Monday, November 25, 2013

Readings for November 28 and December 1, 2013

Hello Everyone,

First, here is a link to an article at Alban Institute that I would like you to read, especially if you serve on PUC’s and GEUMC’s Council, Worship Committee, or in any other leadership position:

“Shifts that You Should Know About”

Here is some questions you should ponder, one for each shift.

1. Where can our congregation be worshiping?
2. If we can’t afford a pastor, what can we do (and we are already doing one alternative)?
3. Where do we get the “stuff” and/or information we need for ministry?
4. Who can and should be included in Bible Study, ministry work groups, etc.?
5. When should worship be held?
6. When, where, and how often should faith formation groups meet?
7. What does being “active” in church really mean in our world today?

These are not problems to be fixed, according to the author, but realities to be adapted to.

On Wednesday night we will have Thanksgiving Eve Worship at both churches, 6:00 PM at PUC and 7:30 PM at Grey Eagle. Our texts are:

Deuteronomy 26:1-11 – Moses instructs the Israelites on what they should do after they have settled the new land and harvested their first crops. “And then you . . . shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.”

Psalm 100 – A short psalm of thanksgiving. “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.”

Philippians 4:4-9 – This his been our theme verse throughout November. “Rejoice in the Lord always!”

John 6:25-35 – After Jesus feeds the five thousand on the east side of Lake Galilee the crowds track him down on the west side. They want more bread and more miracles (“works of God”). Jesus says the work of God is their belief. They say that Moses gave them manna so what can Jesus do? First, Jesus redirects them toward the source of the manna, God. Then he points them to the true bread which brings life, himself.”

Sunday, December 1, is the beginning of Advent when we look forward to the coming of Christ (and not necessarily Christmas). We also begin a new Lectionary Year and turn our attention to the Gospel of Matthew. Our texts are:

Isaiah 2:1-5 – There will come a day when nuclear weapons and weapons of war will be converted to tractors, plows, planters, and harvesters. The nations will come to God and peace will become the only way of living. Thus says the Lord.

Psalm 122 – A song of ascents. Jerusalem was built on a hill and the Temple was at the top of that hill. To go to the Temple you had to “ascend” the hill. Psalms 120-134 were sung to make the trip pass a little more quickly.

Romans 13:11-14 – Jesus will soon be here so we need to step out of the dark and begin living in the light. Paul uses several metaphors in these four verses. It ultimately comes down to putting on Jesus Christ.

Matthew 24:36-44 – We must be constantly read for the coming of Jesus. Using Noah and the ark as a metaphor for what will happen, Jesus says that where 2 are working one will be taken and one left behind. To the “Left Behind” followers I ask, who is the one that is left behind (using the Noah story as the example)?

Have a great week and a great Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Readings for Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hello Everyone,

I received sad news last night that Dorothy Rosenow, life long member of Peace United Church, and Zion United Church of Christ before that, died yesterday. It was a mere two weeks ago that she learned that she had pancreatic cancer that had spread to other parts of her body. Her funeral will be on Friday, November 22. Visitation will begin at 9:00 AM and the funeral service will begin at 11:00 with lunch following.

People of GEUMC, please remember we are having our annual Church Conference this Thursday, November 21, starting at 7:00 PM at the church.

Please remember that the District Superintendent of the North Star District of the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, Rev. Mark Miller, will be visiting us on Monday, November 25, at 7:00 PM. He will be at the Grey Eagle Church and everyone is invited attend to meet and greet him.

This Sunday is the final week of “Moving Out of Scare City: Altars Everywhere”. It is also “The Reign of Christ” Sunday, the last Sunday of the liturgical year. December 1 begins the new year, year A, when we will be reading through the Gospel of Matthew. December 1 is also the first Sunday of Advent. More on that next week.

Our readings for this week are:

1 Timothy 6:17-19 – A warning to those of us who are well off to not be haughty and to share generously because God has “richly provided us everything for our enjoyment.”

Philippians 4:4-9 – Our Theme Verse. Rejoice! Rejoice! Again I say, Rejoice!

