Peakland UMC

Peakland UMC


Sermons and Morning Devotionals from Peakland United Methodist Church, Lynchburg, VA.

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1134 episodes

Music Monday: It's Finally Here!

This is the Monday I’ve been waiting for! It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving Day, 2023! And the Christmas Album, “We Need A Little Christmas” is finally available! We are making this 10 song Christmas project available online via Facebook, Soundcloud, my website and Youtube. There are links in the description, but here is a quick synopsis of what to expect from the various venues. Facebook will have some of the songs from the album as Music Mondays through the holidays. Soundcloud will have all 10 songs, in a playlist, as individual songs as well as one track that contains all 10 songs. On Youtube, there will be the individual songs set against my flugelhorn friend and partner in this endeavor, Lynn Nash’s outdoor fireplace that he and his wife, Katie, decorated. And there will be one track, that will have all 10 songs, again set with the outdoor fireplace as the backdrop. Ideal for those of you that have a way to show Youtube videos on your TV at home! So here is the first song on our Christmas Album - Deck The Halls In the description, and on my website,, will be a link to all of the ways you can enjoy our Christmas Album. This Album is totally free - it’s a labor of fun and love from us to all of you. Feel free to share it whenever and however you like. If you enjoy this project and would like to spread a little Christmas joy, please consider making a donation to Lynchburg Daily Bread. My late father-in-law, Neal O'Brien, volunteered there for many years. Daily Bread serves hot meals 365 days of the year to those who have fallen on hard times. The numbers continue to grow in our area and the need is great.  Here’s a link to their donation page: Thanks for listening and supporting Music Monday’s through this year! Happy Holidays!

Nov 27
Wisdom Wednesday: Thanksgiving 2023

Grace and peace to you. I’m Rev. Joe Cailles, the pastor of Peakland United Methodist Church in Lynchburg Virginia. Today is Wednesday, November 22, 2023. It is the day before Thanksgiving here in the US. Tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, I will be with my wife and our sons here in Lynchburg. I have a mighty feast planned, and I have to get the absolute last of my Thanksgiving meal ingredients later today. But really, I suspect I will have to get the absolute last of my ingredients for the thanksgiving meal, tomorrow as well. My favorite Thanksgiving Day scripture passage is from Psalm 107, which I offer as a way of reminding ourselves of the source of all the blessings we have in life. I’ll read the regular print, and we’ll both read the bold print together. PSALM 107: O give thanks to the Lord, who is good,
whose steadfast love endures forever!
We wandered in the desert wastes,
finding no way to a place in which to dwell;
Then in our trouble, we cry to the Lord,
who delivers us from our distress.
Let us thank the Lord for such steadfast love,
for wonderful works to humankind.
 AND FILLS THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS. Whoever you are with, wherever you are, I hope Thanksgiving is a day of blessing for you. In the weeks to come, Peakland United Methodist Church will have wonderful advent and Christmas worship services here at the church and online. During Advent, we’ll be considering this book: All the Good, a Wesleyan Way of Christmas, and we’ll be reaching out and serving our neighbors with our Advent Mission Fest on Sunday December 3 beginning at 4:00 p.m. here at the church. You can find all our Advent and Christmas worship an ministries on our church website: I hope during Advent and Christmas, you join us here so that Christ can use you and all of us to be a blessing to others. As always, if you want to know more about our ministries here and how you can be part of our life here, reach out to me at Happy Thanksgiving and Thanks be to God!.

Nov 22
Wisdom Wednesday: Advent Mission Festival

Grace and peace to you. I’m Rev. Joe Cailles, the pastor of Peakland United Methodist Church in Lynchburg Virginia. Today is Wednesday, November 15, 2023 Halloween ended a few weeks ago, and Thanksgiving Day in the US is next week. But I’ve noticed that most of the grocery stores and big box stores have had their Christmas goods out for display for awhile now. Including my current favorite snack, Little Debbie Christmas tree cakes, which a church member brought to me last week. So tasty! Peakland is not far behind, we have been planning our advent and Christmas seasons for weeks, and we’ve been unveiling in worship for a couple of weeks all the good that we want to do. We have wrapped up our discussion of Being a United Methodist Christian this week and beginning in December we’re going to be reading and considering this book, All the Good, a Wesleyan Way of Christmas. We’ll have in person discussions at the church and around the table at Ihop. I’ll talk about this book in these Wednesday videos, and we’ll consider All the Good on Sunday mornings in December too. This Advent season we’ll have some wonderful worship services. Peakland’s United music worship service will be at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, December 17 in the sanctuary. There will be singing and ringing and lots of lovely music. This year, Sunday December 24th is both the fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve. So on Sunday December 24, we at Peakland will have a united 4th Sunday in advent worship service at 10:00 a.m. in the sanctuary and then we’ll have two Christmas Eve worship services Sunday evening. Our Christmas Eve family worship service will be at 4:00 p.m. and our traditional candlelight and communion worship service will be at 7:00 p.m. that evening both in the sanctuary. This season we will nurture our faith, we’ll worship together, and we will serve our community together. Peakland’s fourth annual advent mission fest will be Sunday, December 3 from 4-5:30 in the fellowship hall. We’ve asked five of the helping agencies here in town to give us their Christmas wish list. UMFS needs gift cards to gas stations and box stores so that the foster families they sponsor can get what they need. Chase the chill needs knitted hats and scarves and mittens to distribute. The Salvation Army has these stockings that need filling, and Parkview and Daily Bread need canned and boxed goods just like these. Bring these items to the mission fest on Sunday, December 3 from 4-5:30 and then stick around for cookies, hot chocolate, ornament making, singing, and lighting our fantastic outdoor Christmas tree. All of the details for all of these ministries are already on our church’s website., and we have multicolored handouts for you here in church on Sunday morning, and we’ll keep sending out email reminders. Peakland is an active, caring, generous congregation, but all the good we do for ourselves and for those around us is in response to the grace and love that our One Trinity God has done for us. That makes this season all the more meaningful for me and for all of us at Peakland. This December we will have folks join and become members of the Peakland United Methodist Church family. If you’d like to become part of our church family or learn more about our ministries and the ways you can do all the good that you can, then reach out to me at Thanks be to God

Nov 15
Music Monday: Great Things

The was frost on the pumpkin this morning! And that has absolutely nothing to do with Music Monday. It’s the 13th of November, 2023. A lot of things are happening - the Christmas program at the church is just a little over a month away, and I still have songs to write supplemental charts for, and practicing to do. The Christmas project Lynn Nash and I have will be released 2 weeks from today! Lynn sent me some really nice videos of his outdoor fireplace that I will use as a backdrop for the video versions of our project. More on that another day. This will be the last normal (whatever that means) Music Monday through the end of the year. Next week I will be in serious prep mode for the upcoming Christmas season music. The following week, I will start the Christmas Season of Music Monday’s that will feature different songs from the Christmas Project Lynn and I are releasing. While the whole album will be available online on Monday the 27th, I will be using various songs through the month of December from that Album. More details will be available on my website,, in the next few days. So, for today, I once again turn to our talented, talented Deacon here at the church, Andrew LaBar-Dietz, for one of the songs he has recorded for me. Andrew sings and plays guitar on this arrangement of Great Things. Song plays I love using my drone for background footage behind the lyrics in our church services, and thought I would share that with you today. If you enjoyed this, please consider sharing it with a friend! See you in 2 weeks!

