You’ve Got Talent!

Judges 4:1-7, I Thessalonians 5:1-11 and Matthew 25:14-30

Each person is unique and has both potential and limitations. What potential says is that each has been given “talent” of some kind. What we are given in IQ, physical strength, will, and drive is most often a combination of genes, geography, family, and community. No one is self-made! God is always about calling forth that talent/gift in specific ways throughout the life time we are granted.

Our scripture for worship gives us an example in Deborah the judge and Jesus’ parable of the talents. Deborah is a prophetess in the time of Israel being led by judges not kings. She finds her gifts and talents, so to speak, being called forth in a time of national threat. Jesus tells of different servants who are given “resources” to use while the Master is away. And what happens when they are put to good use or…..not. There is no one who is not given something in some way that can be used to benefit others and to glorify God!

“You’ve Got Talent!” Let’s look this Sunday to see both a good example and a not-so-good example of the use of talent. Along the way we will hear about judge Deborah, Jael the Kenite woman assassin, Queen Elizabeth I and a few other leaders who used their talents for God and others.

See you Sunday!

Pastor Barry

Requirement and Reconnaissance

Amos 5:18-24, I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and Matthew 25:13

Our national election count should be over by worship time this Sunday but the requirements of citizenship are ongoing. For those elected and for all within our republic.

The same within the life of the church. Both church and society are to heed the question, “What does the Lord require of you?” We cannot have the question addressed only to the individual, but to the whole of the Church and to all the nations.

We are also approaching Veterans Day November 11. We remember and honor the service Veterans have offered to our nation. They too have had requirements placed upon them as they act for the safety and benefit of a free people. One aspect of military duty is reconnaissance “the observation of a region to locate an enemy or determine strategic features.”

Requirements and reconnaissance go hand in hand in both service to country and to God. Amos spells out some basic requirements from God, “justice and righteousness,” while I Thessalonians and Matthew 25 speak to our staying alert through “reconnaissance.”

Sunday we will recognize both veterans and the church faithful who have answered to call to serve.

Stay alert! Seek to do what the Lord requires!

Pastor Barry

For All The Saints

Revelation 7:9-17, I John 3:1-3 and Matthew 5:1-12

All Hallowed Eve, Reformation Day, All Saints Day, The Day of the Dead, they all are recognized October 31-November 2. We would be hard pressed to find a stretch of days which celebrates life and death and eternal life so vividly. Holy Week with Good Friday and Easter are the ultimate expressions of our faith, but these Fall days are perhaps the most vivid in celebrations, dress, and an element of festivity!

Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to a church door and Protestantism and ceaseless church reform was being born on October 31, 1517. Halloween developed alongside Christian emphasis on celebrating the saints in heaven. All Saints Day says the Church is finally triumphant in spite of death. And the traditional, Mexican Day of the Dead arrives on November 2. A colorful, indigenous way of acknowledging death and local customs that accompany remembrance of those gone before us.

For most of us in worship it will be a time of remembrance of those in our church family as well as loved ones and friends from previous times and other churches. We trust them all to be in the eternal embrace of a loving and forgiving God. A time for us, still the Church at Work, to be both sad with grief yet joyful in hope! The playfulness of Halloween helps all ages “indirectly” address mortality and our fears while moving on to Sunday’s celebration of those Saints who are one step beyond us in the fullness of the Kingdom of God!

So, with these 3 days so closely connected with faithfulness, come to worship on Sunday expecting to experience the “hope that is within us” and to stay “in communion” with our loved ones both here and forever.

See you on Sunday! Amen!

Pastor Barry

Churches! Listen Up!

Deuteronomy 5:22-27 and Revelation 2:17-20a

This Sunday’s texts will try to address one of the suggested sermon topics that came up when we did the “You asked for a sermon” survey back in July/August: what about the Seven Churches in Revelation 1-3?

Such a demanding subject with many verses cries out for a good and lengthy Bible study over several weeks. A twenty minute sermon will barely touch upon it, but the effort is worth it. And another sermon, later, might be forthcoming on the subject as I work with the multiple Revelation verses this week!

At the very least we will hear of matters (that John the Revelator received in a vision) that needed to be addressed to seven congregations in a portion of Asia in the first century. What can we today, 2000 years out, receive for our edification and spiritual growth? Christ invites every community of believers to reflect and consider what a word might be for them in the here and now.

We will hear both encouragement and warnings, hope and caution, peace and calls to action for churches to take seriously but also with reassurance from the Lord of every church. We will hear about a suffering church, a dead church, a weak but obedient church. And more! Finally we will hear the knock at the door: “If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” Revelation 3:20.

Blessings!

Pastor Barry

God Will Take Care Of You!

Isaiah 49:8-13, and Matthew 6:24-34

My next of kin, LeNoir, has graciously responded to my request to fill the pulpit and lead Kedron in worship this coming Sunday. I will be over at Locks Memorial for their Homecoming.

I will eagerly wait to hear the sermon and worship service later on-line, but I can say from reading the texts that there is restoration for spiritual Israel then and now. And pointedly directed to most of us in this troublesome year 2020 is a word about worrying: DON’T! Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is relevant in any time or place.

Easier said than done, but to at least lessen our worries or “take the edge off our worries” seems like a good word from God. Concern for multiple matters is one thing, but to constantly worry is a depletion of personal energy and a distrust in God’s present/future offering for your wellbeing.

LeNoir will hold forth on Sunday, so prepare in anticipation of a Good Word for all as we enter half way into October!

