“And What Do You See?”

This will be the back page of the February 4, 2018 (Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, year B) bulletin at Fishkill United Methodist Church.

Of the twelve disciples, Nathaniel must be my favorite.  Perhaps it is because he was, by tradition, the scholar of the group.  But then again, he, along with Thomas, went to Georgia.

I suppose that Thomas should be one of my favorites as well.  While he has been labeled “doubting”, his request to see Jesus’ wounds was, in the classic sense, the mark of a scientist, of not making a decision until the observations were completed.  Of course, Jesus pointed out to Thomas that there would be many who would believe without the visual evidence that he requested.

But how was it that those individuals came to believe?  They had to see for themselves what it is that Jesus Christ could do.  From the very beginning of His ministry, people heard the Good News that Jesus was preaching and saw the miracles that He performed.  Time and time again, the people saw what He did.  He did not tell them to believe; he gave them the reason to believe.  Paul did not simply tell the people they had to believe; he, too, gave them reasons through his own life and actions to believe.

All we need to, as Isaiah reminds us with the Old Testament reading for today, is look around and we see the works of God.  Each discovery we make, be it here on this planet or deep in space, shows us the grandeur of God’s work and encourages us to seek more knowledge, more knowledge about the world and the people who live on this planet, more knowledge about God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Our job is not to tell people about Jesus; our job is to live the sort of life that indicates the presence of Christ in us.  Our job is to live the sort of life that will cause others to seek Christ.

~Tony Mitchell

When False Rhetoric Sticks: How Do We Flip The Common Presumption Of Faith Vs. Science. – The Catholic Astronomer

As a priest with an assignment of diverse ministries (parish, primary school, jail ministry, and university students), there are ample opportunities to receive and address questions about faith and science from multiple perspectives. What I find fascinating is that, regardless of what ministerial environment the questions are posed, there is a common narrative that often emerges: Faith is against science. Much can be said about how this presumption has come to be the norm. Often times, I find that much of the fuel that feeds this fire doesn’t come from scientists, new atheists, or secular politics. Rather, I find that it is the poor understanding and presentation of biblical creation in a hyper-literalist manner combined with a history of scandals in the Church that has flipped the opinion of many to view Catholicism not as the vessel that pursues truth to a fallen institution that is riddled with scandal and corruption, lacking the needed transparency to foster trust in the … Continue reading →

Source: When False Rhetoric Sticks: How Do We Flip The Common Presumption Of Faith Vs. Science. – The Catholic Astronomer

Finding the truth

The part in straight text will be the back page of the bulletin for the 4th Sunday after the Epiphany at Fishkill United Methodist Church.  The part in italics was added for this post.

If you were to compare the content of my father’s chemistry text book with the content of the textbooks I used as a student and a teacher, you would see that they are very different.  For one thing, in the 1930’s, there were only about 90 elements; today there are at least 118 and the search goes on to find more (see Timeline of chemical element discoveries).


By El Snubbe – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63155133

But what if someone decided there was a limit to what one could know in chemistry?  What would our world be like today?

Certain theories in place then have been modified, upgraded, or changed.  And yet, even with these differences, there is a certain fundamental truth.  But you must look for it; it does not come easily.   I discussed the idea of changing theories in “A Brief History of Atomic Theory”.  Other theories that dominated chemistry for many years were the phlogiston theory and caloric theory.  These theories dominated conventional thinking for many years, even with indications that they had changed.

That day in Capernaum 2000 years ago, the people experienced something they didn’t expect.  They saw Jesus give meaning to the Scriptures; they saw Jesus use the information in the Scriptures they way it was meant to be used, as an instrument of empowerment and freedom, not slavery and control.

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, pointed out that you needed to understand the Law, not just meekly repeat the words of the Law. One characteristic of the Old Testament prophets was their ability to speak to the truth, to go beyond, even when it was not what the people wanted to hear.

Jesus told the people to seek the truth and the truth would set them free.  In a world where so many people try to tell us what to think and what is true, Jesus’ words and actions remind us from where the truth comes from.

