A Mother, a Son: Discuss, Act

I Kings 17:8-16, I Corinthians 1:18-31 and John 2:1-11. All three scriptures involve misunderstandings, discussion, a plan of action! Sounds like any called family meeting to get matters back in line! Elijah helps a mother and her son, they help him, and things go bad for a while. Jesus and his mother exchange words over timing! Paul firmly instructs the church family at Corinth in how to get along! Sounds contemporary doesn’t it?

Such interactions in the ancient Bible bring its helpfulness into our current homes and churches. It brings a message still relevant today. Who doesn’t need to see examples of families dealing with misunderstandings and learning to listen for ways to deal with “issues!” Lifelong learners. That’s what disciples are. Otherwise, we risk falling into the road that leads to power plays, authority trips, “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitudes!

Jesus has the last word after the earlier “dust up” with his mother: “Woman, behold your son; and to the disciple, Here is your mother.” John 19:26,27. Talk about what finally matters~~~!

Blessings upon your family, friends, your brothers and sisters in Christ †

Pastor Barry

When The Alarm Sounds

In the comic book and in the movies, when BATMAN, the city crime fighter is needed, a spotlight image of a bat is sent into the night sky. Batman would respond. “One if by land, two if by sea” was the lantern signal that was to come from North Chapel in Boston to inform Paul Revere as he warned the patriots in Concord of the approaching British troops in 1775.

In our Matthew text we find Jesus first announcing the Kingdom of God only after he has heard that John the Baptist had been arrested. This gloomy, alarming event indicated the time was right to proclaim the work of God even in the darkness of fear, injustice, and spiritual captivity to the forces of violence and brutal power. The signal had been sent! Now is the time! Both Jesus and Paul take the next step of forming a community of brothers and sisters to strengthen one another to help point to the Kingdom of God and its transforming impact on both individuals and society. The “signal” had been seen and heard and the communal response followed soon after.

In most any life, whether individual, family, community, nation, times will appear (some threatening, some joyful) that signal the work of God in our midst. For some, it is simply changes in circumstances, behaviors, or thoughts. For others, it may be the dramatic moments brought on by crisis such as illness, death, or grave danger. These moments are “signals” to pay attention for God is very near and very intent on saving us from “all alarm or harm!” Faith is required for we are never strong enough to meet challenges with our own strength.

The journey of faith is not easy and safe but it is always momentous and engages us at the very center of our being! Just ask John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul and the wildly diverse individuals and groups that have followed in the Way that leads to life abundant (John 10:10).

Look for the “signals” in your life, in our life together!

See you soon, see you Sunday!

Blessings †

Pastor Barry

Water and Air

This First Sunday after Epiphany (Jan 6) is usually Baptism of Our Lord Sunday. Matthew 3:13-17 spells it out. That doesn’t mean it’s that easy to understand tho! Why should sinless Jesus need Baptism?

More to the personal….what about you and me? The church has traditionally encouraged Baptism as the initial moment of entry into the church also known as the Body of Christ or the Fellowship of Brothers and Sisters in Christ. The community of faith. And accompanied by at least the other Sacrament, Holy Communion. It’s hard to understand why someone would not present their infants for Baptism or present oneself as a teen or adult for Baptism at some point in life. As a hospital chaplain I was the celebrant for many a baptism in the Critical Care Nursery or for adults whose lives seemed threatened or illness had brought to mind the desire for baptism later in life. It is the one initial spiritual act that is practiced by most Christian communions (even if the understanding of its mode or significance differs!). Even Quakers or The Society of Friends who don’t ordinarily practice water baptism, do believe in what baptism signifies.

So, this Sunday we will Celebrate together The Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant UMH (p 50). For Those who have yet to be Baptized they can look forward to that day or at least ask questions about Baptism. Parents of infants and children can listen carefully to what that covenant is meant to be. And for those Baptized as Infants we can see how personal faith of others and our own personal faith at Confirmation go hand in hand with Baptism.

So, think of water and the spirit as you prepare for worship this week. Water as from the created world, spirit as given by the Creator.

Remember your Baptism!!

Grace and Peace to All~+

Pastor Barry