Friday, December 28, 2012

January 2013 Messenger

The January 2013 edition of the Peace United Church and Grey Eagle United Methodist Church newsletter, "The Messenger", is now available.

"The Messenger"

You will need Adobe Reader to open the file.

Pastor Gary

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Readings for Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hello Everyone,

First, a couple of announcements of Christmas Concerts that you may wish to attend.

The Grey Eagle Community Chorus will present a concert of Christmas music today at 4:00 PM at the Grey Eagle United Methodist Church. This is the reschedule time from the concert on December 9th that was cancelled due to (much) snow.

The Long Prairie Chamber Orchestra will present a concert titled “Christmas Potpourri” on Saturday, December 29, at 7:30 PM at the American Lutheran Church in Long Prairie. This, too, is a reschedule of their concert on December 15 that was cancelled due to snow.

Great opportunities to hear local musicians make wonderful music.

This Sunday is the Sixth Day of Christmas (geese a laying?) in the 12 Days of Christmas. For some reason, the Lectionary Committee (those people who planned out three years of Bible passages) chose to put the circumcision of Jesus and his dedication, along with the story of Anna and Simeon meeting the child (Luke 2:21-40) in Year B, when we read the Gospel of Mark. This week we read Luke’s story of the 12 year old Jesus at the temple. Then next week, the Lectionary Committee has us reading the story of the Magi from Matthew 2 which probably happened when Jesus was between 2 and 3 years old. (More about that next week)

Anyway, our readings this week are:

1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26 – Back on November 18 we heard the story of Hannah who was barren and then eventually became pregnant with Samuel. When Samuel was weaned she gave him to the Lord and he lived with the prophet Eli at the tent that housed the Ark of the Covenant. 1 Samuel 2:12-36 tells the story of the corruption of Eli’s son. In the midst of this story we hear about Samuel and how Hannah makes him new priestly robes every year. In verse 20 Eli blesses Hannah and Elkanah asking God to replace their son Samuel. Verse 21a, not part of our reading, reports that they had five more kids. Verses 21b and 26 both report how well Samuel was doing.

Psalm 148 – A Psalm of praise for God’s great creation and God’s work in that creation. Actually, the psalmist call on all of creation to praise God for what God has done.

Colossians 3:12-17 – In this one paragraph Paul teaches the church at Colossae how we should live together in peace and love. In living in such a way, we should also be giving thanks and praise to God through Jesus Christ.

Luke 2:41-52 – The annual trip to Jerusalem for Passover with a group of travelers from Nazareth, friends and relatives, is something that became fairly routine for Mary and Joseph and their children, Jesus being the oldest. M & J were probably preoccupied with the youngest children and assumed Jesus was with others in the group. How many total days were M & J separated from Jesus? What does “after three days” refer to? After the end of Passover (one day out, one day back, one day looking = three days); or after they noticed he was not there (one day out, one day back + two days looking = 4 days); or after they got back to Jerusalem (one day out, one day back, three days looking = 5 days). This may not be very important compared to the idea that Jesus was listening to, asking questions of, and learning from the priests at the temple. Perhaps more amazing is the fact that the teachers were impressed with Jesus’ understanding. Eighteen years later they would be confounded and disturbed enough by his understanding that they would want him dead.

I hope you have a wonder 12 days of Christmas!

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Readings for Sunday, December 23 and Christmas Eve

Hello Everyone,

The readings for this coming Sunday are:

Micah 5:2-5a – The prophet declares that Bethlehem will be the place where the new leader will come from, one who will shepherd Israel in strength, security, and peace.

Luke 1:46b-55 – This is Mary’s song which results from her visit with her relative Elizabeth. It is, if you read it closely, a radical declaration that the poor and dispossessed will supplant the rich and powerful of the world. The new world begins with a poor, pregnant, unwed, teenage girl from a small insignificant town in the furthest reach of the Roman empire.

OR Psalm 80:1-7 – This Psalm, and we are reading only a small portion of it, is a plea to God to restore God’s chosen people.

Hebrews 10:5-10 – The author (preacher) of Hebrews declares through his quotation from Psalm 40, that the usual temple sacrifices mean nothing to God. The one sacrifice that Jesus gave of himself is sufficient for all time and through that sacrifice we have been sanctified.

Luke 1:39-45 – After Mary received word from the angel Gabriel that she will be pregnant with son of God, she visits her relative Elizabeth who is pregnant with John. When Elizabeth’s son jumps in the womb with the arrival of Mary, she declares the blessedness of Mary and her pregnancy.

