Archive for March, 2014

John 4:5-42 Dehydration JUMC 20140323

dehydration

So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’ Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ They left the city and were on their way to him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples said to one another, ‘Surely no one has brought him something to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest”? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.” I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.’ Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.’
[NRSV]

Combating Daily Dehydration

Spiritual thirst is daily
Thirst is satisfied with eternal water
It’s not a one sip for life and your inoculated

In the habits of daily bread, needs and chores come the invitation to begin a regiment of spiritual drinking

The Woman says:

I want water I don’t have to work to receive. Not realistic. Invitation is to start drinking

The Woman Sees more than the water and work:

The leap of faith is made with Jesus reveals the truth about her life and relationships.

The Shift comes in being known and being loved.

Jesus speaks the truth and judges with love and grace, this is the transforming power of the Gospel.

The woman stops talking about her work and starts telling about Gods work in her life.

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John 3.1-17 “I love you so much” JUMC 20140316

faith.jpgGenesis 12:1-4a Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. [NRSV]

Psalm 121 I lift up my eyes to the hills– from where will my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore. [NRSV]

Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”) — in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. [NRSV]

John 3:1-17 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [NRSV]

  • The context of this lenten message is a collective voice of ‘faith’.
  • The nutshell is faith is possible because God’s love is so great we are compelled to trust and believe.
  • The “so what” is a compelling reflection to answer honestly do we believe because we dare not or because we dare to love.

Preacher Joke of the week: Angels were talking with God about the current state of the earth. God says, “I think only about 5% of true believers. The other 95% prefer to the ride in the hand-basket.” The angel says, “Do want us to go shake things up?” God says not send our letters of appreciation and thanksgiving to the 5%.” So as your pastor, I ask you: What did you letter say? What? you didn’t get one either..

  • The Genesis text tells of father Abraham trusting God’s call to go where he is send. Methodist Preachers understand that one pretty well. Look where God sent us, to be in this moment together to worship, support and rejoice together. Hallelujah!
  • Abram sets off on a journey of faith and is given God’s blessing for getting off his duff and taking steps of faith in God’s direction. That is faith in action.
  • The Psalmist reminds us to remember God’s presence surrounds us. God is on his holy mountain and God is also by our side. We can take courage to be people of faith because we have both a calling, a mission, a purpose as well as the power and support to make the journey. Both gifts are from God.
  • Paul teaches about Abram to the church at Romans pointing out that from the beginning God is with those God calls. God is with Abram, with Roman and Paul and God is with us in Jackson and beyond.
  • In the gospel lesson we find the midnight debate between two teachers: Jesus and Nicodemus. Nick comes to Jesus in an act of faith. He is putting his life and livelihood on the line to find out more about Jesus and his teaching.

Some people exchange teaching, lessons and knowledge with the life experience our education prepares us to life. I am appreciative for every teacher and mentor that taught, challenged and sparked interest in my thinking. But if I too all that knowledge and never built upon it, never test it, never put those lessons and thoughts to work then I would only have grand ideas.

  • Abram takes God’s word and allows them to change the direction of his life.
  • The Psalmist uses words to step outside of ourselves and see God is ahead calling us and beside us to encourage and save us.
  • Paul draw back on lessons in history to challenge the current church to step beyond the rules, laws and traditions to see God present in our present reality. God is with us here and now.
  • And, it is John’s gospel that retells us just how much God loves us, just how much God wants us to believe, just how much God wants us to be drawn together… so much that he gave his only son, exchanging that life for the broken life we have to offer.

And to claim this gift, we are called to think? no more think. ?We are called to remember? no more than remember. We are called to know the right answer?
Are we called to do the live the perfect life?
No its not just the answers and it’s not how good a manager we manage to be.

The key is belief that God loves us just as much as Jesus reveals to us.
The heart is that we believe enough to change the direction of our lives toward the life God desires for us.

God wants us to walk with, talk with and journey together.
When we take what we know and act on God’s love for us, THEN we believe.

Do you believe God or just know about God?
Do you believe Jesus or just know about Jesus?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, or knows about the wind?

God desires belief witnessed in the action of our lives.
For God has already given us what our spirit hungers for, will we believe it is within our grasp and take it?

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MT 4.1-11 “Lead into Temptation” JUMC 20140309

 

Temptation

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.  The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”  Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple,  saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'”  Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”  Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor;  and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. [NRSV]

Types of Temptation: My Own, My Circle, Strangers

Stone to Bread

We want to blame the devil but we do a good tempting ourselves. We know our own weaknesses and lust without much struggle.

We live with the assumption that if no one knows, if no one else cares, if no one speaks up, then it’s just not that bad.

Living under the radar is directly about are relationship with God.

Pinnacle Jumping

There are those in our circles of influence: Those in our family, community, in the church or other groups who know our actions and see our deeds, and know what’s going on, but we point out each other’s sin and brokenness and keep each other’s silenced by mutual leverage.

We will mind our business and stay out of yours because we want to be perceived as “good Christian folks”

We don’t want to be tested ourselves so we don’t put each other to the test.

Mountain Maybes

Jesus is taken to a mountain top experience and sees the global perspective of personal choices.

We want to find the lowest price on our clothes, tools and toys but don’t tell us about the people working for pennies to make the prices so low.

We don’t want to connect our little sins with the folks who are certainly guilty of bigger sins. A sin maybe a sin, but the consequences aren’t the same.

