Archive for category #2019

Psalm 27 “Faith Sleeping”

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh– my adversaries and foes– they shall stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident. One thing I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock.

Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD. Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me! “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!” Your face, LORD, do I seek. Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation! If my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will take me up. Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and they are breathing out violence. I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! [NRSV]

Sleep is vitally important to our health and renewal of body and soul. Many folks have trouble sleeping or staying asleep for a variety of reasons, which makes it even more important to control the factor that we can influence.

Affirmation of God:

Many times we take the worries, stress, and fears into our sleep which can be seen in our racing minds, worried hearts and wrestles states. We begin our resting recognizing once again that God is at work in our situation.

Psalm 27 is a useful tool for maximizing our rest. Beginning with acknowledging God has our back and has our life, we can lay aside all things knowing God is with us.

  • The Lord is my Light
  • The Lord is my Salvation
  • I have NOTHING to Fear
  • The Lord is my Strength
  • The Lord is my Life
  • I have NOTHING to fear

This prayerful hymn begins with setting the stage with the focus on God. Rather than unloading the garbage of the day in a spiritual data dump, think of beginning sleep as an orienting prayer that places our attention and presence in God.

As a typical alternative, the TV or some screen is our light. Worries about money, debt and demands waiting for us at the break of day reveal our weakness. We hone-in our weariness, regrets and mind-reading of the day’s events and the projects of what tomorrow will bring.

Try the new model. Begin rest placing ourselves before God.

  • You are my light tonight
  • You are my meaning
  • You are my strength
  • You got me safe, I have nothing to fear, to worry, to distract, etc.

Naming the Struggle

After taking the time to place ourselves in the presence of God, then we ready to let go of what we have been holding. Some things we care are useful responsibilities, even though meaningful and good, can be stress for and tiring.

Some things are beyond our control. We live in the presence of evil. There are people, forces, organizations, ideologies, and the like that will sap up every bit of energy and attention, our health and our minds, even to the point of death.

There in the Psalm acknowledging of God’s place, our place and then the things and people who are encamped around us. So that even if we are in a good place with God there are things waiting to tempt, harm, challenged and confuse us.

A Reminder of Confidence

The model is to be confident in God in the face of evil. “I will be confident in ..asking God.” God let me live in your strength, light and love, all the days and nights of my life.

In our sleep it one of the most intimate times of being present with God. We might think it is the response to exhaustion or simple time for our bodies to rest and renew, but SLEEP can be a time to renew our trust and faith.

Some times we try doing things to distract or wear ourselves down to fall asleep. Most times we read a book or watch a show or screen we are overloading our minds to reach a point of auto-shutdown.

This Psalm consists of a hymn of faith, as all Psalms are, and it calls us to worship.

  • Naming the Joy in the world and in our experiences,
  • Singing songs of praise
  • Calling for Grace to surround and cover us
  • Seek to find God face to face, heart to heart.
    • Even if my family and friends can’t or won’t help, you are with me.
    • You are with, You have not given up on me.
  • Remind God and Ourselves how God might handle or show up in the responsibilities, threats, challenges, and work that awaits us. Anticipating the ways our faith will the renewed when God indeed helps us.

Hope:

Believing God’s Goodness will restore, heal, help, bless, lead, strengthen and give power in what awaits us.

Wait in the Lord (Hope in Practice)

Finally, trust that preparing for sleep to be more about God than ourselves, helps us to lay aside, even if for a few hours, to remember what we pick back up and what we face tomorrow will be good, because God is good, strong, and true.

Use Psalm : Some times we begin by reading and listening to word, When we take the pattern of Affirmation Who God is, Naming our struggles and anticipation how God will help us, Worshiping God for all God has done, and Rest in Hope.

Short List:

  • a. Make your sleep about God and not yourself
  • b. Name your worries and name of God might do with them
  • c. Name your struggles and anticipate what God will reveal
  • d. Name your fears and picture how God will use you.
  • e. Worship, remembering joy, singing songs and praise God
  • f. and wait on God to renew and revive us.

b.

