Archive for category End Times

Isaiah 64 Easter Sunday: A Buffet of Grace for a people of Injustice 201260327 RSUMC

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17 “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. 20 “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. 21 They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. 24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.. [ Isaiah 65.17-25, NRSV]
The prophet Isaiah spoke as an advocate for God and talked to challenge and encourage the People of God. He tells of a time coming soon when God would do something transforming in Jerusalem. The new ‘thing’ revealed to us is seen in the death and resurrection of Jesus. We gather to celebrate the fulfillment of this promise of God that has been awaited.
Except, having to get everything heated, the table set and the bread in the oven at the exact time, Easter Sunday dinner was one of the rare times that family dinner time was relaxing and enjoyable family time in my childhood and youth. Some years we were at home around our table, other time we gathered around my grandmother’s table. But never at the farm. It was too far to drive on Easter Sunday after church to Johnson County, but we would say, “one year we will find  a way.”  My mother had her cheese biscuits, and strawberry jam and her mother had her yeast rolls and orange and coconut ambrosia, but we never made it to the family gathering at the farm.
Easter Dinner at the farm: three types of meat, four pies and chocolate layer cake, hand rolled bread and collection of eight to ten vegetables covered the dining room table and spilling over to the chest freezer filled the house with the fruit of the labor or many hands. There is something extra special about sharing a meal with your family and friends that come from your work and love. Love and work that is not just in preparing the food, but also growing, tending and harvesting the food. It is convenient and more restful to eat out. That meal is more satisfying when we see the full perspective of the food.
The good news for Easter is God’s handiwork continues to meet us at the table.
During the time of Isaiah, The tribes of Judah lived through three kings and saw the kingdom of Israel destroyed and taken to Assyria. Isaiah is prophesying about time that there would be a joy in Jerusalem.
Joy in Jerusalem was an unbelievable promise. People might remember stories when David and Solomon made Jerusalem a jewel and envy, but now it was a dim memory at best. The prophet gives us a big picture look at the presence of God along the way. His words say “remember when?” And his words promise, encourage and help keep faith alive for all who share the faith and hope. There will be a day of Joy! There will be a time of reversal! There will be a moment that God brings all things to wholeness and justice.

Preaching on Easter Sunday has a seesaw of expectation. It’s Great news to celebrate the Resurrection and a challenge to tell even more.

 I step back into a spiritually lean time in the memory of our faith history to help give perspective on how God’s transformation by grace will come to be. The text tell us that the prophet foretells that God will make Jerusalem a Joy!

Jerusalem. A Joy?

