Luke 13.14-17 Get off your ass and rest. RSUMC 20160821

resting_donkey

But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.”  But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.[NRSV]

A story of URGENCY of healing, priorities, and sabbath rest.

Healing:

The emergency room is filled with people who are priorities for treatment every day of the week and every hour of the night. The triage nurses are the first line of identifying the balance of severity of need with the available space and equipment for treatment.

The woman of the text has perplexed doctors and rabbis nearly two decades had been seeking healing without relief. The community was very likely calloused to the condition of a woman, bleeding, chronically. She was at the third strike. She was frustrated and hopeless and so were the caregivers and community.

The first question that Jesus poses to the faithful crowd and leaders is this: “Which is more important: Healing or Rules?” Live without rules is chaotic. Life without healing is a miserable life.

What is most important to me? To God? To the woman? To the authorities? to the community? etc.

Where is the urgency with an 18 year condition? What’s one more day?

Answer: God who made the rules can amend and bend and complete the law/rules.

Healing brought the woman into the heart of the community and that became more urgent.

Priorities:

The second question is a variation of the first: “Does God care more about the law or caring for the people God created?”

It has an obvious answer. It gives perspective to the when we follow the rule and when we break the law. Should you never speed while driving? No, rushing someone to the emergency room who has a critical need would not be expected to sit in traffic and wait for red lights to change, BUT when we do break the rules we need to pay greater attention to our surroundings.

We live in a society where major groups of people act without thinking, and we send law enforcement persons to into situations where people who are calloused to the law and bring anger and anarchy into the urgency that chaos brings.

Answer: Who is setting the priorities? God or the administrators of God’s representatives? Some would say just follow the laws. But when folks are disregarding the law we have to become hyper aware of the circumstances.

We live in a 24/7 society that has lost the power of walking with God in the Garden of Eden.

Sabbath Rest:

The Sabbath rest vs Sabbath rules  Rules over healing on the sabbath vs healing.

The heart of the passage helps us re-frame what the sabbath means to us and for us.God has created us to spend time together. If the rules and law keep us from finding time with God then the law is in the way. But it is more often the case that we use the law to our advantage.

Let’s do our church stuff on Sunday and the rest of the week is our own. Instead of all that I do, I do with God’s help and guidance and mercy and forgiveness and Sabbath is the time after dinner and before bedtime. Just talking, sharing, listening and being together.

This passage is another where we see some of Jesus’s frustration, “You make caring for your animals/transportation on the sabbath, but you don’t heal with is obviously more important and in need of the greatest attention.

The healing on the sabbath glories God; it reminds us that God is working with us, and it reminds us what/who is most important to God.

The Priorities shift, of what time is God’s time and who we live and work for is where we go astray. What is God’s priority vs what is my priority. (even if they over lap, God’s priority comes first.)

ACTION PLAN: 24/6 lifestyle. work hard and rest hard… give up off the sofa and study the bible. Change your comfort and habits to make more time for God. Turn off the bad news and retell the good news, to remember where are priorities are when we go back to work/etc.

 

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JOY: Day 3 of 3 “You Who” Exodus 3.1-17 PHUMC Revival 20160817

BurnBushMoses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them.
So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.” But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, “What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I am has sent me to you.’ “
God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations. Go and assemble the elders of Israel, and say to them, “The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying: I have given heed to you and to what has been done to you in Egypt. I declare that I will bring you up out of the misery of Egypt, to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.‘ [NRSV]

Yoohoo

Did you know: When the early copies of the Torah, OT, were written on scrolls, the scribes omitted the vowels to save space. Using small stylistic marks to indicate the proper pronunciation. The name of God was known as Ya-Weh, but what if the scribes made the wrong marks and God’s name was known as: You-Who!
Moses is walking up the mountain side watching his flock by night and he see’s the presence of God: God calls out to Moses: You-Who, You-Who Moses, I am, over here.
This past Monday was the official day of relaxation. I forgot to have us recognize it in our worship: Slip off your shoes, loosen you shirt, sit back and get comfortable? The invitation to take off the shoes invites us to get comfortable with God. Be comfortable being vulnerable and exposed in God’s presence. God’s invitation to Moses was to take your shoes off and stay a while, take your shoes off and rest from your work. Take off your track shoes and rest from all the running and racing and striving to win.

