This will be the “Back Page” of the Fishkill UMC bulletin for this coming Sunday, March 3, 2019, Transfiguration Sunday (Year C)
In the years before Interstate highways, as you drove from town to town on the back roads of America you would see advertisements telling you to “Visit Meramec Caverns” or “See 7 States from Rock City atop Lookout Mt.” painted on barns.
The thing about Lookout Mt. is that without signs pointing to the specific state, you cannot tell them apart. From atop Lookout Mt., all the states look alike.
And while the view from the mountain top is wonderful and you can see far into the distance, you cannot see the people at the bottom of the mountain. While we are at the top of the of the mountain, awash in the glory of the intense sunlight, we cannot see what is at the bottom of the mountain, awash in the day-to-day muck and mire of daily life. You cannot see the pain, the problems, the joys, and celebrations of the people.
learned a long time ago that a successful program is one in which the
participants were involved in the process.
This is exactly what Jesus did when he walked the back roads of the
the disciples, and other followers wandered around, meeting the people, seeing
them in their daily lives, coming to understand their problems and challenges
they faced each day. They also saw how
the identity of the person determined how they were treated.
is nice to be at the top of the mountain, able to see vast expanses of
space. But when we do this, we miss the
things going on in life.
It is not the light at the top of the mountain that
brings hope to the world; it is the Light of Christ that we bring to the people
in our daily encounters that brings the hope. ~~Tony
Here are my thoughts for this Sunday, February 24, 2019 (7th Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C). They will appear on the “Back Page” of the bulletin for Fishkill UMC.
hallmark of many Annual Conferences is the singing of the Charles Wesley hymn,
“Are We Yet Alive.” In the past, this
was sung to celebrate the completion of a year of service at a time when the
lifespan of a circuit rider was notably short.
were to sing that today, would it be sung as a question or as a statement?
When I was working on my doctorate at Iowa, some of my colleagues were looking at what constituted a successful high school program. Their conclusions were very similar to research about successful businesses. Innovation is best when it started at the bottom and was supported by the top of the organization (adapted from “The Search for Excellence in the Church Today”),
Jesus did not go to the Temple and expect the people to come to Him. Rather He went to the people. He did not work within the structure of the Law, which prevents access; He used the Law as a framework for his mission.
Many churches are dying today because they are unwilling to step
outside the structure of the church. But
the good news is that if, individually and collectively, the church welcomes
the power of the Holy Spirit, they can find ways to become alive once again.
How, then, will we sing “And Are We Yet Alive”, as a question and
sign of a dying and dead church, or a statement of a living and growing
This is an interesting read on the nature of science and creation – (from the Catholic Astronomer).
Once, at the beginning of a semester, on the second meeting of an Astronomy 101 class, one of my students piped up with a comment. She said that when she had told a certain person (her grandmother, if I recall correctly) that she would be taking an astronomy class, that person had responded by saying that astronomy in particular and science in general was the stuff of devil-worshipers. My student thus offered the class a wonderful comment. She was seeking from the outset of class to engage the material, her professor, and her fellow students with a very honest comment, expressing honest fears (her grandmother’s, and perhaps hers, too). Her comment reflected a sentiment that is not uncommon among students taking science classes—a fear that there is something about science that is contrary to their religion, and in that way there is something about science that is the work of the devil. (This view is not limited to grandmothers of … Continue reading →
I start with a quote for Thomas Merton – DO NOT BE TOO QUICK TO CONDEMN THE MAN WHO NO LONGER BELIEVES IN GOD: FOR IT IS PERHAPS YOUR OWN COLDNESS AND AVARICE AND MEDIOCRITY AND MATERIALISM AND SELFISHNESS THAT HAVE CHILLED HIS FAITH.F
The following will be on the “Back Page” of the bulletin for this Sunday’s (17 February 2019, 6th Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C) at Fishkill United Methodist Church.
week was the anniversary of the beginning of my walk with Christ. This journey has never been an easy or smooth
has been a journey that, at time, has been filled with confusion and doubt,
times where I felt lost in the wilderness.
