Faith in the Face Of….

This Sunday October 2 is World Communion Sunday. As we receive the Bread and the Cup at our familiar communion rails, we might want to recall times when we were visitors in other churches in other states or perhaps in other nations. And even in a different faith community other than Methodist! Do you remember both an anxiety to not “mess up” as well as a curiosity to see how others “do this great sacrament?”

Or at least use your imagination and see yourself alongside the Methodists at communion in Haiti. Or with the few in Russia. With the persecuted church in South Sudan or in the numerous house churches in China. Or with service men and women stationed on the border between North and South Korea! If you can, you are also foreseeing a future Heaven. And looking back at a lost Garden of Eden longed for!

The Heavenly Banquet anticipated in our humble receiving wherever we are and with whomever we break Bread and drink the Cup.

Come this Sunday to Kedron and Locks Memorial or any of the other 93 congregations in the Murfreesboro District or maybe find yourself visiting with Presbyterian or Pentecostal friends and saying to one another, “Peace to you” and “Thanks be to .God!”
We walk by faith……with Bread for the Journey and Fruit of the Vine for drink along the Way….

Pastor Barry

Our Stuff, Our Faith

Most of us have stuff. Some more than others. Either money, possessions, or property. Kids like stuff; “Seniors” like stuff. Some more than others, yes; some stuff is necessary. Some is not and to divest oneself of the latter for the common good may be a virtue uncommon except amongst…..??

You might have thought I was going to say Christians, but you saw that coming! We do have within the Church all levels of socio-economic wellbeing. And multiple levels of sharing and self-sacrifice.

In the parable Jesus tells us of poor Lazarus and the Rich Man.
We get a stark story of extremes that have consequences. Jesus wants our attention! And from that “gotten attention” we might actually live into the “abundant life” (John 10:10).

At no point does the Bible ever say the Christian life would not be challenging but Jesus did say “come follow me. My yoke is easy, my burden is light.”

At the very least, we have a community of examples of people making the effort to be faithful with their gifts and possessions and a community where we live out these struggles in the presence of our Creator and Savior.

Hope to see you soon with both Lazarus and the Rich Man+


Pastor Barry

Names and Places

Thomas Wolfe famously wrote the novels Look Homeward Angel and You Can’t Go Home Again. To which I would ask, “OK, which is it? Look longingly for home or realize you can’t ever go home?!”

Home is defined ultimately in the heart. Many are homeless but make a family with others who are experiencing the same plight. Some move around constantly but have a location that they clearly would say, “bury me there for that’s where I feel most at home.”

Homecoming is one way to express that sense of being grounded in a location or place but realizing that for many it is not a place that one can stay for long.
The Bible is the greatest depiction of life in community and life as a journey which often separates one from community under difficult circumstances. From the family lineage described in Genesis to the nurturing of Timothy by his mother and grandmother to the itinerant ministry of Jesus who went from house to house and had nights with “no place to lay his head,” we see an endless story of God at work with people in a multitude of relationships.

Yet, it is easy to describe Jesus as committed to the family! A much broader sense of God’s family than we often understand.
This will give us the ultimate joy, tho, when all is said and done as well as realizing that often a brother or sister in Christ is often closer than blood kin.
So, at our church homecoming we come with many notions of home and family, but where all should feel a welcome and “rejoice and are glad in it!”
Happy Kedron Homecoming!

Pastor Barry

Leave No One Behind

9/11 is now 15 years behind us. It was a world crime as much as one for the USA. It is hard to imagine anyone not being impacted by this act of terror. It is hard to imagine ever forgetting it and putting it behind us completely. Who would want to NOT remember and honor both the dead, the wounded, the grieving, and the heroes from that day?! It is a part of who we are as much as December 7, 1941 and November 22, 1963 are in our history.

Our scriptures today bear upon this national occasion in several ways.
(1) God is always before us and is always addressing us as both sinful and as beloved.
(2) God wants no one left out. No one lost. Just as first responders look for each and every one who is in trouble, so does Jesus look for everyone to be found, everyone to be safe. Even one sheep out of 100 is worth finding even though 99 others are secure.
(3) When in doubt and questioning the pain and suffering in the world it is of great encouragement to think upon that which is “eternal, immortal, invisible, wise, deserving of honor and glory forever,” that is…..GOD. I Timothy 1:17.

In such experiences as 9/11 and in hearing the scriptures we are both realists in a fallen world, but also are people who believe that faith, hope, and love will have the Last Word.

Peace be unto you as we Remember and as we leave no one behind in our care and concerns.

Pastor Barry

Counting Costs

Preachers, on any given Sunday, may well earn their wages! Some scriptures just may have no “happy” ending as we are left with more questions than answers. There is a rough “kernel” in the Luke text and Jeremiah is…well… a prophet and as usual points out failings! Philemon, tho, is a breathe of fresh air but I don’t know (yet) why the Lectionary Committee included it with these others!? Perhaps because it is a book with one chapter!

So, we are facing parables in Luke 14:25-33 that challenge us to the point of making our commitments to family and possessions a “relative thing.” If they cause us to not be committed to Christ……let them go? Give ALL away?! Choose?

Luke does not say family and possessions ALWAYS lead us to being forced to choose Christ over them but…. Again we feel the pressure, the “pebble in the shoe” that hurts to think about the possible cost of discipleship.

Perhaps missionaries and martyrs and saints are the ones who best show us the way in such matters.

This Sunday’s sermon may well be a display of a “hall of fame” of those who did see themselves called to count the cost. St Francis? Wesley? Mother Teresa?

I am glad it is a Communion Sunday as well. Perhaps the sermon will be a bit shorter!

So, please read these texts so you will be praying for the one who preaches. And about choosing…if it comes to that!!

May the God of Peace and Grace go with us all+

Pastor Barry