Nov 13
Wisdom Wednesday: The Methodist Story

Grace and peace to you. I’m Rev. Joe Cailles, the pastor of Peakland United Methodist Church in Lynchburg Virginia. Today is Wednesday, November 8, 2023 Peakland United Methodist Church is finishing up with this book, Being a United Methodist Christian which explores our beliefs, our best practices and our history as a United Methodist Christian. This week and next, we are talking about the three general rules of being a United Methodist Christian. John Wesley created the three rules in 1743 when the methodist movement was growing beyond the Holy Club that he led at Oxford University. Small groups of Methodist men and women were gathering each week to pray for one another, read scripture together and to hold one another accountable in their Christian discipleship. John Wesley gave these methodist groups three rules to live by and to strengthen their faith: First: Do no harm and avoid evil of every kind. Second: Do good of every possible sort and as far as possible to all. Third: Attend upon the ordinances of God. A simple way to remember that: Avoid Harm. Do Good. Follow Christ. John Wesley had specific ways that methodist were to avoid harm, do good and follow Christ. Wesley wrote, Avoid harm like drunkenness and buying or selling spiritous liquor or drinking it, unless in extreme necessity. Avoid harm with no Fighting, quarreling, brawling, returning evil for evil or, the using of many words in buying or selling. No putting on gold or costly apparel. No softness or needless self-indulgence. My favorite is No uncharitable or unprofitable conversation particularly no speaking evil of magistrates or of ministers. For doing good, John Wesley quotes the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25 and directs us to give food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, visiting or helping them who are sick or in prison. That will be the scripture and the theme of the sermon next Sunday, when we at Peakland welcome Rev. Leigh Anne Taylor to the pulpit. John Wesley also warned methodists that they were to avoid the odious custom of avoiding good works unless our hearts be free to do it. Some Christians back then had gotten it into their heads that unless they felt like doing good works, they shouldn’t actually do good works. I trust none of us are so foolish as that. I don’t always feel like flossing or working out at 6:00 in the morning or paying my bills, but I still do those things. Charity and acts of mercy and kindness and justice are not optional for us United Methodists. John Wesley’s final rule was to follow the ordinances of God. “Ordinances” in this case are the activities which God has ordered for us to draw us closer to God and closer to each other. Things like: Sunday worship, prayer, Bible study, fasting and abstinence, communion, and baptism, acts of charity, justice, forgiveness, and mercy. We today may disagree with some of the specific John Wesley wanted methodists to do but the three rules are an honorable part of our heritage and a really good way of being a United Methodist Christian, so this week and in the days to come figure out how you will Avoid Harm. Do Good and Follow Christ. Thanks be to God.

Nov 08
Music Monday: I Give You My Heart

It’s Monday, the 6th of November. Good Grief, where did this year go to? I was looking through my files yesterday, trying to decide what to offer for today’s Music Monday. I ran across this arrangement thatLyn Nash and I did a few months back and, honestly, had totally forgotten about - I bet he has too! We’ve spend so much time working on our Christmas project, that everything else kinda gets lost sometimes. Speaking of the Christmas project, it will be released in just a few short weeks - the Monday after Thanksgiving to be exact. More on that in a future Music Monday. This arrangement is a quiet - laid back if you will. The song itself is certainly not a in your face kinda song, but I like this interpretation especially. Nash provides an excellent solo line with his flugelhorn. AS a side note, we started recording together, I think, in 2016 - all of it long distance as he lives in Hickory NC, and I’m here in Lynchburg, VA. It’s truly amazing what technology allows us to do. So here’s our rendition of Lord, I Give You My Heart. Song plays. You’ve been listening to Music Monday with Linwood. A lot of the material you hear on this program can be found on my website - Our music can be found on Youtube, Facebook and Soundcloud. And hopefully soon, Spotify. If you enjoyed this, please consider sharing with a friend. See you next time.

Nov 06
Wisdom Wednesday: The Methodist Story, Part 2

Grace and peace to you. I’m Rev. Joe Cailles, the pastor of Peakland United Methodist Church in Lynchburg Virginia. Today is Wednesday, November 1, 2023 Peakland United Methodist Church is reading this book, Being a United Methodist Christian which explores our beliefs, our best practices and our history as a United Methodist Christian. Last Sunday, I talked about how United Methodists understand grace, God’s loving attitude and God’s loving actions that surround us all our days. Sometimes, we go through life unaware that God loves us. We don’t see God in our lives, we don’t feel God’s love, and we may not even believe in God. But God is still there with us; God’s kindness and care is still with us even if we don’t see it or feel it or believe it. John Wesley called that prevenient grace, the grace that goes before us before we’re aware of it. Babies being baptized are not aware of God’s love, but God loves those children, and as the babies grow, we the church teach our children and we teach each other about God’s love, At one point in our lives or at many points in our lives, we clearly see the ways God is with us and God has always been with us. We see that we are better off with God and that God washes away our sin and helps us to live more lovingly with God and with each other. We methodists call that justifying grace. We were lost and now are found. We were blind and now we see the straight line of God’s love for us and our love for those around us. And then every day in all sorts of ways God draws closer to perfect love, perfect love for God and perfect love for each other. Wesley calls that sanctifying grace. Now, God’s grace is not an original theological insight from Wesley. Every other Christian denomination and church that I’ve ever heard of understands God’s grace. And truly, most of our United Methodist beliefs aren’t that distinct from other Christians. John Wesley never intended for methodists to be a separate denomination with its own set of beliefs. He wrote, as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think. We think and let think. That’s us at our best. From the start of my work as an ordained ministry, I have regularly sought other Christians and Christian communities to join in ministry. On New Year’s Eve 1999, I participated in an ecumenical Watch Night Service at Williamsburg United Methodist church with other local churches. In Lexington where I was the pastor of Trinity, I was part of one of the strongest clergy groups that I had ever experienced, with other Christians, Mormons, Jews, and Muslims. Here at Peakland, I am eager to reach out, serve all and extend God’s table with other United Methodists and all other churches and groups that seek to grow closer to God and closer to each other. I am United Methodist by choice and by God’s grace. I am proud of our United Methodists history and heritage and the ways we share God’s grace and love with the world. And along with that, it’s important to understand that we at Peakland who are proud United Methodist do not need to be against other churches or faith communities. Being a United Methodist Christians does not mean and will never mean that we are anti-Baptist or anti presbyterian or anti Catholic or anti anything. We respect the differences that we do have. United Methodists and Baptists don’t agree on the meaning of baptism. United Methodists and Roman Catholics don’t agree on the role of women in church leadership. We at Peakland seek and will continue to seek commonalities with others, common beliefs and common ways to serve our community and world. That’s another thing that’s great about being a United Methodist Christian. Thanks be to God.