If we look back in our remembered history, Jerusalem has been a place of turmoil, feud and war for generations and generations.
When will the time be? First, we learn how God works through epochs as well as nano-seconds. We want everything in an instantly unless we enjoy it, and then we want to take our time. We want a Spring Break vacation to last for twice as many days as we are allowed, but we want our cancers healed instantly. God works in God’s time. 1) GOD IS VERY PATIENT WITH OUR IMPATIENCE!
God’s time is entrusted with us. I believe with all my heart if the whole world would turn toward Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, that would be the moment that we found Joy in Jerusalem, and everywhere else. this possibility is inherently in the charge to make disciples of all the world.
The Apostle, preacher-teacher-leader encourages the Mediterranean church in Corinth, (1 Corinthians 15:19-26)
 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. [NRSV]
But this Easter we are somewhere between Isaiah and that final day.  Both Paul and Isaiah point to one hope: Jesus who died and rose from the dead as atonement, payment, for the brokenness and sin that keeps Joy hidden, beaten down and afraid, left-for-dead.
Easter Sunday is about Joy!
  • Joy that we have hope even though Terror fills the earth
  • Joy that we have faith even though correctness challenges beliefs
  • Joy that we have grace even though we want it immediately
  • Joy that we have life even though we need it eternally
  • Joy that we have love even though our hearts still know how to hate
  • Joy that we have each other because the body of Christ is entrusted to the church
  • Joy that we have forgiveness
  • Joy that we have songs for praise
  • Joy that we prayers for conversation
  • Joy that we have time for repentance
  • Joy that we have history to learn from past mistakes
  • Joy that we have a future that is prepared and paid for by Christ
  • Joy that Jesus was not just a teacher with good life lessons
  • Joy that Jesus was not just a historical figure
  • Joy that the Holy Spirit is our power
  • Joy
Why be afraid, Why be sad? Why think you alone? Why see the empty?
When we have Joy, Joy from Jesus Christ who lives, today, here, with us.
so we come to the Easter buffet of Good News:
What will go on your plate?
Q: chocolate bunnies and eggs that are tummy abs fun for a moment
or a taste of Joy?
ASK: your neighbor: How Does Jesus bring you, Joy?
WHAT,  you have no joy?
Have you forgotten? Already?
Today begins our serving the buffet of Jesus throughout our world:
  • to Celebrate Easter is to feed not eat
  • to Celebrate Easter is to forgive not hold over
  • to Celebrate Easter is to love the difficult to love
  • to Celebrate Easter is to live for Christ and not ourselves
  • to Celebrate Easter is to bring hope to the sad
  • to Celebrate Easter is to open hardened hearts
  • to Celebrate Easter is to offer life to the dying
  • to Celebrate Easter is to free those who hoard
  • to Celebrate Easter is to be the body of Christ living in the world for the transformation of the world toward Christ how lives forever.
Happy Easter, get to work!!
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2 Corinthians 4:3-6 RSUMC “Shine Jesus Shine” 20150215

lightindarknessAnd even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. [NRSV]

  • Shine Jesus
  • Shine your shoes
  • Shine as in moonshine
  • Shiner as in a black eye
  • Shiny as in a new car, red Corvette or a white Tahoe
  • Shiny as in a proof coin

But today we talk about the Flashlight.

Some debate:

  • in 1886 the first dry-cell batteries were made which powers a variety of emerging ideas
  • In 1898, Russian immigrant inventor, Conrad Hubert made the first flashlight. And later founded the Ever-Ready Battery Company.
  • In 1899, English inventor David Misell invented the first flashlight. He was the first to use the “D” battery which had a stronger light.

But those early models had a weak and inconsistent power source and bulbs that were more fragile and temperamental than modern LED and HID flashlights. The name flashlight came from the intermittent light that burn for a short while and had to rest before it was read to be used again. Thus the short flash of light gave the battery with bulb stick the nickname: a flashlight.

I suggest that we have much to learn from the early flashlight as an example of our spiritual development.

1. When we find ourselves connected to the power God gives us, that is within each of us, we tap into a the source of awareness, knowledge, guidance, counsel and spiritual strength. We seem to quickly do one of two things: a) doubt it is a way of life that God has intended for us and/or b) confuse our personal power, talents and strength with God’s.

Like the flashlight, God’s presence is revealed in the darkness of a broken and sinful world and when we turn it on in the dark, the darkness is no more. But for some reason we turn off the lights.

Life in the Dark, holding a flashlight.

It sounds unbelievable, buy there a just a few times (denote the sarcasm) that while we are holding on the the switch that connects us to scriptures, worship, Christian fellowship, prayer, opportunities to serve, witness and give, we allow the darkness to take us over.

The Reality of Darkness

  • When human beings behead, cage and burn, degrade and devalue women and children. Here we see the darkness of evil.
  • When other the teachings of other faith’s say Jesus is but another prophet and deny Jesus is God’s present in our history and at the thrown as the begotten of God. When Jesus is left behind, or left out all together, darkness grows stronger.
  • When human beings long for governments to provide what God gives or what God equips us to provide for ourselves, evil has made dark the world.
  • The less we proclaim the light of Christ, the more expanse of darkness increases along with the grip of evil and brokenness.

