Resisting the Authority

Deuteronomy 18:15-20, Revelation 12:1-6 and Mark 1:21-28

I offer these worship thoughts on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Some 6 million Jews were systematically killed by those in authority who wielded power and force with little resistance or protest from a nation. On this day 76 years ago the first allied soldier entered the death camps and began the rescue of those who somehow had survived.

Authority misused is a terrible abuse of a gift from God to be used in a fallen world. Our scriptures speak of the authority given to prophets and Jesus as revealed in powerful persuasion through calling attention to what God both offers and commands. The only force seen at work here is the voice of the genuine Old Testament prophet and the voice of the Crucified Lord who does not strike back against his enemies nor his executioners. It is not the authority of violence but that of suffering love.

These passages will confront us in worship and ask us whether we resist or ignore God’s authority and if we don’t, what do we do to affirm and follow God’s authority. And how does God’s authority interact with lesser authorities in nations, communities, institutions, and relationships?

In Mark 1:21-28 we see Jesus have authority over a demonic sprit and “ Amazement gripped the audience….What sort of new teaching is this? ….It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!”

We should still have many moments when even we today should be amazed at what we see and hear in the Living Lord! And do we obey when the Authority speaks?! Better still, what does our obedience look like?

We will trust and obey for there’s no other way………

See you Sunday in the sanctuary or on-line from your homes!

Pastor Barry †

Not What I Was Expecting

Jonah 3:1-10, I Corinthians 7:29-31 and Mark 1:14-20

Some Sunday scriptures may well leave us with more questions than answers as we leave for our homes after worship. This may well be one of those Sundays!

In Jonah we will hear of God who is intending to punish the huge city of Nineveh for their wickedness. And they are not Jews to begin with! Jonah is sent to call them to repent. They do and God seems to change his intentions. Jonah seems to be disappointed in God’s reconsideration! What is going on here?

And to those in Corinth who might be happy, or grieving, or married……Paul advises them to be “ as if these conditions are not that important” (??)! Why? Because the “time is short(?!)” How lightly are we to hold our commitments and our deepest emotions?

And in Mark, Jesus calls the sons of fisherman Zebedee to follow, but doesn’t seem to call father Zebedee or the hired hands who are all in the boat together. Why not all of them? Or at least the hired hands!

Absolutely fascinating passages of scripture! And challenging for those who notice things they weren’t expecting to hear from God, Paul, or Jesus! Challenging for “inquiring minds of 21st century disciples!”

Preachers and other students of the Bible come up with some kind of answers…..usually.

Pray for your preacher this Sunday! And don’t be too anxious. There is Good News in these scriptures besides some lingering questions! People repent, people hear their calling to follow, people live “as tho the time is short.”

See you this Sunday either in person or “on line!”

Pastor Barry †

Someone’s Calling; Anyone Listening?

I Samuel 3:1-20, Revelation 5:1-10 and John 1:43-51

There are certainly a lot of voices in public life these days. Of course, we are always being addressed in some form or fashion: “Come here!” “Stop that!” “Help me please!” “Huddle up!” “Watch out!” “Love you.” “Do this!”

And if not being spoken to directly, we can’t but overhear what others are saying. Reading and hearing the scriptures for today, we overhear Samuel and Eli and God in communication with each other. Jesus and Nathaniel and Phillip. Then an angel in Revelation! What will each of us hear for ourselves as we overhear these exchanges?

At the very least, a call to follow and to do are before us. These are divine calls above and beyond much else that is Babel today. Current voices that are important to listen to but are not ultimately to guide us to what is Ultimate. And what is Ultimate and Eternal should take priority at the end of the day’s voices. This is humbling and asks a certain humility and patience from us. We don’t know how much attention to give to social, political, and earthly voices when God has a Word for us that is above our words. Yet, we live in this imperfect world, not some unrealistic Utopia. Here is where we live out our three score and ten.

That is our task……discernment. Wisdom. Asking, seeking, knocking. Then choosing to follow Someone who is the Way, the Truth, the Life. No one said it was easy. But together we learn best. “Come see,” says Phillip to Nathaniel. We all might do well to be both Nathaniel the questioner, the seeker and Phillip the follower in listening and conversing with the Lord.

Other voices in our current state of the world then will be given their rightful temporary place in our living out lives to the fullest and with the most responsibility!

Hello? Let’s listen.

Blessings in the time ahead!

Pastor Barry

Cleansing, Sealing, Sending

Genesis 1:1-5, Acts 19:1-7 and Mark 1:4-11

This coming Sunday we will renew our Baptismal vows. At first thought how does remembering our Baptism possibly address the current unrest in our country and in the world? One seems all about “religion” and the other about worldly government. Yet, as we read our scripture we see that Baptism points to the One who bestows “good changes” upon a sinful and troubled people.

And it points to the One who was without sin but dwelt in the very midst of a sinful world. “For God so loved the world……” Change is often the demand of the day. And what needs to change? “I yam what I yam” said Popeye! Was that a cry for help or just a statement of a retired sailor?! We too are like Popeye in that we are what we are but that we are also a “work in progress!”

If nothing else, this Sunday we will hear what God is about and why God does not give up on us. Baptism is always a sign of what God has done and is still doing!

We often need all the help we can get!

Pray for both church and nation as we gather to worship on this Baptism of Our Lord Sunday.


Pastor Barry