Archive for April, 2012

Acts 4.5-12. “Member Since 1974” Jumc 20120429

The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” NRSV

Peter is found here making a public faith witness, some would say preaching or might say giving a testimony. I suggest that he is seizing the floor and turning the tables on his audience to share his faith in Jesus Christ.

In the 23rd psalm we are familiar of the two images of Gods grace, first is the good shepherd and second is the banquet of excess in the presence of ones enemies. This is the setting in which Peter is speaking.

Recall, it is the same high priest that called for Jesus to be turned over and crucified… Peter who had be hesitant and denying is now bold in the Holy Spirit.

We have young girls and boys that have come to make a public and bold statement that it is Jesus Christ that lives in them and this day forward they are living boldly for Jesus Christ.

For some it is a curious ritual, confirmation, but it is a witness of God’s love at work.
It is the beginning of a journey of faith. Our accepting the life and help Christ offers.

It does not mean we are ready to move mountains.

Think about Peter:
Gets to see transfiguration but misses the point of being in the moment and spiritual confirmation.

Peter walks on the water but sinks when we looks at the storm I stead of Jesus.

Peter go who tells Jesus what he should be doing and Jesus call Peter Satan himself

And Peter who denies Jesus three times Ana is hiding after the resurrection…

And now, Peter, in the face of bodily harm or even death proclaims with boldness. There is a vast period of trial and maturity for him.
Those who profess ‘Jesus is Lord!” for the first time here today have not been tested in the ways that are coming.

They will face fears, disappoints, jealousy, temptations, and endure spiritual failures.

Yet Peter’s boldness in the Holy Spirit is a witness of the maturity that will come.

In 1974 I confirmed the baptism that my parents started in 1964. And a rather uneventful Sunday I too stood at the alter rail with my class hoping I would hear the voice of God would speak to my heart, if not to the whole lot of us. But other than hymns and rituals it was a silent worship time.

Just last year at the Jordan river I prayed that God might have a word or two speak with boldness.. Near the ancient source. But it too was a silent experience, until I was about to get back on the bus, and with the clarity that I now speak to you, I heard these words, “I have not forgotten you, I am yours and you are mine,”

Within moments of this divine moment the bus pulled away on a schedule that did not allow me to linger and cherish the moment. It would be words of assurance that empower other days that have followed and will follow..

Not in my time but in the time I need Gods boldness.

Here is a faith statement from one of our confirmands:

To me, being a Christian means to love Jesus Christ with all of your heart and be as Christian like as possible at all times, and never be afraid to spread his word. I also think that you should take time during the day and have an alone time with God. Most of my alone times with are God are in the mornings and evenings, before I eat, and sometimes when I just feel I need to pray. Being a Christian also means participating in church activities like mission trips, fundraisers, church services, etc. Lastly, I think being a Christian means that you should accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior and that he died for you and everybody else, and that what I think it means to be a Christian.

They share this anonymously today but the days are coming when boldness will shine.
The question that Peter models for us, is will we be bold when we need to be?

Twitter has been the bold voice at General Conference from my overhearing.

When will you stand up for Christ… Is it when you are comfortable and ready or when God is asking to speak through you? Be bold. Be bold. Don’t be right, be bold! Be in the spirit and be bold, today!

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Luke 24:36b-48 “Inside Out” JUMC 20120422 OutdoorWorship

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?  Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”  And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.  While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you–that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. [NRSV]

From the Inside Out: 

The View from the Insiders

We are blessed to have a beautiful place to gather and worship. It is important at times to look from at our environment from a different perspective. We come with personal and coorporate traditions and habits that make worship comfortable and meaningful for us. We find ourselves at home in God’s house.

The text today describes disciples at a time when it was not safe to go home. They were in hiding. There are times that we find ourselves so comfortable at home in God’s house that we are afraid to go out.

We living an a more segregated time than any other in our history. It is a separation by choice. We order things from online or through the mail. We are entertained by media delivered to our homes. Children play indoors more than outdoors. Some times we need to step outside. Go our and risk getting wet, take a chance of getting dirty. And find what and who God has created around us.

The disciples who gathered in their locked room found protection from sharing liked minds and common fears. If we only gather together with people who are like-minded who hold common fears we could be a political group instead of a force of faith and witness.

There is an slippery sense that if we protect each other and isolate one another then the outside world is not our worry  nor our responsibility. In this place and experience of fear Jesus breaks through what appears to be locked up safe, to reach a people who are fooling themselves in a false and empty safety.