The readings we will use for Christmas Eve Service of Lessons and Carols are:

Isaiah 9:2-7 – God, through the prophet, declares that there will be a child who will born will lead the people in peace, justice, and righteousness forever. That which oppresses the people now will be lifted and the people will rejoice.

Micah 5:2-5a – See above

Luke 1:26-38 – Gabriel, the angel, visits Mary and declares (maybe he invites her participation) that she will become pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Proof of God’s power can be found in the pregnancy of Elizabeth, who is old. She consents. Does the angel announce what WILL happen or can this be read as an invitation to participation? In other words, does Mary have a choice?

Luke 2:1-7 – A census is called and Joseph and Mary must travel some 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. One of Luke’s literary device is to firmly locate events in place and time. There is really no indication of the time interval between their arrival in Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus. Every pageant that I have seen seems to indicate that the night they arrived was the night Jesus arrived.

Luke 2:8-20 – The bad boys of the time, shepherds, received a message from an angel about the birth of Jesus. The good news comes to an old, childless couple, a teenage unwed girl, stinky unwashed cowboys, and to sooth-saying Gentile astrologers. Just who is the good news meant?

Matthew 2:1-12 – The arrival of those sooth-saying Gentile astrologers with three gifts and their encounter with the nastiest King of Judah, Herod.

John 1:1-14 – This is the soaring opening of the Gospel of John. Word, God, creation, life, light, witnesses, rejection, grace and truth. This is Jesus.

Have a great week in preparation and anticipation of the Coming of our Lord and Savior.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Reading for December 16 2012

Hello Everyone,

Wasn’t this weekend wonderful? I left earlier than usual on Sunday for GEUMC expecting the roads to be bad but wanting to have church because of the Sunday School program. Of the 35 miles I travel from home to GEUMC only the last 2 miles were unplowed. Before I got to Long Prairie I received three phone calls about: plowing the parking lot (yes, because I am on the way and Hwy 71 is not bad); delay the program (yes because the county and township roads were bad); and “I am making the coffee; is church on?” (yes, church will go on with whoever shows up). Boy, was I wrong! I should have cancelled church. I got to GEUMC about 8:15 and Pete and Tom were busy plowing. I unlocked the church and turned on the lights and watched out the front door. Nola arrived at church about 8:25 and missed the driveway and went into the ditch. With that one action, I asked Tom and he agreed that church should be cancelled and it was.

I then drove to Long Prairie and PUC. When I got to the church around 9:00 AM the parking lot and sidewalks were already plowed but the snow was beginning to rebuild. I turned on the radio and none of the city churches were cancelling so I shoveled snow and put down salt and then waited. (Reta and Orv also came with shovels to do a better job then I had done on the south side.) All told, by 10:30 we had 14 people at church including myself. Church service was relaxed and fun and we were done in 45 minutes. Following church, I drove home (after getting a Subway sandwich), hunkered down for the day and watched the Vikings win.

So, how was your weekend?

NOTE: PUC Finance Committee will meet at 6:00 PM before the council meeting on Wednesday, December 12. This is rescheduled from Sunday.

This Sunday is the Third Sunday of Advent and the Gospel will again focus on John the Baptist and his message. Our readings are:

Zephaniah 3:14-20 – These are the last seven verses of this short oracle. The first verse of Zephaniah is simply a statement that the word of God came to Zephaniah, gives his lineage, and when he spoke the words. the next 40 verses are the pronouncement of judgment on Judah and its neighbors for all the wrongs they have done. What we read in those verses is brutal to ears that want to hear about forgiveness and love. Within those 43 verses there are hints of something better (2:3 for example). All of this will happen on “the Day of the Lord”. Then the tone begins to change in the 5 verses before ours: not everyone will perish but a remnant of the faithful will be left behind (as opposed to the wicked who are “Left Behind” in the book series). Our verses then come as a jolt (please read the entire prophesy to feel the impact): all judgment is revoked, enemies are turned back, and the Lord is in our midst. The lame and outcast will be saved, all returned to home, and fortunes restored. Love and forgiveness does trump wrath and destruction. Amen.