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2Cor 3:12-4:2 Engaged in a Ministry of Reflecting God

Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. [NRSV]

There are a variety of places and moments where I have come to know God most clearly:

Scripture and Songs

Birth and death

Mission travels

Glisson and Churches

Fellowship and Art

It is vital to cultivate the number of people places and moments that we more clearly see and experience God.

When we are in times and periods of drought it is helpful to have places to see reconnecting and renewal.

How to I find God revealed? Go looking where others have found God

Scripture

Mission

Spiritual disciples and practice

Worship and study

When we place ourselves as vulnerable and willing to know God we more clearly experience God

Unfortunately we hold on until we are in a mess, end of resources, spiritual or physically bankrupt that we are forced to be open to God.

So help by taking off the veil, removing the layers and be present before God:

Unveiled. Seeing truth > knowing the presence, reality of God

  • Hope,
  • power and
  • freedom in God

What we find in God is

  • the hunger of our spirit
  • The strength to move foreword
  • The freedom to trust and share

Being the nerdy trek fan I love to hear the captain say to the crew, “engage!”

  • Or make it so
  • The words in each day of creation were So be it,
  • These words declare authority and commitment as a call to action

God called Moses, spoke through Jesus and calls us to action and faith as well

Our ministry of reflecting God’s light, love and grace

  • Engaged I this ministry : do not loose heart
  • Renounce Shameful things:
  • Not falsify God’s word :

Rather

Open statement of truth : speak and seek the truth

Commended ourselves : invest in connecting

to the conscience of everyone in God : awareness that God desires us all.

We draw to close the season of Epiphany with the call to use the gifts entrusted to us to be used to show the world

  • God work,
  • claim and
  • calling

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Luke 6:27-36 Enemies of Love

But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” [NRSV]

Have you read this as the way God loves us?

This is where we learn how awesome God’s Love is all about

  • God listens to us
  • Give loves when we don’t,
  • God loves when hate
  • God blesses when we are not deserving
  • God speaks to us when we ignore God
  • God expects to be attacked
  • God expects to loose more to reach us
  • God expects to be asked for help
  • God is willing to sacrificed for us
  • God treat us the way God Hopes we will treat others
  • God expects loving to be difficult
  • God expect to help and not be helped,
  • God judges and loves us anyway
  • God forgives first

This love becomes the example for us

Those who love:

  • Listen to Christ
  • Love enemies,
  • Do good for those who hate
  • Bless those who judge you
  • Pray for your abuser
  • Expect to be attacked
  • Expect to loose your coat and shirt
  • Expect to be asked to help
  • Expect to loose your stuff
  • Treat others who you’d like to be treated in their situation
  • Expect love to be difficult
  • Expect to help and not be helped

The most impossible list.

We fail miserably!

What do we do when we have not loved as God loves?

This is where we learn how awesome God’s Love is all about

“God have mercy on me a sinner” is our best defense and starting place.

Start the day praying this prayer at the beginning, end and middle of everyday.

Love through me because on my own I cannot love. “I” can’t do it

But God can through us.

Jesus, Love me

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Luke 6:17-26 Woe! The world is upside down

He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all. Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets. [NRSV]

Woe to you who are Blessed, Blessed are those who are without.

Contrasting Matthew’s account of the Be-attitudes and Luke’s account as blessings and woes we have the differences of spiritual deprivation and material want.

So here Luke recounts a message of warning about faith. Rather heading this as a prescription list of do’s and don’ts, we have almost the punchline of a parable.

This seesaw of woe and bless is a lesson and warning to be people of faith and trust in Christ.

Quite simply, those who are hungry and thirsty have a different perspective on where to turn for wholeness or fullness. If you have nothing it is easier to see that what you need most is not something you can satisfy or supply yourself.

HUNGRY?

Those who are hungry are at a place of not being able to satisfy them selves and they know their own emptiness.

Remove your assumptions about political agenda about poverty as this is not spiritual word for governments it is directed toward disciples.

Disciples need to be asked where do you find your hunger a d thirst for want satisfied? In food? Drink? Wealth? Social position? Social identity?

THIRSTY?

If we who are spiritually empty going to attempt to fill our body’s will we find blessing? Is it temporary or eternal?

There is more:

In addition to physical needs Jesus places our emotions in the cross hairs

Woe to those who remain an emotional mess when Jesus is offering hope, peace and community.