The View from the Outsiders

It is difficult to look at the church from an outsiders perspective. One of the reasons we have a combined worship is that we are two worshiping groups under one umbrella. There would be those who see our two worship service bodies as competitors. If they all came to our service we would have one big family. But that would not honor the fellowship and worship of the others.

Imagine your comfortable worship with robes, pipes and pews swapped with projects, shorts and amplified riffs. One is not right and the other wrong. But we are both at home under the same roof.  I am the only one in my family that likes salmon croquets or country fired steak. So how often do I get to eat them? When everyone is out of town or we are eating out.

There are as many people who are not finding themselves at home in a church this morning as there are those who do. We living a county that has no Jewish Temple, No Muslim mosque and no Universalist reading room for gathering or worship. Our options are exclusively Christian churches.. and we still half our neighbors are outsiders when it comes to attending and belonging to a church. Why is that so?

For many they are afraid. Some feel locked out and excluded. Some don’t connect the meaning of the story with the power in their lives because they have seen the difference in our actions and words. Until we have asked every person, we don’t know that we have done our work in this place. And out task is not only within the bounds of our city or county or even country.

If we have access to transportation and communication that reaches around the world, so does our understanding of who the Outsiders we are called to reach.

Think if you have no church to call home. When would you leave the privacy of your home, to get more dressed up than you might do so for work or school, to listen to some strangers tell you that God wants your money and your life. Why would you go? Why would you come?

We are outside the doors today because this is when Jesus came to the world. To break through what was locked away in fear and impossibility, to open to those hurting and alone and make a way to God’s power and grace before we know how our why.

Inviting Insiders to reach out to the Outsiders

The reason Jesus breaks through the locked door is because we are not called to stay inside our place of comfort. There is a challenge in coming out. There is a faith in stepping beyond the threshold. Jesus called disciples to follow and once following sends them out as apostles.

Here is the following step in the life of being a disciples of Jesus. It starts in following Jesus, but once we become an insider Jesus breaks through to send us out into the world.

The world can be a threatening and disappointing place. It is understanding whey we would want to say in our comfortable place. So today we are moving outside, because in Jesus Christ, we now can. The world is our parish.

John Wesley’s vision for the church remains our vision. The 1000 member delegation of members and clergy will be gathering in Tampa this week to begin the process of examining how were are to living our our faith as United Methodist in the next four years.

You will hear of controversial reports of what the church is struggling with in the next two weeks. If you have questions listen to umc.org in stead of the local or national news. Pray for those who represent us in this process to hear God’s word and call in their actions and decisions.

The General conference always seeks to drag us into being a larger church that we currently are. Not just numerically rather in the task of reaching with a wider net those who have not heard and those who have even been harmed or neglected by the church.

Invited the Outsiders to be reached by Our Insider

But the resurrection call to disciples is not simply historic or corporate, it is our call to reach out side by the power of our INSIDE connection. The assurance of sharing Jesus Christ with the world and our neighbors. There is not a question, despite our fears, questions and apprehensions to share our faith. We are to share Jesus Christ, him crucified and resurrected.

We have come outside and broken through our comfortable inside to show the world what we believe. Show them our hands that they might see Christ’s hands at world. Show them where our feet go, that they might see how far Christ will go with them. Stand by their side and show them the work of Christ saving and caring them, just has Christ carries us.

We are outside or a reason and the reason is that we are no longer insiders.. We are insiders stepping out with Christ, for the redemption of the world. There is no turning back, no turning back.

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I John I:1-4 “I declare” Jumc 20120415

1 John 1:1-4 “I Declare” JUMC. 20120415 [9&11]
We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. NRSV.

We have a story..
What have we seen and heard?
{Scripture, witness of community.}
Who have we touched?
{Family, work, community,…?}
With our own eyes?
{How has God shown up in your life?}

“We” share a story
What is he story of our fellowship?
Tell the church story for starters..
Where have we seen God working through our church?
Tell our collective witness, UMC..

We ARE the people who tell, write share the story;
Tell it. Don’t expect some else to tell your side, version.
Write it. Make a lasting impact beyond the moment. Write it for others to read.
Live it. Make it so know that there is no doubt thats others know

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John 20:1-18 I Have Seen the Lord! Easter JUMC 21020408:1100

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. [NRSV]

Not only is the first person to preach and proclaim the resurrection a friend of Jesus, it is one of the women. In John’s gospel account Mary comes to the grave site alone and in the darkness of the early hours. She sees the tomb opened and unsealed and runs to tell the news. But the news is not Good News with the first look at the empty tomb. It is after the two and more look at what was first a sigh of foul play or bad news, later becomes the greatest of Good News.