Nov 01
Music Monday: God So Loved

I know, I know - it’s hard to believe, but it’s Monday again! Part of my job at Peakland UMC is listening to Praise and Worship music, trying to determine what songs would work well in our Horizons service - that’s the Contemporary service we offer on Sunday mornings. Thee are sooooo many songs out there, and a lot of them are really appealing, but won’t necessarily work for us. That’s another story another time. Recently, I ran across this song and it immediately appealed to me. I didn’t even have to listen all the way through to decide that it would work for us. In the course of writing a vocals chart, and making a sound track, I also thought this might be a good song for Music Monday. So we have used this song twice in our Horizons service and it has been well received. So I turned my attention to how this might work for a Music Monday, and in the process, it took not one, not two, but three different turns I had not anticipated. It’s not unusual for me to have different thoughts on something I have created, but I can’t remember the last time a song took this many turns in different directions. After you have listened to the song I’ll expand on what I mean. But I will say that one has to do with the how much fun the song was to listen to - that being groove-wise. And the other 2 had to do with the lyrics of the song. Here’s God So Loved So I usually never put an instrumental solo in a Praise and Worship song, particularly because it leaves the congregation with nothing to do while that’s happening - that was the first turn. The 2nd was what I perceived as a reference to the lyrics from the Doxology we use in the Methodist Church - the “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” Very “liturgical”, that is very “churchy” sounding. Hence the brass and more traditional organ sounds underneath the “Praise God” section. Lastly the a cappella, 4-part harmony section. That idea just jumped out at me - as an emphasis to the lyric. So thee you have it - my thoughts on this arrangement, which was probably a whole lot more than you wanted to know haha! If you enjoyed it, please consider sharing with a friend. Thanks for listening - see you next time!

Oct 30
Wisdom Wednesday: The Methodist Story

Grace and peace to you. I’m Rev. Joe Cailles, the pastor of Peakland United Methodist Church in Lynchburg Virginia. Today is Wednesday, October 25, 2023 Peakland United Methodist Church is reading this book, Being a United Methodist Christian which explores our beliefs, our best practices and our history as a United Methodist Christian. This week we’re reading chapter 3 of the book, Our United Methodist Story! Our Methodist story begins with Rev. John Wesley, a priest in the church of England who started the Methodist movement nearly 300 years ago at Oxford University with a small group of likeminded folks who were so dedicated to their Bible studies, prayer, and service to those in needs that other mocked them with the name Methodist. I spoke last week about Wesley’s misadventures as a parish priest in the new American town of Savannah, Georgia. At the start of 1738, John was back in England and at his lowest professionally and spiritually. He doubted his effectiveness as a priest, and he doubted that his faith was genuine. In the evening of May 24, 1738, John Wesley went reluctantly to a Methodist meeting at Aldersgate Street in London. He heard a reading from the preface of Martin Luther’s commentary of the book of Romans. Wesley later wrote, “About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death." Friends, a couple of days ago, I re-read the preface to Martin Luther’s commentary to the book of Romans. I know beyond a doubt there is a God in heaven because the preface to Martin Luther’s commentary on the book of Romans is the most theologically dense and surprisingly dry writing that only God could have warmed Wesley’s heart with those words. Wow. With his heart strangely and wonderfully warmed John Wesley’s methodist movement grew and grew throughout Great Britain and into the American colonies. In December 1784, the methodist in America established the Methodist Episcopal Church, the first American born Christian denomination. Under the leadership of Francis Asbury, the Methodists in American grew and grew. Famous Methodists of the 19th century include. Richard Allen, a black American methodist who established the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1816 after facing discrimination in the white methodist church and Thomas B Welch, a methodist minister and dentist, who in 1869 created Methodist Unfermented Communion Wine. Commonly known as grape juice. As the American nation grew so did the Methodists. As American divided on the issues of slavery, so did the Methodists who split into northern and southern branches in 1845. Through the 20th century Methodists united with other denominations forming the current United Methodist Church today. Marjorie Matthews was the first woman elected as a United Methodist bishop in 1980. Now in the 21st century, the United Methodist Church is the largest of all the methodist denominations with something like 12 million members worldwide. The fastest growing area of United Methodism is now in Africa. The newest methodist denomination is the Global Methodist Church formed by methodists who want to maintain traditional practices in marriage and ordination. Pastor Dave Drinkard preached at Peakland this past Sunday, and he reminded us that throughout our history, we United Methodists are at our best, when we love God and when we love our neighbors. We worship together and we nurture our Christian faith together and we serve Christ together out in the world. That’s what we’re doing at Peakland, and you are welcome to join and learn and experience what it means being a United Methodist Christian.

Oct 25
Music Monday: Because He Lives

Hey, it’s Monday again! It’s the 23rd of October 2023. You ever lose something - search everywhere and just can’t find it? That’s what happened with today’s Music Monday song. I found the part of the recording that my flugelhorn friend, Lynn Nash, had recorded, but could not find the original file I had started with. I liked it, for the most part, but there were a few things I wanted to change, actually need to change. I couldn’t find that original file, so I started over. Just my original parts, that is. I had Lynn’s and a sample track I had sent him to record against. So, I recorded against it to follow how I had originally had recorded the song. I did make a few changes, though. Well, I made a lot changes - not to the Flugelhorn part, but to pretty much everything else! I guess that’s the advantages of starting over! And in today’s Music Monday, you will actually see the song playing from the software I used, which happens to be Apple’s Logic Pro. This is an older song, but timeless in it’s message, and perhaps with a little fresher take from this arrangement. Here’s Because He Lives, featuring my flugelhorn recording partner, Lynn Nash. Song Plays A month from today, Nash and I will be releasing our Christmas project. Please get excited haha - we are! And if you enjoyed this song, please consider sharing with your friends. See you next time!

