To Love Is To Honor

So, Sunday is Mother’s Day in the USA. On the way there, you pass through National Day of Prayer (5th), Ascension of Our Lord (5th), Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of course!), Nurses Day (6th), and if you insist Star Wars Day known as May the Fourth Be With You!! (Believe it or not, there is a semi-religion of Followers of The Force!).

As I been known to say, there is “something” culturally, spiritually, or nationally celebrated every day of the year. This is a mixed blessing. We can give too much status to events or people such that the First Three Commandments may be slighted or ignored. So, when we Honor Our Parents on Mother’s Day we want to be sure “honor” is the right word. No “worship” of parents allowed. No human idols! And parents should keep that in mind as well!

The bottom line here is to ENJOY and give THANKS for Family, as diverse as it may be, recognizing those who gave us birth and nurture, those who were there for us whether they be our biological mother and father or rather those who “parented us,” loved us, and stood by us in times both bad and good!

Set the table for them on Mother’s Day, The Festival of Christian Family!

Better still…come with them to worship!

See you Sunday!

Pastor Barry

Shepherd/Warrior, Invited To Our House

The church includes all ages. And how you “feel and look” at any age! Local radio hosts were talking this week and told the joke about the 90 year old who said, “I feel like a new born baby. I have no hair, I have no teeth, and I just peed in my pants.”

Well, having considered the fellow’s thoughts…..all I can say is “that’s life!”

The church is, I believe, the current and ongoing social institution to bring all ages, tribes, and nations together with common interests and purposes regarding living life to the fullest “at all ages.” In the Acts passage, Lydia is a successful businesswoman who receives the Good News from Paul, is baptized AND her household. A household likely had ALL ages and perhaps in a wealthy persons home, servants and their children as well, people not kinfolk! Then Lydia invites Paul and Silas to stay in her home. Just like they were family! Which, in the sense of Gods family, they are all part of now! We can’t know a whole lot about the ages of the baptized nor their faithfulness over the years but we do know they all were included and off to a good start!

The church is a family with the expected age range and, well…..amazing diversity in personalities, socio-economic realities, local customs, and languages. Time and patience and prayer are required for the long run!

From the new born baby to the Ninety Year Old……Baptized and always in need of hospitality …from each other and from God!

Come celebrate Church this Sunday! You are included!

Pastor Barry

Shepherd/Warrior, Victorious Lamb

We have no lack of earthly images for the heavenly God Almighty, the One who is wholly (Holy) different from the Creation and the creatures!

It should be no other way unless you want a philosophical, logical, Transcendent only God. Most of can’t think that hard nor should we! Our God meets us where we are with words and descriptions we are familiar with. Thus, we get Good Shepherds, Sacrificial Lambs, Lions of Judah, a Mother Hen wanting to gather her chicks, and finally a duel between The Beast and a Rider on a White Horse! So much better and vital than an Unmoved Mover or Wholly Other!

Which gets us to being able to also sing! Praising God with voice and instrument. We need words that we, on earth, can relate to, not words of the philosophers and thinkers only. As we Wesleyans know, we have “a sung faith!”

This Sunday we will work with images not seen very often in our America today. Shepherds and their flocks. Would an image of the cowboy with the herd help us? That too is almost gone as is the late, great TV Western. So….we work with what we are given somewhere between the ancient text and what you see and hear in the 21st century.

It should make worship one of the best parts of your week! Pray that it be so!

Pastor Barry

Shepherd/Warrior, Victorious Lamb

We have no lack of earthly images for the heavenly God Almighty, the One who is wholly (Holy) different from the Creation and the creatures!

It should be no other way unless you want a philosophical, logical, Transcendent only God. Most of can’t think that hard nor should we! Our God meets us where we are with words and descriptions we are familiar with. Thus, we get Good Shepherds, Sacrificial Lambs, Lions of Judah, a Mother Hen wanting to gather her chicks, and finally a duel between The Beast and a Rider on a White Horse! So much better and vital than an Unmoved Mover or Wholly Other!

