Archive for March, 2018

Mark 16:1-8 As You Go and Tell

Garden Tomb of Jesus

The stone is rolled away and the tomb is empty

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Go Tell his Disciples, “There” you will see him.

A confirmation that the Church is the Body of Christ and a sure and dependable place and moment to share our living Savior.

My crazy grandfather used to tell me that I could not go swimming until I learned to swim. I would reply, “How can I learn to swim without getting in the water.” His reply, “Go ask your grandmother.”

It is in the act of doing that we come to experience Jesus as our Savior.

If I only think about Jesus, then my faith would be a theory that could exist just fine within my own understanding, and you could have your understanding and I could have mine and we’d be fine as long as we didn’t share where we had a conflicting understanding. (skip the opportunity for sarcasm.)

The specific instruction on the first Easter Sunday was to find Jesus, where and when you are telling the other disciples about the resurrection.

Our worship, fellowship, music, visuals, conversations, scripture, and are ways we gather to experience Jesus, living with us.

How do I experience Jesus?

  • I see Jesus: in the scriptures
  • I hear Jesus: in the music
  • I smell Jesus: in your questions
  • I feel Jesus: in your singing and responding
  • I taste Jesus: in the bread and cup and fellowship dinners, why I cook.

How do I prevent people from experiencing Jesus?

  • When I’m not sharing, the world sees the wines of complaining, division, fear, anger, selfishness, and pride.
  • When I’m not telling about Jesus, people hear whatever news, movies, celebrities, squeaky wheels will tell, print or post.
  • When I’m not telling about Jesus, people smell doubt, insincerity, and shallow words that don’t relate to people’s hunger and thirst for what is good and right.
  • When I’m not telling about Jesus, people continue to feel alone, confused and divided
  • When I’m not telling about Jesus, people taste the bitterness of a sin-filled worldview.

Q: So What do I tell people?

  • Jesus lives for a sinner like me
  • Jesus speaks through scripture and the church
  • Jesus smells fresh and hopeful if what I’m saying is mean-spirited, nope, not Jesus.
  • Jesus feels present and relevant to people.
  • Jesus tastes satisfying and whole.

So When and How Often do I have to tell about Jesus?

NOW!

Easter is the best day to tell about Jesus

  • Who will you tell see
  • Who will hear
  • Who will feel
  • Who will smell
  • Who will taste

Easter is the reminder of our real urgency that someone is

  • bound and
  • blind and
  • afraid and
  • confused and
  • misinformed and
  • betrayed and
  • some clouded by religion
  • alone making up something they call the truth
  • any of these, but they DO NOT have to be

Some have smelled the difference between the joy of our worship and the judging, barking, and silence

Some have tasted the world and are left hungry

A Word to Disciples

Back to the instruction, with the urgency: Easter is a day to come and experience Jesus as our Risen Savior so that every day that follows we are ready to be the living Jesus until he returns.

Use every way that we experience life to lead the world to experience Jesus in us.

When we are cady, controlling, fussing, griping, condescending, bothered with others around us we are in a danger zone of NOT allowing others to experience Jesus. We get in the way. 

The invitation is for this day, for Disciples to regroup in Jesus, as ‘THE’ way and be ready to live to experience Jesus with others

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John 12:12-16 Jesus is Coming to Town

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The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!”  Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. [NRSV]

Why Hosanna?

The words of praise. Hurray! Glory! Wonderful! come to mind, but this is a more unique word that Hebrew and recorded in Jesus’s native Aramaic. It is a phrase word. Just as the folks from Athens, GA might say: “How ‘bout them Jackets” (haha, twist intended) it would be a celebratory “Glory, Glory to ole Georgia.” If these phrases were encapsulated into a word we would the idea of ‘Hosannah”

Hosanna began as Lord, God Save us! and through the Gospel’s has come to mean, Highest Praise, who has saved us. So their use of the original context is twisted with the early church’s use of the old testament word.

