in this Sunday to leadership troubles and look to Jesus for example and His and Paul’s words that lead to a better Way! See you soon!

Pastor Barry

A Good Meal on a Good Day

Summer time and the menus begin to change a bit. Grills get a workout as do picnic baskets. Ice cream makes a frequent appearance…for some, almost daily in the heat of summer! Food is good! We work up an appetite in the activities of work, vacation, travel, and play!

As we come to the Lords Table this Sunday we are reminded that however we understand The Lords Supper or Holy Communion it is a taking of spiritual food represented by bread and the cup. As with most meals, at any season, we should look forward to it!

As United Methodists we continue the practice of John Wesley of inviting ALL to join in, all ages, all denominations. The table is the Lords Table not ours to restrict or judge who is worthy. We each are invited to examine ourselves, our conscience before we approach the Sacrament but all are invited.

This sounds a lot like any meal between friends and family when all are assumed to be welcome. And if a visitor drops by we usually say, “pull up a chair and eat with us!” If someone wants “seconds” we don’t think twice about passing the plate or bowl! And there is most always an abundance at hand so no one goes away hungry. Sunday dinners growing up were often THE big meal of the week!

We truly feed upon the Word and upon the Sacrament of Holy Communion and are well fed and nourished for each week of life’s journey toward the final complete Heavenly Banquet. May it be so this Sunday as we gather together to ask the Lords blessing! Bring the family, the visitor, the friend, bring those who hunger and thirst for the Bread of Life in every season, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring!

Pastor Barry

Change For The Better

Isaiah was given a vision of angels, hot coals, his uncleanness, and a heavenly voice. From that encounter he says “Here am I, O God! Send me!” Nicodemus is told he “must be born again” through the Spirit and all his future before him will change! Paul in Romans 8 says it’s either us and our sinful nature leading us….or it’s the Spirit leading us!

Three remarkable passages about change, transformation, and Who is bringing this change to pass! True enough, we can coast along in routine and habit to a point and then….what once worked, doesn’t work anymore! At this point, God is already ahead of us like a Father waiting on a prodigal to come home.

This Sunday we will remember how important change is whether at times by force or by persuasion. Memorial Day weekend reminds us that service to a greater cause can result in the greatest sacrifice of our own life. We remember and honor those who died in service to our country. Those who died to bring about change from threat or injustice. It is also Peace With Justice Sunday where we acknowledge that if there is no justice amongst us in community many are left without real peace. The struggle to live by the Spirit (Romans 8) is never ending and is always about Social Holiness not just private, personal piety.

We remember that John Wesley’s “transformation” at a church study on May 4, 1738 was not just about his change but was to lead to change in English society for the better. Some historians say that the Wesleyan movement in England saved that country from the violence like that of the French Revolution!

Change and transformation leading to peace in our lives and justice throughout the land. Such is the message of the Prophets, Apostles, and Jesus!

Amen!

Pastor Barry

Advocates in the Spirit

Another Sunday, another “bases loaded!” Using our Spring and Summer pastime sport to illustrate this coming Sunday is fitting as we have (at least) three wonderful occasions to celebrate:

1. The 50th Year of the United Methodist Church
2. Pentecost Sunday
3. Our local church heritage at both Locks Memorial and Kedron

You can decide which “base” you would place each on. Wherever, we want to “bring them ALL home!”

There are at least 19 Wesleyan denominations in the USA. Largest of these is US the UMC at about 8.7 million. There are 29 million Methodist members throughout the world in 108 countries. We are a presence most everywhere to bear witness to the Gospel, the grace of God upon us, “warm hearts, trained minds, extended hands to help.”

And Pentecost reminds us of the indwelling Holy Spirit, our Advocate, the Lord Jesus bestows on us to renew us along our spiritual path. John Wesley had the Holy Spirit empower him to spread the Methodist movement in spite of his previous failures as a missionary and as a despondent, beaten down Christian!

And here we are today off Almaville Road and Rocky Fork Road continuing to offer the Gospel in word and deed following both old and new ways of sharing what previous generations in these two congregations have done since the early 1800s!

A lot to be thankful for, a lot to look forward to! Bases loaded? Step up to the plate and help bring all of our historic, spiritual blessings home in worship this Sunday!

Pastor Barry

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day has deep roots in Christian Faith and originated as a day of recognition by a Methodist mother and daughter, Ann and Anna Jarvis, in 19th century America. And to this year of 2018 we have almost a century and a half of publicly honoring the great persons we call “mother.”

And the list might go on a bit since grandmothers, sisters, aunts, cousins and friends have often been AS mothers to many of us. After my grandfather died in 1961 my grandmother came to live with us. She lived with us until her death in 1976. I was blessed to have her as a “second mother.” She also was indeed my widowed mother’s strongest advocate and best confidante.

If we step out of the pews this Sunday and let people give witness to the women in their lives we would go way into the night! And sure enough….mothers (and others like them) would go into the church kitchens to fix us supper while the testimonies went on!

From the Blessed Mother Mary to a 20th century Saint in Mother Teresa, no age nor generation has been without the influence of the personal characteristics of Proverbs 31:10-31 and Ephesians 6:1-3. And add to that all the scriptures which uphold the command to love, we are left to marvel at how God blesses us with relationships which endure to the end.

“God couldn’t be everywhere all the time so God gave us mothers,” is not theologically correct but tells a welcome truth we have experienced!

Come celebrate your mother and her kind this Sunday! And why not continue that celebrating and honoring from here on out!

Blessings!

Pastor Barry