Pastor Robert Eckert

A Message for You

December 8, 2011 // 0 Comments

The Gift of Peace  by PASTOR ROBERT ECKERT Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church As translated in the Contemporary English Version of the Bible, the first two verses of Psalm 133 go like this: “It is truly wonderful when relatives live together in peace. It is as beautiful as olive oil poured on Aaron’s head and running down his beard and the collar of his robe.” That second part of the quote, about olive oil on Aaron’s head, doesn’t necessarily say much to us these days. For the writer of the Psalm, however, it was a beautiful thing. Aaron was a high priest, and pouring aromatic oil on a person dedicated to religious service was a common ritual back in the day. The writer of the Psalm is telling us that just as there is a sweet perfume from the oil that consecrates a priest, family harmony is fragrant and holy. These verses come to mind during a time of year when relatives living together in peace can be a rare commodity. Movies and sitcoms abound that poke fun at the antics of dysfunctional families during the holidays. For comedic effect they exaggerate our foibles and idiosyncrasies, but the underlying truth of how we pick and jab at those closest to us can be harsh and painful. Do you dread going to see Aunt Millie? Are you happy that your brother has to work Christmas morning because he’s so cynical that he takes the fun out of everything? Is Grandma likely to be her bitter, critical self? Is this any way to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace? The words of the ancient prophet Isaiah are frequently quoted during the season of Advent. He’s the one who coined the phrase “Prince of Peace.” He also looked forward to a time when “the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them” (NIV). That’s a picture of relatives living together in peace and then some! Want to give a gift that will last this Christmas? How about the gift of peace? How about greeting Aunt Millie with a sincere hug, or taking some cookies to […]

A Message for You

August 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

We are the bridge  by PASTOR ROBERT ECKERT Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church Several years ago, I attended a seminar to learn the basics of marketing. The instructor focused on what he called “the four Ps of marketing.” With tongue firmly in cheek he listed them for us: product, price, promotion… and distribution. What the four points boiled down to is that successful marketing requires an item or service to market, an intelligent evaluation of how much it must and can sell for, a plan for letting people know it’s available for purchase, and the means to get it into the hands of consumers. It was this teacher’s contention that the fourth “P” was where many businesses fall short. They know their product, they know how much they can get for it, and they pour tons of resources into promoting it, but in the end they shortchange the delivery system. Poor distribution is usually the culprit when basic human needs go unfulfilled in this world. Our creator is the source of all products, the price is free, and you can’t get any better promotion than the teachings of the world’s great traditions. Consider these words from the Qur’an, for example: “If you put your whole trust in Allah, as you ought, He most certainly will satisfy your needs.” Or the advice of Jesus from the Christian testament: “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat, drink, or wear?’ But seek first his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” And predating them both, Hebrew scripture invites the people of God’s creation to test God’s faithfulness and “see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” In our world, however, the free gifts of God that are announced in sacred text after sacred text are too often lost in transit, never arriving to the hands of many who need them—and that’s on us. Our Creator produces, prices, and promotes but has chosen to leave it to us to distribute. Almsgiving, feeding the hungry, caring for “widows and orphans”—these are among the rubrics that are common to all faiths. It is we who are called […]