The Work of Rest

For you and I to find the Joy God has for us takes some work and effort.

Moses:

  • Take off your shoes, get comfortable walking on holy ground… as opposed to keeping the floor clean.
  • Take off your traveling shoes and stay awhile
  • Take off  your work shoes and rest
  • Take off your athletic shoes and rest from striving to win.

Joy is Found in the Holy Places

  • Camp Glisson
  • Buckeye Creek
  • Prayer Closet
  • Altar Rail

also,

  • In Songs,
  • Scriptures
  • Spiritual moments and memories

The 3rd Rule of Methodism

Practice your piety. not Pie-eating

The Question for tonight: What are you doing to seek the holy JOY of the Lord?

Don’t just tease God on Sunday morning, spend time dwelling all day, wherever you are.

Practice hunting for Joy: Not everyone finds because not everyone is searching.

Practice naming and claiming Joy: Pokemon Go model of not only seeking but capture for later use.

Practice offering Joy to one another in the face of our obstacles. Fear, Grief, Guilt, Apathy, Ignorance, Greed, Shame, etc.

Setting a new Millstone for Joy   (Commitment time)

Where will I look for Joy: Sunday school, new small group or study, personal study, a journal

How will I stay connected to Joy: Will I stay in God’s word and songs? Will I start the conversations? Will I use the post its’

Where will I begin sharing Joy each day: It is a USE it or LOOSE it power. Keep it ready, keep it handy, keep it alive.

 

Joy is not forced upon us, but it ours through Jesus Christ who died and lives for us: Our greatest Joy.

 

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JOY: Day 2 of 3 “Obstructions to Joy”

obstructionMatthew 18:6 NIV “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Mark 9:42 NIV “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.

Luke 17:1-2 NIV Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.

 

Heimlich

One Wednesday afternoon I noticed a man with white hair seated across the table in the fellowship hall began choking on his food. His wife was patting his back and calling his name. “Someone call 911!”, she shouted. I knew he could not wait for the EMT’s to arrive and began moving to reach around his midsection to start the Heimlich maneuver. I made a firm grip and began to press in on his diaphragm hoping to dislodge a small portion of this lunch that was blocking his airway. I tried repeatedly without success. Occasionally small amounts of air would go in, but none would go out. Whatever was stuck would not budget. The EMT’s arrived and began using what looked like a plastic hook into his throat. After pulling and prodding, our came a piece of cauliflower and in and a rush of expended air. Not every obstruction is life threatening, but most are small.

What might possibly block or interfere with finding JOY?

  • Grief: When we are saddened by the loss of love and loved ones we might not want to celebrate their faithful reward. Our attention is more drawn to our hurt and need. Grief is a process that is to journey through, but when will not allow room for JOY we begin to be stuck in the full muck of grief’s emptiness.
  • Fear: Fear of being rejected, fear of the unknown, fear of the all-to-familiar anxieties in life wear down our patience and willingness to trust. We give into fear and close the door on JOY.
  • Pain: Physical and emotional pain demand our attention now, and chronic pain steals our attention. JOY takes back seat to the immediate call for comfort. The desire to quench that demanding hurt does not want to wait nor work for JOY. We push JOY aside for those moments.
  • Lack of Information: Sometimes we forget to draw on the JOY of Christ or we don’t think that God knows or cares. Reminding someone to seek JOY through the Spirit is not our first suggestion.
  • The Law: Some folks are rule followers and their value for keeping assumes there are times that JOY is not to be tapped into. “No running in the church.” “Don’t get your clothes dirty.” “Don’t interrupt.”
  • Lack of Experience: Some folks have experienced so little JOY they don’t recognize what it is or when it is most needed. [ Parish Trip vs Watchnight Service ]

What is JOY?