~Tony Mitchell

Across the Universe: Redating Easter? – The Catholic Astronomer

This column first ran in The Tablet in January 2016 The archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has recently [2016] announced discussions to redefine the date of Easter. Pope Francis and various leaders of Eastern churches have also expressed interest in a common date that all churches would celebrate together. Easter was originally the Sunday following Passover, the first full moon of the Hebrew year. But the start of the Hebrew year varied from year to year. Jewish months, 29 days long, mirror the phases of the moon, and so every three or four years an extra month is needed to keep that lunar calendar in phase with the seasons. After the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, there was no central Jewish authority to determine when to add that month. Instead, Jews of the Diaspora relied on a Greek formula (devised in 432 BC by Meton) to add seven intercalary months over a repeating 19 year cycle. It was … Continue reading →

Source: Across the Universe: Redating Easter? – The Catholic Astronomer


This will be the back page for the Fishkill United Methodist Church bulletin for the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany (Year B), 21 January 2018.  The service begins at 10 and you are always welcome.

As I thought about the Scriptures for this Sunday, I saw a connection between the three that dealt with time.  This thought lead me to a quote from Sir Winston Churchill,

“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”

Paul is telling the Corinthians that time is of the essence and they cannot waste it. The death of John the Baptizer was the sign that Jesus was to begin His ministry.  And note that James and John immediately left their nets to join the group.

Almost every prophet chosen by God to give His message to the people of Israel didn’t want the job.  For whatever reason, they did not want to do the job.  The story with Jonah begins when Jonah is given a second chance.

Throughout the Gospels, we hear of people being called to follow Jesus and losing the opportunity because they thought they had time to do it tomorrow.

If you are called today, will you wait?  Or will you take this opportunity, this moment in time to share the Gospel message?                                     ~ Tony Mitchell


This will be the back page for the January 14, 2018 bulletin at Fishkill United Methodist Church.  It is based on the readings for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany (Year B)

As a teacher of chemistry, the one thing I try to do, besides helping students understand chemistry, is also learn how to think and solve problems outside the realm of the classroom.

This approach does not go well in an environment where today is important, and tomorrow will be dealt with at the appropriate time.  Still, if you don’t have the skills to go along with the subject matter, you will know a lot of information, but you won’t know what to do with it.

Nathaniel was the scholar of the Twelve, always studying the Scriptures for signs of the coming Messiah.  He had concluded that nothing good would come out of Nazareth.  But such an approach did not allow for alternatives.  Jesus was also a student of the Scriptures, but they were the basis for a new message and a means to see the world differently.

We all start with a basic knowledge of God and the world around us.  But this knowledge can be very limited if we do nothing with it.

That is what Jesus did, and what He taught the Twelve to do; take the lessons learned from the Scriptures out of the Temple and give them to the people, all the people, including the ones excluded by the religious and political establishment.

Yes, this will take us out of our comfort zone, but the Scripture message given by Jesus and based on the Scriptures was not meant to stay behind the walls of the Temple.  It was meant to be with and for the people.  Our task this day is to not just learn the Scriptures but to find ways to make them meaningful in today’s world.                          ~ Tony Mitchell

“And it begins again”

This will be on the back page of this coming Sunday’s bulletin at Fishkill United Methodist Church.  It is based on the scripture readings for the Baptism of the Lord (and/or the Epiphany, of the Lord, Year B).

Yesterday marks the beginning of the season of the church known as “Epiphany.”  January 6th is the day tradition states the Magi arrived to worship the baby Jesus.  The Season of Epiphany runs until Ash Wednesday on February 14th.

The word “epiphany” can be defined as the moment of sudden and striking realization, that moment when you understand something (a point I make in “The AHA! Moment”).

I personally find it interesting that we use the word “epiphany” in relation to this moment.  However, we may view the Magi today, two thousand years ago, they were considered scientists, searching the skies and the world around them for new knowledge and a better understanding of this knowledge.

The Magi’s presence reinforces an idea first put forth by the writers of the Old Testament who identified the five books of wisdom (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon); that wisdom and understanding are very much a part of the faith process.

In addition to honoring Christ with our minds as well as with our hearts, the visit of the Magi also reminds us that the announcement of Christ’s birth was not just to a select few but to the whole world.

We each have our own epiphany, that moment in our life when we come to understand who Jesus is and how our lives change as a result.  And it does not end there; for just as the Magi left with the message of His Birth to tell the people in their own lands, we serve as a source of light and understanding for those seeking Christ in today’s world.

~ Tony Mitchell