“Peace”


Here is the back page for the Fishkill UMC bulletin for September 17, 2017 (the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A).


There is, perhaps, no more contentious place than the dinner table. Sometimes it is a discussion about sports (woe be to the household where someone supports the Yankees and others support the Mets). At our house, it was the sitting arrangement. To accommodate one of my brothers being left-handed and the need for my baby sister to sit by my mother, there were only a few ways we could all sit at the table in peace.. But with the places set at the table, peace reigned and we could enjoy our dinner.
One of the first issues the early church faced was also at the dinner table. Was obedience to Jewish dietary laws a necessary component of the Christian faith. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, suggested that it was an non-issue. It wasn’t what you ate that counted but what you did with your life that mattered. If we cannot find peace at the dinner table, how can we find peace elsewhere? How can we find peace in our soul?
The world is in crisis today. The house we all live in is being battered by forces, both natural and man-made. And because of the perceived differences we see in each other, we refuse to sit at the same table. Instead of peace, we find fear. How then shall we find peace? How can we achieve that peace that surpasses all understanding?

For the Israelites, it was the light of God that guided them towards the Promised Land; it is the presence of Christ in our lives today. It is that peace that allows us to welcome all to the table, to discuss and define differences; then find ways to keep the house in order and allow all of us to move forward.

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“Love”


This will be the back page for the September 10, 2017 (Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A) bulletin of Fishkill United Methodist Church. Service is at 10:00 and you are welcome.

If you had to take the one thing that was most important to you, what would it be? When I was first asked that question, I replied that I would take my bowling equipment, simply because that was a way that I could make a living. But I also knew that in a few years my life would change and the thing I would take would be my doctoral research notes.

The context of Paul’s words to the Romans today was the hoped-for Second Coming of Christ. The problem was that the people were worrying so much about the Second Coming that they were not focusing on the present time and the needs of the community. Paul asked if it was worth worrying about one’s earthly things at a time like that.

Our communion has its beginnings in the Passover meal. The Passover meal is symbolic of the last minute preparations the Israelites made in leaving Egypt. They had time for that one meal and then they had to leave, taking what they could, as the Angel of Death passed over Egypt.

In light of the events of the past few weeks, what would you take? Do you take what you need or what you love? Is your love grounded in faith or in this world?

But there are other questions as well. In these times, when so many people have had to give up everything simply to stay alive, what would you be willing to share with others who have nothing? How prepared are you to welcome and help others who have lost everything?

The Great Question


This will be the back page for the bulletin of Fishkill United Methodist Church for September 3, 2017 (Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A).

The hallmark of the prophets of the Old Testament is their initial refusal to answer God’s call. Moses sought every excuse under the sun to get out of answering God’s call but God always had a response to keep Moses on track.

John Wesley was uncomfortable with the direction his new Methodist movement was going, away from the traditional church/sanctuary message and into the fields where the people were. Before World War II began, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was very tempted to stay in New York City but knew that he was needed in Germany, therefore, he left the safety of New York City and went to Berlin.

No doubt, there are those today who would rebel against Paul’s commands to feed our enemies when they are hungry or give them a drink when they are thirsty. We do not want to feed those who oppose; we want to see them suffer.

If we are who we say we are, we do not run away from the troubles of this world but rather, do as Jesus did and commanded us to do; that is, turn our faces to the troubles, just as Jesus faced His Death in Jerusalem.

Last week, Jesus asked the disciples “Who do you say I am?” This week, we are asked if we are going to follow Jesus. How will you respond?

Disaster Relieft


In light of the recent disaster in Sierra Leone and Hurricane Harvey and the resulting floods, while you have your choice of where to send relief donations, I recommend the United Methodist Committee on Relief.  Of course, I am doing this because I am a United Methodist but also because 100% of the donations go to the relief operation (and not many other relief groups can say that).  The overhead for the operation comes from other appropriations.  

Also, it is better to go the donation route (whomever you choose) than donating materials and goods (unless requested).  The people running the group have a better understanding of what is happening, what is needed, and how to get it.

