“Transformed by Grace”


This will be that back page of the 12 November 2017 (23rd Sunday after Pentecost, Year A) for Fishkill United Methodist Church.  Services begin at 10 am and you are always welcome.

On these pages and on my blog (see “The Changing of the Seasons”), I have written about that day when I truly came to understand what it means to receive God’s grace.  It is a day that, perhaps more than any other day, transformed my life.

For John Wesley, grace in all its forms was and is a gift from God and a sign of His active presence in our lives.  There is nothing we can do to earn this grace because it is freely given by God to us.  What we can do is seek a better understanding of what grace is, what grace does, and what we can do as a result.

The concept of grace in Methodism is defined by three words: prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying.  Prevenient grace is the grace that allows us to seek and find God, know the difference between good and evil and to seek good.  Justifying grace is the grace that restores our relationship with God.  Through Christ, our sins are forgiven and our relationship with God restored.

Sanctifying grace is not a one-time event in our lives.  It is what helps us grow and mature, to live as Jesus lived.  It allows us to seek perfection in our love of God and for others and removing our desire to sin.

Because of what God has done for us, we offer our lives back to God through a life of service.  We are active in the world through mission and service because our Love of God is tied to our love of our neighbor and our commitment to seek justice and renewal in this world.        ~~Tony Mitchell

Notes on grace from “Our Wesleyan Heritage”

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“Who Gets Invited?”


Here is the “back page” for the 15 October 2017 (19th Sunday after Pentecost, year A) bulletin at Fishkill United Methodist Church.  Our services start at 10 and you are always welcome to come and be a part of the worship.


How many of you remember Steve Allen?  If I were to describe this talented individual in one word, I would say that he was creative.  Whether it was in the arts, the theater, or music, Steve Allen found new and creative ways to express his thoughts.  And one of those ways was through a television series he prepared for PBS, entitled “Meeting of the Minds”.  In this show, he brought together notable individuals of history (portrayed by actors) to meet and discuss ideas, common or otherwise (I first referenced this in “Guess Who’s Coming To Breakfast?”)

My notes don’t give me all those who sat at his table but it would have been nice to have Paul, Martin Luther, John Wesley, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer there to discuss the nature of Christianity.

If you were given the opportunity, who would you invite to sit with you at your table and discuss topics of common interest?  And what would you do if any of the individuals you invited could not attend?  Who might you then invite?

Would St. Augustine be an acceptable substitute for Martin Luther?  Would you invite Attila the Hun, even if you knew he had bad table manners?

What if they didn’t let you know until the last minute?  Might there have been someone you overlooked because they were not famous?

Who might you invite to this metaphorical table if it meant that the course of history might change because you did.

We have chosen the path we will walk.  And who we walk with along the way tells us something about that path.  Who will you invite to walk with you today?

~~Tony Mitchell

Dear President-elect Trump


This comes from “Yale Climate Connections”; per the notes in 4th paragraph, I am sharing it with you all.


Dear President-elect Trump

A Wisconsin retired lawyer has drafted an “Open Letter to President-elect Donald Trump” that he hopes will be widely shared, possibly signed and sent along to the President-elect, and used in a petition to him.

Requesting anonymity, he says that with Trump’s election, his legacy will be based more on his performance in office than on the “understandable pride” he and future Trump generations will take in the “Trump brand” and business. He calls climate change “one of the most important issues” affecting the Trump legacy and says his actions on that issue “will last long beyond your days on this Earth,” a clear appeal to Trump’s keen interest in his brand/image and thus his legacy. He points to a Trump-owned coastal golf course’s having already taken steps to manage risks it faces in a changing climate.

Reconsidering some of his earlier climate change statements as a candidate “would be good for the country, for the world, and for the legacy of Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States,” said the letter writer, who describes himself as “a concerned citizen.”

The letter follows in full and can be copied and shared with others, or signed and mailed to the President-elect or used as a template or model in a petition, the letter writer said.


Dear President-elect Trump:

Re: Climate change and your legacy

“Before I get to the subject of this letter, I want to offer my congratulations on your successful campaign for president. The outcome on November 8, 2016, will likely stand like no other in the history of presidential politics. The election changed America and I believe it will change you, particularly as it relates to the subject of this letter.

Had you lost the election, your legacy would be the Trump brand. In that case, in the future when people would seek to understand who was Donald J. Trump, their search of the internet would reflect your impact in the various communities where you built hotels, resorts, golf clubs, etc. that bear your name. Your children, grandchildren, and the Trump generations to follow would point to these accomplishments with understandable pride.

Your victory on November 8 changes this. Your legacy will now be a matter of what you do during your term in office. Unlike your legacy as a builder, which will be fixed when you die, your legacy as president will reflect the actions you take during your term in office – actions whose effects will last long beyond your days on this Earth.

One of the most important issues that will affect your legacy as president is climate change. In the weeks leading up to the election it was reported that one of your properties – Trump International Golf Links Ireland – filed an application with local zoning authorities for permission to construct a seawall. According to that report, the application explicitly cited global warming and its consequences – increased erosion due to rising sea levels and extreme weather this century.

