Chili Dinner at 5:00 pm Sunday

November 4, 2018

Chili dinner at 5 if you want to come to share a meal with us! All are welcome…skeptics, seekers, agnostics, and believers.  We recognize that belief is hard and that it is worth acknowledging and wrestling with the questions, doubts, objections and skepticism around the Christian faith.

If you would like, you can stay for our service at 6:00 pm with  JK Boodley who will be sharing the message. He will speak about “Implementing Good.” The reading will be from the Bible and will be Psalm 53:2-3, Micah 6:6-8, Matthew 7:21-23, 24-27 and John 5:39-42. Communion this Sunday too!

 

Advertisements

2018 Thanksgiving Holiday Dinner Announcement

November 1, 2018

For those looking to enjoy good company, and a Thanksgiving meal at no cost, four local churches in the Newark Valley area are teaming up and cooking dinner.  They invite you to attend  Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 22, 2018 at:   

Newark Valley United Church of Christ, 32 South Main St, Newark Valley New York.

A Complete Thanksgiving Dinner will be served: Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Yams, Rolls, Cranberry Sauce, Fruit Cup, Pies

Reservations are needed.   Eat-In, or Take-Out, Delivery

Please call:  St. Johns Catholic Church (607)-687-1086 or Newark Valley Methodists Church (607) 642-8811

Would you like to connect with your community and get involved? Volunteers are needed  for delivery as well as assisting with serving and cooking:  Please call 607-642 5520 for more info.  

The Churches helping out along with their  contact information are: 

Jenksville United Methodist Church                                                             Karen Gillow Email: karen@imaginetics.com

St. Johns Catholic Church Newark Valley                                                            Al Gillow Phone: 642-8987  Email: justavg1@gmail.com

Newark Valley United Methodist Church                                                 Marlene Larsen       Phone: 642-5386  Email: mat2@cornell.edu

Newark Valley United Church of Christ                                                         John Schwartz      Phone: 657-8512  Email: jbschwartz@frontiernet.net

 Interested in volunteering?   Please call 607-642 5520


Fear, Politics, and Jesus

October 22, 2018

Presented by Cathy Young

I want to thank you for the privilege to share the Message this week with all of you.  I think it’s important and wonderful that this church, our church, is welcoming, open and affirming.   It’s important to mention that we don’t care if you are gay, straight, black, white, young, old, able-bodied, or physically challenged.  No matter where you are on your faith journey, whether you are just starting out, or are positive of all the answers, or somewhere in the middle, searching and questioning, or just plain not really sure what you believe,  this church accepts you as you are and where you are.  I want to add that I never thought that I would be standing here in front of church sharing a Message or a sermon.  I am very concerned that the message of hope that Jesus came to give to us has been hijacked and twisted to suit narratives that Jesus never intended.  I feel called to share my thoughts, reflections and journey of understanding.  So again thank you.

I’d like to start by asking you to think about some of your fears.  And I’ll mention a few of mine….when I was a kid, my biggest fear was of getting a C on my report card because my parents would ground me for an entire marking period.  I was oblivious to all of the dangers that were out there in the world.  As I got older and saw others suffer through various tragedies, sometimes fear of having those tragedies happen to me would creep into my “fear bank”.  I was oblivious to rape, until it happened to someone I knew…add to that fear of being severely injured in a car accident, fear of being a single mom, fear of losing someone in war.   All things that had happened to other people, but they had an impact on me. As my fears got bigger, they had bigger impacts on how I approached my life.  How do your fears and your “fear bank” impact your life?

