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<letter sent to the congregation in November>

Dear Friends,

I am writing you with some news I prefer to deliver in person.  Since that’s not possible, this letter will have to do. After much discernment, I have decided not to renew the Stated Supply agreement for another year.  I want you to know that I love the people of the Yellow Springs church and in the community.  You have been very good to me and my family.  You are kind and good people with a terrific sense of humor.  You are committed to living out God’s love in the community, always looking for ways the church can connect.

The match here between the congregation and pastor is a good one.  Our view of life and the work of the church are compatible and I have enjoyed being around you at church, in your homes and in the community.  A pastor is fortunate to enjoy such a good relationship with their church.

My decision has to do with distance.  The drive I make three days a week from Piqua to Yellow Springs is about 92 miles round trip.  The work here is good but the time and distance make for a difficult part-time arrangement.  I feel rooted neither in Piqua nor Yellow Springs.  I was surely aware of these challenges when I accepted your call, and I believe we gave it our best efforts this year.

During my time of discernment, I received a call from the director of the YMCA in Piqua.  I had not applied for the job, but the Director said my name came up in their search for a Director for the Youth Center.  I have accepted this position to begin working full-time in January.  This is a good opportunity that permits my family to remain in Piqua and, for the first time in our marriage, to worship together and be rooted in the same church and community.  I will be involved in some teaching and possibly preaching on occasion at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Piqua but not engaged in full-time parish ministry.

The Session has already begun the process of securing temporary pastoral leadership following my departure.  This leadership in the near term will permit the Session to engage in the search for a longer term pastoral relationship.

In closing, I want to thank you for your friendship, and for welcoming my pastoral ministry among you.  I treasure the year we spent together and I will never forget you.  I am sorry we will not have more time together, but this church will carry on.  As the Apostle Paul wrote, “I thank God every time I remember you.  In my prayers for all of you, I pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this, that the One who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Please keep me in your prayers, as you will be in mine.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Joe

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  • Scary, mean things happen in the world
    • Tell somebody when you’re afraid
    • People will listen to you
    • Sometimes grownups are afraid or sad, too
  • There’s something I want you to know
    • Your family does all they can do to keep you safe
    • Your teachers, and people at your school do all they can do to keep you safe
    • In your community,
      • Firefighters, police officers, Ambulances/EMTs do all they can do to keep you safe
    • In your American, people on the ground, in the air, and at sea do all they can do to keep you safe
  • When you look around and see all the helpers you can know …
    • That even when mean or scary things happen
      • Most people love and care for each other
      • That’s why your parents help out
        • And others, people at church, at school, and in your neighborhood help out
    • God wants us to love each other and care for each other
      • Just like God loves and cares about each one of you
    • Because God created love
      • So that people care for each other
        • Even when other things are scary and mean
      • That’s how we make a difference in the world
        • And make things better
      • God loves you
        • Now look back there
          • See your family?
          • And all those other people?
          • They love you, too
          • So we can love God and love others, and love the world
            • And live as God wants us to live
            • Together: caring for each other
            • And remembering that God is love.

               

               

(When talking to children about scary things in the news, Mister Rogers says to look for the helpers)

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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 7, 2011

First Presbyterian Church of Yellow Springs

Rev. Joe Hinds

Matthew 14:22-33

 

 

  1. Way In

    My Experience

    Lifeguard Lessons: Alpine Camp, ca. 1972

    Had to find a big rock (ca. 20 lbs.) and bring it to the surface

    Very tired in the water, was afraid of drowning

    Drowning as a universal expression of helplessness

    we can all relate to fear of drowning

    going down for the last time

    “breathing” in lung-fulls of water

    Surprised to learn that many of the avid fishermen I met on Long Island, even the commercial fishermen; the ones who make their living from the heart of the sea

    were not swimmers

    some simply did not enjoy it after working all day on the water, there were others who never learned

    heard stories of falling overboard wearing heavy gear, waders filling with water

    Horrifying and touching story in the paper last week

    2 women caught in the undertow while swimming in Lake Ontario

    Literally did not believe they would make it out alive

    my own experience of Gardiner’s Bay in the boat in rough water

    You know what I mean. Open water, rough water, it’s a scary place to be

    Bridge

    Keep those in mind while we think about today’s lesson

  2. Tell the Story

    Context

    After Jesus heard of John the Baptist’s execution at the hands of Herod, he went away by boat to a quiet place.