Luke 12:22-34 – Why worry? Be Happy! Now everyone sing to the Bobby McFerrin song from the 90’s. Here is the YouTube:

If God has given the flowers beauty and the birds food, why wouldn’t God give you everything you need? God is not a cheapskate. Where your treasure is you will find your heart.

Lectionary Readings for this week are:

Jeremiah 23:1-6 – Woe to the shepherds (rulers of Judah) who destroy and scatter the flock. God will gather the remnant and raise up a new shepherd to lead them.

Psalm 46 – God is our ever present help, our refuge, our strength. The Lord will bring wars to an end, destroying all the weapons. Selah! (an untranslatable verbal marker of some sort)

Colossians 1:11-20 – A wonderful description of Jesus Christ. What stands out for me is verse 20, “Through [Jesus] God was pleased to reconcile to himself all thing . . . by making peace through the blood of his cross.” Got that? All things, all people, are reconciled to God. Amen.

Luke 23:33-43 – The crucifixion of Jesus. And the sign said, “King of the Jews”. How in the world can this crucified criminal rule? And another criminal goes to Paradise!

Have a blessed week serving God by serving others.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Readings for Sunday, November 17, 2013

Greetings and Peace in the name of Jesus Christ,

I begin by asking you to read two blogs that caught my attention this morning. The first is an interesting turn on “How Feminism Hurts Men” along the lines of last week’s media sensation “Why Marriage Isn’t for You”. Here is the link, “How Feminism Hurts Men”. Note, do not take the title literally but read the article.

The other blog is still up and it pertains to our sermon series on scarcity and generosity. The writer is Ann Voskamp and I love the way she writes. You can find more about her on her site. Do you know where the phrase “yada, yada, yada” comes from? We think we know what it means but Ann show us that generosity results in “yada, yada, yada.” Here is her article: “Why the Best Response to Life, the Holidays, Anything Is: Yada, Yada, Yada.”

Our texts for the sermon series “Moving from Scare City” are:

Acts 15:1-21 – Peter and Paul have been making believers who the Jews classify as Gentiles. Believers who were also Jewish were coming to the Gentile believers and insisting that they convert to Judaism first and follow all the laws in the Torah. Paul and Barnabas argued with these men. They were then sent to Jerusalem to talk the issue over with the leadership, which was still based in Jerusalem. The Christian Pharisees argued that to be Christian you had to be Jewish. Remember, at that time the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem and in Judea were still part of the Jewish faith and dynamic. Peter, Paul and Barnabas argued their side. Finally, James, the brother of Jesus who was the leader of the Christians, decided that the Gentiles did not have to become Jewish. He also thought that the Gentiles should refrain from four things: thing polluted by idols, fornication, eating strangled animals, and blood.

Philippians 4:4-9 – Our theme verse: Rejoice in the Lord. Again, I say, “Rejoice!”

Luke 16:19-31 – The story (parable) of the Rich Man and Lazarus. There are several things to note while you read this passage. 1. Lazarus is not the same person as the friend of Jesus in the Gospel of John. 2. Lazarus is the only character in any parable in any Gospel who is given a name which means “God has helped.” 3. This is not Jesus’ attempt to describe a literal Heaven and Hell; it is a story meant to convey a meaning to those who hear it. So, over all, what is the message that Jesus, and Luke, want to convey to us? Is this some works project – if I take care of people like Lazarus I earn my ticket to heaven? Or is it about our relationship to money and the things we have? Or is it about noticing the hurting people just outside our doors? Please take careful note of the last verse.

The Lectionary Text assigned for this week are:

Isaiah 65:17-25 – God’s glorious new creation: no weeping, no death before 100, no homelessness, no more hungry, etc. 2,500 years after Isaiah, why hasn’t this vision come into being?

Isaiah 12 – This is essentially a Psalm – the Psalm of Isaiah. “Shout aloud and sing for joy, . . . for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 – The closing words of this letter exhorts the believers to work to earn their living. There is also a sense of “shunning” in the next two verses.

Luke 21:5-19 – Jesus warns the disciple of the difficult times ahead: the Temple will be destroyed, the disciple will be betrayed by family and friends, they will be hauled before the courts, and some will be put to death.