If we are weeping from grief, jealousy or envy where will we find peace?

Are we look around and listen there is no shortage of weeping, hatred and exclusion. The remedy is not simply to toughen up, ignore those who persecute us and make our own group of like-minded films t comfort us. These are the world solutions.

Disciple First

Jesus is offering himself to the disciples first so that we may offer Christ to the world.

The core operation of the church is not to get people to confess Jesus. While that can be a measure of a starting point, Jesus is blessing the trust that follows belief.

  • Do you trust Jesus or your money
  • Do you depend on the worlds approval or being included in the kingdom
  • Do you think you can have your cake and the kingdom too

These woes are are not to the casual one who overheard the Gospel or those who received healing or feeding in the crowds.

Jesus is asking us as disciples:

  • how is God feeding you?
  • What do you thirst for, is it spiritual or physical
  • Are your emotions guiding your mind or is the Holy Spirit
  • Which s you value more belonging to the crowd or the party or the popularity the world attempts to offer or is Jesus enough

Woe to us if we are fooling ourselves.

We might convince ourselves but the world see through us

Are we expecting someone to spoon feed us or are we working to be fed through word, service, witness, worship, etc.

We are likely to prefer Matthews. Be-Attitudes to Luke’s woes because the warning is to us as believers more than it is to the world.

Jesus’s wors are to disciples AND the crowds, and the world

A Word and Witness to the World

The reason Jesus starts with disciples getting right side up is that we are sent to witness and encourage the rest of the world

What does the church have to offer a world that is divided, hurting and addicted to social media?

We are called to be a community of sinners seeking Christ as our strength and promise.

The blessing comes AS we share the journey.

It’s not that we perfect the life and then go out. That’s impossible.

But if we only eat and never feed we are not blessed, we are poor

If we satisfy ourselves and our neighbors thirst, weeps, is hated, or ignored then neither of us are blessed

The world says that money and politics and ideology are our blessing

Jesus says woe to those who hunger and thirst when those change, fail and go against the kingdom.

There is a challenge to take the discoveries of the 21st century and learn to relate the powerful blessing of Christ that are timeless. Much of the modern world’s theology is post-modern. A crazy term. I think the shorts definition is that so many believe they have outgrown religious life and are satisfied looking for fulfillment elsewhere.

If we are not strong in faith ourselves we have nothing to share with a world that has move past what it never found, trusted or resolved.

The debate splitting the denomination is evidence that the faithful lack a handle on being grounded in Christ, if we were we would not have been dragging our feet for forty four years on the same debate. It is our calling to place our trust in Christ and proclaim what we hold true by faith.

Share the blessing by sharing the journey, Christ in your heart and you heart given to those who hunger, thirst, weep and search for the heart of Christ through you.

Otherwise Jesus would have never needed disciples, that just how Christ works.

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1 Corinthians 13:1-13 The Greatest is the Hardest

blancobello image: https://flic.kr/p/rxAQ2u

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. [NRSV]

These verses are the definitive description of the extremes and expressions of love. Love is indeed the greater power. Love is the great gift. It is freely give, but requires all things to be fully experienced and shared. To be loved takes no effort on our part as the recipient. Yet, it means the most to make good on its reality.

What or Who do you love?

To love a thing, or an idea, or a goal, or a dream, is an impossible investment of love. To say I love donuts, mashed potatoes or country-fried steak may reveal a passion for carbohydrates, but these items will never return love to me.

I can more appropriately say I extremely enjoy the taste, experience of flavor of these items but to love them is to invest in something that can never return love, which will ultimately lead to an emptiness when the temporary fullness passes.

To say that I love my job, my house, my car or my hobbies is also a misinformed valuation. These treasures surely provide, means, space, access and interest in my life, but they will never have the capacity to complete the circuit of love I might try to bestow.

More than semantics, Love should be reserved and invested in persons and relationships that have the potential to love.

God loves us.

What does it say about US and about God, that God loves us enough to trade God’s-self for us on the cross?

God does no see us a objects in creation. We are more than bird, tree, day, night, snow days, or sunshine.

You are my Sunshine.. as important as sunshine is for light, warmth and vitamin D. The sun does not love us knows nothing of us although we depend on it continually. It is not the source of our being loved, but it is a gift from the one who does love us.