If you were to roll back the U.S. positions on climate change, the dangers noted by your resort application will most certainly ensue, along with severe population disruptions in the U.S. and elsewhere when millions are forced inland to higher ground to avoid the coastal flooding from currently projected major sea-level rise. In the future, when Americans and others around the world are enduring the miseries of unchecked climate change, they will likely look back and point to your actions as a significant if not deciding cause.

Post-election reporting has revealed your willingness to adjust some of the positions you took during the election – e.g., keeping some features of Obamacare. My hope is that you will reconsider your stated opposition to actions to halt or lessen the impacts of climate change. It would be good for the country, for the world, and for the legacy of Donald J. Trump, 45th president of the United States.

2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 10


These are the responses of the 2016 Presidential candidates to the fourth of the twenty questions posed to them earlier.

I posted the responses to Question #1 at (concerning innovation) at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 1”.

The responses to Question #2 (concerning research) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 2″.

The responses to Question #3 (concerning climate change) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 3″.

The responses to Question #4 (concerning biodiversity) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 4″.

The responses to Question #5 (concerning the Internet) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 5″.

The responses to Question #6 (concerning mental health) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 6″.

The responses to Question #7 (concerning energy) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 7″.

The responses to Question #8 (concerning science and mathematics education) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 8″.

The responses to Question #9 (concerning public health) are at  “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 9″.

I hope that you will take the time to look at these responses and offer your own thoughts.  My own thoughts and analysis are at the end of the post.

  • Water

The long-term security of fresh water supplies is threatened by a dizzying array of aging infrastructure, aquifer depletion, pollution, and climate variability. Some American communities have lost access to water, affecting their viability and destroying home values. If you are elected, what steps will you take to ensure access to clean water for all Americans?

Hillary Clinton (D)

Chronic underinvestment in our nation’s drinking and wastewater systems has sickened and endangered Americans from Flint, Michigan, to Ohio and West Virginia. Outdated and inadequate wastewater systems discharge more than 900 billion gallons of untreated sewage a year, posing health risks to humans and wildlife life, disrupting ecosystems, and disproportionately impacting communities of color. In addition, many struggling communities around the United States have limited or no access to clean, safe water.

We will invest in infrastructure and work with states, municipalities, and the private sector to bring our water systems into the 21st century and provide all Americans access to clean, safe drinking water.

Climate change is also triggering changes in weather patterns, including the increased prevalence of long, hard droughts that pose a dire risk to the health and prosperity of American communities, particularly in the West. The federal government must become a better partner in supporting state and locally-led efforts to improve water security. To that end, we will create a coordinated, multi-agency Western Water Partnership to help fund water efficiency, consideration, and infrastructure modernization projects across the region, including significant new investments in water reuse and reclamation.

We will also work to bring cutting edge efficiency, treatment and reuse solutions to our nation’s water challenges by establishing a new Water Innovation Lab. The Lab will bring urban water managers, farmers and tribes together with engineers, entrepreneurs, conservationists and other stakeholders to develop practical and usable technologies and strategies that can be deployed by local water utilities, agricultural and industrial water users, and environmental restoration projects across the country.

Donald Trump (R)

This may be the most important issue we face as a nation for the next generation. Therefore, we must make the investment in our fresh water infrastructure to ensure access to affordable fresh water solutions for everyone. We must explore all options to include making desalinization more affordable and working to build the distribution infrastructure to bring this scarce resource to where it is needed for our citizens and those who produce the food of the world. This must be a top priority for my administration.

Jill Stein (G)

We need a national comprehensive water plan.

Clean water is a human right. The Green New Deal’s focus on infrastructure will help prevent future poisoned drinking water crises like that in Flint, Michigan.

Rejuvenating the federal Superfund program will help clean up the polluted drinking water of millions of Americans.

My Thoughts

For a topic as important as this one, each of the candidate’s response is remarkably brief.    One of the most important topics for this planet is fresh, drinkable water.  And yet, Trump offers nothing, Stein speaks of rejuvenating the federal Superfund and Clinton suggests two more committees are needed at this time.

Personally, I would like to know who came up with Trump’s answer that making desalinization work.  It is a viable and feasible alternative but it won’t get fresh water to the interior portions of the country.

I don’t think that rejuvenating the Superfund will help with water problems.  My knowledge of this fund was that 1) it deal with landfills, which may or may not have infiltrated water supplies and 2) it didn’t work that great.

Both Stein and Clinton understand the need for new infrastructure but there is nothing innovative in the solution.  You can’t use generalities or superlatives when what is need are new pipes.  And the one thing that we have learned from Flint is that we need new materials to make the pipes out of, not traditional iron pipes.  Many cities are doing this at this time but it will take more than new committees.

Any investment in the infrastructure of this country is going to require funds and the question arises where are we going to get those funds?  There has to resetting of national priorities that says monies for construction and innovation must take precedent over monies for destruction.

News about the Wesleyan Covenant Association


I am thankful for Reverend Jeremy Smith and his contributions to the United Methodist Church.  This post – http://hackingchristianity.net/2016/09/playing-the-expectations-game-with-the-wesleyan-covenant-association.html discussions the upcoming meeting of the Wesleyan Covenant Association.  It would seem to me that the WCA is trying very hard to either distract us from their purposes or confuse us as to what they are going to be doing.