So we have Palm Sunday as a pre-celebration that Jesus coming into the world, and in our hearts and lives, is the celebration of our salvation.

Which means if Jesus does not come to the world, to our heart, and to our town, then we are NOT saved. Here in is theological of preparing for a life as Easter People.

We usually only read this passage as an observer of a historical event, but it is shared in the Gospels as Good News and not just historical newspaper clippings.

Hosannah: Jesus has saved me, even though we celebrate the death on Good Friday and the Resurrection of next Sunday as Easter, we look at this story of entry into the city as a necessary part of the process.

We prepare for Easter knowing it is our victory march! The ASSURANCE of what WILL be and not just hope of what MIGHT be.

Why Palms?

The disciples did not gather to get Creighton’s Florist to order dozens of palms to be ordered, the palms were a response from the people who are making a traditional sign of welcoming the king.

This is a difficult time for us to respond in unison with any unifying act of praise and celebration because we have become a culture of suspicion, rebellion and divided support.

Some might hope, in our country that the “Stars and Stripes” would be an obvious rally flag. For some, it an illicit political protest.

I hope that you will do the spiritual work to see that the people might have divided reasons for welcoming Jesus as King.

Some who were in the crowd that day had experienced Jesus teaching, healing or miracles, while others knew only the oppressive Roman rule, and still, others were supporting glorious days of kings of the past hoping for the revival of political greatness.

Bottom line the palms are unifying symbols of many different individual reasons, some helpful and some dangerous.

Why a donkey’s colt?

Jesus came to town with is Colt? Would mean have met the expectation of many who were hoping for a new sheriff to clean house and restore order. When in fact, Jesus comes in humility to spiritually reorder the whole world and all time.

Think of the Jesus riding in a church parade. If this were a political parade there would have been legions of soldiers, a banner of the empire and emblems of Cesear. This is a church parade. Not everyone entered a float, but the people respond as if it is a political, flag-waving event.

Jesus rides in, not in a BEAST of an armored car, not on the back of a convertible, not even proud Clydesdale stallion. It’s more like he rides in on a pickup truck, not a four-door, HEMI, but a simple work truck.

But the symbol for some would be as if the self-proclaimed president was riding in ‘on’ a smart car.  You know that Consumer Reports does not the rate the “Smart Car” in their rating in a polite way of saying: “If you can’t say something good and helpful, don’t say anything at all.”

The palms and praises are the people’s response, Jesus message is the spiritual work that is being completed through the events of the week at hand. We call it Holy Week, but it is the week when everything we hold dear is lost and hope is out of our grasp… Oh, how we long for Easter, Salvation, Life, and Christ!

Wave OUR palms because we need to lead others out of hopelessness, fear, and sin into the joy that aways through the journey at hand.

This is what we share, this is why we praise, this is why we are the church, we are Christian, not for ourselves, but for OUR collective hope in the ONE who does save us. This week of Journey is the toughest part. Reach out to one who is in the hardest part o that spiritual and physical journey sharing the hope and joy that we KNOW is coming soon!

Again the call is to share the journey with those who cannot see this week is holy.

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John 12:20-33 Lost In a Life of Love

percentloved

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—”Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

Attractive line from Gnostism: Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Antithesis from the world’s message: Those who love their life seize it, and those who hate their life in this world will give it away, now is the moment.

John’s Gospel is written for the stated purpose of helping us come to believe and once believing to have a greater faith to stand and share.

Those who love are about to live eternally, don’t trade it for the world of comfort, fame, control.

Approaching Easter is the ongoing journey we travel in following Jesus.

  • What percent of me does God love?
  • What percent of me does God forgive?
  • What percent of me does God save?
  • What percent of my time does God ask of me?
  • What percent of my possessions does God ask of me?
  • What percent of my thoughts and actions does God want to use for his glory?

