Archive for category #findingJesus

Matthew 17:1-9 Can You Keep a Secret?

Church of the Transfiguration

Mt Tabor, Church of the Transfiguration.

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.”[NRSV]
  1. A Strange Order to Keep Quiet

    1. Could it be Jesus we testing reverse psychology?
    2. Could it be Jesus didn’t think they understood what they saw
    3. Could it be Jesus want these disciples to have something the others did or couldn’t know?
    4. Could it be Jesus had more than one purpose in taking the disciples along to see this event?
  2. Learning the timing when to tell

    1. If Jesus had multiple reasons for the trip, what were they?
      1. Jesus sharing with Moses and Elijah, Law and Prophets
      2. Jesus is confirmed for being foretold
      3. Jesus is confirmes preparing to complete the law
      4. Jesus places himself in the context for the disciples
    2. What did the disciples learn from the trip
      1. Peter, James and John were either more mature or needed remedial reinforcement
      2. Peter receives a lesson in
        1. asking before declaring,
        2. praying before acting,
        3. trusting before explaining.
  3. Can you keep Quiet about who Jesus is to you?

    1. Do you notice that the disciples 2:1 keep quiet on the mountain.
    2. Reasons for speaking
    3. Reasons for listening and observing
    4. Learning lessons for future opportunities
      1. Trusting the lessons of the law
      2. Trusting the lessons of the prophets
      3. Affirming the mission and minsitry of Jesus
      4. knowing they can Get up and do not be afraid
      5. Trusting God’s time for telling.
  4. Knowing your time to listen and your times to tell.

    1. Being in the right place and time for learning
    2. Taking time to wait and listen to God
    3. Asking for guidance instead of declaring (our agenda/thinking/etc.
    4. Jumping ahead: This story is appears in Matth 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9, it is retold for us.
  5. Someone needs to hear about Jesus

    1. Have you prepared for those moments?
    2. Have you mis-spoken in the past?
    3. Have you ever gotten up from fear of taking what we have experienced and kept it in the past?
    4. Homework:
      1. Go tell someone what Jesus Christ has done for you.
      2. If you don’t then spend this Lenten season in prayer and study, because Easter is coming!
Location: 3477 Peavine Road, Rock Spring, GA 30739  Rock Spring UMC  http://www.mysundaysermons.com

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Matthew 3.1-12 Reclaiming Christmas “Brood of Viper Cards”

xmascard

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ ” Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree, therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” [NRSV]

I recall my parents making drawn and silk screened Christmas cards as part of the family tradition of preparing for Christmas. Part of the handmade effort was the personal and creative gift the other was for economical reasons. Each year mom would draw some variation of Mary and Jesus, occasionally including Joseph, an angel or a star. Dad would do the printing. My jobs waving the paper for the ink to dry, affixing stamps and sealing the envelopes. After the fourth or fifth church, it was necessary to use a bulk permit to cover nearly 800 hundred cards to church members, family, and friends. Somewhere along the way, a simple gift became a chore and the tradition change to about 100 written cards. The issue was the growing gap of ingenuousness between the original gift to the present.

What had been a creative chore, became a dreaded task not to forget or offend.

What is the appropriate message to share at Christmas?

  • For some, it is the annual family letter. If I have one good thing to say about Facebook, is that it seem the longer FB is around, the fewer Christmas letters I receive.
  • For some, mention every attribute of a Bing Crosby festival but offers wishes for happy tidings and warm companionship with everyone.
  • May You feel God’s presence in the candles, that softly spread their glow at Christmas and may you experience the wonder of His abiding love, as He guides you, through each day of the coming year.

  • For others, the cards convey perfunctory words of acknowledging goodness and an unclear image of peace.
  • Thinking warmly of each of you and wishing your family an extra measure of comfort, joy and hope.

  • We have tried to send Christmas cards, but we typically send them out during the Christmas season, rather during the weeks of Advents.  [as late as St Patricks Day]

What about the Cards from the John the Baptist Card Collection?

  • Front: May your camel’s hair coat be scratchy and you locust be toasty, may your voice be one crying out I the wilderness this year. Inside: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
  • Front: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near! Inside: Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree, therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
  • Cover: His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor. Inside: He will gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. 
  • Best Cover: You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Inside: Bear fruit worthy of repentance.

John the Baptist reminds us to ask each other: for what are we preparing? Christ, ourselves or something else.

Our response is to say, “80 percent may be for me, my family, my idea, my traditions, my memories, my warm fuzzy feeling, and 20 percent is for you Jesus.” You complete the percents for yourself.

