All posts by pastorcbailey

Year of Scripture – James

Reading for:
Day 355 – Saturday, December 21

As a Lutheran Pastor, I’ve got to deal with the obvious . . . If you know anything about Martin Luther, than you have probably heard that Luther commonly called James “the epistle of straw.” Luther didn’t like James. He didn’t feel it was worthy of being included in the Bible. He disagreed with it’s theology, and thought it was rather pointless of a reading/writing.

Why would Luther feel such a way?

The simple answer revolves around the three “Sola’s”. These Latin pharases, “Sola Scriptura”, “Sola Gratia”, and “Sola Fide” translate accordingly to by Scripture Alone, by Grace Alone, and by Faith Alone.” For many these three statements define the heart and mind of Luther, and it certainly reflects well Paul’s words to the Ephesians, “You are saved by grace through faith.” However, James challenges that thought process by including this little thing called “works.”

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”
(James 2:14-17)

You can see where one may struggle with this. However lets be clear, works alone do not provide the means to salvation. Only Jesus can do that! This is where Luther struggled with James. However, I believe James makes a valid point, works are important, because they are an expression of our faith. If we are living out our baptismal covenant, Faith calls us to action to care for the least of these. That is our “work” as James would remind us. Simply saying “I believe” is not enough, but sharing our faith in our actions and care for one another is our moral obligation as followers of Jesus Christ.

So lets get to work in the name of Christ!

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Year of Scripture – Hebrews

Readings for:
Day 352 – Wednesday, December 18: Hebrews 1 – 6
Day 353 – Thursday, December 19: Hebrews 7 – 10
Day 354 – Friday, December 20: Hebrews 11 – 13

I can hear Harriet say, “Now Pastor, you know the Bible is very clear on who is supposed to make the morning coffee!” “It is?” I would reply and she would start laughing. “Of course, it does . . . He – Brews!”

Harriet was a beloved church lady at my last call in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and she was always full of whit and humor. Yet always filled with a deep and sincere passion for our Lord. Unfortunate for me, but a blessing for her, God called her home while I was serving there and we had a wonderful celebration of life, filled in with her whit and humor.

As I think of Harriet and her passion, Hebrews comes to mind as it is full of passion and love for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. From its opening words:

“Long ago, God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he as spoke to us bay a Son!”
(Hebrews 1:1-2a)

Much like the eloquent words to the beginning of the Gospel of John, the unknown author writes beautiful words that connect Jesus Christ, to the ancient of days through the Order of Melchizedek. Now you may be asking, “who is that?” Over and over again, the Letter to the Hebrews refers back to this peculiar named priest, but know this isn’t the first time we’ve heard his name. Look back with me to Genesis 14:

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,

And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine;
he was priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said:
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.
And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
(Genesis 14-18-20)

Long ago . . . Hebrews starts out, and we are connected to the first priest of God. Little mentioned. Little reflected upon. Still important to the story as Abram is blessed by God through Melchizedek. A blessing that is then poured out to us through Christ who is the completion of the line of priest. Christ is the perfection of everything God created, and through the cross we are forever united into the priesthood of all believers.

I know it’s complicated. Still it’s beautiful!

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Year of Scripture – Philemon

Reading for:
Day 351 – Tuesday, December 17: Philemon

There is no way to skirt around this. There is no hiding the obvious. There is no easy way to hide the fact that in order to read and understand Philemon we are going to have to deal with slavery.

Now that that is out of the way, let me add, I am not a proponent of slavery. It is an unfortunate dark stain in the history of our country, and a horrible reflection of the world especially in our ability to mutually care and respect one another. It saddens me that in some circles and black markets of the world slavery and indentured servant-hood still exists. As a basic God given gift, we were all created equal in God’s image, and we all should be working hard to end what should have ended years ago.

That being said, in order to understand Paul’s urgency in writing Philemon, we have to ask the question, “If you were a slave owner, and one of your slaves ran away, who may have physically stolen or harmed you in some way shape or form in their flight, what would you do upon their return?” Not an easy question to ask. Not an easy question an answer, and chances are if we were going to answer truthfully, we probably wouldn’t be overly kind to them upon their return.

With that mindset, we now insert Paul’s letter. Treat him as a “beloved brother” (v. 16) for I have become like a “father” (v. 10) to him, and he is one with us “in the flesh and in the Lord.” (v. 16) Ahh . . . great words. You can only wonder if they worked. I pray that Onesimus was welcomed as warmly as Paul encourages Philemon to act. Paul then goes on to promise to repay Philemon for any “wrongs” that Onesimus has done, and to ready a guest room for Paul is soon to visit.

For me, this is one of those letters that makes you want more. What happened next? What is the story beyond the story? We do know that Onesimus plays a roll throughout Paul’s travels and is referred to several different times. So he’s a key part of the growth of the early church. More importantly, this letter reminds us, that we are all created one in the eyes of God. We are all called to treat one another as sisters and brothers in faith. As Paul writes in Galatians, no longer are we defined as slave or free, male or female, young or old. Or as the children’s song would have us sing, “red, yellow, black, white, we are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Even as we begin a new year, may you remember to love all God’s children, as God loves us!

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Happy New Year!

