Archive for May, 2011

John 14:15-21 “No Orphans Here” JUMC 20110529

14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” NRSV

You will keep my commandment… It is given, if you love God you will keep all the commandments.

• If you treat others they way you want to be treated and put God first in all things, you have kept the whole law.

• If we missed the rapture date, if we love God, nothing else matters.

• Therefore: Don’t focus on the rules, divisions, what you don’t have and what you don’t know or can never know.

Here the Good News: I will not leave you Orphaned.

Traditionally, we think of orphan is a child who has lost both parents.

We live in a society where more children are born to unwed mothers and don’t know their father or if they have met him or know his identity, many never have a relationship. And there are many parents that abuse and neglect their children and would long to be orphaned but do not run for fear, and there are others who do run away. It is alarming that there are more and more orphaned children in our county and around the world.

More specifically to be orphans is to without protective affiliation, deserted, left, forgotten, rejected, give-up, unsponsored, not authorized, nor supported, & isolated

• Jesus Promises us we will never be these things if we love the one who loves us first.

• Trust the one who has entrusted life to each of us.

• THEREFORE: Do what God asks.. Keep the commandments,

not for self sake but for God’s glory.

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Mark 7:24-37 “Tell No One the Good News?” 05/22/2011/0900am JUMC

From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go–the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis.

They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” (-NRSV)

Why in the world would Jesus tell crowds and those restored not to tell what Jesus had done?
Reverse Psychology?
Forbidden Fruit?
People would only follow and believe if they received a physical blessing 1st hand.

(1) I will follow if you bless me.
(2) I will tell if you get us out of this jam. (3) I will be your disciple when I get something out of you first.

Discipleship comes before the blessing
Our culture is troubled with this, we want to a guarantee, we want our money’s worth. It is a contractual relationship. I give—I get. I beg—I receive,

Notice how Jesus takes the many with a speech impediment and moves in the house, into a private place, away from the crowds and drama.
• Jesus follows a medicinal method: touching his ears, spitting and touching his tongue,
• Jesus follows a spiritual method: looking up to heaven, he speaks release to the captive: Be open.

Be open to the spirit of God.
open to wholeness and faith.
open to the process, steps and stages. open to the power to change us. Be open.

The gift of knowledge we wish for all our students, be open. Be available, take what you have learned in private and go into the world that wants a show and its desserts. Be open to God’s touch, God’s word and God’s sending.

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Luke 24:13-35 “Stay With Us” JUMC (Mother’s Day) 05082011

Luke 24:13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him.21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. 28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.2011

What Stays With Us?

A stray dog or cat that no other neighbor will take in to their home.

Dr Mom says: Breakfast, be it oat meal, grits, fortified cereal, or the All-American platter.

Dr Mom says: Lunch at the Varsity will stay with you until it runs the course of your whole digestive tract.

How many plastic bags have you saved up from the grocery stores? Just when you are re-purposed and recycled a cubic yard of them, more show up every day.

Pollen, the memory of a hurtful word or frightening event…

What leaves us?

Loved ones, unfulfilled dreams, and the certainty of security after a storm.

Our keys, wallets, checkbook, money, and our minds…

Our children, our patience, hope and passion in daily living…

What if Jesus came in and turned things right side up for us?

The beginning of the conversation, Jesus is a stranger, even though he is standing right in front of them, in arms reach.. they don’t get it.

  • At the end of the conversation, when they recognized who has been at the table with them, Jesus disappears..
  • At the beginning they were sad and shocked with grief and rejected
  • At the end, they are both ashamed and assured.

Jesus Stays with Us, even though He has left us.  (THE mystery of our faith)

Some believe: It is better to live in the dark not seeing the truth…

Some would rather avoid the true living than see the opportunities we have missed it.

I have never been a mother, so I cannot speak from first hand knowledge, but I speak as one with a mother and experiences of other moms..

A mother hopes for their child to be safe and protected,

But there comes a point that they don’t want them living at home..

Spending all their money and eating all their food.

But for mothers who have lost their children, how they might love to spend another day at home and share all they had no matter the cost.

A Southern Mom wants you to eat all you can, but stay in shape to do the chores the need and expect you to do because they brought you into this work and would rather not take you out..   …it cant be both, can it?

When, Jesus is not here, he is risen; but even in his absence, he is here.

The heart of this passage for us today is discovering the power of RECOGNIZING Jesus in our daily life.

Many times, for many people it is Mom who shows unconditional love — the very heart of God.

Other times it is in the extravagant generosity of forgiving someone who has wronged you, that they see Christ, Real, for the first time.

For others folks it is when you break your silence and routine to boldly love, freely welcome, and patiently listen.. It comes through your words, your works and your willingness to break open the bread..

I love being the first one to open the peanut butter jar.. to make that first precision cut into the creamy goodness of what choosy Mother bring home to us all..

What if you and I were the first one to the scene after a storm, would we stand around and complain? Would we run away in fear or from feeling overwhelmed?

What if you could be the one who breaks open the closed and cold heart of one who grieves, fears, or clings to their own self control…

HOW… It begins in RADICAL HOSPITALITY.