I wasn’t always attending church and on a couple of occasions I almost
left the faith.
would have left because I saw a church that seemed in conflict with the words
and actions of Christ. And there were
some individuals (both laity and clergy) who questioned my call from Christ.
my call to accept and follow Christ as my Savior was never like Saul’s
encounter on the road to Damascus and my heart has never been strangely
warmed. But I have always felt the
presence of Christ in my life and nothing anyone can say will ever change that
good thing was that there were others who understood this and helped me find my
way through the wilderness.
The decision to follow Christ is an individual one. It does not matter where one is from, who their parents are, their economic status, their race, their gender or sexuality. Yet, today there are individuals who say that, to follow Christ, you must meet a certain set of guidelines and adhere to a certain set of laws.
Our task has never been to decide who can answer
God’s call; our task has been and will always be to help others answer the call
and find their path.
This is one of those posts I almost dread to write. The reason I say almost is because I have come to peace with my understanding of global climate change. The reason I feel a hint of dread is because of how the people I know who live in Wisconsin will react to this post. These past three weeks, we have experience wind chills that have dropped to -51 degrees Fahrenheit, multiple snow storms that shut down local schools for days at a time, and so much cloud cover that those with seasonal affect disorder are going a little nutty. Am I simply complaining about the weather as many in the Midwest United States enjoy doing? Perhaps. However, my primary reason for reflecting on this is because NASA, the United Kingdom Met Office, and the World Meteorological Organization have found that 2018 was the fourth warmest year on record. After reading the reports, I have no problem embrace these findings. … Continue reading →
In 1962 and 1963, I lived in Montgomery, Alabama. It was a year of many firsts for me; I began playing the trumpet and I was introduced to or at least became aware of the role of football in Southern culture. It was the beginning of my awareness that equality in this country was perhaps nothing more than words. It was also when I began to think that God was calling me. When we moved during the summer of 1963 to Denver, I began to explore how I would answer that call. And thus I began working towards earning the God and Country award in Boy Scouts.
As I worked on this award, I was also in confirmation class and during the spring of 1965 I would earn the God and Country award and be confirmed in the Evangelical United Brethren Church. Thus I began my walk with the Lord. It has been a rough walk, done at times without acknowledging His presence in my life but perhaps more times than not knowing that His presence was a distinct part of my life.
There came a time around in 1984 when I began to think about that call and that I really hadn’t answered it completely. You have to realize that earning the God and Country award is more than simply answering some questions and do some exercises each week. It requires more than that, a commitment of heart and soul. And I needed to find a way to fulfill that commitment. So I made a covenant with God to be more active. In the churches where I was a member, I began to be a liturgist, specifically requesting that assignment on the 2nd Sunday in February, Boy Scout Sunday. And to the best of my ability, I have done so every year since then. Of course, from 1999 to 2005, on that Sunday, I was also the lay pastor of the church. And since 2005, if I was not somewhere in the district covering for a pastor, I have posted my thoughts on this blog.
The following is a summary of my sermons/messages/posts for the 2nd Sunday in February, Boy Scout Sunday.
With Evolution Weekend coming up this weekend, I figured I should up date this particular piece.
As I have noted in the pieces that I list below,
Evolution Weekend is an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the relationship between religion and science. One important goal is to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic – to move beyond sound bites. A second critical goal is to demonstrate that religious people from many faiths and locations understand that evolution is sound science and poses no problems for their faith. Finally, as with The Clergy Letters themselves, which have now been signed by more than 13,000 members of the clergy in the United States, Evolution Weekend makes it clear that those claiming that people must choose between religion and science are creating a false dichotomy. – “The Clergy Letter Project”
This project began in 2006 and I have participated, either with a sermon or a blog post, since 2009. The following is a list of those messages and posts. This has been edited since it was first posted to correct a link.
As many of you
know, the 2nd Sunday in February holds a place special significance
in my heart and in my life. On February
14, 1965, I formally began my walk with Christ as I became a member of the 1st
EUB Church of Aurora, CO. Slightly over
1 year later, I would begin the walk that would lead to my Ph. D. in Science
back then, I really didn’t know where those paths would take me. But, over the years, one thing became
clear. You cannot walk two distinct
paths; either you walk one and ignore the other or the two paths merge into
one. But to choose one path over another
means that your life will be incomplete.
made, at least for me, a logical argument for believing in Christ. After all his encounter with Christ was a
great deal different from the disciples.