This is where we been to see the hard ache of this passage

Has it become one you would like to edit out? Swap the yellow highlighter for the black sharpie, right?

Our journey is not about distance in miles, it is about millimeters in our hearts and

mind.

How much more of my self am I entrusting and devotion to a god this trip to Jerusalem?

The difference in our calling and That of Jesus is that his live was given up for us and

Our calling is to give our living to Jesus that other folks find the journey toward Christ

Winning by Loosing

As an adult we learn that “winning” is not always the reason to play a game.

There are some folks who work most every Sunday and miss church but they give more heart and time on other days and nights, so don’t judge one another. We are on the journey together

I read about an educator this week who was admonished by their supervisor for holding an adult student accountable for their ability to write. “Someone else passed them along, it’s not our place to stop the wheels of higher education.  We don’t need problems, blame, distractions, just let it slide and don’t single out this purpose that. Ugh the be offended

And so it is on the journey of faith, just let misinformed people believe what they will because I’m just a wrong as the next person and just as correct as the other. Then why bother?

God not only bothered, but gave his only child for us, God gives himself for us.

God loose, so that we win.

The warning in this passage is to not loose God, but settling for part, when God offers whole life.

Don’t share your faith because I encouraged you to do so,

Keep the context of what God has done for us – and ask what part of my love do you want me to share?

What part of the gospel do you want me to tell?

What part of the song do I sing?

What part of the fellowship to I offer?

What part of the gift do I give?

What part of the day is mine, alone?

The Way Home

Confession: Lord, Jesus I have not loved you with my whole self. I have not loved my neighbor. I have not loved my enemies. I have not always made room for you in my day and night. Forgive me and continue to offer your grace. Make me yours and put me to living for you, in love others and loving my life with you. Amen.

Remind your neighbor

Love your neighbor, welcome the stranger, forgive your enemy and add to the percent of your living and give for God.

 

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Luke 2:15-19   Acts 1: 7-11 , Matthew 23:32-39 Matthew 14:25-30, Mark 15: 18-23 (Lynyrd Skynyrd at Church?)

skynners

(FULL Video link from worship on YouTube)

My story with Lynyrd Skynyrd is not too different from many young boys who lived in the south as a child of the sixties and seventies. I received my first guitar at the age of 12 and would listen to the anthems of the southern rock. Trying to listen to the radio and pick out the notes to the intro to “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Freebird”. Knowing all along that I could step in to play if they needed a back up, at least in my own mind. Flash forward to a couple of years ago I was going through my mother’s piano song books of church music, classical, show tunes and a few others like the collection of Bet Midler, Barbra Streisand, and the Carpenters, some she played in my youth. But as I went through the stacks of song books I found the classic collection of Lynyrd Skynyrd. What? Why did mom hide this contraband collection from my youth?

As I thumbed through the pages the idea of these songs being known as Southern Rock Anthems set the tone for me reinterpreting titles and lyrics as songs of God and faith. In fact some of the stories within the lyrics and the music speak for a generation and a culture within that generation, just as music does with every generation and every culture. (We are getting to the faith and God part, in a moment, hang in there.)

These Skynyd “anthems” of southern rock and roll are such because they speak the words of pride in once community, once way of life, for God and Country, The music speaks to the hearts of a people. Sometimes in rebellion of war and politics, other times lifting up the value of community and patriotism.

Which got me to thinking! (This is a the dangerous part.)

I clergy pier and friend, Bob Winsted, share some stories about his experience with Skynyrd band members. Bob and I had the privilege of experiencing the Holy Land pilgrimage and various small groups.

