Archive for category Epiphany A
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done,
added to them all by shutting up John in prison. Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” [ NRSV ]
I baptize with water
- Reclaiming the terms: Dunked, dipped or drizzled
- TELL USE ABOUT YOUR BAPTISM. Giving witness to our journey.
I am not worthy: we can do great things as good folks but without Jesus our value is he whim of popularity or eternity.
- Not the time for Jesus to be shut up. The corrupt government figures tried to quiet and stop the voice of the faithful, but God is not in our government. God is beyond laws.
- Baptism: the first step of many. John’s ministry begins with preparing us for a life with Jesus. Dressed in grace to transform the place.
Reclaiming our mission to baptize the world as the entry point to a life in Jesus Christ. Think of the people who we work, live, play, fellowship or struggle every week: who amount them does not know the power of Jesus living in there hearts?
- This is the year to have the conversations of intentionality and purpose: open our relations and interactions to be ways of revealing Jesus.
- Dont keep him imprisoned in our hearts, sing out the witness, love and presence of Christ. Leave it to guessing people have Christ or be certain. NOT FOR THIER SALVATION BUT FOR OURS
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. [NRSV]
If you think about how much time we spend thinking about the perfect gifts to give, looking for the best deal, waiting in lines or for the deliveries to arrive, wrapping and transporting our gifts. There is a great deal of investment in every gift, no matter the monitory value of the gift itself.
Do you ever read about Mary and Joseph giving each other gifts? Did the shepherds draw names and play games to see who gets which gift? Do the Maji just find the best deal along the way or at the last moment?
Gift giving can hold many different meanings.
The obligatory gift is an oxymoron. Gifts ought be given of free will and love and not obligation. But if you don’t give someone a gift there is hell to pay in the not giving. Can you imaging only giving gifts to some of your family and not to all of them. What would be the message if you didn’t explain why.
- Did you run out of money or just didn’t want to spend your resources.
- “Its not the gift its the love or thought that counts” But how do you express your thoughts and love? Is it clear to the recipient?
- Did you run out of time, ideas, opportunity? Could you not make a home-made card from a used piece of paper that expressed your heart?
- “We can’t buy everyone something” My great-grandmother in her late nineties still bought a bar of soap for every member of her nearly 100 member extended family. “It is something I know you can use, so use it and think of me.”
- Did you get everyone something, or many somethings, but you gave them what you wanted them to have or to become?
- Gifts are a tradition: I bought my father Old-Spice Soap-on-a-rope for years just because he seemed to like them on Christmas morning. I was helping him carry some boxes to donate and found three soaps-on-a-rope from the past three years and I got the message.
Gift Giving Is a Tricky Business
What do we learn for the Wise men? Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh
Wealth, Extravagant Royal spa treatment and Glade Tomb-fresher
Gold has been a standard of exchange and value, beauty and tender for thousands of years. Frankincense comes for the roots of a small shrub that contains trace amounts of fragrant oil and was burning in the palaces of the king Herod daily and made as offerings to their gods without end. Myrrh, smells like dried prunes and was used in preparing a tomb.
- Gold is completely practical: A gift card.
- Frankincense: Extravagant Generosity, acknowledging Jesus as true King.
- Myrrh: A Preparing for Jesus’ death, even at his birth. Telling the whole story
- The Star-watching Travelers Journey: You have to leave home, journey in faith and uncertainty, and follow the signs you have.
Reframing our Gift Giving Practice
If you take a painting or photo and removed it from the frame and mat and exchange the boundaries, you will see the image in a new way with new meaning.
So go with the same gifts we have given: What if we connected why we give the gift with the hope we have for the gift.
“I gave you this tie, because I want you to look your best, feel confident and want you to think of our love when you wear it.”
Is that what you meant the gift to be? or did you just need something to go with a shirt.
“I gave you this game, because I want you to know joy and to share time at home playing with me. I want to spend more time being with you.”
Is that what you meant the gift to say? of did you just know they were hinting like crazy for that game.
