Reclaiming Genuine Piety

Pastor Dale E. Austin                                                                                               Luke 18:9 – 14

Some of the most spiritual-sounding people in the world may sometimes be far from genuine. When faith becomes self-centered, all about “Jesus and me”, and there is no interest in reaching out to other to minister to their needs or to share the gospel, then the individual’s faith is flawed at best and totally false at worst.  These people may not realize it, but their inward-turned faith actually has become a form of self-worship rather than worship of God. Continue reading

There’s Still Work to Do

Pastor Dale E. Austin                                                                       Luke 3:7 – 18

Humans are masters of self-deception. We can convince ourselves of all sorts of things that aren’t really true, especially if these things are about ourselves. Continue reading

What Kind of King?

Pastor Dale E. Austin                                                                        John 18:33 – 37

As we wind up each year on the church calendar – and today is the final Sunday on that particular calendar – we generally turn to a consideration of Jesus as king. To some extent, this is quite ironic, because Jesus never referred to himself as a king. Continue reading

Tips for “Back to School” Ministries

Join us for Holy Week!

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Holy Week Schedule of Services:

            Sunday, March 29 – Palm/Passion Sunday: Services at 9:30 AM for First UMC Endicott and at 11:00 AM for Park Terrace; reciting the Passion Narrative

            Maundy Thursday, April 2Service of Holy Communion at Park Terrace Community UMC, 7:00 PM

            Good Friday, April 3­ – Service of Tenebrae (Darkness) at First UMC, Endicott, 7:30 PM; please note time of service, because of Daylight Savings Time

            Sunday, April 5 – Easter Sunday: Sunrise Service at Waterman Nature Conservancy, Hilton Rd., Apalachin, 6:30 AM.  Our churches will be joining with the Little Meadows, Apalachin, and Whittimore Hills UMCs for this service.  Breakfast will follow at Little Meadows UMC.

            Celebration of Resurrection and Life at 9:30 AM for First UMC Endicott and at 11:00 AM for Park Terrace

A Good Place to Begin

Pastor Dale E. Austin                                                                   Exodus 20:1-17

One of my favorite quotes, which I stumbled onto only a few years ago, comes from Martin Luther, the renegade German priest who kick-started the Protestant Reformation.  In a letter to a friend he laments the concept that people are simply supposed to accept, with blind devotion, whatever the Mother Church teaches them, without questioning anything.  He finds it difficult to believe in a God who would bless us with intellect, reason, and the capacity for rational thought, and then ask us to forego the use or exercise of these gifts.  It’s a wonderful insight.

All too often we stop at the words of the Scriptures, telling ourselves that everything which God wants us to know is contained there.  Continue reading

A Fresh Start

Pastor Dale E. Austin                                                       Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

 Last week we heard of God making a fresh start with Noah and his family, following the great flood.  In the following chapters of Genesis, we learn how the descendants of Noah spread over all the earth and developed cultures and languages of their own.  In time, the world is as diverse and as varied as it had been before the flood. . . . and just as corrupt.

As was the case with Noah, God looks around and finds that not everyone in the human race is corrupt.  There are pockets of virtue.  There are still those who try to be faithful.  Among them is a gentleman from a distant land, named Abram.  One day, out of the blue, God taps Abram on the shoulder and asks him, “How would you feel about moving?”    Continue reading

Well, That Was Interesting

Pastor Dale E. Austin                                                                   Genesis 9:8-17

 If we take the time, it can be fascinating to compare the ways in which Christians and Jews understand many of the stories in the Jewish Scriptures, what we refer to as our “Old Testament.”  We find that our understandings of the nature of God can vary considerably.  For Christians, steeped in a long tradition of “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” we tend to favor a God who never changes, and who remains constant throughout all of history and, therefore, throughout the Scriptures.  In contrast, Jews have no problem with a God who learns from experience, who may even make mistakes, but only once.  Theirs is a God who is not afraid to experiment, to dabble in trial-and-error, and to learn and grow. Continue reading

The Right Focus

Pastor Dale E. Austin                                                                                    Mark 1:1-8

Personality cults have existed as long as human beings have roamed the earth.  We easily become fixated on some charismatic individual, and soon lose sight of their message. Continue reading

Think you know Advent? Take the Advent Quiz!