Zaccheus is Everywhere!

Joy was a very small person, a midget. Dawn was large for her age all through elementary school. Roy was known to wear a pajama top to high school and kept to himself. Guy moved into our small community as a Junior and was slow to find friends.
Riki was an African American one of maybe two in our graduating class in the late Sixties! Dan and his parents were the only Jews I knew of in our small town until I moved away to college. I always had to wear “husky” size jeans! Well, almost always…..

All of the above felt excluded from others at times for a wide range of reasons. All were often in the minority in social situations at pivotal ages of development. All had their character shaped by either social, physical, mental, economic factors very much out of their power to quickly change or adapt to. And that brings us to the “larger than life” Zaccharus in Luke 19. Small of stature, in a job most local people despised, and an admitted sinner, he was living life on the margin and needed a life change! He sought it by climbing a tree so he could see over taller people than he! And the “tallest” of Men came his way. Jesus of Nazareth In every age, every place people feel left out, overlooked, disadvantaged, different, and down! Jesus NEVER excluded anyone for the above reasons! Jesus knew all were sinners but that all had come into a Fallen world, affected by temptations, hurt by social injustices, impacted by the sins of others. Jesus came to all and invited life change and a “abundant life” (John 10:10) in spite of all the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and our sinful nature.

Jesus loves us! Jesus saves! We have heard this and believe this! May we share this to others in word and in deed who feel left on the “outside of life.”

Blessings on our way to All Saints Day! Be a “Saint” to somebody today!

Pastor Barry

Autumn All Stars & Scars

The next three weeks are leading up to a momentous election….maybe! And three Sundays ahead we will arrive at a momentous Sunday worship that remembers the Saints. In our case, that is all the faithful that have gone before us. Those dear departed. Friends and family, neighbors and colleagues, saints that were also sinners!

The people that helped make us who we are today as individuals, communities, and Church. Gone but not to be forgotten. We will remember and honor. On November 6 we will celebrate All Saints Sunday. But to get there we will have some preparation. We will hear about some history of our churches, the past and the foundations that were laid for us to continue to build upon.

We rightly hear from the prophet Joel about God’s intentions centuries ago and how we are still connected to those promises. We will hear of the fundamental attitude to have before God as Jesus tells us about a “righteous” Pharisee and a “sinful” tax collector. Paul will look both backward and forward to the “race he has run” and will also name his teammates that he ran with!!

We are indeed surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses.” Let’s recall them and others for the next three Sundays! Remembering some of the most momentous members of our marvelous God Given moments on earth!

See you for all Sundays three….I hope!

Pastor Barry

Hope Is That Thing With Feathers

While watching various news updates tonight, I turned to my son and said, “It can’t be any worse in four years can it than it is now?” I was referring to the current ugly election cycle. And way ahead to 2020. But I was also thinking of the flooding in North Carolina, violence around the nation, and anxiety visited upon many locally with illness and family concerns.

For most of us, we get “down” over current events as well as anxious about the future. It comes and goes. If one stays in such states of mind for too long, medications or counseling are often necessary! Thank God for both when required.

The scriptures that address us this Sunday could have been written this past week! They are about persistence in prayer (Luke), sound teaching (2 Timothy), and hope in God’s promises (Jeremiah). I would like to think we are a gathered people who hear such words often enough that we have real hope in the future regardless of changing circumstances. And with hearing the Word, “cometh faith.”

It should make a difference in how we live in the present and how we approach the future whatever the “news” tells us! I think I will switch over to a different “news reporting”…..Good News channel!

As Paul often says: “Grace and Peace to you!”

Pastor Barry

Psalm 148 A Psalm of the Creator

“What could be more exciting than an October day? It’s your birthday, 4th ofJuly, and Christmas all rolled into one!” – Peggy T. Horton

I think Ms. Horton is very fond of October. It sure seems an exaggeration, but I agree there are reasons to be excited about that middle month of Fall. At least in Tennessee, the weather of day and night nears perfection, frost will take care of ragweed pollen, and trees will break into color! Plus, we get football, the World Series, pumpkins, and school and community festivals of all kinds.

And for the Church, she has a month bordered by World Communion Sunday and lastly All Saints Eve. These are well placed to remind us of our Christian worldwide fellowship in the midst of all our Endings. The saints commune and serve on earth and rejoice eternally in Heaven at the Kingdom Banquet Table. That combination is hard to beat!

There is still “much trouble afoot” and we need days like Halloween to help us take both seriously as well as “lightly in costume” our mortal condition.

Try to make the most of a month that shows us and speaks to us of the depths and heights of life made possible by the Creator in Psalm 148 who revels in all Creation! Enjoy the month!

See you in church as well as your “being the church!”

Fall Blessings!

Pastor Barry