The WesleyNexus Newsletter

The new WesleyNexus newsletter is now available.  Topics this month include:

Save the date – Evolution Weekend, February 10, 2019, Baltimore-Washington Conference Center

John Haught’s Series of Presentations in the Washington region

The Origin of YHWH in pre-Israelite Culture – Dr. Robert Miller, Catholic University of America

Dr. Jennifer Wiseman presentation at the ASA National Capital Section, September 14

Is Religion Good or Bad for Us? By David B. Feldman

A Sacred Word Quiets my Mind to Pay Attention to God by Paul Bane



“The Difference”

This will be on the back page of the bulletin for services at Fishkill UMC this coming Sunday, September 23, 2018 (18th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B).  Services are at 10 and you are always welcome.

From the first time that I had to write a weekly message, I have always been amazed at the timeliness of the Scriptures and how our response to the issues of the day can be addressed by the words of the lectionary readings.  The Scriptures themselves may not offer the answer we seek but they will certainly lead us to the solution.  And that is perhaps the difference between simple knowledge and wisdom.

If the primary message of the Scriptures is a description of our relationship with God, then the Wisdom Literature of the Bible tells us how we are to apply that knowledge to our relationship with others.

The disciples were raised to see that everyone had a place in society, a place determined by one’s gender, one’s age, one’s birthplace, and one’s economic status.  Yet, from the very beginning Jesus’ teachings challenged those very ideas.  Much to the dismay of those who felt they had the right and the privilege to be first, Jesus said that made one last.  And that being in a position of power and authority meant that you were the servant of the people and not that the people were your servant.

Following Christ is often a difficult task because it so challenges us.  But if we open our minds as we open our hearts, we can begin to truly understand what we are being asked to do.  And that is the difference between knowledge and wisdom.                        ~~Tony Mitchell


“Who is your God today?”

This will be the back page for the Fishkill United Methodist Church for this coming Sunday, September 16, 2018 (17th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B)

To be honest, writing this back page was a bit of a struggle.  How does one answer the question when someone asks you, “who is your God?”

There are many who say that their God is the one true God, but their actions tell us that they worship other gods first.

The noted theologian Henri Nouwen stated,  “Jesus came to announce to us that an identity based on success, popularity, and power is a false identity.”

Peter understood that Jesus was the Messiah and not another individual seeking political and earthly power.  It just took him a bit longer to understand what all that meant but, in the end, he would come to understand what he had been called to do.

It takes every bit of our knowledge and experience, our wisdom, to hear the soft words of Jesus amidst the harsh and false words of the world and this society we live in.

But, in Christ we find the truth and know, in the truest sense, that it will set us free.                    ~~Tony Mitchell

“Who Is Your God?”

This will be on the back page of the Sunday, September 09, 2018 (16th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B) bulletin for Fishkill UMC.  Services are at 10 am; come and join us this Sunday.

That is a question many have asked down through the ages; it is still asked today.  And for many, despite their pronouncements to the contrary, their God is simply a thought expressed in the words of books, not something that is a part of their life.  Now, as an educator, there is something to be said for old-fashioned “book learning” but I prefer learning that goes outside the classroom.

I am currently taking a course on faith and science and, in the context of one of the discussions, a fellow class member wrote that their mother always told them to put on their gloves when her hands were cold.  My momma would always make comments concerning windows, doors, televisions and our effort to heat and cool the universe.

John Wooden, the famed UCLA basketball coach, would often encourage his players with statements such as, “be quick but don’t hurry” and “failing to plan is planning to fail.”  His players wise to the ways of the world would often chuckle at these parcels of wisdom but would later find themselves echoing those same thoughts when they became coaches or fathers.

What we must realize is that wisdom is the sum of our education and our experience.

Is your God simply words written in a book somewhere or is He a part of your life and experience?  Will those who have read or heard of God find in you that which they are seeking?

~~Tony Mitchell

A Certain Outcome

This will be on the back page for the bulletin for Fishkill UMC for this Sunday (August 26, 2018, 14th Sunday after Pentecost – B).

The one thing that struck me about the Old Testament Reading was that Solomon’s Temple was open to all.  People would come because of the greatness of Solomon and they would discover God in the Temple that Solomon built.

What does that say about today when people are turning away from the church out of distrust and anger or they are seeking alternative means of worship because they cannot find God in the church today.

And when I read Paul’s words to the Ephesians, I hear him crying out again the battles inside the church.  The problem is not that the world is evil or anything like that; it is that some people want to exercise their authority as if it came from God,  And it is hard to take on those people; it is hard to take on the tasks Jesus asked us to begin.

But in our faith, and through God, we have been given the tools, the skills, and the abilities to take on those tasks.

What will we do?  Will we give up the fight or will you join the fight?                                 ~~Tony Mitchell

“The Cost of Freedom”

This will be the back page for the bulletin at Fishkill UMC on Sunday, July 1, 2018 (6th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B).  Services are at 10 am and you are welcome to attend.

If there is one common theme for this week, it would have to be freedom.  And invariably, when I think of freedom, I think of the flags Ann and I have but which we do not fly.  I also think of Richie Havens singing “Freedom” at the opening of Woodstock and Crosby, Stills, and Nash singing “Find the Cost of Freedom.”  The freedom of which CSN sang is the very freedom represented by the flags that the families, such as ours, were given by a grateful nation.  But the cost of freedom is also represented by Richie Havens singing.

Freedom doesn’t come automatically but after much effort; while Havens was improvising much of what he sang that day in August 1969, he couldn’t have done it without preparation and study.

Our own freedoms also do not come automatically but as the result of much effort by each of us and those who came before us.  To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, we can never be truly free if there are others who are not free.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul commended them on their desire to excel.  But his commendation comes with a caveat; you cannot succeed at the expense of others, a thought later expressed by John Wesley.

Our freedoms today cannot be measured in society’s terms, for society sees things unequally.  If we are to be truly free, we must be willing to help others find the same freedoms we enjoy.

Christ died so that we may live; our freedoms are found through Christ.  Are we willing to help others find that same freedom?

~Tony Mitchell

“Pay Attention to the Details”

This will be the back page for the Sunday, June 03, 2018 (2nd Sunday after Pentecost, Year B) bulletin of Fishkill UMC.

For my doctoral work, I needed to synthesize two chemical compounds.  For the first compound, I was going to reproduce some work that had been done a few years before to confirm the structure of the compound.

The interesting thing about this synthesis was that one step in the process had to be done “backwards”.  Instead of adding “A” to “B”, I had to add “B” to “A”.  “A” to “B” was the traditional approach and the one taught to all students.  If you looked at the experimental method, this would have been the method you would have chosen.  But if you did this, all your work would have been destroyed in the process.  That you had to do this step in reverse order was discovered by the first group and their notes, which I had, noted the importance of changing the order.  But had I not had their notes, I would have noted there was a problem in the synthesis and worked out an alternative.  Either way, I had to be aware of what I was doing.

The Pharisees were hung up on the details about the sanctity of the Sabbath and felt that it was more important to uphold the sanctity rather focus on the meaning of the Sabbath.

For many people today, Christianity is superficial.  Some say they are Christian, but it is only on the surface and they lack the depth that shows the presence of Christ.

When we travel out into the world as representatives of Christ, we must be aware that we are showing the fullness and completeness of God’s Love.      ~Tony Mitchell