The starting point is to affirm that some things are good and some bad, some light and some dark:

  • Shine the light, the light erases the darkness. The darkness is not present where the light shine
  • Darkness, where is the darkness? In your check book or cupboard? In your plans and dreams? In you behavior and attitude?
  • The Gravitational darkness of the back hole of evil.
  • Stumbling in the dark.
  • The futile task of traveling in the dark… without night vision.
  • Thermal signature from the energy emitted from a beating heart.

AFRAID OF THE DARK:

  • As a boy I had a teddy bear that would allow me to hide under the covers and was brave enough to keep his head out in the dark room to keep watch over shadows and strange noises. He would occasionally be willing to be held by his feet and look under the bed or even fly across the room to check the closet door.
  • We have more than a teddy bear to watch over our fears. We never out grow fear. We manage and mature over different fearful situations, but fear is a life long struggle. Jesus is our stand in. Jesus hold us and grounds us while we explore a fear-filled world.
  • Be Afraid of the Dark, Don’t be Afraid to take Jesus with You when it IS dark.

Let Christ’s light shine:

  • Sometimes that darkness is people’s behaviors and attitudes and we need not face the conflict alone.
  • We face conflict knowing the Jesus never promised to have a life free of fear, but to be our counsel when the darkness surrounds, threatens and tempts us.

JESUS COME QUICK

  • Sometime Shining the light is calling on Jesus out-loud and directly.
  • Sometime Shining the light is deliberate words and actions that unfold over time.
  • Sometime Shining the light is charging our spiritual batteries when we are strong for times we are weak.
  • Bottom line: Shine the light of Christ is allowing CHRIST to shine through me and through you.

PAUL the PHYSICS AUTHORITY

I doubt Paul knew the speed of light. But lighting a lamp in a darken room; carrying a torch into a dark street; proclaiming and trusting God to show up in a cell in prison, or in conflict in the church, or the pull of governments and other types of worship.. Paul calls on the Spirit that cause him to become blind, so that he could see, to guide his steps in all things.

SO WHAT:

Turn on the flashlight. Not with the weak beam of light that you and I have to add. Rather allow Christ to light through us.

Let the world hear the Good News in our words, songs and witness

Let the world hear that evil is present but not in charge.

Pray, Speak up, be pro-active, Don’t wait for darkness to leave, Shine Christ in it.

Where is the darkness around you?

At work: Pray for the trouble makers, and difficult cases, and stumbling blocks to see Christ in you.

At home: Make time for study, worship, fellowship and communication.

In community: Small groups, worship, service, witness and fellowship.. bring the dark to the light

Online: For all the good that comes with information overload technologies, comes the easy access of evil and darkness to be at our fingertips 24/7. Set limits, support accountability and confess our sins.

Around the World: God didn’t wait for God’s people to get their act together, but went to the Shepherd and Magi to and revealed where they looked into the darkness and show them THE GREAT LIGHT at Jesus’ birth.

HomeWork:

Carry your a flashlight with you. When you see evil and darkness, shine the light of Christ.. your flashlight might be scripture, songs of faith, words of hope, and lessons of accountability. Don’t sit in the dark and don’t let others either.

 

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Isaiah 40:1-8 Advent: “Preppers Unite!” RSUMC 20141130

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Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. [NRSV]

The Prophet Isaiah gives those who seek God’s presence words of encouragement as well as a reality-check about where to placed our faith.

This first Sunday of Advent we begin lighting candles. This is our sign, this is our symbol and logo for the season. There is a great presence of darkness all around us: Economic, Political, Geo-political, Racial and Cultural protests and looting, A woman killed three people in Denver to buying the last discounted TV at Walmart. The valuable has become trivial and the trivial takes on the value of greatest worth.

This prophet work is a call to make a way that prepares for God’s coming

Prepping: The ultimate Boy Scout exercise of being prepared. I will admit there are some items that I have more of than I used to keep around. I’m not a zombie apocalypse follower. But there seems to be some common sense in looking at the signs and seeing the need to prepare for things I can manage and control.