Now think about for a moment about the setting and the times when James, John and the disciples were walking with Jesus.  (i.e.The Jesus posse.)  Romans ruled.  They kept order by fear and force.  Add to that,  the experts on religious law, life and living, the Pharisees, also kept order by rules and fear.  Then along came Jesus, the carpenter peasant turning both of those institutions, both the Roman political leaders, and the Religious leaders, upside down, for the people that heard him speak.  Jesus spoke repeatedly of love, sharing, and care for each other-no matter who they were.  He was healing them, feeding them, making them feel like they belonged, like they had value. For Jesus, the beginning of community was the shared meal. His table of fellowship was for the least, the lost and the lonely. It included the outsiders and the marginalized, the despised and socially- defined enemies. Jesus modeled inclusive table fellowship by publicly accepting invitations to dinner by sinful people.  We know the leaders of the time felt threatened. They were fearful of Jesus and the followers he was amassing, and the movement he was creating. Both John the Baptist and Jesus called out the amoral leaders, they urged those in authority to live honorable lives and work on behalf of the common good. As a result, both of them threatened Rome and Rome’s client rulers in Judea.

So now we move to the reading from the Gospel of Mark 10:35-45, where James and John ask Jesus “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”

Mark’s Gospel gives us three stories around responses to Jesus’ movement towards Jerusalem, and ultimately his death.  Last week’s scripture was one of those times as is this week’s.  In each one of them, Jesus’ friends and followers deny the reality of what is about to take place.   Jesus has laid out to his closest friends what they can expect in Jerusalem.  It’s a grim picture—mockery, spitting, flogging and death.  Jesus clearly understood that death is always a potential and likely consequence of the pursuit of justice in an unjust society. He cautioned his followers that in order to follow him, they must not only be selfless, but also be willing to risk public execution on a cross—the penalty for civil disobedience and insurrection by common people. “The son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Maybe, James and John, like many of us, were clinging to old familiar patterns even when it was not realistic or healthy.  The whole discipleship team has heard Jesus’ words about what will be happening in Jerusalem, but the truth hasn’t sunk in.  Instead, it is clear that every one of them would have liked some control, to try and steer power and security their way.

For the brothers James and John, and the rest of the disciples,  it was decision time. Jesus was heading towards a confrontation with power and risking his life.

It’s almost like they see themselves as Jesus’  managers, and they are only focused on the goal of election—a win would guarantee the needed power to insure all their futures. They blocked out what they had heard from Jesus– and clung to their belief that Jesus would still be setting up his kingdom on earth.

The other disciples are angry at the obnoxious behavior of James and John, because they recognized that these two brothers were attempting to place themselves in such a position as to be in control of the rest of them.  In that brief roadside encounter, it was like all of Jesus’ teachings were thrown aside and forgotten.

The truth is that fear can bring about patterns of behavior that directly conflict with what we know to be logical, or moral and good.   Savvy Politicians anfd manipulative leaders, know this, by the way. Most of us take for granted that we are capable of making rational and free choices in how we act in any situation. However, science has provided evidence that humans essentially have two minds in one brain, which constantly compete for control of our thoughts and ultimately our moral behavior. Animal-like survival instincts float around in one part of the brain,  and conscious thoughts and unique human reasoning originate in another part.  The reality is that we can’t always take in the hard truths all at once.   And, in our humanness, we often look for easy solutions.  James and John began thrashing around and got tempted by what they saw in their own society.

Jesus patiently emphasizes why he is there with them.  He was not there to create the life that James and John wanted.  He makes it clear that there is a cost to servanthood.  It demands a trust that enables one to be part of something that is bigger and beyond oneself.

What fears make us look for easy answers, and cause us to reject Jesus’ call to us to live compassionately?  Is it the fear of not having enough? The fear of the “other”, be it Immigrants, minorities, people of different religions, or sexual orientations?

The Kingdom Jesus speaks of…Christ’s kingdom, it is a borderless kingdom. On some level, every earthly empire with borders is Anti-Christ.   If you are focused on building Christ’s kingdom, you might be  too tangled in “civilian affairs” when:

You hate or vilify people who disagree with your political opinions.

You’re blind to the ways your faith is co-opted by those trying to gain or hold onto power.

You believe legislating your values fulfills your religious obligation.