    Sea of Galilee, Lake Gennesaret

    The crowds found Jesus

    he responded to their needs

    had compassion for them and cured their sick

    evening came, disciples asked Jesus to send the crowd away so they could buy themselves some food

    Jesus said to let them stay and give them something to eat

    A miraculous feeding

    Disciples could only find 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish

    Jesus blessed this much food, and told the disciples to start feeding the crowd

    By the time they were done everybody had enough to eat

    There were 5,000 men there, plus women and children who were not counted

    Today’s reading begins that same evening

    Dismissals after supper

    Jesus sent the disciples across the lake in the boat

    He stayed behind and dismissed the crowds

    Jesus went up the mountain (again) to pray

    Meanwhile that evening out on the boat

    Evening = not as late as night, prob. before 9 p.m.

    Boat was far from land

    Many stadia (stadi,ouj pollou.j)

    Stadium, Greek unit of measure

    about 200 meters, 650 ft.

    standard for a foot race in ancient Olympic event (stadium, name for arena)

    So the boat was far out, many stadia from land, “many” x 200 meters, and the wind was against the boat

    Boat was battered by the waves

    the storm lasted all night

    Jesus walks on the water

    Early the next morning, Jesus came walking up. On the water!

    Disciples’ reaction; terrified, thought he was a ghost, cried out in fear

    Jesus, “Take heart, it is I, do not be afraid.”

    Peter tries it

    “Lord if it’s you, get me out there on the water, too.”

    And Jesus said, “Come on out.”

    Peter started walking, but became afraid when the wind picked up

    Peter started to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me.”

    Jesus responds

    Immediately reached out his hand and caught Peter

    “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

    Jesus and Peter got back in the boat, then the wind stopped

    Everybody in the boat worshipped Jesus, saying, “Truly you are the son of God.”

  3. So What?

    The Big Idea

    The disciples recognized Jesus

    One who does miraculous things, like God does.

    As in walking on water

    When he said “It is I,” that is reminiscent of how God identified himself to Moses at the burning bush; “I am.”

    Peter speaks/acts on behalf of the others: represents their strengths and weaknesses

    Jesus said that Peter had “little faith.” This is not to say he had no faith, just not as much as he could have

    Yet this is Peter, the one upon whom Christ will build his church

    Jesus Christ, the one who gives us the assurance, even in times of great fear, that we are able to follow his ways as long as we rely on him.

    Conclusion

    Faith

    Peter had enough faith to step out of the boat in the first place

    His fear of the dangerous water overcame him, his calling out to Jesus saved him

    We need life preservers for the water

    Life jackets

    Lift us up, keep us from drowning

    Buoys

    Channel markers that show the way

    Lights

    Mark dangerous waters, rocks

    For us

    We have the faith to step out of the boat in the first place

    Yet, like Peter, our faith is still little

    And, like Peter, it is still enough to get us by for a moment

    But we need the help of Christ

    Who always reaches out to save us

    Faith is what we need for the long haul

    It took only the regular amount of faith for Peter to step out of the boat in the first place

    Yet he needed to reach out to Jesus for the journey the rest of the way

    When we decide to follow Jesus, to live as he teaches, to see him in others, and to be a living reminder of his ways of peace, community, and justice…

    We need to know his presence: seen/known in the church – the Body of Christ

    Charge: Let us be Christ for each other, supporting one another in his name along our journey of faith.

    We had enough to get us to step out of the boat in the first place

Let us look to him, finding him in others, being as Christ for others in our own journey.

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No sermon today, I was out of town.  See you next week.

Peace

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4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 30, 2011

First Presbyterian Church of Yellow Springs

Rev. Joe Hinds

 

Micah 6:1-8

What Does the Lord Require?

 

Micah 6:8 … and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

 

1. Way In

We are just meeting each other – some for the first time today

I am looking forward to getting to know you

I am already familiar with the community

Already enjoyed a couple of meals at the Tavern

I am interested to know your favorites – suggestions?

Period of familiarization

Learn each other’s personality

Take some time

Pot-luck today is a good way to start

Is Joe here to stay?

I had a good feeling since my first meeting with your PNC

Good chemistry, easily shared ideas with each other

How will Joe fit with the life and ministry of FPCYS?