1. Sharing our fear, disappointments in honest conversation

2. Becoming available to be with and stay with one another, witnesses in Christ’s whole coming to us.

3. In the daily routine of eating a meal, God’s presence is shared.  Open up your table, open up your doors, open up your hearts, open up your minds… Let’s stay awhile.

Homework: Linger at the table today and focus more on honest conversation rather than calories and presents.  Be willing to stay available with one another, to be real and realize God is speaking and working in us and around us…

4. Respond: When Cleopas and his wife recognize Jesus with them, they moved passed shame to remind the rest of the faith community. He is risen, just as you said!  And the circle of faith grows.

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“Prayer for our Daughters and Sons” Oxford College Commencement 2011 John T. Brantley, OX84

A Prayer for our Daughters and Sons

Oxford College Commencement 2011      John T. Brantley, OX84

In this conversation of faith and prayer we reverently invoke almighty aid, asking that our hearts and this hallowed lawn, both be filled with divine joy!

We gather in the Spirit, in the rich uniqueness of individuals and in the blessing of a challenging community to celebrate this day, and these, our daughters and sons.

While this moment might be but a temporary demarcation, it is with sacred anticipation, grateful participation, and deep appreciation that we find ourselves together, here, honoring these emerging leaders, builders, explorers and poets.

We trust these graduates will one day look back upon this event, able to affirm the fruitfulness of dreaming large dreams, the necessary labors of struggle as well as a continued passion for learning and discovery.

Together, may we all find a common, shared life that is far greater than the one we might have hoped to find and more vibrant than the one given by the certainty of change.

We pray with our daughters and sons. Let our lives be, through all our days, filled with the joy we now share. This I ask in the power and grace, our Creator.  Amen.

Our daughter..

Susanna

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John 20:19-31 JUMC “See the Marks” 20110501

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.  -nrsv

The peace that comes by life

Look at the faithful disciples gathered in hiding, locked in a secret place on account of their grief and fear.

We are in good company if we like Jesus’ first disciples. Hesitant, Afraid, Cautious, Influenced by the judgements of others, separated for worship with their own familiar and regular crew.

Are we any different?

Jesus appears without knocking at the door. No secret passwords. Announced by Mary that he would come to meet them, but did they actually think he would show up? Were the words of witness of Jesus true?

Here is the first real-life hurdle we have in the church from the first week until this week: Are the accounts of the witnesses worth our time and effort.

Gideon’s Bible that stopped a bullet, did it really?

The cancer is going aware, it’s a miracle, or is it just one of the lucky ones in the practice of medicine?

Isn’t it a glorious day! Or is it simply a well crafted customer service habbit?

Amazing Grace, it saved a wretch like me that still gossip, grumble, and hold a grudge to the second generation?

What are the marks of being there:

One of the great opportunities of being a pastor, (and being a church member too!) is the gift of being with someone at the hospital, or visiting in a neighbors home when they are lonely, grieving or afraid.

The catch is one person cannot be with all people at the same time, and sometime we can’t always appear in the room. And it is in these moments that we have some of the greatest opportunities to do ministry. When someone is hurting, scared or feeling empty, our showing up in the name and purpose of being Jesus’ witness brings heavenly peace.

Children, if your parents are tired and frustrated or busy and you want them to play with you right that very moment.. try taking a moment to make them an “I love you note or picture” instead of repeating: Mommy, mommy, mommy, Daddy, daddy, daddy. Give them a few minutes and share you note, give a little kiss or scratch their back the way you like your back scratched, and you will be showing up with the PEACE that interrupts worry, tiredness and grumpiness.

Youth, you can be the friend that someone needs at school and all you have to do is be there at the lunch table if they want to talk, or encourage them with a text, or wait with them after school… and you become the messenger of PEACE.

Grown Ups: You know what it means to be there for someone. Taking sandwiches to folks who are hungry. Bringing water to a community that is thirsty.

The peace that comes by sight

Jesus wants the disciples to have PEACE, so they will remember to operate from a place of faith rather than fear.

When you can see PEACE is real, you can begin to see the details by faith: SUNGLASSES

Peace give that we can understand.  Behold I bring you PEACE, be not afraid, Jesus has come to you, and the world.

The peace that comes by faith

Thomas the Willing is a better name, than Thomas the Doubter. He was willing to name his blindness, his limitation, his filter. his expectation.

Thomas had not experienced what all the others had seen and experienced.

We are going to practice PEACE Sharing

So that we can practice Christ Sharing..

What brings you PEACE? Quiet? Order and Structure? Space and Time or Perspective?

Jesus becomes the Word incarnate, Again.

EXAMPLE:

Give some Peace: some quiet. some order, structure, space,

THEN GIVE THE WORD.. spoken

Then give your own sign: Bill Enval’s catch phrase: “There’s your sign”

What would you say that would bring peace and faith… if you know it, SHARE IT, if you don’t you need spend some time figuring that out for YOUR own self… because we are Jesus disciples and we can’t stay inside these walls, when the world needs us out there..

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