The Son, for love

God loves us enough to exchange our inability to return love, so we can love. Our society has doubled-down on being able to so definitely define and determine and self-declare every detail, label and category except for the most stubborn of them all: for example..

“Sinner”

Every human that has ever lived has failed to be loving, kind and worthy of the existence we have been born into. Even those in the most deplorable of conditions has value, chromosomes, living and multiplying cells of possibility that are not self-willed into being.

We are born into a world filled with every example of those who precede us with some level of brokenness, self-focused not compassionate moments, some more than others, and some we assume are continually so bent.

I have yet to have business card printed that state my name and underneath that name says sinner.

John Thomas Brantley: Sinner

I profess to this be true and claim it in my daily prayers, but I don’t introduce myself this way. Before I met Wendy, a host of friends, family and church members set me up with people to date. (Worst were those who had dreamed of being a pastor’s wife, yikes!) I finally printed up a card that came closest to the plain “Sinner” card.

On the front it listed in 30 words the reason I would be a good, safe and decent person to spend time with. One the back of the card we 30 word of confessions what to expect when I was not presenting my front side. I presented this card two four women at the end of the first date. Two of them never called back. One called back to ask for a copy because they lost it and wanted to show their friend, but was not interested in a second date. Wendy met for the lunch two days later.

The old tourism catch-phrase from the Virginia board of Tourism stated: VA is for <heart/emoji>. Imagine the bumper sticker from God that reads: “Life with God is for “Sinners” with an emoji of our own face.” We don’t like to see ourselves as such. And if we do we spiral in depression and self-hate which is not the purpose of acknowledging our trouble with loving God.

I have trouble love God and Loving my neighbors.

If I love my neighbors it is typically because they are easy to love and we share things in common. If my neighbor is very different I tend to be cautious and hesitant until we find some common ground. Our common ground with all humanity is that we all have moments where we love ourselves more than we love God or our neighbors and some of us have more times we don’t love even ourselves.

Most of this we probably know in our heads.

The church, the governed, our neighbors and even our families are begging to be loved, valued, included, shown compassion, taught what is meaningful, corrected when we are lost, listened to, trusted, and the like.

The admonition from Paul to the church to model loving one another in the ways we find God loving us:

  • Don’t talk about love and not actually love.
  • Don’t talk about your expertise becase your not always perfect.
  • You may know I love, but do you know those who need love around you?
  • You are a person of faith but others are watching when we don’t model faithful speaking and acting.
  • Don’t let our stuff and wanting stuff get in the way of actually loving others.

Ask some to be totally honest and ask all these each day:A

  • Am I patient with you others around me?
  • Do you experience kindness from me?
  • Am I jealous?
  • Do I look out for what’s good for me before others?
  • Am I as wonderful as I think I am?
  • Have you seen me be arrogant?
  • When was the last time you saw me treating someone rudely?
  • Is it my way or the highway?
  • What do I sound like when I’m irritable?
  • Do I cheer when my enemies get what’s coming to them?
  • Do I celebrate when God shows up?
  • Does my faith show in all things?
  • Am I always hopeful?
  • Am I committed to see our relationship through the hardest things and times?

That is a heck of a check-list.. This makes it easier to simply claim the business card and acknowledge, Yes, Lord! Have mercy on me a sinner!

Here the Good News: God loves us while we are still sinning.

God doesn’t want us to keep living in these broken ways, but that does not stop God from loving us. God does not give up!

Application Time

Who in your life needs to hear these words? Who in your areas of influence needs to see God showing love through you to them?

The best marker in journey of learning to love are the moments we love like an adult loves. A child loves because she or he needs. And adult loves not only from the point of need, but also because we know that self-love is never enough. We need God’s help. We need the power of God’s Spirit surging through us, because our Sinner List of when we are not loving shows we have the capacity to try, but not the frequency to make it through.

Loving in the Mirror

If we look in the mirror and see only our own reflection we will fail. The task it to seek God through us.. and we will love for ever.

The Greatest thing is the hardest.

You can do it, in Christ!

Come to the table, and start allowing God’s love to shine through you afresh and anew.

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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 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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