Let Us Be Free

July 4th is two days after our worship of God on July 2. Independence Day tends to be a full-fledged national celebration with fireworks, outdoor food and fun. We celebrate having become an independent nation. No longer a colony of another nation.

In church, we will see what Moses, Paul, and Jesus say about our attempts to be “independent and free.” Sure as the world (and Garden of Eden, and first century religious life), the notion of freedom takes on different meanings from our July 4th history. Or do the two overlap or relate somehow?!

When Paul says “For freedom, Christ has set you free,” what can that mean to citizens of the USA after being a colony? And how close to our Declaration of Independence is Jesus when he says, “The truth will set you free?”

Freedom will always mean something a bit different from nation to nation and age to age. But, as people of Christian Faith we look to Jesus for the deepest understandings about freedom from the power of Sin and Death, from the Fallen World and freedom for The Kingdom of God. When we celebrate Holy Communion is that not a Declaration of Freedom?

This Sunday from both pulpit and from God’s Table we will celebrate freedom!

See you Sunday in both Red, White and Blue as well as our Liturgical colors of Green and White! Fireworks indeed!

May summer blessings continue!

Pastor Barry

Saddle Bags, Back Packs, the Gospel Trail

This Sunday the third Sunday after Pentecost, the scriptures are Genesis 21:8-21, Romans 6:1-11 and Matthew 10:24-39.

None of these scriptures are about rest and relaxation! Hey, it’s Summer vacation time, you say!? How about passages for going on family trips, time away from work and school? Time for play and excitement of freedom!

Actually…. a case can be made for such with the Genesis, Matthew, and Romans texts. Or at least a few days out, the effort is being made! All these involve a sense of journey, a sense of God’s calling us to nothing less than a full life, a full scale adventure involving all ages and all types of families and stages of life.

It does require getting in the saddle, packing the back pack, preparing to go somewhere! Think of a Westward movement, a trip to the frontier, to something of an Undiscovered Country!

As many of you know, LeNoir and I just returned from a trip to Colorado. That’s out West! We went up into the old silver mine mountains. Rode an old smoky train through rough gorges and across mountain streams. We saw a museum exhibit about Art and Cinema in telling the story of the Westward movement. And on Sunday, during Children’s Time, there may be people with a Western heritage telling us stories of The Wild West! Well, not wild like the 1800s, but close!

How does this fit with our scripture? I just say read and there will be a real sense of adventure and discovery not unlike stories of adventure we have heard from the USA West!

Let’s say this is what we are looking for…..God being our helper!

Blessings pardners!

Pastor Barry

Dancing, Singing, Shouting, Praising

Psalm 100 is a dancing, singing, shouting, praising, happy day kind of scripture. On our best days we can easily relate to such joy in the Lord. To hear God’s love endures forever (v.5) and God’s faithfulness is for ALL generations, we feel secure for ourselves and for our future loved ones.

Romans 5:1-8 is dense. Thick with meaning in every verse. I usually need to read s-l-o-w-l-y and then go back and reread. And the images are painful: dying, suffering, being ungodly, powerless, sinners. It’s a good thing (also joyful and worthy of dancing and shouting) that Jesus died for us to overcome those painful realities within us and around us in others.

It’s like mixing oil and water, day and night, pepper and salt, and somehow all come together in Jesus’ life, death, and Resurrection for OUR benefit….altho there is nothing in us that would ordinarily be worthy of someone dying for us. You have to use the word “extraordinary.”

Our preacher this Sunday is Connor Williams of Brentwood UMC, seminarian at Wesley Seminary in Washington, DC. He is a summer Intern at MTSU Wesley Foundation and over at Fellowship UMC. This local young man is on that remarkable journey where he walks between happy Psalm 100 and dense, thick, deep scripture like the book of Romans! As a ministerial student dedicated to a life time of bible study and ministry, of moving in and through our faith as well as earthly moments that try our faith, he comes to be with us.

Pray for him these next few days and be sure to read these passages in preparation for his sermon before you worship on Sunday. He will put in his preparation time and will appreciate and benefit from your worshipful participation and even your constructive “feedback.” In due time, and in our connectional church life he might well be your pastor someday! You are helping prepare the way for him to be among us into another generation. God doesn’t call the qualified, God qualifies the called! (By the way…that includes laity as much as clergy!). So, we are all students of God’s word hoping to find our way together for shouting and singing, and for being free from sin’s hold on us and death’s power over us!

God bless us all, in all generations!

Pastor Barry

Predators, Perfection, and Brentwood

Not all follow hockey. Not all are perfect. Only some will go to Brentwood UMC June 11-13 for The Tennessee Annual Conference. But all of the above come together in some way in our three scripture readings this Sunday. Even if you don’t follow the Nashville Preds you are probably aware that this team is on the verge of possibly winning the Stanley Cup within the next week. Even if you don’t imagine yourself being made perfect, your future (and present) preachers vow to that goal when asked the question next week when standing before the Bishop, Lay, and Clergy Delegates. And Brentwood UMC hosts thousands of Methodists striving to spread Good News and make disciples as in Matthew 28:16-20.

“Pastor,” you may ask? “What does a professional hockey team have to do with us as Christians, as Methodists?” Well….I am working on that! The Bible says a lot about “being in the world but not of it.” But “God so loved the world!” And Jesus said “Go into all the world….and make disciples.” He also said “Be ye therefore perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

This is a lot to prayerfully ponder! Read the scriptures before you come to worship this Sunday and see where the Spirit leads you in thinking about YOUR being part of the Great Commission, being a United Methodist, and whether or not you “could” be a Predators fan, a fan of a Tennessee team possibly about to be “perfect!” If only the Church were perfect(!). If so, it will be the work of God more than us~†

Blessings as you pray, read, and “go into all the world.”

Pastor Barry

Who Is Driving This Accord?

In one accord? All in agreement say “aye.” “Nay,” the same.

Most congregations agree on most matters and then comes a season where there are some “nays.”

The early first century church was no different nor has it been for over 2000 years. But, still the church persists. And serves. And worships God. Paul and the other epistle writers reveal both the unity and diversity of the congregations in the early years of the Christian Faith. Jews and Gentiles had to learn how to eat together (literally) and Romans and Greeks, slave and free, male and female had to love one another so as to be one “Body of Christ,” the Church.

Something we have to grow into in each generation it seems! The mark of a true church may be in how lovingly it agrees to disagree. Now that has to be the work of the Spirit! And that may be the one accord we can hope for. Love.

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday and we praise the Holy Spirit and our being “one in the Spirit” when we are at our best in “being the church!” Whether you come in a Honda or in a Ford or in a Dodge let us pray we are in “one accord!”


Pastor Barry