Thursday, October 31, 2013

November 2013 Messenger

Hello Everyone,

The latest edition of our churches' newsletter, The Messenger, is now available for viewing.

November 2013 Messenger

Have a great week serving Christ as you serve others.
Pastor Gary

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Readings for Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hello Everyone,

This week I will be starting a new Sermon Series entitled “Moving out of Scare City”. You can probably hear the play on words here. On Sunday, I extended the play on words to “Moving out of Scare City and to Genera City” (say it fast and you should get it). I have just completed finding the texts I will be using for this four week venture.

Our theme verse for all four weeks is:

Philippians 4:4-9 with the key verses being 6 and 7. – Paul, writing to the church in Philippi, starts this passage by reminding the people to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” What a wonderful reminder that even in our struggles through the difficult times in life we are to rejoice in the Lord. Paul also encourages us not to worry but to make our requests to God with thanksgiving. What does it mean to ask with thanksgiving? Our hearts and minds will then be guarded by God’s peace. Paul also reminds us that we are to keep on doing the things we have learned from him.

The other passages for this week are:

Genesis 11:1-9 – The tower that leads to babbling tongues. Humanity has grown greedy, arrogant and evil, twice. The first time lead to the flood in Genesis 7 and 8 and the second time humans decide to invade the province of God by building a tower. God says, “Not so fast” and confused the languages of humanity. The place of the tower became known as Babel, which is close to the Hebrew word “balal”, meaning “confuse”, according to a footnote in my Bible. Do you know someone who, when they are confused, babbles on and on. Is this simply a story on the origins of languages or is there more behind the story then initially meets the eyes?

Luke 18:18-30 – Joke: How do you get a camel through the eye of a needle? You need a really good blender and a good funnel. In this context, it is harder for us with wealth to get into heaven the it is for that poor proverbial camel to go through the tiny needle eye. That statement by Jesus comes after he tells a very rich ruler to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor. So, everyone asks, who can be saved? Good Question. Read the passage for the answer.

The Lectionary Texts, with minimal comment, are:

Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4 – The prophet complains about the violence he sees all around and God replies.

Psalm 119:137-144

Isaiah 1:10-18 – Listen to the Word of the Lord: What do your bloodbath of sacrifices accomplish? Nothing!

Psalm 32:1-7

2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12 – Paul’s second letter to the church in Thessalonica.

Luke 19:1-10 – I hate missing this one. It is the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector.

May the Lord bless you in all your ways of serving.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Readings for Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hello Everyone,

Here is an article that provokes some serious thinking about our roles as church.

Guess What? Your Church Isn’t for Everyone

Who are the people that would be most attracted to our style of church?

Anyway, we return to the lectionary for this week’s texts on Sunday. Starting November 3 I will be doing a four week sermon series titled “Moving Out of Scare City” and, yes, there is a play on words there. The four Sundays of the series are sandwiched between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Can you imagine what I will be talking about?

Our lessons for Sunday are:

Joel 2:23-32 – The Lord promises food, wine, oil, rain, and peace for his people Israel. After that is restored then God will give his spirit/Spirit to the peoples so they may be saved.

Psalm 65 – The Psalmist praises God for God’s good, beautiful, and bountiful creation.

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 – Paul tells Timothy that he, Paul, has “fought the fight, finished the race, and kept the faith” through much turmoil, trials, and troubles. In the skipped verses, Paul tells about those who have left him and those who remain and asks Tim to bring some personal belongings. Paul then hopes that those who deserted him the first time he was tried won’t have that fact held against them and he then places all his hope on the Lord.

Luke 18:9-14 – These verses are the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Both go to the temple to pray. The Pharisee’s prayer is arrogant and self centered. The tax collector is the prayer of a man who knows he is a sinner. Who is the justified one? Why? When does being thankful for the blessings we have crossover into pride and arrogance?

Have a great week serving the Lord by serving others!

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

Friday, October 18, 2013

Please read the linked blog post

Hello Everyone

Please read the following post about Progressive vs. Conservative Churches. The author, Kevin Daugherty writes with much wisdom.

Why I Don't Want a Progressive or Conservative Church

Have a great and Holy encounter with Jesus at church this weekend.

Pastor Gary

Monday, October 14, 2013

Readings for Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hello Everyone,

Without much ado, here are our readings for this coming Sunday as we finish our current series on baptism, “Deep Well”.

Colossians 2:6-15 – We who have faith in and through Jesus Christ should not be taken in by “philosophy and empty deceits”. Paul here is thinking of the ancient Greek philosophies such as Stoicism, Epicureanism, etc. Christ dwells fully in us because we have died with him in our baptism and been raised with Christ through faith. Do we live our lives fully understanding and embodying the idea that “Christ dwells fully” in each one of us?

Matthew 28:16-20 – This passage is often referred to as the “Great Commission”. Christ sends his disciples, and us, into the world to do three things: make disciples; baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and teach all that Christ commanded (see John 13:34-35). How can all of us do these things? We do them by the power of the one who is with us always: Jesus Christ.

