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Archive for September, 2012

Matthew 4:1-2 “Driven into the Wilderness” A Reflection on Faith in the Wilderness

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. [NRSV]

In reflecting on this week of grieving and waking, working and waiting, talking and listening, preparing and planning. I have been carried to the fourth chapter of Matthew on multiple occasions.

There is an uncertainty about the power and presence of the ‘Wilderness’ that confronts and surrounds us.

If a tossing storm of political drama is not enough

There is the uncertainty of jobs, real jobs, to pay real bills and real rent or mortgages.

There are the tentions of waring nations and wrenching of religious lines with chaos and fear

There are dividing communities, parties and sides of the tracks over conflicts new and old

I have found myself lead into yet another fight with the wilderness.

Temptation, testing, and trial abound in the face of grief, fear and the uncertainty of the bounds of life and death.

Strangers and dear friends, family and business folks alike have offered to prayer, often uninvited.

I believe it is out of our common frustration of surviving in the Wilderness that compassion and prayer are being rekindled and reclaimed.

I know without the Spirit speaking through words, songs, prayers and conversations I would have been lost in this ever present wilderness.

But I am not lost. I am tired and weary, but I am found in the heart of Christ and Christ’s people.

I am in the whirlwind of the unknown, yet grounding in the solid fondation of God and God’s people.

I am in Iam, Therefore the wilderness beats at me I am not beaten. Will you join me in the Wilderness. Thank you for those who have taken the journey and for those who invited others to join us in this these wild and weary times.

Thanks be to God.

Amen

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Mark 9:30-37 “Like You’d Love a Child” JUMC 20120923


They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” [NRSV]

Jesus and the Disciples: Behind the Scenes Tour

a Capermam Peter’s home town, second largest synagogue, Temple junior, city of faithful folk, city of commerce and wealth

b Teaching on the go. Disciples on the job training and learning the spiritual journey through the physical journey

c Understanding through the Arguing. Disciples can disagree and be wrong at times.

Last Place is Winner

a Who’s the best, Who is the least?

b Humility alone vs Humble Hard Work

Love me like you’d love a child.

a The Disciple’s get an object lesson about greatness

b A child needs to be fed, clothed, taught, accepted and sent

c Love Me as your Love a child (b)

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Mark 8:27-38 “Who Do You Say that I Am” JUMC 20120916


Cave at Cesarea Phillipi

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?  Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”  [NRSV]

When United Methodist become members of the church we take a vow to pray, to participate, to give our gifts, to serve the church as Christ present in the world and to witness the faith in all we do.

In the past fifty years United Methodist appear to have been convinced that the best method for witnessing our faith comes from  St Frances, when said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” By adopting this method one does not have to say anything about her or his faith, we will just hope that what others see in our behavior will be enough to teach them the way of salvation and the witness of the Gospel.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen some folks who needed to rewind some behaviors and remember the words that empower our faith.

One Sunday morning I ran in to get a cup of coffee from McDs cafe’ and notice a church member in line infront of me. Their attention was focused on the crew member at the cash register and they were unaware of the line of other patrons behind them. At hand was a dispute of less than four cents of incorrect change. The choice of words that came from this member of the church choir would never have been sung in an anthem around the corner. The tone of accusation and threats of injustice would never have been used by this congregant over issues of poverty and civil rights. After some discussion with the manager and another two minutes of waiting in the line the customer at the counter turned around and was greeting by their pastor and other members. The members response was, “At least I won’t be late to church.” What is the message of the witness?

Who has not seen and heard a tired and hungry child pestering their parent for attention and seen the frustrated parent shout demeaning chain of threats and mixed signals over the parents attention fix instead on the other end of a cell phone. What is the witness?

In politics there is the juggling act of being so politically correct that we ignore the imperative and commitment to witness to the world the passion of our faith in the name of making others feel comfortable. On the other end of the spectrum we see and hear people of other faiths taking to the streets with guns and threats of terror. What is the message? What are the boundaries of when to let our faith show?

The fallacy of trusting St Francis and only our non-verbal actions for witnessing has two problems:

First, often we are not at our best and we are not revealing Christ like behaviors.

Second, just because we are faithful in our actions does not mean that other do not perceive them differently.

Take for example our apparel choices today. One a typical weekend, when folks dress in the school colors and gather outside to cheer and eat, we call it a tailgate party. One of the dangers of worshiping outside today, as strangers walk and drive by seeing out in the world, is they might not interpret this as our worship of God. Others will see that we are stepping beyond the walls that defend and divide us and move into a world that begs for meaning. How do we know at 35 mile per hour what these observers are seeing and believing?

It would be nice to be off duty. But that is not what this passage from Mark is about. Look at the text.

Jesus asks disciples, just as we are asking each other today, Who do people in our town say that Jesus is? Where is Jesus today? What is the church about right now?