  • Joy is the comfort of being safely back home
  • Joy is the assurance that we have another day to practice tomorrow
  • Joy is belonging to the herd
  • Joy is being happy being the self God created you to be
  • Joy is walking on the water with Jesus (Feeding the hungry and seeing the face of Jesus)
  • Joy is doing one small thing that makes a giant difference in someone’s life.
  • Joy is sharing goodness and seeing it bloom in someone’s heart.
  • Joy is the source of our happiness.
  • Joy is God working in our lives: past, present and future.

Orbiting the Hairball <Gordon MacKenzie>

A fun book about Gordon’s work culture at Hallmark. His job called for creativity in a corporate machine that had little interest in the JOY of being creative. To Hallmark, the goal was to make money and success for the those in the company and the investors. The products of Hallmark are intended to sell heartfelt greeting cards and special objects of memory-keeping. In reality, the left hand had no idea what the right hand was doing and it was a depressing place to work, Gordon reports. He describes an occasion where we visited schools trying to instill creativity in students and found those in Kindergarten had great creative ideas and an extremely high desire to share ideas. Half as many in first grade; by third grade only a few and by 5th grade, only one or two per class. By high school, no one would talk to him or share their work or ideas.

The same is true of JOY. We become calloused when others tell us what we cannot do, should not do or become, we develop into the lowest common denominator experience of JOY that related to possessions and celebrations.

What Is the Worst Obstacle of Joy?

It is a spiritual doubt/questioning:

When we experience fear, pain, ignorance, rules, grief and other factors of life,

we believe that these things are greater than the God who made us and

stronger than the God who loves us.

They are closer than the God who died for us and

more tangible than the God who Spirit is always with us.

 

Getting Un-Stuck of Millstones

A: They have to be untied or they will weigh us down and eventually drown us.

Naming the Obstacles and giving them to God.  [ Writing Assignment : using paper to confess/offer to God our obstructions to JOY]

Claiming Joy

Excited visions of what can be and will be

Seeing the best and celebrating the JOY in others

Turning to God rather than blame, look for excuses, begin to fear, lead with our doubts and pain.

YOU JUST A JAR OF JOY

I’m Going to take you off the shelf spread you all around.

 

 

 

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JOY: Day 1 of 3 “Justification” Romans 5.1-11

Justification

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For while, we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. [NRSV]

Just Only John

As a child, one of the books my parents gave me was a juvenile work, a story about a little boy named John. The boy dreams of all the other things he might want to be, except for being himself. He choices to be someone other than himself left him alone, afraid, and uncertain anything but joyful when he had the choice to be himself again he chose to be Just only John, (the title the book.)

Our Look at Joy

This week I offer you a perspective on

  • our Source of Joy,
  • Obstacles of Joy and
  • Yourself as a Joyful person

Ask your neighbor: Do you see Joy in me tonight?

🎼  I’ve got the Joy, Joy! Joy, Joy, down in my heart, where? Down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart, I’ve got the Joy, Joy! Joy, Joy, Down in my heart, to stay.

Lost Down in my Heart…

The truth is that we are not always joy-filled people. Sometimes we live without the power of Joy.

Just because we don’t find the Joy doesn’t mean it is not there, or here

The camp/ VBS song we sing is sometimes the truest picture that Joy is so deep down that we lose grasp of it

Joy comes in the morning

Psalm 30.5 For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning.For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning.[RSV]

Joy is something to seek to find, wait to receive, anticipate until it is enjoyed, AND shared until Christ returns.

Will the Real Joy Stand Up

Joy comes from God through Justification.

Justification is a good Methodist Work describing what Jesus has done for us through work of grace in the cross and power of the resurrection.

