Faith Words

Can You Hear Me Now?

Posted by on Jan 27, 2015 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith
Rev. Rita S. Platt
January 18, 2015
“Can You Hear Me Now?”

 1 Samuel 3:1-10

When we see the title of today’s message most of us think of a Verizon wireless slogan. Your mind may create a vivid image of the man with the hardhat. He’s in multiple scenes, in a variety of terrains, always asking the same question, “Can you hear me now?”   It’s hard to believe that the slogan started in 2002. Cell phones were becoming a part of most of our lives and they weren’t always the most efficient ways to communicate.

It was the beginning of the 2002 appointment season and I knew I would be moving. The move would occur quickly.  I had been in Johnstown for 9 years when one of the churches in the 6 member cooperative had closed. The District was putting in funds until an appointment became available; it was clear that the situation could not occur indefinitely. 

 It was a winter day when the cabinet set my appointment. Jaime Potter-Miller called me as she drove from Cranberry to Johnstown. I was ready, had my tablet and apen was in my hand; there would be important details conveyed. Finally the phone rang. Not once and not twice but 4 times she tried to tell me the details and before she could  get the information out, the call dropped. I finally heard the details when she arrived home. That was the longest 3 hours of my life!  

I was expecting to hear her voice, but the mountains and valleys of the District Superintendent’s commute made it impossible. 

Samuel wasn’t expecting to hear God’s voice.   

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Wading into the Water

Posted by on Jan 27, 2015 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith
Rev. Rita S. Platt
January 11, 2015
“Wading into the Water”

Genesis 1:1-5, Mark 1:4-11

Today is the day that we acknowledge and celebrate the Baptism of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.   Baptism is a sacrament in the United Methodist Church and is not something that we take lightly; our baptism is a very important step in our life. In the United Methodist Church we practice three modes of baptism: sprinkling, pouring or immersion – whichever is preferred by the person being baptized. We also baptize infants as well as those who are old enough to make a profession of faith on their own in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As United Methodists we also accept the Baptisms that were performed in other Christian denominations. We do not re-baptize; we acknowledge that once is enough.  We do re-affirm our baptismal covenant, and we do have services that allow us to remember our baptism from time to time.

So why have I taken so much time explaining our view of the sacrament? Well, simply put, not everyone in the Christian community has the same understanding. The truth is that at times it can become heated.

  • I’ve had someone tell me I shouldn’t baptize an infant. I tell them Jesus said to His disciples “Suffer the little children and let them come to me.”
  • I’ve had them tell me that Jesus was immersed because the scripture says “He came up out of the water” I believe that verse could also mean that he came up out of the water onto dry land. I also know that some scholars and historians believe that the Jordan River would have only been about 7 inches deep at the time and place that Jesus was baptized.
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Go Home Another Way

Posted by on Jan 27, 2015 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith
Rev. Rita S. Platt
January 4, 2015
“Go Home Another Way”

Matthew 2:1-12

Epiphany is a celebration of the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles – the wise men from the east coming as non-Jews, to bow down and worship the infant Jesus, bringing with them their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The story is shrouded in mystery. From tradition we know every detail and all the facts; but, if we follow the Biblical account, we know very little. There are lots of unanswered questions – how many were there – don’t know; where did they come from – don’t know; how long did they travel – don’t know.

They showed up mysteriously and then, just as mysteriously, they are gone. So with all that mystery and lack of detail what can we say about them?

 And the magi, having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, left for their own country by another road. ~ Matthew 2:12

These words capture the spirituality of Epiphany—”going home by another road.”

Eventually, all of us take routes that we had never expected to travel, whether these involve changes in employment, health, relational, or economic status. When life forces us from the familiar highway onto an uncharted path, we are challenged to travel on another road. The path is seldom easy, but within the real limitations of life, we may discover unexpected possibilities for vocation, mission, and transformation. Celtic pilgrims often went to sea in tiny boats, coracles, sailing forth without a rudder. They trusted that God would guide them. They believed that amid the winds and waves, there was a guiding force luring them toward holiness and wholeness.  This is our hope, too, as we journey on our own uncharted paths, often with nothing more than prayer to guide us.

