“Lord, speak”. 1 Samuel 3:10

Pastor Tom’s Weekly Blog.                           “Listen”                        I Samuel 3:1-11

July 7, 2020

“Speak, for your servant is listening.”

I Samuel 3:10

There are many voices that speak to us on a daily basis; friends, family, supervisors, social media and news outlets just to name a few. Then there is the medical community, the legal community, wellness voices and fitness gurus that speak to us on how to better our lives emotionally and physically. Each voice represents an important part of life and is part of our story. Yet seemingly the most difficult voice to hear in the midst of the cacophony of voices is the voice of God, the most important and foundational voice that truly does speak to us on a daily basis. How does God speak and how do we respond to God’s voice in the midst of the others?  In the days of Samuel, the Bible says that the “word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.” (I Samuel 3:1) Maybe God’s Word was not as rare as it would appear but perhaps God’s word was forgotten in the midst of so many others that commanded the attention of the people. The Letter of James says that we are to be,” quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger…” (James 1:19). Sometimes words we want to hear the least are the most important; God’s Word enters our lives when we are so busy hearing other voices we do not take the time just to listen for God’s call to us. God is really good about messing up the status quo, breaking through the commotion of our day to offer something profoundly different; we just need to take the time to listen. God’s voice speaks in the majesty of creation and at the bedside of sick. God’s voice speaks through melodious voices and those who can’t seem to find the right note. God’s voice speaks through the grand orators of our day as well as through those with difficulty finding the appropriate words. God’s word comes at convenient times but most times it comes at the most inopportune times yet times we need it the most. The prophets of old spoke God’s words to a people too busy to listen; the modern day prophets also speak God’s words to a people pre-occupied with so many other things in their lives except the mighty Word of God. God created with a word (see Genesis chapter 1) and redeemed with the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us in Jesus the Christ. God’s prophetic voice is alive and well today, we just need to listen.   The call of the church today, as it was for Samuel, is the rekindling of the fire of grace that dwells in every heart; the voice of God needs not only to be heard but listened to and set in motion by our witness to others. Of the many lessons of this season of pandemic, the one that calls each of us to slow down enough to listen to God’s calling is perhaps the most important. God is speaking to you, right now, no matter where you find yourself in life; it is a voice of transformation, grace, mercy, and peace. It is a voice of comfort and of joy. Take time to listen; God is still speaking, more clearly than ever before.  

Rev. Tom Joyce, pastor

Fields United Methodist Church

“Peace, Now” John 14:25-27

Pastor Tom’s Weekly Blog.                   “Peace, Now”                         John 14:25-27

July 1, 2020

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”

John 14:27

What is the peace of Christ?  Defining peace in terms of the gift Jesus gives needs to begin with what it is not; it is not a treaty based on human terms.  The peace of Christ is not part of a process of negotiation.  The peace of Christ is not given once demands are met.  The peace of Christ rises above earthly demands and is based purely on the amazing grace of God offered through Jesus Christ; it is the starting point and the very presence of Christ dominating every facet of our existence, seeing, experiencing and sharing the love God has for all people.  The peace of Christ is not freedom from war, poverty, violence, hatred, or anything else that separates one from another, but rather the peace offered by Christ is the freedom that comes with the certainty that in the midst of the challenges of our day, Jesus the Christ walks with us and offers not only hope but wisdom to overcome all those things that separate one from another. True freedom was bought on Calvary through the cross of Jesus and the resultant peace offers life dominated by a worldview that is out of this world! The morning is an amazing time; the world awakens to a new day with fresh ideas and the privilege of soaking in all that God has given to all people; a morning perspective experiences a peace that captures the optimism of a life offered filled with the abundance of the love of God with the only demands attached is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. When peace stirs in our soul it is like the birth of a new day, filled with hope, grace and the ability to see the world as Jesus sees the world, filled with the abundance of love for all humanity that gave birth to the heavens and the earth.   There is hope for today because there is Jesus, alive and well in the world making all things new; it is a new day and worth celebrating with every breath. True peace comes only from God, who “so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Maybe it is time to live the peace of Christ and through this peace there will be transformation that is everlasting. Bottom line; the peace of Christ is the presence of God’s love emblazoned upon the hearts of all people.   “May the Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face shine upon you; The Lord lift his countenance upon you, and give you PEACE.”  Amen and amen.

Rev. Tom Joyce, pastor

Fields United Methodist Church

The Eternal Gift Acts 3:1-10

Pastor Tom’s Weekly Blog.                         “The Eternal Gift”                          Acts 3:1-10

June 23, 2020

“I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give to you.”

Acts 3:6

Shortly after the Day of Pentecost, Peter and John gave a gift to a man they did not know. The gift wasn’t neatly wrapped nor was it in a bag with a nice nametag; it was the gift of God’s grace. In the story, the man was healed and was able to walk and certainly that was a precious gift to be sure but the eternal gift was what made him give praise and glory to God.  Peter and John could have judged the man or labeled him as just another beggar, but they did not, they gave something far more valuable than even silver and gold; they offered what they received from Jesus, life eternal. For me grace is not just a line to use nor a prayer before a meal, it is the sharing of the amazing love of God to another with every statement, thought, word, and deed.  Grace has a way of changing the conversation, from vindictive to affirmative; from condemning to commending; from self-centered to self-less. The man Peter and John healed had an expectation of what he would receive or deserved to receive yet grace is about transcending human expectation to experience the love of God that cures the sin-sick soul, the release of the captives, and the opportunity to live a new life in the abundance of all that Jesus offers.  We all have been offered grace upon grace not only to celebrate Jesus in our own lives but most importantly offering the same opportunity to another child of God.  Grace is not about justifying our own ideas but rather seeking to understand and be in relationship with those we do not understand.  It is only by God’s grace that Peter had the faith to say, “I have no silver and gold, but what I have I give to you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” May we have the same boldness in faith and with grace witness eternal life to all people with joy.  One of my favorite prayers that offers me strength is the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi;

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  Amen” We have been given a gift far more valuable than silver and gold; we have been given an opportunity to share that gift with joy to all people. The sharing of God’s grace is needed now more than ever in the history of the world; you have the gift that needs to be shared; may each of us be the “instrument” of God’s peace and grace to the world. Thank you Jesus for the privilege of sharing your healing grace to everyone.

Rev. Tom Joyce, pastor

Fields United Methodist Church