Jesus makes it right.. from the song/hymn, “Have a little talk with Jesus

Eternal Joy is made By God, Through Jesus and shared by the Holy Spirit.

We might not use Justification as a theological term that often,

But we are fully away of how to justify our actions and in-actions in the world.

Problem with just only John

The problem of the lesson I learn about the childhood book I mentioned earlier is that most of the time I attempt to find joy, peace and meaning from my choices. my justifying thug d brings temporary joy

  • I will be joyful when I finish school
  • I will be joyful when I get a house
  • I will be joyful when I get a job
  • I will be joyful when I marry
  • I will be joyful when I retire
  • I will be joyful when I win the lottery

The implication is that I will not have joy until these come to pass, and if they don’t I don’t know where my joy comes from?

 

Finding the Joy.

We live in a stressful, frustrating world filled with division, fighting, and fear.

How we wish the people of ISIS would find the joy of Jesus Christ.

How we wish the people fighting over radical histories would find our joy

How we wish people in our own community would find joy even in poverty and uncertainty

How we wish we could find joy when we feel lost in grief and fear.

Sometimes we have to Swim further our and dive deeper

If joy is deep in my heart, I’ve got to go deep to get it

Jumping into the deep end of joy.

Where do we Go to find Joy?

Challenge you to find someone, in the next two days, who does not have a church home and ask them, “What would it take for you to come visit my church tomorrow night?”

  • Would it take buying groceries or putting gas in their tank?
  • Would you have to keep their kids or mow their lawn?
  • Would it take driving them a doctor’s visit?
  • You would do it for the least of these gathered here tonight, why not try it on someone else who needs a home? (Come Back to the challenge)

Jumping into our world view. How does to the world see us? Do we have the right clothes, car, hair style, jewelry, the right bumper stickers or yard signs

  • If my joy is based on money and I don’t have money, then I have no joy
  • If my joy is based on toys and I don’t have the latest toy, I have no joy
  • If my joy is based on what others think or perceive from me, and they don’t like or approve of me, then I have no joy.
  • What if my joy is founded in the one who loves me, I will always have joy
  • What if my joy is grounded in the one who made me, I can always find joy
  • What if my joy is rooting in the one who sees my brokenness and sin and still claims me as their own, Joy is always an option.

 

Tomorrow we will celebrate some JOY because you will bring the joy in the process of opening your hearts and share the search for Joy with others.

We will talk about the obstacles to JOY tomorrow.

Tonight we pray for those persons who need the JOY we know in Christ.

Tonight we pray for the JOY that will be revealed in the morning.

Tonight we celebrate that Jesus has planted JOY by Justification, but making right our broken hearts and lives.

Look at your neighbor: Tell them I want to see the JOY living in you.

Tell them: I’ve Got the JOY of Jesus Christ in my, let me tell all about it.

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Luke 12.49-56 “Interpret the Present” RSUMC 20160814

Forcast_30739_20160814

“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? [NRSV]

Current Conditions

The primary role of the prophet is NOT to tell the future. Job number one is to help the people and the king see the present as it truely is. The present without the bias, without the spin, but will all of the honesty and frustration that the people and the king are trying to avoid or blow out of proportion.

Start with the weather: Who can be our prophet today and tell us the weather conditions today? Hot! How hot? Dry or Wet? How Dry/Wet?

What does knowing the current conditions tell us about what we do this afternoon or tomorrow?

Measurement and Standards

How do we measure current conditions?

In matters of faith we turn to scripture and read it through the Ben Franklin glasses of National Treasure fame. One lense shows the traditions that have shaped our past. One lens reflect what our God created brains tell us through reason. One lens opens our hearts to the work of the Holy Spirit in our own experince. No one lens is stronger than the other and all three are directed toward our understanding and encounter with the Bible as the holy Word. True comes when we are willing to use all three lens as we read, listen and respond to the bible.