There is a fine line sometimes between having a few extra supplies, jugs of water and basic necessities and those who have bunkers, stock-piles and provisions for decades. Somewhere in between folks will say we are crazy, foolish or even delusional, while others will say we are foolish, crazy and delusional for not getting ready for a return to the 19th century way of life.

Here is a point of learning for each of us: At what sign, moment or circumstance would we change the focus of our regular way of leaving and prepare for Christ’s return. What would I need to experience in order to act most seriously and sincerely about preparing, not only my self, but others for the coming God Christ, God with us here and now?

In other words: how bad do things need to get before we see that we cannot fix world hunger?
How many acts of terror before we confront that the power of Evil is real and irrational.
How tough do our finances drop before we see we can’t buy nor save our way out of trillions of debt?
AND
How long do we allow people to build waves of doom and gloom before we look to God of strength, hope.
How long will we convince ourselves that we can manage any situation without God’s help
How long will we allow those around us to live, plan, lead and struggle managing the world around us without God’s help and allow them the political correctness, fairness and to-each-his-own theology?

The promise in Isaiah warning is that God will certainly put us into perspective, just like we through out old flowers that were once beautiful but are now dried and lifeless.

Jericho: Mt Temptation

Mount-of-Temptation-Jericho jericho-hills 2 twip jericho

Isaiah call to action is to CRY OUT!
But what are we to call out? Who are we to Call out? What is it we are supposed to say? Answers: We will all fade, fail and died… so we best prepare for God’s stepping in our place.

Advent is this call to action: Remember God is God and we are the created. We are very smart, strong, and

This Advent is a time to speak up, speak out, Cry Out. Not so much to remind each other here, but for the rest of the world to know now is the time to make way for God.

“Swords ready? “On Guard! On Watch! Be Alert. Pay Attention. Look for God, for God is coming.

This get’s back to the prepping: If we live like the apocalypse is coming in 2015 then the majority of folks will think we are crazy, foolish and tune us out.

If we are talking about Christ’s return and final victory coming this December 25 instead of Santa then folks will think we are crazy, foolish and tune us out.

God is appearing every day. This is the real, reality.
Advent is not just a season prepping us for Christmas; it is the call to faith for each day and every season.

So I offer a balance: On one hand remember we are a fragile and delicate as a flower, think if power of a bacteria or virus, the sudden impact of a crash, the in hailing or injecting or ingesting of substances that end out live quickly as well as those that quietly tear us down.

On the other hand: God’s word is eternal. Ever strong and to be trusted.
Cry out for folks around us to ready, study, share, learn, open and press through God’s word.

How do we prep for God. Trust what is spoken of God. Have faith in God’s promise of grace and salvation.
Be on Guard to speak and share the word with everyone..

The road to heaven is paved with God’s intention. That we believe, trust and follow.
Not our intentions, God’s.

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Advent 1 20141129 “Luke 21:25-36” Q: Is It Beginning to Look Like Advent? What is CHRISTmas suppose to look like?

OnGuard

“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” [NRSV]

I am ready to give up on the word “Christmas” as a title for celebrating the birthday of Jesus. But more on that in moment:

First: I am thankful for the businesses that try to keep the “true meaning” and urge theirs employees to say “Merry Christmas” instead of the generic “Happy Holidays.” Goodness knows I’m not persuaded to celebrate Kwanza, Hanukah nor Ramadan (no matter what time of the year it falls) to make adherents of other cultures comfortable. If someone’s religious practice includes a holiday, they can name it anyway they choose, but not to change it’s name based on my feelings. That would be intolerant.

If we lived in one of the Middle Eastern countries would we expect folks to start saying “Happy Holidays” instead of naming their respective holidays by name. So out the window with correctness!

Let’s get correct what needs correction. Jesus’ caution in LK 21 is that we have our heads in the sand when its time to look up toward heaven. When you see Jesus, point him out! Be on guard not to be weighed down by distractions and division that are earthly and miss the heavenly focus.