The piano player with Skynyrd band was Billy Powell. Billie was my friend Bob’s backyard neighbor in Jacksonville, Florida. He was also a friend with Leon Wilkensen and Ronnie Van Zant. They all went to Robert E Lee High school where Coach Skinner annoyed them about having long hair. Bob relays how they would collect Coke bottles and cash them in for the refund for the glass bottles and go give to coins to the old black blues player who sang out front of the local grocery story with his Dobro guitar. (They knew Curtis Loew personally, and were moved by his ballads. They wanted to heart the music, which wanted to feel the blues. They wanted to experiences the words and songs that moved them. Bob wanting to avoid going to Vietnam, joined the Navy and sign up to play in the Navy Band. This took him out of being the Skynyrd band, but it opened his music to play drums for Lou Rolls. Which prepared him for ministry playing USO tours around the world. Bob later had the honor of conducting the funerals of his high school buddies Ronnie and Billy.

So when I was holding this hymnbook of Skynyrd classics, the words jumped off the page into my eyes and ears of faith: The Skynyrd discography: “That Smell”: Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. “I’m not the One, “ John the Baptist tells his disciples the same that he is not worthy to tie Jesus sandals. Peter stepping out onto the water with Jesus and only making it “Three Steps”

I share these stories to highlight how music and songs have an important part in shaping who we are and it is vital for us as people of faith to know what music shapes, defines, moves and inspires us.

The reason it’s okay to play Lynyrd Skynyrd in Church is because a) we changes some of the lyrics and b) there reflect something that has defined generations of people. Most important is to recognize that as we embrace each other’s music, we are also learning to understand, listen/hear, and appreciate each other.

To ride in the car, with my whole family, on a long, long, car trip to the beach, with Wendy, Frances, Mikey, Susanna, Luke and myself means that listen to Benny Goodman, The Weather Girls/Mother’s Finest, Dion Warwick, Ed Shereen, Rainbow Kitten Surprise and Taylor Swift, Judah and the Lion, the Head and the Heart, Mumford and Sons, and I would add in some Randy Travis, Eagles and Skynyrd. If we voted, who liked each other’s music best, we would have to leave the radio turned off.

So I ask you what are your anthems?

Hymns, Songs, Chorus, Praise songs, Classical hymns, Traditional Hymns, Contemporary Hymns, Praise songs, Praise choruses, anthems, special, arrangements, compilations, indie-contemporary, modern Praise and worship, post-modern praise, what’s on the radio, what’s being written and is not even popular yet?

Just as important it was for Bob, Billy, Ronnie and the Jacksonville FL friends to listen to the blues to shape their own anthems that touch and hold meaning for generations… So it is necessary for us to hear each other’s anthems and songs and music to touch and hold meaning for the generations that are coming.

So, to the homework,

  1. What are your anthems that shape your heart and view of this world?
  2. Who needs to hear that song that moves and shapes your heart and life.
  3. Musician do what they do because they get to share that experience every time they play and we might not have their talent, but we can share the words and notes that move us to love, to live and to salvation.

May we always be known as the singing Methodist. (Not that John Wesley was expecting Skynyrd)

Singing all the songs the world needs to hear because they have lead us through and guide us where we are headed.

Worship Song List for March 18, 2018

Luke 2:15-19 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this they made known what had been told to them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.[NRSV]

Song 1 “Simple Man”
 (Lyrics tweaked very little)

Mama told me when I was young

“Come sit beside me, my only son

And listen closely to what I say

And if you do this it’ll help you some sunny day”

“Oh, take your time, don’t live too fast

Troubles will come and they will pass

You’ll find a path and you’ll find love

And don’t forget, son, there is someone up above”

“And be a simple kind of man

Oh, be something you love and understand

Baby be a simple kind of man

Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can”

“Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold

All that you need is in your soul

And you can do this, oh baby, if you try

All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied”

“And be a simple kind of man

Oh, be something you love and understand

Baby be a simple kind of man

Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can”

Oh yes, I will

“Boy, don’t you worry, you’ll find yourself

Follow your heart and nothing else

And you can do this, oh child, if you try

All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied”

“And be a simple kind of man

Oh, be something you love and understand

Baby be a simple kind of man

Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can”

Man, be a simple, be a simple man

Oh, be something you love and understand

Man, be a simple kind of man

Matthew 14:25-30 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Mark 15: 18-23 And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it.

