Apple Pie in the Sky…

Apple Pie in the Sky…
apple-pie-in-the-sky

Here in the valley near a tall pine tree, I look out my window and see the North Mountain of the Apple Pie Ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. Glorious! This blog is my musings as a relatively new solo pastor of the Gerrardstown Presbyterian church in Gerrardstown, WV. I answered the call to be the pastor of this church of 50+ people, after being Associate Pastor of a church of 500+ in Florida. Some think I am certifiable for moving from the Promised Land of Florida to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia that boasts a grocery store, antique store, two churches, houses and some farms to call itself a town. Maybe this is really just some ‘pie in the sky’.

The phrase ‘Pie in the Sky’ doesn’t have a very good connotation. It origins are the early 1900’s when the Salvation Army would march about on street corners raising money to save souls. Some of the souls on those same street corners were hungry folks who need food and didn’t have money to spend on these heavenly pursuits. A song writer Joe Hill wrote the song “Preacher and the Slave” in 1911 as a parody of the song Sweet Bye and Bye substituting “Pie in the Sky”. It was a sharp critique on the church that was too focused on its own agenda of heaven someday and blind to the physical needs that day of the folks right in front of them. [1]

James writes a similar critique in the first century “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”[2] A pretty sharp critique of the church as well!

What about the church today? What about this idea of faith and works? Is faith just pie in the sky if it doesn’t lead to works? I think Jesus answers that question with a resounding, ‘Yes!’ Jesus didn’t have much use for the religious leaders, the Pharisees, scribes and teachers, who critiqued him for healing on the Sabbath, eating with sinners and not washing before he sat down to eat but wouldn’t lift a finger to do justice and help those who were oppressed or burdened but indeed added to their burden with their rules and regulations. As Jesus put it ‘you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.”[3] When Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, people were relieved of burdens of pain, suffering, death, demons, and hunger. Jesus showed the people around him compassion and care and taught his disciples the same.

Pie in the Sky? Yes there is a range of mountains outside my window called the Apple Pie Range but the reality of being the church here isn’t just ‘pie in the sky’ but living our faith out loud no matter the number the number of people who call this church home. But living our faith out loud has to be more

than pious phrases and expressions of what we believe. To live our faith out loud means being real, expressing the reality of what we say when we say we love Jesus and want to live like him. Jesus’ lived the will of God in daily life – caring for not only people’s souls but also their bodies whether that meant food for them to eat or to have their bodies healed or delivered of demons. We are challenged to live our faith in tangible ways as we care for our neighbors in a myriad of ways.

This Tuesday August 30th from 4:30-6:30PM in the Church Hall is our community dinner free to all who want to come for a home cooked meal and some fellowship. It is one way we try to live our faith, not offering some pie in the sky but real food and fellowship for all who come to eat.

Gerrardstown Presbyterian Church, 372 Dominion Rd. Gerrardstown, WV 25420 Church phone 304-229-2316

[1] http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/pie-in-the-sky.html

[2] New Revised Standard Bible, James 2:14-17

[3] New Revised Standard Bible, Matthew 23:13