Category Archives: Pastor Barry

Alert! Woes and Blessings

Jeremiah 17:5-10, I Corinthians 15:12-20 and Luke 6:17-26

Jesus’ audience receiving a message which included woes and blessings, was, first, his disciples and then, “a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon…” Blessings and woes were announced to a wide range of people….not just his “early church” the disciples.

I cannot but think of the “great multitudes” of the USA on this Sunday before Presidents Day. If anyone commands attention and has a huge audience today it is whoever is in the highest office in the land. And almost to a person our Presidents have been of some Christian Faith themselves. Presidents are not “preacher in chief” but are influenced by the Word of God, a nation of churches and preachers.

What might any President in our history have heard when Jesus speaks of the “rich, the poor, those who mourn, and those who are praised by all.” Presidents have all had to deal with these categories of our population in leadership, by example and by policies. Is there an overlap between “church and society” when it comes to policies on the rich, the poor, those who mourn, those who get praised by all?!

Jesus sounds much like the prophets, in this case, like Jeremiah who generations before found reasons to pronounce both blessings and curses. God’s word is for both individuals and for nations, people in lands such as Judah with its kings and intrigues with surrounding nations. Jeremiah in 17:1 speaks to Judah, the people collectively!

This Sunday as we anticipate honoring our Presidential branch of government we might ask ourselves how we as a nation hear the Word of God with blessings and woes pronounced upon individuals and the nation? Certainly a very big question! The answers will take time to sink in and affect us as followers of Christ.

Let us worship the Lord who questions us and our attitudes toward others, but is ever intent on leading us toward blessings!

Pastor Barry

In Spite of The Dirty Lips, The Least, and The Sinful

Isaiah 6:1-8, I Corinthians 15:1-11 and Luke 5:1-11

We talk about determination. Such as an incredible quarterback like Tom Brady. A courageous woman like Rosa Parks in the segregated South of the Sixties. Max Cleland a triple amputee decorated veteran being elected to Congress. Determination.

In our scriptures we actually discover three who, in spite of their failures and self-condemnation, come up against a God who is determined to call them out and away from their guilt and low self-esteem and “employ” them for the work of the Kingdom! God’s determination sinks in to them and we get a prophet and two apostles!

God is determined to bring the best out of our worst. Yes, we are told to confess our sins but the next step is to not stay “stuck” in our confession but rather move forward in our “profession.” Profession in the two senses of “I profess Jesus Christ” but also the sense of A profession e.g. a calling, a call to personal mission and service. “Here I am Lord….send me!”

Sunday we will look in the mirror. Let’s pray we see both our worst selves and the self that God sees as a beloved friend ready to participate in God’s work here and now and bound in heaven for all eternity. “Well done thou good and faithful servant!”

Come out of any self-imposed negative view of yourself and view how God sees you! Sanctification as a happy, giving life shared together in worship, witness, and specific works YOU are called to! Eyes and ears and hearts open to God’s call and guidance!

Pastor Barry

A Super Bowl, A Groundhog, Rumspringa, and Holy Communion

Ecclesiastes 8:15; 9:7-10, I Corinthians 10:23-30 and Matthew 22:34-40.

One gathers to worship on Sunday. Yet, one knows that the other hours of the day offer a thousand other activities, routines, habits, works, leisure’s, and cultural diversities. Yes, we are in the world!

No generation of Christians goes without the need to consider their life as lived out in the culture of the day. Some remove themselves as much as possible e.g., Amish, questionable sects, while most live and move within the culture of entertainment, Super bowls, parties, diverse opinions and preferences for going about the day and week.

Jesus says “love God, neighbor and yourself.” Paul says, you have freedom, “but not all things are helpful, not all things are beneficial.”
From Ecclesiastes, in spite of all the writer’s concern for the passing away of all things, we are advised to “eat, drink, and be joyful.”

This Sunday’s hour of worship will hear these voices from the Scriptures and then celebrate together at The Table of the Lord. And in our culture many will then attend to the “Groundhog and weather, to the grand finale of football season, and ponder the meaning of what around us gives us joy and delight, peace and salvation.”

“Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head!” (Ecclesiastes 9:7).

