Faith Words

Shining Moments

Posted by on Feb 22, 2015 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith
Rev. Rita S. Platt
February 15, 2015

“Shining Moments”

Mark 9:2-8

For many families Harry Potter has become a familiar friend. My grandchildren introduced me to this series and each year a different book in the series appeared on their Christmas lists. As time went on I became familiar with many of the characters. One of my special favorites became Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. (1) For most of the series, he is the headmaster of the wizarding school, Hogwarts.

Author J.K. Rowlings describes Professor Dumbledore this way: As a mentor to the central character Harry Potter, “Dumbledore is a very wise man who knows that Harry is going to have to learn a few hard lessons to prepare him for what may be coming in his life. He allows Harry to get into what he wouldn’t allow another pupil to do, and he also unwillingly permits Harry to confront things he’d rather protect him from.” (2)

In some ways the relationship Dumbledore had with Harry reminds me of Jesus and his followers.

Today is Transfiguration Sunday. The story is familiar; the account is recorded in three gospels – Matthew 17: 1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36 – all containing the same significant details: Jesus… a high mountain …Peter, James and John … the cloud of Presence … Moses and Elijah …and the light.

Read More

The Exorcist

Posted by on Feb 22, 2015 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith
Rev. Rita S. Platt
February 1, 2015

“The Exorcist”

Mark 1: 21-28

It has been centuries since the man with the unclean spirit was healed; our understanding of our bodies has increased in leaps and bounds. We know even more about the miracles of our brains, our nervous system, our circulatory system, our skeletal system. In our day and time it is not demons that cause illness.

Today demons live in books and movies.  One of the most famous is The Exorcist (1973).

It is ranked number 2 in the list of horror movies that depict demon possession and exorcism.  Just in case you are wondering, The Shining is ranked number one – but there is also a debate on the list on whether or not it really fits in this category.

Back to The Exorcist – the website says this about the movie:

“The standard by which all other demonic possession movies are judged, The Exorcist     has terrified millions of viewers over the years with its then- (and still somewhat)            shocking portrayal of the possession of a young girl, introducing now-standard            possession movie elements like levitation, vomit, profanity and body contortions.”

If the site is correct and this is how we view demon possession, it is little wonder why many people have difficulty relating this morning’s scripture.  But what would it look like if we made an intentional decision to separate our understanding of demon possession? The view depicted in movies like the Exorcist could be understood as entertainment (or not, depending on whether or not you enjoy these types of movies or books).

Read More

It’s Only the First Step

Posted by on Feb 22, 2015 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith
Rev. Rita S. Platt
January 25, 2015

“It’s Only the First Step”

Mark 1:14-20

What would make you drop everything and pursue an entirely new life? A great job offer? A marriage proposal? The chance to make a huge difference in another part of the world? What do you think — what would prompt you to take off from everything you know for something entirely different?

That’s essentially the scene that Mark describes and, truth be told, most of us have a hard time imagining doing what the future disciples do.

Time plays a significant role in the Gospel of Mark, the key word throughout his account is “immediately!” Things happen fast in his tale…and if you blink, you just might miss a crucial detail.

It all begins with those first words Jesus utters, words of invitation and challenge: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” It is a bold proclamation! Notice, he did not say, “Keep doing what you’re doing, the kingdom of God is a ways off yet” or “the kingdom of God is what you will experience after you die.”  “No,” Jesus says, “you don’t have to wait until you die to experience a whole different kind of life. Now is the time.” 

Read More

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.   

Read More

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.
Read More

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.

Read More