Thursday, February 27, 2020

A Time of Being

Hello, Everyone,

Wow! It's been nearly two years since I last entered a post. Since my last post, I finished my ministries at Peace United Church in Long Prairie, Minnesota, and Grey Eagle United Methodist Church in Grey Eagle, Minnesota, having spent 10 years with them. I took a two month sabbatical in June and July of 2018 and then began a new appointment at Alexandria United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Minnesota. You can find them at alexumc.org or https://www.facebook.com/AlexMNUMC/.

I have be struggling through what I thought was a tough cold for the last two weeks. On Tuesday, I finally broke down and saw a local PA at a walk-in clinic. He diagnosed pneumonia and gave me two prescriptions for antibiotics. Shortly thereafter, my vocal chords gave up the ghost and all I can do is whisper. One problem though: Ash Wednesday Service. Tuesday afternoon I wrote the following poem as my sermon which Cheryl, my lovely and long-suffering (because of my stubbornness at not seeing a doctor) wife, read at worship. Her reading was beautiful.

A Time of Being
Pastor Gary Taylor

Ash Wednesday
first day of Lent
ashes to ashes, dust to dust
“Dust in the Wind”
all we are is dust in the wind
Last Year’s Palm Branches
this year’s ashes
The Times they are a-changing
seed to plant to tree with fruit
plucked and eaten
seeds tossed aside. to grow again.
the circle of Life?

Babies are born
Babies become students and learn
become teenagers and begin to seek their own way
Off to college, graduate, get a job, find a mate.
Have more kids?
Kids having kids?
Work 8 to 5, or is it 3 to midnight?
Find a new job, start over again
Then do it again, 2 or 3 times.

Work Monday to Friday, or is it Saturday?
Take your 3 to 5 weeks of vacation, or not.
Visit your parents, watch your kids graduate,
get married, have their own kids
Now it is time to retire.
Now it is time to what?
Travel the country, world?
Visit long lost friends?
Find a quiet place on the lake, in the mountains
away from everyone.
Don’t forget to plan that funeral
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

When did we take time to Just Be?
To take in creation’s beauty
while noticing
its destruction by humanity.
To meet new people
People not like us
To notice their struggles
to celebrate their joys
to share in their humanity
Hispanic
African American
Native Americans, the First Peoples

Let Lent be a time of being
stop, see, wonder, enjoy
A time to share in Life
God’s Life
Community Life
Family Life
Your own Life.

A
Time
of
Being

Being
in
God’s
Time.

Thank you for taking time to read this. May you have a Blessed Holy Lent!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Readings for Sunday, May 27, 2018 - Trinity Sunday

Hello Everyone,

Grace and Peace to you through God who creates, God the Son who saves, and God the Holy Spirit who enlivens us.

This will be my last email about our Sunday scripture lessons. These email reflections where posted on my blog site ruralminnesotaministry.blogspot.com.

My first blog post was on August 10, 2009. You can check it out here with all my typos (which continue to this day).

My third post was about being a Local Licensed Pastor and an Associate Member in the United Methodist church. Check it out here.

My first scripture commentary posted on my blog site happened a year later, on August 24, 2010. You can check that post out here.

My most read post was published in April 2017. Life and Death - questions was read by 163.

I started a weekly email ministry in my previous appointment. With nearly weekly posts, I have been at it for perhaps 15 years. This past year I have been recycling old posts (and cleaning the typos up). With the Lectionary readings built on a three year cycle it is hard to come up with anything fresh the third, fourth, fifth time around. Today, I will be recycling a post from May 2012.

Thank you for reading my weekly email reflections on our scripture lessons. For those who wandered over to my blog post thank you.

Beginning of June 4, I will be taking a 2 month sabbatical and I begin my ministry at Alexandria UMC on August 1. Cheryl and I will be moving to Alexandria after having lived in our house for 30 years. The process of moving is beginning to freak us out. Please pray for us.

During the sabbatical, my friend, retired ELCA clergy, Hollis Bishop will be leading worship at both churches. Then on August 1, your new pastor will begin serving. No, I don't know who it will be at this time. Please do everything in your power to support her/his ministry with you. New ideas and new ways of doing worship and ministry are a good thing so I ask your patience with your new pastor.

And, without further ado, our scriptures for this Sunday, Trinity Sunday.

This Sunday is a bit of an oddity in the life of the Church. We celebrate and learn about the Trinity of God. Of course, as I have said in past years, you won’t find the word “trinity” in the Bible. What you will find in the pages of the Bible is God who created all that is seen and unseen; God who became a human like us and is both fully human and fully God (“God Incarnate” is the churchy phrase); and God who comes to us and is present with us as Spirit (breath-wind). This is God: One and yet Three; Three and yet always One. Think of Trinity as Three (tri) in Unity (-nity). This is always confusing and is a mystery. Not everything in faith can be reduced to logical explanations As I once said to a friend, paraphrasing Spock from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, “It has been and always shall be a mystery”.

