Robert McDowell

Author's details

Name: Robert McDowell
Date registered: March 3, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Nikos: Sunday Worship Preview – February 1 — January 25, 2015
  2. Nikos: If All Dogs Go to Heaven then Why Can’t They Join the Church? — January 24, 2015
  3. Nikos: Dave’s Deep Thoughts – Look Up, Music Man! — January 23, 2015
  4. Nikos: Upcoming Sunday Scripture Commentary – January 25 — January 21, 2015
  5. Nikos: My Super Bowl Trophy – A Gold Sticker — January 20, 2015

Most commented posts

  1. Nikos: If All Dogs Go to Heaven then Why Can’t They Join the Church? — 2 comments
  2. Nikos: A Plea for Unity As We Approach the Presidential Election — 1 comment
  3. Nikos: Back to Church Video – September 16, 2012 — 1 comment
  4. Nikos: Pre-Sunday (Oct. 28) Worship Reflections – Blind Bartimeaus — 1 comment
  5. Nikos: Dave’s Deep Thoughts – Pre-Holy Week Reflection: Remembering the Sacrifice — 1 comment

Author's posts listings

Jan 25 2015

Nikos: Sunday Worship Preview – February 1

Original post at

Sunday, February 1 - (9:00 am & 10:30 Services) & Wednesday, February 4  (6:30 pm Casual Service @ Crossroads, 2095 Fair Avenue)

Features - 4th Sunday After the Epiphany & Holy Communion

Scripture - I Corinthians 8:1-13 & Mark 1:21-28

Sermon "A Church for All People"

Theme - The church is called to be a place where people with may differences can come together to be God's people. The Apostle Paul helps us to see how we can be a church for all people.

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Jan 24 2015

Nikos: If All Dogs Go to Heaven then Why Can’t They Join the Church?

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Meet Lulu, also known as Boo-Boo Bear. She is our baby girl. And yes, this makes her a PD, a preacher's dog. Therefore, imagine my disappointment when I learned that the United Methodist Church does not consider her a candidate for baptism or church membership.

What?! This is a joke, right?  Wasn't it Mark Twain who said that if going to heaven was about doing good works, his dog would get there ahead of him!

I can't tell you the number of times that I have practiced my sermon during our "walkie" time helping me to refine my delivery. She has scared away a couple of thieves who were trying to break into our church building early one morning. She also lets little children pet her after church on Sunday morning as long as they make an appointment ahead of time and mommy is there with her. Here we are during one of our afternoon bible story times.

[Lulu listening to her afternoon bible story.]

Do you know how many times she has to smell delicious covered-dish casseroles making their way into our church building. It's torturous for our Boo Bear to be subject to this kind of exclusion. Aren't we a church of open hearts, open minds, and open doors?

So here is her church directory picture. Doesn't this count for something?

Lulu McDowell

If dogs ever become eligible for church membership, we will need to change the name of our membership process from "Confirmation" to "'Cat'echism" for obvious reasons. This move will also necessitate that we do a better job of teaching "'dog'ma."

In the meantime, maybe we can offer "Dog's Church" or "Moments with Dogs" during worship. I told Lulu that we are at least allowed to have a pet blessing but that it would have to be outside the church building. I could tell by the look in her eyes, that she felt patronized.

I swear I could hear her say, "Doggonnit!" No pun intended.

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Jan 23 2015

Nikos: Dave’s Deep Thoughts – Look Up, Music Man!

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Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

When the parade passes by,
would someone please point the bass drummer
in the right direction?

During the summer,
we staged the musical, The Music Man.
As part of our publicity for the show,
the cast, crew, and staff formed a marching band for the town parade.

Since I had been a drummer in high school,
I found myself in the percussion section,
and by the luck of the draw,
I ended up with a bass drum in my hands.

Now I don’t dislike the bass drum.
It is one of the most important instruments
in a marching band.
It keeps the beat
thus keeping the entire group together while marching.

But every percussionist will tell you
that it is the snare drum
that is to be envied.

The snare drum fits conveniently in front of the body
whereas the bass drum awkwardly juts out
and puts considerable strain on the back.
It’s as close to a pregnancy experience
that I will ever come.

Although my  high school days are well into my rearview  mirror,
it seemed like it would be fun to
recreate some of those marching band memories.

That was before they dropped me, my bass drum,
and my fellow marchers off at the bottom of the hill……
that would be the enormous hill where the parade formed.

Not that I am complaining…….
but carrying a bass drum up a gigantic hill in the summertime
is like running a race while carrying a watermelon.

By the time I reached the top of the hill,
my heart rate was the equivalent of
a high intensity workout video.

As I was gasping for breath,
I gazed at my empty 20 ounce water bottle
and sadly wondered why I hadn’t opted
for the 32 ouncer that was chilling in my refrigerator.

Then the whistle blew.

That would be the whistle to tell the band to form line.
Between gasps, I quickly reached for the harness
to strap me into the monster drum.

As I  snapped the last buckle
I realized that beyond my hyperventilating and overheating,
I was in serious trouble.

