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Archive for January, 2019

Luke 4:14-21 Year of the Lord

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” [NRSV]

Do you think that 2019 will be reviewed as a “Year of the Lord”?

In a season of division unlike we have seen in the country and the church since 1840s it does not look as if this is a prime candidate. But what made that year that Jesus stood in the synagogue and declare Isaiah’s prophecy fulfilled in their hearing?

The defining factor was Jesus.

The Year of the Lord is time that Isaiah described as a time of reversal of justice and injustice, I time of economic restoration, AND a time of return to God’s righteousness and praise.

If we measure any given year from our markers and standards we will certainly fall short. Yet, if God is making the measure and transformation then true Greatness will prevail. 

Might we learn from history or are we self-fated to repeat what we are unwilling to learn?

ref For nearly 100 years, the Methodist Episcopal Church was divided into northern and southern wings.  Sixteen years before the southern states seceded, the southern Annual Conferences withdrew from the denomination and formed the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  What could have caused such a split?

From its earliest days, Methodists debated the issue of slavery.  More precisely, they tried to decide what relationship the church should have to the peculiar institution in a country where slavery was legal, and in some parts of the country, widely supported.  Methodist conferences even before the first General Conference spoke out against slavery, suggesting that clergy who held slaves should promise to set them free.  Several General Conferences struggled with the issue, first pressing traveling elders to emancipate their slaves, then suspending those rules in states where the laws did not permit manumission.  By 1808, General Conference threw up its hands, finding the subject unmanageable, and gave each Annual Conference the right to enact its own rules relative to slaveholding.

The denomination remained divided on the subject of slavery, with some northern Methodists becoming more convinced of slavery’s evil and some southern Methodists more convinced that it was a positive good.  Other southerners felt that any denunciation of slaveholding by Methodists would damage the church in the South.  They were caught, in effect, between church rules and state laws.

The spark that caused the division came when Bishop James O. Andrew, a native and resident of Georgia and a former member of the South Carolina Annual Conference, married a woman who had inherited slaves from her late husband.  Many northern Methodists were appalled that someone with the responsibilities of a general superintendent of the church could also own slaves.  This was the main topic of debate when the General Conference convened in New York City on May 1, 1844.  The six week session would be the longest General Conference in Methodist history.

Bishop Andrew learned of the impending conflict as he traveled to New York, and he resolved to resign from the episcopacy.  However, the southern delegates persuaded Andrew that his resignation would “inflict an incurable wound on the whole South and inevitably lead to division in the church.”  When the conference convened, Bishop Andrew was asked for information on his connection with slavery.

Bishop Andrew explained that first, he had inherited a slave from a woman in Augusta, Georgia, who had asked him to care for her until she turned nineteen, and then emancipate her and send her to Liberia, and if she declined to go, then he should make her “as free as the laws of Georgia would permit.”  The young woman refused to go, so she lived in her own home on his lot and was free to go to the North if she wished, but until then she was legally his slave.  He also inherited a slave through his first wife who would also be free to leave whenever he was able to provide for himself.  Finally, his second wife brought slaves to the marriage, but he disclaimed ownership of them.  “I have neither bought nor sold a slave,” he told the General Conference, “and in the state where I am legally a slaveholder, emancipation is impracticable.”

A group of northern delegates proposed a resolution that the bishop was “hereby affectionately asked to resign.”  Some took the position that the bishops were officers elected by the General Conference and could be asked to resign or deposed by majority vote.  Others took the view that it was a constitutional office and bishops could be removed only by judicial process.  A substitute resolution by one of the bishop’s friends, an Ohioan, asked the bishop to desist from exercising his office as long as he was a slaveholder.  After a 12-day debate, other efforts at compromise, including one that would have allowed Andrew to serve wherever he would be welcomed, failed when it became apparent that the New England conferences would secede if it passed.  One of the prominent speakers in the debate was William Capers, who was the leader of South Carolina’s delegation and a future bishop.

