Kickoff to Humility and Blessedness

Micah 6:6-8, I Corinthians 1:18-31 and Matthew 5:1-12

God starts off as being the Supreme Giver. We have because God is the giver of life, liberty, and blessings. Along the way there are commandments, “requirements,” and wise ways of doing things!

At every point in life, God knows we are embedded in the earth! We are in the world. We live and move and have our being in God. Therefore it’s not surprising when the Bible seems to address most every element in human existence. And if not a direct address at least enough for us to effort a “spiritual” comment on most events in life. Which gets us to the Super Bowl, Kobe Bryant, and Groundhog’s Day! Kobe’s life and death, as are everyone’s, are more important but a Christian is free to ponder the other two in light of God’s activity and presence always amongst us.

That being said, let us hear the width and depth of Jesus’ Beatitudes in Matthew 5 as he considers the wide ranging human condition and life in the world in all possible blessedness. What is it to be blessed in situations of humility, poor spirit, and grief? What does it take “to inherit the earth?”

Ponder your “blessings” as you prepare for worship this February 2. Think upon the gracious gifts to us from God as we encounter both joy and sadness, fun and seriousness from day to day, event to event, moment to moment.

See you in worship!

Pastor Barry

When, Where, What?

Isaiah 9:1-4, I Corinthians 1:10-18 and Matthew 4:12-23.

The passage from Matthew is about being called….to follow. Most of us know a hundred kinds of calls, some joyfully anticipated, some dreaded. As a child playing outside in complete joy in the summer, the call from mother to come inside is hard to hear. “Supper. Come wash your hands.” Or the call to your parents from your teacher! Oh no! Then as adults…who wants a call from their physician to come talk about test results. Or the call from the bill collectors! And so on….

On the other hand, the call from Jesus should be met with excitement and gladness: “We get to go with the Master for great things!” The concern is if we think the call is just at one time in life e.g., when a person is “called into the ministry.” No, there are many different calls from Jesus throughout life. Do we have “ears to hear?”

The so called Stages of Life each seem to have a call or specific demand upon us: childhood, education and training, employment, marriage, parenthood, aging. We do ask ourselves along the way, “What am I to do next?”

Sunday we will listen in on the various ways and means Jesus calls us throughout life. One big question to each and all: “are we holding still long enough to listen?!”

Listen in this Sunday in worship! What is the call to YOU? To US?” Jesus is calling.

Pastor Barry

Together With All Those Who….

Psalm 40:1-11, I Corinthians 1:1-9 and John 1:29-42

This coming week of January 17-25 is the designated Week of Prayer For Christian Unity. A time of prayerful reflection on the state of the Church through time and history into our current year of 2020. The primary text for the sermon is from I Corinthians 1:2 where the emphasis is on our “togetherness in Jesus Christ.” Paul is appealing for unity. Needless to say, he notes some conflict, disagreement, and power plays going on and proceeds to make a case for overcoming dissension and turmoil. He will reach a high point in chapter 13, “the love chapter.”

A worthy aspiration! The worldwide church is a grand marvel in all its diversity! And a beautiful experience when worship and service is shared by the millions of the faithful.

Yet, we live in both a world and a Church in which we are often not “of one mind.” It’s not a new concern. St. Paul wrote most of his epistles addressing issues and differences in the local churches.

The intent and aspiration is there to be of “one mind and spirit” but the practice of such is an ongoing struggle requiring daily “renewing of our mind” in this life. Thus, we will be reminded in worship this Sunday of the call to be “together in Christ Jesus.” As John Wesley said, “If your heart is as my heart, give me your hand.” Wonderful things happen when people work together in the name of Jesus.

See you Sunday, see you in the world!

Pastor Barry

Tattoos and Baptisms

Isaiah 42:1-5, Acts 10:34-43 and Matthew 3:13-17

Tattoos are not just for Popeye and other sailors these days! Somewhere between Generation X and Millennials tattoo parlors have increased a hundred fold! (I’m guessing!). Young adults like their tattoos. A mark, a sign, an image, a badge of identity. These messages of bodily ink tell us something about the person’s values, interests, and sense of who they are or aspire to be.

And that thought gets me to Baptism, a sign, a gift, an identity. And that sign comes from God and says cleansing, promise, Death and Resurrection, a “mark of belonging!” Baptism is our beginning in Christ and ultimately our Ending in Christ.

In our scriptures for today Isaiah is saying God’s promises are to be trusted and we are to long for their fulfillment. Matthew has the unexpected Baptism of Jesus (He doesn’t need this!!!!?”) by the prophet John who says this baptism is for “repentance.” Jesus is without sin! Yet, the sign is given and God is “well pleased with His Son.” This Son will now baptize with the “Holy Spirit and fire!” Power and purification!

There are many sermons in the making regarding baptism, but Sunday will focus on Jesus’ baptism, while we will each be called to consider the Christian “marks” upon each of us including our baptism.

If you have a tattoo….you will NOT be asked to show it, unless you want to! But you will be asked to consider your baptism, your covenant with God, your life in the Holy Spirit!

As Acts 10:43 says, “….everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

And so we confess our faith in this year 2020~† See you in worship this Sunday!

Pastor Barry

Fresh New Beginnings

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14 and Matthew 2:1-12

So another annual cycle of 12 months begins! And so God is still about bringing New Life in Christ where once was only a dead past. We all have some element about our past that chains us while we long to be set free for fresh new beginnings. The psalmist and Matthew tell us about the work of Kings….one worthy and the other not so worthy. And how God is for righteous leadership for the sake of others in need.

Angela Ford, from Lascassas UMC, will bring our message for January 5 in the “newest” of 2020. She is a Lay Speaker long involved in a ministry to troubled youth originally founded by her mother. As Angela has provided leadership in this community ministry she has sought ongoing training and is expecting to be recognized as a fully certified Lay Minister come this Annual Conference 2020.

We are grateful for her presence with us on Sunday and she will assist our Communion stewards as well as hold forth in the Word. Pray for her service as a Lay Speaker/Lay Minister as she follows where God leads her. Pray for one another as we each develop our spiritual gifts for the sake of one another in church and in the world as we enter the new world of 2020.

Pastor Barry