Oct 23
Wisdom Wednesday: Being United Methodist – The Moravians

Grace and peace to you. I’m Rev. Joe Cailles, the pastor of Peakland United Methodist Church in Lynchburg Virginia. Today is Wednesday, October 18, 2023 Peakland United Methodist Church is reading this book, Being a United Methodist Christian which explores our beliefs, our best practices and our history as a United Methodist Christian. This past Sunday, Rev. Denise Bates preached at Peakland and emphasized that as United Methodist Christians, we lift our hearts to God in worship and we unite our hands with each other and with all Christians everywhere in service and care for the world around us. We United Methodist believe that all Christians United Methodists and Lutherans and Roman Catholics, and Baptists and Presbyterians and Anglicans and Orthodox and Non-denominational and all the many and varied Christian churches and communities are all part of the one body of Christ. John Wesley himself had a powerful experience with a group of Christians from central Europe called the Moravians who shaped his spiritual growth and formation. Wesley met a group of 27 Moravians during his sea voyage aboard the Simmonds to Savannah, Georgia, in October 1735. Wesely was traveling to Savanah to become the local priest of the newly established colony. At one point during the voyage, a storm came up and broke the mast off the ship. While most folks panicked, the Moravians calmly sang hymns and prayed. Wesley saw that these Christians had an inner strength and peace that he sorely lacked. Wesley’s time as a parish priest in Savanah was a failure. His high church practices were of little interest to the colonists. He was involved in an unsuccessful love affair that ended badly and fled the colony in December 1737. On his return to England, Wesely was at a low point in his life spiritually and professionally. He wondered how he could preach faith in Christ when he felt his faith was so shallow. Wesley sought counsel from a Moravian minister named Peter Boehler, who encouraged Wesley to preach faith until you have it, and then preach faith because you have it. Wesley did indeed feed encouraged by Peter’s words, and there is some wisdom for us today. Like Wesley, our faith may fluctuate. We may feel strong in the faith one day and weak and so uncertain another. That’s as normal and natural as breathing in and out. I believe Christ helps us to persevere. I have found that helping others helps me to feel closer to Christ and closer to other Christians. Later today, I have a lunch meeting with other United Methodist clergy in our area in which we provide moral and prayerful support to one another. I have a home visit with a retired pastor and I’m volunteering for the first-time serving supper at Parkview Mission here in Lynchburg. Next week, I am tutoring at Bedford Hills Elementary. I’m joining with other United Methodists and people of other faith traditions and folks with no faith tradition, all of us who want to do good in the world. That’s what I love about being a United Methodist Christian. You can find more about all of our ministries on our website Peakland, and on our Facebook page. You are welcome and invited to join us in these ministries and for Sunday worship in the sanctuary at 8:30 and 11:00, for our contemporary Horizons worship in the fellowship hall at 9:45. We livestream our 11:00 worship on Facebook and YouTube. Peakland’s mission is reaching out, serving all and extending God’s Table. If you’d like to know more about what we do here and how to join us, reach out to me at Thanks be to God.

Oct 18
Music Monday: The Heart Of Worship

So yesterday, which was Sunday the 15th of October, I was sitting at the piano in the Fellowship Hall going through the songs we were going to use in our Horizons service in a few hours. I usually get to church on Sunday mornings around 6:30 AM - it gives me an opportunity to prepare, rehearse some and just collect my thoughts and spend some quiet time with God. As I was getting ready to run through the last song, the thought slipped into my mind that this would be a good song for a Music Monday. Like today! I thought I might start a little more quietly today, to give you an opportunity to tune out the distracting thoughts in your mind, and give you an opportunity to spend a quiet moment or two. You’re listening to Music Monday with Linwood. You can find this song, and some others on my website - At the end of November my flugelhorn friend Lynn Nash and I will be releasing our Christmas album for you to enjoy during the Holiday Season. Songs like “Deck The Halls”, “O Holy Night”, and a fun little arrangement of “Ding Dong Merrily on High” that features my son Matt on bass. It’s arguably one of the best project I have ever been part of and I look forward to sharing it! If you enjoyed today’s Music Monday, please consider sharing it with a friend. See you next time!

Oct 16
Wisdom Wednesday: A Brand Plucked From The Fire

Grace and peace to you. I’m Rev. Joe Cailles, the pastor of Peakland United Methodist Church in Lynchburg Virginia. Today is Wednesday, October 11, 2023 On February 9, 1709, a five-year-old boy by the name of John Wesley was caught in a house fire. Young John Wesley was the son of Susanna Wesley and Rev Samuel Wesley, a priest in the church of England, and they lived in the rectory in the town of Epworth in central England. On the night of February 9, the rectory caught fire, and John was trapped in the second-floor nursery. John’s father tried in vain to rescue his son, but the flames beat him back each time. Convinced that John could not be saved, the family knelt in the garden and prayed God to receive his soul. A couple of quick-thinking neighbors acted to save John, one standing on the shoulders of the other, pulling John through the open window to safety, just as the house fire brought the roof down on John’s room. After the fire, Susanah referred to John as the brand plucked from the fire, which is a Biblical reference to Zechariah 3:2, in which God saves a High priest of the Temple from ruin. John Wesley would grow to become a priest in the Church of England like his father and when he was in his mid-20s John Wesley led a group of fellow college students at Oxford University in daily and weekly bible studies and acts of service to those in need. Those were the first methodists. That small group grew and expanded beyond Oxford into all of Britain and into the British settlements in North America. In 1784, the methodists in America established the Methodist episcopal church, the first Christian denomination established in the new United States. We at Peakland United Methodist Church are reading this book Being United Methodist Christians, and this week we consider how United Methodists read and understand the Bible. From our start, we United Methodists have been people of the Bible. Scriptures are at the heart of every Sunday worship service. We United Methodists read our Bibles individually and in small groups. When we consider how we are to be in mission out in the world, the first place we look is our Bibles. At Peakland our mission is reaching out, serving all and extending God’s table, and that comes straight from the stories of what Jesus and his first disciples did. When we consider God’s actions throughout the Bible, we see God reaching out to all of humanity, serving us with grace and mercy and salvation, and extending God’s love and God’s table to all. We United Methodists have no official version of the Bible. I tend to read the New Revised Standard Version. Many folks like the NIV or the Message or the Common English Bible. And in the same way, we United Methodist have no one person who is the end all be all authority in interpreting the Bible. As your pastor, part of my ministry is preaching and interpreting the scriptures in the way God has laid on my heart, and you may agree or disagree with what I say. That’s normal. That’s one of the best parts of being United methodist. We read the scriptures and talk about them and debate them and maybe disagree and then we go about our ministries with each other and out in the world. As I said this past Sunday in worship, that’s one of the things I love about being a United Methodist. This upcoming Sunday, October 15, Peakland welcomes Rev. Denise Bates, our Mountain View district superintendent to preach in our worship services. She will share with us the challenges and blessings she sees in being a united methodist and what we United Methodist have in common with other Christian churches. Join me on Sundays in person at our 8:30 and 11:00 worship services in the sanctuary, our 9:45 contemporary Horizons worship service in the fellowship hall and online beginning at 11:00 a.m.

