Pastor's Pen
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April 20, 2015, 9:00 AM

Kellogg's Corn Flakes


 

 

Kellogg’s Corn Flakes

 

   One of the great joys in my ministry has been speaking at the Methodist Church during their Holy Week luncheon services!  Following my Good Friday talk, I went over to Social Security and had the enjoyable but uneventful task of signing up for Medicare A (I turn 65 years old this summer). Now I am beginning to reflect upon what I have been doing for the past thirty-one years as a pastor.

   For most of those years now I have preached and taught from the Bible.  As an ordained Christian minister I am expected to do so, and as a pastor and preacher, I regard this task as one of my greatest and happiest responsibilities. It has not, however, been an easy task. The Bible itself is a complicated collection of books, written by many hands over many years and in a wide variety of forms including: poetry, history, parable, theology, and apocalypse. 

   To say that the books of the Bible are inspired or written according to a theory of divine dictation does not make them any easier to read or understand. If the Bible were simple to understand and easy to appropriate, then preachers, teachers and theologians would have nothing to do and there could be no excuse for the spiritual and moral problems in which the world we live in finds itself!

   If we honestly search the scriptures and live honestly in our own time and not in some other, we are likely to discover something new or hear something old afresh. Maybe we could come to appreciate the truth in the title of one of Marcus Borg’s most popular books entitled: Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time.  I’ve used part of that title in church. When I invite the congregation’s attention to the reading of God’s word I have said, “Like that old Kellogg’s corn flakes commercial … hear it again for the very first time.”  04.19.2015

Dr. Rick Baggett is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore (the church with the bells) and can be reached at: rbgoodnews@yahoo.com




April 2, 2015, 9:12 AM

Christ is Risen!

Christ is Risen!

 

   Some years back, following the Easter Service, I was standing in the Narthex greeting people. A little dark-haired girl, full of joy, looked up at me and said, “Christos anesti!” As a member of a Greek Orthodox family, she was saying: “Christ is risen!  This, of course, is what Easter is all about. Not Easter parades and egg hunts. Not butterflies and bunnies and new bonnets.  Resurrection! The resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Read the accounts in the latter part of each of the four Gospels. There is a growing passion in the narrative. Those who loved our Lord best knew that He had risen. At first, there was fear, then a growing certainty and wonder.  The witnesses fairly burst with excitement over the good news. Frightened disciples became bold witnesses ready to live and die for their faith. Because of the resurrection, we have the “march of eleven men” through history and the Church of the living Christ.

   Years ago there was a great meeting in Russia on Easter Day. A commissar defied anyone to speak a word for the Christian faith.  A tall, gaunt Russian in homespun clothes, arose and slowly made his way to the platform.  A hush came over the vast assembly. He stood for a moment looking at the people.  Then he spoke three words: “He is risen!”  The response was like thunder: “He is risen indeed!”

 

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!

Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!




March 24, 2015, 10:00 AM

Water to Wine or A Good Marriage

 

 

Water to Wine

Or

A Good Marriage

 

   One day when Jesus was around 30 years old, He and His friends showed up at a wedding. Weddings in Israel typically lasted seven days. I have had the joy of being a part of those types of weddings! Have you ever been part of a wedding that lasted about a week? In Jesus’ day, not unlike today, families were known to invite large numbers of people, sometimes entire villages.

   The rabbis use to say that God’s attendance at Adam and Eve’s nuptials demonstrated the importance of weddings. Rabbis would even suspend their school so disciples could attend weddings.  And it was good and right to have so much food and drink at weddings that there would be leftovers.

   I like the way Jesus connects marriage to creation (Matthew 19:4-6). In Genesis, God is making creation good by separating; He separates the light from the darkness, the dry land from the sea, the heavens from the earth. But, with the man and the woman, God takes what was separate and joins them. And so Jesus says “… what God has joined together, let no one separate.” So, Jesus says what God has joined … let no one separate. To marry is to enter into an act of divine creation. Marriage is understood to be a spiritual reality … not just an economic or social institution.

   Walter Wangerin, in his book As for Me and My House, wrote, “Marriage begins with a promise. A man and a woman stand in a church or a chapel or a backyard before each other, before witnesses, and before Almighty God. They make a vow. They say a promise. They give their word. That’s what a marriage is built on!” A promise freely offered, fully embraced, joyfully witnessed, painstakingly kept … that’s what makes a marriage!