Blessings in this both awesome, beautiful season of the year as well as for whatever your struggles are in the moment! Remember this as you close out the time of worship by singing “God Will Take Care Of You!”

Pastor Barry

Idols, False Voices? Distraction? Avoid All This! Focus on God’s Focus!

Exodus 32:1-14, Timothy 6:3-16 and Matthew 22:1-14

We are looking at perhaps a wordy sermon title! But there is so much going on in these three Bible passages it took some effort to keep it THAT short!

To try and keep it “manageable” though, let’s say all three scriptures deal with easily distracted people of God. In spite of Moses’ faithful leadership, Jesus’ description of the Kingdom as a wedding feast, and Paul’s reminder of the Eternal Life we are called to, we, the people, easily (it seems) get distracted to idols, arguments, laziness, and riches!

There are all too often too many competing “voices” on our faith walk. We can’t give them all equal attention and successfully find our way Home. We need to listen up and learn, choose, and be willing to stand firm as needed or…change as needed. At least that’s what Moses has to say to the Golden Calf revelers, what Jesus says about the lazy Wedding guests and what Paul reminds Timothy to not lose sight of.

It’s a lot to unpack but we have the Spirit to guide us in our hearing and in our doing during and after worship! And….God is patient and merciful. Let us be about finding our way through the Wilderness, into the Wedding Feast, and toward Eternal Life!

Pay attention, stay focused, enjoy the company of your fellow strugglers along the Way!

Pastor Barry

The Authority of Ten and Then of the One

As you get older I think many come to value The Ten Commandments more and more. Or at least 3-4 of them! I’ll leave that to you to say which commandments have meant the most to you! And I will say the one about “not coveting” is very hard to enforce in a legal, ecclesiastical, or public way!

And Christians, whose two most central teachings we celebrate around a table, have to hold in tension the requirements of The Law upon us as well the unmerited favor of God in Christ upon us. Perhaps celebrating World Communion (as we will this Sunday) will remind us once and for all our faith is about “Christ and him crucified.” Our Philippians text has Paul with a single-minded focus on Christ although he reminds us he (Paul) was “faultless in obeying the Law” v.6.

As in most meal gatherings we don’t remember how well we kept table manners or how well we kept everything in order during the meal. But, we remember the people present, the shared stories, and the high moments of joyous fellowship with deep appreciation for the Host who opened up the house for all of us to be together.

So, yes to The Ten Commandments but even more yes to the One who lived them out completely for our sake.

See you Sunday in worship!

Pastor Barry

Showing You His Badge!

Exodus 17:1-7, Philippians 2:1-13 and Matthew 21:23-32

The scriptures this Sunday are about who has the authority and how people listen to authority. If you watch many detective or cop stories on TV, there are the innumerable scenes where the officer shows his badge to assert the authority to ask questions and to act if necessary. Authority is bestowed by state AND divine authorities which have either earned that right by vote or by virtue of truthful persuasion!

In this Matthew passage Jesus cites the authority of an executed prophet John and then tells a story of those who do what they are asked to do…..or don’t do!

What we will hear on Sunday is that God has authority but uses persuasion, example, and specific people’s lives rather than force to “get the divine will accomplished.” We will hear of those who listen and respond…..and those who don’t. It’s as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago!

Listen up all who will listen!

Prayerfully~~~†

Pastor Barry

The Things That Happen in Church

This Sunday September 20th is Homecoming at Kedron. Unlike high school homecomings everyone who shows up is a king and queen! To be more correct we are of a “royal family,” heirs apparent, but only one Lord who is Supreme. No other gods before us and we are not God. But we are again in that “Royal” family of the one God. We are one united group of brothers and sisters in all our diversity….even at Kedron UMC!

Our scriptures reflect both the wide range of life experiences in church and in society as well as the very personable, warm greetings by name of people that Paul had ministered with over the years.

So, at Homecoming we will have a wealth of memories of people, places and things connected with Kedron (and other churches) alongside our “living in the now,” with hopes for the future. Favorite hymns and testimonies and mutual histories will have us immersed in life together. This will be good and worthy of living forward into another year with each other as God gives us time and opportunity.

As you read this, think of someone to pass the word along to about Homecoming and check on them as you can. This pandemic year 2020 has taken its toll on our being together in community and in fellowship, so the aspiration is to recommit to staying in contact and “building up the body of Christ“ which is the Church.

See you Sunday in person, on line, and in our hearts!

Pastor Barry

Strange! But Salvation Arrives!

Numbers 21:4b-9, I Corinthians 1:18-24 and John 3:13-17

This Sunday we will emphasize Holy Cross Day which actually falls on Monday the 14th. The scriptures that highlight the Cross of Christ for this day involve the imagery of snakes! Most people quickly react negatively and, if they don’t just run, they are ready to change the subject! I don’t blame them! A good rule of thumb for snake seeing is “don’t touch but run!”

But throughout the Bible there are strange stories that require some effort to grasp in our 21st century experience. And even Paul knew that speaking of a crucified Messiah was “a stumbling block” to many (e.g. the Jews) and “foolishness to the Greeks (Gentiles).” And bringing images of serpents lifted up on poles is not helpful either!

But there they are. And somehow, finally makes for salvation for many. Wholeness and completion and security. In a time of international insecurity over a virus with accompanying unrest politically and socially, we need to hear of salvation, that which saves us wholly and “holy.”

So, we will hear of strange images and once very unexpected means of relief and rescue for Gods people. The end result is, as always for church and world, Good News!

Join with us in person and/or on-line this Sunday! Blessings!

Pastor Barry