There is an Easter message to those who hear for the first time… Come and see that Jesus Lives (Mary First visit)

There is an Easter message to those who have search and found nothing life saving… Go and ask for other Witnesses (Mary Going and only seeing and hearing the emptiness of the tomb)

There is an Easter message for those who have heard but stayed away… Come and help me figure out what happened (Mary asking for others to join the quest/journey)

There is an Easter message for those willing to come back and hang around, even after the show is over… (Mary returns with witness and sticks with it… not giving up even though the first visit was empty) Most folks who come Easter Sunday can join here.

There is an Easter message of new life to SHARE… Well? Get to it! Happy Easter, Christ LIves, Go tell

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Mark 16:1-8 Rolling Stones Easter JUMC 21020408:0900

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid. [NRSV]

The stone is rolled away and the tomb is empty

Who will roll away the stone?
Mary and Mary were quite worried about the task awaiting them at the cemetery. The Sabbath was over and work needed to be completed. The very act of going to finish the embalming preparations is witness that the women were not anticipating a resurrection.

The greatest worry of the day was that no one would help them. But they went to work at the cemetery even though they might not even be able find access to the tomb. Sometimes in grief we do things that reflect that our minds and our hearts are not on the same channel. So it is for the Marys.

But this is sometimes true even when we are thinking clearly. We are looking at the work “WE” think needs to be done when other tasks are more important. Is It more important to stay at work 30 more minutes or to spend thirty more minutes with our child or grand child going over spelling words or listening to their dreams and fears?

In one of the last conversations I had with my father he shared that he wished he had spent less time at work and more time with us while we were at home. Jesus pointed out to Martha that Mary had made the best judgment call to let the dinner preparation for the big festival meal wait, because the spiritual meal was already being shared. For me the Easter story cries out for me to review, reflect and examine what work I am doing compared with the work God wants and calls me to be doing.

Focusing and worrying about what appear impossible does not move the heavy stones in our lives.

Easter Sunday is about SEEing what God has done, what God IS doing and what God is ABOUT to be doing…
God already had a plan for the impossible and had moved the obstical away… this is witnessed in Jesus
God has been at work while we asleep… long before any of us were born or join this or any church, God was here.
God knows we need witnesses and messengers… sending the angels and calling us to be messengers to others.

That first Easter Sunday, the first day of the week God has been at work long before we showed up…
And that work has been for our benefit.

While we focus on the physical, asking questions and fear of our weakness, God makes ready a greater strength.
This is the message for us to see, hear and meet face to face…
Sunday Is God’s work day… working for our benefit, faith and life.
Christ died for our sake
He arose for our life

So What?
Do we run away afraid, scared and overwhelmed with the word and witness that Christ has new work for us?
Hear the old story in a new way: Christ lives so that we can live in Christ… not continue to move stones.
That day is passed. Trust God to move the mountains, Don’t be scared.. Don’t keep silent. Go tell all who are afraid.

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Easter Sunrise Jackson United Methodist Church at Dauset Trail’s Chapel 20120408:0700

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Psalm 118

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever! Let Israel say,

“His steadfast love endures forever.” The LORD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.

There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly; the right hand of the LORD is exalted; the right hand of the LORD does valiantly.”

I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD.

The LORD has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death.

Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD.

This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it.

I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.

The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Acts 10:36-43

You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ–he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” [NRSV]

Sunrise Message

As those who have seen the light of Christ,

We are to give testimony that is convinces the unbeliever.

Thank You

Thank you for sharing the Light of Christ this Easter Sunday morning. We thank Dauset Trials Foundation for allowing us to celebrate in this beautiful chapel. Christ is risen! Tell the World.

Invitation

COURAGEOUS: The Movie April 21 at 7:00 PM

Jackson UMC Fellowship Hall

We encourage men, dads, young men and the most experienced of men to share this time with family and neighbors. Bring a friend and join us.

Acts 10:36-43

You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ–he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” [NRSV]

Has anyone here today never heard this Story of Jesus of Nazareth? If you have not heard: Jesus who lived and taught God’s word and love, gave his life for ours on a Roman cross, but he is not dead, he returned to the living, resurrected and continues to give us life and grace.

For most, my guess is that we have gathered at an early hour, in a place we do not usually gather on any other morning of the year because we have heard the good news of the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ. We want or need to hear again how the stone that sealed the tomb was moved away and angels sit where his body was placed is now empty because he lives. But is that all we need? Is that all we want?