Pastor Barry

What Happens When You Read The Bible Out Loud

Nehemiah 8:1-10, I Corinthians 12:12-31 and Luke 4:14-30

Preaching is, of course, a form of public speaking. Reading and quoting scripture usually accompanies a sermon. And you can find a WIDE range of responses to any public proclamation!

One response is falling asleep and the old joke goes: Preacher: “Deacon Jones! Wake up brother Bob! He’s fallen asleep during this sermon! Deacon Jones: “You wake him up. You put him to sleep!”

In the Nehemiah passage, the reading of God’s law causes people to weep but then they are instructed to not weep, but to have “joy.” They are told to go eat and enjoy the time spent hearing God’s word.

And when Jesus reads the text in Isaiah the people have a wide range of emotions about the passage and who is doing the reading. This is in Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown….and it doesn’t end well!

This Sunday in worship we will hope for responses “deep and wide “within us that carry over the rest of the week in our life together in community, at work, and in recreation and rest.

As Nehemiah 8:10 encourages, “Do not grieve (upon hearing the Word), for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” And for good measure also, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks.” Legends or O Charley’s!??

Be blessed in worship this Sunday!

Pastor Barry

What To Drink at a Wedding and Afterwards

Isaiah 62:1-5, I Corinthians 12:1-13 and John 2:1-11

Isaiah 62 and John 2 highlight the celebrations of marriage, of weddings, of the joy of committed relationships. I Corinthians 12 celebrates the gifts given to the Bridegroom the Church for the mutual benefit of all. And in verse 13, after the gifts are celebrated we are reminded we all “drink of one spirit.”

Yes, what do we drink at weddings and birthdays, celebrations of success, of graduation, of anniversaries and births, of grand moments along life’s way?! Behind the food and drink and party is the life giving drink of the Spirit….even if we are slow to name it, recognize it, believe it.

Jesus attends a wedding, keeps in the background as one of many guests, but helps out at just the right moment! Does that sound familiar to you? And the Church, the Body of Christ, is it not THERE with its many gifts to help you along the way to the final Heavenly Wedding Feast?!

Our texts tell of the Great Expectation of God’s Work, the Jesus Work, and the Church Work. Strange isn’t it that at its best, Christian life in community doesn’t feel like “work,” but like a Wedding Party with plenty of Spirit to drink!

At its best……..

Pastor Barry

Water and Fire, Spirit and Flesh

Isaiah 43:1-7, Acts 8:9-25 and Luke 3:15-22

This time of the year the preaching and worship jump quickly from the manger to the adult Jesus! The scriptures tell us very little about the childhood and adolescence of our Lord. The emphasis is on his Ministry, Death, and Resurrection and rightly so! His childhood and youth were, what shall we say, pretty normal for a boy in the first century Palestine!

Luke 3 and Acts 8 record the drama surrounding the whole notion of Baptism for Jesus and for His followers. In worship, as we read and listen this Sunday about Baptism, we will be encouraged to “remember and think about our own Baptism.” That and the Lords Supper are the two primary Sacraments we observe as Protestants and United Methodists. Most all Christians observe these two significant “moments” in some form or fashion.

The two scripture passages in our readings today also emphasize how baptisms often led to conflicts! Not surprisingly Herod did not take kindly to all the stir John the Baptizer was creating and in Acts, the Apostles had such power at work in them that a Magician Simon wanted some of that power for his own selfish gain!

This Sunday, we will have a meaningful and personal look at one of the central practices of our life together in the Church! Be prepared….stay alert… grateful for the work of the Lord in your life today!

Blessings~~~ †

Pastor Barry

The Work of Magi and Church

Isaiah 60:1-6, Ephesians 3:1-12 and Matthew 2:1-12

Every age, every generation looks for someone either with “common sense” or “wisdom!” Those two virtues, when combined, make for leaders who can show the way forward in uncertain times.

In our scriptures today we are told of “wise men from the East” and “the church” as those who point to the vision Isaiah has of the promise of God fulfilled. Those who were NOT Jews, these wise ones, are prime examples for those who “seek.” All they knew was to LOOK for the promised One of God. They even bring “gift of gold” to help finance the soon to be flight to Egypt so as to avoid the merciless Herod. Much later Paul says the “church” now both Jews and Gentiles from everywhere are to speak and tell of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ.