Our Letter to Our Congressman


The following is a letter that we just faxed to our Congressman (who happens to be a Democrat).


We are asking you to join with other members of the House of Representatives and present a Bill of Impeachment against Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States.

His pardon of Mr. Joe Arpaio for a state crime is an act which is not stated in the Constitution. The President, per the Constitution Constitution, may only pardon Federal crimes. In addition, while Mr. Trump did this on his own, which is his prerogative, he ignored the laws and regulations set by the Justice Department.

This action is another example of the disdain Mr. Trump has for the Constitution. His ownership of real estate properties, in the United States and overseas, is both unethical and in violation of the emolument clause of the Constitution.

Additionally, he has failed to carry out the duties of his office as outlined in the Constitution by failing to fill positions in the Executive Branch and then by appointing individuals who are woefully unqualified and whose goals are to destroy the objectives of the departments. This is not a time to discuss the role of said departments but to recognize that what is being done by this individuals, with the support of Mr. Trump, to bring harm and injustice to the people of the United States.

He has brought a state of chaos to the United States government and shame to this country.

The preamble of the Constitution outlines the role of the Federal government. But when you look at the budget Mr. Trump has proposed, you see again that Mr. Trump has no concern for the people of the United States.

Congressman Maloney, it is quite clear that Mr. Trump does not have the ability to serve as the President. More importantly, his temperament and questionable mental stability only reinforce the need for this Bill of Impeachment.

We are asking that you present this Bill and that you use all the parliamentary procedures at your disposal to make this the first priority of the House of Representatives. It is quite clear that Mr. Trump’s actions to dates and the actions that he is likely to take in the coming days only foresee a major Constitutional crisis.

The House of Representatives must act now!

“Finding Freedom”


This will be the back page for the Fishkill United Methodist Church bulletin for this Sunday, 27 August 2017, the 12th Sunday after Pentecost (Year A).  Service is at 10 am and you are welcome to come and worship with us.


And the new king did not know Joseph. With that line, a story of oppression begins. And out of that oppression will come Moses, who will lead his people to freedom.

We look around us today and we want a Moses, a person who will lead us to freedom. But we don’t understand what it means to be free.

Paul warns us about getting caught up in the culture of the times, thinking that will lead us to freedom. It is a lot easier to fit the Gospel message to one’s life than fit one’s life to the Gospel. And when you rewrite the gospel to fit your lifestyle, one finds the king who did not know Joseph. And that is not the way to freedom.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote

“Freedom is not a quality of man, nor is it an ability, a capacity, a kind of being that somehow flares up in him. . . . freedom is a relationship between two persons. Being free means “being free for the other,” because the other has bound me to him. Only in relationship with the other am I free.”

Freedom comes when we accept Christ as our Savior. For John Wesley, that moment when he found his freedom and power was Aldersgate. For Peter and the disciples, it was that day 2000 years ago outside Caesarea Philippi.

Our freedom is not found in the places of this world but in our heart and who we place in our heart. Who is in your heart?

“That One Line”


This will be the back page for the August 20, 2017 bulletin at Fishkill United Methodist Church.  It is based on the lectionary readings for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A.


Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will. A paraphrase of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s principles by Eric Metaxas, his biographer.

If there was one line in the Bible that defines my life, it is Matthew 15: 27.  Oh, there are other lines that have meaning but this verse defines my life.

In 1969, I met with my pastor for communion before going home for spring break.  This was not the formal communion of Sunday morning but more of a conversation between a young student and his pastor.  

In our conversation, I expressed an objection to the words which are found on page 12 of our hymnal, “We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table”, words that echo the words of the Canaanite woman whose faith was rewarded that day.

I came into the chapel that day with an understanding of faith but not of God’s grace.  But when I left, I understood what God’s grace meant and what that meant for me as a Christian and an United Methodist.

What I do with my life does not get my God’s grace or mercy but are the duties of a citizen of God’s Kingdom.

By God’s grace and mercy and through faith, we have been given a great gift.  It is what we do with that gift that will define who we are.