Give and Three Steps (Lyrics tweaked a lot, a whole lot)

We were out sail’n that day

The sea was storm’n away.

And the water was filling the boat.

And he’s tell’n me son,

Well, that He is the one

As I’m staring down at the floor.

he turned and called me Peter who

That was the rock I was looking for.

Stepped out on the water that day

Headed out towards my Lord.

“Oh, won’t you give me three steps,

Gimme three steps a-mister,

Gimme three steps towards my Lord?

Gimme three steps

Gimme three steps a-mister,

And you will see me forever more.”

Show me the Lord.

I was climbing the hill

Near at a place called The Skull

With a man name Simon, who

Stuck out his hand

And he was looking to help me through

He said, “Hey there fellow,

you not look’n so well

What you tryin’ to prove?

Cause the crowd over there

and a solider don’t care

And this might be all for you.”

“Oh, won’t you give me three steps,

Gimme three steps a-mister,

Gimme three steps towards my Lord?

Gimme three steps

Gimme three steps a-mister,

And you will see me forever more.”

Matthew 23:32-39 O Jerusalem

Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors. You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell?  Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.  Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!  See, your house is left to you, desolate.  For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”

Sweet Home O Jerusalem

Big wheels keep on turning

Carry me home to see my kin

Singing songs about the promised-land

I miss the ole’ garden once again, all cause of a sin

Well I heard prophets sing about her

Well I heard ole Caesar put her down

Well, I hope God’s people will remember

A Godly man do need him around anyhow

Sweet home O Jerusalem

Where the skies are so blue

Sweet home O Jerusalem

Lord, I’m coming home to you

In Jerusalem they love the Gov’nor, boo-hoo-hoo

Now we all did what we could do

Now Caiaphas does not bother me

Does your conscience bother you, tell the truth

Sweet home O Jerusalem

Where the skies are so blue

Sweet home O Jerusalem

Lord, I’m coming home to you, here I come

Now Galilee has got some Disciples

And they’ve been known to feed one or two (yes they do)

Lord they get me going so much

They pick me up when I’m feeling blue, now how bout you?

Sweet home O Jerusalem

Where the skies are so blue

Sweet home O Jerusalem

Lord, I’m coming home to you

Sweet home O Jerusalem, oh sweet home

Where the skies are so blue and the praises too

Sweet home O Jerusalem

Lord, I’m coming home to you

Acts 1: 7-11 He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Freebird (Words slightly tweaked)

If I leave here tomorrow

For I must be traveling on, now

Cause there’s too many places I’ve prepared to see

But, if I stayed here with you, now

Things just couldn’t be the same

Cause I’m as free as a bird now

And this bird you can not change

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

And this bird you can not change

And this bird you can not change

Lord knows, I won’t change

Bye, bye, baby, it’s still a sweet love

Though this feeling I can’t change

But please don’t take it so badly

Cause Lord knows I’m the same

But, if I stayed here with you, now

Things just wouldn’t be the same

Cause I’m as free as a bird now

And this bird you’ll see again.

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

And this bird you will meet again.

And this bird you will meet again.

Lord knows, I will come again.

Lord help me, I’ll come again.

Lord, I will come again.

Won’t you fly high, free bird, yeah

Would you still remember me?

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Ephesians 2:1-10 “Love: I can’t do it.”

JesusLoveEvenMe

You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ —by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. [NRSV] 

  • What is it that someone who is feeling as though they don’t matter need to hear?
  • What is it that someone who is feeling unworthy because of poor choices they have made need to hear?
  • What is it that someone who feels helpless and vulnerable need to hear?
  • What is it that someone who feels broken and worn out from not achieving or completely their work need to hear?
  • What is it that someone who is feeling distant from God, with unanswered prayers need to hear?
  • What is it that someone who is searching but not finding faith need to hear?

