“What’s That Sound?”


Here are my thoughts for the “Back Page” of the bulletin for Fishkill UMC for this coming Sunday, February 2, 2020, the 4th Sunday after the Epiphany (Year A)

In 1966 Stephen Stills wrote and then, with the group he was in, “Buffalo Springfield, recorded a song entitled “For What It’s Worth.” 

Perhaps the key phrase in the song is, 

It’s time we stop 
Hey, what’s that sound? 
Everybody look – what’s going down? 

For me, this phrase echoes the thoughts of the prophet Micah written 3000 years before, “Look around and see what God has done.  And tell me how anything you may have done matches His work.”

Paul makes the point that our perceived status be it political, economic, or religious,  counts very little to when it comes to receives God’s blessings.  As Jesus points out, our blessings come from what we do, not who we are.

One thing that I learned a long time ago is that, no matter how hard I might try, I would never reach the perfection of Christ. 

Nothing I do will ever outdo God and I should never try. But such perfection must be my goal. Anything that I should do should not be seen as a “trophy” in the pursuit of perfection but as a step along the way. 

Today, God is calling on us to listen to the sounds of the world, to hear the cries of the people, and then empowered by the Holy Spirit, bring the Gospel to the world through our words, deeds, thoughts, and actions.

~~Tony Mitchell

Does Your Room Have an Exit?


Here are my thoughts for the “Back Page” for this coming Sunday, 26 January 2020 (3rd Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A). Service starts at 10:15 am and you are always welcome.

At first, I couldn’t understand why the Old Testament reading for this Sunday began by focusing on the Birth of Jesus.  But the passage was also about a new light shining in the world.

The first to visit the Baby Jesus were the shepherds, the outcasts of society.  Throughout His ministry, Jesus reached out to the outcasts, the misfits, the “outsiders”.  His was a light in a darkened time.

Then came the Magi.  Strangers from a different country, they represented the light of the mind.  They sought to understand the light they saw in the sky.  Their  heritage was teaching and exploration.  The hallmark of Jesus’ ministry would be teaching and healing.

A few years later, when He was 12, Jesus would be in a dialogue with the Elders  in the Temple.  Think very carefully about this; in the society of that time, what 12-year-old boy would have even been allowed to be in the temple, let alone discuss the Scripture with the Elders?

Jesus’ ministry was a different ministry, one that saw the world differently.  And yet today, many individuals want to build walls  to keep out the strangers and keep new ideas from entering our minds.  But  they do not realize that building such walls creates a dark prison for them, a room with no exit.

We can build these rooms; they are quite easy to make.  But you cannot grow, you cannot, by any imagination, you cannot be free.

But if we tear down the walls and let the light in, we can grow, we can have a future, and we can be free.

~~Tony Mitchell

Now it is your turn!


Here are my thoughts for the “Back Page” of the Fishkill UMC bulletin for this coming Sunday, the 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany (Year A)

. . . it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not the object of our knowledge but the cause of our wonder — Based on Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, author 0f The Orthodox Way  

When I was in college and on my own (as it were), I figured that I would be able to sleep late on Sunday mornings and skip out on church.  But then I discovered that I needed to be in church.  College brought up a lot of questions, some about chemistry, some about calculus, one or two about English and history.  But there were also a lot of questions about who I was and I found that the answers to those questions came when I was in church. 

I was lucky.  The pastors that I meet and worked with in college didn’t give me the answers to those questions.  They showed me the way to find the answers on my own. 

There were some pastors, of course, who will tell you what the answers to the questions are and that you are not to question those answers.  I truly believe that had these individuals been my guide, I would have, as so many are doing today, left the church and the faith.

The invitation was and is always to “come and see”.  John the Baptizer told Andrew, Andrew told Peter, they told others.  We don’t know how many were invited and we don’t know how many accepted the invitation except to say that enough did so that some two thousand years later, someone invited you. 

Isaiah notes that we are given a set of skills.  Today, in the midst of all the troubles in the world, when there are so many people telling us that there is only one way and it is their way and that only a select few will be allowed to take that path, we stand here, with our skills and our knowledge, able to help those with questions find the answers. 

Many years ago, the Disciples told others to come and see what they had found. that they have found the Messiah and you should come and see for yourself.  Today, two thousand years later, it is our turn to say, “we have found the Messiah; let us help you find Him for yourself.”

~~Tony Mitchell

That One Moment


Here are my thoughts for the “Back Page” of this Sunday’s (January 12, 2020, Baptism of the Lord, Year A) bulletin for the Fishkill UMC. Service begins at 10:15 am and you are welcome to join us.

When was that one moment when you knew that God was with you?  When did you feel in your heart, mind, and soul that you were a Christian?

A few years back, I came across a saying from the Talmud (though Google insists that Winston Churchill said it) that says,

“In every age there comes a time when leadership suddenly comes forth to meet the needs of the hour. And so there is no man who does not find his time, and there is no hour that does not have its leader.”

Some have said that Jesus did not need to be baptized by John.  Even John acknowledged that he, John, was not worthy of taking on that task.  But the baptism of Jesus by John and the subsequent anointment by the Holy Spirit tells us that things were going to be different.

In a statement similar to that given by the Talmud, Jawaharlal Nehru said that there is a point in time when we step out from the old age into a new one.

There are many challenges facing us as we begin the new year and the new decade.  How we answer those challenges will define us.  One cannot predict nor can one force the moment when God, through the Holy Spirit, asks you to take on a new task.  But one has to be ready when that moment comes.

As the old hymn goes, Jesus is calling us, softly and gently.  Will this be your moment, the moment when you answer the call?

~~Tony Mitchell

The Legacy of the Wise Men


January 5, 2020

Here are my thoughts for the “Back Page” of this Sunday’s (January 5) Bulletin at Fishkill UMC. We will be focusing on Epiphany of the Lord (Year A). Services start at 10:15 am and you are welcome to be a part of a new year of worship.

As you may know, I am a chemist and a science educator.  If you were to trace the lineage of my profession backwards in time, sooner or later you would end in some obscure laboratory in 17th century Europe.  More importantly, if you continued the travel back in time, you would also end up in an equally obscure laboratory outside 16th century Baghdad.

The wise men are the intellectual ancestors of today’s mathematicians and scientists.  While we call what they did alchemy, it was still a study of matter and its reactions, the basic definition of chemistry.  The driving force behind these studies was to gain a better understand of who God was and what God was doing.  It should be noted that Robert Boyle, considered the father of modern chemistry, was also a prolific writer of religious manuscripts and Sir Isaac Newton, in the preface to his most famous work, Principia Mathematica, wrote that he hoped that what he presented would lead the reader to a better understanding of God.

Did not Jesus, when asked if He was the expected Messiah, tell the questioners to look at the evidence before them?

The evidence before me tells me that the universe is not quite 14 billion years old and not, as determined by some quirky and faulty calculations, 10,000 years old.  But the evidence does not tell me why it was created.

If nothing else, that I am both a Christian and a scientist dispels the notion that one cannot be both or that one must sacrifice one for the other.  When I look at the processes of creation, I can understand how it occurred but it is though my faith that I begin to understand why it was created.

And in doing so, I continue the legacy of Boyle and Newton and those who saw the Star in the East and sought to understand the meaning of what they saw.

In including the wise men in the Christmas narrative, Matthew suggested that, like the wise men, we must seek our understanding of God.  In looking at the world around us, in trying to understand the world around us, we can better understand who God is and what our relationship to Him through Christ might be.

~~Dr. Tony Mitchell