Archive for June, 2020
While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” [NRSV]
THE FAMILY OF Jesus is the intentional group of those who do the will of the Father.
-Those who are listening to Jesus are those who are preparing to go when sent, not react when interrupted.
-Those who are choosing this relationship place it’s strength as the foundation of all other relationships. (Not that other relationships are not meaningful or valuable)
-Those who are in the house, the oikos, are those who gather around the family fire, the spirit, the word, the table, the conversation, those who are ready to study, listen, worship, and grow in fellowship.
-Those who remain focused on the presence of Jesus are not listening to the cries of temptation and distraction.
-Those in the fellowship will be sent by Christ, with all power and authority, but the first place to gather is in the presence of Christ and that family.
This IS the clearest picture of the church, community, fellowship that we have been discussing the past three weeks. Koi-no-nia.
We are the fellowship that the world hunger for, now and always.
There are countless studies that reveal that people who are looking to belong will join the worst of gang simple because they fulfill our need to be in, and be accepted.
EXAMPLE: The fight is in the church over gender is a battle over how to be in the community when we are divided about how to be inclusive and at the same time restrictive. The answer is found where Jesus says to people, be forgiving (and this included) but go and sin no more.
STORY: We watch most any show that touches on war: revolutionary, 1812, Civil, WWI, World War II, KOREA, VIETNAM, GULF.. and other nations as well can all be seen at our house.it may be a documentary, a drama, a romance, or editorials. Having a history major and having Wendy’s father live with us for a decade might explain the why, but there is a helpful message I’ve been trying to grasp in the context of the events we see and hear on the news.
I think of the fears that people had when the skies were filled shells, when armed warriors were evacuated and looting houses, when people would hide in shelters and found rationed foods and fuel. And I ask myself are we heading tot his place. The civil war of the 19th century had families divided, property burned and stolen, patches of unbelievable numbers dead and, hatred and fear guiding every step. I think of people hiding in the homes hope all the destruction would end… and I ask what have learned from our previous struggle in those moments in history where we believe we cannot live with peace, trust, and civility in our lives.
We long for Clarity and certainty
It is clear that the historical markers are not respected and educational reminders.
It’s clean that fewer people are taught history or make the effort to study it when it is not required.
It’s clear that people are quicker to blame and fear than be logical, rational, and passionate in trust and accountability.
Think back to the passage, Jesus is preparing followers for loving, serving, and witnesses to a world that is ready to take all we have and there is no time to be distracted from the task at hand. Even when and especially when it is family.
The passage is an object lesson for al, of our family. Don’t be leveraged out of being faithful. When families become divided of faith, the priority is settled in listening to Jesus.
When things go astray in our family and friend groups, Jesus is acknowledging that one priority is greater than the other.
Most people list their family has their greatest treasure. “Where your treasure is, so will be your heart” Jesus is most interesting in that heart priority. BECAUSE when our values, morals, trust, beliefs, are grounded in Christ, we have the resource to be the strongest of family and friends.
It is a mistake to say that Jesus doesn’t care about families, so silly. Just as when you hear people guilting you on social media, trying to use your words against you. Jesus want all our family and friends to be built up and shaped by our faith and trust in him.
Having around the church for many year does not assume we have listened and trusted what we have heard.
So how does this passage help us be better prepared in a world that is distracting and dividing us? We don’t let the voices of the news, the media, the fears, not even our families, or the division be what motivates our actions and thoughts.
We are the intentional fellowship listening, learning and following Christ lead.
What to do when those other voice interrupt out time set on Preparing?
1. Assess the interruption
2. Reaffirm the priority
3. Invite others to join the church, fellowship, faith family’s work
4. Get back to Jesus’s work.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, 6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; 7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; 8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. 9 The Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 10 The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord!
At the core of celebrating Christmas is the telling God’s story
- It is not just you hearing Gods story.
- My job is remind you of your work telling a hurting world
What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. [NRSA]
In chapter 14, 1st Corinthians, Paul is having a conversation with the church Corinth regarding worship for believers and unbelievers and about gifts of the spirit. He is addressing what has become a division in the church between believers and those outside of the community of faith. So in our context of the world today this is an appropriate passage for us to study and learn as the church.
I remind you in our series here on being a koinonia fellowship that we as the church or cold to be intentionally with purpose, working to be a community that brings unity in Christ. It is not just unity for the sake of unity and unity for the sake of of peace and quiet in and that it is unity in the heart of Christ.
And the kernel the core of our lesson today is that as a Quintanilla fellowship we are called to build up the body of Christ and we do that through a variety of ways the the one verse that we draw out of chapter 14 is when it comes to the point of what to do about the division Paul instructs the church: when you come together everybody has a different part of the service everyone has different gifts everyone has different needs and expectations the common purpose is to be worshipful of God to be drawn together seeking the heart of God.
We recognized in the world today and all the division in and fighting, tensions, and passions that are exploding around reflects that not everyone is driving or working toward God’s point much less having the heart of God at the center of what they’re doing.
