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Archive for April, 2013

Romans 8.25-29 “Separation” JUMC 20130421

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [NRSV]

Were Pharaoh’s armies and demands able separate God from God’s people? No! Did God cut off Job at any point? No! Did God stop being God when David and Solomon ruled as kings? No! Did God stop loving Israel when they were driven out of Jerusalem to Babylon? No!

Did a cross separate us from God? No.
Did Pilate, Herod, or Caiaphas separate us from Jesus Christ our Lord?

Did a civil war? or Pearl Harbor? Or Did 9/11 tear God away from us? No!!

Can Presidents, political parties and governments?
Hurricanes, Floods, Fires and Tornados stop God’s love
Can guns, bombs or fear and hatred of any kind keep God from being God?

Then, What in the world do we have to fear?

But God never let’s go of God’s end of the rope.
Tug of War: One side over powers and the other side finally relents and falls down. God never lets go of God’s end of the covenant.

God is faithful in holding on to us.
Nothing will cause God to let go.

Separation is real. Why do people feel so alone in this world?
Why do people hurt each other through domestic violence, political violence, take financial advantage, why would people commit acts of terror if God never let’s go of them?

There is one thing that can separate “us” from God, that is us. God allows room for evil. God allows room for division. God allows room for choice.

Without there is no meaning to life for us or for God. If God made us be good always we would not be human. We would have no relationship.

God allows the horrible to make room for the beautiful.
God allows the famine to appreciate the bounty
God allows terror and fear to make room for trust and peace..

It’s neither appropriate nor accurate for us to blame God for evil.
It is simply part of the dynamics of grace, trust, faith and love.

Can God love someone who values the lives, property and security of communities and nations so little? That is the point. God is grand enough to love prodigal brothers.

If God has room in the heart to hold on to the most evil of folk, then God surely has room for us too.

If God only holds on to the faithful, Lord who would be left.
If God only entrusted those who proved themselves worthy, who would make it?

But how do we deal with the loss, the chaos, the death of trust and lives?
The answer is way too easy… We stand closer to God.

We need to be near God and God’s people and
Take seriously the call to be broadcasting the message of love and hope
-even in the most evil of times.

When we hear of bombs and explosions, think of who search for meaning..
Show them the way, don’t lead them astray.

When we hear of wars, storms and threats of warn, it is time to prepare people to be in a closer walk with God, Who needs to be recued, until we realize we are stranding by a flood… Gather the lost who are trapped and only see it in the tragic light where darkness shines.

If the bombs had gone off in Jackson instead of Boston, what would we hope the people in Boston would be doing today?

Do we hope they would say a little prayer and move on with life trying not to think about the tragic loss? We would want and need more than that!

The folks in Boston and Watertown and West/Waco, and Jackson/Butts Co. need to wake up to the reality that we live in a broken world and need someone who can put the piece together when life is torn apart.

We need a God who knows the pain of nails in broken limbs and torture of a cross to face, endure and survive beyond the chaos.

Did they stop Jesus then? No. Will they stop him now? No. Who will tell and show them? Just one at a time…

One person begin inspired another person to act in terror, we can be one person inspiring another to join Christ in building peace and life and love.

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John 21.1-19 “Back to Church” JUMC 20130414

 

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1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2 Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. 9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.” [NRSV]
Last week we look at the disappointment in the reality of grief. Recall on the Road to Emmaus, Jesus meets two travelers, Cleopas and likely his wife, they share their disappointments and sadness, yet they offer HOSPITALITY to Jesus they perceive is a stranger until they eat together.
It is good for young folks to eat with each other. They start doing thisat lunch. You know them

  • The Bragger: who always seems to show off they have a larger portion or a better tasting treat brought-from-home.
  • The Trader: who always wants to trade something on their plate for something they like better on their plate or a promise of a future trade (For the advanced traders)
  • The Bully: who continually takes or threatens to take what they want.
  • The Picky Poker: They play with their food but don’t eat it, making it untradeable and undesirable for anyone except..
  • The Creative Scientist: Who mixes combinations and eats the crazed concoctions for attention or for the next food TV network show.
  • The Talkers: Who use the time for nourishment of the body to feed the insatiable desire for the latest scoop even if it means being hunger before class is over.
  • Mr or Miss Clean and Neat: They have to have the food on the tray in a certain order, no crumbs or spills allowed. They will clean their plate or make an empty milk carton a tidy home for unwanted food.

I’m sure there are other regulars at the table but kids could begin to learn a great deal about their piers from taking notes on table manors. Look back at the text from John, Cleopas and his wife learn that it is Jesus from watching and listening what happens at the dinner table.

In our text today, it is the breakfast table. I have a Monday morning pastor’s breakfast that is the joy of my week. We study, pray, laugh, cry, share and learn about each other lives, families and ministries. We refer to is endearingly as our church, the place where we become the congregation and do not have the responsibility of leading or directing. It is a treasure. But if you came to visit, and occasional members do drop by, you will find us at our best and at our worst.
Jesus finds Peter and a group of the others who have given up, even after seeing the empty tomb, even after appearing in the locked room,even after reappearing when Thomas was with themeven after the testimony of others who had seen and heard Jesus after the resurrection..
Peter is ready to go back to fishing for fish and not for people.He is ready to lead others to fishing for fish and not fishing for peopleHe is ready to try his own experience and strengths and know-how not leaning JesusHe is ready to exchange the familiar than risk failure and face fears.He is ready for much, just not ready for Jesus.
Are we ready for breakfast? Are we ready to start the day eating and drinking in the spiritual food God supplies, our manna.?Are we ready to begin the day looking for perspective and advice that come from outside our own?Are we ready to stick with the church, even if our vision is not fulfilled.This is where a majority of those who once were in church sit this very morning… Oh that might be asleep, on the lake, at work, sitting on the sofa, our just about anywhere but here.But somewhere they had a Peter experience and lost sight of Jesus standing on the shore.
Here is the good news for us and for them, and its tided to our mission.Jesus feeds his disciples once more and challenges them to feed others, because that is our work
Not just physical food, but more importantly the SPIRITUAL food.We can feed folks in Jackson, New York, Tegucigalpa, and at our kitchen table and not do if for JesusAnd we just have a single meal.If we are feeding folks the love of God, right from the heart, we satisfy the spirit: we quench fears, release grief, we teach people to trust Christ for themselves.
Have we forgotten since just a couple of Sunday’s ago that we are “Resurrection People.”Christ lives for us to live in him.We share communion last week and here we are today.. has that bite been enough, are you back for more? More of what?
Look to the text once more: 15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19.. After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

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Acts 5:27-32 “Breaking the Rules” JUMC 20130407

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When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” [NRSV]

What have we been told NOT to do?
• Don’t eat with your mouth full of food.
Don’t let your shirttail be un-tucked
• Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, ill words.
• Don’t talk to strangers.
• Don’t talk during church.
• Don’t pray out loud as those who boast of their religion.
• Don’t worry about the poor, they will always be with us.
• Don’t be anxious about tomorrow.
• Don’t hesitate in giving your coat as well as your shirt.
• Don’t neglect the orphan and the widow.
• Don’t worship other God’s
• Don’t work on the Sabbath
• Don’t kill, steal, lie or covet
• Don’t dishonor your parents faithfulness
• Don’t leave home without your AMEX card.
• Our list could go on..

Listen closely to Peter and the disciples, now apostles in verse 28, “the council gave them strict order not to teach in Jesus’ name.”

Take a moment to look at the disciples new job title: Apostle. What is that about? Apostle is when a Disciple is entrusted with the work of leading other disciples. He or She is still a disciple of Jesus, but with the additional responsibility of leading disciples.

With this new job, there is a heightened commitment to the work of discipleship. Hear their response to the charges that they have broken the rules, not kept the expectations of the community leaders, not respected the limitations of those who do not know Jesus’ call, authority and power.

They reply: “We must do what God has called us to do.”

How do you know if you are doing what God wants you to do with your life. This is a fundamental question of a disciple trying to life as a disciple.

How do I know I’m doing what God wants?
First thing: Disciples follow Jesus. Look, listen and study what Jesus did and said and compare that to what Jesus people do and say today.
Second: if someone tell us to do something half way for God, is that how God operates? No, God is all in.
Third: Rarely is discipleship easy, welcomed or invited.
Finally: Knowing that I need to ask for course corrections is a sign that God can continually change us.

Catch two things before we leave this passage:

1. Peter and the others take this opportunity of challenge to teach the message.
They tell the story even when those challenging and threatening have said they don’t want to hear it.

2. Second the Council authorities say:
Your “faithfulness” will get us in trouble, it will be a problem to us, it will make us look bad..
They tell the lack of understanding they have and their unwillingness to seek God’s direction.

If someone makes you feel uncomfortable about sharing your faith, you are probably on the right track
And if someone makes you feel good about keeping quiet or not acting in accordance with your faith, they are most likely not leading on the right track.

It is one of the reason that Jesus established the renewal of faith through Holy Communion, to be a recharging and restoring of our faith and trust of the core story of our faith.

Why do we eat the bread? Jesus’ life and body, broken and scarified
Why do we drink the cup? Jesus becomes the fulfillment of the prophets and law, our Lamb and Savior.

We retell and relive the community and common faith and promise that Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again.

Psalm 118:14-29
14 The LORD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. 15 There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly; 16 the right hand of the LORD is exalted; the right hand of the LORD does valiantly.” 17 I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD. 18 The LORD has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death. 19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. 20 This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. 21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 25 Save us, we beseech you, O LORD! O LORD, we beseech you, give us success! 26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD. 27 The LORD is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. 29 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Come to the Table,

Eat and Drink,

Do not become weary, but remain strong and true in telling the story of our faith in Jesus Christ.

Come.

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