The motion asking Andrew to desist from serving as a bishop ultimately passed, 111-69.  General Conference then worked through the beginnings of a plan of separation.  Annual Conferences throughout the South sent delegates to a convention in Louisville in May 1845, where they formed the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  For the next 94 years, the two strands of the Methodist Episcopal Church operated separately.  Their separation was one of the turning points on the road to the Civil War, for the Methodist Church was one of several national churches and institutions that broke apart because it could not withstand the growing tensions surrounding the divisive issue of slavery.

http://blogs.wofford.edu/from_the_archives/2013/01/30/how-the-methodist-church-split-in-the-1840s/

The Prayer for our Delegates is that we all seek for God to Show Up, Speak the Witness of God, and cause us to listen to God rather than seek our own solutions, answers and salvation.

Jesus goes on in Luke’s account to tell the folks: I’m guessing you want me do another miracle like the water turned to wine, but know the Lord shows up in the lean times as well:

24 And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. 25 But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26 yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27 There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30 But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way. 31 He went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. 32 They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. [LK 4:24-32,NRSV]

In these days of leveraged famine over government shut downs, remember there were times of greater injustice and greater lean and God was working through them as well.

What agitates might be what leads us to find Salvation

The neighbors who wanting the Lord’s Day to be great for them, missed the point that its about seeing God’s revealed. 

Jesus confirms that he is declaring the year the Lord Shows Up. He reads the prophetic words of Isaiah and announces that he, himself, would be the fulfillment of the prophecy. Jesus declares that He is the Word: [I] am the hope of the oppressed, the healer of the sick, and the key to set free those forgotten in darkness. Bold words from the hometown hero.

Imagine hearing this sermon from one of our youth who grew up at Rock Spring, went away from some time but returned to the region and they stop one Sabbath to share a Bible text and sermon. Their message was an announcement that they had arrived ready to reveal the Year of the Lord.

For some the message is that “we” are the ones who bring the work of “our” kingdom, but this passage reminds us that it is Jesus who does the revealing, and Revealing God’s domain, and we are called to response to God’s righteousness and reign. (we get it twisted and backwards.)

The year of the Lord speaks of God’s timing to show up.

Jesus declares God is in their presence, Isaiah describes what it looks like when the faithful allow God rule their trust and lives.

  • Does Jesus describe the year of the Lord as the year the Stock Market has it’s the highest performance? 
  • Does the year of the Lord look like the time that everyone in the community agrees with our words and witness? 
  • Does the year of the Lord known when we get our difference worked out?

The Year of the Lord, is every year since Christ has come, the sermon is about our receiving the Lord’s goodness and will as our own or making our own way and calling it God’s on our terms and in our own time.

Isaiah 61:1-11  The Year of the LORD’s Favor 

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORDfor the display of his splendor. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. 5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. 6 And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches, you will boast. 7 Instead of your shame, you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace, you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. 8 “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness, I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them.9 Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed.”10 I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.

Time to Make it the Lord’s Year and not Ours.

From Isaiah word, the year of the Lord is not only a reversal of the world’s sense of justice and equity, there is also a time of reward for the end of robbery and covenant breaking, with the reward being double the loss. The prophet speaks of the Lord being clothed with Salvation and righteousness, as a bride and groom are adorn with crowns and jewels. 

The image of a planted seeds becoming a garden, so will the Lord spring up righteousness and praise for all the nations of the world to see and hear.

My Resolutions to loose weight, keep to a budget, organize our stuff and responsiblities

vs. 

Being resolved to Christ, and him crucified

Living as one saved rather than saving for to live when we think we can manage.

Jesus Declares: Let God order our lives and Right will follow AND God is to be praised for it.

Do you think that 2019 will be reviewed as a “Year of the Lord”?

In a season of division unlike we have seen

Jesus confirms that he is declaring the year the Lord Shows Up. He reads the prophetic words of Isaiah and announces that he, himself, would be the fulfillment of the prophecy. Jesus declares that He is the Word: [I] am the hope of the oppressed, the healer of the sick, and the key to set free those forgotten in darkness. Bold words from the hometown hero.

Imagine hearing this sermon from one of our youth who grew up at Rock Spring, went away from some time but returned to the region and they stop one Sabbath to share a Bible text and sermon. Their message was an announcement that they had arrived ready to reveal the Year of the Lord.

WOW! The good and the terrible. Good that evil and injustice would come to a reversal (Isaiah 61:1-4) and that the those who loved the Lord with all their heart and mind and strength and soul would lead the world in praise. (Isaiah 61:5-11).