Isaiah 12:2-6 – You might as well read verse 1 to complete the entire chapter. This short chapter reads much like a Psalm and expresses the gratitude of one who has been saved by God

Philippians 4:4-7 – I may also read verses 8 and 9. What is our response to the miracle of Christmas and to the salvation given to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ? Rejoicing, gentleness, and prayer with thanks. In verse 8, Paul asks the church to think about the things he has written and in verse 9 he urges them to continue to do the things he taught them, to imitate his life with God in Christ.

Luke 3:7-18 – This is a continuation of last week’s reading. Last Sunday was the introduction of John the Baptizer and this week we hear his message: change your ways, bear fruit worthy of new lives, give from your abundance, and treat people fairly and with honor. Was John the expected Messiah? Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell us no. His death at the behest of King Herod tell us he was not. But the one who was greater was coming. We, as Christians, proclaim that Jesus was the expected Messiah but not as John the Baptizer thought (see Luke 7). John expected the “Day of the Lord” in line with Zephaniah 1:2-3:8. Jesus was more in line with Zephaniah 3:14-20. Who is the Messiah for you?

May the Lord bless your reading of the Good News as we come to Christmas.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December 2012 Messenger (Newsletter)

I was reminded today that I hadn't posted the Messenger online yet. For those who don't know, the Messenger is the monthly newsletter for Peace United Church, Long Prairie, and Grey Eagle United Methodist Church.

With trumpets playing a fanfare (click here) here is the Messenger:

December 2012 Messenger

(You will need to have Adobe Reader installed.)

Peace in Christ and Merry Christmas,
Pastor Gary.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Readings for December 9 2012

Grace and Peace to You,

Two announcements to begin with:

1. A reminder to members of Peace United Church that we are having a congregational meeting on Wednesday, December 5, at 7:00 PM at Peace United Church North (524 Central Ave.) to discuss and vote on selling the South Building.

2. This Sunday, December 9, at Grey Eagle UMC, we will have the Sunday School Christmas Program during the worship service. Children will rehearse on Saturday morning at 9:30.

Our Gospel reading this week and next turns to the texts in Luke about John the Baptist. Every year during Advent we spend two weeks on this enigmatic character who proclaimed the Day of the Lord. It always seems a little strange to me as we move toward Christmas to focus on him.

Our readings this week are:

Malachi 3:1-4 – Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. The name Malachi means messenger in Hebrew. All of the prophets of the Old Testament were essentially messengers for God to the people of Israel. The greatest prophet for the Jewish people was Moses. Our reading in Malachi is God’s proclamation that there will be another messenger who will prepare the people for coming of the Lord. In verse two, who is the one who is like a refiner’s fire or fullers’ soap? What is the purpose of refining or soap? Who will be refined or washed? This lesson is referred to in our Gospel lesson.

OR Baruch 5:1-9 – You will find this Book in Catholic Bibles or in Protestant Bibles with the Apocrypha. Here is a link to the passage: Bible Gateway. This passage, and a parallel passage in Isaiah 40:3-5, is also referred to in our Gospel lesson. Baruch says that we should put away our sorrow because something good is coming: the restoration of Israel. This restoration will be made easy by God.

Luke 1:68-79 – Instead of a lesson from the Psalms, the lectionary gives us a song or prophesy from Zechariah, who was John the Baptist’s father. Earlier in the chapter an angel tells Zechariah that he and his wife, Elizabeth, both of whom are old, will have a son to be named John. When Zech doesn’t believe him the angel makes him mute. (What does Zech and Liz do when Zech gets home?) When the boy is born and Zech writes out what his name will be his voice is restored and this song results. It is often referred to as the “Benedictus” from the Latin word for “blessed”.

Philippians 1:3-11 – Like last week’s reading in 1 Thessalonians, this reading is a prayer of thanksgiving Paul gives to God for the people of Phillippi. What have they done since Paul founded the church? Who does Paul say started the good work among them? What does he wish for the people of the church? The answer to this question is not that it will grow more and more but that it will grow WITH 2 things and that it will have a certain result: purity and blamelessness. Where does the “harvest of righteousness” come from and for what purpose? How can we, as individuals and as a church, be a “harvest of righteousness”?

Luke 3:1-6 – Compare verses 1 and 2 to Luke 1:5 and Luke 2:1-2. What do these verses do for the story that Luke is telling? Where did John the Baptist do his work? How does Luke, like Mark and Matthew before him, connect John the Baptist to a long line of prophets in the Old Testament? What was John’s message (verse 3)? We will get more detail of his message in next week’s Gospel reading.

May God bless you and may you share the Good News of Jesus with all you meet this week!

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor