Life Surprises Death

Ezekiel 37:1-14 and John 11:1-45

A new “normal” continues in the life of our churches. We are still social distancing for the sake of the common good, public health, the extended international community. Worship will be “on line” without the congregation physically present. The work of the church continues in prayer, gifts, service, and witness but worship together is very different for a season.

So, in preparation for your participation in on line viewing, please read and pray your way through the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones revived and the apostle John’s testimony to Jesus raising a three day entombed Lazarus.

God was not finished with a captive and exiled Israel and God was showing us that physical death is not the end. Very dramatic, very powerful statements about God’s purposes and God’s faithfulness.

It always seems helpful to hear from those who lived through trying times like World Wars, The Great Depression of the Thirties, The 1918 Flu Epidemic, The Cuban Missile Crisis, 9/11. First hand witnesses remind us of how they persevered and what helped them overcome. Once again, our scriptures were present then to those in the past as they are now as witnesses to the Living God who goes with us.

We will hear and be reminded of the promise of God, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Death and fear have no hold on us! We are the Church together….in Spirit and in Truth.

This Sunday “tune in” once again on our Facebook page for worship!

The video will live stream at 11 am. Bookmark the link

Blessings during this challenging time!

Pastor Barry


Brothers and Sisters of Kedron,

March 22nd the Fourth Sunday in Lent, our sermon title is The Light Needed To Go On. The scriptures are Psalm 23, Ephesians 5:8-14 and John 9:1-41.

Read ahead and be encouraged! Watch and listen in as you can this Sunday. The video stream will be here on our Facebook page. Go the page at 11 am. Bookmark the link

Also, if you wish to see the latest post from Bishop McAlilly regarding the Coronavirus impact on our churches it can be found here.

Help each other during the weeks ahead. Pray and do what you can as opportunities unfold before you~~~+

We WILL meet again!

Pastor Barry

The Light Needed To Go On

Psalm 23, Ephesians 5:8-14 and John 9:1-41

Although we won’t be together in our sanctuaries this Sunday due to the public health concern, we will be together in Spirit and in Truth. And hopefully together in a media world of live streaming worship at 11 am Sunday from my living room! We will effort to video a service of Word and song as you watch in the safety of your own home. LeNoir will hold forth on piano and I will do my best to offer up the scriptures and a message. We may have some other musicians but we will all be practicing “social distancing” and safe public health practices! If you can’t watch then, the service will be posted for later viewing.

What we hope to hear from David, Paul, and John are encouraging words about seeing our way out of darkness and finding the true Light for our way forward. In John 9 there is a huge cast of characters not the least a blind man who will see and seeing people who are “blind.” Ephesians 5:8,9 tells people of faith that they are “children of light” and that “light produces fruit….goodness, justice, and truth.” Psalm 23….you already know by heart!

Read ahead and be encouraged! Watch and listen in as you can this Sunday. The video stream will be here on our Facebook page. Go the page at 11 am. Bookmark the link

Help each other during the weeks ahead. Pray and do what you can as opportunities unfold before you~~~+

We WILL meet again!

Pastor Barry

Pastor’s Update

Greetings Brothers and Sisters of Kedron.

This is the day the Lord has made! Rejoice and be glad in it!

Yet, how strange and different not to be in worship and fellowship together. It’s like it snowed ten inches but we can’t see it! I drove to both churches just to greet any possible unsuspecting worshippers or visitors. In the quiet I prayed and imagined “all the people we care for and share our lives with.”

I also watched a live steaming Facebook worship service from Goosepond UMC pastor Eric Ross. Jamie Brabham, singer and guitarist, was the only other one onscreen playing hymns. I think they broadcast from Eric’s house! I was blessed!

Hope you tuned in to a worship service somewhere (or will). LeNoir has been sick but watched Woodmont Baptist this morning. They did not gather as a congregation but the pastor preached and also had musicians.

There are many ways to worship until we return together at our respective congregations. And we may attempt our own FB service next Sunday! The technical details have to be worked out! If not that, we will look at other alternatives!

In any event, I will be sending out a worship “memo” later in the week. And I encourage all to find ways to support one another and “bear each other’s burdens” during this time of national emergency. Pray for one another and be well!

More later during the coming week. “Fear not!”