We made it to 2020! Honestly, I’m still waiting for the day when we are living like the Jetson’s. In my youth, watching the morning cartoons, I thought maybe by 2020 we’d be there. Great stuff of dreams, and my son said, “Dad that’s for 2100.” I’ll never see it, but maybe his dreams will come true!

So as we start a new year together, what is the biggest news? We made it through a Year of Scripture! I know Christmas got me bogged down and I didn’t finish posting but I will, I promise. Even though I didn’t blog every day, I made time to open my app and share my own personal time of reflection with God. I even took a screen shot to show a perfect streak! And the verse for the day, seemed fitting. “Everything beautiful.”

So the question is now what? We’ll I’m hoping to do a few different things.

One . . . to keep up with my daily reading. The You Version App has plenty of different reading plans, which Wendy and I are going to pick and share together. Right now we are working on a six day plan on “Making a better us.” Hopefully, together we can continue to read and grow in love and relationship with one another and with God.
Two – I’m hoping to keep up with my Blog, and to use is as a sermon summary, or sermon starter. I Know many of you faithful readers aren’t here on Sunday and may appreciate so of my “other thoughts” that go in to Sunday’s Message. Perhaps it will be a good Sunday – Monday connection that we all need.

In the mean time, I’m going to finish sharing my thoughts on the last few books of the New Testament and close out the Year of Scripture. Then we’ll see how the Sunday Connection thing shakes out.

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Blessed Christmas

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 
(Luke 2:8-18)

From our family to yours,
a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

God’s Blessings!
The Bailey’s

Pastor, Wendy, John, Andrew and Grover

Year of Scripture – Pastoral Epistles

Readings for:
Day 349 – Sunday, December 15: I Timothy
Day 350 – Monday, December 16: II Timothy
Day 351 – Tuesday, December 17: Titus

In order to become ordained and serve as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) I had to undergo a lot of education and faith formation. Even with nearly 18 years in the ministry I can recall:

  • 4 years of undergraduate at the University of Cincinnati, where I received a BA in Sociology.
  • 2 years of MIC (Ministry in Context) which I did at the Campus Ministry at Ohio State University, under the guidance of Pastor David Hill.
  • 1 year of internship at St. Mark’s Lutheran in Yorktown VA, under the guidance of Pastor Gary Erdos.
  • 3 years of education at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, (now a part of Capital University) where I received an M.Div.
  • Social and Psychological evaluations
  • 3 months as a Hospital Chaplin which I did at Grant Medical Center in downtown Columbus,
  • I’ve learned Greek, Hebrew, Latin. Studied intensively many books of the Bible, and had to write my own Systematic Theology Papers.
  • Along with a variety of interviews, essays, papers, and exams as part of the synod Candidacy Process.

Needless to say, I’ve got the years of education and training equivalent to many of the doctors you may be making appointments with as the winter crud continues to plague many this time of year. Needless to say, it’s a long and tedious process, and a process that Paul, Timothy and Titus didn’t have.

As the early church was filled with the Holy Spirit and quickly began to grow, move, and challenge the world, pastor’s were need. Leaders were needed, and they were needed quickly. Who is fit? Who is God calling? How are they to be used and serve the church? To answer that question, Paul writes these three letters to Timothy and Titus, which are often linked together as the “Pastoral Epistles.” Why, because throughout them, Paul gives guidance on who may be called to serve and the type of life they should life. These three letters would have been a crash course in theological training 2000 years ago.

Now some 2000 years later, it’s a bit more complex than reading and agreeing with Paul. Which in some way is unfortunate because many of the hurtles I had to jump through may very well be steering people away from faithful ministry. That being the case, ministry is still a calling worth considering! Most days it is a wonderful blessing, and those few challenging days, God gives constant guidance and wisdom. So ask yourselves, how is God calling you to minister out into the world?

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Upcoming Readings:
Day 352 – Wednesday, December 18: Hebrews 1 – 6
Day 353 – Thursday, December 19: Hebrews 7 – 10
Day 354 – Friday, December 20: Hebrews 11 – 13
Day 355 – Saturday, December 21: James
Day 356 – Sunday, December 22: 1 Peter
Day 357 – Monday, December 23: 2 Peter

Year of Scripture – Thessalonians

Today’s Readings:
Day 347 – Friday December 13: I Thessalonians
Day 348 – Saturday, December 14: II Thessalonians

There was one thing that caught my attention as I read through I & II Thessalonians, which came at the close of the second letter:

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand.
This is the mark in every letter of mine; it is the way I write.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.”

Think of you signature on the bottom of a page. Scrawled out in your own hand. Unique in your own way. Paul did much the same. He signed his letters, which were probably written by someone else, transcribing his thoughts and putting words to ink and paper. While not theologically significant, Paul wanted his readers to know these were his words. This is mine, so I sign it in my own hand.

Peace,
Pastor Bailey

Upcoming Readings:
Day 349 – Sunday, December 15: I Timothy
Day 350 – Monday, December 16: II Timothy
Day 351 – Tuesday, December 17: Titus & Philemon
Day 352 – Wednesday, December 18: Hebrews 1 – 6
Day 353 – Thursday, December 19: Hebrews 7 – 10
Day 354 – Friday, December 20: Hebrews 11 – 13
Day 355 – Saturday, December 21: James
Day 356 – Sunday, December 22: 1 Peter
Day 357 – Monday, December 23: 2 Peter