You find yourself in discussions where being right exceeds being reconciled.

The process of human evolution, thus far, has favored the strong, the powerful, and the paranoid.  These are our own “default positions.”  The serpent wants us to fear our vulnerability and turn us into wolves. It wants us to grow fangs and claws and learn to hunt in packs.

In a radical reversal, Jesus says that true life comes from denying one’s evolutionary instincts and following instead the “way” of the True Lord.

What does it mean for the church, for congregations, and for individual Christians to imitate Jesus, who surrenders to the designs of his powerful enemies? Most importantly, looking out for the self first, expresses a worldview which is against the “way” of Jesus.  It goes against every human instinct, though. The way of Jesus is all about service to others, not service to self.  Paradoxically, it is in “losing” that one truly “wins”.

Following the way of Jesus demands taking risks—risks around love, compassion and justice.  The reign of God means more than life without suffering.  Like the disciples, we too want our faith journey to be easier, don’t we?  To be a follower of Christ means to choose a path that does not fit the norms of greatness in our society. It means we need to reject the fear that is being force fed to us through social media, television, and others who seek to divide us.

By following in the way of Jesus through serving others sacrificially, we are freed from true bondage.  We are ransomed from greed and corruption.

Finally…..about religion….

Martin Luther King told his congregation at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery that “any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion.”

Dry-as-dust religion

As the Civil Rights Movement. King grieved that the church was so often a “weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound.”

“But the judgment of God is upon the Church as never before,” he wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail. “If today’s Church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early Church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the 20th Century.

“Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the Church has turned into outright disgust.”

*He was prophetic. That speech was decades ago!!! Millions of people – especially young people – have turned away in disgust at what they’ve seen and heard in organized religion. And who can blame them?

I’m disgusted by much of what’s going on, too. Bullying accepted and applauded. Racism ignored and encouraged. Gay and transgender people condemned. People of other faiths attacked. Overlooking unacceptable conduct, in exchange for political favor.

But I also know that so many people today yearn for real faith communities — and they do exist.  Just how Jesus was trying to teach us to live

MLK mentioned how “so often, the Church in our struggle has been a tail light rather than a headlight. The Church has so often been an echo rather than a voice.”

Many people want faith communities that are prophetic rather than merely partisan. They want a voice reminding everyone that we are all equally beloved children of God and must be treated that way in all respects.

Pharaoh thought he could enslave the Jewish people forever. He was wrong. God had other ideas.

Caesar and his religious minions thought they could kill Jesus, bury his spirit and end his kingdom-of-God-on-earth movement. They were wrong. God had other ideas.

A white man thought he could fire a shot toward a balcony of the Lorraine Motel and kill Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, end his movement and erase his words. He was wrong. God had other ideas.

The political, social and religious leaders of our day who promote division, supremacy and discrimination think they have the power to prevail. They’re wrong, too.

.

Credit to *Joe Kay, Kurt Struckmeyer, **Steve Mattson

 

Now think about for a moment about the setting and the times when James, John and the disciples were walking with Jesus.  (i.e.The Jesus possee.)  Romans ruled.  They kept order by fear and force.  Add to that,  the experts on religious law and living, the Pharisees, also kept order by rules and fear.  Then along comes Jesus, the carpenter peasant turning both of those institutions upside down for the people that heard him speak.  He spoke repeatedly of love, sharing, and care for each other-no matter who they were.  He was healing them, feeding them, making them feel like they belonged. For Jesus, the beginning of community was the shared meal. His table of fellowship was for the least, the lost and the lonely. It included the outsiders and the marginalized, the despised and socially- defined enemies. Jesus modeled inclusive table fellowship by publicly accepting invitations to dinner by sinful people.  We know the leaders of the time felt threatened. They were fearful of Jesus and the followers he was amassing, and the movement he was creating. Both John the Baptist and Jesus called on those in authority to live honorable lives and work on behalf of the common good. As a result, both of them threatened Rome and Rome’s client rulers in Judea.

