Sunday Thoughts

Welcome to Sunday Thoughts for September 12, 2021.

We had a little taste of fall this past week. We did get a nice break from the summer heat and humidity this week. Yet this week we return to some of that. Even today it was getting warmer. It’s been a great week.

Earlier this week, I attended the Millsboro Town Council meeting. It was interesting to see some of the ins and outs of the town workings. It was the first week since I have been here that I had something three nights in a row. Wednesday night we had prayer meeting and then on Thursday we had board meeting. We had a great meeting and there is such a spirit of cooperation.

On Friday morning, we decided we wanted to go to Rehoboth Beach and watch the sunrise.

The wave action was cool as Hurricane Larry was sitting off the coast. We stopped at Chick-fil-A on the way home for breakfast. I thought I had it timed properly, but we arrived at the beach just in the nick of time. We had been on the beach less than 2 minutes when I captured the picture above.

Yesterday, was a day off (as far as our family was concerned) for the farmer’s market. Although, we did go up to pick up some produce and while we were there, we met a young lady and her son. She was looking for a church and she showed up this morning – so cool.

In the afternoon we headed to Fenwick Island to the Shipwreck Museum – we were also able to catch the Fenwick Lighthouse. It is unusual in that it sits about a quarter mile off the beach. It was closed by the time we got there, so we couldn’t climb to the top.

We are hoping this week to go see some of some of the more unusual sights in Delaware – some of them listed on Atlas Obscura.

Which brings us to Sunday. We had a wonderful spirit of worship as we gathered this morning. It was the largest crowd we’ve had since I’ve been here with 45 in attendance. We had some great praises and a wonderful time of worship.

Following worship we had an organizational meeting for our Trunk or Treat. This is an annual event and it by far is the largest event we host. We are looking forward to this event as we reach out to our community.

This afternoon, I’ve been relaxing, watching Eagles football. It was good to see them win. That brings us to the end of this week’s writing. Have an awesome week and Seize the Day!

Prayer for the Week

O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Is Anything Worth More Than Your Soul?

16th Sunday after Pentecost | September 12, 2021

Proverbs 1:20-33 and Psalm 19 • James 3:1-12 • Mark 8:27-38

Mark 8:27-38 | New Living Translation

27 Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

28 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.”

29 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.”

30 But Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

31 Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. 32 As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things.

33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Under a Clear Blue Sky

September 11, 2001

It was a defining moment of a generation. Much like our grandparents when they thought back to the moment they heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It was like the moment our parents heard about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It was the shock and the horror of a nation.

September 11, 2001…

Nine-Eleven…

I remember it like it was yesterday…

Today it is twenty years since we learned of the horrific terrorist attacks on our nation. Much like Pearl Harbor, the JFK assassination, the Challenger disaster…it is a moment…a defining moment…a moment that stays with us. People ask, “Do you remember what you were doing…where you were..” and we can immediately respond. We can answer questions like this. I have no recollection of Pearl Harbor or JFK. I wasn’t born before WWII and I was a baby when JFK was shot. But the first defining moment it remember was 1986 and the Challenger disaster. I remember exactly where I was.

Fast forward to September 11, 2001…I can recall many of the details. It was a beautiful late summer morning in Upstate New York. The girls had gotten up for school and had been picked up by the school bus. Pam and James were over at the house. I had a Noon to 8 shift at Radio Shack to go to, but the next Sunday was to be “Salvation Sunday.” It was a denominational emphasis on preaching a salvation message. I had gone over to my office at the church to work on my sermon. Who knew the events that would unfold shortly?

Like I said, I was over in my office and about 8:50, Pam came over and told me that a plane had hit the one of the World Trade Center towers. My thought was that’s a little unusual. After all the weather was perfect – clear, blue sky, no clouds, no fog, visibility for miles. It was that way across the east coast. But at the moment I took it for a freak accident and went back to my work and Pam went back to the house.