We have other measurea in our standards, but scripture through these three perspectives is our greatest tool.

Using the Tools for Good.

The reasons we gather for worship are not only to praise God, but to learn the traditions of the church, experience the work of the hold spirit and spark our inspiration to learn and grow together.

The reasons we have Sunday school and small groups is not just to socialize, gossip and drink coffee, but to share our journey of study and reflection, practicing our ideas, suggestions and standards before we must act on our faith in our daily lives.

The reason we reach out to feed, cloth, comfort, build, repair, heal and be-friend others in Jesus name is to practice the faith that is in our minds in the real needs of the world around us.

  • If we only had worship we would never grow our faith.
  • If we only studied and shared our minds we would never see faith in action
  • If we AND those we serve only served others we might forget why we act the way we do.

When the Signs Call for Action

A Baptism of Fire and Compelled to Complete it.

This passage shows a moment of frustration from Jesus. I have a mission of cleansing, purifying, renewing, and restarting and I wish you would see what I see.

Conditions of the Present Age:

  • Are people divided?
  • Are people so committed to their own convictions that they have quit listening to others of different views?
  • Are people hurting for real hope?
  • Are people more dependant on the government solving problems than turning to God?
  • Are the churches reflecting the Body of Christ as God’s presense in the world?
  • Where do we get our information?
  • Where do we connect with God
  • Where do study, reflect and practice our faith?
  • Why do we think continuing without changing our method that we will find away through?
  • What is our call to action?

Take the Field

As the Olympics begin to fade, the beginning of football season is about to break open. I would suggest that the average person knows more about thier favorite team and leauge than they do how to transform the division in our communities and hearts.

We come to worship to practice connecting with God. If there is someone you know who is not here, connect and bring them next week. Connecting others with God is the best way to connect with God.

I believe we might not feel ready to connect someone with God because we have not been present a practice or not had our heart in the drills. This is why we have Sunday school and small groups to prepare us.

I asked two weeks ago for someone to answer a call to pick up the lead of our Feed My Sheep ministry and in the past two weeks no one has stepped forward to keep this powerful ministry alive. In this present time of people hungry for the love and hope of Christ, is this the time we keep safe and quiet?

The Reality

We live in a place where we are called to get in the game knowing we need more practice and preperation than time allows. We take the faith we have been given, in the grace we have been clothed and step in where and when we would rather not go and reflect Christ.

  • Otherwise, we are not the church.
  • Otherwise, we remain in the place of frustration
  • Otherwise we are only people of mind OR tradition OR expereince..
  • (Jr Bird Man finger lenses)

Tell you neighbor, you look goofy like that, but I know you are showing me Christ.

I’d rather show Christ than lead you astray.

Let’s take the field together, the clock is running and we don’t need a delay of game.

 

 

 

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Hebrews 11:(12-16) A Better Country 20160807 RSUMC

  • HeavenBeacons

    Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval.  By faith, we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.  By faith, Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith, he still speaks.  By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and “he was not found because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” And without faith, it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this, he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.  By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going.  By faith, he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.  For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  By faith, he received the power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance, they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth,  for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.  If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had an opportunity to return.  But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. [NRSV]

 

A Better Country

  • What kind of country will our nation have become in forty years? 4 years? 4 months?
    • Are you optimistic or pessimistic about what will be?
  • What kind of church will our congregation be in forty years? 4 years? 4 months?
    • Are you hopeful or filled with doubts?
  • What will your faith look like in forty years, four years? four months?
    • Are you empowered or searching?

A Better Country

We have so entwined religion and politics that we have become polarized and paralyzed in our misappropriated patriotism. It is not a matter of separating church and state conversations, it is about using the freedoms our nation has to most fully express and experience of faith in Jesus Christ. Our freedoms allow for many faiths, but we place our trust in a better country. W

If we were as preoccupied with living as citizen of heaven as we are citizen of the USA, what would it look like??