I have shared by Christmas list with Santa, I have begun to buy gifts for others, I have begun to get out decorations, I have begun filling my calendar with events, I have begun singing along with Christmas favorites, but

Can anyone tell Jesus is the driving cause of my actions, or have I left that to chance and hope others will guess what leads my heart and life.

It’s not about “Merry Christmas” it is about Jesus.

  • John the Baptist is not so worried about offending the Jewish leaders, as he is making certain everyone knows to be humbled before Christ.
  • Jesus is the King whose roads need to be made ready, not the government
  • Jesus is the is the one worthy to give himself for us
  • Jesus is worth shouting boldly about to the world

So what?

Advent, Preparing, Reclaiming the task of preparing: The example is baptism.

REPENT: Turning around and Remembering we are claimed by God, made new in Christ, forgiven and made whole through water and the Spirit. 

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1 Timothy 2.1-17 I’m Not Lying 20160918 RSUMC

truth

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all —this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. [NRSV]
Paul gives a rather curious footnote in his letter. “I am telling the truth, I am not lying“. It is usually in our experience that if we think someone needs to hear us say these words that there is some question about our vercity, our truthfulness or trustworthiness.
There are two pieces of instruction to which this appears to be reffering:
  1. First, Paul’s instruction to pray for everyone, including kings and high officials.
  2. Secondly, Paul’s ministry of being a messenger and apostle as a teacher of the Gentiles.

A. Prayer:

Objectively and with humility, it is a simple command to pray for everyone including those who have authority over you and over us all. On the other hand, it is also difficult to carry out with sincerity, to supplicate, intercede and giving thanksgiving for everyone, including those who lead or would choose to lead us.
Two observations:
(1) One Paul is not giving the community of faith the excuse, a pass, to ignore those who oppress, make difficult or misuse their authority, rather it is the community of faith’s role to keep the conversation in the context of God’s grace and God’s working of bringing peace through all people, to all people.
(2) Paul is neither saying the everyone, including those in high offices, are not in need of prayerful help from God and God’s people. Therefore, pray with, pray for and pray into the thanksgiving to which we are called to become.
I challenge to pray for God to be known to our leaders, for our leaders and through our leaders so that God might be known, praised and thanks given to God.

B. Ministry Authority:

Paul appointed: hearld, apostle and teacher.
  • (In readying how Paul was persicuted, jailed, shipwrecked, run out of town, dismissed by others in the Way, in the church: for his earlier persicustion of Jesus, Paul is claiming athority by appointment from God.)
  • As Wesleyan Methodist we see God’s preventative, justifying and sanctifying graces at work. As well as an affirmation that some authority is revealed directly in our experience of the Holy Spirit.
  • God using someone that was the least likely person to reach the Jewish community and certainly not the Gentile community.
  • I believe this is the connection Paul wants to affirm to Timothy because he is conferring this authority Timothy, to the rest of the church and to you and me gathered here today.

Paul’s reminder to Timothy is also a reminder to each of us and to those who believe and trust some other gods, doctrines or principles.

The truthful and trustworthiness of our authority is under attack:
  • Externally, When we listen to the civil view of the church’s role it has become one of many voices.
  • Internally, When we pray only for whom and what we want, rather than for God’s will and work.
  • Communally & Personally, When we listen to fears and hate rather than prayer we attack truth and trust
The instruction is to remember that you and I are appointed to the same work:
Herald: The messengers, witnesses, and advocates for Christ’s presence in the world.
Apostle: Leader, delegator, and  one who shares Christ’s living present in the world.
Teacher: Instructor, one who models the heart of Christ internally and externally, to church and world. for everyone, including the king and other leaders.

Challenge:

Live as people of the Truth of Christ. (Not fighting over what is the principles of truth, rather trusting the truth of Christ to be lived out in how we interact, prayer, prepare and instruct each other.
The challenge to Timothy and to us is one of action. This is where Paul is not lying, not teasing, not suggesting, not holding back!

 Bottom Line:

You and I are the Heralds, Leaders, and Teacher that are called model a life of prayer for this world: teaching, revealing and modeling the grace and power of Christ to save, save us all. Amen.

