Saints: All In The Family

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:12

November 3rd is the Sunday in which we celebrate All Saints Day (November 1st) in worship. We remember and spiritually commune with the Church Triumphant, those “dear departed” of our faith community.

Our own Delann Dunbar has creatively written a message as delivered by our children and youth. In their presentation we will learn about the history of All Saints Day while hearing about grandparents and then being amused by a youthful clown skit about….the Saints!

Surrounding this message in Word and Visuals, we will be led by our choir in singing from the old Cokesbury hymnal which predates our United Methodist Hymnal by many decades. String music will remind us of that coming Unclouded Day. And Holy Communion will instill within us the hope of sitting at the Heavenly Banquet Table on the “other side.”

The Gospel text for our worship is a call to be “blessed” and what the blessed saints (you and I and the dear departed) both do and also receive.

Come to worship on All Saints Sunday!

Pastor Barry

Living Past Fear

While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. – Luke 1:11-12

Fear is an interesting emotion. The more we give in to being afraid, the more afraid we tend to become.

When Zechariah saw an angel, his reaction was the same as Mary’s reaction when an angel visited her. Both were overwhelmed with fear. But in each case, the angel’s message to them was, “Don’t be afraid” (Luke 1:13, 30). God does not want his people to live in fear!

Often, when we give our lives away to the seeming needs of others, our basic motivation is fear. We are afraid to be ourselves and afraid of others’ reactions. (If you struggle with such feelings, know that you are not alone.) God provides what we need to live beyond these fears:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Notice that Paul states this to his protégé, Timothy, as something that has already happened. God has given us power. If we’re still living in fear, we simply haven’t chosen to receive this gift.

Ask Yourself
Describe a typical situation in which you feel fear. How could you move against that fear?

Memorize 2 Timothy 1:7 and repeat it to yourself whenever you are faced with a fearful situation.

Ask God
God of power and love, thank you for your gift of power, love, and self-discipline. Help me to trust you and face fearful situations in your power. Help me to hear your voice saying to me, “Don’t be afraid.”


Chaplain Rob

Halloween or Bible Costumes?

Joel 2:23-32, 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 and Luke 18:9-14

Well, if the weather forecast holds up, October 31 will be a rainy day. You might expect the Halloween costumes on all the Trick-or-Treaters to be more visible as the fun activities move indoors! Zombies? Dracula? Disney characters? Video game characters?

Regardless, it is THE one day of the year that costumes of all kinds of characters overwhelm shirts, jeans, skirts for the evening. And many congregations will join in on the fun in some way. Trunk or Treat out of the cars in church parking lots or host a “Fall Festival” themed party with less emphasis on the “scary!” Most churches accept the popular culture moment of Halloween but hesitate to engage some of the ideas that lie behind Halloween’s origins.

This Sunday’s texts will help us think a bit about that fine line between popular culture e.g. movies, TV, social media, entertainment and the like. We will hear about and see imaginatively the prophet Joel, the Tax Collector, the Pharisee, St Paul, and images of both doom and salvation. Our cast of Halloween characters in costume probably won’t look much like Bible characters, but we will see how some of the same Biblical themes of Evil, Fear, Death, Salvation are “played out” in scary characters in festive and light hearted ways e.g. Trick or Treat.

Dressing up as a prophet, Pharisee, Tax Collector, or St Paul for Halloween just doesn’t seem to work for most! Is it because the matters are too serious to be set into a fun, lighthearted occasion? If so, can the fun costumes and characters of the Fall season still give us “hints” about things of the Spirit?! Let’s see how that plays out as we hear the Word this Sunday in the season of Halloween!

Blessings even in this “scary” time!

Pastor Barry

Changing the Way You Think

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. – Romans 12:2

This Scripture passage presents us with a choice. We can either pick up the behaviors and customs of this world, or we can let God transform us into our true selves.

Stated that way, it doesn’t seem like a hard choice. Who wouldn’t want to be transformed by God? And yet most of us find it extremely difficult to resist the influence of the world around us.

Almost without knowing it, we absorb ideas, attitudes, and habits that keep us stuck in our old, reactive ways.

Jesus says, “Don’t worry.” But we can’t sleep because of anxiety or worrying about the past.

Jesus says, “Love your neighbor.” But we’re concerned that the wrong sort of person has moved in next door or we find it hard to love some people.

Jesus says, “The truth will set you free.” But we can’t help thinking that little white lies can make everything easier and honesty with others is sometimes hard.

