Settling Disputes

By Rev. Scott Andrews

Angry painting being held up.

You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So, when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. – Matthew 5:21-26

“The Sermon on the Mount is perhaps the greatest sermons preached by perhaps one of the best preachers around!” A seminary professor once said this – tongue in cheek of course – to a class I was a part of. Of course, it is the great sermon of Jesus. Of course, Jesus is the great preacher of the New Testament. And yet, we all need to spend more time in this section of Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 5:1-7:27). Over the next few months, I’m going to use selections of this sermon for my monthly Vine article.

Pulpit with Bible on it.

We have all been in arguments before. Whether they were with family, friends, co-workers, classmates, or neighbors, we have all experienced the pain and emotional turmoil of conflicting with someone else. We may have even experienced a sense of “internal conflict”. No matter which type or with whom we have experienced conflict, these disputes destroy and distract.

As Jesus continues preaching the Sermon on the Mount, he begins a series of comments that begin with the phrase “you have heard that it was said”. There are six times that this phrase is used. Each of them is an entry into a discussion on the commandments. They are not attempting to change the commandments, but to help us find a deeper meaning to each of the commandments.

This particular attempt is to help us move beyond the taking matters into our own hands. We have all, as I state before, had disputes with others that have unnerved us. Some of us may have even felt “our blood boil” in anger toward the person we are in dispute with. Jesus is cautioning us to rethink our anger. He says, “If you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement”. He cautions us even further to not insult each other also. He further explains that we can’t even enter worship if we feel this way. Instead, he tells us to settle things quickly.

There are some who will say that this philosophy is “Pollyannaish”. And that may be true. But what good does anger do us. If anything, anger only robs us of a full connection with God and with one another. “It’s a slow poison we drink hoping the other person dies,” as some have said. My suggestion is to follow the words of Christ. Find settlements to your disputes. Let go of the anger. Live in the fellowship of Christ.

In Christ,

Pastor Scott

Passover Lambs and Hyssop Branches (a sermon)

by Rev. Scott Andrews 

Light of the World 

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16 

cross with purple sky and clouds

“The Sermon on the Mount is perhaps the greatest sermons preached by perhaps one of the best preachers around!” A seminary professor once said this – tongue in cheek of course – to a class I was a part of. Of course, it is the great sermon of Jesus. Of course, Jesus is the great preacher of the New Testament. And yet, we all need to spend more time in this section of Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 5:1-7:27). Over the next few months, I’m going to use selections of this sermon for my monthly Vine article. 

If you were driving into town from the North, it was a welcome beacon that told travelers they would soon be home. 

My home town had a small municipal airport just North of town. Small aircraft could easy land and take off from this airport. Crop dusters and small personal airplanes used this airport. The runways were expanded a few years after I moved away to accommodate some smaller jet planes but by and large it was a small town, small airplane airport. Near the center of the airfield there was a tower that would shine lights in the evenings. The two lights would rotate at the top of the tower. The lights on the tower could be seen for miles. Our farm was 3.5 miles away from the airport and we could see the lights shining every night. If you were driving into town from the North, it was a welcome beacon that told travelers they would soon be home. 

farm tractor in a field

I’ve thought of that airport beacon many times over the years especially when I’ve read this passage from Matthew’s gospel. Jesus tells his disciples and all who will hear that they are “the light of the world”. He’s telling them that they are called to shine the light of God into the world. A world that for many seemed so dark and lonely. A world that seemed to be filled with despair and chaos. He reminds them that they have received God’s light and that this light should never ever be hidden. It should be shared freely and openly. It should shine so that the world might see that there is indeed goodness and mercy for all who seek it. 

I think Jesus might have words for the church that echo what he said to those at the sermon mount. 

There are some who would say that we are living in very similar times to the time of Jesus. We seem be living in times that are filled with a lack of civility and compassion. A darkness that permeates decent conversation and fills us with a feeling of hopelessness. We feel overwhelmed by a voices raised in anger and fingers pointing in seemingly every direction. I think Jesus might have words for the church that echo what he said to those at the sermon mount. 

…let God’s light shine into the world and share God’s better way. 

bible on table in a artful way

I believe that Jesus would call up all of us to let God’s light to shine in all our interactions. Whether they are in the lively discussions amongst friends but also in the discourse of disagreement with those who wish us ill, Jesus would call us to let God’s light shine not only in our words, but in the actions we take with those around us. He would call us to let God’s light shine and show that common curtesy and civility are the better way. He would call us to stand boldly – even if we stand alone – and let God’s light shine into the world and share God’s better way. 