About 5 minutes after nine, Pam came back over and said that another plane had struck the South Tower. What? On a clear, beautiful day? It became apparent that the first plane was not an accident and neither was the second. But what was going on? Little did we know the terror that was beginning to unfold. We watched as the images were played and replayed “for those of you just joining us.” When Pam came over and told me, I came back over to the house and watched it unfold. The images were replayed, when all of a sudden we saw new pictures – pictures of Washington DC and what appeared to be smoke rising from the Pentagon…the horror was not over yet…minute by minute we waited…our nation was under attack…from an enemy we didn’t know yet. How many planes were going to drop from the sky? We knew that three planes had crashed, but we didn’t know how many more there were.

I’ll never forget the moment that I watched the first tower collapse before my very eyes. I had seen the plume of smoke. Now what? Soon the newscasters announced the South Tower had collapsed. The tragedy was growing. How many more people would lose their lives. We were just adjusting to the fact that one of the WTC towers were gone, when we heard of another plane down – this one in the fields of western Pennsylvania. Apparently it had missed its target. At 10:30, we watched the second tower fall.

By that point, the FAA had grounded all planes and told them to land where ever they were – and the skies went silent. It was an eventful 1 and 3/4 hours. Like I said, I was scheduled to go to work, so around 11:30, Pam took me to work. Mike and I watched the TV’s on the RCA display. Needless to say it was a slow day…most people’s minds were on the events that had unfolded. However, we had a big day with cellphones and satellite dishes. People wanted to know what was going on.

It was all so surreal…under a clear blue sky.

Today marks twenty years since that event. Last night, we watched a segment on how people let their loved ones know. The final moments of Flight 93 are well documented – the voice mails – the phone calls. Those on Flight 93 gave their lives so that an intended target in Washington DC would be saved.

There were so many that day who were heroes – they never signed up for that job, but they were heroes nonetheless. Today we remember the day that was September 11, 2001

Let me finish with a poem by Michael Brooks entitled Under a Clear Blue Sky


A scene from out of a nightmare.

A plume of smoke stretching to the heavens.  Expressions of shock and horror on the faces of onlookers.  Stunned silence from officials and controllers.  All eyes riveted upon images of horror.

Images.

Repeated.

Over.

And over.

We watch in fascinated horror as the moment of disaster plays again on the screen “for those just joining us,” unable to tear ourselves away.

We hug our children and grope for the words to explain the thing that their innocence has been subjected to until we realize that our presence is what they need most.

Although the distance dilutes the flames, our hearts break as our spirits penetrate the conflagration that hides the human toll from our eyes.

Involuntary prayers follow the smoke on its upward climb, seeking to protect the souls borne heavenward on its billows.

Our pride.  Our confidence.  Our humanity.

Shattered.

In a moment.

In the twinkling of an eye.

Tuesday…under a clear blue sky.

The day the Challenger fell.

Another Tuesday…another clear blue sky.

Again, the smoke.  Again, the horror.  Again, the images.

Images.

Repeated.

Over.

And over.

Our pride.  Our confidence.  Our humanity.

Shattered.

In a moment.

In the twinkling of an eye.

Tuesday…under a clear blue sky.

Once again, we all know the answer to, “Where were you when…?”

In forced communion, we imagine the terror of those within the heart of the nightmare

Within the heart of darkness.

The confusion.  The uncertainty.

The choice.

Fall or burn.

For some…for most, perhaps…the choice is made for them.

As when the Challenger fell, we reach out to our loved ones.  We seek to make sense of the insanity.  We search out some sliver of good from the ruin and wreckage before us.

But it’s difficult…because it’s different.

Challenger was an accident waiting to happen…one that some anticipated, one that some tried to prevent.

But no one deliberately brought down the Challenger.

Yesterday was different.

Yesterday was not merely an attack on America, an attack on the government, an attack on policy.

Yesterday was an attack on civilization, an attack on the rule of law, an attack on humanity itself.

It was an attack on all of us…on each of us…no matter out nationality, our ethnicity, our creed or our color.

The question now is, how will we respond?

The Challenger crew embodied the best of humanity.

Yesterday’s terrorists embodied the words of humanity.

Will we now respond with the best…or the worst…of ourselves?

