“What Do You Do?”

This will be on the back page of the bulletin at Fishkill United Methodist Church this Sunday, July 29, 2018 (10th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B).

A few years ago, I wandered into a meeting dealing with chemistry and teaching.  A friend of mine quipped, “Well, speak of the devil!”  What could I say but, “No, I work for the opposition.”

When you stop to think about it, I shouldn’t have had the career as a lay speaker and pastor as I did.  After all, my training and background were in chemistry and teaching chemistry, areas that do not naturally lead to theological leanings (in fact, many think such a background would lead me away from such areas).

But I felt the call to lay speaking and the skills that I acquired as a chemist served to learn and understand other areas, and in that regard, allowed me to travel the roads of Kansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and New York.

When you think about it, none of the those who Jesus choose to be his disciples were qualified for the job.  But sometimes you don’t want those who are “experts” in their field to take on the task of bringing God’s Kingdom to Earth.  Each was called to that task, not because of what they knew, but because of who they were.

The same is true for us.  We are called by God because of who we are.  God then uses us, with the skills we have, to take us to new places in life.  It isn’t so much that we ask God what can we do but, rather, when do we start?

By the way, I am also the tenor. Tony Mitchell


“The Missing Ones”

Here are some thoughts for this coming Sunday (July 29, 2018, 10th Sunday after Pentecost – Year B).

One mark of a good leader is how he or she treats those they lead.  In the Old Testament reading for today, Uriah declines the offer for personal leave because the troops he is commanding would not get the same benefit.  It may be that the other Israelite commanders were of such a mind to leave the battlefield if the opportunity presented itself but that is something we do not know.

Even without being named, Uriah’s troops were a part of the narrative.  Now, we have all been taught that Jesus fed the multitudes not once but twice.  Still, the numbers that we are told were present only counted the men; any women or children that would have been there would not have been counted.  It was part of the culture of that time that women and children were considered “non-persons”, even though they were there.

The one thing that we know about Jesus’ mission was his desire to bring the missing, the forgotten, and the lost back to God.  It is still part of the mission today, even though there are many who would disagree.

How can we say that Christ’s mission is fulfilled, and the God’s Kingdom is at hand when there are people missing, forgotten, or cast aside?

~ Tony Mitchell


“Which Team Do You Root For?”

This will be the back page for the Sunday, July 22, 2018 (9th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B) bulletin at Fishkill United Methodist Church.

What do Southern Methodist University, Duke University, and Boston University have in common?  They are three of over 100 colleges and universities supported by the United Methodist Church.

Now, it does beg a question.  When SMU plays Baylor University (a Baptist institution) in football, or Duke plays Wake Forest (another Baptist institution) in basketball, or Boston University plays Boston College (a Roman Catholic institution) in hockey, who does God root for?

I graduated from Nicholas Blackwell High School in Bartlett, TN.  The school mascot is “The Panthers”, the school colors are red and blue, and the fight song is “Down the Field”.   I don’t know why the Panthers were selected as the mascot, but the school colors are the same as the University of Mississippi and the fight song was the same as the University of Tennessee.  It was a merger of several ideas that produced the sports identity of Bartlett High School.

Now, Paul points out that when you proclaim that you are a Christian, you forsake your national identity or heritage (a point not often understood today).

And as a people without a national identity, we reach out to all the people, no matter who they may be.

~Tony Mitchell (I root for Truman State [’71], Missouri [’75], and Iowa [’90], but you already knew that!)

“Where Are You From?”

This will be the back page for the bulletin of Fishkill UMC on Sunday, July 15, 2018 (8th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B).

Every time someone asks me where I come from, I tend to ask, respectfully, “what year?”  As the son of an Air Force officer growing up in the 50s and 60s, I tended to move around a lot.  In fact, the longest that I have ever lived in one place has been these past 19 years in New York.

One result of all this travel was that I attended 10 different schools.  And because I attended so many different schools in so many different settings, I saw things that conflicted with what I was being taught.

It’s not that hard when you hear people sing “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world” and then see them profess support for segregation and the hatred of others.  As you may recall, from what I said a couple of weeks ago (“Generations”), because of these conflicts, I began to question “the powers that be.”  It also becomes very easy to see where one’s heart lies.

Herod very much wanted the people of Israel to like him as their king.  He initiated the rebuilding of the Temple and other massive public construction projects, all designed to win the hearts and minds of the Israelites.  But when John the Baptizer publicly rebuked him for his marriage, his heart began to harden, and it became quite easy to accept the request of his daughter and order the execution of the Baptizer.  His mind was there but his heart wasn’t, and the people knew where he was coming from.

And even though Paul had an academic background and phrased much of his arguments for accepting Christ from that background, you knew that he spoke from the heart as much as he spoke with his mind.

We live at a time when we must deal with many of the matters as much with our hearts as with our minds.  And the response of too many people shows that Christ may be on their lips but is not in their heart.  Is Christ in your heart?

~Tony Mitchell

“What’s in A Name?”

Here are my thoughts for the back page of the July 8, 2018 (7th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B) Fishkill United Methodist Church.

In my momma’s hometown of Lexington, NC, I am known as “Virginia’s oldest boy.”  Around Memphis, I am Bob Mitchell’s “other son” and Terry Mitchell, Tim Mitchell, and Tracey Rock’s older brother.

I don’t think that there is any one of us who hasn’t experience that sort of comparison at least once in our life.  Until we establish ourselves, we will always be someone’s son, daughter, brother, or sister.  And as parents, we want our children to have their own identities rather than to be subsets of ours.

I am pretty sure that Mary and Joseph felt pride in hearing the compliments of the people of Nazareth and they must have cried at the treatment of their son.  And while the people of Nazareth were duly impressed by Jesus’ knowledge, he was still a carpenter’s son and what can you expect?

The same must be said for the “Twelve”.  Four were fisherman, two were known troublemakers, one was an employee of the Roman government; in fact, only one of the “Twelve: had any sort of academic background.  So, their friends, neighbors, and families probably worried about them hanging around with Jesus.  Each of the “Twelve” may very well have been shunned in a manner like Jesus.

But they understood that Jesus was more than the carpenter’s son from Nazareth.  They knew something special was happening.  And when they were sent out, they went with joy because they knew they were going to make a difference.

We carry the name of Christ, we go out into the world as Christians.  We heal the sick, feed the hungry, and free the oppressed in the name of Jesus.  We do so because God loved us enough to send His Son.

What’s in a name?  When it is the name of Christ, it is love.

~~ Dr. Anthony Lee Gordon Mitchell (that’s who I am).