Pastor Darryl's Sunday Reflections
June 20: Master of the Winds and the Waves
For most, the sea conjures up delightful images. Some enjoy the serenity of a quiet walk on the shore or a cruise to a tropical island. Modern images of the sea are typically tame and inviting, lulling us into associating the sea with a sense of tranquility. The sea can be described in an endless number of ways. It is refreshing, beautiful, and humbling. Not so for Gospel writer, St. Mark.
June 13: Green Thumbs
Have you ever known people with eternally green thumbs? You know, the person who seems to walk by, and plants just naturally perk up? The person whose yard is an explosion of color; whose orchid is perpetually in bloom; whose seeds always germinate, and sprout as they should? Do you know these folks? Read the beginning of this gospel – “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how” – brings to mind those folks with green thumbs.
June 6: Where Are You
The last one hundred years have been marked by the exponential growth and sophistication of technology. The world is undoubtedly more connected than ever, but it may also be more distracted than ever. Scientists have long warned about the dangers of getting distracted by technology. When left unchecked, it can distract us from everything from our ability to have meaningful face-to-face conversations, to keeping our eyes on the road and off our screens as we drive. So it is with our lives of faith, my dear friends.
May 30: The Ordinary and The Extraordinary
In reflection, we will realize it was the ordinary, mundane, weekly habits and rituals that ordered our lives, thus shaping us into the people we are today. This truth is a hint to us that God – our awesome, all-knowing, omnipotent God – is right there with us, taking what might be the most ordinary of moments and breathing that little extra into it, so that over time it becomes something extraordinary.
May 23: We Are One in the Holy Spirit
There’s no better time to celebrate the diversity of the Kingdom of God than on the Day of Pentecost. Separately, our differences are too diverse to list, but put together, our individual uniqueness creates a beautiful kaleidoscope we call the Body of Christ. Sadly, today we see people and nations torn apart by racism, religious chauvinism, human-made borders and cultural bigotry. We have become a culture of “us-versus-them,” where the “other” is to be feared and never trusted.
May 16: Pearls and Grit
We are invited on the 7th Sunday of Easter to enter a period of waiting once more. But this period of waiting is a bit different; it’s the pause between the hope of the past and the hope for the future. It is sometimes hard to hold this “in-between space” because we’re so eager to move on and find new direction. It is possible to treat Ascension Sunday as a preemptive Pentecost, but to do so misses one of the most important lessons of life. It is the “in-between” that invites us to find depth and to hold the anxiety and fears of the future at bay and embrace this one moment.
May 9: Abide in Love
“Abide” is not a word we use much these days. We do not often ask people, “Where do you abide?” You will likely come across the word more times while reading the Gospel of John than you ever will in real-life conversation. In fact, if you read through just the first 11 verses of John 15 you will find the word “abide” 11 times. This sheer repetition reminds us of its importance as a theme in John’s Gospel.
May 2: How To Love
1 John 4:7-21 and John 15:1-8
Jesus said to his disciples, “I am the true vine… abide in me as I abide in you.” This Gospel and our Epistle reading today remind us to whom we belong with a clear visual image. These Scripture readings call us into a new and wonderful way of living – a way that welcomes the other, that is not done alone, but in community – a way that starts with Love. God is Love. Everyone who loves is born of God.
April 25: To Be a Sheep
Psalm 23 and John 10:11-18
Every year, regardless of the readings in the lectionary cycle, we are invited to live in a rich, metaphorical world. A world where there are a whole slew of sheep, and one, good, sacrificial Shepherd. It can be a funny world to live in, since not many of us, some of you do, have first-hand experience living off the land, tending to a flock, or roaming about foraging for food. And it may seem silly, even a bit embarrassing and put-on to do so.
But Scripture is beckoning us to try-on ‘its world.’
April 18: Witness to the Resurrection
1 John 3:1-7 and Luke 24:36b-48
Today's gospel reading takes us to a time when the disciples of Jesus were facing such a time. In the verses immediately preceding today's reading, Luke tells us of the women finding the tomb empty…of Peter running to check things out and leaving, wondering what has happened. Two have left Jerusalem and are walking to Emmaus, talking about the events of Friday and the discoveries of Sunday morning. There is sadness and grief and there is confusion and wonder. And on that Sunday evening, the remaining disciples are gathered together and although Luke does not mention this, the gathering is taking place behind locked doors.
April 11: Showing Up
The Second Sunday of Easter is very dependable. This is Thomas’ Sunday, and every year the Gospel tells the story of Jesus’ special appearance among the Apostles to greet Thomas. There’s much to appreciate about Thomas – and much we can learn from him. The first thing to learn is about the disciples and faith, the second is about doubt in general.
April 4: This is the Day – Easter Day
Acts 10:34-43 and Mark 16:1-8
Can you imagine that celebrating Easter might bring danger for most of us? The danger comes from our knowing in advance the outcome of the drama – that Jesus rose again! Knowing what is going to be said and sung Easter Sunday, we are in danger of not being shocked by this unimaginably joyous, unprecedented event.
If we are not careful, Easter can become just another one of those stories with a feel-good, happy ending. If we are not careful, we will cease to be slack-jawed. If we are not careful, the hair on the back of our necks will not stand up when we hear the almost unbelievable Good News!
March 28: Palm Sunday
The Passion of Christ According the Gospel of St. Luke
An empty tomb, at face value, is a lot easier to deal with than a dying, bleeding Savior on a cross. Add to that all the pain and suffering that comes with Holy Week, is it any wonder that the human tendency is to try and ignore the events of the week and simply move on to the Easter celebration? But as much as we'd like to skip Holy Week we know that the only way to Easter is through the cross.
March 21: The Voice
Jeremiah 31:31-34 and John 12:20-33
Lent is a somber season, and this may resonate with many of us today. It has been over a year now since ‘our worlds’ were completely changed! It has been a year of grieving, mourning/weeping routines – a year of adjusting to new ways of gathering – a year of limiting in-person gatherings to protect each other and the most vulnerable – a year of many changes, regardless of where you find yourself on this life journey. And maybe this Lent, you have been doing some self-care or taking on a specific spiritual practice. If you did, great! And if you did not, that’s great too! With a pandemic still raging and all of the unprecedented events, it is important to be kind to ourselves. It is important to be present with all these changes and feelings.
March 14: Fear
Numbers 21:4-9 and John 3:14-21
There is no more familiar passage in all of Scripture than John 3:16. It has been inscribed on billboards and bumper stickers, sewn into throw-pillows and baseball caps, and it has even appeared tattooed into the skin of more than a few actors and athletes. And yet, for as familiar as the 16th verse of John’s 3rd chapter is, it is juxtaposed against the verses immediately preceding it, which are undoubtedly some of the most unfamiliar verses in the New Testament.
March 7: The Law
A few years ago, the abbreviation “SBNR” popped up in church and cultural circles, naming an emerging phenomenon showing up in countless national surveys. SBNR stands for Spiritual, But Not Religious. SBNRs are present in every cohort surveyed, but their prevalence increases with every new generation. Many church folk feel anxiety rise as we look at our beloved buildings, programs, and budgets in light of this turn away from organized religion. But have you ever heard of someone who is religious, but not spiritual – RBNS?
February 28: The Most Difficult Path To Follow
Imagine the scene. You are one of the groups of Galileans who have been singled out to follow the most compelling teacher ever to walk the stony hills of your land. You have been with your beloved leader, the one you call Teacher or Rabbi, for nearly three years now, and increasingly, you watch as more people come to hear him, entranced by his message about God as a loving father, people longing to be fed, some with words of comfort and many of them literally. And then there are those miserable ones who are sick or blind, who take up his time, but he gives it freely, healing them and giving them sight in the process.
But you, you are not one of the crowd, you are the one who just recently has had his name changed from Simon to Peter –You are ‘Petros,’ the rock, the stone chosen and cut and named by your beloved Teacher.
February 21: It Was A Moment In Time
Genesis 9:8-17 and Mark 1:9-15
It was a moment in time to be remembered. Those present were so impressed by what they had seen and heard that day, they would tell others who had not been there. The story spread, until finally after being passed on orally, it would become part of a written account. People would remember that day by the river Jordan. Many came to be baptized by John, but on this day a man would ask to be baptized.
February 14: Transfiguration Sunday: Strange and Wonderful
What a beautifully strange and wonderful story we find in Mark today. Our gospel reading tells of Jesus’ transfiguration, an event recounted by all three of the synoptic gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke. There’s a lot to unpack here. There’s the presence of Elijah and Moses. There’s the fear and near comical reaction of the apostles. There’s the uncreated divine light shining out of Jesus. And then, of course, there’s the voice from the cloud declaring to the disciples the identity of Jesus and commanding them to listen to him.
February 7: Scouting Sunday
In the 1st Century world of Jesus, sick people only had a few options. The first thing they could do was try a folk remedy. These varied from sensible potions to downright dangerous “fixes.” Many folk remedies are still practiced today in the industrialized world and most are completely ineffective, especially with serious diseases and injuries. Another option for sick people in Jesus’ world was one or many religious healing practices.
Upper New York (UNY) Area Resident, Bishop Mark J. Webb, and members of the UNY Cabinet have put together and released a worship service for our congregation. Their hope is that by using this service in place of one of Pastor Darryl's services, our pastor and worship teams can have some much-needed rest and renewal.
January 24: Fishing for People
Jesus chose some fishermen to be among his disciples. However, he was not content to have them remain as commercial fishermen. He called them and empowered them to become 'fishers of men' or 'fishers of people'. Peter and Andrew, James and John, sons of Zebedee, became followers (disciples) of Christ and followed him. We know from the biblical record that they indeed followed Jesus closely and also became instrumental in inviting and bringing others to follow Jesus.
What does this story have to say to us today?
January 17: He Knows Your Name…..Can Anything Good Come Out of Nazareth?
Of all the Gospels, John provides the insight into the call of Nathaniel by Jesus. His first name is used, the name that would have been used within his family to identify him. The Synoptic gospels use the last name or family name; perhaps this was to identify him with his family so that the hearers of these gospels could connect this individual to his roots within the Jewish community. To his place. But John uses his personal name, the one that identifies the specific individual within the family and community. It's the name that Jesus calls him by. It's the name that God knows him by… that God sees him by… that God calls him by.
January 10: Beginnings
Each of the four Gospels begins in their own unique manner. But Mark is in a category unto himself. He never offers a genealogy of Jesus at all, never claims to be writing history, and moves at such a breakneck pace that there is little time for theology and certainly no time for poetry. Instead, Mark jumps right into the fray and opens on the banks of the river Jordan, as Jesus is baptized – dripping wet and the sky breaks open and the Spirit comes down like a dove – an epiphany, for sure!
January 3: Zigs and Zags
The start of this new year invites us to take out the map of our life and look at it carefully. This is a time to recognize where we have been, so that we may be better prepared for the future that awaits us. Where have you traveled in your life during these past 12 months? What is there to celebrate? What is there to lament? Who have been your companions on this journey? What have been the regrets, the surprises, the delights, the moments of judgment, the seasons of grace?
December 27: A Year Like No Other Has Been
Here we are, once again, at the end of the year. It is the Sunday that is “in between.” In between the old and the new, in between Christmas and New Year’s, in between what has been pandemic and what will hopefully be post-pandemic. It is still considered part of Christmas in the Christian calendar since Watch Night will come after and that is the time to look forward to the New Year. It is the Sunday that commemorates the presentation of Jesus in the Temple after the time of Mary’s purification after giving birth which would have been at least 40 days after the child’s birth.
December 20: Coming Soon!: Elizabeth and Mary: What God Can Do
On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, we inch closer to the heart of the Christmas story as Jesus’ birth is foretold through the relationship of Elizabeth and Mary. Just like in a movie, the suspense heightens and we have a plot twist! Elizabeth and Mary see the possibilities of what God can do.
December 13: Coming Soon!: John, the Doppelganger
John 1:6-9 and 19-28
We are now in Episode 3 of the Advent season, but ironically we are not as close to Episode 5 which is the heart of the Christmas story. In fact, it may seem that we are nowhere approaching it, since there has been no mention of Jesus thus far in the Scripture readings; and Jesus does not enter into today’s Scripture reading either, at least not overtly. Instead, the descriptive scene of the story continues with John the Baptist. The identity of John the Baptist is still confusing to many.
December 6: Coming Soon!: Baptismal Limitations
If the First Sunday of Advent was the trailer, today is the setup for this epic movie. So the scene is set, and we are meeting the first of our characters. We find John the Baptist in the wilderness. And through the life and actions of John the Baptist, the scene and life of Jesus Christ is set up, as we are drawn in to remember the meaning of baptism and our own wilderness experience.
November 29: Coming Soon!: Stay Tuned!
On this First Sunday of Advent, we enter a season that journeys through a story that is familiar to so many. It is like a favorite movie that we have seen over and over again. We can recite our favorite lines, chuckle in anticipation of an upcoming funny scene, cringe in knowledge of what is going to happen next, or begin to tear up at those moments that always seem to tug at our heartstrings. If the biblical story of the birth of Christ is like ‘our favorite movie’, then today’s Scripture reads like the movie trailer.
- Sunday Worship - 10:00 a.m.
- Sunday Class (September - May): Adults – 8:45 a.m.
- Sunday Class (September - May): Children – 9 a.m.
- Monday Evening Prayer & Healing Service (2nd Monday each month) - 6:30 p.m.
- Wednesday Adult Bible Study (September - May) - 9:30 a.m.
Emmanuel United Methodist Church
75 East Ave.
Lockport, NY 14094