Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Readings for Sunday, March 4, 2018

Hello Everyone,

Our Worship Series this past Sunday, "Road to Light: Mapping the Journey" asked the question "Why did Jesus have to go to Jerusalem? Why did Jesus have to die?" I talked about "Atonement Theories" and I apologize for getting into the weeds of theology. Hopefully you remember that theories don't save us; Jesus does. If you are interested, I have posted a compilation of some my newsletter articles on atonement from 2008-2010. You can find it at: Atonement Theories - a summaries by Gary. We will be talking about this at our "Coffee, Cookies, and Conversation" tomorrow night at 6 pm at Peace United and 7:30 pm at Grey Eagle UMC.

This week our Worship Series focuses on "Clear the Way for the Journey". Here is what I wrote about it:

What gets in our way to see and hear the Good News that Jesus gives? Our privilege as white Americans? Our wealth? Our power? Our pride? Why do Christians often fall back into the old ways of dual thinking: us vs. them; white vs. everyone else; America vs. the world; male vs. female vs. non-conforming; Christian vs. Muslims vs. Hindus vs. Buddists. What needs to be cleared out of our Temple of Power?

The Lectionary Readings are:

Exodus 20:1-17 – “The Big Ten” and not the college sports conference.

Psalm 19 – In praise of God’s Law. Verse 14 should be very familiar to you.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 – Our witness of the cross may seem like foolishness to others but it is the power of God that saves us. If Jesus is God, and we believe he is, then his death on a cross might make God seem foolish and weak. But, “for God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”

John 2:13-22 – In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the clearing of the Temple by Jesus happens in the last week of Jesus’ life, some 5 days before his crucifixion. In the Gospel of John, this episode happens at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Why do you think John wanted this story here?

Have a great week serving God by serving neighbors!

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Readings for Sunday, February 25, 2018

Hello Everyone,

During Lent, Grey Eagle UMC and Peace United Church have embarked on a worship series titled "The Road to Light". For an complete overview please follow this link: "The Road to Light"

Tomorrow night, Wednesday, February 21, both churches will have "Coffee, Cookies, and Conversation" as we discuss this past Sunday's Gospel Lesson and my sermon "Fuel for the Journey". Join us at Peace United Church at 6 pm in the Fellowship Hall or at Grey Eagle UMC at 7:30 pm, also in the Fellowship Hall.

This coming Sunday our theme is "Mapping the Journey". Here is what I wrote in the synopsis of "The Road to Light":

"Jesus lays out the journey, the journey that will reveal our SIN and show us the alternate, available path, the path to light. The journey involves betrayal, suffering, rejection, murder, and resurrection. Along the way, Jesus challenges us to see with new eyes, hear with new ears, and to take up our cross and follow the road that leads to Light and Life."

The Lectionary Readings for this week are:

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 – God tells Abram, who is 99 years old, that they are to be in covenant and God will bless Abram with numerous descendants. God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and, in the last two verses, changes Sarai’s name to Sarah. God also promises to give Sarah, who is 90, and Abraham a son. In the skipped verses, the sign of the covenant was for all the males in Abraham’s tribe to be circumcised (ouch). We also don’t read the part where Abraham falls on his face and laughs.

Psalm 22:23-31 – Jesus quotes the beginning of this Psalm while hanging on the cross in Matthew 27:46, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Many in Jesus’ day would have known that the end of this psalm is a positive affirmation that God will save all. “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; all the families of the nations shall worship before him.” It proclaims that even the dead in the earth and future unborn generations will worship and serve God.

Romans 4:13-25 – Paul writes to the church in Rome about their inclusion in God’s promise to Abraham. Abraham trusted God and that was enough for God who declared him righteous. This was not the work of the Law, which Abraham didn’t have, but the work of faith.

Mark 8:27-38 - The first four verses are not part of the Lectionary but I will include them on Sunday. In verses 27-30, 
Jesus and the disciples take a much need break from their ministry and head north to camp. Jesus ask “Who do people say that I am?” After offering answers about what others were saying about Jesus and having Jesus egg them on, Peter says “You are the Messiah” (Christ or Anointed One). Yeah for Peter. Then, in verses 31-38, Jesus begins to tell the disciples what it means to be the Messiah. It means suffering, rejection, being killed, and resurrection. Peter says “No, you can’t do that” and Jesus tells Satan to get behind. Calling the crowds he explains what it means to be his follower: deny themselves, take up their cross, and losing their life.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Readings for Ash Wednesday and Sunday, February 18, 2018

Hello Everyone,

Tomorrow night, Wednesday, February 14, we will begin a new worship series titled "The Road to Light".