I want to make the best use of my time early on

Want to get to know you

Visit you: home, work, where you hang out (eat, drink coffee, etc.)

Method

Propose some gatherings

At the church for meals

In your homes with other church folks from your neighborhood

Interested in meeting your friends who aren’t church friends

Feel free to invite them, too

2. Tell the Story

Intro

The Prophet Micah

OT Prophet

8th c. BCE

Minor Prophet

One of the 12

Nothing to do with significance

Rather with length of the book

Major Prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel,

Columbia Seminary story

For an exam

A student, given Dr. B’s emphasis on the kings of Israel

Spent most of his study time learning these

Learned their reigns and significance

Able to give these backward and forward

On the actual day of the exam

This student was mortified to find …

Only a few multiple choice questions about the kings of Israel

And the bulk of the exam was a discussion question

Name the Minor Prophets of the OT

Give their dates, and significance of these books of the Bible

This student had nothing

He could name a few of the 12

But that was about it

Made an attempt to recover…

“Dr. Brueggemann

I do not feel that it is my place to say which if these prophets are minor or major

It would be impertinent of me to make any judgement on these magnificent men of the Bible

However.

I will take some time here to share with you

about the kings of Israel

Context

Prophets

Not tellers-of-the-future

But the ones who speak out

With the words of God

Calling the people back to God’s ways

Justice-oriented

Champion of the oppressed

Corruption in leadership, worshipping other gods besides YHWH

(Chap. 1)Micah warns that Israel will be made a heap in the open country

Because of idolatry, images and idols

Micah, the prophet, frames his warnings like an arraignment of Israel for her crimes

Exegesis

The Trial, vv.1-2

scene is a court of law, “plead your case”

Israel on trial for breaking the covenant made at Sinai

The whole of creation is witness

Mountains, hills, foundations of the earth

YHWH brings complaint against Israel, “his people”

The Charges, vv. 3-5

Israel has forgotten what YHWH did for them – acts of power to show them the power of YHWH

Brought Israel up out of Egypt to redeem them from slavery

YHWH took the initiative in redemption

Provided leadership

Moses, Aaron, Miriam

Moses: leader, lawgiver

Aaron, spokesman before Pharaoh

Miriam: song leader and dancer; celebrating God’s victory at the Red Sea

These three summarize God’s gift to the Jews

Exodus from Egypt

Leaving, surviving, celebration

Stopped Balak’s scheme (Num. 22-24)

Provided save passage across the Jordan River

Left their camp at Shittim and crossed over to Gilgal

Shittim: Joshua commissioned to succeed Moses (Num. 27:23)

Israel’s defense, vv. 6-7

How can we make amends?

Although not admitting guilt, Israel is looking for a way out, a way to make things OK

Micah is clear that false worship is no replacement for justice and steadfast love

Present offerings?

Burnt offerings

Oils for anointing

Our children, firstborn

Prohibitions against child-sacrifice (Lev. 20:2-3, Deut 12:31, Ezek. 20:26, Jer. 7:31, 19:5)

Micah expands these with irony and hyperbole

“thousands of rams,” “ten thousands rivers of oil”

Micah speaks the word of God, v. 8

None of these, you know what the Lord requires

Not just empty, if not costly, offerings

God requires “simple” conversion

Do justice מִשְׁפָּט֙

Actively engaged in the redistribution of power in the world, to correct the systemic inequalities that marginalize some while others enjoy excessive comfort

learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Isaiah 1:17

“Justice, justice shall you pursue…” (Deuteronomy 16:2

Love kindness חֶ֔סֶד

Hesed: steadfast love, enduring fidelity

Walk humbly with your God

Walk in his ways

Abandon self-sufficiency, acknowledge in daily attitude and act that life is indeed derived from the reality of God (Texts for Preaching: Year A”)

These summarize the legal, liturgical, and covenantal requirements of religion

Be with God in the world, living out God’s desires for a community of justice and faithful love

3. So What?

As I said before

Micah reminds us that God is not as interested in how we worship

As how we pursue justice and steadfast love

For without these, our life of faith is empty

Sure, we may have beautiful music (which we do, here at FPC-YS)

But our music, and our worship are our celebration and praise of God

And it is all a part of our liturgy

Which comes from Greek leitourgía (λειτουργία)