The key point Paul is making is that transformation begins with changing the way we think. Our thoughts generate our feelings, and our feelings generate our behaviors. If we want to live and act the way God wants us to, we must begin by thinking differently.

Ask Yourself
What are some of the behaviors and customs you have picked up from the world?

Do you agree that our thoughts generate our feelings? Have you ever seen this work in your life?

Ask God
Dear Jesus, I want to become my true self—the person you created me to be.

Give me discernment to recognize when I have picked up worldly thinking, and help me replace those thoughts with your thoughts.

My prayer is that each of us will find where we have “stinking thinking” and prayerfully offer that part of our lives to God so that we can be transformed today.


Chaplain Rob

Letting Go of Your Past

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14

Are you living a life of ‘if only’s’?

If only I had made better decisions.
If only I had been brought up in a better family.
If only I had spent more time with the children.
If only you had said I’m sorry or I was wrong

Sometimes this ‘if only’ thinking is projected onto others:

If only you hadn’t been so stupid.
If only you had made more money.
If only you hadn’t failed to understand our child.

‘If only’ thinking takes all of a person’s energy and emotions and uselessly spends that energy on a destructive rehash of the past, through the dank marshes of what might have been.

This focus is so all-consuming that it leaves you without strength or motivation to resolve the past and move on to achieve your future. . . a future full of possibilities that God puts before you, that He wants you to take hold of.

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. – Will Rogers


Chaplain Rob

The Long Haul of Faith

Jeremiah 31:27-34, 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 and Luke 18:1-8

When did you come to believe? Remember? Or have there been many times when you said, “I believe Lord (but) help Me in my unbelief!”

Our Timothy passage speaks of the influence from childhood of Timothy’s mother and grandmother. He was taught the Holy Scriptures (the OT in this context) early on. How about you? Who was there for you while growing up in the Faith?

With trust in God as your basic attitude have there been times when you found that you had to be persistent in prayer to get through or beyond the unknown stretches when the going got rough?! Jesus tells his disciples a parable about a persistent widow appealing to a bad judge to get justice on a matter. Jesus says to his disciples: “will you be that persistent in faith until the dramatic End of Time?!”

Can we imagine ourselves 10-20 years out? Through thick and thin, holding on with trust and prayer to those points down the line?! This is the question Jesus proposes and is confident (cf – 2 Timothy) that we will be faithful. And being faithful is something that is not ours alone to do; we have mothers and grandmothers, Dads and Granddads, friends and neighbors who help us be “persistent!”

All this is meant to be encouraging for the “long haul” until the “Son of Man comes” – Luke 18:8.

Some days we throw up our hands in frustration over a thousand afflictions. Just keep in mind the One toward whom you throw up your hands! God is far, far more caring than the Unjust Judge who reluctantly grants the persistent widow her request.

Keep the faith everybody!

Pastor Barry

Lord, Increase Our Faith!

Psalm 111 and Luke 17:5-19

Rev. John Collett returns for an “encore presentation” while your pastor observes the day at Locks Memorial’s Homecoming. John has generously booked in the two Sundays in a row. He may become a “regular!”

Our United Methodist way of doing church may have several drawbacks, but the availability of committed and trained preachers and the continuity of worship has been a plus. We ARE a connected people serving a Lord who is all about “increasing our faith.” A healthy working relationship between clergy and laity was one of John Wesley’s goals of leadership and few denominations have done as well as the United Methodist Church in mutual leadership by clergy and laity.

Needless to say, there will always be room for improvement, repentance, and reform! The church does not rest only on the past! Ever onward by renewed faith is our guiding theme.

Join John this Sunday at Kedron, pray for your sisters and brothers at Locks and look for your pastor to reappear October 20th…..”God willing!”

Prayers and blessings~~~†

Pastor Barry

There’s Still Room At The Table

Rev. John Collett brings our message this World Communion Sunday and will preside at the Lord’s Table. Many of you know John from his service as an Elder in The Conference where he has been a pastor, DS, Assistant to the Bishop, and now at Martin College. John and my wife LeNoir served together at Donelson Heights UMC way too many years ago!

He brings a message which will “focus on World Communion Sunday with a take on the Table of Jesus as the Table to which all in the community are invited and that the church ‘longs for’ those who are missing from the Table. It will be a kind of ‘evangelism of the Table” theme.”

Pray for the gathering this Sunday and pray for the one who leads in Word and Table.

Blessings, prayers, and hopes~~~+

Pastor Barry