A Reminder

This will be the back page for the Fishkill United Methodist Church bulletin for February 11, 2018, Transfiguration Sunday (Year B).  This is also Boy Scout Sunday and Evolution Weekend (I will have something else posted this week that focuses on those topics.)

Several years ago, I was headed to a college in northwest Missouri.  Driving across the plains of northwest Missouri that day and nearing Conception Junction, I saw a cathedral rising from the plains about ten miles away.  It wasn’t what I had planned but I had to see what this was.  After all, when does God check your schedule when he has something for you to do?

Conception Abbey postcard from 1908 postcard – By Unknown – postcard, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19493851

Conception Abbey was built in the late 19th century to provide the local Irish and German immigrants of the area a spiritual home.  That day, it served as a reminder that I had made a covenant with God in 1965.

A covenant with God is not a promise but an agreement one makes with God; It is an agreement that each party will do something.  Throughout the ages, God always keeps His part of the covenant; we are often the ones who forget what we said we would do.

Seeing that cathedral, literally rising from the plains, reminded me that I had made a covenant and that it was time to fulfill my part of the agreement.  As I continued my trip that day, I began to think about how I could fulfill that covenant I made in 1965.  How could I use my skills and talents that I had been given and developed over the years?  In one sense, I am here today because of the sudden appearance of the Presence of God in my life.

Each of us, in one way or another, has had that same moment, where God suddenly appears to us.   How will you respond?

~Tony Mitchell


“And What Do You See?”

This will be the back page of the February 4, 2018 (Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, year B) bulletin at Fishkill United Methodist Church.

Of the twelve disciples, Nathaniel must be my favorite.  Perhaps it is because he was, by tradition, the scholar of the group.  But then again, he, along with Thomas, went to Georgia.

I suppose that Thomas should be one of my favorites as well.  While he has been labeled “doubting”, his request to see Jesus’ wounds was, in the classic sense, the mark of a scientist, of not making a decision until the observations were completed.  Of course, Jesus pointed out to Thomas that there would be many who would believe without the visual evidence that he requested.

But how was it that those individuals came to believe?  They had to see for themselves what it is that Jesus Christ could do.  From the very beginning of His ministry, people heard the Good News that Jesus was preaching and saw the miracles that He performed.  Time and time again, the people saw what He did.  He did not tell them to believe; he gave them the reason to believe.  Paul did not simply tell the people they had to believe; he, too, gave them reasons through his own life and actions to believe.

All we need to, as Isaiah reminds us with the Old Testament reading for today, is look around and we see the works of God.  Each discovery we make, be it here on this planet or deep in space, shows us the grandeur of God’s work and encourages us to seek more knowledge, more knowledge about the world and the people who live on this planet, more knowledge about God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Our job is not to tell people about Jesus; our job is to live the sort of life that indicates the presence of Christ in us.  Our job is to live the sort of life that will cause others to seek Christ.

~Tony Mitchell

When False Rhetoric Sticks: How Do We Flip The Common Presumption Of Faith Vs. Science. – The Catholic Astronomer

As a priest with an assignment of diverse ministries (parish, primary school, jail ministry, and university students), there are ample opportunities to receive and address questions about faith and science from multiple perspectives. What I find fascinating is that, regardless of what ministerial environment the questions are posed, there is a common narrative that often emerges: Faith is against science. Much can be said about how this presumption has come to be the norm. Often times, I find that much of the fuel that feeds this fire doesn’t come from scientists, new atheists, or secular politics. Rather, I find that it is the poor understanding and presentation of biblical creation in a hyper-literalist manner combined with a history of scandals in the Church that has flipped the opinion of many to view Catholicism not as the vessel that pursues truth to a fallen institution that is riddled with scandal and corruption, lacking the needed transparency to foster trust in the … Continue reading →

Source: When False Rhetoric Sticks: How Do We Flip The Common Presumption Of Faith Vs. Science. – The Catholic Astronomer

Finding the truth

The part in straight text will be the back page of the bulletin for the 4th Sunday after the Epiphany at Fishkill United Methodist Church.  The part in italics was added for this post.

If you were to compare the content of my father’s chemistry text book with the content of the textbooks I used as a student and a teacher, you would see that they are very different.  For one thing, in the 1930’s, there were only about 90 elements; today there are at least 118 and the search goes on to find more (see Timeline of chemical element discoveries).


By El Snubbe – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63155133

But what if someone decided there was a limit to what one could know in chemistry?  What would our world be like today?

Certain theories in place then have been modified, upgraded, or changed.  And yet, even with these differences, there is a certain fundamental truth.  But you must look for it; it does not come easily.   I discussed the idea of changing theories in “A Brief History of Atomic Theory”.  Other theories that dominated chemistry for many years were the phlogiston theory and caloric theory.  These theories dominated conventional thinking for many years, even with indications that they had changed.

That day in Capernaum 2000 years ago, the people experienced something they didn’t expect.  They saw Jesus give meaning to the Scriptures; they saw Jesus use the information in the Scriptures they way it was meant to be used, as an instrument of empowerment and freedom, not slavery and control.

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, pointed out that you needed to understand the Law, not just meekly repeat the words of the Law. One characteristic of the Old Testament prophets was their ability to speak to the truth, to go beyond, even when it was not what the people wanted to hear.

Jesus told the people to seek the truth and the truth would set them free.  In a world where so many people try to tell us what to think and what is true, Jesus’ words and actions remind us from where the truth comes from.

~Tony Mitchell

Across the Universe: Redating Easter? – The Catholic Astronomer

This column first ran in The Tablet in January 2016 The archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has recently [2016] announced discussions to redefine the date of Easter. Pope Francis and various leaders of Eastern churches have also expressed interest in a common date that all churches would celebrate together. Easter was originally the Sunday following Passover, the first full moon of the Hebrew year. But the start of the Hebrew year varied from year to year. Jewish months, 29 days long, mirror the phases of the moon, and so every three or four years an extra month is needed to keep that lunar calendar in phase with the seasons. After the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, there was no central Jewish authority to determine when to add that month. Instead, Jews of the Diaspora relied on a Greek formula (devised in 432 BC by Meton) to add seven intercalary months over a repeating 19 year cycle. It was … Continue reading →

Source: Across the Universe: Redating Easter? – The Catholic Astronomer