Oct 11
Music Monday: 10,000 Reasons

Wouldn’t you know it - it’s Monday again! I took the day off yesterday - that being a Sunday. I don’t like to miss for a number of reasons, but sometimes you just have to take a break, so thanks to all who covered for me! I spent a little time yesterday getting ready for Music Monday, and in the search for something to share with you, I remember this recording my friend Mike Petrikonis and I made of the Matt Redman song, 10, 000 Reasons. Mike took ownership of this song, and I believe what follows is quite the extraordinary interpretation of this song. It’s not complicated, or overloaded with instrumentation - it’s just, well, it’s just there. You may have heard me play this arrangement before in past years, but it bears playing again. Mike plays guitar and sings, 10,000 Reasons. Song plays You’ve been listening to Music Monday with Linwood. You can find this song and a lot more on my website, And before you know Christmas time will be here and my flugelhorn friend, Lyn Nash, and I have a brand new Christmas album that will be released. More on that as we get closer to release time. If you enjoyed this, please consider sharing with a friend. See you nexqt time!

Oct 09
Music Monday: Grazin' In The Grass

Back in the day, my Flugelhorn friend, Lynn Nash, and I spent a lot of time together playing in our High School Band, the Pep Band, and then afterwards we played in a rock band for a number of years. He played trumpet and I played trombone, and our friend W. B. played sax and hammond organ. We had a lot of fun, back in the day! I remember, back in the day, sitting at the piano and playing some of the really classic rock songs from Bread (If A Picture Paints . .. ), Chicago (Color My World), James Taylor (Fire and Rain, which we recorded and used as a Music Monday a few weeks back). One of Nash’s, favorites was the horn song, “Grazin In The Grass” A year or so ago we did an arrangement of that song and I wanted to play it for you today. We had way too much fun with this tune and I think you’ll see - hear why as we get into the old classic - “Grazin’ In The Grass”! Video Plays You’ve been listening to Music Monday by Linwood. Today, you saw the software I use to record our arrangements. I’m a Mac guy and the software is Logic, which is an Apple product. I also use Final Cut Pro, another Apple product, for video production. You can find a lot of our songs on my website - If you enjoyed this, please consider sharing it with a friend. See you next time!

Oct 02
Wisdom Wednesday: Being United Methodist

Grace and peace to you. I’m Rev. Joe Cailles, the pastor of Peakland United Methodist Church in Lynchburg Virginia. Today is Wednesday, September 27, 2023. + Just over 30 years ago, I was a student at Indiana University and worshipping at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Bloomington, Indiana. One Sunday in January, the church announced they would be sponsoring a trip for college students to work with Habitat for Humanity in Atlanta Georgia over spring break. I turned to my best friend who was sitting next to me and said, I want to do that. I had never worked with Habitat before. I had not done any carpentry since my wobbly plant stand in 8th grade shop class. I really had no business trying to help build a house, but felt called to go on that trip. And I did. I joined about 15 other college students, most of us had not volunteered with Habitat or had construction work, but the Habitat folks in Atlanta were skilled and taught us well. At the end of our week there, we had built the foundation of a new home. A sturdy, well-built foundation. At the end of that week, I had experienced the very best of being a United Methodist. Our small community of college students and adults formed a spirit filled community. We ate together and played together. We worshipped together and prayed together and we did our small part at making our world more like the world Jesus talks about That was the start of me wanting to do more and learn more about being a United Methodist professionally. Beginning in about 10 days on Sunday October 8, Peakland will begin a sermon series and a weekly book study on this new book Being United Methodist Christians, living a life of grace and hope. This book was written by a family of United Methodist pastors who have a combined total of nearly 150 years being United Methodists. I’m eager for us to hear from as many United Methodists as possible, so on the Sunday mornings in October and through November, Peakland will welcome to the pulpit Rev. Denise Bates, our Mountain View District Superintendent and Rev. Leigh Anne Taylor, an ordained deacon and the Director of Connecting Ministries for the Mountain View District. They will share their experiences of being a United Methodist, the great blessings, and the challenges. Pastor Dave, Deacon Andrew, and I will also share our United Methodist stories. As a congregation we’ll gather to read and discuss this book as well. Beginning the week of Monday October 9, I’ll lead a class on Monday evenings, and Andrew will lead one on Tuesday mornings. If you are a long-time veteran in the United Methodist Church or new to being a United Methodist, I think you’ll find our discussions meaningful. Being United Methodist Christian is also about service, and Andrew has a host of opportunities for us throughout October so that we can do our small part in making the world more like the world Jesus talks about. A big part of Being Untied Methodist is gathering around the table for good food and good times. We’ll have a Baked Potato congregational supper on Sunday, October 22 at 5:30. All the information on these Being United Methodist ministries are found on our website under the ministries tab and then click on the fall ministries, or reach out to me at Being United Methodist at Peakland means that we are reaching out, serving all, and extending God’s table and extending God’s love. I hope you’ll join me for these awesome Being United Methodist ministries in the days and weeks to come. Thanks be to God.

Sep 27
Music Monday: When I Don't Know What to Do

When I start setting up my computer and keyboard to start working on a new arrangement, a lot of times I have no idea where it’s going. In fact, there are times when I don’t really know how it’s going to start! Now I’ve been making sound tracks for a long time haha. Way back in the day I worked at a music store right at the time when the MIDI communication system and keyboards were just developing. So as it grew and developed, so did I. It’s amazing what one can do with a keyboard, a computer and the right software. So I start an arrangement. Sometimes it sort of just flows out of my fingers - sometimes I have to restart a number of times. The real message here is that I really can’t take credit for what comes out of these fingers. The inspiration all comes from above and most of the time I don’t know where I’m going until I get there. So today’s Music Monday, from one of my favorite Christian Artists - Tommy Walker, is from the COVID years here at Peakland UMC. I brought singers in one at a time to record, and then sent it to my flugelhorn friend, Lynn Nash, for some brass. He sent it back and I added some trombone. Mix it all up, and you get: When I Don’t Know What To Do You can find Music Monday’s on my website - There are 2 versions - one with all of the introductions included, and one with just the song itself. And you’ll also find some of the other music I have recorded in recent years - some with my flugelhorn buddy, Lynn Nash, and some with my son, Matt. Occasionally all three of us! And there is a new Christmas album in the final stages. Lots of music to listen to! And as always, thanks for listening. If you enjoyed this, please consider sharing it with a friend. See ya next time!