So now we move to the reading from the Gospel of Mark 10:35-45, where James and John ask Jesus “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”

Mark’s Gospel gives us three stories around responses to Jesus’ movement towards Jerusalem, and ultimately his death.  Last week’s scripture was one of those times as is this week’s.  In each one of them, Jesus’ friends and followers deny the reality of what is about to take place.   Jesus has laid out to his closest friends what they can expect in Jerusalem.  It’s a grim picture—mockery, spitting, flogging and death.  Jesus clearly understood that death is always a potential and likely consequence of the pursuit of justice in an unjust society. He cautioned his followers that in order to follow him, they must be willing to risk public execution on a cross—the penalty for civil disobedience and insurrection by common people. “The son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Maybe, James and John, like many of us, were clinging to old familiar patterns even when it was not realistic or healthy.  The whole discipleship team has heard Jesus’ words about what will be happening in Jerusalem, but the truth hasn’t sunk in.  Instead, it is clear that every one of them would have liked some control, to try and steer power and security their way.

Back to the brothers James and John, and the rest of the disciples.  It was decision time. Jesus was heading towards a confrontation with power and risking his life.

It’s almost like they see themselves as Jesus’  managers, and they are only focused on the goal of election—a win would guarantee the needed power to insure all their futures. They blocked out what they had heard from Jesus– and clung to their belief that Jesus would still be setting up his kingdom on earth.

The other disciples are angry at the obnoxious behavior of James and John, because they recognized that these two brothers were attempting to place themselves in such a position as to be in control of the rest of them.  In that brief roadside encounter, it was like all of Jesus’ teachings were thrown aside and forgotten.

The truth is that fear can bring about patterns of behavior that directly conflict with what we know to be logical, or moral and good.   Most of us take for granted that we are capable of making rational and free choices in how we act in any situation. However, science has provided evidence that humans essentially have two minds in one brain, which constantly compete for control of our thoughts and ultimately our moral behavior. Animal-like survival instincts float around in one part of the brain,  and conscious thoughts and unique human reasoning originate in another part.  The reality is that we can’t always take in the hard truths all at once.   And, in our humanness, we often look for easy solutions.  James and John began thrashing around and got tempted by what they saw in their own society.

Jesus patiently emphasizes why he is there with them.  He was not there to create the life that James and John wanted.  He makes it clear that there is a cost to servanthood.  It demands a trust that enables one to be part of something that is bigger and beyond oneself.

What fears make us look for easy answers, and cause us to reject Jesus’ call to us to live compassionately?  Is it the fear of not having enough? The fear of the “other”, be it Immigrants, minorities, people of different religions, or sexual orientations?

The Kingdom Jesus speaks of…Christ’s kingdom, It is a borderless kingdom. On some level, every earthly empire with borders is Anti-Christ.   If you are focused on building Christ’s kingdom, you might be  too tangled in “civilian affairs” when:

You hate or vilify people who disagree with your political opinions.

You’re blind to the ways your faith is co-opted by those trying to gain or hold onto power.

You believe legislating your values fulfills your religious obligation.

You find yourself in discussions where being right exceeds being reconciled.

**When Christians love political power more than people, “Christianity” becomes a campaign strategy to gain more votes instead of a transformative faith that draws people closer to God and the rest of humanity

What does it mean for the church, for congregations, and for individual Christians to imitate Jesus, who surrenders to the designs of his powerful enemies? Most importantly, looking out for the self first, expresses a worldview which is against the “way” of Jesus.  It goes against every human instinct, though. The way of Jesus is all about service to others, not service to self.  Paradoxically, it is in “losing” that one truly “wins”. The process of human evolution, thus far, has favored the strong, the powerful, and the paranoid.  These are our own “default positions.”  In a radical reversal, Jesus says that true life comes from denying one’s evolutionary instincts and following instead the “way” of the True Lord.

