Pastor's Message

I come to the garden ... these are the opening words

to "In the Garden," one of those "oldies but goodies" hymns.   At our house, the Burpee's catalogues are starting to arrive in the mail.  A few of the daffodils are blooming in the backyard.  And, I'm starting to get the "itch" to dig in the dirt. 

The image of the garden is prominent in scripture.  In the opening chapters of Genesis, the garden is the home of all God's special creatures -- birds, fish, animals, and humans.  The garden provides an abundance of delights including flowers, food, and water.  More importantly, the garden is the place where God's creatures, the Woman and the Man, walk and talk with God during the most pleasant time of the day.

How do we live in the world, yet not get caught up in, consumed by, tangled up in, or destroyed by the world?

My soul has been troubled by the goings on in our world.  All of the violence, lies, cover-ups, fear, disrespecting of each other causes me to wonder just how long we can continue to endure all of these life-sapping, energy-draining events.  As Christians, as beloved and chosen people of God, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to live in the world and yet, not to live as the world lives (John 17: 14 - 15).  We are to be light and life, hope and love, peace in the midst of the turmoil, chaos, and negativity around us.  So, how do we do that?

"Welcome to worship at Calvary United Methodist Church this morning!

It's one of my most favorite places to be on a Sunday morning."  As I begin worship with this greeting, some of you nod, some of you grin, and a few of you chuckle.  My goal is to get more of you saying those words yourself as the fall approaches.  Why?

1.  It's always good to take some time to intentionally leave the world outside and focus in on all God has been doing in our lives and to give God thanks and praise.  It restores our spirits and gives purpose, direction, and meaning to what we are about.

Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry, thirsty, a stranger,

naked, sick or imprisoned...?  (Matthew 25: 37 - 39)

Chances are someone living close to us or in close relationship to us, is suffering from abuse, experiencing poverty and its effects, or struggling to navigate through our immigration system in hopes that a life in the U.S. is significantly better than that in the country of their birth.  According to "Who Is My Neighbor?  Who Can't I See?", the Laity Convocation held in February, much of the time, we fail to see or to understand the needs around us, or to act out of loving care and compassion.  And yet, the Bible clearly states that we will be held accountable for our failure to "see" and to serve these folks.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds,

so that you may discern what is the will of God -- what is good and acceptable and perfect.  (Romans 12:2)

Many of you out in the workplace are required to attend seminars, workshops, and classes on a regular basis in order to remain employed or receive promotions and salary increases.  So are those of us who are clergy. I consider mandatory Continuing Education to be a blessing. 

I am about to do a new thing: now it springs forth...

do you not perceive it?  (Isaiah 43: 19)

New, fresh, recent, novel untouched.  Newborn, new beginnings, new creation, new covenant, new and imporved.  For the most part, we associate "new" with something better, greater possibilities, excitement, mystery, anticipation, energy, opportunities.  I am amazed and comforted that God always leaves room for something "new."  God always gives God's people a chance to move forward and/or, if necessary, to put the past behind and begin again.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season…

was emblazoned upon the sweatshirt of the woman standing behind me in line.  “O, really!”  I thought.  She was breathing quite heavily, complaining to the person behind her how inconsiderate it was of the person in front of me not to have all the necessary cards, coupons, ID, etc. ready before getting in line, and generally making it clear that she was not pleased about having to wait in such a long line.  “I’ll be so happy when Christmas is over and things can get back to normal,” she voiced.  “It’s only the first week in December,” I thought.  “Long way to go.”

Legend of the Frog

Friends -

On a recent trip to Salamanca, we toured the university that sat in the middle of the city.  The facade of the church on campus was decorated with intricate stone carvings.  Our guide told us that the artist had carved a tiny frog into the stone and the tradition among the students was that, if you could find the frog, you were guaranteed success in your academic endeavors.  Since I had turned the final draft of my thesis into the school before leaving on vacation, I was determined that I was not going to leave the premises before finding the tiny creature.