Sep 25
Wisdom Wednesday: Liminal

Grace and peace to you. I’m Rev. Joe Cailles, the pastor of Peakland United Methodist Church in Lynchburg Virginia. Today is Wednesday, September 20, 2023. + Do you know the word liminal? L I M I N A L liminal. It means a transitional or an in-between time or space. A hallway is a liminal space between two rooms. A liminal time is what I’m experiencing this week at Peakland: we are in-between big church events. In the past two weeks, we started our fall kickoff with huge successes. With Rise Against Hunger, over 70 of us packaged over 10,000 rice and grain-based meals in about an hour and 10 minutes. Last week, I presided at Peakland Pre-school’s all-school chapel service in the sanctuary. Dozens of preschoolers, all the Peakland preschoolers, gathered in the sanctuary together with their teachers, and we sang this Little light of Mine, enacted the first creation story in the Bible, and prayed our action prayer together. This past Sunday, Parkland After Dark had its first regular meeting of the season. We had children, youth, parents, and grandparents together and we created homemade pizzas as a spiritual exercise by praying together and individually during the preparation, and the eating and clean up. During these big church events it is easy to know and feel the presence of God during these big ministries. Looking ahead, in October Peakland will begin a congregational study called Being United Methodist Christians. We’ll explore the United Methodist story, our beliefs, and our best practices as well as the challenges we United Methodists face. This is going to be a great study for all of us both lifelong United methodists and for those of us who are new comers to Peakland and to being United Methodist. Next month, on October 17, the Ruth Circle will hold its grand Card Party here at the church to raise funds for supporting the helping agencies here in town. We also have our annual blood drive on November 9 and during Advent, we’ll have the second annual mission fair where we’ll have half a dozen ways to contribute and support helping agencies here in town. Those are the big spirit filled items that lie ahead. But this week, not a lot is happening at the church. We have our usual ministries and meetings. The Peakland staff met yesterday, and we prayed for our people and discussed church matters. The sanctuary choir and praise choir will rehearse later today. I am working now with lay nominations to identify our church leaders for the upcoming year, so when someone calls and asks you to serve on a committee, I trust your answer will be, Of course, I’m willing and able to swerve. With pride and pleasure. We are also in the middle of our Pave the way to grace Parking lot stewardship campaign. So far we’ve raised just over half the amount we need to raise. I turned in my first check and my pledge card this past Sunday. If you haven’t yet, now is the time. This is a liminal week for me at Peakland, in between big church events. While it’s easy to see and know God’s presence in the big events both here at church and in our own lives, the good news for us is that God is also present in these quieter, in-between liminal moments of life as well. God is with us when we are high on the mountain top with us when life is rewarding. God is with us in the valleys of shadows when life is challenging and hard, and God is with us in the routine, every day, neither high nor low places in life. Today and in the days to come, look for God in the ordinary, run of the mill liminal spaces in your life. Thanks be to God.

Sep 20
Wisdom Wednesday: Rise Aganist Hunger

Grace and peace to you. I’m Rev. Joe Cailles, the pastor of Peakland United Methodist Church in Lynchburg Virginia. Today is Wednesday, September 13, 2023. + This past Sunday, September 3, Peakland gathered for worship in our sanctuary and in our fellowship hall and online for Sunday worship. We sang, we prayed, we listened to the scriptures and how Jesus tells us to fight like a Christian. In worship on Sunday, we had babies and children and youth and young adults, not so young adults and all people are welcome. It was a good Sunday morning here at Peakland. Later that same Sunday afternoon, over 70 folks from Peakland came together to Rise Against Hunger and create these – sealed bags of rice, sorghum, dehydrated vegetables, and a vitamin packet. Each of these bags contains 6 servings. It took us about an hour to set up our fellowship hall into a meal making factory, with stations for filling the bag, weighing the bag, sealing it, and packing them up. In an hour and 10 minutes our Peakland volunteers created 10,126 meals. We finished the job 20 minutes sooner than expected. Cleanup happened in about 40 minutes, but you may still see one or two errant grains of rice in the fellowship hall and on the sidewalk outside. Rober is one the job though! My great thanks to the people of Rise Against Hunger for coming to Peakland and helping us reach out, serve all, and extend God’s Table and God’s Love. From Peakland, these meals will be stored for a short time with Rise Against Hunger and then sent to a needed to community, could be a community in Haiti, could be a community in southern Africa. Rise Against Hunger will let us know when and where the meals end up, and I’ll keep you posted. I’m grateful to all the people who donated funds so this ministry could happen at Peakland. I’m grateful to God for the many, many volunteers of all ages who gave their time and energy. We had folks younger than age 8 and older than 80 giving of themselves so others might eat. There aren’t too many places in the world where folks of all ages and stages of life can come together to worship and to work together to make a difference in the world. I’m grateful to God that Peakland is such a place where all are welcome, and everyone has a place here. My hope is to bring Rise Against Hunger back to us again next year at this time. Perhaps we can raise enough funds to prepare 15,000 meals. Next Sunday, we’ll gather again for worship and Jesus will teach us how to forgive like a Christian. And in the weeks to come we’ll gather for food and fellowship and service and worship. If you are looking for a church home, or if it’s been a while since you were here at Peakland, now is the time to be present here. Reach out to me at, I want to hear from you and help you find your place in this great church community. Thanks be to God!

Sep 13
Music Monday: Blue Skies

I was out walking our dog, Joey, this morning and noticed that the skies were blue - not a cloud to be seen! In years past I would take advantage of a day like today and hop on my motorcycle and head for the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are several Overlooks that have absolutely amazing views - especially on blue sky days! Irving Berlin wrote a song that my flugelhorn friend, Lynn Nash, and I recorded a few years back. In fact it’s the title cut for an album we released. I thought of that this morning while walking Joey. The song makes me think of those days riding the Parkway, and of the peace I find communing with God in His creation. The name of the song, you say? Why of course - Blue Skies!