The work of the people

It is our worship and fellowship in the church which

Compels us, prepares us, and sends us out

To bring about God’s kingdom in our community

So, as we get to know each other – pastor, congregation, friends

We will

learn each other’s personalities

hear each other’s stories

And that may take some time

But in the meantime …

The good news is

God has prepared for us a clear path

Do justice

Love Kindness (steadfast love)

Walk Humbly with our God

So as we are about our work

Liturgy – the work of the people

Getting to know one another – being the church

Let us never lose sight of what it is that God calls us to do

I was so proud of the community of the FPC-YS

To hear on WYSO

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Give the commencement address – here

Antioch College in 1965

And I call us to remember another address Dr. King Made

Atlanta, GA

Convention of the SCLC in 1967 marking the 10th anniv.

Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice

And so, my friends – my new friends

Our journey is just beginning

And we have some work ahead of us

And as we go

On our way

As God’s people … together

Let nothing detract us, or distract us

For this journey, our journey if faith, is just like that …

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice

And that is precisely where God is calling us

To DO justice

LOVE kindness, and

WALK humbly with our God

So let it be with us. Amen.

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Luke 8:26-39

1. Way In

Amana Radarange

one of the old ones, as big and heavy as a window air conditioner

sat on the counter of a church kitchen

let’s just say a church I previously served

ca. 1970s

somebody got a new microwave and gave the old one to the chruch

Bless their heart

isnt’t that how we do it?

I mean it had probably gone unsold at a yard sale, or 2

but it was still good…still worked..good enough for the church

so there it sat, 30-something years later

we kept it unplugged – the clock drew power

but it was there, in case anybody had to thaw something out

or heat something up real quick

like I said, it was good enough for the church

one day, I was at church, had something to warm up

cup of coffee or tea

went to the kitchen

plugged in the Amana Radarange

clock came on

set the big dial to 2 minutes, pressed the giant “start” button

nothing

no “radar waves” zapping my coffee

just blinking numbers of the digital clock

apparently the only feature of the Amana Radarange that worked

All those years, the old Amana radarange sat on the church kitchen counter

taking upo about 3 feet of counter space

with the cord wrapped tidily on top of the unit, so the clock wouldn’t draw power

all those years that the Amana radarange sat on the counter

and who knows for how many years it didn’t work

but that was it

I decided to get rid of it – the Amana Radarange that didn’t work

unplugged it – returning it to its usual state of idleness

lugged it across the kitchen and set it by the back door

…where we put the trash to go out

I went back to the kitchen

lit an eye on the 8-burner gas range

to heat up some water for instant coffee

by now I was determined to get coffee

waiting for the water to boil

looking for a spoon,

I noticed how many drawers and doors I had to open

before I found a coffee cup and a spoon

I had an idea:

went to my office to get my label-maker

came back and labeled the cabinets and drawers

“forks, plates, spoons, cups, glasses,” etc.

left the church kitchen eventually that afternoon, I was satisfied

finally got my coffee

got rid of the Amana Radarange and opened up nearly 4 feet of much-needed counter space

labeled drawers and cabinets to find stuff easier

Left the church for the day, still with that satisfaction of having organized the kitchen

The next morning, I arrived at the church. Guiess what?

my labels were gone

the Amana Radarange was back in its place on the counter

it was unplugged – because the clock draws power

Leanred 2 thaings that day

Don’t mess with the church kitchen

What seems like a s new option to one

might seem like scary chaos to somebody else

even restoration can seem scary

2. Tell The Story

Today’s reading picks up at the end of the boat ride where Jesus calms the storm

J. and the disciples arrive in “the country of the Gerasenes”

a.k.a. Gadarenes

Gadara, off the SE shore of Sea of Galilee

Luke says, it’s opposite of the region of Galilee

Jesus and the “Gerasene Demoniac”

right as Jesus steps off the boat

met by a man who had demons – he was quite a sight

he was naked

did not live in a house, but among the tombs

kept in chains and shackles

sometimes he escaped, and the demons would drive him into the wild

When the possessed man saw Jesus, he:

fell down before J.

shouting at the top of his lungs

“What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?

