Isaiah Day People in a Roman Night World

The days of Noah were ordinary days according to Matthew 24:36-44. I suppose like this week in the USA. Multitudes will be doing what comes ordinarily and routinely this month: Thanksgiving and all that which goes with genuine thankfulness. Prayer, not taking each other for granted, and seeing to it that others get to the turkey first! And close on the heels of Thanksgiving comes the rush of Christmas as a cultural event loaded with both heavenly and ordinary earthly meaning.

The bible texts here for the first Sunday in Advent won’t let us settle for the “ordinary.” These positive Thanksgiving and Christmas characteristics are fine and good, but God is always asking us to “watch, wait, and prepare, for Gods next Big Thing.” The preparation is often a mere matter of attending to the details of the present! Being aware! Keeping alert. Loving the neighbor in the moment. Going deeper than all the commercial aspects of the next four weeks leading to Christmas giving and receiving, Christmas stress and busyness. This will require some intentional time spent in prayer AND action….for oneself and one’s neighbor (who could be anyone you come into relationship with in the next four weeks!). A tall order! Almost like the formidable tasks of shopping, parties, travel, and food preparation!

But, unlike the folks of Noah’s time, you are both ordinary AND extraordinary. You ARE the church! You ARE the Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22, 23) in the world. You are prepared for or, at least, “in preparation” for the Coming of The Lord!”

Happy expectant Advent Season!

Shepherds and Indians

I tried but I could not find a way to title this sermon “Cowboys and Indians!” Working with the “bad” shepherds of Jeremiah and the Samaritans of John 4 (as Indians!) will be stretching it as it is!

This Sunday we will have a different emphasis at each of our two congregations using the same texts. At Locks Memorial we will focus on Native American Sunday, while at Kedron we will highlight Bible Sunday. But both Native Americans and Bible Sunday will be in both sermons. The Colossians text should help us pull them a bit closer together. So, if this tweaks your curiosity as to “how will pastor pull this off,” read the texts several times ahead of time!

I hope to speak to the vast influence of the Bible on many cultures, and on Christ’s presence at all times past, present, and future. And how any wicked preachers, terrible Kings, false prophets, bad leaders (I.e. shepherds”) cannot thwart God’s plan or God’s ultimate outcome for Jews and Gentiles alike!

That should be Good News since there is too often a surplus of bad, woeful, despairing news. I hope we can find reason to again celebrate and have hope on November 20th. And don’t be surprised if I find room for The Gettysburg Address! I see that it was delivered on NOVEMBER 19 (!) in 1863! Speaking of a terrible time in history and a great leader and…….

Blessings too on your weekend and your upcoming Thanksgiving week!

Pastor Barry

Jerusalem The End

For some this past Tuesday, Election Day, it was the End. For others, it felt like a new beginning. If the other candidate had won, just the opposite feeling would have descended on those on the other side!

At least for a season we put a lot of stock in national outcomes. This figures no less in the Bible. We look toward Washington DC as that location where our nation’s wellbeing and future is decided. The prophets, the Psalmist, and the New Testament writers continually look to Jerusalem as the location and symbol for God’s unfolding of all purpose and meaning for all Creation. As Jerusalem goes, so goes the whole world! In God’s ultimate deliverance of the beloved people of God all nature is restored with Peace as are all humankind finally complete and beyond suffering and death. We long for God to bring us home to the holy city Jerusalem! Thus, we live not so much from out of our past but toward our Blessed End!

As we move toward that Blessed End we still have days of worship, celebration, honor, and memory…such as Nov 13, 2016. Since we are still caught in Time not Eternity we pause to note: All Our Veterans, The Vietnam War Era Veterans, The Worldwide Persecuted Church, Organ and Tissue Donation Sunday and Our Every Four Year National Election.

We are headed toward a God transformed Jerusalem and a New Heaven and a New Earth but in route there we have much to do here! So, drawn by the promise of a Great Future we live our day to day, year to year lives with days just “packed” with meaning and purpose! This time of year is just that kind of “day!”

Join together this Sunday to hope, to honor, and to remember!


Pastor Barry

All Saints and Sadducees!?

We overwhelmingly want more of life either to continue the good life we have had or…another life to make up for the pain and suffering experienced perhaps year after year in this life. The Sadducees of Jesus’ time were oddly advocates for no Resurrection of the dead. They did not yearn for another life to continue or make up for this troubled one. They followed only the first five books of our Old Testament (The Pentateuch) and argued in clever ways against Jesus and, once again, oddly the Pharisees who also believed in Resurrection. The Sadducees seem almost modern in that so many in our own time disregard Eternal Life!

On All Saints Sunday we recognize not only the impact of the departed faithful upon our lives, but we trust them to the God of the living, the people of the Resurrected Lord who does not leave us to Death. This dimension of our faith is always subject to questions that surround us in loss and grief and absence. The cemeteries “seem” to remain as they are.

Christian Faith says otherwise at the very depth of our being. But, we are NOT Sadducees worrying about the peculiarities of translating this life into the Next! All that going on about who is married to whom in the Resurrection! There is always a healthy curiosity but we have little business speculating about it. That is finally God’s “business! And that is good!

So, let’s come in faith, hear the Scriptures read to fill us with trust, and remember and honor our dear departed saints. They live!
Blessings! Mazel Tov!

Pastor Barry