Second: When I wish someone Merry Christmas with the hope they find joy in knowing Christ is with us. But that is a very big assumption on my part.

What we name the celebration of Christ’s birth and presence and witness in the world is not actually the issue.

Christmas, Easter, Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Earth Day, Thanksgiving, New Years and Festivus: For the Rest of us are all creations of people for people. The meaning, ritual and purposes are a mixture of tradition, symbols and signs to mark time and celebrate memories and hopes.

The key is to remember why we mark these as significant markers and to keep the ones that guide our individual and collective journey toward God.

Third: The tradition of Advent has been replaced with the worship of Christmas. The text today cautions us to be on watch, to keep our guard up, to be alert and conscious of our actions… Advent is the season of alertness and we let Christmas slip in every year.

We have the lights out, the tree up, the parties and gifts prepared so that when the day of Christmas comes, it pretty much all over about noon. Just listen to the radio station flip the six week Christmas programing back to ‘normal’ just twelve hours into the first day of Christmas.

You might think I don’t like Christmas. You would be mistaken. I enjoy both the secular and faith celebration of Christmas. But we place ourselves in a slippery slope of trying to blend the two so we are save in both camps.

Did you realize that the religious “Christmas,” celebrating Jesus birth was not so popular until about 1000 years after Jesus was born. And its only in the past 300 years that the traditions we enjoy looked like the Christmas we know now.

But its just as much a political conflict as it is commercial. In the mid 300’s the Roman emperor, Constantine reframed and aligned Christianity with culture celebrations to help connect the influence of believers with the existing holidays. It’s not just a 20th and 21st century issue.

So my answer is to give up the word “Christmas” to shoppers and markets and commercial folks who have already claimed it as their own. I’m find not trying to hang on to “Merry Christmas” which actually not any clearer than “Happy Holidays” in reality.

These four weeks that begin today are a season of living out Luke 21 in anticipation of “Sharing the Joy of Christ with Us.”

Think of it this way: if your say “Merry Christmas” to someone they might think of Jesus or they might think of Santa. It’s no longer clear. Rather than fighting for what is unclear. State it bold and place.

May Christ live in me!

May the Joy of Jesus live in you!

In these next four weeks look at the signs and celebrations. Don’t skip any of the fun, but think about what we do and say, with words and actions.

Think of this way:

  1. If we knew your birthday was coming in four weeks, would we have all the parties before then and stay at home when the day arrived?
  2. If we were getting ready to celebrate your life and presence in the world, would we go buy each other and ourselves gifts and not get you any?
  3. If we put up signs and symbols on our homes, clothes and yards to tell the world about you would we use your name or something that make everyone else comfortable and appreciated?
  4. If we spent ourselves into debt to celebrate you how would that make you feel about our judgment and responsibility?

We could continue with this all day: But I hope you get my point.

If we spent the next four weeks preparing for Christ to be with us in personal and tangible ways: How would we do that?

If we spent the next four weeks getting our mind, heart, eyes focused on the things of God: How would we do this?

If we spent the next four weeks preparing signs that were clear to others that God was about to be revealed, What would we do?

If we spent the next four weeks reading ourselves to stand before our Lord: What would we change about our lives, thoughts, behaviors, etc.?

Advent.. this is the season we are called to begin

Christmas: Christ With Us, God with us. Emanuel, that’s where we are heading. Honestly, I’m not ready. Are you?

Here are a few greetings:

“Get to work, It’s Advent”

“Get your head out of yourself, God is coming soon.”

“You’re the fatted goose and Christmas is coming.”

“Put the light of Christ on the lampstand.”

“On Guard!”