What do we learn about Temptation

1. It is a real experience for us all, including Jesus

2. It most often comes when we are at our weakest moments.

3. It reaches every level of our experience.

4. Spiritual Retreat can be a good context for being prepared

5. Scripture is the first defence

6. We can be angels or devils to others, offering nurture and support or torment and pain.

If we pray, “Do not lead us into Temptation..” then we ought not “Lead others into temptation either.”

RETREAT ( a Lenten season of practicing being lead by God instead of ourselves, our friends and fears. )

I have a micro retreat in the next five minutes. Don’t look at your watch, allow me to be the time keeper…

Spend the next five minutes prayer for God to strengthen you in the face of your sin, weakness, struggles, fears and failures.

Spend the next five minutes reading scripture for your support

Spend the next five minutes thinking of ways you might minister to someone who has been torn by sin and separation

Then together we will pray for strength and power and trust.

 

 

 

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Ezra 3.10-13 To Laugh or Cry 20131124 JUMC

10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments were stationed to praise the Lord with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, according to the directions of King David of Israel; 11 and they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of families, old people who had seen the first house on its foundations, wept with a loud voice when they saw this house, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted so loudly that the sound was heard far away.

The experience of Ezra and the people coming back to Jerusalem from exile comes with the mixed blessing of building something new with the sorrow of what is no longer reality. 

John Wesley opposed preaching outside to reach the poor and disconnected, but in doing so transforms the church and the world for Jesus Christ,

The council of Bishops, after great study and prayer is putting the resources in vital congregations. Those left behind linger by their choice to live in the past,

The commitment is to remember and acknowledge the loss of what we once were, while experimenting in building the new church.

The Church of England stayed in the past and is empty. The Russian Orthodox Church has the liturgy but no connection with the people.  In our life time, the church will become something new.

Remember when Billy Graham was the iconic central figure of the protestant church. Who is next? One of the TV preachers? One of the book publishing authors? One of the political preachers?

It is scary to not have the map. But if we follow the old ways we will not find the new Church. It is not comfortable to be lost, but its worse to stay where we are and swap familiarity for faith

One of the important questions to ask as a church: What the best day of Jackson United Methodist Church? If you say,  some time in the past, you don’t think much of the present and have no hope for the future. If you say, the best day are ahead, then we don’t throw in the towel and we grow closer toward the Light of Jesus Christ.

Looking backward, we are grateful and thankful for those who have paved the way before us, but the work of paving a new way is not over. It continues.

Where do we start? At the table: Jesus promises to meet us at the table as often as we gather in presence and memory. Remember and Eat. Learn from our past, and step out in faith in our future.

Come to the table and let’s eat, weep and shout for joy!

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2 Peter 1:16-21 and Matthew 17:1-9 What I Want JUMC. 20140303

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2P: For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. [NRSV]

MT: Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” [NRSV]

Context of coupling of text
Firsthand Gospel Application

This is a very interesting couple of passages because we have the gospel account of historical, miraculous events and a second text in 2Peter where there is a teaching tot he church that directly based on that first hand experience.

The context of the Transfiguration mountain passage is part mystery and miracle of incarnation. My question of the text is: are Peter James and john those who can most appreciate and understand the reevaluation or are they those who most need it.

Transference
Transfer of authority and story, Avoid transferring the authority

The story clarifies Gods method do revelation through people and relationships as the central mode of communicating Gods word and presence. This is replicated in Peters rebelling to those in his letter and input hearing.

A secondary teaching mode is the Journey

The disciples are taught different parts of the story along the way, not all at once. Peter shares the journey with others affirming their journey in belief and understanding.

We leave the story here and it would be clean, neat and safe doe us all. But the heart lesson is the transformation of Peter between the two accounts.

What I want vs what God wants for me

God wants Peter James and John to see and share a moment with Jesus Moses and Elijah.
In this moment they have the true reality of Jesus’s identity and role, the confirmation of OT laws and prophet AND the ultimate confirmation from God divine pronouncement. It does not get any clearer.

Only Peters response is vocalized among the disciples. Just because the others are silent doesn’t mean their response was different.

God is about revealing the connection and Peter presents a disconnection.

< Story of connection >

Peter hears the voice of God, sees the pieces of old and new fit together before his eyes, and his response is to build, make, do, control the situation.

Let’s make some monuments

The movie, Monument Men, a WWII drama about protecting the accomplishments of artists and sculptors work from destruction by the failed Hitlers orders at the end of the war. It is a moving witness of bravery and boldness to save the evidence of our culture and accomplishments. It is worth the ticket price for sure.

Peters response is not so different. We need to capture this moment and memorialize it so that others can come to those holy place.

Recount my trip. Worth going to the holy ground but what stands today are the very thing that Peter wanted. Including fragments of crusader walls defending the structure, a monastery, double decker church and a gift shop and roaming peacocks revealing their splendor and hidden glory. The very monuments that Peter hoped for are present.

But these are not the things God declared as important or necessary on that spot. The instruction was to listen and understand, to hear and believe.

In the moment Peter changing a from confident planner and designer in charge to one falling to the ground in fear and trembling.

The gift of Perspective in Time

It is in the 2P passage that Peter has learned and is teaching from his weakness.

You would do well to listen to use who know what we are talking about.
It’s not about you
Your plans
Your rules
Your traditions
Your good deeds
Your Intensions.

It is about the Holy Spirit, No you.

We come to the table of holy communion and it is about connecting with God
It’s not about our sin, or worth, or fault, no blame
It is a table of love and grace.

So come and be filled, be connected, be loved and claimed by the God who sends us Gods only child that we might believe, trust and live I return. Come, let go, and allow God to fill you today.

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