Remember this passage is about Jesus, but we imagine our response to God showing up as one who hears these words from our hometown perspective.

The portion of Isaiah’s prophetic word that is quoted in the Luke passage is the first half of message. Luke wants us to see the transformation of the oppressed, but the other half, speaks of the response and responsibility of the faithful to Jesus work and witness.

Jesus is boldly announces justice for those who have been oppressed. The rest of the story talks about when the world looks like when God’s People live in a world where God is trusted and followed.

For some the message is that “we” are the ones who bring the kingdom, but this passage reminds us that it is Jesus who does the revealing, we are called to response.

The year of the Lord speaks of God’s timing to show up.

Jesus declares God is in their presence, Isaiah describes what it looks like when the faithful allow God rule their trust and lives.

  • Does Jesus describe the year of the Lord as the year the Stock Market has it’s the highest performance?
  • Does the year of the Lord look like the time that everyone in the community agrees with our words and witness?
  • Does the year of the Lord known when

Isaiah 61:1-11  The Year of the LORD’s Favor 

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORDfor the display of his splendor. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. 5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. 6 And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches, you will boast. 7 Instead of your shame, you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace, you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. 8 “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness, I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them.9 Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed.”10 I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.

The New Year is now, 1/12th in the books. Is this the year of the Lord?

From Isaiah word, the year of the Lord is not only a reversal of the world’s sense of justice and equity, there is also a time of reward for the end of robbery and covenant breaking, with the reward being double the loss. The prophet speaks of the Lord being clothed with Salvation and righteousness, as a bride and groom are adorn with crowns and jewels.

The image of a planted seeds becoming a garden, so will the Lord spring up righteousness and praise for all the nations of the world to see and hear.

Isaiah word speaks of a time when the People of God becoming that full community where not only are the oppressed made whole, but the whole community becomes “a praise of God’s righteousness.

The news of Jesus’s miracle of turning water into wine had made it home before Jesus arrived.

Will this be a Year of the Lord?

ref For nearly 100 years, the Methodist Episcopal Church was divided into northern and southern wings.  Sixteen years before the southern states seceded, the southern Annual Conferences withdrew from the denomination and formed the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  What could have caused such a split?

From its earliest days, Methodists debated the issue of slavery.  More precisely, they tried to decide what relationship the church should have to the peculiar institution in a country where slavery was legal, and in some parts of the country, widely supported.  Methodist conferences even before the first General Conference spoke out against slavery, suggesting that clergy who held slaves should promise to set them free.  Several General Conferences struggled with the issue, first pressing traveling elders to emancipate their slaves, then suspending those rules in states where the laws did not permit manumission.  By 1808, General Conference threw up its hands, finding the subject unmanageable, and gave each Annual Conference the right to enact its own rules relative to slaveholding.

The denomination remained divided on the subject of slavery, with some northern Methodists becoming more convinced of slavery’s evil and some southern Methodists more convinced that it was a positive good.  Other southerners felt that any denunciation of slaveholding by Methodists would damage the church in the South.  They were caught, in effect, between church rules and state laws.

The spark that caused the division came when Bishop James O. Andrew, a native and resident of Georgia and a former member of the South Carolina Annual Conference, married a woman who had inherited slaves from her late husband.  Many northern Methodists were appalled that someone with the responsibilities of a general superintendent of the church could also own slaves.  This was the main topic of debate when the General Conference convened in New York City on May 1, 1844.  The six week session would be the longest General Conference in Methodist history.

Bishop Andrew learned of the impending conflict as he traveled to New York, and he resolved to resign from the episcopacy.  However, the southern delegates persuaded Andrew that his resignation would “inflict an incurable wound on the whole South and inevitably lead to division in the church.”  When the conference convened, Bishop Andrew was asked for information on his connection with slavery.