In our effort to be ecumenical and to be appreciative of the faith of others outside of the church is not our primary calling. We live in a world where the ideology of coexistence of diversity is valued more than the heart of God. It’s centrally clear in the first two of the 10 Commandments to have to worship God and to have no other gone. If our goal is not to find our our joy and our fulfillment and our purpose and our connection in God then we will never find connection with one another.
So our church our kononia fellowship is committed to finding the heart of God even though there are different voices, different agendas, and different ideologies confronting what we do. Our task is to build up the body of Christ to build up the community of faith by drawing people to God through Christ.
Think about a particular conversation that you found yourself in with someone who looks at a given situation from a very different even opposing perspective. It’s very easy for us just to say I’m right you’re wrong unless you see it my way you will continue to be wrong. This response it does not work when there’s no trust and a relationship.
When you read more of this 14th chapter you find Paul is trying to help mediate and help the congregation discern about which things are helpful for believers and which things are helpful for nonbelievers. While we all have gifts and parts of the conversation summer more helpful for those who agree and those who disagree we use different methods in different talents and different parts of what God has given us to build up the community.
At one point in my ministry I had the opportunity to serve a church that had about 1/3 of the members were interracial couples and families. And in this context I recognize that I did not have enough experience in knowing their perspective of the world and the church. They share terrible stories of oppression from both black and white congregations. They shared stories of how children and relationships had been pressured to agree or disagree with Bible verses in a variety of doctrine and dogma from different churches. I found it necessary to go back to seminary to a historically black seminary in Atlanta to audit some classes to gain a better perspective.
After the first class was complete one of the professors introduced me to the admissions director and said if I would consider working on a doctor of ministry and attending as a full-time student that they would give me credit for the classes I had audited. I live 5 miles from the campus at the time and so it is a great opportunity.
One of the classes that I had the opportunity to take in that program was simply to learn to listen to peoples faith stories and in the process a class of 40 people took the entire semester to listen and learn from each other’s faith journeys and faith stories. This was just tremendous help to my ministry not just relating to how to better serve one part of my fold. This experience allowed me to hear passionate stories of of the struggle for faith in a very divided world with common stories that dealt with race but also at the heart of them was an ongoing quest for God reaching out to speak in peoples lives and people responding to that call from God.
That’s the conclusion of the class it became well evident why this was part of the core curriculum because learning to hear gods call through peoples questions and struggles and divisions is the heart of what we do as a koinonia fellowship as the church and it’s a task we need learn.
I admit that I forget and I get caught up and don’t use the same listening skills as often as I may need to but I am reminded of how important they are. One thing you should know about me is that I am a very deep and reflective person when I have time to think and reflect. If you ask me for something instantaneously I don’t give you my best answer. Not all of life forwards the opportunity for the time and patience of of practiced and intentional responses. But as we look around and listen to the world we can see the evidence of not listening. We can see the evidence and proof of not paying attention. We can see the and hear the cries for being heard and being trusted and being accountable in the community around us.
As I had mentioned last week just as looking for the person to blame continues the the power struggle our task as the church is to hear people struggle and find the ways that God has given us gifts and talents to draw each other to respond to that call that God has for all of us.
This draws us back to the first part of this verse 26. “Well what should be done?” This is where we use our fellowship we use the talents of those who are prophetic we use those who can teach we use those who can sing we use those who can teach we use those who can instruct we use those who can build we use all the talents that we have in a way that ultimately builds up the relationships in the world around us.
What do we do?
Listen to the stories of others, is the first step in building relationships. Prior to this that means you and I have to be willing to sit down and spend time with people who think differently without getting upset without reacting negatively without drawing lines in the sand. You know that’s what God does with us we may be sinful and broken and filled with shame and blame and fill in the blank. We see Jesus sitting down with men and women and children those who are healthy and those who are ill, physically, mentally and spiritually.
1. We have to make a commitment to God and others that we want to be in relationship with all persons.
2. We have to trust and use the gifts and resources that God has given us as the body of Christ to be that strength and presents for the world.
3. Vs. 40 “ but all things should be done decently and in order.”
As good Methodist we love those verses that call for order and decency. These two words might be better seen through as process and respect.
The change that needs to occur in our society calls for us to respect even when we are not respected; we are to love where we are not loved; we listen even when we are not listened to by others. This gives us the process of God to speak through us.
Make a commitment today to be an intentional listener to someone who disagrees.. best if this is with a person but even what to hear on the media you choose.
1. Listen for how God is using this person and myself to build up the work of God.
2. Listen for the gifts, talents, experiences you have had that help you identify with what the person is saying.
3. Finally, what can you appreciate, respect, or love about this person?
4. This is the intensity of intention and purpose that koinonia people will go to reach one in the building up In Christ.
It is not easy if it were, politicians would have done it.
The sin of racism will be healed through Christ and our fellowship with him and all Gods people. So get busy!
