Archive for July, 2015

John 6.13-21 Why Are You Afraid? 20150726 RSUMC

Woman damaged house and holding her head with both hands

Be not afraid?

So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going. [NRSV]

I love this passage, but it is so much more powerful remembering the setting and context of the storm on the sea.

On the Tail of Miraculous Blessing: 12 Baskets for 12 Disciples

  • Think of the times that God has blessed us in the past.
  • Remembering the witnesses of our past and others.
  • Keeping our current storm in the context of where God has guided us before.
  • If we look only at the storm in the present, we see only the fear, grief and lack of control.

Life in the Storm:  What are our current storms?

  • Politics
  • Racism
  • Terrorism
  • Economic
  • Marriage and Divorce
  • Drugs
  • Grief
  • That is a good starting list..

This is why we start with the context of where God has been revealed in the past.

Time to make a list of 12 examples where God has blessed, loved, forgiven, showed-up in our lives:

  1. God showed up in the backyard of a house church in Monterrey, Mexico and called me to preach.
  2. God showed up in the worship service and fellowship at Camp Glisson in the rock chapel.
  3. God showed up to surround me in love through my father and grandmothers and a dozen churches.
  4. God showed up to broaden my heart and mind in seminary study and worship.
  5. God showed in the lives of children in Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Honduras, Moscow
  6. God shows up nudging me to pray, call, contact within two hours
  7. God showed in ideas that I think are my own but God reveals them to you and when you share them, I am confirmed.
  8. God shows us when someone is looking for God to speak and I have nothing to say and God’s words come rolling out.
  9. God shows us to convict, cleanse and correct when I have messed up.
  10. God shows up when I pray asking for direction
  11. God shows up when I put myself in a place of listening and reflection
  12. God shows up when I lay aside my mind and worries and come to worship and praise.

Making the a List as an act of preparing for my storms and your storms.

The disciples did not ask for faith lesson, they were tired, needed a retreat-vacation and the work interrupted,

and when much needed break was in order, they are overwhelmed by a life-threatening storm.

Jesus is in the storm with them.

When they invite Jesus in, the storm is over.

The Lesson: The sooner we invite Jesus in the boat, the less time fear leads our lives.

To go back to the list of fears:

  1. Politics: We can’t be ostriches, we must be involved leaders and prophets
  2. Racism: What builds our community and what divides us?
  3. Terrorism: We love the person but denounce the behavior
  4. Economic: Discern where our heart/faith clings fast?
  5. Marriage: Are we Godly, not only at the wedding, but throughout the relationship
  6. Divorce: Acknowledge marriage is sometime not repairable, but angry people are hurting all around
  7. Drugs: This is maybe the biggest storm that affects our families
  8. Grief: Loss of loved ones
  9. Death/End times: What is our part in the larger story? Where is our foundation? Where is our love in loss?

This is a time, as disciples, we need to encourage instead of judge, gossip and distance ourselves. 

  • Remember where God shows up, Reminds us we are never alone.
  • Remember we are in this together and need each others support.
  • Remember the storms are coming, but in Christ, we will make it through.

Angels announced: Be Not Afraid, God is here.

Emmanuel: God is with us!

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Mark 6.30-34. Working on Vacation. RSUMC 20160719

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.  Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
6:53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

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Mark 6.30-34 (35-45) Working on Vacation 20150719 RSUMC

WorkEthicTakesVacationThe apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.  Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