The Lectionary Reading assigned for this week are:

Jeremiah 31:27-34 – The prophet reports the Word of the Lord who promises to give us a new covenant. It will not be written on stones, or sealed by circumcision, nor come with the promise of multiple descendants. It will be a covenant written on our hearts and we will know and be in relationship with God.

Psalm 119:97-104 – An acrostic psalm which consists of 22 stanzas (one for each Hebrew letter) of 8 lines (each beginning with the same letter) for a total of 176 verses. These 8 verses are on the 13th letter of the alphabet. This is very clear when you look at the Hebrew Scripture, the Tanakh. Here, the psalmist reflects on how much wiser he has become by studying God’s Word and Law.

Genesis 32:22-31 – Jacob, on his way home to reunite with his twin brother, Esau, spends a night alone on the Jabbok river. There, he wrestles with a man/angel/God. The man does not prevail in the match but does dislocate Jacob’s hip. Jacob names the place Peniel, meaning “The face of God” because he saw God face to face and did not die.

Psalm 121 – The psalmist is assured of God’s continuing love and protection.

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 – Paul instructs Timothy to continue studying the scriptures as he carries out his work in the church. The scripture Paul refers to is what we call the Old Testament or the Hebrew Scripture. Why should we study the scripture? We study so that we may be taught, corrected, for our own reproof, and for our training in righteousness so that we may be equipped for every good work. In verse 4:5 Paul asks Timothy to be sober, endure suffering, work as an evangelist, and continue in ministry.

Luke 18:1-8 – In this difficult parable, the widow is persistent in asking the unjust judge for the justice due to her. He eventually grants it just to get rid of her. Jesus then says that God will grant justice to those who cry out day after day. The difficult part is the idea that God grants justice just to get rid of someone. Is that how God works or is Jesus reaching for something deeper and more meaningful?

Have a great week Serving God by Serving Neighbor!

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October 2013 Messenger and GEUMC Youth Report

The October edition of the Messenger is now available. In addition I am giving a link to the Grey Eagle UMC Youth Report which didn't arrive in time to be included in the Messenger.

October 2013 Messenger

GEUMC Youth Connections

Have a great day serving God by serving others.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Readings for Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hello Everyone,

First, a quote to think about:

"It's going to be hard to throw rocks at anybody today if our hands already are filled with a towel to wash their feet."
- @scottywardsmith

Second, the October edition of the Messenger has been delayed because Suzann was out all last week with influenza. It should be out sometime this week.

Our readings this week for our 4 installment of the Baptismal Series “Deep Well” are:

Romans 6:1-11 – Paul has been working his way through the new reality of Life in Christ. This new life is given when we believe in Jesus Christ and is symbolized by our baptism. Being immersed into water is joining Christ in his death. Coming out of the water is our resurrection on Easter. In baptism we die to sin and are raised to live to and for God.

Matthew 3:13-17 – John the Baptizer is busy working at and in the Jordan river proclaiming a baptism for repentance to the crowds that come to see and hear the spectacle. Jesus come to John asking to be baptized but John objects. John thinks Jesus should baptize him. Jesus says that John must do it to “fulfill all righteousness”. When coming up out of the water Jesus sees the Spirit of God and hears the voice of God who proclaims three things: Jesus is God’s Son; Jesus is loved by God; and Jesus pleases God. From there, Jesus goes into the desert to be tempted by Satan.

The Lectionary Readings assigned for this week are:

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7 – After the fall of Jerusalem, but before it is destroyed, the prophet Jeremiah counsels the people who have been taken to Babylon to marry and have children and to seek the welfare of Babylon for there will come a day when they will return.

Psalm 66:1-12 – A song of praise for God who has created all things and guided the people of Israel through difficult, testy times.

2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c – Elisha heals the Syrian General Naaman. You should include verses 4-6 in this story. Who are the “little” people of this story and how do they move the action along?

Psalm 111 – Another song of praise for all of God’s works and graciousness.

2 Timothy 2:8-15 – What is the gospel according to verse 8? Why does Paul suffer and endure everything? Do we suffer and endure everything for the gospel? What should the response of the church be according to verses 14-15?

Luke 17:11-19 – In this story, Jesus encounters a small group of outcasts who come to him for healing calling for mercy. Does Jesus touch them or say any “incantation” for them? What was Jesus’ instruction to them? When were they healed? Who is the one of the ten who returns to Jesus after their healing? This one was the outcast of the outcasts; the Samaritan leper with nine Jewish lepers? Once healed, did the nine cast him out of their group because he was Samaritan? The Jewish lepers probably thought that the only place to give thanks for the divine healing they experienced would be at the Temple, the only place the Divine could be encountered. The Samaritan leper, now cast out by his “friends”, returns to the One who brought Divine Healing to him, Jesus. Where have you experienced divine healing? Do others experience the divine healing in you when they are with you?