Why do the times we live in seem so angry, contentious, foreboding, and dark? In addition to all the worries we have in living from day to day, we are inundated with news of wars, suicide bombers, earthquakes, hurricanes, rising sea levels, global warming, etc. The #MeToo movement has awakened us to the horrors of men seeking sexual favors from people, women and men, they have power over. The Black Lives Matter movement highlighted the ingrained, persistent, and real racial injustice in our country. It seems like we rarely hear good news and, if we do, it is drowned out by all the bad news.

Where is the light in our lives? The road ahead seems so dark, full of obstacles, and with treacherous turns. Journey with us during Lent (February 14 to March 31) to discover the light that Jesus shines on the road. We will also discover the road leads to the Light that drives out the darkness. However, the path Jesus takes will not be easy. Darkness lies ahead. In the end, there will be Light and Life.

In the earliest centuries of Christianity, the time of Lent was not a time of solemn religiousness or despair, but a time of learning and preparation. With that in mind, I will be using "The Road to Light" to remind us of what it means to be followers of Jesus and "a light unto all nations"

Here are the readings with minimal comments:

February 14, 2018, Ash Wednesday
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 – Turn to God who "is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing."

OR Isaiah 58:1-12 – False and True Worship. The fast that God chooses is "to loose the bonds of injustice, undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, to share your bread with the hungry, bring the homeless into your house, to clothe the naked."

Psalm 51:1-17 - The Psalmist's prayer to God for reconciliation and forgiveness.

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
 – Be reconciled with God because God sent Jesus to bear our sins so that we might become right with God. Paul entreats his readers to humbly accept God's grace today.

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 – From the Sermon on the Mount: Almsgiving, Prayer, and Fasting. The skipped verses are the Lord's Prayer without the "Protestant Ending".

February 18, 2018 - First Sunday in Lent
Genesis 9:8-17 – God’s covenant with Noah to never again flood the earth and the sign of the covenant will be a rainbow.

Psalm 25:1-10 - The Psalmist implores God to teach him/her God's ways. Do not remember, he/she pleads, the sins of days past, but remember God's steadfast love.

1 Peter 3:18-22 – Christ suffered and died to bring us to God.

Mark 1:9-15 – Baptism (vs 9-11), Temptation (12-13), and the beginning of Jesus' ministry (14-15) as only Mark can do it: short and to the point.

May God Bless You on your Journey to Light.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary

Monday, February 5, 2018

Scripture Readings for Sunday, February 11, 2018

Hello Everyone,

For those who were not able to attend church at Grey Eagle UMC or Peace United Church yesterday and those who live too far to attend, I announced yesterday that Bishop Ough intends to appoint me to Alexandria United Methodist Church beginning August 1, 2018. My last Sunday serving these two churches will be June 3, 2018 as I begin an eight week Spiritual Formation Leave of absence on that Monday. It has been my great pleasure to serve these two churches for the last ten years.

However, we still have four months to go which includes Ash Wednesday, Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost Sunday. This brings us to the readings for this coming Sunday, Transfiguration Sunday.

2 Kings 2:1-12 – Elijah is taken up to heaven by a whirlwind and yes, there are chariots of fire along with horses of fire in the scene. It is at this time that Elijah passes the mantel of being the prophet of God on to Elisha.

Psalm 50:1-6 – The Lord God calls upon the heavens and the earth to witness the judgment of faithful. The heavens declare God’s righteousness to judge.

2 Corinthians 4:3-6 – We don’t see the light of God’s love in the glory of Jesus Christ because the world’s social, political, religious, and military powers, the powers and principalities, the gods of this world, has blinded us. Only the love of Christ that shines in love from each of us can change the hearts of others.

Mark 9:2-9 – Jesus, Peter, James, and John go up to a mountain where Jesus is changed and his clothes glow white. When the three disciples see Jesus with Moses and Elijah, Peter wants to put up three tents for them. A voice from heaven speaks to them with what I often call the Eleventh Commandment: “Listen to him!” Are we doing what God commands? Do we listen to Jesus?

I hope and pray that you will be moved to read all of the scriptures I have written about. What are your questions about them? How is God leading you and our churches into new life? Where can life blossom in the midst of a world of death? Blessing this week as you serve God by serving others.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor