Weekly Sunshine E-mail

February 16, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
Back in the late 60s and early 70s there was something called “The Jesus Movement”. It started on the west coast of the United States and eventually spread internationally. The people who were part of the movement called themselves “Jesus People” and later “Jesus Freaks”. The general theology of the movement was one of evangelism and the understanding that there was only “one way” to live (words usually uttered with the index finger pointed upward). This movement also spawned what we call today “contemporary Christian music” (which we still call “contemporary” even though many of the songs are now decades old). I was a witness to the movement in Edinboro, PA where I spent my high school summers. When I showed up one summer, a bunch of my summer friends were hanging out at a “prayer meeting house”, wearing big wooden crosses and carrying Bibles. This was a shock to me because they had never admitted to being religious in years past. It was from them that I began hearing the words “born again” in a way I had never heard before. There was something that I had to do, apparently, to be born again and only if I was born again would I be saved and go to heaven. Since that time, I have learned that the theology of this evangelism is not far off the mark (though I do take issue with its exclusionary nature). But yet my “born once” Presbyterian mother was wary of those “born agains”, a term she did not intend to be all that affirming. Where do we get the term “born again”? It comes from a private conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus the Pharisee in John 3. Jesus tells Nicodemus that to see the Kingdom of God one must be “born again” (at least that is how it is stated in some, but not all, translations). Nicodemus is confused, and Jesus explains. This episode in the Gospel of John is one of those where Jesus has a private conversation with an individual, rather than preaching to a large crowd. What might that be like? This Sunday we start a four-part Lenten Sermon Series that will look at four such private encounters, so we can see how Jesus can touch individual lives … well … individually. This week Pastor Jeff will preach “Nicodemus” based on John 3: 1-17. Come and hear about it at John McMillan Presbyterian Church at 8:30 and 11.

February 9, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
There is a quote that I have always liked a lot. The quotes says “The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuse, that’s the day you start to the top.” This quote always helped drive me as a young man. It is great advice, taking personal responsibility for your everything in your life will help you grow as a person. I think most of us would agree that this is great advice for people, by the way this quote is from nonother than O.J. Simpson. I don’t know about you, but this diminishes the advice for me, I see him as a hypocrite and he is not someone I want to listen to when it comes to my life.
In Job 22 we see Job who has had a lot of pain and suffering in his life. He has suffered a lot of loss, yet he has stayed faithful to God. His “friend” Eliphaz doesn’t think Job is being faithful, rather he thinks God is punishing him for not being faithful. Eliphaz is actually wrong about Job and was completely wrong to accuse him without any proof of his claims. Despite Eliphaz’s false claims he actually gives Job some great advice of how to get back to God.
This Sunday we will look closer at the dialogue between Job and Eliphaz. We will discuss how we can take advice from different people. We will also look closer at the advice Eliphaz gives to Job about how to get back to God. I hope to see you Sunday.
 

February 2, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
I am reading a book called Brunch is Hell: How to Save the World by Throwing a Dinner Party. It is based on a podcast called the “Dinner Party Download”. The book’s premise is that the world is going to hell in a handbasket because we don’t do dinner parties anymore … we go to brunch. What’s wrong with brunch? Several things according to the authors. The principal problems with brunch on my list (other than it intrudes on the middle of your day and often eliminates any further activity for the remainder of it due to plummeting sugar levels in the blood stream) stem from the fact that the entire event takes place in public. Because of this, we become self-conscious about what we talk about and reserved about how we talk about it. Similarly, the public nature of the event eliminates any concept of community because there are so many strangers around us who, frankly, want nothing to do with us (and OK, maybe we want nothing to do with them, too). Meanwhile, the dinner party is a communal affair, the conversation is open and spontaneous and, yes, sometimes loud. The group functions as a community because there is a sense of belonging (you either invited or were invited) as well as grace (you are accepted with all your faults and faulty opinions regardless of how loud you proclaim them).
So, what does this have to do with our text for this week?
Well, Jesus is part of a dinner party. One of the folks invited probably does not get invited to many dinner parties because of what he does for a living, and his acceptance of the invitation seems to result in a bit of celebration (and no doubt interesting and spirited conversation). It also gets some tongues wagging about the propriety of it all and that is when Jesus tells folks that the old way is over, and the new way has begun. A lesson about fasting and feasting as combining old and new. What is the old way? What is the new way? What is Jesus trying to teach us? Come and hear about it Sunday, February 4 at 8:30 and 11 when Pastor Jeff Preaches “A New Day, A New Way” based on Mark 2: 13-22. Come and join the conversation.

January 26, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
With all due respect to those who sell cars for a living, there is a particular practice that drives me crazy. It looks like this. You go into the showroom with excited anticipation that you are going to buy a new car. Not long after you walk in, a sales representative walks up with a peppy, “Can I help you?” “Yes,” you say, “I’m looking to buy a new car.” You know what you want and know how much you want to spend. You pick one out and then the deal making starts. You sit with the representative and talk price (which is right on the window, but no one seems to pay any attention to that). But the representative has no authority to make the deal. He has to talk to his “manager” every time you ask a new question. Back and forth, back and forth. It seems endless and time wasting. It would be nice if you could just talk to the manager directly, but that is not allowed. You must work through the representative. It is painful. I mean it – painful. Then I read an article about how to get around this sales practice. Find out how much the dealer paid for the car you want, add 2% profit for the dealer and then deduct the Blue Book value of your trade in. Tell them that is what you will pay, take it or leave it. Sure, they will go to the manager, but the “shuttle diplomacy” negotiation is short circuited. I tried it a while back and it worked. I have done it that way ever since. So, what does this have to do with Jesus healing a paralytic? Quite a bit actually. Jesus does this in front of a bunch of religious scribes who think they are the mediators between God and the Jewish people. Jesus, heals the paralytic but also proves Jesus has the power to forgive sins. He does this to teach the scribes a lesson. They are no longer to be mediators between God and humanity. That job belongs to Jesus, who has God’s authority. And all this happens in front of a big crowd. It must have been quite a scene. Come and hear about it Sunday January 28 at 8:30 and 11 when Pastor Jeff preaches “Healed!” based on Mark 2: 1-12. We will look forward to seeing you

January 19, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
In the movie Papillon, the main character is trying to escape from a French prison. He is given sanctuary in a leper colony. The leader of the leper colony meets with Papillon to discuss Papillon’s predicament. The leper leader is smoking a cigar. He hands the cigar to Papillon and tells him to take a few puffs. Papillon is at first put off because to touch the cigar – with his lips no less – will likely transmit the dreaded disease to Papillon. Yet he takes the cigar and puffs away. The leper then asks Papillon, how he knew the strain of leprosy the leper had was not contagious. Papillon replies that he didn’t know. He was just that desperate for help. Papillon would rather have leprosy and be free. This is a bit of a reversal of the story we hear in Mark 1 where we find Jesus healing a leper. The leper appears desperate for help. He asks Jesus to make him “clean”. Jesus does, by touching he leper. Did Jesus know the “leprosy” was not contagious? Maybe, but the fact remains that when Jesus touched the man, Jesus was rendered unclean as well. Jesus was willing to risk leprosy so this man could be free of an inapplicable religious tradition. Because it was not the contagious nature of the disease that rendered the leper unclean, but a religious tradition from ancient times. A religious tradition Jesus thus rejected. What does this rather short story in Mark mean to us in 2018? Come and hear about it on Sunday, January 21 at 8:30 and 11 at John McMillan Presbyterian Church when Pastor Jeff preaches “Be Clean” based on Mark 1: 40-45. See you then!

January 11, 2018

Pastor Jeff Tindal
 
According to Wikipedia Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, known online as PewDiePie, is a Swedish web-based comedian and video producer. He is known for his Let’s Play commentaries and vlogs, as well as his following on YouTube. Since August 15, 2013, PewDiePie has been the most subscribed user on YouTube. As of January 2018, his “channel” has over 59 million subscribers. PewDiePie’s channel held the distinction of being the most viewed of all time, and has received over 16 billion video views. He, as a result, is quite wealthy.
That is the world we live in. Social media allows folks to reach 59 million plus people with the stroke of a finger. If Jesus came today, think about how many disciples he might have had! It’s like Judas’ question in the song from Jesus Christ Superstar:
… [W]hy’d you choose such a backward time
And such a strange land?
If you’d come today
You could have reached the whole nation
Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication.
If Jesus had been on YouTube …
But Jesus does not want followers. He wants disciples. And that takes more than the stroke of a finger for a moment of entertainment. That is not how Jesus gets disciples. Not through mass media or social media, but offering to seekers what they are looking for. By knowing us and providing us what we need. When we realize that, we follow. Come and hear more about it Sunday January 14 at John McMillan Presbyterian Church when Pastor Jeff preaches “Follow Me” based on John 1: 35-51. Come and see at 8:30 and 11.
 
 

December 29, 2017

Pastor Jeff Tindall
 
Needless to say, I have no memory of my own birth. But I have been told that my mother was under anesthesia and my father was in the waiting room when I was born. I have no idea where my older brother was. That is what it was like in those days. The only folks who saw the baby when first born were the doctors and nurses. The first impressions of the parents were sometime later. But not when my kids were born. I was there in the room. There was no anesthesia for Karen. We saw our kids as soon as they took breath. And when we looked at them … well we started asking that question everyone starts to ask. Who does he/she look like? Mom or Dad? When Jesus was born, there was no anesthesia and Joseph was right there. And when they saw Jesus, I wonder who they thought he looked like. Certainly not Joseph. Did he look like Mary? Or did he look like … Come and hear about it Sunday at 9:30 for our only service when Pastor Jeff will be preaching “Like Father Like Son” from Hebrews 1:1-3. See you then.

December 16, 2017

Pastor Jeff Tindall
 
In 2017, we celebrate just about every pregnancy we hear about. The “baby bump” is out front (pun intended) and proudly displayed, whatever the circumstances! It is hard to believe there was a time when pregnancy was a private matter that folks were reticent to discuss. I remember my mother whispering in my ear that our married neighbor was “going to have a baby”. Like it was some secret we weren’t supposed to know about. Teachers were required to quit their jobs when they started to “show”. What if the kids start asking questions? Pregnant teens abruptly disappeared from school. They were “visiting sick relatives”. Older women, like my friend’s mom who was pregnant when we were high school seniors made daughter tell me “I’m soooooooooo embarrassed I want to die!” There were times when pregnancy was considered … well … a bit inconvenient and sometimes embarrassing. If you were pregnant at an inconvenient or embarrassing time, what did you do? You went into seclusion. Or you just went away for a “while”. That sounds pretty dismal. Not a lot of support. But that is what Mary and Elizabeth faced when they found themselves pregnant at inconvenient and embarrassing times. Elizabeth in her old age and Mary … well … unmarried. In our scripture reading this week, we see what they did. And how they coped. Come and hear about it this week at John McMillan Presbyterian Church at 8:30am when Pastor Jeff preaches “Family Support” based on Luke 1: 39-56. Then stick around for the annual Christmas Pageant at the 11am service when we present “The Christmas Shop Around the Corner”. It will be a great day at JMPC! Come and celebrate the third Sunday of Advent with us.

December 1, 2017

Pastor Jeff Tindall
 
It’s Advent! The season of anticipation that something’s coming. When I was a kid I knew what was coming! Christmas! For me it started the Friday after Thanksgiving. No – not because it was the Black Friday shopping day. It was the day my mother would stack the Christmas albums on the record player and start playing them over and over, the same songs in the same order. The tree would go up the same day. Lights in the windows, too. There was a train set when I was really young. I would get out the Sunday paper to find out when all the Christmas specials would be on TV because I didn’t want to miss any. Loads of anticipation. Then came the wait. Impatience reigned. Counting down the days. Would Christmas morning ever come? It was the longest month – ever!
Joseph was in a season of anticipation. He was engaged to Mary. He was waiting for the marriage and her move into his home. That would be in a year or two. I am sure he was counting the days. Would the wedding date ever come? She would become his helpmate. She would take care of the home while he earned the money to pay for their needs. They would be a team. Mary would also bear his children. They would become a family. The family was the core of Jewish society and a center for its religious life. In the Jewish tradition, it is said that God waits impatiently for men and women to marry and have children. Marriage was a holy institution.
But then – something unexpected. Mary became pregnant. This created quite a bit of emotional and religious turmoil for Joseph. I can only imagine the disappointment. What he anticipated was not to be. But then something else happened – and it turned out to be something better, for him and for Mary. Want to hear more? Come and hear Pastor Jeff preach “An Unexpected Responsibility” based on Matthew 1: 18-25 this Sunday at John McMillan Presbyterian Church. Services are at 8:30 and 11. Let’s get the Advent anticipation started!