Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Readings for Sunday, May 31, 2015 aka Trinity Sunday

Hello Everyone,

First, please note that I will be out of the office for the rest of the week as I attend the Minnesota Annual Conference in St. Cloud. Kali will be in the office from 10:30 AM to 1:30 PM on those days if you need to contact the office. I will also be monitoring email during that time.

This coming Sunday is a bit of an odd Sunday 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 said to a friend today, paraphrasing Spock from Star Trek, “It has been and always shall be a mystery”. (Spock to Kirk, “I have been and always shall be your friend” at 1:54 minute mark:)

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 great week! Remember you assignment from Sunday worship: “Where is the Holy Spirit at work in your life this week?”

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Readings for Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hello Everyone,

This Sunday is Pentecost. I invite everyone to wear red; a little red if you don’t wish to be showy or a lot of red if you are feeling bold. Red is the color of fire (although I think is more to the orange than red). The disciples saw “divided tongues as of fire” descend on each other. So, let us all wear red on Sunday.

Our lessons are:

Acts 2:1-21 – What does the coming of the Holy Spirit mean? Why does Luke, the author of “The Acts of the Apostles”, have this event happening 7 weeks after Easter. The Gospel of John say that Jesus breathed the Spirit onto or into the disciples on the day of resurrection (John 20:22). What does it mean when Luke says the disciples heard the “rush of a violent wind”? Is it similar to the sound of a coming tornado? And then there is the sighting of “tongues as of fire”; is it tongues or fire? All of this sounds like a “fire storm” as some firefighter out west often report. Now we know that wind and fire can be both useful and deadly. I think that the early Christians, and Luke in particular, struggle with words to describe something powerful that happened that day which turned some meek followers of Jesus into bold proclaimers of the Gospel. The fire of the Holy Spirit burned off whatever was holding them back and refined them into people who would, in a few short years, take the Gospel to Spain and India, Africa and Germany. What is holding us back that needs to be burned off by the Spirit so we can proclaim the Gospel of God’s Love, Light and Life? How can we experience the Fruits of the Spirit?

OR Ezekiel 37:1-14 – “Ezekiel cried dem dry bone, now hear the word of the Lord”. Here is an old video of the Delta Rhythm Boy singing “Dry Bones”:

“And I will put my spirit (or “breath”, see next section) within you and you shall live.” Can a church or a congregation that has slumped or is perhaps thinking about closing (verse 11) live again? Of course it can. Now hear the Word of the Lord!

Psalm 104:24-34 – A Psalm in praise of God who is Creator and Provider. “When you send forth your ruach they are created.” (verse 30) Ruach (Hebrew) and pneuma (Greek) can mean “spirit”, “breath”, or “wind”. The official English translation of the Jewish scripture, the Tanakh, has, “Send back your breath, they are created.”

Romans 8:22-27 – All of creation is waiting for the revelation of Christ and be freed from decay and death. Humanity has also waited for this time with the hope that has been given by the Spirit. The Spirit helps us in our weakness and knows our inmost prayers.

OR Acts 2:1-21 – See above. If we read Acts as the first lesson, then Romans is the second followed by the Gospel of John. If Ezekiel is the first lesson, then Acts becomes the second which is followed by John.

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15 – Remember, in John 14, 15, and 16 Jesus has washed his disciples feet (chapter 13), had dinner with them, and is now discussing what will be shortly happening: his betrayal, arrest, trial, torture, and death. In the section we are reading Jesus talks about how the Spirit will help them understand not only what Jesus had taught them, but also with the ways of the world (verses 8-11).

I pray your week will be blessed with all kinds of opportunities to help someone. (Remember your assignment I gave last Sunday?)

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Readings for Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hello Everyone,

Well, I am now back from my 2 week “stay-cation”. Some of the yard and garden work that I intended to do got done. Weather (wind and rain) precluded the rest of the work. I also did a bit of binge TV watching: Daredevil on Netflix and trying to catch up on two years of Arrow on CW network. I spent a wonderful afternoon with Zachary in Fargo and stopped at Detroit Lakes UMC for Wednesday Evening Worship on the way back. I went to worship on the first Sunday at a Lutheran Church and worship on the following Saturday at Pilgrim Point Campground. Those three worship times emphasized the importance of some of the small things we take for granted.

1. Make sure your website directions to the church are correct and put out signs. – Trying to find Detroit Lakes UMC was way more difficult than it should have been. Using their website to get to the church landed me 2 blocks away. I also put their name into Google Maps and got to the same place. I almost gave up, but, due to my doggedness, stopped one final time and entered the address into Google Maps and discovered I was across the street behind the building. I snuck into the 1/2 hour worship 10 minutes late. Good directions and simple sign two or three blocks north of the church would have saved me 15 to 20 minutes of wandering around.

2. Make sure your newspaper has the correct worship times (especially if they change). – Cheryl and I decided to go to Faith Lutheran Church in Eagle Bend. The newspaper said worship was at 11:00 AM. As we got to the church 10 minutes early Cheryl said that everyone looked like they were leaving. As I pulled into the parking lot, I spotted Pastor Melissa driving out of the lot and headed to Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran in Clarissa. I quickly followed her and we ended up worshiping there.

3. Worship can happen anywhere. – I went to Pilgrim Point Campground last Saturday for a Minnesota Conference UCC workshop, “Retraditioning Church for Today”. We worship at the beginning of the workshop and finished the workshop with communion. Of course, worshiping at a “church” campground should be natural, but where two or three are gathered in Jesus’ Name . . . (If you are wondering, I did not go to church on Sunday.) For more on worshiping anywhere check out this new national media campaign by Rethink Church:

One final note before I move on to the texts. Cheryl and I will be going to Fargo tomorrow to attend Zachary’s graduation ceremony from Morehead Tech. I will be back in time for PUC Council meeting.

This coming Thursday is Ascension Day. The readings appointed for that day are:
Acts 1:1-11 – Jesus is lifted up.

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

Ephesians 1:15-23 – Paul prays to God that who believe in Jesus will have the spirit of wisdom, enlightened eyes, and 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.

The readings for Sunday, May 17, 2015, 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 will not 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 pray 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.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary