Archive for May, 2013

Romans 5:1-5 “The Process” JUMC 20130526

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5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 5:2 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. 5:3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5:5 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. [NRSV]

Paul’s words of encouragement are for times that we recognize the gift of grace and for the times, while we may be living in grace, but do not recognize the neighborhood. God stands with us. Pauls invites us to stand with Christ, in the Holy Spirit.

This is a rich and thick passage:

Justification: The work God has done through Christ that gives us grace.

Boasting in our Hope: Something worth celebrating and worth talking about with others, in the faith and those outside the bounds.

You who are Star Wars fans will remember when Jedi Master Yoda speaks to young Anakin, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.”

Fear we know! Fear of failure, the unknown, revealing our shame, Storms of winds, emotions and nature: all powers that appear greater than our own.

Paul writes to encourage and remind us of another progression of learning: “suffering produces endurance, 5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

The role we have as the church, as the present and living body of Christ is to stand firm in the Power of the Holy Spirit and teach and remind one another not to be lost in our suffering.

Tragic deaths in Oklahoma, London. Rumors of corruptions, deceit, and mis-use of power from our leaders and government. Uncertain times of economic change. Relentless news of Cancers, wars and divisions. We do not have to look far to see and hear news of suffering.

Our prayers are a most often litanies of suffering. If not our own suffering the hurt and fears of the world and those dear to us.

Why do we bring these to the attention of the body? Why share them in church? Is it for us to share a one-up story of who has the worse news or the latest gossip? No. Sometimes people ask me to repeat the concerns lifted up by others, so they can hear the news. I offer to you that it is not for our ears that we share our prayer concerns. It is for the heart of God to hear our suffering. If you want to know what someone said, go ask them after worship, but right now it is God’s time of hearing and receiving.

We share with God to remind ourselves and God that we so desperately and earnestly need the power of God’s Spirit in our lives.

This is the challenge Paul gives to the church in Roman and to us in our hearing of his words:

STAND FIRM in the GRACE God has given us. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

When you and I see and hear suffering, become reminder of the Grace

What is grace: It is God’s loving-kindness given to us, that even while we are filled with sin, fear, anger, and hate.. God gives us the love and life we need and the means to find our way back to the heart of God.

Is there anything that is stronger than God?

Is there anyone more powerful than God?

Is there any place God will not go to save us?

Is there any time God stops loving us and desiring our heart to be in relationship with God’s heart?

No!!!

Oh, how the world around us needs to hear what we know by heart.

BOAST: Brag! Tell with joyful pride, that Christ has claimed even me, and you, and those who hear our witness!

Could you imagine gives peace to someone who was sad? broken? empty? lonely? afraid? enraged? at the end of their hope?

Simply by sharing with them what gives you peace…

What gives us peace? We may not always use the term or name, but it is God’s Spirit that gives us peace.

We experience it through relationship, creation, song and art, scripture and science, alone and with whole crowds and congregations..

but it is the Holy Spirit that is our peace.. God’s continuing council, presence, power, advocate and strength.

REJOICE: BOAST: Be glad, you are in the Spirit. Tell the hurting and suffering world…

The suffering you have endured has built your character and that new appreciate of a life in Christ is the evidence and power of God’s hope in you.

Have Hope, Share Hope

Have Grace, Share Grace

Have the breath of God, Breath the Good News to all who still suffer.

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Acts 16.16-34 JUMC 20130512 Go for the Whole Family

palm-reading-1From the book of Acts:
16 One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. 17 While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” 18 She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. 19 But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. 20 When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews 21 and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23 After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. 34 He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God. [NRSV]

This account of life in the early faith community offers a role model of RADICAL hospitality.

First, Paul and Silas go to a place of prayer. Instead of finding a quiet place of reflection and meditation:

  • In this worshipful place there someone not only praying on the frailty of those who are searching and looking for direction and answers as they come to pray,
  • the are also confronted with  someone oppressed in forced labor being exploited for profit, and  
  • They are confronted with an opportunity to do something good that will break the law, damage ‘property’ and land them in jail if they do the ‘right’ and Godly thing.

Disciples living is not just a collection of thoughts, sayings and ideas.. it is a way that we live as people of the Holy Spirit.

What or whom are we willing to be taken to court? financial fine or even risk jail time? There is a cost of addressing sin and oppression.

  • There has been much debate about immigration issues in our nation. No matter what you might think we should do as a nation. A key part of the problem is the willingness of those to hire people who are not living here legally a wage less than legal workers. We can’t say we don’t want these people in our country and at the same time fund the reasons why they are willing to risk to come here.
  • We want to have the best price and not be foolish with the resources we have, but would we want our family members, of younger and older ages, being paid pennies to do a task that makes it affordable for our great discounted deal?

There is real hands on response made by Paul and Silas and the others to transform as life and a community.

Paul is annoyed that the evil spirit is telling the message of the faithful. 

There are times that  a mother would like for her children to set a good role model and it 

Story, belt, hat, and nose wiper.. Preacher came to eat lunch..

How difficult it is when the tattooed, pierced, beatnik-type shows the grace and acceptance that others might judge or run away.

It frustrating when the voice of truth comes from the oppressed. It brings conviction to us all.

The Disciples free her from spiritual and economic oppression, leave her without a livelihood, and effect her ‘owners’ as well.

Disciples are not protected from evil for doing the Good, Godly thing.

WHAT IS THE MOTIVATION?

The Salvation story comes through an earthquake, a stayed suicide and an invitation to the family table.

Granny’s table: There is room for you and you are seated at the head, as it is round.

It doesn’t sound like a mother’s day passage, but

  • what mother would not want her oppressed daughter to be free.
  • What mother would not welcome a husband filled with faith
  • What mother does not want to see who whole family around God’s table

All of them, let’s step it up and make Mom proud.

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John 14:23-29 I’m Going But I’m Coming Back JUMC 20130505

23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. 25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way. [NRSV]

This is an intimate and paternal conversation between Jesus and the disciples.

Words of Assurance: Yes I am leaving you, but yes I am coming back for you.

These are words of comfort and mystery. Defining a certainty and reality of the separation as well as the certainty and reality of the ongoing connection and presence.

The lesson is to, above all else listen to the words of Jesus and do what he says.

Salvation is realized and experienced by those who have been listening.
Message of Grace: Yes, the opens arms of God are outstretched for all, but those who recognize and follow will know when to run toward the Savior.

We the clue of the relationship: We will come to them.. vs 23.

In the mean time, in the waiting time, in the between time,
Wait for the Advocate, the Holy Spirit.

We are people of the Spirit. This is our business. This is our heart. This is our activity.

We are spiritual folks in a physical reality.. but look what comes first and list. The Holy Spirit.

Wake up.

We come to communion today to feed, nourish and tend to our Spirit.
Listen, Follow and Wait.

It may not be the flashy and exciting thing to do, but it is our salvation.
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