Please don’t torture me”

Jesus and the demon (Legion)

Jesus asked the demon its name

Legion – for there were many demons in him

demons seemed to know what they were up against with Jesus

begged Jesus not to send them back to the abyss

begged him instead to let them enter the large herd of pigs feeding nearby

So they did

demons left the man and entered the pigs

the possessed herd of pigs ran down the steep bank

into the lake

and drowned

The peoples’ response

swineherds

saw what happened

ran and told the people in the city and in the country

the people came to see Jesus

found the formerly possessed man with him

“clothed and in his right mind”

And they were afraid

they heard how Jesus healed the man and they were afraid

all the people of the surrounding country were so afraid they asked Jesus to leave them

So Jesus got into the boat and returned (to Galilee)

the man begged to go with him

but Jesus sent him away

“Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you”

so he went away proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him

3. So What?

Review the actions

the person from the town was possessed by a demon

powerless over the demon, no control over his own behavior

left him isolated and unhappy

Jesus named the demon

wanted to know what he was up against

Jesus exorcised the demon, released the man’s shackles

The rest of the people were afraid

of the demons? No! they were gone

afraid of Jesus, asked him to leave them

why were they afraid?

got the spirit world all riled up? No.

afraid Jesus was destroying their economy

her of pigs had been their livelihood

even though there was a demon-possessed madman among them before, they seemed to like it better that way

self-centered

what about the possessed man?

Jesus told the man he healed to “Go Tell IT on the Mountain”

Man wanted to go with Jesus

not eager to go back and live among the people

previous behavior may have “strained” their relationship

but Jesus told him to go home and tell about how much GOD has done for you

For us …

Demon possession?

haven’t seen anybody around here possessed

running around ranting and naked

so that they had to be chained up

screaming and hollering

although it sounds a little like bath time or bedtime at the Hinds house …

on the occasions that these are not activities in which a certain 6-year-old wishes to engage

but can we think of a habit or addiction that begins to take us over

something over which we seem to have no control

rather it seems to control us

often makes us think of drugs or alcohol – which are powerful addictions to be sure

but maybe we think, “these aren’t my addictions, so this doesn’t pertain to me.”

makes me think about an addiction I suffered and struggled with – when I used to smoke cigarettes

even though there were times I denied being addicted, “I can quit when I’m ready”

I really was out of control with smoking

made me sneak around to smoke

even as an adult, didn’t’ want people to know – specially in the late 90s when everyplace was becoming so anti-smoking

pitiful sight, putting my fan in the window in seminary dorm

sitting there blowing the smoke out

remember one night sharing this with my neighbors

thought it was new info for them

laughed, upstairs and next-door neighbors smelled it every night

just couldn’t seem to not smoke

until 12/17/01 – heart attack

not going to ask anybody to raise their hands

but can you relate to a habit, tendency, maybe even an addiction

something that leaves you feeling isolated and unhappy

WHICH YOU FEEL POWERLESS TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT – THIS AREA OF YOUR LIFE SEEMS UNMANAGEABLE

Naming it helps

Jesus knew what he was doing

naming it

knowing what we’re up against

helps us fight it – struggle against it

even more so when we can name it to others

strep to recovery/healing is admitting to ourselves and to others

As we become healed others may be afraid or at least nervous

if others are being healed what’s their excuse, now?

afraid to take difficult steps – it can make us vulnerable

sometimes our addictions, or our demons are embarrassing to name, difficult to say out loud

I may be addicted, but I don’t mind it

delusional thinking by me as a smoker

it’s not hurting anybody but me, it’s my business

Wrong! deadly effects of second-hand smoke

not to mention the smell

in the air and on the clothes of those around

“…all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.” (John 3:20)

The moment Jesus appears, the dark powers which have come to control the man in our story begin to cry out.

when you get right down to it, maybe it’s better if Jesus just goes away and takes all this healing, reformation, freeing with him

we’re okay, really, with how we are

So when we take the risk

acknowledge when these demons cause our life to be out of control and ourselves as powerless over them

and when we name our demons

inviting the power of Christ and the community of faith into our recovery

we do just that – start getting better

but sometimes it ruffles some feathers

a reminder of what has been changed

maybe a reminder to some that they, too can be changed

even a temptation to go back to old ways

And accept the call of Christ

to claim our healing/transformation

and go and tell others where it came from

as we name our demons and claim the way of the light of Christ

may we proclaim his saving love for the sake of others

and the power of naming the demons and being freed from their shackles

So may it be …

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Old Sunday School photos of congregants and today’s children proclaimed the good news of God’s transforming love. No sermon needed from me.

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