“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

A Name

Here are my thoughts for the “Back Page” of the Fishkill UMC bulletin for July 28, 2019, the 7th Sunday after Pentecost (Year C). On August 18th, we will be having a hymn sing so feel free to add a comment with your favorite hymn or two. I would also appreciate your thoughts on what the hymn means to you.

This is about  our collective name.  To say that one is a Christian means that one is a follower of Christ.  It has been that way for just over 2000 years now.  But what does it mean when we say we are a Methodist?

Now, if you have been attending the new member class, you know the answer to that question.  But just in case you haven’t been attending or if you forgot, we are Methodists because John Wesley, along with his brother Charles and a few of their college friends, to strengthen their faith developed a program of regular prayer and service.  This regular program, or method, was derided by their contemporaries.  But to John Wesley’s credit, he took this pejorative and made it a positive.

Instead of just being a personal plan, Methodism became the plan for taking the Gospel from inside the church to the people in the fields and factories.  Methodism changed the course of society. 

But just as Wesley proudly accepted the label, he also worried that those people called Methodists would become complacent, creating a situation very similar that lead to the rise of Methodism.

The world around us today calls for Methodists, individually and collectively, to again step forward, to make a public statement of faith and to speak out and work against injustice in all its forms.  We may be called names, just as those who came before us were, but we know that, with our faith in Christ and the method of our faith, we can change the world.  That is what our name means.                                                                 ~Tony Mitchell

Monthly Clergy Letter Project Newsletter

The new issue of Clergy Project Newsletter is now available on-line.

  1. Evolution Weekend 2020:  Help Needed;
  2. Astrobiology News for July 2019:  NASA’s Dragonfly to Explore Titan;
  3. Too Big a Flood for the Ark;
  4. The Frightening Nature of Christian Nationalism;
  5. The Intersection of Zen and Science:  Part Two; and
  6. How Erasmus Darwin’s Poetry Prophesied Evolutionary Theory.

The WesleyNexus Newsletter

The new WesleyNexus newsletter is now available.

In this issue:

Discovery & Faith Seeks Churches to Pilot Its New Curricula in Fall 2019

Dr. Gary Sherman Challenges the Status Quo on GMOs and Food Security at recent IRAS Conference

Celebrating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Moon Landing & the Apollo Mission

Animal Suffering: God & Pain in the Evolutionary Story

How to Understand the Universe When You’re Stuck Inside of It by Amanda Gefter

Two Conference taking place even now.

Some thoughts on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing

This will be on the “Back Page” of July 21, 2019 ( 6th Sunday after Pentecost, Year C) bulletin for Fishkill UMC. Service begins at 10:15 and you are always welcome!

Earthrise, December 24, 1968 – a reminder that we are the caretakers of this world – some additional thoughts can be found at “Christian author sees climate change as a moral issue.”

Footprint on the moon, July 20, 1969 – In your journey with Christ, where will you leave your mark?

“String Theory”

This will be the “Back Page” for the Fishkill UMC bulletin for this Sunday, July 14, 2019 – the 5th Sunday after Pentecost (Year C)

String theory is an advanced theory in physics that describes our universe and its beginnings.  It does so by envisioning a system of multiple dimensions, among which are the four dimensions of space and time in which we live.  While this theory attempts to describe our universe physically, how can we describe this universe spiritually?

When you look at the two towers of the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge, you can tell they are straight and they appear to be parallel.

However, that is only a two-dimensional view.  Because of the height of the towers (693 ft or 211 m) and their distance from each other (4,260 ft or 1,298 m), the curvature of the Earth’s surface had to be considered when designing the bridge. The towers are not parallel to each other but are 1 58 in (41.275 mm) farther apart at their tops than at their bases.  This line is that distance:      

Even with such a small distance, the designers had to see the world in three dimensions rather than two dimensions in order to build the bridge.

The religious and political authorities in Jesus’ time saw life in two dimensions.  There were clear lines of demarcation that told people who they were and what they can do.  Woe to anyone who dared to cross those lines.  But that is exactly what Jesus did; Jesus saw the world in three dimensions and routinely crossed the lines and challenged the definitions.

Even today, there are many who seek life in two dimensions.  Which makes living in this three-dimensional world that much harder.  And that is the same challenge gave Jesus gave the people two thousand years ago; how do we live in a three-dimensional world?         

~~Tony Mitchell