Parable of the Talents: To whom much is given, much is expected.
You are I have been given the absolute best gift, a life in Christ. God’s expectation of us is to lead by living this as a community of faith, the body of Christ, the church.
Far too many years the church has been working to please and be congruent in the world, yet we are called to be in the world and not of the world.
For too many weeks I have come before you acknowledging the reality of division in our denomination and world and the world has convinced the church that it too is to be guided by politics. This is not our calling.
Our calling is to be the moral voice, and backbone that informs and shapes the world. It is this higher goal, the greater gift, the largest sum of talents that God is calling us to be FOR the world.
So when we see the terrible injustice of racism in the world around us we need to see it as God sees it and not just a single politic talking or fighting point.
Racism is the abuse of power over another person or group of people based on the color of pigment in the skin, and/or the perceived value of a different culture.
The reality is that there is one race, the human race. God sees us all as children of God’s creation.
The world divides us for purposing of power and control with the goal of control and self-interests.
So, what are we to do?
Protest and Signaling, raise awareness. With great solidarity we want those who have no voice to be heard and held up. The origin of the BLM was not to say that lives black persons are the only lives that matter but call for black persons to be valued as others are also valued.
The difficult part is that the message has become a political fund raising, power brokering, leveraging organization that uses racism as its power source, which is nearly the same as the racism they are supposed to be fighting.
Here is the test about ending racism. If one group of people are using another group of people to gain power over them in the name of race, it is racism.
It’s would thing to be a noisy gong and clashing cymbals making waves, protesting and gaining attention. The more vital is what we do after the light is turn on and everyone see what is dark and light.
Have you experienced racism? I have and I am a white southern male.
As a pastor working with a near by black pastor who was starting a new church in the community. (a community that had doubled in size in three years to have 95% black citizenry.)
My white church was less than 200 members, had ample facilities for the small black congregation to meet on Sunday evenings at our building. The other congregation offered to rent and pay the entire year’s utilities for the opportunity to meet at a time the white congregation no longer used the building. It appeared to be a win-win.
My administrative council met to discuss and vote on this proposal for shared ministry. It was the first agenda item. The other pastor and I laid out the plan and the chair of the SPRC said, (and I quote) “There is no way those (n*word)are going to have the building over my dead body. Put that in the minutes.” He followed that with this: “Not only do I reject this proposal, I propose that we reduce the pastor’s salary by a 1/3 effectively immediately for suggesting this, all in favor?” They had a secret ballot and voted 15-1 not to accept the proposal and to indeed reduce the salary immediately. My DS did not offer support and said I should have known better. I moved to a smaller church. All of ordination piers to this day make more and have more contributed into their retirement, but none of them have make the same choices I have made.
(I share this not to make you feel a particular way about me, but show that DOING the right thing effects our live-in ways the world does not support)
It’s one thing to talk about racism it is another go with the consequences of making the stand. The answer is not making a louder voice, it is taking intension steps toward being the community of faith God has created, saved, calls and empowers us to be if we are will.
The frustrations that run so high come from what we are shown in the media. The media does not show us the hundred of black persons being killed in cities like Chicago every year.
The choice to see only certain example of injustice will never solve the problems of racism.
As every sincere research person in every discipline of study will affirm that any problem is simply one variable, not just one symptom, not only one factor. Racism is not only about skin color. It is about evil, misuse of power, corruption, deception, as well as economics, education, opportunity, and ideologies.
While having better laws, politicians and law enforcement in place does not guarantee the absence of evil, corruption and deception. And while we can promote better education, opportunities and economics, there is no certainty that evil, corruption and mis-use of power will be held accountable.
We are a globe community of sinners. At times we are all guilty, evil, prideful, power-hungry, selfish.. right? There many parts: Laws, leaders, enforcement, education, opportunities:
But there is something that need to be the foundation of all these and it is not something governments and civil organizations can solve.
It is singularly God who is needed. The core, root of racism is a failure of humanity to trust and follow God.
The answer is for God’s people to recognize God’s higher calling is not only entrusted to use through Jesus Christ, it si
But for better understanding, say that all the right people and rules are in place. The world, our society, our communities are expected to live at this higher standard… and here is how we get to the ACTION phase of dealing with Racism:
1. Take MLKjr at his dream and stop seeing each other as a white person or a black person. See each other as people.
2. To continue to use these words is a simple way to keep racism alive. (Green boy story)
a. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9
b. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Philippians 4:6
c. And do everything with love. 1 Corinthians 16:14
d. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
e. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7
3. As a community we become KOINONIA – “drawn together by intimate participation in Christ.”
In the weeks ahead we will explore what it means to be KOINONIA as Rock Spring UMC.
I ask you to pray this prayer for yourself, the church and the world. “Holy Spirit, draw us together as we participate in fellowship and community in Jesus Christ.”
Where we meet and share Christ we will not find the racism has any power for we are one in Christ, one in fellowship, and one in life.