   Well, why say all of this? You have just read part of my homily which I will share next weekend in Columbia, South Carolina. I will be officiating at the wedding of one of my best friend’s son’s wedding. Weddings are fun and wonderful events! But the living out of those vows in the warp and woof of life is what makes a good marriage! Have you been a part of one of those week-long weddings? This might qualify for one.  03.22.2015

Dr. Rick Baggett is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore (the church with the bells) and can be reached at: rbgoodnews@yahoo.com




March 16, 2015, 11:00 AM

Geology, Science, Education, and Faith


Geology,  Science, Education,

And Faith

 

   Somebody asked Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment?” Jesus quoted what was given in the Old Testament, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6: 4-5). But Jesus made an amendment in the Matthew version of this statement: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Have you ever thought about that … loving God with your mind?

   I would suggest that to love God with your mind begins with being curious about God. You may go weeks months, or even years without ever wondering, “Is there Somebody who made this world? What’s He like?”  For the followers of Jesus, from the earliest days up to today, loving God with “all your mind” meant even more. They and we believe Jesus taught that God created everything, that God thought everything up!  So, anytime we learn something that’s true, anytime we learn about how creation works or even about math, geology, science or faith, we are actually thinking God’s thoughts after Him.

   What has me thinking about all of this are some thoughts I have shared recently with a brilliant geologist. Actually this gentleman and I have met every Tuesday morning for about six months sharing thoughts about his vocation, education, and, faith experiences. (We also spent a lot of time talking about hunting, motorcycle riding, fly fishing and grandchildren.) He knew me as a pastor and church leader and never held it against me.

    I was invited to the Ardmore Geological Society (AGS) monthly dinner meetings and he knew that I enjoyed the fellowship as much as learning about the igneous that are dominated by mafic (low-silica) and felsic (high-silica) flows and intrusions, with few examples of intermediate igneous rocks. (Please, don’t be impressed … I got that out of a geology magazine I was given.) But, when asked if I had learned anything from the presenter at one of our dinner meetings, I said, “It was organic chemistry and probability and statistics that aimed me toward religion.”

   You might have noticed that in a couple of paragraphs up, I went from the present tense to the past tense when talking about my geologist friend. Recently, I officiated at his funeral. He is one of those people who came into my life and left too soon! He will be missed, I know, by his family … but also by the entire geological community. In a worship service that celebrated his life, this man was remembered by people in his chosen profession from all over the country.  This pastor gives thanks that Tom Olsen allowed me a few moments in his life; and now he has graduated to the Church Triumphant.

Dr. Rick Baggett is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore (the church with the bells) and can be reached at: rbgoodnews@yahoo.com

 




February 2, 2015, 12:00 AM

Souper Bowl of Caring

 

Souper Bowl of Caring

 

   Many churches of various flavors today will be participating in what has come to be known as the Souper Bowl of Caring. It is always done on Super Bowl Sunday and usually it’s the youth groups that stand at the doors with pots and pans from the church’s kitchen to receive an offering on this championship game day. All of the monies collected go to local Soup Kitchens and I, for one, believe it’s a marvelous way to show our support for our soup kitchen!

   I know there are many people who care less about the Super Bowl and probably feel the same about football in general! I’m not one of those. My personal library is full of books written by professional football coaches who write about taking multi-millionaire athletes and how they mold them into a team. That kind of reading inspires me and I try to make the bridge between what these coaches say and how I try to lead a congregation, and more importantly, the leadership team.

   Lou Holtz is still my favorite and I think I have most everything he has written! He was a great coach! More importantly, he was a great builder of men who would go on to productive lives as husbands, fathers, business men and most any endeavor in life one would travel!

   In Coach Holtz’s book titled: The Fighting Spirit, about his first championship season at Notre Dame, he talks, in Chapter 5, about building a successful life day by day. He ends that chapter with this poem titled “The Builder.”

 

                        I saw a group of men in my hometown.

                        I saw a group of men tearing a building down.

                        With a heave and a ho and a mighty yell,

                        They swung a beam and the sidewalk fell.

                        And I said to the foreman, “Are these men skilled,’

                        The type you’d hire if you wanted to build?”

                        And he laughed and said, “Why, no indeed.”

                        He said, “Common labor’s all I need.

                        For I can tear down in a day or two

                        What it took a builder ten years to do.”

                        And I thought to myself as I walked away,

                        “Which of these roles am I going to play?

                        Am I the type that constantly tears down

                        As I make my way, foolishly, around?

                        Or am I the type that’s trying to build with care,

                        In hopes that my organization’ll be glad I was there?”

   I hope you will participate in Souper Bowl Sunday, and maybe, just maybe, you will also enjoy the game later this afternoon. 02.01.2015

Dr. Rick Baggett is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore (the church with the bells) and can be reached at: rbgoodnews@yahoo.com


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