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Giving Your Treasure Back to God

Posted by on Nov 1, 2014 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith
Rev. Rita S. Platt
October 19, 2014
“Giving Your Treasure Back to God “ (Treasures, part 3)

Matthew 6:1-6

Sometimes you’ll get the chance to be part of something bigger than yourself. Your name may not be mentioned and you may not hoist the trophy on the stage; but as the confetti falls, you will know that you played a role. It won’t matter that you’re not getting the glory; the glory is in knowing that you were a part of it.

I felt that way last week at the CROP Walk. As we prepared to begin our walk it was announced that as of that morning $7,100 had been pledged in on-line gifts. I thought about the pledges  that were  being turned in that day. It struck me that I was a part of something so much larger. Our local walk supports the global work of Church World Service and it benefits 2 local programs: Wilkinsburg Community Ministry and East End Cooperative Ministry. As we walked – as many of you contributed – we were touching the lives of people, most of whom we would never meet.

It is a powerful thing to know that my life can play a role bigger than me.

I am going to say two words, one at a time. As I say each word, what is the first thought that comes to your mind?

Ready. . .?

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The Problem With Two Masters

Posted by on Nov 1, 2014 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith
Rev. Rita S. Platt
October 12, 2014
“The Problem With Two Masters” (Treasures, part 2)

Matthew 6: 24

Perhaps you have seen the license plates that show the phrase “A House Divided,” accompanied by the logos of two rival college football teams…like Pitt  and Penn State. That rivalry has been dormant since 2000, but will be renewed with the 2016 to 2019 schedule.

This phrase often reminds people of Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech in 1858. Lincoln was speaking about a nation divided on the issue of slavery. What many people don’t know is that the line was not unique to Lincoln but that instead Lincoln was quoting Jesus.

Jesus said, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” (Mark 3:24-25 NRSV).

Jesus is telling us, in other words, that competing allegiances in a kingdom, a house, or a heart will lead to destruction. Division leads to war in which either there is constant strife or one side wins out.

Last week we were challenged to consider where we are investing our hearts. Our homework was to pay attention to where we spend our time, money, and energy. In other words, where our hearts are invested. To accomplish this task you probably examined your budget or our calendar.

We were also challenged to make a list of our top ten priorities – a vehicle that might help us align those priorities is to review – or create – a personal mission statement.  You may have discovered this task is quite challenging because we have to wade through so much stuff.  I invite you to come to the adult forum because we are going to talk about that task.

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Where Is Your Treasure?

Posted by on Nov 1, 2014 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith
Rev. Rita S. Platt
October 5, 2014
“Where Is Your Treasure?” (Treasures, part 1)

Matthew 6:19-21

A pilot came on the intercom of his plane: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I have good news and bad. The bad news is that we’re lost. But, the good news is that we’re making excellent time!”  Some people don’t stop and ask directions when they’re lost, they just speed up… The Bible encourages us to check the map of God’s Word to see if we’re still on the right road.

That’s what we are going to be doing in the month of October.  We are going to stop and check the map.

Do you ever feel that the things you value and love get the least of your time, attention and money?  If you answer “yes” to that question you are not alone.  Many of us can answer yes to that question.   Our lives are filled with so much “stuff.”

It is important to set aside time to examine that “stuff” that is taking up our time, attention and money.

There is 2.3 billion square feet of rentable self-storage space in the United States. We have so much stuff that our homes can’t hold it. So what do we do…we rent a storage space. We neatly pack it with our valued possessions, close the door, put a lock on it.  After all, the contents are important things we saved for, deliberated over and purchased, stacked in that room . . . meaningful treasures that have been given to us.

At first you go by every week or so just to check in on it. There may be some things you discover you really need. But after a period of time paying for the rental of that storage space, do you know what most people discover? They don’t need the stuff that they have stored in the unit. 

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