You Talking To Me?

Exodus 3:1-15, Romans 12:9-21 and Matthew 16:21-28

Robert Deniro, famous American actor, made the remark an international expression after his performance in the movie Taxi Driver In 1976. It can be said in various ways to indicate both sarcasm or seriousness.

As we read and hear the three scriptures for this Sunday’s worship we might ask ourselves if each passage is asking us to respond “You talking to me?!”

Moses is suddenly challenged in front of an unnatural burning bush to go and lead a captive people out of oppression. Jesus bluntly addresses the attitude of his disciple Peter as that of Satan: “Get behind me Satan!” And Paul preaches to congregants how to respond to the Good News of God’s unmerited favor upon them. Go and do likewise to your neighbor and even unto your enemies.

We should be listening closely this Sunday to whom are the words addressed: Me? Us? And to what end: daily discipleship and/or a wakeup call for a particular vocational or missional path?! Moses, I want you to do this! Peter, I want you to think about what you just said! Disciples in every congregation, here are concrete ways you live out your discipleship!

I’m going to believe someone will hear this Sunday and take it to heart: “You talking to me?!”

Blessings as you live as a disciple of Jesus Christ!

Pastor Barry


So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. – Romans 14:12

Nehemiah, the great rebuilder of Jerusalem, is a great example in the Bible of leadership, faith, and unshakable commitment. He didn’t let the huge task of the long-delayed restoration of Jerusalem discourage him. He realized that it was never too late for God’s people to begin the process. He took direct and forceful action. His faith, wisdom, and courage kept him focused on his goal. He was determined to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. He faced foreign opposition and discord amongst his own people, but the wall was completed in just fifty-two days. An incredible feat!

Soon after this victory, Nehemiah directed the people toward a second phase of restoration. He called upon the great teacher Ezra to lead the people in a study of the Scriptures. Confronted by God’s word, they were soon in tears because they could see the truth of how far they’d strayed from God’s law. They confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors. They accepted responsibility for generations of unfaithfulness on the part of their people and grieved openly before God.

When Nehemiah returned to Babylon, however, the people returned to their sinful ways. Nehemiah found himself once again putting the Jews back on a right path. This example of short-term restoration shows how prone we are to drifting away from what’s right if we’re not held accountable. The encouragement: it wasn’t too late to rebuild the wall, and it’s not too late to rebuild your life. Begin by doing the next right thing!

Heroes may not be braver than anyone else. They’re just braver five minutes longer. – Ronald Reagan

May God Bless each of you this week,

Chaplain Rob

Elvis and Other Gifts

Exodus 1:8-2:10, Romans 12:1-8 and Matthew 16: 13-20

Once a week, we gather in-person or on-line to worship. Before the health safety concerns of COVID19 we also could meet for Sunday School, weekly Bible study, other studies, hands on mission, multi church fellowship and meals together. It’s harder now to have these activities and will be for a while.

And on both sides of a Sunday worship, we have a total of 12 days which have a huge influence on what we see, do, believe, and act upon. In this unchosen season of limited congregational gathering, we need to step up our “spiritual reading” of those 12 other week days! By that I mean step up our paying attention to God’s daily gifts that come from our culture and society. For instance, how do we read the gift of Elvis? This past week was the anniversary of his death. How do we remember him and his gifts of music and entertainment? And other entertainers and public figures? And this past week we remember the anniversary of the Constitutional Amendment giving women the right to vote. Society and community give us numerous situations to maintain as well as change.

Add to these another hundred events that have somewhere within them a gift from God.

Our three scriptures emphasize the gifts of people in our lives especially in scripture but also in the here and now of our lives today. Exodus speaks of the midwives who obeyed God and saved Moses the infant. Paul reminds of the gifts each believer has to offer to others. And Jesus goes so far as to tell one of disciples that he (Peter and his confession) will be the initial gift that the church will be built on!

So, what can we hear and see during the week, outside our hour of group worship, that reminds us (and those we come into contact with) that God brings the gifts of others to us for blessings and for service!?

How does Elvis still bless us? And the work of another generation of women (and men) to bring forth full participation in our democracy? The gifts of God bestowed upon us are present throughout the week outside the walls of the church. Let us recognize and give thanks on all the days on each side of Sunday’s worship. We see and hear and receive so much from that which is all around us. Let us see God at work blessing us in so many ways day in and day out in the lives and gifts of others.

Sunday we will hear of ancient midwives, disciples, entertainers, church, activists, and even Elvis!


Pastor Barry

Working Things Out

Genesis 45:1-15, Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 and Matthew 15:21-28

Fifty-five years ago The Beatles released their hit song “We Can Work It Out.” A song about keeping a romantic relationship going. The list of “working it out” songs seems endless. Another song by the band Canned Heat says, “Let’s Work Together.” Probably very predictable since things go well and then….they don’t.

Our scriptures this Sunday all highlight the theme of not so much our working things out but how, when, and where GOD works things out. Who could see Joseph coming through his ordeal of betrayal, exile, and slavery to the point that he forgave his brothers and was reconciled with them? How could Jews and Gentiles ever be brought together after generations of living so differently from each other? How could a suffering Gentile woman thought of as a “dog” ever find acceptance and healing? Paul and Jesus give us answers and examples.

There is no end to scriptures confidently asserting that “God is all about Providence” or that “working things out” over time. Since we are locked into our past and present we find it hard to see the future. Our only contribution is faith and love in the present. Given how dire our human situations become it is imperative to hear what God is up to. And to hear, as we wait in our troubles and conflicts, that faith and love make a huge difference in our waiting until we arrive at God’s good future.

So, hold on since you are being held by God until that day!

Blessings as we head toward Sunday worship!

Pastor Barry

Out of the Pit, The Storm; Surprised But Safe!

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28, Romans 10:5-15 and Matthew 14:22-33

Seems like an early August sermon should be about the end of vacation and leisure and about back to school and work! More celebration than sadness! But this Summer has everything out of whack! We continue under the strain of 2020 perils. Summer routines and work and school and church and community life are way different for most of us this year.

Even so, the scriptures seem spot on. Joseph the youngest son of Jacob is done in by his own older brothers, Peter is sinking in the rough waters, and Paul points to salvation in spite of our failing efforts. Though the fallen world, our weak flesh, and many adversaries make life quite hard and troubled, we are reassured whatever “the evil intent against us, God intends to make good come out of our situation.”

That comes down to a matter of faith. Trust. When you are in the middle of feeling “no way out,” the best attitude, in spite of evidence to the contrary, is to trust that I too will climb out of the hole, come through rough storms, and arrive safe and saved!

Sometimes the best the Church can do while everyone is waiting for rescue is to repeat what it knows best: “All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” Romans 10:13. Sometimes the best the Church can do is to wait out the storms……together….in the same boat.

Let’s join together in worship and service and trust this coming Sunday and week ahead.

August blessings!

Pastor Barry