Sep 11
Wisdom Wednesday: Fall Kick Off

Grace and peace to you. I’m Rev. Joe Cailles, the pastor of Peakland United Methodist Church in Lynchburg Virginia. Today is Wednesday, September 6, 2023. + Labor Day was this past Monday, marking the unofficial end to summer. I heard yesterday that one of our youth was sad that this weekend was the last time in the outdoor swimming pools, and then another church member said, end of summer was fine with her. She didn’t like the hot weather anyway. I do like September weather, and I am excited about all the great ministries Peakland will be getting to in the weeks to come. Yesterday, I sat in with the ladies of the Ruth Circle, Peakland’s women fellowship group. They are planning their great Card Party here at the church on Tuesday, October 17, and the money they raise supports local helping agencies. The United Methodist Men begin their weekly morning breakfasts here at the church this Saturday, September 9 at 8:00 a.m. All men are welcome for a great breakfast and great fellowship. This Sunday, September 10, Peakland unites in service with Rise Against Hunger, an organization which helps feed hungry communities around the world. This Sunday, 80 or so of us will gather at the church fellowship hall beginning at 4:30 and within 2 and half hours, we will have bagged 10,000 meals of rice and grain and dehydrated vegetables. For those of you who are volunteering, bring a baseball cap or you’ll have to wear one of the hairnets they provide. Andrew will be sending out more information to the church volunteers later this week about Sunday’s event. Peakland After Dark, our ministry with children, youth, and their families. begins its regular Sunday night gathering on Sunday, September 17. Looking ahead to October we at Peakland will unite for a church wide book study, reading Being United Methodist Christians, in which we’ll explore the questions of What do we United Methodists believe? What makes us distinct and how do we grow as disciples of Jesus. Whether you are a lifelong methodist are relatively new to the faith, I trust we’ll all learn a great deal together. We’ve also got plans for an October baked potato fellowship supper. We’ll have our annual blood drive in November. Andrew will create some special worship services around All Hallow’s eve and all Saints Day. And Advent and Christmas are coming. We already have great plans for Peakland in December. If you worship in the sanctuary this Sunday, you’ll see that I have replaced the green banners with red banners. These red banners were a gift to Peakland from the family of Steve Cox, and I’m glad they will be on display. Red banners are usually reserved only for Pentecost and a couple of special Sundays, but your radical pastor likes to put on the red in the fall to signal not just the change in the seasonal weather, but the mark the change in church life as well. The green leaves of summer will be changing to the fiery reds and oranges of fall outside and at the church we have fire and excitement and a great spirit. If you find that you have been away from Peakland for a season or two, now is the time to find your way back home. Christ is doing great things here at Peakland, and it’s so easy for you to be part of it. Reach out to me at if you’d like to be part of our great church family.

Sep 06
Wisdom Wednesday: Pave The Way, Part 2

Grace and peace to you. I’m Rev. Joe Cailles, the pastor of Peakland United Methodist Church in Lynchburg Virginia. Today is Wednesday, August 30, 2023. I am not in the parking lot today, as I’m recording this it’s wet and soggy outside and no place for middle aged pastors or expensive video cameras. Last Wednesday I spoke to you about our parking lot, our 40-year-old parking lot in need of a lot of repairs. This past Sunday, Don Weschler, Peakland’s chair of the Common Table, spoke at each of the worship services about our church’s Pave the Way to Grace capital campaign to fund the repairs, and after the 11:00 worship service, Mike Ohl, a Peakland trustees and the point man on the project, gave an excellent overview of the parking lot problems and the parking lot solutions. This week, each Peakland household will receive a letter from the Pave The Way leadership team, along with an informative brochure, which Kim Ness, Peakland’s church administrator and I put together, along with a pledge card, which Cindy Harding, Peakland’s business manager put together. We’ll also have these in the worship bulletins through the end of September. Some folks had already filled in their pledge cards and turned them in. I will be doing mine later this week. We hope to hear from everyone by the end of September. Two questions have come up since we announced this that I can address with you now. The first is, “What kind of trees are we going to plant in the islands once the parking lot is done?” Good question! I love dogwoods and redbuds. I know having those in the parking lot would make me very happy when I come to church. But it’s not up to me. Our trustees will make that decision when the time comes. The next question is really two questions when is this happening and how long will it take? Ideally if everything goes the way we want it to go, we will raise the money we need and accept a bid by the end of September, and work can begin toward the end of October and be done in 7-10 days with minimal disruption to church life. that’s the ideal scenario which could happen. However, sometimes things don’t work out exactly as planned. I promise we will keep everyone informed about the progress we are making and let folks know what’s happening when. The Peakland pre-school folks know what we are planning and parking lot work certainly impacts them! And we need to know if we have a place to park when we come to Sunday worship! We’ll make announcements online, in worship and through email. I’m grateful to the people of Peakland for their hard work and their generosity. As Don told us on Sunday, what we do now will benefit future generations of Peakland people. I’m also excited that we at Peakland will be kicking off our Fall ministries on Sunday, September 10th with our Rise Against Hunger event here at the church. 80 of us will prepare 10,000 rice-based meals in just over 2 hours in our fellowship hall. We have so much more planned for our church in the weeks and months to come, as we keep reaching out, serving all, and extending God’s Table.

Aug 30
Music Monday: The Laid Back Doxology

A few weeks back I shared with you the majestic version of the Doxologies we use in our church services. It was an arrangement I played on the organ, which is in our sanctuary at Peakland UMC. Sometimes you just want to shout out praise, and that is certainly a wonderful way to do it. At other times, though, you might just want to offer that same praise in a little more laid back fashion. I enlisted my flugelhorn friend, Lynn Nash, to help me with this. Here is our laid back version of the Doxology - Praise God To Whom All Blessings Flow.

Aug 28
Music Monday: Happy Birthday To . . . .

It’s the 21st of August, 2023. While I was out working our dog, Joey, this morning, I was remembering that it is our daughter-in-law’s birthday today. And it occurred to me that it was a Monday, and I needed a Music Monday! So why not honor our birthday gal, and give the rest of you a birthday song to play whenever it’s your birthday, or someone else’s birthday! So happy birthday, Bri! Thank you for being you! And we all hope you have a wonderful birthday!