Following the way of Jesus demands taking risks—risks around love, compassion and justice.  The reign of God means more than life without suffering.  Like the disciples, we too want our faith journey to be easier, don’t we?  To be a follower of Christ Means to choose a path that does not fit the norms of greatness in our society. It means we need to reject the fear that is being force fed to us through social media, television, and others who seek to divide us.

The serpent wants us to fear our vulnerability and turn us into wolves. It wants us to grow fangs and claws and learn to hunt in packs.

By following in the way of Jesus through serving others sacrificially, we are freed from true bondage.  We are ransomed from greed and corruption.

Finally…..about religion….

Martin Luther King told his congregation at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery that “any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion.”

Dry-as-dust religion

As the Civil Rights Movement. King grieved that the church was so often a “weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound.”

“But the judgment of God is upon the Church as never before,” he wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail. “If today’s Church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early Church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the 20th Century.

“Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the Church has turned into outright disgust.”

*He was prophetic. That speech was decades ago!!! Millions of people – especially young people – have turned away in disgust at what they’ve seen and heard in organized religion. And who can blame them?

I’m disgusted by much of what’s going on, too. Bullying accepted and applauded. Racism ignored and encouraged. Gay and transgender people condemned. People of other faiths attacked. Overlooking unacceptable conduct, in exchange for political favor.

But I also know that so many people today yearn for real faith communities — and they do exist.  Just how Jesus was trying to teach us to live

MLK mentioned how “so often, the Church in our struggle has been a tail light rather than a headlight. The Church has so often been an echo rather than a voice.”

Many people want faith communities that are prophetic rather than merely partisan. They want a voice reminding everyone that we are all equally beloved children of God and must be treated that way in all respects.

Pharaoh thought he could enslave the Jewish people forever. He was wrong. God had other ideas.

Caesar and his religious minions thought they could kill Jesus, bury his spirit and end his kingdom-of-God-on-earth movement. They were wrong. God had other ideas.

A white man thought he could fire a shot toward a balcony of the Lorraine Motel and kill Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, end his movement and erase his words. He was wrong. God had other ideas.

The political, social and religious leaders of our day who promote division, supremacy and discrimination think they have the power to prevail. They’re wrong, too.

.

Credit to *Joe Kay, Kurt Struckmeyer, **Steve Mattson

 


Fear, Politics, and Jesus

October 18, 2018

This Sunday, October 21, 2018  Service at 9:30 am  with Catherine Young sharing the message “Fear, Politics and Jesus”. Come and join us. Our church is a non judgemental progressive mix of people seeking to recover the meaning of Jesus’ teachings.

 

Upcoming:  Art Competition and Show November 2018 with an original Music Competition in Spring of 2019   More details on its own  page.

Craft Bazaar and Bake Sale:  December 8th-9:00 am-3:00 pm  We are Seeking Vendors, please consider joining this fun event!  Contact Laurie Holdridge at silvergloves@stny.rr.com, for more info.


Share a Meal

October 4, 2018

There is room at the table for all who are hungry-literally and figuratively!

A light casual meal with conversation will be shared this Sunday October 7th at 5:00 pm, with a Communion worship service to follow at 6:00. Come and join us for the meal and if you like, stay for the service. Our church is a non judgemental progressive mix of people seeking to recover the meaning of Jesus’ teachings.

This Sunday, October 7, 2018 Communion Service at 6:00 pm  with Barbara Schwartz leading worship  


Food Pantry Info…Spread the Word!

October 1, 2018

Do you live in the 13811 zip code and find it challenging to keep food in your cupboards?  The Newark Valley Methodist Church on 63 S. Main Street (Brick church on Route 38) hosts a food pantry every Tuesday and Thursday from 3 pm to 4 pm.

Also, on the second Wednesday of each month from 10 am to 11 am there is an extra pantry specifically for senior citizens.


Today’s Photos: Care for God’s Creation and Blessing of Pets

October 1, 2018