Luke records the preparation for these four weeks:

  1. Be Alert
  2. Pray for Strength
  3. Avoid the temptation to confuse the world’s promise and God’s promise.

Merry Christmas and Be Careful

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Matthew 25:31-46 “Are You A Goat?” RSUMC 20141116

sheepNgoats    31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” [NRSV]

  • All Gathered at the Throne: No real doubt about judgement, all those who believe are not all those who are righteous.
  • The Judgement is based not on our belief, but on our response to the belief we profess.
  • Loving God is linked to loving our neighbor:
  • Punishment is leaving eternal life.
  • Sheep Leave a legacy of loving one’s neighbor. The Goats leave a legacy of rules,

Who are the Sheep among us? Who are the Goats? Get to work on our legacy while you can.

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Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 “God Shines through a Gold Tooth” RSUMC 20140727

 

Krispy Kreme logo

Krispy Kreme logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

goldtooth He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ‘ Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen! [NRSV]

There have been some strange things show up in the offering plate through the years.

A half of a set of dentures, a silver scull and cross bones, IOUs, prepaid gift cards, chips from Harra‘s casino and once a gold tooth.

The funny things is the old dentures sold at a church yard sale for $20 and became one of the annual White elephant gifts at the choir Christmas party.

The scull ring sold for $44 on eBay. The gift cards took a traveling family to lunch. The casino chips were invested back at Harra’s and returned double the investment.

The gold tooth was valued at $14. It became the core ore of a smelting for mission trip to Brazil.

Sometimes what seems like the weeds turns out to be the fruit.

But there is a more serious warning found in the simple parable.

Jesus was the author of the parable. There had been fables similes and metaphors. But Jesus use this new teaching that combines elements of other figures of speech and story telling to explain the foundations of God‘s nature, methods, purpose and reality

Today’s parable teaches about the power if the weeds

My grandfather would drop his grand kids on the edge of a forty plus acre field and expect is to pull stalks Johnson grass out from the new corn plants. To the untrained eye like mine, they looked very similar and I would pull up the corn with greater easy than the grass. So the grass would not take root again we had to carry what we pulled to the end of each row where we could show off our hard work. My best effort was about 50/50.

My cousins might have accused me of doing it on purpose as I would get to have extra time with granddaddy learning the difference having him work on my row with me. But that grass would spread and strangle the corn. It had to be removed but we would never get it all. But when the corn got taller than the grass it was too late, it would have to wait.

Not matter how careful or faithfully we live we live in a sinful broken world filled with evil and temptation of all kinds. And God allows the crisis and chaos

Not so much as our punishment. Rather as a witness of Gods patience and nature. God is willing to wait on us, while we wait on God.

Be sure that if I’m trying to loose weight I don’t need to go visit the hard working folks at Krispy Kreme. I just found one in East Ridge this week I almost made it to the parking lot but knew I didn’t beed to be that close to the confections.

I have heard it said that of the angels made food for God it would come up from that hot goodness and through that glaze fountain at Krispy Kreme

From the parable I know God is not going to stop the production at KK Dunkin and other bakeries on my account. God is more interested in my choices than the presence of evil.

That a simple one. We look at millionaire entertainers and athletes who we idolize and know more about than the neighbors who fear for jobs and dread for closures.

Just like the good seeds in the parable wish God would have all those who would bring evil I to the field stopped and they destruction removed. God doesn’t operate that way

What God promises is to stand with us in the mix. If we stand with God evil will not prevail in the end.

But what do good seeds like us do in the between time.

First we need to stand with God. Don’t give in to evil and say god is not with us. God is real and alive

Second teach and remind each other that the precise if evil is not the end of the story. Have hope and do t give in. How do I know if I have give up? When I quit asking or trying.

Finally shine like the Son. Live like we know that evil is a temporary state and not the answer goal or default.

Let the love and patience of god shine brighter then the lutes and tease of evil and God will shine through us.

Homework. Identify what are the weeds and what is the corn
Ask forgiveness for when we call evil good

Don’t call a hot one nutrition
Don’t call feeding a child to trivial

Don’t call security wealth
Don’t call opening your heart to be in Christain relationship too hard.