Bishop Andrew explained that first, he had inherited a slave from a woman in Augusta, Georgia, who had asked him to care for her until she turned nineteen, and then emancipate her and send her to Liberia, and if she declined to go, then he should make her “as free as the laws of Georgia would permit.”  The young woman refused to go, so she lived in her own home on his lot and was free to go to the North if she wished, but until then she was legally his slave.  He also inherited a slave through his first wife who would also be free to leave whenever he was able to provide for himself.  Finally, his second wife brought slaves to the marriage, but he disclaimed ownership of them.  “I have neither bought nor sold a slave,” he told the General Conference, “and in the state where I am legally a slaveholder, emancipation is impracticable.”

A group of northern delegates proposed a resolution that the bishop was “hereby affectionately asked to resign.”  Some took the position that the bishops were officers elected by the General Conference and could be asked to resign or deposed by majority vote.  Others took the view that it was a constitutional office and bishops could be removed only by judicial process.  A substitute resolution by one of the bishop’s friends, an Ohioan, asked the bishop to desist from exercising his office as long as he was a slaveholder.  After a 12-day debate, other efforts at compromise, including one that would have allowed Andrew to serve wherever he would be welcomed, failed when it became apparent that the New England conferences would secede if it passed.  One of the prominent speakers in the debate was William Capers, who was the leader of South Carolina’s delegation and a future bishop.

The motion asking Andrew to desist from serving as a bishop ultimately passed, 111-69.  General Conference then worked through the beginnings of a plan of separation.  Annual Conferences throughout the South sent delegates to a convention in Louisville in May 1845, where they formed the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  For the next 94 years, the two strands of the Methodist Episcopal Church operated separately.  Their separation was one of the turning points on the road to the Civil War, for the Methodist Church was one of several national churches and institutions that broke apart because it could not withstand the growing tensions surrounding the divisive issue of slavery.

http://blogs.wofford.edu/from_the_archives/2013/01/30/how-the-methodist-church-split-in-the-1840s/
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Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 Baptism of Our Lord Sunday

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” [NRSV]

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts..

It is my prayer that we see Jesus showing up in St Louis next month to make clear the direction of our Methodist future.

With the same uncertainly AND hope the people were anticipating the fulfillment of God’s promise to show up and lead the people.

Our text is about John the Baptist’s ministry of repentance for preparation. I offer that the United Methodist Church has been kicking-the-can on human sexuality for over forty years without repenting for not being better prepared for the struggle, division and need for spiritual leadership in this year. In these generations have we been looking for the gifts of discernment? Have we been open to God’s way of communicating grace and boundaries? How have we prepared to express the eternal love of God in an ever changing world?

The people in Israel were waiting for a Messiah, a king, who would right the wrongs of their current reality and restore Israel. Many were gathering to be baptized by John in expectation that something would soon happen — the Messiah was coming.

Is in John’s message, we are acknowledging that we have been quick to point fingers of blame and drawn out lines in the sand, WITHOUT, learning how to show the power of loving all sinners.

Epiphany is a season of claiming our “Greater Gifts”, and today we will be exploring how baptism, as a “first gift” from God, leads us in life toward paths of discovering and rediscovering God-given gifts, activating those gifts through the Holy Spirit, understanding how our gifts are interrelated to the gifts of other disciples in the body of Christ, and how important it is to stay true to the heart of our God-given gifts — the love of God in Christ.

So what about this gift of baptism?

Some of you may have never been baptized. Later in the service, we want to give you an opportunity to sign up to be baptized next week if you feel God calling. Some of you were baptized more recently; some recently confirmed the baptism of your childhood; and for some, perhaps it has been many years since your baptism.

What do you remember leading up to that moment? Or, what did your parents or guardians tell you about that moment? Who was present? What did it mean to them?

I told him I wanted to follow Jesus my whole life and I thought it should start with being baptized. In those moments, the sanctuary became a thin space. The heavens did not open, but I felt God’s presence all around. As Wesley said, “my heart was strangely warmed.” On January 9, 1983, I received the gift of baptism and was forever changed. As a matter of fact, I remember telling my good friend Kevin about the experience right away. He was also a Christian, and he told about his experience of baptism, showing me a silver cross around his neck. In our young friendship, our faith was not something we talked about. In that moment, we shared God’s gift to us, and our joy was complete.

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Luke 2:1-11 Wedding Wine

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, andthe mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invitedto the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him,”They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, whatconcern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mothersaid to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standingthere were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holdingtwenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars withwater.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Nowdraw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where itcame from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the stewardcalled the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good winefirst, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But youhave kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of hissigns, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believedin him. [NRSV]

https://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/the-cana-wedding-wine-jars-apparently-still-exist-and-archaeologists-think-they-ve-found-them.html

The Serving the Best Stuff

In John’s Gospel, it is no random mistake that we see Jesus beginshis ministry of miracles, celebration and salvation on the third day.

On the third day… in creation, God creates that seas and the dry land and places trees and vegetation of every kind with it’s seed, and declares it to be good.

On the third day, Mary and the other women arrive at the empty tomb and experience the reality of the resurrection and become the first witnesses and evangelist of the resurrection.

On the third day of Jesus’s public ministry follows the calling and gathering of his disciples and they are invited to a wedding.

Why is Running Out of Wine Important?

This is remembered as the wedding where they ran out of wine. Some had said they were not planning for all of Jesus’s disciples and only added them at the last minute and the twelve extra families overwhelmed the plus-two budget when Jesus shows up as Mary’s plus-one with a plus-two dozen. This might explain why Mary turns to Jesus to fix the problem.

INTRO Mary introduces Jesus as a problem solver to community.

What is the problem? It is more than a lack of wine, it is a matter of hospitality. Mary empathizeswith the bride and groom and family and knows that a shortage of wine would endthe celebration.

Wine is fruit of fermented grapes, from a vineyard, with vinesand branches, which grew grapes that contained seeds that had producing fruitsince the third day of creation she announces to the world that Jesus has cometo fix the problem that confronts us with the gap between good seed and good soiland the absence of fruit for the celebration.

Are you tracking the images of vineyards, vines and branches,good seeds planted and good seeds created, and the problem is an emptiness, avoid, a chasm that only Jesus has the solution.

The instructions in following Jesus are to do whatever he says.

His first words are something to the affect: I’m not at thetemple, were are not at the synagogue, its not been revealed to me when toreveal my true self. “I’ve just gotten by core staff on board and we have notworked all the details out.”

Mary insists that Jesus is the solution, the answer, the salvation to the problem.

Mary had been pondering in her heart and mind for decadesand she put the pieces together and encourages Jesus to step forward and letthe glory and power show.

NOTE: I find it very interesting that Jesus reveals the solution without it being about himself. Jesus is pointing and connecting us with God.

He uses clay water pitchers just as God use the clay vessels like us.

He uses servants to use what is known for purification,baptism and cleansing and has them fill the empty pots with cold water, a cupof cold water for those who are lost across a great chasm.

He sends them to the chief stewards, the chief priest, to Pilate,to Herod, to those who know fully about emptiness and shows them vessels fullof the solution.

The solution was the wine which would be poured out for the world,for the forgiveness of sins, that becomes our communion with God, throughChrist, who makes whole the void and emptiness of sin and brokenness.

The Chief Steward does not go to Jesus, he does not go to the servants, he goes to the bride and bridegroom.

This is where the praise for the greatest prize, the undeserved,the unrecognized has been saved for this moment. This indeed was Jesus’s momentto reveal God’s glory, and the rest of the story… all the way from creation’s goodness,the emptiness of sin and, the wholeness of salvation.

This is not just a wedding, it is the platform for the Glory of God to be known.

It is for this reason that the church and marriage havebecome a target…

The people are created good, every person is a precious giftof God, and we are all created for one another as God’s servants, but this storyis about the hospitality of the bridegroom.

Hospitality is a relationship of service to those in need.

Jesus shows up at the perfect time to serve those who are inneed.

  • when the joy, fellowship and community are threaten to end,
  • The need is when the fruitfulness is empty,
  • the wine was the solution (double meaning intended)

So What?

  • So drink Jesus up!
  • Be hospitable to others
  • Find hope that Christ is transforming us from water into fruitfulness

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Matthew 2:1-12 “Find” Epiphany Sunday

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                                Lectionary Readings *Vanderbilt Epiphany Sunday 01-06-2019

Isaiah 60:1-6

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son. May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness. May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor. May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.  May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more. ..May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gift. May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service. For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.

Ephesians 3:1-12

This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles– for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you,  and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words,  a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.  In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:  that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

Matthew 2:1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

This year we arrive at Epiphany as the exclamation mark of Jesus’s birth. Beyond the historical events of Jesus’s birth is OUR response to the reality of God-with-us now. In the moments and experiences where we ‘find’ Jesus ourselves:

What are our responses?

Will we find him in the journey that awaits?

Will we start something new or wait a better sign?

In this week we stop to recognize three important foundational legs to being the year:

  1. What is our star? our signs? How is God trying to be ‘found’ in the world?
  2. Will we take action to meet him or hope he shows up on our terms?
  3. How will we honor him when we recognize him, how will we say thank you?

What is our sign: Bill Engvald, comedian and friend of Jeff Foxworthy, uses the tag line about find if someone says something foolish without hearing the words that are coming out of their mouths: Example, [ In the lost luggage section of an airport… Agent said, “Can I help you?” Bill said, “Yes ma’am, the airline lost my luggage.” She looked Bill right in the eye and said, “Has your plane landed yet?” He replied, ”No, princess, I’m having an out-of-body experience! I’m just checking on it before it arrives! : Here’s your sign]

It would be nice if we had signs that we wore to let people know what was going on inside our hearts and minds. For a time people would wear black for an extended period of time to remind the world their were grieving the loss of a loved one, but now we put on a happy face and tell the world I’m Just fine.

If someone is feeling forgotten, alone or unappreciated they could wear a hat with a large exclamation point on top. We would could then be more intentional about supporting, befriending and recognizing them and their needs.

In most every Bible study I have shared the wisdom of a renown Christian educator, Dick Murry, who share the “bunny-ears-running-off-into-the-woods hand sign” is fair game to use when someone is dominating the discussion in a class.  I have received that signal and shared it as well.

If someone is anxious or nervous, it would be good to see a gauge that revealed the gasket was about to blow, so we could help support a change of state.

What are the signs that inform and inspire us to find God?

  • At time this is the role of scripture, but we have to be reading and digesting it to do so.
  • At times there are songs and music that draw us to heart or lead us to praise.
  • At times there are opportunities of service and sharing that allow Christ to show up around us.
  • At other times it is opposite:

Sometimes it is in the darkest of our fears, when can find no stars present, what do we do?

we must allow room for grace to show us..

Epiphany : is a preventative call:

  • to live looking for signs,
  • anticipate God’s revealing,
  • watch with hope

The special word for this week is “Find.” In both Isaiah 60:1-6 and Matthew 2:1-12, there is movement toward the new king who was born in Bethlehem. According to Isaiah’s prophecy, the land of Israel will witness how “nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn”(v.3). The text makes reference to young camels of Midian and Ephah and Sheba will come with gold and frankincense to proclaim the praise of the Lord (v. 6,7). In the gospel of Matthew, the visit of the magi is also about rendering praise not to a land, but to a newborn king.

In these texts, there is an invitation to give honor, glory, and praise to God, who has acted in favor of the covenant people and who has come to us through the Messiah. In the gospel, the wise men from the East have had a brief encounter with King Herod. We know that Herod had an ulterior motive when having what seemed like an honest and sincere conversation with these visitors. He was intending to begin a search for the newborn king to get rid of him (vv.13).

Once they went to Bethlehem and were welcomed by Joseph and Mary, the first thing they did was kneel and honor the newborn child.

QUESTION:

Does my/your spiritual journey that take us to meet Jesus or are we distracted along the way?

Where are the places we must stop in our spiritual journey and how do we get back on track?

KEY:

Does our daily living point us toward where God wants us to go?

What is our response to finding Jesus? The wisemen offer praise, honor, and gifts. How are we inspired to offer our time, talents, gifts, service, participation and witness?

What is the taking the place of the star in guiding us toward finding Christ in our daily lives?

Where is the prevenient grace working ahead of us to show us the way?

Are we seeing the signs God gives us? Are we interpreting God’s signs to follow? Are we taking the action to find him? Are we taking gifts of praise for when we arrive or wait until we stumble upon him and be empty handed?

As we begin 2019

  1. Where do we expect to ‘find’ and experience God this year?
  2. What direction and actions do we need to begin this journey?
  3. What are we taking with us in anticipation of praising and honoring God when we find him?

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