Have a great week being intentionally invitational and missional!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Readings for Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hello Everyone
Grace and Peace to you from Jesus our Lord,

At this time of national paralysis and 800,000 people being locked out of their work and livelihood with the shutdown of the Federal Government, let us pray for healing and that our national leaders will figure out a way to work together for the wellbeing of our nation, its citizens, and its residents.

I would like to reemphasize a point I made in Sunday’s sermon: for our churches to be faithful to God in Christ we must be INVITATIONAL and MISSIONAL. In our baptismal covenant we promise to be faithful in “our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness.” We do that by praying for our churches and its pastor (me); by attending worship regularly, by giving generously, by serving in the church and outside the church (this is our mission), and by witnessing to God’s love, grace, and forgiveness. This last part, witness, is easily accomplished by the simple act of inviting. If we are not invitational then we are dying. If we are not mission oriented (missional) we are simply a feel good club. Let’s be neither. Let’s be a vital, thriving, and excited people of God.

Here is an interesting article about the cultural (seismic) shift and the church’s non-response: “The Well in the Distance”. Do we see God’s Well in the Distance and are we willing to traverse the desert to get there? Something to consider!

Speaking of the well, we continue with part 3 of our sermon series “Deep Well”. This week’s emphasis is “Immerse” and we will read another storm story. Our lessons are:

Psalm 69:1-5, 13-16, 34-36 – The psalmist is overwhelmed by enemies and he feels that he is drowning in a flood of violence. He is waiting for the abundance of God’s steadfast love to lift him from the mire. In the missing verses the psalmist appeals to God honor to save him so that God will not be shamed. He also calls on God to do away with the enemies that assail him. There is a wide variety of emotions evoked in this wonderful psalm.

Mark 4:35-41 – There are two main storm stories in both Matthew and Mark. Last week we read the second storm story of Jesus walking on the water during the wind storm. This week we read the first storm story where Jesus is asleep in the stern of the boat while the disciples struggle against a wind storm. I get the feeling that Jesus was never bothered by storms. I love Mark’s description of how Jesus subdues the storm: he rebukes the wind and tells the seas, “Peace. Be still.” “Then the wind ceased and there was a dead calm.” The disciples and Jesus had been crossing the lake to get to the other side, but now they are in the middle of the lake and there is no wind. How are they going to finish the journey? With no wind, they have to row. For you sailors out there, which is worse: a wind storm with rough waves or dead calm?

Our lectionary reading are:

Lamentations 1:1-16 – Jerusalem has been sacked and defeated. In this long poem, the author, maybe Jeremiah, pictures the city as being a woman who has lost her lover, the people that lived there.

Lamentations 3:19-26 – This is the appointed psalm to go with the above verses. I can think of several hymns that have come from verses 22-26.

OR Psalm 137 – The same sentiment as the Lamentation readings but from the perspective of those carried off to Babylon. “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” It is interesting that the Lectionary Committee left in the last verse, verse 9. As you read that verse remember that this psalm, as many psalms do, reflect the emotions of the people who have been defeated at the hands of a devastating enemy. This is not God’s desire.

Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4 – In the introduction to this prophet the editors of my Bible says, “In the dialogue with God, Habakkuk wrestles with the primary question: Why does the Lord permit the righteous to suffer while the wicked prosper?” That is the question Habakkuk raises in the opening verses. Verses 1:2-4 is just the nutshell version of the entire chapter. God’s reply comes in the second chapter. In 2:1 Habakkuk says he will wait for God’s answer which then begins in verse 2. Again, verses 2:2-4 are a summary of the longer answer: “There is a vision of the appointed time but if you don’t see it, wait, for it will surely come. The vision is about the people’s faith.”.

Psalm 37:1-9 – These verses read like Proverbs and there is much wisdom in them. Trust in the Lord. Take delight in the Lord. Commit your way to the Lord. Be still before the Lord. Do not worry about the wicked, refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Simply trust God.

2 Timothy 1:1-14 – The introduction to this letter in my Bible says that 2 Timothy “defines the role and character of [the church’s] faithful minister. So, maybe you don’t have to read this after all but I should pay careful attention to it. After his opening greeting (verses 1-2) Paul give thanks for Timothy’s faithful service he learned from his Grandmother Lois and mother Eunice (verses 3-7). Paul then encourages him to be faithful to the gospel he received from Paul and which is revealed through Jesus Christ (verses 8-14).

Luke 17:5-10 – These 6 verses come under the heading in my Bible titled “Some Sayings of Jesus”. And I am glad that I will not be preaching on these verse this week, especially verses 7-10. I can get my head around a “mustard seed faith” of verses 5-6, but what can be done with the idea of commanding a slave who has finished work in the field to prepare supper and not be thanked. This one is a head scratcher.

Have a great week in Christ. Be invitational and missional in all that you do. Do everything in the name of Jesus our Christ.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor
Peace United Church, Long Prairie
Grey Eagle UMC, Grey Eagle