Don’t think god had checked out
Don’t check out just when God calls for us to stand up.

Get it? Got ears? Good. Go do it.

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2 Corinthians 13:11-13 “Holy Kisses” Last sermon at JUMC 20140615 Fathers Day

FathersKissesFinally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. [NRSV]

In Closing

Two favorite words of many folks who sit in pews on Sunday mornings: “In Closing” This is context of Paul final letter to the church at Corinth.

In Paul’s farewell closing, to a congregation he had shared joys and sorrow as well as challenges and great strides, he makes a final request.

  1. Put things in order
  2. Remember the Example and Teaching
  3. Find common ground
  4. Live in peace
  5. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Then he gives a final blessing: The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Communion with the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Think Intentionally

Knowing we remember the last thing and the first thing but forget things in the middle of the list, Think intentionally about Paul’s list:

Put things in God’s order.

Value What we have learned.

Let go of pride and control.

Value yourself and your part, but never out of balance with the Common Good.

Make Peace and live in it.

Seal it with a kiss and remind each other with a kiss every time to meet.

Moving Ahead

One of the good things about a move is that it forces you to put things in order. If there was a box I had not opened in four years I threw it away. There was only one of those this time.

Making a transition of home and work and relationships, banking, doctors, changing addresses, automatic billings, building new trusts, friendship and partnerships helps you grow. Can you image if we did things the opposite way, every several years, the preachers stayed at the churches and the members went to different churches and communities, not of their choice and not of their timing. I think it might true help bring some order and balance to our appointive system.

Get things in order, not for the sake of order, but for Moving Ahead..

Following My Teaching

The greatest compliment is to use what a teacher has taught you. Or better yet, to build up how a teacher has inspired you to become more than you were before. Paul pleads: Don’t forgot what I taught you.

Value Common Ground and you will find Peace for yourself and between each other (He is talking to the church and not the world at this point.) Can you believe there would every be fighting or division or evil or ill-will in the church? (Sarcasm for the Wit-challenged debators)

It is equally a vice and flaw for the church then as it is now, to think the church is ours. At my first church there was another church in the community that drew many members from every church in the county. It was known as “Rev Danny May’s Church.” Somewhere it changed from being known as the body of Christ, and became known as the empire of Danny May. Let’s not pick on Danny. Let’s just remember the church is not ours and it does not exist to serve us.

Make Peace with Each other and Expect God to Show up when we seek God’s will and peace.

Finally… Three points later, the Preacher’s preacher has a final call for action:

Holy Kisses

Every time you greet one another, seal the relationship with a kiss,

What is a kiss?  A kiss can have many different meanings. Paul is calling for a sign of love. If you just can’t stand the thought of sharing germs find another way to show that your CHURCH relationship is one based in love. Paul is not calling for a liturgical kiss, but something with power and meaning. Imaging hearing the preacher say, “You may kiss the bride” and groom just gives the bride a little peck on the top of the hand… we’d be worried the marriage was on the rocks. If you started kissing everyone in line a Ingles or Walmart someone would call the cops. Somewhere in the middle ground is a sign of genuine pledge of love that we begin and end our conversations… Seal the relationship with signs of love.

Blessings:

In Grace

In Love

In Community

Jesus, Father and Holy Spirit,

May All of God be in All we Do. Amen.

(The Father’s Day model signs of God in grace, love and community.) Not because you have to because you can, not because you are expected to, but because you want to, Not because you need, rather because you are needed.)

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Acts 1:6-14 “Why Loiter When We Need Be Working” JUMC 20140601

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So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.  While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away.  When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers. [NRSV]

This scene is one we can only imagine. Luke recounts how after the resurrection, after breakfast on the beach, after the crowds of believers began to grow again and things looked so promising, Jesus leaves the disciples.

His final words area a charge for those who believe to be witnesses: At home, in the community, to strangers and enemies, foreign and domestic. Tell the world about Jesus. Tell the world about God. Tell the world about the Holy Spirit. Tell the world about the church.