Tuesday…under a clear blue sky.

–Michael Brooks

Written on 9/12/2001 by Michael Brooks in response to the terror attacks on 9/11.  I used this poem for my sermon the following Sunday, 9/16/2001.  It was scheduled to be Salvation Sunday.  I thought this was a powerful reminder and tribute to remember 9 years ago today — 9/11/2001

Sunday Night Thoughts

Welcome to Sunday Thoughts for the first Sunday in September of 2021. The above picture was captured just a few minutes ago. It looks like we have some clouds moving in. It looks like there is a slight chance of some showers overnight. Tomorrow is Labor Day – the unofficial end of summer. For us here in the beach region of Delaware, that means the tourists won’t be quite as thick.

Here in Delaware the students go back to school. Some on Tuesday and many of them start on Wednesday. During our service this morning, we prayed for our students and we prayed for the teachers – and staff – and bus drivers. I am praying that our students have a wonderful and safe and blessed year. As a side note, I did finally get out to change the sign. It still had Vacation Bible School advertised on it.

This past week, the big event was a lunch that we put on for the teachers of the middle school. That school is to the left and about a block from the church. Tuesday night we gathered to prep food for the lunch. On Wednesday we served a lunch of cheeseburgers, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, along with homemade cookies. We got many compliments about the lunch. We are thankful for the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a local school. It was a positive impact on the community.

Yesterday, we once again were back at the Farmer’s Market. It was the first time the whole gang was there since July. We had a great time and sold quite a few scrapple sandwiches. I am enjoying being part of the farmers market family. We have just three weeks left and one of those weeks, we won’t be there.

I did get a chance to cut the grass this week – it was on one of those terribly humid days early in the week. I need to get out there tomorrow or Tuesday and get the grass cut in the field before it gets too long again. It was incredibly difficult to cut because even at noon the grass was still wet from the dew. Hopefully that won’t be the case this week.

This week, things move back to a more normal pattern. Tuesday night, I’m planning on attending the town council meeting. I want to see how things are done here. Wednesday evening, we restart our prayer meeting and then Thursday we have prayer meeting. So it will be a bit of a busy week.

We did have a good worship service this morning. The Journey had 42 people present, which is one of the highest attendances we have had – I think only tying Easter morning. It is encouraging. There was a good spirit in our service and I had several good compliments about the sermon. Pam taught Sunday School and did a great job presenting creation.

So that about wraps it up for the week. If you don’t work tomorrow, enjoy your Labor Day and if you go to a store or restaurant – treat those who serve you with kindness – after all they are working on what should be a day of rest.

Seize the Day!

Prayer for the Week

15th Sunday after Pentecost | Proper 18

O Lord God, grant your people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and with pure hearts and minds to follow you, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Two Miracles

15th Sunday After Pentecost | September 5, 2021

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 and Psalm 125 • James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17 • Mark 7:24-37

Mark 7:24-37 | New Living Translation

24 Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre. He didn’t want anyone to know which house he was staying in, but he couldn’t keep it a secret. 25 Right away a woman who had heard about him came and fell at his feet. Her little girl was possessed by an evil spirit, 26 and she begged him to cast out the demon from her daughter.

Since she was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia, 27 Jesus told her, “First I should feed the children—my own family, the Jews. It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

28 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.”

29 “Good answer!” he said. “Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And when she arrived home, she found her little girl lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone.

31 Jesus left Tyre and went up to Sidon before going back to the Sea of Galilee and the region of the Ten Towns. 32 A deaf man with a speech impediment was brought to him, and the people begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him.

33 Jesus led him away from the crowd so they could be alone. He put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then, spitting on his own fingers, he touched the man’s tongue. 34 Looking up to heaven, he sighed and said, “Ephphatha,” which means, “Be opened!” 35 Instantly the man could hear perfectly, and his tongue was freed so he could speak plainly!

36 Jesus told the crowd not to tell anyone, but the more he told them not to, the more they spread the news. 37 They were completely amazed and said again and again, “Everything he does is wonderful. He even makes the deaf to hear and gives speech to those who cannot speak.”