Which gets us to being able to also sing! Praising God with voice and instrument. We need words that we, on earth, can relate to, not words of the philosophers and thinkers only. As we Wesleyans know, we have “a sung faith!”

This Sunday we will work with images not seen very often in our America today. Shepherds and their flocks. Would an image of the cowboy with the herd help us? That too is almost gone as is the late, great TV Western. So….we work with what we are given somewhere between the ancient text and what you see and hear in the 21st century.

It should make worship one of the best parts of your week! Pray that it be so!

Pastor Barry

Nets and Networks

Some of us grew up in an age of only three TV networks: ABC, CBS, NBC. Or channels if you wish. There was also the “educational” channel. Channel 8 in my Virginia location.

Now…who can realistically count the “channels” on cable or dish? The remote is indispensable to many now!

When speaking of nets, however, there were and are some that remain the same for generations. There are hairnets, nets for games, e.g. Badminton, and, of course, fishing nets!

This Sunday we will see how “networks and nets” caught people up in the movement of God’s Kingdom and the new Reality of Resurrection! And everyone was at the mercy and initiative of God! God was setting up both networks and nets for the Beloved!

Let’s “tune in” to the right channel and “get caught up” in the right nets given to us by a gracious Creator who communicates with us and catches us for the sake of Life, the abundant Life!

Peace and Blessings until we meet again!

Pastor Barry

March Madness, April Gladness?

When people talk about March Madness nowadays, are they talking NCAA basketball or presidential candidates!? And sadly, those two will be more likely table conversation topics rather than Word and deed in the Christian journey for many; sports most likely since “religion and politics” are often avoided in public group conversations!

But, the people of God will still find ways to bear witness to our God, our Risen Savior. We will gather to worship, take the bread and cup, hear the Word proclaimed and go the rest of the week seeking to help and serve others. By the power of God we will speak and do our faith. By our own sinful limitations we will fail also!

But those experiences, good and not so good, are still under the loving embrace of our God whose costly grace brings forth “spiritual fruit” as well as “covers a multitude of sins!” So, the bottom line is we can rejoice and be glad: God is God and we are not!

That gets us back to March Madness, or better the wild and powerful story of Jesus’ Life, Death, and Resurrection; the madness of those who opposed the ministry of His love, mercy, and grace; the resistance and rebellion that ALL people go through in spite of the Good News! Madness indeed!

What I see happening,tho, in April is not so much “madness” but rather April Gladness! Our scripture this Sunday is exuberant with gladness! Something happened and now we see! We see and hear a more important conversation about life that sports and politics merely “hint at.” Yes, sports and politics have their place but only in light of the bigger picture, the much bigger Kingdom of God at work in the world now and someday to be complete!

This is something to take with us as comfort and strength as we go about being “April Ambassadors” for the Risen Lord! So, in a few days we can leave behind SOME of the March Madness e.g. NCAA basketball, move on with our American democracy, and still attend to being Ambassadors for Christ in April….and, of course, year round!!

April blessings all!

Pastor Barry

Three Good Easter Questions

Easter has been the Christian’s ultimate answer to the earnest seeker’s questions about Life and Death. But even the scriptures frame the answer around tough questions that are ongoing throughout life:

Job: “If someone dies, will they live again?
Paul: “How can some of you say that the dead will not be raised to life”
John: “Woman, why are you crying?”

Powerful questions. How would you like to be driving on vacation to Florida and from the back seat someone keeps asking you these three questions?
We are all like children wanting answers on our journey in life. Since the answers STILL require faith rather than out and out proof, we must live with the questions at the same time that we celebrate the answers of faith.

To me, this makes for an exciting, challenging, honest, genuine life.
This weekend from Good Friday to Easter Sunday we will have the questions and answers before us in Word and deed, in song and prayer, in fellowship and service.

Keep in mind we have many opportunities to worship this weekend. Good Friday is shared at Kedron 6:30 pm and Easter Sunrise is at Locks Memorial 6.30 am. Kedron’s Easter Egg Hunt is Saturday morning and Locks is after worship on Sunday. Kedron has a Choir and Reader Sunday worship and Locks has a sermon and a special Children’s Time. Just think….what if you tried to go to all of these! I suspect I may be the only one but I always ask….”What if….?”

