“Where Is Your God?”

This will be the back page of the bulletin for the services this coming Sunday (September 30, 2018, 19th Sunday after Pentecost – Year B) at Fishkill United Methodist Church.

There are two interesting things about this week’s Scripture readings.  First, the Disciples are complaining about someone else doing their job.  But remember that Jesus sent out 70 individuals to preach His message (Luke 10: 1 – 2) and this individual very well may have been part of that group.  But the Disciples are acting as if they are the only ones who have the authority to do that preaching.  Even today, we have disagreements across and within denominations as to who has the authority to deliver God’s word.

And that brings up the second interesting point.  The Book of Esther is the only book in the Canon (and one of two in all the books of Scripture) where God is never mentioned.

While the primary reason for the inclusion of Esther in the Old Testament is to explain the Jewish festival of Purim, it also serves as a reminder that we don’t have to mention God to know of His Presence in our lives.  And His presence is not limited to just a few but for all, no matter their race, gender, ethnicity, or social status.  The Book of Esther also reminds us that those who seek to repress or persecute any group will pay the ultimate price.

We do not need to be someone special to know that wherever we may be, God is with us.  Because God is with us no matter where we may be, we are able to offer support through our prayers and actions to those in pain, who suffer from injustice or persecution.

Where is your God?  He is where He is, right next to you and in you.  When people see you, hear you and watch you, will they see God?

~~Tony Mitchell

“The Difference”

This will be on the back page of the bulletin for services at Fishkill UMC this coming Sunday, September 23, 2018 (18th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B).  Services are at 10 and you are always welcome.

From the first time that I had to write a weekly message, I have always been amazed at the timeliness of the Scriptures and how our response to the issues of the day can be addressed by the words of the lectionary readings.  The Scriptures themselves may not offer the answer we seek but they will certainly lead us to the solution.  And that is perhaps the difference between simple knowledge and wisdom.

If the primary message of the Scriptures is a description of our relationship with God, then the Wisdom Literature of the Bible tells us how we are to apply that knowledge to our relationship with others.

The disciples were raised to see that everyone had a place in society, a place determined by one’s gender, one’s age, one’s birthplace, and one’s economic status.  Yet, from the very beginning Jesus’ teachings challenged those very ideas.  Much to the dismay of those who felt they had the right and the privilege to be first, Jesus said that made one last.  And that being in a position of power and authority meant that you were the servant of the people and not that the people were your servant.

Following Christ is often a difficult task because it so challenges us.  But if we open our minds as we open our hearts, we can begin to truly understand what we are being asked to do.  And that is the difference between knowledge and wisdom.                        ~~Tony Mitchell


“Who is your God today?”

This will be the back page for the Fishkill United Methodist Church for this coming Sunday, September 16, 2018 (17th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B)

To be honest, writing this back page was a bit of a struggle.  How does one answer the question when someone asks you, “who is your God?”

There are many who say that their God is the one true God, but their actions tell us that they worship other gods first.

The noted theologian Henri Nouwen stated,  “Jesus came to announce to us that an identity based on success, popularity, and power is a false identity.”

Peter understood that Jesus was the Messiah and not another individual seeking political and earthly power.  It just took him a bit longer to understand what all that meant but, in the end, he would come to understand what he had been called to do.

It takes every bit of our knowledge and experience, our wisdom, to hear the soft words of Jesus amidst the harsh and false words of the world and this society we live in.

But, in Christ we find the truth and know, in the truest sense, that it will set us free.                    ~~Tony Mitchell

Eratosthenes Experiment – September 24, 2018

Teachers! Take note! Have your students take part in the Eratosthenes Experiment – Sept. 24, 2018! (I suggested this experiment as a classroom experiment a few years ago – Was Eratosthenes Correct? A Multi-Class Science Project

Eratosthenes was a mathematician, geographer, poet, astronomer, and music theorist who lived in ancient Greece. In 240 B.C. Eratosthenes made the first good measurement of the size of Earth’s circumference.

You can join with classrooms around the world and repeat his experiment with your students! The Experiment: Ask your students to calculate the circumference of the Earth and submit your data to the experiment’s website. Find the time of your local noon at your location. Please use the web-based NOAA Solar Calculator or Solar Calculator or the Stellarium software (A short guide for using Stellarium to calculate your local noon at your location can be found here in English and in Italian).

Take a one-meter stick (H= 1 meter, see figure below) and place it vertically to the ground. Ask your students to measure the length of the stick to make sure it is one meter long. At the time scheduled to conduct the experiment, … Continue reading →

Source: Eratosthenes Experiment – September 24, 2018

“Who Is Your God?”

This will be on the back page of the Sunday, September 09, 2018 (16th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B) bulletin for Fishkill UMC.  Services are at 10 am; come and join us this Sunday.

That is a question many have asked down through the ages; it is still asked today.  And for many, despite their pronouncements to the contrary, their God is simply a thought expressed in the words of books, not something that is a part of their life.  Now, as an educator, there is something to be said for old-fashioned “book learning” but I prefer learning that goes outside the classroom.

I am currently taking a course on faith and science and, in the context of one of the discussions, a fellow class member wrote that their mother always told them to put on their gloves when her hands were cold.  My momma would always make comments concerning windows, doors, televisions and our effort to heat and cool the universe.

John Wooden, the famed UCLA basketball coach, would often encourage his players with statements such as, “be quick but don’t hurry” and “failing to plan is planning to fail.”  His players wise to the ways of the world would often chuckle at these parcels of wisdom but would later find themselves echoing those same thoughts when they became coaches or fathers.

What we must realize is that wisdom is the sum of our education and our experience.

Is your God simply words written in a book somewhere or is He a part of your life and experience?  Will those who have read or heard of God find in you that which they are seeking?

~~Tony Mitchell