“I gave you this vacuum cleaner because I am unimaginative but I do like a clean house and I want it to be easier on me to keep the floor and our home clean for you.”
Is that what you meant to gift to do? of did you just know the old one blew out and you needed a new one anyway.
Keep the Magi Model in mind:
Not just with Christmas gift, but all gives, seasonal, birthday and church gifts..
Practical AND Extravagant AND with a Purpose, Explained.
So Now You Tell Me..
So John, why didn’t you tell us this before Christmas. I don’t have a great answer but I will say: It is never to late to explain our gifts.
Don’t assume the message is conveyed that you hoped for the person. Tell them.
Finally. . be known as doing all three parts in your giving
Practical AND Extravagent AND with a Purpose, Explained.
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
We were not on the mountain, but we are here in Jackson, GA, It is good for us to be here..
Peter, James and John: we can only speculate why it was only these three who go with Jesus up Mt Tabor to witness and experience Moses, Elijah and God’s blessing.
To have walked this trip would be a hilly, twenty eight mile hike. That distance is like walking from Jackson, GA to Conyers, GA. plus climbing up Stone Mountain at the the end of the walk. Why go on this outing? Why not take all twelve? Why these three?
Peter, probably one of the most wealthy people in the city of Capernum, must have had work and family responsibilities tugging at his attention. His home was located at the Sea, and was one of the largest homes in town. Jesus did well to go to Peter as a person of influence. But now that Peter had been traveling with Jesus, we might speculate that the demands of work and home were influencing his walk with Jesus.
Or it might have been Peter’s personality.. we see repeatedly that he responds to events quickly, but his follow through was questioned later in their relationship. Did Jesus know that Peter was more of a visual learner and needed to see things in a different way to get to his heart?
James and John, certainly had their father’s fishing business, on their minds. Only within the past few years have they discovered one boat dating back to the time of Jesus, uncovered because of the decade of drought in Galilee. This boat was constructed out of 14 different types of wood as trees were very rare in the area. To have owned a boat would have indicated the prosperity of James and John’s business. To have walked away from such a business would not have been easy and possibly something significant was needed to hold their attention.
Maybe it is far from remedial reasons. Possibly these three already had experience and skills that allowed them to comprehend and manage more than the others. The others might have been overwhelmed and only these three could hold the pieces together.
Again, all these are speculations. What we do know is that Peter, James and John are taken by Jesus to witness and experience a confirmation of Jesus’ authority and work. Jesus has a terrific meeting with Moses, the lawyer and Elijay the Marketing and Advertising department and they three disciples are witnesses of this meeting.
Peter’s commentary on the experience is that it is a good place to be. The experience was a once-in-a-lifetime, incredible moments to have witnessed. His second statement spoils the first.
He wants to build booths. Tributes, memorials, historical markers, trophies.. with name placards. Peter goes from being in the moment, an active participant, to a manager, a promoter, and a leader. His role is to be a follower, a participant, a witness..
It is good that we are here. Right here, right now.
We were not on the mountain, but we are here in Jackson, GA, It is good for us to be here..
Transfiguration Sunday is the end of the season of Epiphany. A time of shifting our focus. Stopping the planning and reacting… to a change our journey. If there is one thing I have learned so far from traveling 14 hours for 15 days and traveling 14 hours back home, is that as good as it was to be see first hand.. it is good to be right here, right now.
Not simple because it is home.
Not only because it is familiar or even safer.
It’s good to be here, because this is where Jesus is revealing himself, his word, and his work… through me and through you.
I would love for us to have a group go to share the holy places.. and there is a blessing in doing so.. but the reason we might go to see and be there..
is the difference it makes in being right here.
The lessons of the meeting on Mt Tavor/Tabor.. Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. Jesus is the promise of the prophets. Jesus is God with us. so listen and follow.
We don’t have to go up the mountain to learn these things, but through the witness of Peter, James and John we learn what to do.
It is good to be here that we might hear what God is doing.
So what is God doing..
God is getting ready to journey with us.
Suffer with us. Live and die with us.
God is running ahead of us, winning the race for our team so that we know it is good to be here.