In Christ, 

Pastor Scott 

Salt of the Earth

By Rev. Scott Andrews

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything but is thrown out and trampled underfoot.” – Matthew 5:13

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“Light Shining out of Darkness” by Rev. Scott H. Andrews

Poet William Cowper (1731-1800) began his poem “Light Shining out of Darkness” with these words: 

God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform, he plants his footprints on the sea
and rides upon the storm. 

I too believe, and have experienced the fact, that “God works in mysterious ways”. I believe that most of you reading this would agree. I also believe that God worked his “mysterious ways’ through the passing of a friend of mine. 

As I remember the light she shared with us, I have to tell you that I learned not only from her presence, but Yvonne’s passing. 

At this time of year, 11 years ago, a “recovery friend” of mine passed away. “Yvonne T.” was 72 years old when she passed on to glory. She had also celebrated 39 years of sobriety. Yvonne and I hadn’t known each other all that long (three years). However, as with many friendships within my 12 Step program, Yvonne and I became friends quickly. She wanted to know about me and how long I had been sober. She wanted to know about how I had “worked the program”. She was at our 6:00 AM meeting almost every morning. When she was there, she always greeted everyone the same . . . with a smile and a hug. Her presence shined God’s light into our lives. As I remember the light she shared with us, I have to tell you that I learned not only from her presence, but Yvonne’s passing. 

She even had us post a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Order on our bulletin board.

Yvonne had been fighting cancer for a while. She finally reached a point in her treatment that the doctors told her that “it wasn’t working”. For a short while, many of us knew that her passing was coming. Yvonne had talked to several of us about the day when she would eventually no longer be able to be with us at our meetings. She even had us post a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Order on our bulletin board. She wanted us to know that she was ready to go. I believe that God was working through Yvonne to show those of us around her that we don’t need to fear death. Yes, Yvonne had her moments when she questioned God about what was happening. However, she, with great strength of character and dignity, lived the last months of her life ready to make the final transition. 

Yvonne firmly believed that “one day at a time”was more then just a cliché. For 39 years, she lived “one day at a time”. Yvonne believed that all we need God gives us for this day. Yvonne simply took one day at a time, one step at a time, and one moment at a time. She allowed us to see what this meant to her, and how we could do the same. I believe that God was working through Yvonne to teach us that eternity belongs to him, and that we have but a few moments that we call life. Moments he gives to us to live and love and hope and shine. 

Yvonne’s light never stopped shining.

Yvonne’s light never stopped shining. When members of our 12 Step group would come to visit her, she would smile and say to her family “look my people are here”. God’s light shined through Yvonne with every visit, every hug, every tear, every laugh, every smile, every kiss, and every moment we were given with her. Even in her final days in hospice, Yvonne didn’t stop shining for us. I believe God was teaching all of us that no matter what we face in life our light can still shine into the lives of others . . . that darkness need not overcome us. 

I thank you Yvonne for allowing God to work through you for our benefit.

I thank God for his “mysterious ways”. Through my friend Yvonne’s passing God reminded me of the importance of trusting him in all things, taking one day at a time, and letting his light shine through me. I thank you Yvonne for allowing God to work through you for our benefit. I thank you God for working through Yvonne to share your light. 

In His Name, Scott 

Adventus 2018

We have once again come to one of my favorite seasons on the Christian calendar.

Advent (which comes from the Latin word “adventus”which means “coming”) is the season between Christ the King Sunday (Sunday, November 25th) and Christmastide. It includes the four Sundays in between and is a season that helps to prepare for the coming of the Christ child.

Our first Sunday of Advent is Sunday, December 2nd.

My sermon title will be “Hope” with Luke 21:25-36 as our scripture lesson. This traditional first Sunday of Advent passage takes place near the end of Jesus’ life. It’s a passage telling us about the second coming of Christ. It’s a message of hope which connects us back to Jesus’birth and the journey we all begin with Him.

 

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A New Way of Seeing Things

A New Way of Seeing Things

by Rev. Scott Andrews

During a recent Lectionary Bible Study, I noticed how many people around the tables needed glasses. Some wore them all the time, some needed them only to read, and some wear contact lenses. Regardless, in this microcosm of our congregation there was a definite need for corrective lenses (in whatever form). 

I recently did some research and found out that 64% of adults in our country utilizes corrective lenses of some form or another, and 20% of children and youth need them as well. I found these statistics rather alarming. I also found out that these percentages have remained steady for several decades. This got me to thinking. 

