All Hallow’s Eve, Ghosts, Hope

Psalm 146, Mark 6:45-53 ansd Revelation 20:1-6

Halloween is second only to Christmas in commercial sales for a holiday! Costumes, food, candy, party items, and “scary” movies have an amazing appeal! And for it to fall on a Sunday seems be in stark contrast to what most Sunday worship centers upon!

Yet, Halloween is All Saints Eve! All Saints Day is Nov 1 and it is a day to remember all the Saints, the dear departed of the faith. How the day before became Halloween has a long history and is indeed connected to certain aspects of the. Christian faith. Death and our human mortality for instance.

Our three texts key in on our very finite limited existence as well as God’s intention to have the Last Word on human creation those made a “little lower than the angels.”

The Psalmist is very direct about death as “the end of all our planning.” But Revelation points to God’s Big Picture using colorful images of Hope. The Mark text reveals some notion of first century thoughts about visions, assumptions about post mortem existence, and some ways of expressing the mystery of human Being.

The sermon will explore how much of Biblical thought about life and death has made its way into popular culture in ways both good and not so good. Halloween even with its emphasis on “fun” can be confusing and misleading when trying to come to grips with our mortal life and our Eternal Life.

No wonder the Church has had an uneasy relationship with Halloween for many generations! We can see the fun kids have but also consider the deeper thoughts and feelings that lie behind both Halloween and All Saints Eve.

Blessings in your prayerful consideration of both church life and our popular culture we move in and out of each day!

Pastor Barry †

A Change is Going To Come

Job 42:1-17, Hebrews 7:23-28 and Mark 10:46-52

Things in each life may stay the same for years. But, they just don’t stay the same forever! Moments present themselves and change can come by unwelcome force or by inner will.

Suffering Job’s moment came in dialogue with God. The blind beggar Bartimaeus seized the moment and asked for help. In the Hebrews text we are told who makes the change to come about. We have a high priest who intercedes for us, bids us to follow.

Change can come slowly or suddenly, quietly or loudly, alone or with others. The one thing to keep in mind is that God is in the midst of the change. What will we make of that?

Life is like a flowing river. We are carried along. We can grab an out cropping of rock and try to stay put for a while. But at some point we let go and go again with the flow. Sometimes the waters are fairly calm and at other times it’s like being in white water racing toward more rapids or a waterfall!

For the person of faith, as scary or uncertain as the stream may be, there will always be a Life Jacket to keep us safe, to help us change around in the water and keep our head up as we are pulled along toward the river’s End.

A change is going to come. Why not expect it to include a blessing for you as once for Job and Bartimaeus? Yes, it may be during a rough time in life, but a blessing nonetheless!

As the season of Fall reminds us so well, changes will come!

Pastor Barry †

Humility, the Apostles, Al Capone

Job 38:1-7, Psalm 104:1-9 and Mark 10:35-45

Lovely October Fall isn’t it? So far so good. The outdoors beckons as does get- togethers and travel to the hills and mountains. People notice God’s handiwork, Nature, in all it’s awesomeness and beauty!

Such an awareness of the majesty, mystery, and marvel of Creation often leads to a humility in knowing our human place and limitations in the world. Or according to Job and many of the Psalms.

Well, in spite of the disciples having those scriptures and seeing Jesus’ good examples of servanthood, they were not very humble but rather inclined to having power and glory for themselves. Hard lessons were to follow the disciples for years to come.

It’s not much different today or in any generation. Power, ambition, greed, pride beckon us all too often. Al Capone, gangster during Prohibition and beyond, is an example of most of the “vice list” above. On October 17, 1931 he went to prison after years of crime and a clear lack of humility and willingness to serve anyone but himself.

He is an extreme example of the failure to learn from Job, the Psalms and the teachings of servant Jesus. Sadly we all will be tempted in that direction even if to a lesser degree than one of the most infamous criminals.

Let us take to heart the message from these scriptures and examine ourselves during the beautiful, magnificent season in God’s Creation. We are part of that. Let’s just be reminded of our place and role and identity in the world!

Enjoy God’s gifts and be humble!

Pastor Barry †

Lights, Camera, Action!

Jonah 3:1-5 and Mark 1:14-20

“Lights, camera, action!” We’ve heard that expression all our lives (if you are over 50!). And these scriptures are just right for filming or for visualization of some kind.

Jonah is told a second time to go to Ninevah a city with a bad reputation. A big city. “Repent,” is the message. They do and then the story shifts later to Jonah’s less than good attitude about the sinners repenting.

In Mark, while John the Baptist is in jail, Jesus repeats the call to repent since the Kingdom of God is upon us. And to help in getting out the message and the signs of the Kingdom, recruitment of followers and workers is underway. “Come, follow me,” says the Teacher! There is Good News here! There is a word for us today in all this.

Repentance? Getting serious about following Jesus? What would either look like in an “lights, camera, action” world? Can we envision some “change” within us or some outward behavior we have been resisting? Jonah resisted but finally stepped up. On the other hand, the fishermen on the shore responded quickly to the call (they would have their spiritual struggles later).

Where are each and everyone in this great story of God?! Let’s ask ourselves in worship and in mission this week ahead.

Invite someone to worship this October!

Pastor Barry †

Table Talk

Job 1:1, 2:1-10, Hebrews 2:5-12 and Mark 10:2-16

Sunday October 3rd is World Communion Sunday. As we celebrate Holy Communion, we will do so knowing millions of other brothers and sisters of Christ around the earth do likewise. And they do so in different languages, cultures, and experiences.

The texts we will read in worship do not directly address The Lord’s Supper. Instead, Job, Hebrews, and Mark speak of suffering, struggle, divorce, and little children. What might we make of this?

I think of what we usually do when we eat a meal together in family or in community. We “cover a lot of topics!” And most of us don’t spend a lot of time on painful subjects. We want to enjoy the meal and incline to small talk, current events, laughter, work matters, plans for fun and leisure.

But, the meal time with God in Christ cannot exclude the difficult things. Indeed, it centers on Cross and Death. But it points to all things Resurrection and Joy, the “abundant life” Jesus promises here and forever.

So, all matters of scripture can be brought to the Table, all things human and divine are acceptable to offer up while sitting with Jesus and his disciples. “This is the Lords Table and all are invited.” All manner of things in Life and Death are welcomed to share with a Savior who loves, cares, and has mercy upon us. Pull up a seat, break bread, drink of the cup, and stay awhile with the Lord. Tell Jesus anything, ask Jesus anything.

Thanks be to God…. †

Pastor Barry