Mountains and Glory

Our last Sunday after Epiphany goes out in a blaze of glory! The Transfiguration of Jesus. And not only his three buds, Peter, James, and John get to witness this, but Moses and Elijah make “guest appearances.” This is so dazzling and marvelous to Peter that his reaction is to want to build “shelters” there on the mountain. In constructing “tents or tabernacles” like in the wilderness God’s presence in Glory went with them. Peter may want this Transfiguration to last a long, long time! He was on a “spiritual high!”

Most of us have had a mountain top experience both in the literal sense as well as the spiritual. I’ve been thrilled (and partly terrified) to be up on Pikes Peak and Mt Evans in the Rockies. Mt Palomar in Southern California. Mt Leconte in the Smokies. Some spiritual element was part of all of these experiences. Holy awe and reverent fear came upon me in varying degrees in all locations. Heaven and earth meet on the mountain tops. Faith IS experience not just inner thoughts, beliefs, and practices. But faith as trust is the “train” engine, not experience. If we depended primarily on experience, we might have jumped off the “church train” a long time ago. Pain, disappointment, and struggles can take their toll on our spiritual life. Faith as trust is good in the valleys as much as on the mountains!

This will be made even more real as we move from the glorious celebration of God’s Light during Epiphany into the shadows of Lent. A time of emphasis upon self-examination of sin and Darkness in our lives as Jesus moves toward the Cross. We walk with Him on that journey. Peter, James, and John do come down off that mountain of Transfiguration and walk through the valley of the shadow of death with their Lord toward Golgotha.

Such is our life of faith as well. Highs and lows. Sort of like everyone’s life isn’t it?! But, the difference is….we know Jesus is with us…..alive!
God bless us as we worship in all seasons and in all places!

God bless us all!

Pastor Barry

John, Henri, Friendship 7, Neighbors

One could write a book on being a good neighbor! The Bible is the place to “unwrap” both the meaning of “good” and the meaning of “neighbor.” Our lives are meant to be about finding within the Word of God guidance to the Ultimate Good (GOD) and understanding who is “my neighbor.” A daily task for a lifetime!

Robert Frost, poet, once wrote, “Good fences make good neighbors.” There is a practical wisdom to that advice but being a good neighbor goes way beyond any notion of boundaries. We often look for examples both biblical and from human history to help us model or imitate or at least learn about matters of the good and of the neighbor.

It is fitting to look at the occasion of Feb 20 which is the anniversary of astronaut John Glenn’s epic space ride in Friendship 7 around our earth three times. He was one who set us a Christian example in his profession, citizenship, personal life as a Presbyterian elder, and as a neighbor to a Holocaust survivor Henri Landwirth. We will look to some others around us as well. Maybe we will hold our mirror up so we can look at a person who scripture says we should love just as we love the neighbor!

Once again the Bible speaks to that earthly combination of God-with-us, the neighbor, and ourself. If we overlook any of the three…..we have missed the whole point of learning from the Bible!

At our best, we are lifelong learners! Make this Sunday worship and Bible study one of your best days to “learn.” Take a personal life trip more exciting than a ride around the earth three times!

God bless and hope to see you in worship!

Pastor Barry

God’s Not Finished With Me Yet! Are You?

Well, we will have our work cut out for us this week! On first reading of these texts, there does not appear to be much “grace,” unmerited favor, nor hope for us! There is a heaping hand full of DEMANDS. (Maybe less so in Paul but read on!). And little room for excuses. The Israelites over hundreds of years experienced this and so has the church for over 2000 years. Yet….maybe…..surely….there is a way forward in 2017 and until the Lord draws all things to a close with a New Heaven and a New Earth.

I suspect if we sing Trust and Obey we will come close to finding a way. Or Amazing Grace! Or Love, Mercy, and Grace! I will leave it to our music directors to find more “demanding hymns.” They are there. I think…..

We will look at a Wesleyan perspective as best we can. That was always first Justification By Faith (not works) but without any neglect of Sanctification. Wesley called for holiness but always a social holiness.

We will also look at those fellow soul mates who set out to “live biblically” and either found a satisfying way of life or became insufferable judges and legalists! And you know how Paul felt about legalism!!

I’m getting ahead of myself! My suggestion: pray about these scriptures and step out in faith! We can do this. Together!

See you Sunday!

Pastor Barry

Shadows, Light, Fog

February has arrived. That blessed month after the “winter” of January. Of course, it’s not that easy. February can be both winter AND spring, cold and warm, light and dark.

We should not be surprised that “light and dark” are themes for living in both church and society. For instance, Feb 2 is the celebration of Candlemas. When Infant Jesus was presented in the Temple, Simeon took Him in arms and called Him a “light to lighten the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32). Churches have traditionally held processions holding candles in honor of Christ as the Light of the World. Echoing our more recent Groundhog Day rhyme, “If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, Winter will have another flight; But if it be dark with clouds and rain, Winter is gone, and will not come again.” Sounds like the groundhog got its tradition from Candlemas! If he sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter!

Light and dark, shadows. Themes today run throughout scripture. Light to find our way. Dark because we act darkly and willfully live in the dark. Jesus insisted His disciples would be the “light of the world” so that God’s glory would be seen in their service to others. Of course, the disciples discipleship is always compromised by their “dark side” living as we do in shadows at times. The end result is Jesus must be the ultimate Light of the World lifted up on a cross for all to see!

It’s a great, true story this living between Light and Dark! We best be about retelling that story whenever we get lost in life’s “shadows and fog.” A story that actually finally saves us from ourselves! Away from Darkness and into Light” may your February be filled with the Light of Christ!


Pastor Barry