“A Matter of Priorities”


This will be on the back page of bulletin of the Fishkill United Methodist Church for 25 June 2017, the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost (Year A).  It is based on the scriptures – Genesis 21: 8 – 21, Romans 6: 1 – 11, Matthew 10: 24 ‑ 39


To paraphrase Charles Dickens, these can be the best times or they can be the worst times.  We live in a world that many people see as devoid of hope or opportunities.

And we wonder how we can change this; how can we bring hope and opportunity to the world?

We can do great things but that it is not possible when we see faith as an individual thing.  When we do that, these times become the worst times.

You see, when we see our faith only in terms of what it means for us, when we hold onto our faith and do not share it, it becomes useless to us.  And such a vision of faith makes it very difficult to understand the faith of others.

When we share our faith with others, it allows others to share their faith with us.  And in this sharing of faith, opportunities arise.

 

“What Does It Take?”


This will be on the back page of the Fishkill UMC bulletin tomorrow, 18 June 2017 – the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost (Year A).

Genesis 18: 1 – 15, (21: 1 – 7), Romans 5: 1 – 8, Matthew 9: 35 – 10: 8 (9 – 23)

One of the ethos of desert living was that one never turned away a stranger, even if that stranger might be an enemy.  The desert was far crueler than any individual or group of individuals might be and there was an understanding that you helped those traveling in the desert and they would in turn help you.

That runs very much against human nature.  We do not want to help our enemies or those who seek to do us harm.  As Jesus pointed out to the Disciples in today’s Gospel reading, people were going to find fault with them because the message the Disciples presented was often in contrast to accepted beliefs.  But Jesus told them to just do what they could do and let those results show the people the future.

This can be difficult, if for no other reason that it is so often in opposition to the “get it now” mantra of society.  Put as Paul wrote, the key is patience – do what is expected of you and you will receive the rewards at the proper time.

“A New Start”


This will be the back page for the Fishkill United Methodist Church bulletin on 11 June 2017, “Trinity Sunday (Year A).  This is also Peace and Justice Sunday.


The key point about Genesis, at least for me, is not how God created the world but why He created it.  The book of Genesis, in fact the entire Bible, is about our relationship with God and our relationship with others.

It would be worth considering the words of today’s Gospel reading.  Often called the “Great Commission”, Jesus commands the disciples to go and make disciples of all the people.  But in the Cotton Patch Gospel and the Message, this passage speaks of the disciples teaching people in the ways that they were taught.

We are called to begin anew, to teach others what we have been taught, and to work for a world of peace and justice.  In the words of Senator Cory Booker,

Don’t speak to me about your religion; first show it to me in how you treat other people. Don’t tell me how much you love your God; show me in how much you love all her children. Don’t preach to me your passion for your faith; teach me through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give.

In a world where people view confrontation and conflict as the solution, we need a new beginning.  We need to seek opportunities to seek justice in new and peaceful ways.  Today can be that day.

What Do We Do Next?


I didn’t post anything for Memorial Day and perhaps i should have.  Memorial Day is a day to remember those whose sacrifices enabled his to celebrate our freedom.  Granted, this is has and will always been a day to consider those who have served in the military but I do think it proper and appropriate to remember those civilians who have died in the cause of freedom.

But what do we do next?  In this time and in this place, what are we going to do to stop the need for war to be the solution of society’s problems.  We know what causes war – when one group feels the need to extend their grasp of power over others, when one group goes to great trouble to take away the essentials of life, should we not be surprised that there is a war?

What would happen if we worked to remove the causes of war?  What would happen if we made sure that the sick and injured received medical treatment?  What would happen if all people have enough to eat?  What would happen if people were treated equally?  What if we spent millions and millions of dollars on education and other services that enable people to find their own path?  Would this not be a better world?  Would this be a world without war?

Do I think that we can eliminate war?  No, I don’t.  But if we focus on removing the causes of war, we are likely to make a non-starter.

So on the day after Memorial Day, will you be working to ensure that there are no new deaths to remember next year?

Is War Something To Forget?


I once wrote a piece for my blog entitled “Maybe We Should Study War More Often”. It was written as a response to another blogger’s idea that war can solve many of the problems of modern society (it turned out I was arguing with a bumper sticker).

War can never be the answer unless the question is related to the total and complete destruction of civilization and life as we know it.

One of my middle names (I have two) is Lee. It is a family name, given to me in honor of my maternal grandfather. I suspect there is a lengthy history to this name and that some of my ancestors named their children Lee in honor of Robert E. Lee.

I am fully aware of the role that General Lee played in the Civil War but I also know that he once wrote his wife, and I have used this quote many times, “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should too fond of it.”  (My thoughts concerning this topic are found in “It’s Not About a Piece of Cloth”.)

When I opposed the Viet Nam War, it was because I saw several injustices. Among those injustices was the decision by old (and usually white) men sending young men off to battle, to die on the battle field, lonely and forgotten.

I don’t know how others felt but my argument was and will always be with a leadership that sends the youth off to war and then forgets them. Those that went to war and were fortunate to come home deserve recognition and support (something that our society and our leaders have seeming forgotten).

In my family are three flags, flags that are not flown on national holidays but cared for because of what they represent.  Each of these flags was given by a representative to the United States as an expression of thanks for the service given by the individual on whose coffin they lie.

Many people have these flags, folded in a triangle, and carefully stored because these are flags that cannot be replaced.  My family was lucky because each flag was given during the peacetime.  Other families received their flags during the war time and their father or son, their mother or their daughter died on a battlefield far away from home.

I have a Facebook friend whose brother, Walter. went to the same high school as she and I did.  He was five years ahead of me so I never knew him.  Shortly after he graduated from high school, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.  In 1967, he died in Viet Nam.  Before he died, he saved the lives of several of his comrades and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Over the past few years, I have observed the love his younger sister, Carolyn, had for him and I know that his death was not vain.

But we seem to think that it is okay to send our youth off to war and to forget them when they come home, some wounded, others dead but all changed by the horrors of war.

In this place and time, we must work for a world in which there is no war and that war is never used as the first step in the solution of conflict and hatred.  Against the violence and destruction of war, we must make a stand that says, “we shall study war no more and we will not forget those who have died when war was necessary.”