Without a whole lot of discussion, our readings are:

Isaiah 6:1-8 – Isaiah’s vision of the Lord sitting on a throne and then being commissioned (or is it “ordained”) to be a prophet.

Psalm 29 – The voice of God, the LORD, is mighty, powerful, and “flashes forth flames of fire”. The voice is over the waters, thundering over the waves. The voice breaks the cedars and shakes the wilderness. We are called to say “Glory” and pray for God’s blessing of peace.

Romans 8:12-17 – The Spirit leads us as the children of God and the Spirit bears witness (along with our own spirits) to the fact that we are indeed the children of God. The fact that we are now the children of God makes us heirs (with our brother Jesus) to God’s Life.

John 3:1-17 – Jesus has a discussion with Nicodemus about being “born again” or “born from above”. Of course this passage has the famous John 3:16 but please pay close attention to 3:17 in which the Son of Man came not to condemn but to save. If you keep reading through verse 21, the judgment and condemnation comes from ourselves.

It seem that none of these passages deals with the Trinity but only one of the three. Isaiah is about God, Romans is about the Spirit, and John is about the Son. So check out these verses: John 14:15-17; John 14:26; John 15:26, and John 16:12-15.

Have a wonderful week. If I don't see you in church this week or next, it has been a pleasure to serve you as the pastor of your church. Grace and Peace to you and your families.

Pastor Gary

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Readings for Sunday, May 13, 2018

Hello Everyone,

This Thursday is known as Ascension Day when we celebrate the day, according to Luke in Acts 1:1-11, that Jesus was lifted up from this earth. This happened 40 days after the Resurrection. Sunday is the Seventh Sunday of Easter and is the last Sunday in the Easter season.

The readings appointed for Thursday, Ascension Day, are:

Acts 1:1-11 – In verse 1, the writer of Acts, usually identified as Luke, addresses his reader as Theophilus. This is the same person identified at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke. In our passage, we are told that Jesus appeared to the disciples over a 40 day period after his resurrection. When they gather for the last time (at Mt. Olivet, vs. 12), Jesus tells the disciples that they will receive the power of the Holy Spirit. With that power, they are to go to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and all the world.  Jesus is then lifted up and he disappears in the clouds. Of course, the disciples stand around with their mouths agape. Two men in white robes ask them why they are staring at the sky. They tell the disciples that Jesus will return in the same manner as he left them. Verse 12 tells us the disciples then returned to Jerusalem.

Psalm 47 – God is the God of all peoples and nations. Sing praises to God!

Ephesians 1:15-23 – Paul prays to God that those who believe in Jesus will have the spirit of wisdom, enlightened eyes, and that they will know the hope to which we are called.

Luke 24:44-53 – Jesus opens the minds of the disciples to understand the Scripture and is then carried away to heaven. This story is similar, but not the same, as the story Luke recalls in Acts 1. The disciples are sent to all the world beginning at Jerusalem to witness to all they have seen and know.

The readings for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, are:

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26 – The eleven remaining disciples decide that they should have a twelfth to replace Judas. They set up the criteria, narrow the choices to two, and then throw dice (trusting God to decide) to choose Matthias.

Psalm 1 – Those who delight in the law of God will know happiness and they will bear much fruit. Those who do not delight in the law of God will not know happiness for they will blow away like dried leaves.

1 John 5:9-13 – This is the final reading in the first letter of John and there are some summary statements within the reading. “Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony [of God] in their hearts . . . [which is] God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” “I write these things . . . so you may know that you have eternal life.” The glory and beauty of 1 John is simple: God is Light, Life and Love. In love, God gave his son Jesus to humanity to be Light, Life, and Love. To those who believe in Jesus, that Light and Love are in them and they have his Eternal Life. We, in turn, become and are the Light, Life, and Love of God for the rest of humanity.

John 17:6-19 – The entirety of chapter 17 is Jesus’ prayer to God. Verses 1-5 are a prayer for himself. Verses 6-19 are his prayer for the disciples. Verses 20-26 are his prayer for future disciples. Jesus’ prayers in John can seem convoluted and redundant. I think the one key verse for understanding the second section, our reading, is verse 11b: “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” At the beginning of chapter 18 Jesus is arrested and will soon be dead. They need God’s protection.

I pray that you will have a blessed week. Be witnesses to the Love, Light, and Life of Jesus Christ with all the people you meet this week.

Pastor Gary