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BLESSING THE POPCORN

Fall, Leaves

Some experiences stay with us for a life time . . . wheth- er we know it or not.

Millie and I  are fans of a TV show that has in its opening credits the skyline of the city of Chicago. Millie asked me once “is

the ground. As we were checking out of the hotel, my mother and brother and I sat in the lobby of the hotel as my dad was checking us out. I noticed that near the lobby there was a bar with small area with pinball machines. I also noticed that there was a man in the area with the pinball machines kneeling near the end of one of the ma- chines. At first, I thought he was working on the machine. I looked closer and saw that he wasn’t dressed for winter and that he also had a large backpack next to him on the floor. Then I realized that he was praying. He then crossed himself and stood up. He next took a basket of popcorn that was on top of the pinball machine right in front of him and emptied the day-old popcorn into his handkerchief and put it into his backpack. He then looked from side to side and quickly left.

I didn’t realize what I had seen at the time, at that point.

“That really Chicago?”  It was. 

I then told her that I had been there three times in my life. The sec- ond and third times were during the summer of 1989 when I went to the East coast to work at summer camp in Massachusetts. I had travelled  by bus through Chicago both on the way there and then on the way back. The first time, however, had a moment within it that resurfaced as Millie and I spoke.

Growing up in a small town in South Dakota we didn’t have homeless people. Occasionally we would have people who “drifted through” on their way somewhere, but there wasn’t a permanent homeless population.

When I was in the sixth grade my family made a trip to Florida to go to Disneyworld. We took two weeks and drove there and back. On the return trip, we travelled through Chicago on our way to Minneapolis, MN before returning home. I re- member we stayed in a hotel in downtown Chica- go. It was early December and there was snow on

in my life, I didn’t realize that the man was homeless and desperate for food. When I was finally told that he was homeless and that that might be his only meal for the  day, I began to feel my heart ache. I couldn’t understand the circumstances of how someone might find themselves in such a situation nor did I fully appreciate the magni- tude of his gratitude until I was much older.

I haven’t thought of that experience in a long time. I  think on it now and realize the many things I must be grateful for. I give thanks to God for the blessings that I have received. I give thanks to God for placing within me the desire to reach out to those also in need and for the desire to fulfill the calling of Christ “to feed my sheep”. I give thanks also that God has placed us in a church that has made reaching out to those in need as a top priority.

As we continue in this year to reach out more and more, let us give thanks for the memories that move us and help us to reach out with the love and compassion of Christ.

In Christ, Pastor Scott

Spiritual Blessings In Christ

2018 Summer Reading List

Summer Reading list for 2018

One of my favorite magazines is FastCompany. Today, I primarily follow the on-line version of this publication but for many years I loved to flip through my monthly subscription. The only issue this month listed billionaire Bill Gates’ Summer Reading list for 2018. He picked five books which he is encouraging others to read as well. So as not to be outdone by Mr. Gates, I thought I would share with you the five books I’m suggesting for others to read. dThey are (2 of these are re-reads for me . . . just so you know):

Upward, Inward, Outward

Upward, Inward, Outwardby Daniel Fusco.(This is the first of my re-reads) book looks at the command by Jesus to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and your neighbor as yourself.I found it be to a refreshing look at this commandment and a great read.

Longing to Pray

 Longing to PrayJ. Ellsworth Kalas. (this is the second of my re-reads)I’ve used this book several times as a reference point when writing or preaching the psalms.This one is a refreshing look at the psalms and how the can be a part of our daily prayer life.

Spiritual Bypassing

Spiritual Bypassingby Robert Augustus Masters.The author defines “spiritual bypassing” as “the use of spiritual practices or beliefs to avoid dealing with painful feelings, unresolved wounds and developmental needs”.I’m looking forward to learn from this author.

Barking to the Choir

Barking to the Choir by Gregory Boyle.I’ve been a long time fan of Father Boyle.He is a Jesuit Priest who helped found Homeboy Industries which helps people leave the gang lifestyle in Los Angeles, California.His work with both men and women is an inspiration to millions.

Slow Kingdom Coming

Slow Kingdom Comingby Kent Annan.Mr. Annan uses Micah 6:8 as the backdrop to his work. From the back cover of the book “no one said pursuing justice would be easy but an honest approach can change your life.The right practices can guide you through struggles and encourage you for the long run.And faithful commitments can ensure you’re really helping the people you want to help – until God’s kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven”.

I hope this list might inspire you to look for thoughtful works to read during the Summer.

Peace to one and all.

Pastor Scott

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