  • Facebook would be filled with words, pictures, and messages about our faith and church
  • Our conversations would be about news and report of where we see God at work in the world. We would be trying to out-do each other in love and service.
  • We would stay up at night worrying about how many people we had reached, transformed, and welcomed into the fellowship of the church.
  • People would see our commitment to the citizenship we hold highest is in the heart of God.

The OT Case for Building a “more perfect union.”

Creation, Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob, key examples of faith that have shaped the faith we now live. The bottom line of each of these persons witnessed examples of placing themselves and their personal trust in God to lead, protect, save, heal, and bless. The fruit of seeking our ultimate allegiance is in God, is that God uses us to build a better country, a heavenly one.

New Testament Case

In the parable that the lawyer asks Jesus who is my neighbor, we find it is the one who shows grace and loving kindness.

In this faith-history lesson begs the question: What is my home? What is my citizenship? To home and where do I belong?

What is my home? Is it only the building at my address? Is it the sum of my stuff and assets and debts? Is only my family and extended family?

The Call to Live in our Heavenly Citizenship, (On Earth as it is in Heaven)
Is this the story of our nation? Is this the story of our people? Is this the story that bears fruit in our lives?

Call to make disciples:

  • Love one another in service, AND
  • Inspire others to join the fellowship, AND
  • Worship and Fellowship to strengthen another before God.

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Luke 12.13-22 Eat, Drink & See Mary 20160731 RSUMC

AJC_Conyers_EatDrinkSeeMary

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear.  [NRSV]

Capitalizing on the Word
Annually throughout the 1990s, crowds of over 80,000 of faith and proof seekers gathered in Conyers, Georgia to visit the site of Nancy Fowler’s home each October 13th for a visitation from the Virgin Mary. In the area of Conyers, signs began to post in Chamber-of-Commerce style reading: Visit Conyers: Eat, Drink and See Mary.  Drawing on the text from Luke’s gospel capitalizing the entrepreneur spirit of the text.

Even now, instead of seeing, hearing and experience Christ among us, we might settle for a crowd with generous pockets instead in place of visit with Jesus.

This text opens forcing Jesus, in the role of Moses or a rabbi, charged with settling matters of inheritance. The request is for Jesus to resolve our financial disputes when Jesus is interested in preparing our spiritual selves.

I recall a moment of misdirected attention on my very first mission trip. While visiting a home worship service, of one of the seminary students from the Juan Wesley Seminario, one of the neighbors began speaking in tounges. This style of worship was not a tradition of our mission team, and one of the group leaders insisted I take photos to show the Rotary Club, the Men’s and Women’s groups and others who had helped fund our trip. “That picture will be worth a $1000 for our next trip.” Somehow a moment of personal worship was being transformed into a monetary moment.  (I took several photos, but they were all blurry when I developed the film.)

Why Leave Home to Serve?
With every mission trip, there are always those who asked, suggest and even demand: Why don’t we take care of our neighbors in our home neighborhood before we go giving away our money, time and resources?

The answer is simple: We are a community of people with ample goods. We have the ability to feed and clothe our neighbors here in Jerusalem AND help neighbors in Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.

Sometimes the travel outside our communities to serve allows us the perspective to “practice” what we can continue in our home communities. If we mess up, strike out, and just plain fail where we are not known, we are less likely to give up trying at home. Those who know us best are too often the quickest to judge and criticize our efforts.

And finally, the risk that we take to serve is the place we experience measurable growth in our spiritual practice. This week our Culebra team was starting work on a project where we assumed proper communication had approved the work before we arrived. The ‘homeowner’ had not received the message we would be digging holes in their yard and building a pole barn over the rusting old bus/van they used for a home. What would you do if a team of foreign folks began digging holes in your yard? There is a risk that cross-culture and language barriers are not working.

Taking the RISK to Find Christ
Entering someone’s home with the intention of sharing the love of God and not fulling knowing the language you need to speak, call for faith to override the situation. That is risky business.