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God [NRSV]

What do I tell someone who is alone, empty, guilty, broken, weary, failing, lost and afraid?

By grace, you are saved through faith, not for what you have done, not done, failed doing or never tried, but by God’s love, God is saving you to be in relationship with God.

What is it that you and I are called to share with a broken and hurting world?

God’s gift for us

God so loves the world that he gave us himself, in Jesus Christ, that we might believe and trust him as the way to find God’s love.

How many people are afraid where you live and work?

All they talk about is how worried, afraid, alone, unworthy, or unhappy they are… all symptoms and signs of not knowing God’s love.

99.9% of those who say that don’t believe in God are also saying they don’t feel or sense God loves them. “How could a God, if there is one, love? And more miraculously, how could God love me?

Look into your own mirror, your own spiritual self: Do you know God loves you?

The correct answer is Yes, because Jesus Christ saves me to prove God’s love for me.

But the question is not what is the correct answer, the question is: “Do you believe this is true for you?”

I know that God loves me and yet I struggle trusting it at times?

It is most clear when I look back at God’s presence in grand mothers, a grand father, a father, teachers, neighbors, church members, authors, theologians, and friends who have revealed God’s love to me, because they have shown me what God’s love is.

Rather than boast in my or your failures, it is essential to focus on the prize, the gift.

God’s love is awesome: For all the reason God should not love me, my behavior, my selfishness, my greed, my pride, my self determination, my hard work, my correct answers, my untruths, my fears, my failures, none of these are the reason that God loves me.

God loves me because I am created of God. Formed of the stuff and creatures of God’s creation. God has never forsaken us and will never forget us. God love is with us.

  • This is what the world needs to hear.
  • This is what people are dying to know.
  • This is why people are fighting and they don’t even realize how far off base they have become.

So what do we do?

Look to verse 10 “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” [NRSV]

Our purpose is to be loved and to show love.

Our purpose is to be in Christ Jesus for the world, that is hurting, afraid, clueless and against us.

Our purpose is determined before we decided, our purpose to learn to love God and God’s people in response.

  • God loves us when we were enemies.
    • God’s hope, dream and desire is for us to find our belonging and once we are whole our works become the signs for others.
  • We love the poor, not to prove our worthiness, but because, before we had Christ, we were totally poor, no matter how rich or poor the world might label us.
  • We feed the hungry, not to earn our way, but because our hunger is satisfied in Christ. When we think and are driven my/our worldly worries and fears, we remain malnourished.
  • Once we have feasted in the love and power of God’s table our spirits are filled. But we see, hear and know word full of those who hunger for what is right, who trade their own understanding or perspective for what is good in the moment or good in principles, but far from Good in God’s love.

The greatest way to find assurance of our own faith and trust, is to share the gift with others.

I offer that it is not just feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned, comforting the sick, healing the broken, forgiving the debt and trespasses, it is when we learn to love our enemies that God’s love and lesson comes full circle and complete.

You can surely find someone in this fellowship this morning who will love you, yet while we are not perfect, I doubt that our enemies are fellow church members.

When we understand and experience love for someone that is not based on what they can do for us, but what we do for God that we understand love.

This is the simple task that is the most difficult of our lives. Loving without expecting reciprocal love.

 

Typically we say, if I show them love, they will love me back. What if love says, if I show them live, they will know how to love me back, but they might never do that.

 

This is what makes our task difficult, even with God as our example and our salvation.

What it proves is that that we actually cannot complete this without God’s work.

When we reach the breaking point of our own limitation, we see/know where God’s salvation and love makes us whole.

 

  • So the answer to the question, “Do I love God?” is never enough, I need God’s help.
  • So the answer to the question, “Do I love my enemy?” never enough without God’s love.
  • So the answer to the question, “Do I need God help?” the answer is Always, even to the end.

Eph 2.1-10

God’s joy is to love us.

