“That One Line”


This will be the back page for the August 20, 2017 bulletin at Fishkill United Methodist Church.  It is based on the lectionary readings for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A.


Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will. A paraphrase of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s principles by Eric Metaxas, his biographer.

If there was one line in the Bible that defines my life, it is Matthew 15: 27.  Oh, there are other lines that have meaning but this verse defines my life.

In 1969, I met with my pastor for communion before going home for spring break.  This was not the formal communion of Sunday morning but more of a conversation between a young student and his pastor.  

In our conversation, I expressed an objection to the words which are found on page 12 of our hymnal, “We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table”, words that echo the words of the Canaanite woman whose faith was rewarded that day.

I came into the chapel that day with an understanding of faith but not of God’s grace.  But when I left, I understood what God’s grace meant and what that meant for me as a Christian and an United Methodist.

What I do with my life does not get my God’s grace or mercy but are the duties of a citizen of God’s Kingdom.

By God’s grace and mercy and through faith, we have been given a great gift.  It is what we do with that gift that will define who we are.

“Seeing Around the Corner”


This will be the Back Page for the 13 August 2017 (10th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A) bulletin at  Fishkill United Methodist Church.  It is based on the lectionary readings for this Sunday.


There is a common misconception that our ancestors thought the earth was flat.  After all, as early at 240 B. C., the circumference of the earth had been measured (with a remarkable accuracy).  But there was something about watching a ship disappear over the horizon into unknown territory (often written on maps as “Terra incognito”).

Even today, we seem more secure in holding onto what we have and are less certain about moving into the future.  Even though Joseph offers a promising vision of the future, it is one that his brothers cannot accept.

Peter is given a vision of great promise but his inability to focus on the vision and his grasp of the present sends him flaying about in the water.

We have been offered a great promise of the future but to reach it requires that we do things that we are not necessarily willing to do. There was a point in John Wesley’s ministry when he, John Wesley, didn’t think he had the ability to go on.  He was advised to preach about faith until he had it, and then because he had faith, he would be able to be able to preach faith.  This was the beginning of a ministry that looked around the corner and allowed Wesley to do extraordinary works for God.

As Paul points out, it is our faith that allows us to see around the corner, to peer into the future without fear.  So, because of our faith in God and His Son, we can not only see around the corner but venture around it into the future as well.