We are a month away from when we would like to resume the Feed My Sheep Ministry but we need someone to take charge of that ministry and deliver or build a team to deliver the food, or that ministry will come to an end. That is a risky place to put the meals our neighbors who have come to depend on that meal.

We are weeks away from packing backpacks, will we have enough food? Enough money? Enough volunteers?

This lesson of the barn and bigger barns reminds us that we have the means and the persons to do all these AND even more.

Jesus’s work to disciples like ourselves is not to worry about ourselves, our opinions, our limitations, our excuses and focus on what God CAN do through us.

Risk Taking Service: Is doing whatever it takes to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house, comfort, support, nurture, remember and stand with those who suffer.

We need persons willing to deliver food. If you have a vehicle and a license your barn is big enough.

We need persons willing to pack, buy and hand out food. If you can do these tasks, your barn is full enough.

We need people who will go to Culebra, and other destinations where we can share the living Christ, your barn is full enough.

OUR Barns are Full Enough
Turn off your political filters.
Turn off your speakers that sound off, “I can’t do something like that.”
Turn off your “I’m too busy.”
Turn to your neighbor and remind them, In Christ, your barn in full enough.
In Christ, your barn is full enough.

Christ calls us to serve those around us and the world.
Our barns are full enough to serve.
Therefore, go and do likewise.

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Amos 8.1-12 “Final Fruit-Baskets?” 202160717 RSUMC

 

fruitbasketThis is what the Lord God showed me—a basket of summer fruit. He said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me, “The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass them by. The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,” says the Lord God; “the dead bodies shall be many, cast out in every place. Be silent!” Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying, “When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the Sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.” The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who lives in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt? On that day, says the Lord God, I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on all loins, and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day. The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it. [NRSV]

Sackcloth, baldness, morning only child, a bitter day.

  • Sackcloth, baldness and morning, oh my!
  • Sackcloth, baldness and morning, oh my!
  • Sackcloth, baldness and morning, oh my!
  • •    Sackcloth: A sign of sinfulness
    •    Baldness: A sign of unhealthiness
    •    Morning an Only Child: Grief for this generation and the next
    •    Bitter Day: A sign of our separation from God.

Sending a famine instead of a fruit basket.

Not a famine of land, bread or thirst
But a famine of HEARING the words of the Lord.
God’s bringing a basket that we fill find as empty.
•    If I bring fruit every day, and no one takes even a bite, it will eventually spoil
•    If I bring healthy snacks and no one even samples, we will eventually starve
•    If I bring hope for this generation and the next and no one trusts and believes,  we have nothing left.

The basket is full of unwanted, un-tasted, un-sampled, un-digested, un-used nourishment: It lies in waste (or lingers in our waists)

Seeking and not finding, Knocking and nothing opening, Asking and receiving none.

The question of the day is
how long will the famine take?
How many attacks can we stand?
How many bodies left on the ground?
How many reports of violence before we are numb?

Where is the fruit basket?

•    The basket of milk and honey?
•    The basket of power and grace?
•    The basket of truth and certainty?
•    The basket of goodness and peace?

We want that fruit basket, then
1.    Why not eat it when it is placed in front of you?
2.    Why wait until there are famine and ruin?

Today is the day for feasting on the Word of God.

•    Open and read it
•    Read and share it
•    Share and sing it
•    Sing and Teach it
•    Teach and live it
•    Live it and find the God, who loves us, living with us, still.