v35-44) When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late;  send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.”  But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?”  And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.”  Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass.  So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties.  Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all.  And all ate and were filled;  and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men. [NRSV]
Developing our Rest Ethic:
There is a difference in being LAZY and Renewal
Our culture has worked hard to develop the skills set of affording much laziness. (That is a different topic for a different format and conversation.)  But I must make the distinction between the do-as-little-as-possible is different from the vacation of renewal that Jesus invites his disciples to join.
“Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”
The importance of rest.
The importance of prayer.
The importance of being off duty.
The importance of being rather than doing.
The importance of Sabbath rest.
Why do we vacation?
To relax and do as much rest and renewal as possible?
To have as much fun and adventure as possible?
To have something other than the norm be the order of the day or week?
We fool ourselves if we say, D) All of the above.
I enjoy traveling and exploring as much as the next guy, but Jesus is opening the door to something different.
Time Set Apart from the work.
Time Apart does not watch the clock;
Neither does it get online, no social media and no email, no games of diversion, no TV and no movies.
Time Apart is not only sleeping to rest the body,
It is also, trusting the rest of the world and our lives into the arms of God.
What would it look like if you found a room at your house this afternoon:
Where you didn’t straighten up nor mess up. You found a comfortable chair or lounge to
Share the Load
The Work is not SO important, that someone else can’t do it.
When Jesus is ask to Work, even doing something wonderful and good for others,
He chooses to invite others into ministry and service so that he might find RENEWAL.
There are just a few days or weeks before school begins,
There are vacations still to be enjoyed before the routine of normal returns,
The Caution: 
Don’t exchange sleep for rest.
Don’t call renewal being lazy
Don’t avoid retreat, because of money,
The loaves and fish are the resources that are available: Take the time you already have and go apart to
pray, rest, focus on allowing God to lead, and basically disconnect.
Set the alarm to welcome you back, but don’t short-change yourself, God or those we WORK to serve.

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Mark 6:14-29 Prophetically Speaking: Heads Will Roll 201507 RSUMC

 
King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.”

And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.”

She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her.

Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb. [NRSV]

John the Baptizer

John the Baptizer is best known for pronouncing the arrival of Jesus as the Message and baptizing Jesus in the Jordon river. As a prophet, he is not only preaching to the crowds of ordinary folks. He is also the voice holding the leaders accountable. People throughout the region respected John; some thought he might be the embodiment of the prophet, Elijah, promised from generations ago.

The Prophet

The role of a prophet is to be a messenger reminding people of the things they should already know. Occasionally a prophet will have an apocalyptic message, but it general always followed with, a warning to repent and return to being faithful for God. John the Baptizer is no different.

His message to the king was the same as it was to the people. Repent. Namely John was called out Herod for inappropriate marriage. He married his brother’s wife.   

The Herod Family: The Royals, Kardashians and Jerry Springer Meet Billy Graham

Herod’s mother was Jewish, therefore Herod was ½ and Jewish by technicality. He married Herodias after they both divorces their spouses. Herodias, grand-daughter of Alexander the Great, married Phillip who happened to be her uncle. Herodias used her daughter, Salome, to entice and entrap Herod to have John the Baptizer executed for calling the family’s sinful behavior out.

Happy Birthday Dear Herod

The scene is a birthday party: Herod’s birthday party. Herodias uses he brother’s daughter to dance provocatively for her uncle/step-father. Herod is pleased so much that he offers half his kingdom to the child. Salome goes to ask her mother how to best cash-in on the oath of an offer. A pony? A chest of jewels? Her own palace? No, mom has her ask for the head of John the Baptizer. ??Happy birthday to you…Oh dear how dreadful.

So let’s get to the lesson: John the Baptizer calls out the twisted, brokenness on which Herod and Herodias family and relationship are held together. Treachery, murder, divorce, inappropriate re-marriage and abuse of children.

1. No one disputes that John is wrong.

2. Even Herodias knows John is right and holy, she simply does not like what she hears.

3. For calling out the family’s sin, Herodias holds a grudge against John the Baptizer, no forgiveness

4. Herod agrees by his silence and complicit behavior.

5. Herod give his word and will not change his word even when it conflicts with God’s word, (though shall not kill for one.)

6. Herod also listened to John the Baptizer and liked what he heard about repentance, but Herod didn’t hear this for himself and apply the teaching to his own life.

Important take-away

Prophets are ordinary folks who: REMIND people and leaders to be FAITHFUL to God

Being a prophet is risky business.

The People might turn on you, and not listen and follow someone they like better.

The Leader might have you killed.

Question: So who would ever want to be a prophet?

I suggest that God calls each of use to be prophets, at different times. As we study and grow in understanding of God’s laws, guides, grace, love and power in our own lives. When I am selfish, brutish and unforgiving, I experience life without God’s love, power and grace.

We can see the same in others. Because we know the power of God’s word, love and grace we are also entrusted with sharing with other where we see sin, as a warning, not a judge.