So why are we here? There are as many different reasons for our coming to this place and hour, but we share one common reason to leave this place: To testify to the world what we already know but others do not.

The Easter message is not just for us who believe to renew our faith, it is to empower our witness and intentionality of sharing, proving and infusing what is Good and filled with life, where we see and hear evil, and where we see death and destruction.

We actually find it difficult to believe that there are those who have not heard or there are those who do not believe. We will have to speak to people we do not know, stand where we have been silent, forgiving where we have been right and bold when we have been timid.

There is no other faith story with more hope, power and grace. Let us not be ashamed to tell it, just as we are willing to rise early to hear, let us stay up late until all might know.

We are commanded to preach the resurrection. We are expected to proclaim the good news. We will be held accountable for having shared the life-giving news… “don’t hold on to me, but go and tell the others..”

Sunrise is the breaking moment of the new day. Jesus is the one who breaks through all sin and fear, all failure and shame, to open doors, hearts and minds… to live a new life.

Can’t we simply hear the good old story and go eat breakfast? Isn’t enough sacrifice to come early to this place? Haven’t we already done enough? Until every knee bows and every heart speaks God’s word and will, we have still have testimony to share.

Easter is on trial and the Judge wants to hear from you… Is Christ alive in you? He Lives, He Live, Christ Jesus lives today… He walks with me and talks with me, along life’s narrow way…He lives. Go and tell the others who have not yet heard, or those who have forgotten, or those who have run away without believing. Go tell, He lives.. even in me.

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Hebrews 10:4-10 “God’s Not Pleased with our Bull” JUMC 20120401:0900

1 The old plan was only a hint of the good things in the new plan. Since that old “law plan” wasn’t complete in itself, it couldn’t complete those who followed it. No matter how many sacrifices were offered year after year, they never added up to a complete solution. 2 If they had, the worshipers would have gone merrily on their way, no longer dragged down by their sins. 3 But instead of removing awareness of sin, when those animal sacrifices were repeated over and over they actually heightened awareness and guilt. 4 The plain fact is that bull and goat blood can’t get rid of sin. 5 That is what is meant by this prophecy, put in the mouth of Christ: You don’t want sacrifices and offerings year after year; you’ve prepared a body for me for a sacrifice. 6 It’s not fragrance and smoke from the altar that whet your appetite. 7 So I said, “I’m here to do it your way, O God, the way it’s described in your Book.” 8 When he said, “You don’t want sacrifices and offerings,” he was referring to practices according to the old plan. 9 When he added, “I’m here to do it your way,” he set aside the first in order to enact the new plan – 10 God’s way – by which we are made fit for God by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus. [The Message]

1 Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who approach. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased being offered, since the worshipers, cleansed once for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sin? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God’ (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).” 8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10 And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. [NRSV]

In the Old Testament, the practice of offering God animals has shown conflicting reviews rather than answers and faithfulness.
On one hand, from earliest of stories, [Gen. 4], it is Cain and Able bring offerings to God. Cain is the farmer brings grains that he has plucked, baked or even brewed and God declares that his gift is pleasing and appropriate. Able is the herdsman brings an animal that he has butchered and brazed or barbecued and God declares that Able’s gift is dis-pleasing and inappropriate.

Able’s response to doing what God does not approve or displeased God leaves Able hurt, disappointed, feeling rejected and after internalizing all this, he becomes angry and seek revenge on Cain.. who is later killed by Able. There is a great mis-placed and mis-directed response of Able to go after Cain. Feeling rejected for doing what displease God, Able feels Cain has showed him up. Cain didn’t bring grain to make Able look bad. Able didn’t necessarily know God would be please or dis-pleased.

God makes it clear. I don’t want your animal, Able I. A nice wool sweater would be just fine or some goat cheese. Rather than Able asking God, for instructions or help or forgiveness. Able seeks revenge and resolution by his own judgment. This is his sin. (Not so much bringing the wrong gift.)

What does God want from us this Palm Sunday? Do we need to be waving palm branches high in the air? Is that what God wants from us? Maybe, but probably not if we leave the leaves by the way-side and resume speaking ill of each other. God is probably not pleased if we are interested in getting even with those who hurt us. God is not so happy when we kill someone’s spirit and joy. God is not happy when we don’t learn from our mistakes.

The Old Testament gets confusing, because several generations later sacrificing animals becomes the focal point of seasonal celebrations for God’s people. Did God suddenly change the rules and expectations? The grain, oil, perfume offerings along with the fellowship of sharing meals seems to be approved by God. The next thing you know there is an entire priestly family clan and tradition with rules that are kosher or not. There are offerings of animals for the community, the family and the individual.

