Archive for April, 2014

John 20:19-31 “Seeing is Believing” JUMC 20140427

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When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. [NRSV]

We have seen The Lord.. So it is easy for a to believe.

I will not believe unless I see, so look and touch

belief is more important than anything

gods incarnation reveals that god s willing to do what t take for us to see, hear, touch, smell and taste belief.

Therefore beleif is the heart of our witness.

 

 

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John 20:1-18 (9&11) “Name Calling: Whom Do You Seek?” JUMC 20140420 Easter Worship

JUMC Worship 9&11 Easter “Name Calling: Whom Do You Seek?” 20140420

Lectionary Readings from NRSV for Easter 2014 below:

NameCalling

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.

Today we retell the classic story of Easter and the discovery and witness of the risen Lord and the empty tomb.  Glory Hallelujah!

  • There is a progression in John’s Gospel from darkness to light and enlightenment.
  • There is a story unfolding of different people experiencing different parts of the story at different times.
  • This passage is shared as a testimony for belief, for us to believe and to share with others.

The evidence is fully revealed by Jesus’ choosing. Just as Jesus’ death was his choice for our benefit, so is his revealing of the power of the resurrection.

Jesus calls Mary by name. In hearing her name she recognizes her teacher and Savior. 

I want to invite you to share an Easter Prayer: We will pray aloud together, saying the name of Jesus three times together, slowly and then say our own name aloud three times, followed by three affirmations of faith: You are my teacher. You are my friend. You are my Savior.

Practice and pray together..

The turning point in the story is revealed to Mary. The first witness of the risen Christ. Peter and John see clothes and a missing body, but Mary see’s Jesus within her arms reach.

If Eve get’s the blame for being the first to recognize sin, Mary get’s the credit as the first to see and proclaim the resurrection as truth.

Here is the Easter Sunday problem..

We are all dress up. Family, friends and dinner is waiting on us. We know the story and it’s the old, old story we heard so long ago and so many times before.

The catch is: Have we heard Christ calling our name? Have we made a connection between the signs and symbols and the relationship?

For most of us: We answer sure: I have that relationship. I’m connected.

But there is a test when the connection is present: (IT lights lit up on the modem)

When we hear our name, when we hear the truth, when we recognize Jesus in our presence… is our response to tell someone who has not heard?

So I ask you this Easter Morning: Have you heard that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead? Yes

Do you believe it to be the truth?

Have you heard him call your name?

Is he your teacher and Savior?

Here is the essay question: When is the last time you shared this life-changing Good News with someone who does not know, who has forgotten, who has lost sight or meaning or power?

When is the last time you shared the power and witness of the Easter Story… because it’s not about signs and symbols, traditions and remembrances…

Jesus conquered death to be with us, to be in relationship, to be together… not just reverantly remembered.

I would say that this Easter Sunday we have some home work:

When you get home, you and I need to be talking about God’s love with everyone we meet, but most particularly with those who are seeking and search but have not found God’s love and power, God’s hope and direction. God’s blessing and grace.

Eggs and Bunnies are good signs but if we they are not building spiritual relationships: Then we only share the emptiness of the tomb and not the fullness of the living Christ.

It start in the naming. Let us practice this Easter Prayer: 

I want to invite you to share an Easter Prayer: We will pray aloud together, saying the name of Jesus three times together, slowly and then say our own name aloud three times, followed by three affirmations of faith: You are my teacher. You are my friend. You are my Savior.

Prayer: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, my name, my name, my name. You are my teacher, You are my friend, You are my Savior.

Add to it these words: Send me to those who have not heard, who have forgotten or give up. to those who are afraid and lone. Send me with your name. Amen.

You know the story, Share the savior with those who are still seeking.. Amen. Glory Hallelujah!

Other Lection Reading for this Sunday 

Acts 10:34-43 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 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.”

Acts 10:34-43 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 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.”

 

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Sunrise 7am Dausett Trails Chapel JUMC Worship 20140420.07:00

Sunrise 7am Dausett Trails Chapel  JUMC Worship 9&11 Easter “Whom Do You Seek?” 20140420 SeekingGod

Lectionary Readings from NRSV for Easter 2014 below:
Colossians 3:1-4 (7am Sun Rise)

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. If you have been raised with Christ. I would guess that on any given Easter Sunday, 99% of those who show up at an Easter Sunrise service are indeed already believers. Who in their right mind would get up so early to take part in a service they had no idea what it was about. So I’m, as they say, preaching to the choir, this morning. I would also guess the Paul writes to the church at Colossi knowing they are believers. But they are believers who might have lost the connection with what it means to be raised with Christ. The power of Christ’s resurrection affects our life more than our death. Christ arose so that we could start living the whole life God has for us from our birth, confirmed in our baptism, strengthened throughout our lives and bridges us through death into eternity. So much our grief over those loved ones who have died is evidence that we forget what it means to be raised with Christ. Certainly we miss them in the flesh with us, but in Christ we are never separated. I know my father’s love, guidance and tears in my walk. He was my best friend. He still is. The emphasis Paul implies is not so much ‘IF’ were are raise, but ‘SINCE’ we are raised with Christ. His word remind us of the foundation of our faith and the bedrock of our relationship. This is the Good News of the Easter story: He is alive, for us. Christ is alive because God has a claim on our hearts and struggles. Setting Your mind on Christ Sometimes we think the answer is to focus our mind on some area we would like to change and that would be enough to transform our living. I struggle every day making choices about my diet. I struggle every day making choices about my work, my finances, my relationships and my life. Paul gives the starting point for transformation. The best way to a person’s heart starts with their mind. We see, hear or experience a hungry child and our heart is motivated to feed and save. We see a broken step or windowpane at a neighbors house and we have the perspective they have learned to over look. We become aware of our neighbors sins and struggles and our mind can judge and condemn or our mind can have compassion and identify with our own sin and struggle and work toward mutual healing. The starting point is in the wonderful mind that God has created, but it is not the final answer. Our heart is the target that God claims and seeks to unite. Hiding or Revealing The tradition of Easter eggs is rooted in a way of teaching about the treasure of the tomb. It would be a more accurate practice if they eggs that children hunted were found to be empty instead of filled with treats from the magic bunny. Bunny have been used for their prolific ability to reproduce which points to the power of the resurrection. It would be a better example if we replicated the Easter message as prolifically as bunnies multiply. But with those knocks against the Easter bunny and his hiding eggs the text begs us to ask are we: hiding or revealing Christ in how we live our lives. I don’t know about you but I’m guilty of both. Sometimes I thrilled to share the Good News and help folks hear and know the love God has for them in Jesus Christ and him crucified. And other times I am hiding in fear, frustration and sin.