Christ is the proof and our eternal hope.

Our purpose is to trust God to love and help love the world, including our enemies.

Let’s get to trusting God, because we love God, not just need to be saved. We are saved to love, that ‘s gift.

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John 2:13-22 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 Signs and Fools

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. [John 2:13-22 NRSV]

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. [1 Corinthians 1:18-25 NRSV]

 

Foolish Signs

Think of the foolish things that Jesus did in his ministry:

  • Cut ties with his family
  • Entrusted 12 ordinary men to lead the church
    • He does not include a body guard
    • He does not find a promoter
  • He does not build building
  • He does not receive people at their very best, usually in their brokenness
  • He does not stay in one place for very long
  • He does not get a college education
  • He preached to the least, the last and lost.
  • He taught using simple stories

I recall one summer at the grandparents farm, my grandfather wanted my eldest cousin to cut his shoulder-length hair to be “clean and neat”. My cousin reminded my grandfather that even Jesus had long hair, (not something we know one way or the other, but tradition would suggest, but my 5th grade educated grandfather replied, “and Jesus walked everywhere he went.”

  • Only once in all the travels of Jesus do we find him traveling other than by foot and he rides a donkey.
  • Just when the crowds start gathering critical mass he leaves the spot light to be alone in prayer.
  • Most every action and example, Jesus lives out what the world and other leaders would identify as foolish.
[ Foolishresulting from or showing a lack of sense; ill-considered; unwise:

a foolish action, a foolish speech; lacking forethought or caution; trifling, insignificant, or paltry. ]

It was foolishness to think that one person could rebuild the temple in three days when teams of workers had been working straight for forty-six years

For all the world’s foolishness, God is working signs of power

Everyone of the sign of the world’s foolishness for Jesus is a sign of God at work, in the world, through people like you and me and the characters we see in scripture.

Think for a moment how the author of love and architect of the universe is reaching out to us through people, through struggles, through impossibilities, through life and death to connect with us and the whole world.

Awesomely foolish. Wonderfully divine!

The words of Jesus from John’s Gospel and Paul’s letter the church in Corinth call our attention toward God and not our own thoughts, success, triumphs and plans.

God is working through our brokenness, through our sin, through our failures.

When we focus on our labors, what we have earned, what we deserve, how we have figured and achieved we loose sight of God in exchange for our best.

In a very practical and plain fashion

Which is more powerful? Words of wisdom from our thinkers, theologians and politicians? Or words spoken by God, Jesus the Holy Spirit?

God continues to trust fools in the most important task for all humanity.

  • You and I are the witnesses.
  • We are the messengers.
  • We are the ones who hold the keys,
  • You and I have the first line of kingdom of God.

Why do we settle for the world’s foolishness, when God is all-in, relying on us?

One of the legs of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour is Mr Bill Engvall. His catch phrase is, “here’s your sign.”  When people say things that reveal they are not at their brightest moments.

  • Honey our plane hit a deer? Were you still in the air?
  • Dad, I’m going to play you the theme song from Harry Potter on the piano. From the movie? No Dad, from the book.
  • Covered in camouflage clothes head to toe, painted face and smelling of the woods, the Walmart Greeter asked, have you been hunting? No, I’ve been hugging trees.

Rather than worrying about signs of weather and rumors of wars and portents of end times, let’s be about sharing the signs of God’s power at work in our lives.

Signs of Foolishness

  • Taking Cleaning supplies to folks who have none in Jesus Name
  • Taking thread and material and covering people in prayer
  • Singing songs and breaking bread for kids who are hungry for Good News at home and at camp.
  • Taking the Good News we find when we gather in this place and sharing hope with the people we see at work, school, shopping and everywhere we go.
  • Hearing the worry, fear, division in the world’s conversation, and reminding each other that God shows up in our greatest failures and fears to teach us grace, love and power.

These are our signs, show the world!

 

 

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