The bass drum was mounted too high.
I couldn’t see anything in front of me except the drum.

There was no time.
The band was moving onto Main Street.
I was marching blind..

To make matters worse,
I couldn’t hear the drum major’s whistle,
which meant I had no idea when the band needed to come to a halt.

This was made painfully evident
to the snare drummer in front of me
as I bullishly plowed into him on more than one occasion.
You can only apologize so often……

Since I couldn’t see the ground,
and I couldn’t see in front of me,
I only had one option……
I looked up.

By doing so, I was able to see the electric power lines
that lined the streets.
By using them as a guide,
I stood a much better chance that I wouldn’t careen into the crowd
and maim small children who were scrambling for candy.

This worked well until we had to turn a corner.
Another apology to the snare drummer
who after this latest assault,
was thinking about using his sticks for an entirely different purpose.

It’s not easy marching through a parade blindly.
It’s not easy marching through life blindly either,
never knowing what’s around the next corner,
never quite sure when the next whistle will  blow.

Sometimes people leave us.
Sometimes we get a pink slip.
Sometimes we don’t make it to our destination safely.
Sometimes we get a diagnosis we don’t want.

Even though we can’t see the future,
it doesn’t relegate us to spiritual blindness.
It is in fact, trusting through what we can’t see,
that we develop our spiritual vision.

How do we start?

It’s never a bad idea to look up.
Look up and trust that even though
we don’t know where the next step is,
we know that we are headed in the right direction.

I made it to the end of the parade.

I did so without seriously impairing anyone
and without running into any telephone poles.

I couldn’t have done it without looking up.
I highly recommend it.

As for re-living high school days……
well, that’s another story.

“I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With Him at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.”
                                                 Psalm 16:8

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Jan 21 2015

Nikos: Upcoming Sunday Scripture Commentary – January 25

Original post at

Sermon (January 25) - "Following Jesus"

Jonah 3:1-10

The Ninevites received warning that they would soon be destroyed, yet when they repented, God held back the wrath in store for them.

Jonah was an 8th century prophet who prophesied in northern Israel. While the Book of Jonah focuses on a serious matter, it is also playful with humor.

When the Lord calls Jonah to prophesy to the people of the despised Nineties, he runs the opposite direction, ends up being swallowed by a fish, only to be called again to go to Ninevah!

The theme of this scripture is repentance. The Ninevites end up repenting. This is a story of how God's love is universal and for all people. This is also a story about how we are sometimes reluctant to extend God's love to all people.

The end of the Jonah story becomes really serious when Jonah contemplates ending his life. Actually, the story doesn't have a clear ending and we are left to wonder how things turned out in the story. The story forces us to come face to face with the prejudices we have with other people.

Mark 1:14-20

This is a passage about hope. Even with the arrest of John the Baptist, Jesus begins his ministry of hope and healing for the world.

Jesus is announcing a key theme of the gospels, that the kingdom of God is near. God's future is breaking into the present time through the ministry of Jesus. We are to repent BECAUSE the kingdom of God has come near. It has already come. We need to get on board.

Our response to the announcement of this good news of God's kingdom breaking into our present is to repent and to believe in this good news. We are called to follow Jesus and live a life of faith.

These first four followers of Jesus are models of discipleship. They begin to make Jesus the number one priority in their lives.

[Note: The resources used for these scripture reading commentaries are based on the Everyone series by NT Wright, Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, The Wesley Study Bible, and the “Montreal-Anglican”lectionary commentaries.]

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Jan 20 2015

Nikos: My Super Bowl Trophy – A Gold Sticker

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Here I am proudly wearing a special gold sticker given to me by our administrative assistant today because I was the first to give her my articles for our upcoming newsletter. It was a fun way to acknowledge a simple achievement.

This sticker reminds me of a ping pong trophy that I won when I was in Elementary School. I couldn't believe that they gave me a trophy for beating a couple of other kids who weren't very good at ping pong. Nevertheless, it was a symbol of an achievement.

My gold sticker is a little reminder that it's the little things we do that can have the greatest impact in life.

We don't always give out stickers or trophies to people who live out their faith in simple but faithful ways. Sometimes, even our best efforts go ignored. My gold sticker is a little reminder that it's the little things we do that can have the greatest impact in life.

In a couple of weeks, some billionaire NFL owner will lift up the Superbowl trophy as a sign of victory because of a great accomplishment. As for me, I'm just as content in wearing my gold sticker. This gold sticker reminds me to keep doing the little things well, like something as mundane as typing out church newsletter articles. God will take care of the rest.

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Jan 19 2015

Nikos: Sunday Worship Preview – January 25

Original post at

Sunday, January 25 - (9:00 am & 10:30 Services) & Wednesday, January 28  (6:30 pm Casual Service @ Crossroads, 2095 Fair Avenue)

Features - 3rd Sunday After the Epiphany

Scripture - Jonah 3:1-10 & Mark 1:14-20

Sermon "Following Jesus"

Theme - Being a Christian is about following Jesus. It's about responding to Jesus call to "Come, follow me."

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