 

 

 

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Luke 10:25-37 Show Me The Mercy 20160710 RSUMC

ShowMetheGrace
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”  But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” [NRSV]

JOB #1. Show Me the Mercy

  • Somewhere the passion for justice and mercy has become a political topic.
  • In the News this week we have seen heightened tensions and enraged emotions from people who have a heritage of being marginalized by race, gender and creed have been blamed for the evils of our society.
    • One answer for being oppressed is to fight back and reverse the oppression
    • One answer is to learn from oppression and say, no more oppression
    • One answer is to keep quiet, removed and mind our own business.
  • These are the options in Jesus’s parable
    • Those who turn to the law to help, ignoring the hurting
    • Those who want to keep out of the fray
    • Those who get personal in the process of healing.
  • Putting the verse in a current context might be:
    • Some would look at violence and unjust scene and jump to legal answers. For example USING the situation. Can’t you hear the leader who gets back to the temple and begins talking about Crime and Violence Laws they need to impose to keep people safe? They are more concerned about the LAW than the person.
      • Talking Gun Control instead of Mercy for the Oppressed
      • Pontificating on Social Media about Mercy, but showing no mercy.
      • Work toward healing and wholeness
    • Some might see the violence and unjust scene and talk to themselves or their peers but keep from being informed or involved. The talk and debate but leave the neighbor dying in the street.
    • Someone stops, ignoring the laws, traditions, expenses and inconvenience and shows personal-to-person mercy.
  • QUESTION: Which neighbor would you hope walks by you in your time of crisis?
    • The one who using the situation to address the law
    • The one who only talks about doing good when its easy or simple.
    • The one willing to get you through?
The Model of Mercy
  • Have a heart for God that looks for the good in the midst of evil and brokenness.
  • Seeing the heart of God, even in the lives of our enemies (the victim)
  • Seeing the place for healing instead of winning
  • Healing Wounds
  • Sharing Wine
  • Sharing the expense and opportunities for service.
The Model of Empty Mercy
  • Let’s focus on the laws, rules, getting even and determining what is fair.
  • Let’s identify who are what to blame, but not help
  • Let’s talk about it and keep our distance
  • Let’s just keep attacking people and taking advantage of the opportunity
  • Bad stuff happens, live with it.
Showing Mercy Means: Getting involved, committed & connected
  • Mercy begins by Looking for Goodness, Godliness, Humanity:
  • Seeing yourself in your enemy.
  • Who do you want as neighbors?

What do we do with this passage?

Be the ones who teach

  • mercy over correctness,
  • mercy over distance,
  • mercy over self.. then we become to Good Neighbor with God’s help and grace.

 

Footnote; the parable is not about befriending the robber or the thieves, nor what the Good Samaritan would/might have done if the thieves and robbers were in progress of about to attack the victim. Mercy remains the same: how we interpret how to show the mercy will always.

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Luke 10.1-11 A Church on Tour 20160703

sent

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.  He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.  Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.  Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!’  And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.  Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say,  “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.‘ [NRSV]

Marching Orders

On this patriotic weekend, we come to a text calling for our marching orders.

The Lead Team of Followers

Jesus leads from a place of support. Jesus has our back.

The Promise of Failure

Think in terms of baseball instead of report cards. An average student receives a “C” letter grade for their work but an ordinary baseball player bats .250 for the season. A great player might bat .350, which means they only get a hit about one-third of the time.

Bringing the Kingdom Near

Being the body of Christ for the world becomes real when our presence reveals God’s presence in the world around us.
Of all the things we do, in our work of “being the church” is when we are a people sent to reveal God’s kingdom when and where are located.
TEST: Is my Jesus showing?
  • in my words
  • in my mind
  • in my heart
Is the kingdom of God what people hear, see, think and feel when they are with me?
If you are not sure, then ask
Complete the communication Circle

Expected Rejection and Failure

The instruction is to leave where we are not effective, but try first, do not assume.
The instruction is to try and stay until it’s time to go.

Living as Sent People

We have our orders
We have our ministry
We have our mission
We have our work
If we are not sharing the kingdom where we go, we are fleeing the battlefield, if we have given up then we are deserters.

The Homework:  Share hospitality, heal/fix what you can, and confirm why you are present and doing what you do: bringing the kingdom close to you. (Carpenters: Close to You.)

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