Aug 21
Wisdom Wednesday- New Horizons Worship

Grace and peace to you. I’m Rev. Joe Cailles, the pastor of Peakland United Methodist Church in Lynchburg Virginia. Today is Wednesday, August 16. I am standing in Peakland’s fellowship hall to show you the new thing we are doing at the Sunday morning Horizons Worship service. We’ve switched things up! When you come to Horizons worship this Sunday, you’ll be worshipping in a new direction. Instead of facing this side wall, we’ve set up the chairs to face the East, toward the rising of the sun. Everything else about Horizon worship stays the same. The rocking chairs are still here. The tall tables and chairs are still here. The couch and the children’s play are still here. We’ll still be singing our praise songs. We’ll still have scriptures and sermons and prayers, and we will still offer ways that Peakland is reaching out, serving all, and extending God’s Table. We’re just doing it in a slightly different way. This arrangement, we hope, will allow Peakland pre-school to make better use of the space when the children come back beginning next week. We hope this arrangement will make it easier for us to set up this room for receptions and small meetings and church suppers too. Linwood and Robert and church folks have been working very hard these past few days to prepare, and I’m grateful to them for their vision for how Horizons makes use of this space. Now we know there are some things that we still need to do to perfect this worship space. We’re to have some new curtains put up on the windows. We have some additional big screens coming that will help us worship, and we have to worship here together to see if it all fits together. That will happen over the next few weeks. Horizon worship is at 9:45 on Sundays in person here in this space. Sanctuary worship is at 8:30 in person and we livestream and worship in person in the sanctuary at 11:00. Come worship here at Peakland. All are welcome. Thanks be to God!

Aug 16
Music Monday: Going Up

I received quite a favorable response from the song I used 2 weeks ago, from an album my son, Matt, and I did (Turn It Loose, if you forgot or missed it) that I thought I would offer another one from that same project. It’s actually the title song from the project - “Going Up”. I realized a few weeks ago, that some of you might want to listen to some of these songs again, but maybe not all my commentary, so I created a new playlist on Soundcloud, where my songs are hosted, that are just the songs. If you go to my website - or click on this link, it will take you right to that playlist - all the good stuff without all the babbling! And it’s only August, but my flugelhorn friend, Lynn Nash, and I are 9 songs into our Christmas Project. Most are done, a few having some finals touches including sending one to my Matt, to add some bass. That will be a fun song! Ok, enough babble! Here’s “Going Up.”

Aug 14
Music Monday: Still / Draw Me Close

I almost forgot to do today’s Music Monday. It entered my mind several times over the weekend but this morning I needed a little jogging, once again from my Flugel Horn friend, Lyn Nash. I was on the phone with him talking about a mix I had just completed of a Christmas song we were working on and he was saying, “don’t put that on Music Monday!” And I’m thinking to myself, good thing he said that . . . So as I begin to think about today’s MM, I ran across a medley of 2 songs I had put together for something - who knows what, but I was not please with how it turned out. Time to start over. The songs are “Still” and “Draw Me Close.” If you know these songs, then I think the words will come to mind as the melody goes by. These songs are very intimate in their approach to God, and I tried to communicate that with this arrangement. If you don’t know the words, then here they are: Still: Hide me now, under your wings. Cover me within Your mighty hand. When the oceans rise and thunder roars, I will soar with You above the storm. Father, You are King over the flood. I will be still, know You are God. Draw Me Close: Draw me close to You. Never let me go. I lay it all down again, to hear You say that I’m your friend. You are my desire, no one else will do. ‘Cause nothing else can take Your place, to feel the warmth of Your embrace. Help me find the way, bring me back to You. You’re all I want, You’re all I ever needed.You’re all I want, help me know You are near. You’re all I want, You’re all I ever needed.You’re all I want, help me know You are near. Help me find the way, bring me back to You. Bring me back to You.

Jul 31
Wisdom Wednesday: God In The Wilderness, Psalm 23

Grace and peace to you. I’m Rev. Joe Cailles, the pastor of Peakland United Methodist Church in Lynchburg Virginia. Today is Wednesday, July 19, 2023 Throughout the month of July, we at Peakland have been reading and discussing this book: God in the Wilderness, written by Rabbi Jamie Korngold. This past Sunday morning in worship, I discussed chapter 6 of the book, Hear the Still Small Voice Within. We read the story of Elijah who was on the run following a religious battle between the priests of Baal and him. Elijah won the battle but Queen Jezebel threatened his life, so Elijah ran away to hide in the wilderness. Feeling pushed beyond his limits, he cries out to God to end his life. God doesn’t do that but comes to Elijah with a still small voice, providing comfort and presence. The good news for us is that when we are pushed to our limits, God is with us too, and as followers of Jesus Christ, when we see those around us who are pushed to their limits, then Christ directs us to be a calm comforting resence helping each other and those in need around us. Next Sunday, July 30, I’m covering chapter 7 of the God in the Wilderness book. The chapter is called Restore Your Souls Beside Still Waters and features the beloved Psalm 23. Many of us know the King James Version of Psalm 23 by heart. For this Sunday, I’ll have us read a version of Psalm 23 written by Robert Alter, a professor of Hebrew and comparative literature at Berkley. The King James version of Psalm 23 ends with Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Robert Alter’s version ends in a way he says is more accurate to the Hebrew: Let but goodness and kindness pursue me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for many long days. That makes sense to me. Psalm 23 speaks of God’s care and provision in these days. God provides food and water and restful places to us now. God is present with us now even when enemies surround us, even as the shadows of death cover us. This is an important reminder that God isn’t just in heaven waiting for us when we die. God is in the here and now. We Christians believe God is our Good Shepherd, and he’s not just waiting for us in the fields of eternity, his Holy Spirit is with us now, providing us comfort and care now, helping us to provide comfort and care to those around us now. In her book, Rabbi Jamie pairs Psalm 23 with the book of Job, who is wailing to God about his suffering. Why am I suffering? Why does anyone suffer? I’ll talk about the connection on Sunday in worship, join me here at Peakland in person for worship at 8:30 in the sanctuary. At 9:45 we have the Horizons worship in the fellowship hall, and at 11:00 we’re back in the sanctuary with our in person and online worship service. All are welcome. Everyone. Always. Thanks be to God.

Jul 26
Music Monday: Turn It Loose

Before July totally gets away from me, I wanted to let all of you know that my flugelhorn friend Lynn Nash and I are recording a Christmas album. Now, I’m a fan of a little Christmas in July, but I was voted down on that so I will not be playing any of the songs we have recorded, although I would like to, I won’t. Shoot. I will tell you that so far it’s a pretty wide selection of songs - everything from “It’s The Holiday Season” to “O Holy Night”. The project is a pretty ambitious undertaking for us and I’ll say I’m really please with what we have done. Still some tweaks and a few more songs to record but we are having fun and making good progress! A few years back, Lynn was listening to a recording project that my son, Matt, and I had done with some of Matt’s friends in the Nashville area. I remember Lynn saying, you know I wish you guys had just turned it loose on one of those songs. Well, that thought stuck with me and on the next recording project Matt and I did, which was all original tunes, we did indeed turn it loose on one song - aptly named - “Turn It Loose”.

Jul 24