  • Paul writes to encourage the church to be proactive in remembering and reclaiming the hold Christ has on their lives. His words invite us to do the same.
  • He writes to give them a starting point: First set your mind and your heart can follow. If both your heart and head are not heading in a Christ like way, we are fooling ourselves, and others. (but not God.)
  • Finally Paul asks us to reveal what is hidden and allow the light of Christ to guide our whole lives.  In doing this the resurrection we celebrate at Easter lives in us now and for ever.

It’s Easter: You are claimed by Christ, set your mind on God and grow in Spirit by sharing Christ with others.

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Matthew 21.1-11 Celebration Time JUMC 20140413

RidingonanDonkey When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” [NRSV]

People like to celebrate. We like something to get excited about.

Look at any sporting venue of your choice. There are more acres and structures devoted to accommodating those who celebrate than those who play the games. Sometime the celebrations get out of hand and crowds rush the playing field, goal posts get torn down, the crowd takes the celebration into the streets and what was apparent joy turns into rage and violence.

Think of Jesus’ entry into the capital city: What would make you take off your coat and cut down the neighbors tree limbs to celebrate.

I lived in Grant Park when the the Freak-Nick celebration began in Atlanta. It was not as crazy in our neighborhood as some but there were a day that we were snowed in with abandoned cars filling the streets around the church. At the time it was very frustrating and unsettling. Looking back it was evidence of what a crowd of people who get lost in the celebration can do.

On one hand they can celebrate their leader because they hear what they want to hear and cheer on one another. In the next moment they choose the murderer Barabbas instead of Jesus.

I received an email a couple of weeks ago from a political action group asking me to join other clergy in the presidents invitation to use our pulpit time to encourage people to sign up of the “Affordable” healthcare plans. The president was crossing the line of church and state to ask us to pray for the poor; he was not asking us to help victims of storms; he was not asking us to care for the sick. He was asking us to promote his political agenda. Is that what we have come to celebrate?

Maybe we are to be quiet and reverent only. Should not Jesus have been shown more respect and people just sat and watch quietly as he entered Jerusalem? Jesus didn’t want to show all the pomp and circumstance. He choose a donkey instead of the emperor’s steed. Maybe celebration has no place in our worship. It would be proper to keep quiet and manorly. Right? Look and around and listen this morning: Where are the palm branches? the coats and crowds… We can be assured that we are behaving as we ought and there will be no need for threat or crucifix going on anywhere around here today. “Am I right?”

This text begs the question: What is the appropriate way to welcome Jesus into our town? Quietly as if it were against the law? Not against the law of the land, but the law of opinion and perception.

Rather the harden, stone-like hearts has been set free, bodies healed, lives transformed and eyes opened and the people were shouting, Hallelujah! Praise the Lord, Hosanna! Glory to God in the Highest!  Blessed is he that comes in the Lord’s name. Hosanna! Glory Hallelujah!

Let’s try whispering that together. <in a whisper> Hallelujah! Praise the Lord, Hosanna! Glory to God in the Highest!  Blessed is he that comes in the Lord’s name. Hosanna! Glory Hallelujah!

Even when we all whisper it together our collective voice of praise is louder than one person sitting quietly minding their manors of respectability.

It’s not that God wants to hear certain words coming out of our mouths, but rather than try so hard to be quiet, let us try to respond the what God has done for us.

It might be the case Jesus has not come to our house; he might not have visited our streets; he might not have spoken to our hearts in such a long time that we have forgotten the joy. Is this the case?

Did Jesus want attention?

If you are going to start a parade riding into town. You must expect some attention. If you came riding in a shiny, red convertible Austin Martin, throwing candy and beaded necklaces to the crowd, you would expect some attention.

But if you came into town announcing you were a king, riding on a Murray Lawn mower and had your disciples throwing palm branches like a humble king David, you might not get the same attention from the crowd, but you would incite the eye of your critics. Jesus enters the city with intentional, radical risk and reveals the extravagance of God’s presence.

The text of Palm Sunday is one that asks each of us to identify where we are in the story? Are we paving the way with the coat off our backs? Are we waving whatever is within arms reach to celebrate? Are you shouting praise to God for all to hear?

Or, Are we wishing the parade was over and worried about who is going to clean up the mess? Are we feuding and steaming because of the irreverence of others? Are we resisting challenge and change? Are our dreams and expectation called to expand beyond our control and measure? Are we simply feeling left out?

Every Sunday is a celebration day. This Sunday is the beginning of a holy week of celebration leading us through the cross to the resurrection. Is it a journey you already know too well and will save the trip this year or will you make the pilgrimage again, if not for yourself for those who see your actions and hear your words.

There’s a party in the house… the prodigal has come home will we going in and join the father’s family and friends or will we stay outside?

As for me and my house, we will praise the Lord.

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