LinK: I could lie, but I won’t liey to you. God is with us and calls us to tell Christ’s truth. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wherever_I_Go_(song) OneRepublic Lyrics:

I know I could lie, but I won’t lie to you
Wherever I go, you’re the ghost in the room
I don’t even try looking for something new
Cause wherever I go, I’ll be looking for you

Some people try but they can’t find the magic
Others get down on their knees and they pray
I come alive when I’m close to the madness
No easy love could ever make me feel the same
Make me feel the same

Traditional Music : UMBH

  • I Exalt Thee
  • 399 Take My Life
  • 395 Take Time to be Holy
  • 402 Lord I Want to be a Christain

 

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Amos 8.1-12 “Final Fruit-Baskets?” 202160717 RSUMC

 

fruitbasketThis is what the Lord God showed me—a basket of summer fruit. He said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me, “The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass them by. The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,” says the Lord God; “the dead bodies shall be many, cast out in every place. Be silent!” Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying, “When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the Sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.” The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who lives in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt? On that day, says the Lord God, I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on all loins, and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day. The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it. [NRSV]

Sackcloth, baldness, morning only child, a bitter day.

  • Sackcloth, baldness and morning, oh my!
  • Sackcloth, baldness and morning, oh my!
  • Sackcloth, baldness and morning, oh my!
  • •    Sackcloth: A sign of sinfulness
    •    Baldness: A sign of unhealthiness
    •    Morning an Only Child: Grief for this generation and the next
    •    Bitter Day: A sign of our separation from God.

Sending a famine instead of a fruit basket.

Not a famine of land, bread or thirst
But a famine of HEARING the words of the Lord.
God’s bringing a basket that we fill find as empty.
•    If I bring fruit every day, and no one takes even a bite, it will eventually spoil
•    If I bring healthy snacks and no one even samples, we will eventually starve
•    If I bring hope for this generation and the next and no one trusts and believes,  we have nothing left.

The basket is full of unwanted, un-tasted, un-sampled, un-digested, un-used nourishment: It lies in waste (or lingers in our waists)

Seeking and not finding, Knocking and nothing opening, Asking and receiving none.

The question of the day is
how long will the famine take?
How many attacks can we stand?
How many bodies left on the ground?
How many reports of violence before we are numb?

Where is the fruit basket?

•    The basket of milk and honey?
•    The basket of power and grace?
•    The basket of truth and certainty?
•    The basket of goodness and peace?

We want that fruit basket, then
1.    Why not eat it when it is placed in front of you?
2.    Why wait until there are famine and ruin?

Today is the day for feasting on the Word of God.

•    Open and read it
•    Read and share it
•    Share and sing it
•    Sing and Teach it
•    Teach and live it
•    Live it and find the God, who loves us, living with us, still.

 

 

 

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Galatians 3.23-29 The MOST Troubling Text 20160619 RSUMC

unisexclothesNow before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore, the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian,  for, in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. [NRSV]

Who knew Gene Roddenberry was as a fan of Galatians?

The Star Trek cultural iconic uniforms that allow for individuals to be known for their role in the community by the color of their uniform not matter their origin, citizenship, nor gender.

What if the clothes Christ places on us, rather than the garments and cultural markers we self-define one another?

  • What if those who wore blue were known as healers.
  • Teachers, Grower and Designers in Green
  • Administrators and Safety persons in Golden Rod
  • Builders, Helpers, Support persons in Red
  • Orange for those who Harvest and celebrate
  • White for those who are wisdom and faith-sharers
  • Black for those who comfort and counsel
  • Brown..

Known by the clothes of Christ.

  • Some would work to discover what Jesus wore and tried to replicate first-century apparel. but that would miss the mark of the text.
  • Some would be looking at the blended areas of overlap where roles cross in different situations and contexts.
  • Some would not like the color assigned and protest

But think for a moment, what if we wore the gifts, graces, ministries and presence of Christ as we wear our clothes.

It surprises me that the first question that people ask about ‘my/our’ church is about our dress code. Not that we have a formal dress code, most folks would want folks to be ‘in’ the fellowship with us no matter what close they might wear.

But we follow that with a few qualifications, even if we don’t say them aloud:

You don’t have to wear a coat and tie or dress, just be clean and neat.

We live in a time when folks have extremes about clothes, fashion is a billion dollar industry for nearly every price point of our society.

We also have a culture that would rather buy or receive something new than wash and care for the clothes we have. How does this culture connect with our being clothed by Christ.

One Time Use for Christ

  • We wear difference clothes for different occasions.
    • Jesus Clothes us for eternity.
  • We wear something for a season
    • Jesus Clothes us for eternity
  • We wear something until we wear it out or outgrow it or tired of it.
    • Jesus Clothes us for eternity
  • We wear something so people will respond to us in a certain way.
    • Jesus Clothes us for God’s Work
  • We wear something to wear to work
    • Jesus empties himself and wants to work through us
  • We judge and value by what we wear
    • Jesus loves who we are with nothing to show

Walter Wangeren Jr’s Rag Man short story invites us to allow Christ to clothe and mark us for service.