The point is to get the Word out! In word and deed! The Magi did it their way before the ministry, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus and the church is all about that message after the Resurrection. The hard task in any age is to communicate what has touched us to those who haven’t heard and seen and to those who have heard and seen but continue to grow in the Faith.

It’s a daunting task and we, as the church, do it as “earthen vessels” or as ones who don’t always get it done! It’s an ongoing work with ups and downs since the Herods of the world are many and strong in their own way to stifle the Word of the New King in town! The Herods are often us! “We have met the enemy and it is sometimes US!”

As we celebrate Epiphany Sunday let us not hide our light under a bushel but find ways to light the way for the newborn King! Every Christian is a “star” to help show the way!

Make it so with the help of God!

Pastor Barry

Clothes For the New Year

I Samuel 2:18-20, 26, Colossians 3:12-17 and Luke 2:41-52

The young Samuel is described as wearing a linen ephod. Paul talk about “clothing ourselves in love.” The Luke passage says little about what Jesus as an adolescent wore! But he was “about his Fathers business!”

As we approach yet another new calendar year many will have some gift items from Christmas to wear about at work, school, and community. Since it may get colder some are bringing out anything to wear other than a “linen ephod.”

Back to Paul and Jesus. I suspect they wore whatever was common in the day. Clothes of the era would have been primarily functional for ease of movement, warmth, or cooling. However, if you were a person of royalty or of some wealth you might have some expensive varieties of cloth and color! Today one can have much variety and not at great cost! Clothes express who we are quite often, e.g., uniforms, suits, leisure, t-shirts with messages.

Paul knew this about our human nature and knew that the expression of “being clothed” with certain attitudes would reach the hearers of this message about Christian living.
How we “clothe” ourselves always gives some message to others whether implied or explicit.

“Get out your Sunday best” is perhaps attire for a previous generation but only as to physical clothing. Our “Sunday best” of love is to be showing all the days of the week!

Blessings in the New Year 2019!

Pastor Barry

Christmas at Kedron

Psalm 46 and Luke 2:19.

Advent draws to a close this Sunday and we are at the doorstep of Christmas! For many, it has been a full, busy, energetic time of the year. Expectations run high at every age and festive feelings abound!

Both Kedron and Lock’s Memorial have wonderful worship in store this Sunday with many voices to be heard in Word and song. And then on to Christmas Eve and more Word and song and Candle Lighting as the last night before Christmas Day concludes.

At some point read Psalm 46 and Luke 2:19 to help get a balance between excited rejoicing and a calm peace in your life. In the midst of both fighting enemies of the day and the turmoil of the age the Psalmist says, “Be still…..” For us today we might read “focus and pay attention.” It helps to pause and quietly reflect on the “who, what and where” of Christmas! And in Luke 2:19 Mary pauses and remembers what all the angels and shepherds appearing around her is all about! She probably just sat in awe of everything that was happening.

Let’s all hope to find those moments of peace, calm, and thoughtfulness over the next few days. Pray and wait….. for the moments to appear! Sit and ponder. Be still and know……

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Barry

Advent Anxieties?!

Zephaniah 3:14-20, Philippians 4:4-7 and Luke 3:7-18

Dear Brothers and Sisters of Kedron, December 16, the Third Sunday of Advent, the sermon title is Advent Anxieties?! The scriptures are Zephaniah 3:14-20, Philippians 4:4-7 and Luke 3:7-18.

Advent should make one think of “A” words like “anticipation,” “awe,” “adventure,” “awareness,” but hardly “anxiety.” Well, the texts for Sunday CAN create feelings of anxiety if we look and listen closely. Zephaniah (I felt anxious because I first confused Zephaniah with Zechariah!) is complete with reasons to be anxious! Mercifully the verses are all about final “release of anxiety” with the coming favor of the Lord!

John the Baptizer’s preaching certainly can cause anxiety! And perhaps anxiety for him when Herod lands him in jail(!). Paul, also writing from jail, says “be anxious for nothing” Phil 4:6 which seems almost an impossibility….in any age, with any person facing life’s challenges.

But, rest assured anxiety will NOT be the final word for persons of faith during Advent. Some of us will face it but with the Lord’s help it will not have power over us. We have reason to look forward to better things in Advent! Christmas is coming! Jesus is here and now!

Anticipate Blessings…and breathe a sigh of relief: “What? Me worry?”

Pastor Barry