“Who Is Your God?

This will be on the “Back Page” of the bulletin for this coming Sunday, Labor Day Sunday and the 12th Sunday after Pentecost (Year C), at Fishkill UMC. Service starts at 10:15 and you are welcome to be a part of the worship service.

I could not help but marvel at how appropriate the Scriptures for this Sunday are for today.

God, through His prophet Jeremiah, castigates the Israelites for destroying the land that they were given and once again seeking other gods.

Jesus questions the hospitality of His hosts because they save the good seats at the table for themselves and limit who may even sit at their table.

The writer of Hebrews tells us to not be worried about the material things of life.  Somehow, our holidays of celebration have turned into markers of time and excuses to buy things.

John Wesley had no problems with anyone earning as much as they could.  But he warned us against doing so on the backs of the labor class and the less fortunate.  He also encouraged each of us to save as much as we could and to give as much as we could.

I hope that we will take some time this week and consider who the gods of our society are?  It is a question that society has been asked since Paul debated the Athenians some two thousand years ago

On this weekend and in the coming days, consider who your God is.  Are your priorities right or convenient?  Remember that God has shown you in so different ways His love for you.  How are you showing your love for Him?  How are you telling the world  who your God is?

~~Tony Mitchell

“Is this Heaven?”

This will be on the “Back Page” of the Fishkill UMC bulletin for this coming Sunday, August 25, 2019 (the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, year C). Our services start at 10:15 am and you are always welcome.

For me, some of the most iconic lines ever spoken in a baseball movie are, “Is this Heaven?  No . . . it’s Iowa.”  Iowa, as some of you know, is a major part of my life.  But that a baseball game was played in a field in northeast Iowa is not why I appreciate those lines.

Rather, it is that one can find Heaven in unexpected places.  Heaven has always been a special place, often defined by tradition.  But when you begin your ministry in the foothills of the Rockies and the better part of my ministry has been in the Appalachian and Adirondack mountains, you must have a new definition of Heaven.

We are at a time when many would like to return traditional views; views of what Heaven is and, perhaps more importantly, how we worship and who shall lead us in our worship.  The problem is that a traditional view does not see beyond the walls of one’s mind and blinds us to the opportunities that God lays before us.

God cannot be enclosed by a fixed view of the world or the people who live here. 

God will reach out to all those who seek Him; He will call upon anyone whom He feels can take His Word out into His world.

In seeing Heaven in a field in Iowa or the mountains and valleys of New York or the streets of New York City or El Paso, Texas, we acknowledge his presence in our lives.  And this acknowledgement allows each one of us to be more open to the call of God to take the Word out into the World. ~~Tony Mitchell

Sunday morning prayer

Borrowing a thought from fifty years ago and with acknowledgement to Reinhold Niebuhr,

Are we so deaf that we cannot hear the cries of the people, no matter who they are?

Are we so blind that we cannot see the damage we are doing to this planet, our home?

Are we so dumb that we will never learn that what we do changes the future, in ways we cannot understand?

Today, I pray that we will open our ears and hear the cries of the people. I pray that we will respond.

Today, I pray that we will open our eyes and see new ways, new roads to the future.

Today, I pray that we will open our minds and let the power of the Holy Spirit empower us to use our gifts of mind and heart to make sure that we can walk the new roads to the future.

“A New Revival”

August 11, 2019

This will be on the “Back Page” of the bulletin for this coming Sunday, 11 August 2019 (10th Sunday after Pentecost, Year C) at Fishkill UMC. We have a hymn sing service scheduled; feel free to post your favorite hymn with a reason why you like the hymn to the comments section.

“. . . let’s not talk about love.    Let’s not sing about love. Let’s put love into action and make it real.”  (1 John 3: 18 , Clarence Jordan’s Cotton Patch Gospels)

A few years ago I suggested that there was a need for a new revival (“The Coming Revival”).  I am not talking about a big tent meeting with the preacher making an impassioned plea for people to dedicate their lives to Christ.

Rather, I am suggesting the type of revival that John Wesley and the early Methodists began.  At a time when many preachers spoke out against the inequalities of society but suggested that the solution required the lower classes improve themselves on their own, the Methodist revival sought to bring the Gospel message to the people and make a concerted effort to change and improve the lives of the people.

It would be the type of revival that the Old Testament prophets called for, calling out those who proclaimed their allegiance to God but only gave lip service to their faith.

It is time for a revival of the Spirit, to acknowledge the presence of Christ in one’s life.  It is time to call out preachers who refuse to condemn the lack of morality in our politicians and who seem to find comfort in being in their presence. We are on the verge, if not in the middle, of a moral crisis that threatens to destroy this society and this world.  It is time for a new revival, a revival of the Spirit that will bring  the promise of the Kingdom.            ~~Tony Mitchell

“It’s About the Parking Lots!”

This will be on the “Back Page” of the Fishkill UMC bulletin for August 4, 2019, 8th Sunday after Pentecost (Year C). Service is at 10:15 am and you are welcome to attend. We are going to have a hymn sing on August 18th; put your favorite hymns in the comment section.

I am not sure  why but the lectionary readings for this Sunday made me think of parking lots.

It is understood that there must have ample parking available if a church is to grow.  But I know of one mega-church  where it took between 10 and 20 minutes to get out of the parking lot after the morning service.

If I were trying to find Jesus, or perhaps just getting answers to some questions, I might think twice about attending such a church.  After all, how can I find Jesus if I am apt to get lost in a crowd?

So I go looking for another church.  But I am not likely to go to a church where I cannot find parking, right?  And if the parking lot is empty, how can I be sure that there is anyone there.

Clearly churches have two options here.  The first is to put a sign out front saying that they are open for business and seating is available.  But that makes a church like a restaurant or coffee shop and unless the church is willing to serve items that compete with comparable shops in the neighborhood, that’s not going to work too well.

But I am reminded of something John Wesley once said, “The world is my parish.”  And that means that the church needs to spend more time outside the boundaries of the sanctuary and its parking lot, reaching out to those who seek Jesus.  It starts , not by looking at the parking lot, but at the people searching for a parking place.             ~~Tony Mitchell