The disciples offer up suggestions. Some on target, some not so close. We are always on duty. We are called to teach Christ always and everywhere.

Jesus begins to tell the difficulties, rejections and hardships that being a witness will bring and Peter, one of the core members, reject’s Jesus picture of being the church. Even with good intention, Peter and others in the church, want to water-down the witness of the real need of the church to be Christ in the world, for the world, today.

Who in our town needs the church? Who in our community needs Jesus?

Folks who feel lost from broken dreams, relationship and some who have been hurt by members of churches.

People who need Jesus as people who are so focused on things that they can no longer focus on the good God has for them in the church.

Folks who think they know it all but forget to forgive, to know more about anger than grace, and for those who think they have it all figured out.

What are we to do?

One thing I do know, is that the more we ARE the church, outside of these building, the more people will know the LOVE of GOD outside and inside these buildings.

We have wonderful places to worship and study and fellowship.. and these facilities need more care and attention and funding than think they need. Without them we are subject to the wind, the need for permits and a traditions these structs offer and keep alive.

The call to be witnesses is the journey out the back door.

Our prayers are collective here at times, but more often they are personal times. Our participation, worship and gifts, are directed to this spot. BUT our witness goes FROM this spot into the community and world around us.

What are you taking from what you learn and experience in this fellowship to help the world around you?

Sometime we have to dress like the world to be in a position to model the gift of love, power and grace in a what the world will hear and experience it.

SO WHAT?

We need to ask for confirmation. “Do you understand what I’m saying” even if we are just speaking with our actions.

Do not be ashamed. Do not be afraid. Dot not forget to ask for feedback, conversation and dialogue.

MK 8:36-38 We are to witness For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?  Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” [NRSV]

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JUMC Fall Outdoor Worship Service

Bring your folding chair and join the live music, covered dish and Children’s Bake Sale.

Jackson UMC Fall Outdoor Worship Service

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Psalm 145:1-7 “Generation to Generation” JUMC 20120909

Psalm 145 I will praise you, my God and King, and always honor your name. 2 I will praise you each day and always honor your name. 3 You are wonderful, Lord, and you deserve all praise, because you are much greater than anyone can understand. 4 Each generation will announce to the next your wonderful and powerful deeds. 5 I will keep thinking about your marvelous glory and your mighty miracles. 6 Everyone will talk about your fearsome deeds, and I will tell all nations how great you are. 7 They will celebrate and sing about your matchless mercy and your power to save. [CEV]

The Good News of our Grand Parents

Some Good Stories, some times of struggle and loss. Some victories, celebrations and traditions

Charlie taught showed me about crops like corn, soy beans, and peanuts

Ruby taught be about hard work, writing letters and where McNuggets come from

Raymond taught me about storytelling (stretching truths), difficult bible passages, and anger

Tommye taught me to care for roses, cooking sewing and creativity.

Traditions and celebrations

Charlie celebrated a hard work day with a trip to the country store for a 6.5 oz Coke, 4:30am is for the animals breakfast, and Sunday was for Church.

Ruby celebrated Sunday by preparing all weekend for Sunday dinner and Sunday school lessons, custom making back to school jeans, making Brunswick stew, and cutting corn and shelling peas for months of meals to come.

Raymond celebrated the start of school with new Converse Tennis shoes, cashing a pay check in pennies to look for wheaties, testing the new preacher with Bible test questions and listening to the Braves game and watching their fireworks from the front porch.

Tommye celebrated making Sunday school creative and fun for over 40 years, sets the rules for Christmas gifts at Thanksgiving dinner, and lived like everyday was a Thanksgiving.

FAITH LESSONS THEY SHARED

Charlie: It’s Sunday, your not staying in bed, your going to church. Did you forget to brush your teeth or is that the chicken coop I smell?

Ruby: Why don’t you play the piano in church this Sunday, or sing us special song? You go to Sunday school and learn something new.

Raymond: Run in this store and pick up a brown bag with my name on it because it will be closed on Sunday.

Tommye: God is love, that’s why i love you too. (and a 1000 other intentional lessons of joyful, creative, gracious, thankful messages and examples)

The Other Grand Parents

I have a hundred other grand parent models in a dozen churches who have shaped my faith, held me up and

Some Bad Stries, some failures  and would-a-could-a-should-a

The Greatest Gift of a Grand Parent is to Give the Good Stuff to another Generations

Entrusting a legacy: Intentional Spiritual Growth

The Message we would leave for the next two generations and more..

The Self Examination

What would we do to make certain they would know and remember

What would we say or write or live our to be intentional

What are we doing vs what can we do

Today is a day of generations looking ahead to generations

Will we leave a legacy of debts or assets

Will we build for a future beyond our current weakness

Will we our journey is shared or they can figure it out on their own

Will we give it all so they do nothing or will we model what ethic and faith we hope for the future

Are we practicing as a generation to generation sharer, now?

If not, What are we waiting for?

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