Have a great week serving God by serving others.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Readings for Sunday, November 10, 2013

Hello Everyone,

Grace and Peace in Jesus Christ to you.

Have you every been “spittin’ mad” at a situation? Not at a person, though people may be involved, but at what happened or is happening. That is my day today. Several weeks ago my endocrinologist agreed that I should upgrade my insulin pump and “Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)”. After meeting with a Diabetes Nurse Specialist at his clinic a couple of days later, the nurse contacted my pump manufacturer to submit the prescription.

Several days after that I spent 45 minutes on the phone with the manufacturer’s representative as she asked me to describe how my current pump might not be doing its job. I really didn’t have much to complain about except that it was nearly 7 years old and that the warranty ran out three years ago. I am really more interested in the new CGM which will help me get better control. (My glucose control is not bad; I just want to make it better.)

Last Wednesday, I was informed that Blue Cross had approved the new pump/CGM but they didn’t know when it would ship due to some back orders. On Thursday, UPS informed me that they would pick up the package on Friday and I could expect in on Tuesday (yesterday as I write this) and they would need my signature. Well, yesterday I was busy so I knew that UPS would try again today, so I stayed home waiting.

So, today as I am waiting, I go to a back room to print off a form that would help me in transitioning from my old pump to the new. When I was done, I happened to glance out the door to the porch door and I notice a UPS sticker. Assuming it was from Tuesday, I went out and got it only to discover that it was today’s and I had missed the delivery.

Now, here is why I am “spittin’ mad”:
1. I was in the back and didn’t hear the UPS truck arrive or the door knock.
2. The driver had not come onto the porch to knock on my door. Must be a different driver, because the usual one knows to do that.
3. I dawdled while deciding what to do: quickly get dressed (yes, I was still in my PJ’s) and drive around town to try to find the UPS truck or forget about it and wait for tomorrow’s delivery.
4. When I decided to try to call the UPS store in Wadena where the truck was from, I could not quickly find the number.
5. When I found the number the kind gentleman who answered took my information. I now had hope that the driver was still in the area and could return.
6. 20 minutes later a nice lady called from UPS to tell me the driver was too far from Eagle Bend to return today. When I asked if the driver went to Clarissa and that I could catch him or her there, I was informed that she, the driver, went to Parkers Prairie.

Now this may not seem like much, but for some reason this made me mad. All of the “Why” questions raced through my mind (see items 1 to 6 above). I want to blame the driver (that would be easiest to do) and I blame myself. But the reality is this: it happened, it’s over, and the pump will be here tomorrow. I should just get over it.

I really hope you have stayed with me this far because I do have a point. My spirit was not too generous this morning. Generosity and Scarcity aren’t just about money and things, it is also about forgiveness, justice, mercy, and how we treat other. An attitude of scarcity means we won’t give forgiveness, justice, and mercy to others because there is not that much for us to give. If I withhold those things from others then I have my ultimate weapon against them. Last Friday I sent you a link to an online article by Chad Bird, “Burying the Hatchet- Why Forgiving Others Is So Hard Yet So Liberating”. I hope you read it because speaks about being generous in our forgiving.

This week we continue with our series “Moving out of Scare City” Our lessons are:

Isaiah 41:1-10 – In a bit of courtroom drama, the coastlands are called to witness a trial concerning “Who controls history?” The nations of the world should be afraid but Israel should take comfort for God says, “I have chosen you . . . and I am with you.”

Philippians 4:4-9 – “Rejoice in the Lord Always! Again I say, ‘Rejoice!’” Our theme verses.

Luke 12:13-21 – The parable of the rich fool. Jesus warns us to be on guard against all kinds of greed. What kinds of greed are there? Greed for money. Greed for power. Greed for honor. Greed in exacting vengeful justice. Greed in hoarding forgiveness.

Our lectionary readings, without comment, are:
Haggai 1:15b-2:9 with Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21 or Psalm 98

Job 19:23-27a with Psalm 17:1-9

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17

Luke 2-:27-38

Have a great week in the Lord. Generosity of Love should be at the heart of all we do.

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