Thanks be to God!

Pastor Barry

Psalms, Palms, Passion

If you committed to reading 2 Psalms per day, you will read the 150 Psalms in about a year. Add the exciting passages about Jesus entering into Jerusalem, and then Paul’s hymn like praise of Jesus in Philippians 2:5-11, you would likely cover the width and depth of all emotions! It’s difficult to pack all human-divine emotion into just a Sunday worship hour….but over a year’s time…it could be done!

If we could somehow share this with the millions (or hundreds within our local communities) of those who “avoid” church each week, I predict they would come back or, for some, start attending for the first time…ever!

Our Biblical message is exciting and addresses every human joy and sorrow. It speaks to all of our Human Condition! It brings purpose to living and a freedom to live into whatever the Future holds!

Now if only….If only we in the church could say to ourselves and those staying at home each Sunday, “Hey, don’t worry, be happy!” Or also, “Hey, I am for you! I want the best for you!” Or whatever words speak “Life” to those who ask, “How can I make it through today or …..tomorrow?”

We can answer, “The church is here to help and point to Someone who WILL help, to The ONE who makes “”all things new!” Maybe then all the human emotions we express will find a Home to safely dwell in! A Home where you say and feel what needs to be said and there Someone who will hear you in all your joys and sadness!”

Hey! It even explains all the excitement of March Madness, the joy of Gardening, the thrill of Spring and Summer, the Struggles of our deepest longings in any Season.

Well….I could go on! Come to worship (or be with us in spirit) and let’s try an hours’ worth of Joys and Concerns, our feelings and emotions in the living of our faith and hearing and then doing the Word!

† Palm Sunday blessings †

Pastor Barry

To Be Made Whole

I follow the Lectionary, the 3 year cycle of scripture, so that I don’t just drift toward texts I WANT to preach on. Some preachers are inclined only toward John 3:16 and Revelation 3:20 and similar passages. Others seek to highlight Psalm 23 or Revelation 21 with frequent sermonic visits!

Indeed the Lectionary helps us move through the width and depth of the Bible. But this week I venture into a leading from both the Spirit and our Lenten Study group. Clearly healing is a major part of Jesus’ ministry. And he sends forth both the Twelve apostles and later another 72 disciples to do likewise as they proclaim the Kingdom of God (Luke 9 and 10). Healing is in the Gospels…in Acts….in the Epistles. And all throughout the OT, e.g., Psalm 103.

So…..on the Easter journey to Ultimate Healing in Resurrection what can we make of healing between Birth and Death? “Good question,” you hopefully will ask!

Sunday’s scriptures and sermon will hopefully show us something about healing for TODAY!

Pray for the preacher and all those gathering together off Rocky Fork/Almaville Road. And in a million other places in this earth we have been given….on the road to a New Heaven and a New Earth (Rev 21:1)!

Blessings and peace

Pastor Barry

Two Sons, Two Ways

As the old saying goes, “There are two sides to every story.” Really!!? That saying hardly holds up in criminal court case decisions. The judge or jury will rule one way rather than the other: “The court holds for the complainant ….” Or the defendant!

In our scripture for Sunday, both Luke and Paul indicate two ways of reacting to God’s grace, two ways of seeing another person, another sinner like……well….each one of us. God has chosen the better way for us!

The struggle is also inside us and plays out in ways we may not like and ways that certainly others don’t like! Pro and con. Guilty and not guilty. Responsible and someone else’s responsibility. Who hasn’t had those feelings when trouble comes down??!!

Well, the Parable of the Prodigal Son ( and just as much, the stay at home brother!) is the memorable story version of Paul’s great passage on being a New Creation in Christ and seeing ourselves and others differently after what God HAS done!

A story that bears repeating since we tend to forget! The Big Brother in each of us wants us to forget the Father who welcomes the returning Prodigal. Grace is almost unbelievable!! I suppose that’s why it is “amazing!”

See you on Sunday!

Pastor Barry