Peace and Grace,

Pastor Barry

Worship Service March 15

Brothers and Sisters,

It’s hard to imagine cancelling worship and fellowship but this comes as we are in a declared National Emergency and our Bishop is following the advice of health professionals both national and local. We want to be in solidarity with our fellow citizens of nation, state, and local communities. We want to support our health care personnel as they care for thousands affected.

As Sunday morning and other times of worship, study, and fellowship come and go, know that “this too shall pass.” “Fear not.” We will gather together again in due time. Avail yourselves of worship services broadcast on social media, tv, and radio. Commit to prayer during times you would have been together with others in prayer.

My intention is to be outside at both churches this Sunday (9:30 at Kedron; 11 at Locks). This is in case some might appear not having been aware of the cancellations. I will remain for prayer outside and then will go inside to pray in silence as a hope and promise to return soon as the church together in worship.

Peace and grace,

Pastor Barry

Ask Me a Question, Any Question

Exodus 17:1-7, Romans 5:1-11 and John 4:5-42

The past few weeks have been a challenging time for most of us. And out of those challenges of tornadoes and coronavirus and other personal demands and anxieties, we may well have looked upward with a host of heartfelt questions. Thanks be to God who is patient and allows for questions.

The Exodus is not going well for the Israelites. No water! They complain. Moses feels threatened by the people. God is asked questions! In John 4, a Jewish Jesus exchanges questions with a Samaritan woman who has had a rough life. By the end of that conversation she is bearing witness about Jesus to her neighbors!

Questions lead to answers, and answers lead to actions and new life. And even if the answers are less than clear or slow in coming, knowing that God loves us (Romans 5:8,9) strengthens us in the waiting for answers. We will need strength because waiting often drains us of energy and weakness on every level creeps in. God knows us and keeps us even in our weakness.

And so we wait……..but never alone!

Let’s be together this Sunday each seeking and requesting that living water that refreshes.

Pastor Barry

The Power of Words

Words have the power to heal, encourage, instruct, and bless. Yet too often we use our words to brag, deceive, confuse, and wound. The apostle James wrote, The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire ‘no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. – James 3:5-10

This should not be! Yet, this restless evil is a stumbling block to us all. So what can you do? James said no one can tame the tongue, so is it a lost cause? Maybe for men, but not for God. Submit your words to the Lord. He alone is able to change our hearts, and therefore, our poisonous words. But are you off the hook? No way. God calls us to strive after Him and bless the people around us. Below are thirteen practical ways to help you communicate without spreading a fire.

