On and Off Mountains

Exodus 34:29-35, 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 and Luke 9:28-43

Let’s just say that mountains amaze most of us! It’s both the exciting travel up and down and the spectacular views.

Our scripture for Transfiguration Sunday includes Moses on Mt. Sinai and Jesus and disciples and Moses and Elijah centuries later on mountain high. Powerful revelations and changes took place on such mountains but coming off the mountains was just as eventful! A bit more troubling but important nonetheless.

We observe that covenants with God are both made, affirmed, and acted upon! The acting upon is the most difficult since the human response to God’s gracious offer to us is always complicated and less than “wholly divine.”

The life of faith toward God is like coming on and off mountains: curves, blind spots, altitude sickness, as well as spectacular views, exhilarating driving moments, and usually interesting company along for the journey.

This Sunday in worship, the number of people involved on and off the mountains is remarkable and their experiences are challenging to us today.

Prayerfully prepare for that day’s journey by reading these scriptures and see which Biblical character you feel most kin to in your own faith walk now.

God bless all in your preparation and participation!

Pastor Barry †

Something to Be Said For Singing

Psalm 32:6-7, Colossians 3:15-17 and Matthew 26:26-30

“I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I’m free…..”. So go the familiar first lines of the hymn “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”

Besides these two reasons to sing, there must be a hundred more. People of faith are a singing, musical people. We have a “sung faith.” Charles Wesley composed over 6000 hymns and we still sing many of them in the 21st century far removed from the 1700s.

And throughout the Bible, the cast of Biblical personalities burst forth in song for worship, fellowship, and in times of trial and affliction. As much as we need devotional silence and prayerful contemplation, we just as much need to give musical voice to the heights and depths of our lived faith experience.

Our scriptures for this Sunday remind us of our singing heritage and how in different settings we hold forth in song and musicality.

We live in stressful times and uncertain outcomes. Let us be reminded in lyrics and tunes that “His eye is on the sparrow.”

Prayers and blessings!

Pastor Barry †

Winners, Losers, Seekers?

Jeremiah 17:5-10, I Corinthians 15:12-20 and Luke 6:17-26

Lots of contrasts in these three scriptures! Today we might speak of “winners and losers.” There are those who “get it” and those “who don’t.”

For instance, Jeremiah says there are those who trust in God and those who “trust in mortals.” One is like a tree planted close to water and the other like a shrub in the dry desert! Paul says you either believe in the resurrection of the dead and Christ or you don’t. If you don’t…..you are still in your sins!

In Luke 6 Jesus speaks of the poor and the hungry versus the rich and the full. You might guess that Jesus doesn’t have much good to say about the rich and those who are already full!

Contrast. Winners and losers. I would hold forth for a third possibility: that people genuinely can be in these “negative” categories but can also be seeking for change! The rich might well be open to change toward NOT trusting in riches. Those who put their trust in “mortals” might be open to CHANGING their trust toward God.

We can hope. We can try to give people the “benefit of the doubt.” We look on the outside but God looks on the heart. And we know that “love is patient…..long suffering.”

People can and do change. They may well be “moved by the Spirit” to seek the things of God. And I include myself and perhaps you in this seeking to change an identity. The old Christian term for this is “sanctification” or more the modern wording “transformation.”

Yes, we can grow from being a “shrub in the desert” to a “tree planted close to needed waters.”

Let’s join the seekers group today!

Prayers and blessings!

Pastor Barry †

Receive, Stand, Being Saved

Isaiah 6:1-8, I Corinthians 15:1-11 and Luke 5:1-11

Isaiah’s vision comes close to either a bizarre dream or the opening scene of a technicolor adventure movie! Six winged angels, smoke all around, shaking, hot coals to the lips, and a sending forth! God says to Isaiah, “I have something for you to do.”

Luke’s passage of a unexpected catch of fish and a dramatic initial putting together a team is less fantastic but nonetheless makes for a powerful beginning of the Greatest Story Ever Told. Jesus says, “I’m putting a team together!”

Then Paul reminds the folks at the Corinth church of their faith history as well as his history which he says was not admirable at first. He encourages them (and him) by telling all that they have received (grace), they stand in that unmerited divine favor now and as a result are being saved in it going forward for the rest of their lives!

Paul recounts the basics of the Christ story and where we fit in to that story.

Visions and launching vocations, frequent reminders of what we are about, and being a part of a grand group experience are various ways of talking about being the church!

Don’t miss this! We will gather in person and on line this first Sunday in February and “receive, stand, and keep being saved!”

Prayers and blessings!

Pastor Barry †