“Is Your Faith in A Box or In Use?”

These are my thought for this coming Sunday, the 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany (Year C), January 20, 2019 and will be on the back page of the bulletin at Fishkill UMC.


Some years ago, in response to a post on my blog related to science and faith, someone suggested that my PhD from Iowa was fake.  Somehow this individual felt that one could not be a scientist (in my case, a chemist) and a Christian.  And if you could, you needed to keep them in separate boxes, so they didn’t “disturb” each other.  We all know people like that today, whose actions and words during the week are a far cry from what they say and do on Sundays.  And unfortunately, this separation of secular and sectarian activities is far more common than we would like to think.

Putting things in boxes is a good way to store them but you often forget what you put in what box and even where you put the boxes.  And what is stored away quickly becomes out of date and nothing more than faded memories.

Our faith was never meant to be used occasionally, only to be brought out on special days and our skills were not meant to be just learned and then put away.  Our faith was meant to be used every day and we can always find ways to use our skills, even if not in the way we might have once thought.  The world and society around us change each day and we would be ill-prepared to deal with such changes otherwise.

Our skills are the best way we to express our faith and our faith is expressed in the skills that we have been given.

So, let us take our skills and faith out of the boxes we have stored them in and use them every day so that others may find Christ, the source of gifts and faith, and their own skills.

~~Tony Mitchell


“The Power of Water”

I am again writing the “Back Page”. This will be the back page for the bulletin at Fishkill UMC for this Sunday’s bulletin (January 13, 2018, The Baptism of the Lord, Year C).

The role of water in our lives cannot be overplayed.

From the early days of the alchemists, it was seen that water was the universal solvent, able to dissolve just about anything and everything.  Our search for life on other planets and in the universe is predicated on the existence of water.  Without water, life on this planet would be improbable and non-existent.

And water is the singular mark of baptism.

Baptism is an act of repentance.  John the Baptizer’s famous words to the Pharisees and Sadducees (“you brood of vipers”) remind us that even those who proclaim that they hold the power are subject to the cleansing waters of baptism.  Our baptism reminds us that we have cast aside the secular world so that we could live in the Heavenly Kingdom.

Baptism is an act of unity.  With the water poured over us during our baptism, we are united in one body with Christ.  From the days Jesus began His ministry, baptism has been the unifying act.  We are reminded that Samarians and Jews, long divided by tradition, became one through baptism.

Even today, when someone is baptized in the United Methodist Church, every member of the congregation renews the vows they made or where made from them when they were baptized.

I hope, trust, and pray that you will reflect on your own baptism and what that has meant to you throughout the years.  We are given the chance today to, in part and in some way, renew our vows and walk with Jesus in the coming days.

~~ Tony Mitchell

What Gift Will You Give?

This is a Christmas piece, but one not based on readings from the Gospel concerning Jesus’ birth.  Rather, I will be using some thoughts from Paul and some thoughts that Jesus gave during the Galilean ministry.

There is a little bit of Christmas in this piece because one of the pieces that many choirs sing at this time contains the line, “what gift can I bring?”

One would think that one must understand what gifts we have been given so that we know what gift we can bring.  Oh, I suppose that one could run down to the store at the mall or page through countless pages of on-line shopping to find the right gift to give the Baby Jesus.  But one is going to have to really stretch to give a gift that beats gold, frankincense, and myrrh, don’t you think?

I do believe that the gift we bring to Jesus is found in the gifts that we have been given.  In Romans 12: 6 – 8, Paul speaks of the gifts that we have been given:

  • Prophecy
  • Service
  • Teaching
  • Exhortation
  • Giving
  • Leading
  • Mercy

Each of these gifts is a product of how we received God’s Grace.  So the gifts that we give must and need to reflect those gifts that we have received.

And therein lies the rub, how much of those gifts will we give away?  There are so many individuals today who proclaim that they have received the gift of grace from God, yet their words, actions, deeds, and thoughts reflect the actions of the one servant who received the one talent and then buried it for fear of losing it.  Those who gave more of themselves in terms of the gifts and talents that they received found the return as great as what they had been first given.

And there will come a time when we must account for the use of our gifts.  If we look beyond the birth of Christ and beyond His death to the point of His return, then we are faced with the question of when do you use those gifts in my name?  How many times did Jesus challenge the people to see God’s presence in their lives outside the Temple?  How many times will our use of the gifts we have been given, in whatever form they may take, to help others find Christ?

What gifts will you share this year as your celebration of Christmas?

Faith and Reason

The following links go to a series dealing with faith and reason posted on the Emerging Scholars Blog:

Faith and Reason, Part 1

Faith and Reason, Part 2: Augustine

Faith and Reason, Part 3: Aquinas

Faith and Reason Part 4: Locke

I am sharing this because reason is considered one part of the Wesleyan quadrilateral.  Your comments are welcome (please note that comments made here are not shared with the author of the posts so it would be wise to share you comments on the appropriate post.

Thoughts on the upcoming GC2019

The following offers a summary of the various plans that will be presented at the upcoming special General Conference in February (?), 2019.  This speaks to the future of the United Methodist Church,