  1. Avoid the Words “Never” and “Always”
    These words are used when you are frustrated or irritated, but they cause the other person to feel unfairly accused. When you use these words, you are usually exaggerating and not communicating precisely. Using the words “never” and “always” may communicate your frustration, but they hurt the other person by creating defensiveness.
  2. Don’t Blame, Shame, or Call Names
    When you feel frustrated, hurt, or angry, you are tempted to strike back. You want the other person to feel what you are feeling. If you can blame or shame the other person, you think you will achieve a degree of satisfaction. But blaming and shaming statements cause both parties to feel miserable and will ultimately hurt the relationship.
  3. Use “I” Statements Rather Than “You” Statements
    It is much easier to hear someone say, “I’m feeling frustrated,” than to hear him or her say, “You frustrate me!” “You” statements cause people to feel blamed or accused. They can no longer listen with empathy because their attention is focused on defending themselves. Therefore, “you” statements are counterproductive to healthy, effective communication efforts.
  4. Say, “I am Hurt,” Rather Than, “I Am Angry or Mad”
    To increase your intimacy and decrease your aggression, you will want to reduce the number of times you use the words angry and mad. After you have been hurt in some way or another, it is a natural reaction to become angry. But more often than not, your hurt is your primary or root emotion. To communicate most effectively, you will want to express that root emotion. When you become frustrated, irritated, jealous, or hurt in some way, share those feelings rather than say that you are angry. When hurt is expressed, it leads to healing. But anger begets anger! Therefore, it’s best to share your hurt rather than your anger.
  5. Take a Time-Out
    If you become angry to the point of losing control or teetering on the edge of saying something purposely hurtful, we recommend that you call for a time-out. This technique protects your relationship from deteriorating further.
  6. Don’t Withdraw or Isolate
    When you withdraw or isolate, you hurt the other person. You create a situation where the other person feels ignored, cut off, or abandoned. Withdrawing can be perceived as a way to punish the other person. If you need to withdraw to stay in control of yourself, take a time-out.
  7. Repeat to the Person What He or She Said to You Before You Share Your Thoughts, Feelings, or Possible Solutions
    This process involves intentionally listening for the thoughts and feelings of your partner and then repeating them before sharing your thoughts and feelings. Acknowledging what the other person has shared is essential. First, it lets the other person know that you are listening intently, and he or she feels cared for. Second, it provides a way to check on the accuracy of what you heard. It keeps communication clear.
  8. Don’t Interrupt
    Give the other person a chance to share. Interrupt only if you need to ask a question to better understand what is being said. It is especially difficult not to interrupt when you hear your partner saying things that hurt you. Your natural tendency is to defend yourself. You may need to bite your tongue to keep from interrupting during these times, but forgo the temptation. You will need to tell yourself that you, too, will get a chance to share your feelings and thoughts, but you must wait until the other person is finished.
  9. Don’t Demand
    Rather than demand, ask! Demanding usually results in the other person’s feeling controlled. Since most of us felt controlled by our parents as children, we don’t respond well to demands. Demands can send shivers up our spines or even worse! It is much more effective to ask a question of the other person than to make demands. For example, ask, “Do you think you could?” or “Would you be willing to?”.
  10. Use the Phrase “I Would Like.” Rather Than “I Need”
    Rather than say, “I need you to listen to me!” say, “I would like it very much if you would listen to me.” To say, “I need,” is to sound more demanding of a person. Though you may have a legitimate need, it is still better to communicate with a statement of desire.
  11. Don’t Use Threats
    Threats can be detrimental to your relationship. You will have an instinctive tendency to use them when you feel hopeless, frustrated, or backed into a corner. Nevertheless, avoid threats at all costs. Call for a time-out, bite your tongue, but don’t use threats. Threats are identified by the keyword “if”:
    –“If you don’t stop nagging, I’ll…”
    –“If you ever do that again, I’ll…”

    Threats should be considered extreme measures that don’t solve conflicts.
  12. Be Affirming
    Thank the other person for listening intently. But be sincere! Work very hard at keeping your communication positive. Even when you disagree with what your partner is sharing, you can still thank him or her for communicating thoughts and feelings. You can thank your partner for sticking with the conversation rather than isolating or withdrawing. Someone once told us, “It takes ten positives to balance out one negative,” and we have found this to be true. Force yourself to communicate in affirming ways.
  13. Don’t Use the Statement “You Broke the Rule”
    These rules are designed to protect your relationship. Be careful not to use them to beat up or criticize each other. Rather than say, “You broke a rule,” it is better to say something like this:
    –“I felt hurt when you called me irresponsible.”
    –“I felt belittled when you told me I wasn’t smart enough to understand that concept.”
    –“I felt defensive when you told me that I never cared about anyone but myself.”
    “You broke the rule” has a way of shaming the other person because it is a “you” statement rather than an “I” statement. It would be better to say, “I would like us to work as hard as we can to follow our rules. I feel that it really hurts us when we don’t.”

Excerpted from “Let Love Change Your Life” by Roger and Becky Tirabassi

May we always chose our words wisely,

Chaplain Rob

In Storms: the Big Picture

Genesis 12:1-4a, Romans 4:1-5; 13-17 and John 3:1-17

This past week has been most difficult on many, while on others unaffected directly by tornados or the coronavirus, a persistent anxiety hasn’t gone away. And those two current threats may just lie in the background to other personal crises of sickness, divorce, financial strain, work stress, and personal conflict!

I would think that most people of faith are helped by praying, reading the Psalms, and being in fellowship with other Christians. We do have these spiritual resources which comfort and strengthen us.

And another source of meaning and purpose in the midst of struggle are the scriptures which reveal God’s The Big Picture! This Sunday’s texts show us God’s work and plan for all the ages. Abraham, Moses, righteousness by faith not works, and the New Birth should also be a comfort and strength when death, destruction, fear, and anxiety come knocking on our door.

These passages don’t answer in detail all the cries of our hearts but do put into “eternal perspective” what we go through in life whether good, bad, or just plain overwhelming.

In the final accounting of all that happens…..there is the Good News. John 3:16 wins! Come to worship Sunday and find comfort and strength and purpose and meaning. And these are to be shared together in community!

Blessings for the week~~~~+

Pastor Barry