The disciples’ response to this call to action is to stare up at the sky with their heads in the clouds.

Two angel’s show up and remind them of the words that they just heard less than sixty seconds prior. What are you doing here, when there is work to be done. Get up and get to it.

How long are we suppose to be witnesses?

Until Jesus Comes Back.

How long are we suppose to volunteer, serve, lead, cook, clean, clothe, teach, sing, remind and remember, forgive and trust?

Until Jesus Comes Back.

How long are we suppose to be the body of Christ? Until we retire? Until we get burned out? Until we give the next check? Until it’s summer vacation?

Jesus left us with work, until he returns.

 

The disciples devoted themselves to prayer and began the mission of the church..

We come to the table of the Lord, breaking bread and drinking from the cup to be renewed in this work and fed in the Holy Spirit.

If we rely only on our skills, knowledge and our patience, we will fade, fail and fall away.

Pray with me…

Gracious God, may we reveal your kingdom, may we teach your Word and ways. May we remember and retell of your death and resurrection and the power. May we find your strength to accomplish your challenge. 

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Luke 21:5-19 “The Moon Has Collided with the Earth?” 20131117 JUMC

Earth-and-Moon
21:5 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.

This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.

You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls. [NRSV]

For some reason I remember one of the lines of actor, Ed Asner, who as an over-worked newspaper editor goes home to get much needed rest tells his staff, “Don’t call me unless the moon collides with the earth.” Well the big story breaks during the night and they call to let him know. He answers the phone after fumbling for the receiver, he says, “Oh my God, the moon has collided with the earth!”

While the news story was big it was nothing compared to the typhon of recorded history in the Philippines. We remembered and prayed for the people last Sunday, just as we did for those in the typhon of Japan 2011, and hurricane Katrina, Andrew or Camile. But the magnitude, not of loss of property nor number of deaths, but the power of the storm ranks this latest as the worst in history.

Not having been on board with Noah, nor sitting around when the Asia and Europe plates collided, this terrible storm has the makings of an apocalyptic storm in the minds of some and surely those in the Philippines have been asking, “is this the end?”

While it has been terrible and tragic, I don’t think it is anymore the end that the storm before or the next one that follows. Storms might be signs but they are not the end of days.

Jesus points to signs of wars, global conflicts, earthquakes and famine. All might be signs, but are not the BIG sign.

SO WHAT is ‘THE’ SIGN?

“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.

When the storms become spiritual and personal and political. Be ready when you are involved.

The UMCOR gives us a great way to know our money is going to meet human needs on the ground when disasters strike, They may not spend the money marketing that good news, but that is our job. The also count on us to tell the story and save the money for the real needs. When you hear of suffering know your church will be ready to serve and give generously to keep this mission alive and strong.

The task we have at home, every day, is to be ready for attacks on our faithfulness, our trust, our core values and beliefs. The end is near, Jesus reveals, when we are being arrested for our faithfulness. The end is near when the powers of authority come after us for standing up for God’s power and grace. The end is near when you are imprisoned for giving to the church, oppressed for telling God’s Good News.

The end is near when anyone gets in the way of your faithfulness. This is not to belittle the great and terrible day of the Lord, but think of the times that we back down before we are called to speak out.

Think of the times that we help back when we needed to be ready to stand up to individuals and governments that water-down our faith.

Think of how easy it is to do nothing, rather than lead the way. What would the crowd who watched Jesus be crucified say before God at their judgement. “Well, everyone else kept quiet.”

The real end of days are the days that we hold back, give-in and keep quiet. The storms of life with come and go. Wars and nations will take their toll on us all. But the one thing that remains:

What are you and I going to do, right here in ‘river city’, to make sure the last words of grace, love and power have not already been spoken.

The occasion of tragedy and persecution become opportunities for us to share, witness and proclaim. Don’t avoid them, be ready to make sure each day is not the last day to proclaim the Kingdom of God.

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