Later the people are exiled in foreign lands and cannot come to the temple to worship and the animal sacrifice seems to be the exception and not the rule.
Jesus comes along and becomes the final passover lamb sacrifice that God finds pleasing.. this is my son, listen to him.

In the letter to the Hebrews, God is saying, I’ve come not only to complete my part of the work, I’m going to do it from your perspective. Jesus becomes for us the sacrifice that we need. Jesus becomes our bridge to the no-where we have created out of our sin and detachment from God.

If you look back to the Gen 4 passage, God neither asked for an offering, nor gives any instruction. Only after seeing how we respond, does he correct Able. God doesn’t want us to fix what we cannot repair.
God does not want us to play God’s part in the drama of our own lives.
God doesn’t need our blood, God has given us that life in the first place.

What does God expect, want, need, ask of us? “See I have come to do your will.”
God wants us to trust God’s system
God wants us to follow God’s lead
God wants us to ask for help and direction
God wants us to come to God first and not after we’ve tried all our other options..

But hear the Good News! God has a preference for our life. God has patience for us to find God, if we will patiently continue to seek God.
So often, we try something once or twice, if we fail we give up on it.
Try asking for help again.
Try reading the scripture with a fresh set of questions.
Try coming to the table and finding an invitation, even though we have not done what was asked.

God will teach, correct and straighten out our brokenness.. that may not be pretty no easy.
But don’t give up, Don’t judge or get even with those who have found faithfulness
God doesn’t want our bull, God wants us. Not a stand-in or replacement. God stand in the way of sin, to find us where we are.
Don’t hurt our sister or brother, just because we are able.

Easter is about raising cain… and raising all of us.
So celebrate! Now and through the Maundy and the darkness of Friday… Sunday is coming. Don’t’ give up now.

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Luke 1:26-38 “remember what’s possible” JUMC 20120401:1100

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. [NRSV]

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth 27 to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. 28 Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you. 29 She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. 30 But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: 31 You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; 33 He will rule Jacob’s house forever – no end, ever, to his kingdom.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.” 35 The angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God. 36 “And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months’ pregnant! 37 Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say. Then the angel left her. [The Message]

When Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem, riding on a colt, on donkey, Mary must have had a flash back to the trip to Bethlehem some thirty plus years earlier. She certainly remembered that long journey with Joseph over dusty and rocky paths. It was probably a four day trip, less than 70 miles as the crow files, but closer to 90 miles on the main traveling roads. As the end of her pregnancy she and Joseph were filled with anticipation and celebration and a good dose of frustration having to travel so near to her delivery time. And now, Mary travels with a different family members, to another time of anticipation, celebration and another good dose of frustration, remembering the words the angels and Jesus foretells about coming to Jerusalem.

I invite you to join me thinking from Mary’s perspective today. She was a “ponderer.” Compare and contrast the starting point and this parade. Imagine the procession and celebration of people praising and celebrating her son. She would have been proud as any mother might be. From their humble beginnings and through difficult and threatening days, Jesus seems to coming into his own. What amazing impossibilities have become possible for Mary and her son.

Ahead of this moment of celebration, comes more impossibilities. Jesus’ last supper, capture, trial, and sentence of the death penalty. And the greatest impossibility, Easter, the resurrection. This is where we join the story for real. Not by looking back and placing ourselves in Mary’s shoes or even standing beside her, but in the unfolding of possibilities that come out of impossibilities.

What is impossible for you today? Is it physical? Is it financial? Is it relational? Is it personal and internal? Is it the juggling of all these? The message of the Angel and cousin Elizabeth, of Jesus and the disciples, of the Word lived out in our flesh… is that NOTHING is impossible for God. Everything hits impossible without God.

Remember, it is possible to eat at Christ’s table and find healing and wholeness for our broken hearts, bodies, and relationships.
Remember, it is possible to drink from Christ’s cup and find salvation, forgiveness, fresh starts for our broken trusts and broken spirits.
Remember what this bread and cup are for us.. Evidence, proof and invitation to step where we cannot walk and run where we cannot go.

God’s word that became flesh and moved in with us, continues to live that we might have a life that is full of hope and power.
What is possible for God in your heart today? What is possible for God in your home today? What is possible for God in this place today?
Don’t forget, remember and believe.
Don’t just believe, remember to live.

Hosanna, Our Saviour comes to walk with us.
Amen.

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