  • If someone is walking too close to the street from the sidewalk, we say, move to the center before you get hit by that truck.
  • If someone is speeding down the highway, we say, hey slow down your might get a ticket and you might kill us if someone stops suddenly in front of us.
  • If someone is choose a circular pattern of destructive behavior, habitual abuse, addictions, uncontrolled anger, etc. we say, you need to get some help, you need to see a doctor, you need a counselor, you need to stop and break the cycle. There is better way; you have another choice. God loves you more than you love you. Don’t ever forget it.

When we point out sin with the purpose of sharing a way of repentance, we are not judging, we are affirming that sin power, real and destructive in our lives. We have a way out of sin, Jesus Christ.

We are all guilty of sin. We all have different ways that we put our word, ideas, will and value ahead of God’s. John the Baptizer models a way to get back to God. He is not judging, he his holding up a mirror to see the truth..

We are the mirror people. Why don’t we believe were are all prophets? Because it’s dangerous.

We want hazard pay at best.  Ask Jesus. He’s got you covered. Now get out there and call for repentance. They world is going on a hand basket. And Gos is calling us to call out sin, offer repentance and bring people back to God. 
 

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Mark 6.7-11 “What Cha’ Pack’n?” 20150705 RSUMC

Packing And he was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the  Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.” They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. [NRSV]

Be Prepared

As you set off on a trip from your home base to go to camp, vacation, hike the AT, or journey around the world in a solar powered air plane, you cannot take everything with you. But you take what you need for the trip.

The members of our family appear to have different definition of what is “needed” for a trip. Yet, no matter how light I might back, my suitcase ends up being the heaviest. Either there is extra room in my back that someone else has claimed with their over-flow. Or, I am packing more than I think I need but just the right amount of what I’m suppose to need. The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” In reality the motto is “be prepared to McGiver-it.”

The text from Mark’s gospel in today’s reading is about faith. Mark’s question for us is: “Is the heat your packing, faith in Jesus Christ?”

Jesus’s Carry Permit

If you emptied the contents of your pockets, purse and/or wallet onto a table and examined what you carry, what would the contents say about you?

Jesus had disciples traveling from community to community watching Jesus, but they had not made the jump to a ‘sent’ ministry. They watch Jesus’s ministry unfold, but didn’t connect Jesus with their own personal ministry. So the first question is: What is Jesus calling, sending, empowering and equipping me to do?

Carry the Holy Spirit.

 Carried by the Holy Spirit

There are times when the church’s ministry is very clear to both the world and members of the church. Many folks are unclear about what our ministry is these days. As we have all experienced in the couple of weeks the church and Jesus’ disciples have been under attack from all sides.

I talked with a man this week that summed up a conversation that I have had with many people in the past year: I don’t mind feeding the poor and helping the homeless get a job, but I don’t want to support a church. When this is the message the world and the church tells us, we have lost our identity, AND we have lost our faith.

When we loose our way and our power to change we get stuck keeping alive what has been alive and we create NO new life. This is not a time to maintain our weight, this is a time shift the focus from weight to the depth of heart. We are not called to keep the church alive, we are alive to keep the world connected with God.

Stay where you are welcomed

Take God’s work, with God’s power and stop where you are welcomed

The Use of Force

Leave When you are not welcomed

The instruction is not to find the lowest common denominator

The instruction is not to compromise so they will like you.

With boldness, anoint in the name of Jesus and if folks don’t want the free gifts of power, love and grace, then leave.

You can’t force faith, you can’t make someone love. You can’t force trust and it be genuine.

The 12 were not called to compromise the faith, but to share it boldly.

A Trail of Evidence

Leave some powder at the driveway, Make certain folks know God has been in their presence.

Leave evidence that might be listened to in the future, not quite the right time..

Buckshot

Jesus sends the 12 empowered by the charge of the holy spirit to reach the communities and where their are welcomed people were set free from the grip of evil, fear and the unknown. And, people were anointed and healed from their sickness.

 

SO WHAT?

Leave your baggage behind, allow God’s spirit to fill you, and be sent into the community to free those in the grip of fear and evil and heal the bodies and relationships where you are welcomed. Time is precious, do not linger to force when there are those who will welcome and receive.

 

 

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