And Isaiah, in the OT reading for today, makes a subtle argument for
education and the consequences when one was not willing to learn. As Jesus selected those who become the
disciples, he told them that they would be using their skills in a new way.
The same is
true for each of us. We start off
walking many different paths, not sure of where they might lead. But when those paths merge with the path that
we walk with Christ, we know where we are headed. On this path, we will meet others who also
walk with Christ.
But we will
also meet many who are lost, have no idea where they are going and are seeking
Christ. With our skills and talents, we
can help these individuals began their walk with Christ.
This weekend is Evolution Weekend and the following are my thoughts on the nature of religion and science. My previous posts for this weekend can be found at “Evolution Weekend”
For the better part of my life, I have lived near either a river,
the mountains, and sometimes both. At
the present time, I live near the Hudson River and near the Adirondacks.
But during high school and college and for some years after
graduation, the river of interest was “Old Man River”, the Mississippi
River. And when I would drive from
Memphis to St. Louis and then onto Kirksville, I would look for roads that
paralleled the Mississippi. These roads
lead me past the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, just south of
I remember the first time I come to this spot and saw the
two great rivers merging into one and continuing southward.
The thing about moving water is that chooses the path that
it wants to flow, carving a path out of the rock and soil If we follow the Mississippi, just before we
get to Baton Rouge and New Orleans, we find what is called “The Old River
3 – The Old River Control
Structure at the juncture of the Mississippi River and the Atchafalaya River.
In this photograph, the Mississippi River runs along the left and curves away
to the right in the distance. The Atchafalaya River meets the Mississippi
At this point on the river the Mississippi wants to shift
its course and join with the Atchafalaya River.
The Old River Control Station was constructed to keep the Mississippi
flowing to the Gulf of Mexico through Baton Rouge and New Orleans. This insures that industries located in Baton
Rouge and New Orleans will not lose their access to the Gulf of Mexico and
created substantial economic damage.
If we see religion and science as two streams of thought,
then we can see that, sooner or later, they will merge into one stream. It requires a greater effort to keep them
separate than it does to allow them to merge.
And just as regular streams of water meander over the
terrain that it passes through, so then do our own streams of thought
concerning religion and science. We call
As I noted in “A
Dialogue of Science and Faith”, many early scientists were as interested in
religion as they were in science. Now,
as the processes of science were codified, it became apparent that while one
could understand what it was that God had done, it would not be possible to
find God (even if He were in the details).
But instead of seeing this split negatively, one should see it positively. It should be apparent that one cannot answer all the questions of the universe from science or religion alone but as a combination of the two. Through the combination, we have a better chance of getting the answers or at least knowing where one might find the answers.
As we look at the lectionary readings for this Sunday, we
find Paul, trained as a lawyer, making a logical argument for the existence and
power of Christ. His decision concerning
Christ came not actually knowing Jesus as so many others did but in the
evidence that comes from what they did.
And God reminds Isaiah of the consequences that come when
one is unwilling to learn. When Jesus
picked his disciples, he told them that they would take the skills they already
had and used them in a different manner.
(Adapted from “The
Path You Walk”.
When we try to keep science and religion as separate streams
of thought, we spend more time and energy keeping them apart. If we were to allow them to merge, that time
and energy could be used to expand our understanding of this universe, this
planet, and its inhabitants.
It has never been the task of science to find God (even the
early scientists only wanted to understand who God was) but, rather, use the
skills that God has given us to better understand this place we call home. And God never meant that religion would
answer the questions of science but help us understand how to use science in
ways that help rather than hinder (something we tend to forget at times).
I am not sure where society is on this stream of thought I
have constructed. It seems that many,
both in religion and in science, are at the “Old River Control Station”,
valiantly trying to keep the streams apart.
I would hope that we are further upriver where the streams come
together, creating a broader and deeper understanding of the world, the
universe and the people.