This is what I want you to think and say and share when you are at church, when you are at home, when you are at work, when you are at school.
“that you can’t wait to hear what God is doing next in your life and in our lives together…”
I can’t tell you all that it will be, any more than Peter, James and John could tell the other disciples…
but we know what they know.
that Jesus is with us here, and that is what makes it good to be together.
Look around at the people God has called together to do God work..
The teaching is so simple, we miss it for the light show and bells and whistles:
God says to disciples.. Listen to Jesus.
We listen in scripture.
We listen through prophets and teachers.
We listen through divine, spirit filled inspiring songs, lights and sights
We can listen or we can speak.
The command is not to go tell.. it is to listen.
Hear the word of the Lord and be blessed with assurance.
5:1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
poor in spirit, theirs is heaven.
Knowing you are spiritually hungry…
Spiritual Awareness – Searching for Wholeness
those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Hurting for the loss of love, dreams, safety,
the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Simplicity
those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Hungry for Right and Good and True.
the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Showing loving, kindness to those who do not deserve it.
the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Honest, Clear conscious
the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Making compromise toward wholeness and community,
those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Rejected, judged, avoided for the Good, right
Comparing what we say and what we do….
Searching for Wholeness
we look to wealth, substances, status,
Hurting for the loss of love, dreams, safety,
A willingness/ability to feel and not run/hide
An honesty that we need and are needed
we are not alone and we can’t make it by without each other
using people vs serving each other..
what do we truly need, throw away/ give away what you bring into you home
Hungry for with is Right and Good and True.
the passion / drive to seek Goodness
Showing loving, kindness to those who do not deserve it.
Honest, Clear conscious
Making compromise toward wholeness and community,
Willing to be Rejected, judged, avoided for the Good, right
5:1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus Begins His Ministry in Galilee (NRSV)
12 Now when Jesus* heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 ‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.’ 17From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’* 18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Things I have learned about fishing… that relate to Discipleship
Everyone is going fishing, not everyone will catch a fish on the same day, in the same way.
Jesus calls certain folks, at certain times to begin his ministry..
But when he leaves, it is in the hands of all his followers to be his body in the world.
We are the new fishers of men and women, children and youth.
More fish jump in the net if you put the net in the water or put appropriate food on the hook.
Faith Sharing works best if you go where folks are struggling with faith
We approach a real life situation with meaningful help.
Some one is hungry, you feed them, love them and then help them find work.
Some one is scared about bills, you don’t just say, I’ll pray for you.. look at the root.
Some one is afraid see the doctor, tell them your struggle from the other side.
*Bottom line, you can’t fish from a distance… get near the water, in the water, on the water..
Go to where its ugly, dirty, vulnerable and real. (this is Christ-like)
Sometimes fishing is about being on the lake/river trying, rather than in the catching anything, every day.
Fishing for Christ is not what we get out of it, rather it is putting our selves in God’s hands.
Having lots of good gear can be helpful, but its not necessary.
We value education, bibles, study books, and devotional guides…
but it is as easy as a trusting conversation.
It is possible to over fish a historic spot known for a good catch.
What worked the last time, might never work again.
Sometimes your need a permit or you can get in trouble.
Usually you can get away with ask for forgiveness instead of permission, but sometimes,
You need to know the context, rules and laws that can hinder if your ignore them.
It is easier to let someone else catch, clean and cook the fish, but your not a fisherman when you do.
* Its not about getting the job done, its about showing up for work and trying.
John 13:1-17 (NRG Service)
Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
13. 2bAnd during supper 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4got up from the table,* took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ 7Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ 8Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ 9Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ 10Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet,* but is entirely clean. And you* are clean, though not all of you.’ 11For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’ 12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16Very truly, I tell you, servants* are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
Jesus served the students
Usually the leader was cared for first, Jesus cares for others first
Jesus washed their dirty feet
He made clean what they could not clean… not their feet, but their soul, heart
Peter, a student, wanted a whole bath…
Jesus said its not that kind of cleaning, its in your minds, heart and soul…