People will misuse this passage from Galatians to say that whatever group society might divide and define us is acceptable, but a closer listen to the whole message of Paul’s letter and his message about Christ defining us.

Look in the Jesus Mirror: Who does Jesus See “in Me?”

Does Jesus see me as Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, tall or short, etc. Jesus sees me as I am, and no matter how the world defines me, Jesus sees me as:

  • Worthy of his life
  • Worthy of his grace
  • Worthy of his ministry
  • Worthy of his service
  • Worthy of his praise
  • Worthy of his devotion

The things that we use to limit and divide, Jesus knows, Jesus is not blind, but Jesus sees in us far more than we might see in ourselves.

Paul’s invitation is to see each other as Christ see us

  • see each other as Christ sees
  • see the value Christ sees in us
  • love the persons Christ sees in us and in one another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Luke 7:1-10 “Go, Come, Do: Jesus Calls Us. 20160529 RSUMC

ServeHimGoComeDo

After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go,’ and he goes, and to another, “Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health. [NRSV]

We have the ability to look back and compare the disciples Thomas and Peter and others to this unnamed Roman centurion. Based on his military training the soldier recognizes the power and authority of a command. On the other hand, Thomas, Peter, and John felt they had to see and touch to trust and believe.

This switch is a reversal of what we would assume to be the reality. The disciples would seem to have the blind faith and the Roman soldier who was expected to be an avoided adversary. But the story of what is assumed is not the story of the Gospel message.

This account is most accurately knows as a story of healing. The centurion’s servant found in good health after a remote conversation between Jesus and the soldier. (This is an early example of the range of divine Bluetooth/WiFi healing.) But as remarkable as the healing this is also an example of trust.

I am very proud of my son Luke for finishing his work at the Air Force Academy and becoming a second lieutenant. Four years ago, his being an officer in the military was something neither of us could picture. All Luke knew for sure was a good school; they let him play on the football team and is in the western part of the US. Four years later I can see he has rapidly increased his ability to make informed decisions, to communicate effectively, to take calculated risks and set goals of his choosing, all the while remaining committed to growing his faith.

In the early days of his training, they took daily photos during boot camp to preoccupy family and friends by seeing evidence that they had not quit and run away. There were a few days where fear, exhaustion and disappointment were in the photos, but others had smiles, comradely and confidence. This last semester I learned of some of the struggles he was called to discern and hopeful times that his delegation would not require any further follow through.

This moment in Luke’s Gospel is one of those times of delegation. Jesus is asked to delegate his authority to heal.

This request comes from the soldier who trusts Jesus do be able to do what is needed by making it so. Say the word, and so shall it be done.

  • It is like asking for the quilt committee: We need a prayer quilt. And sometimes, overnight, it is done.
  • It is like asking for help with Show and Sell: We need food preppers and server, and it is so.
  • It is like asking for a SS teacher or new Wednesday helper in the children’s department, and we have to turn folks away… ( ..well I was on a roll and hoped it would be so.)

But this is right where the difference between the devoted disciples and serving soldiers paths cross.

Who is worthy? The faithful who have been by Jesus’ side all this time or those willing to Go, Come, Do?

Somewhere in our model of being and doing Church we build some assumptions that you must be old enough to be accountable and able to serve in meaningful ways AND you have to be young enough to be responsible and able to help in meaningful ways. So we excuse you when you are a kid and retire you when you get tired.

Your church is calling you to Go, Come and Do right now.

“Oh, now it’s summer break. We are going to be gone, and we will see you when we get back into the fall routine.”

  • When you have occasion to travel and cannot be present here, remember to worship where you are. Either experience worship, in a different place or log in the streaming of the early service. Find God with you where you travel.
  • Practice talking to strangers about Jesus; you might never see them again, and that is one reason to share your faith, and the other is if you do, you might transform a person’s, life you would otherwise not be present to reach.
  • Remember the ministry of your church continues even when you are in other locations. Be consistent with your giving. Use the online giving, send a check early or remember to catch up.
  • Be open to finding God where you Go, to bring back new experience that helps us DO ministry here.
  • The purpose of a vacation is renewal and relationship building. What better time to spend with your travel mates and family than to sing praise/hymns, share the scriptures, and learn how God is at work in new places.

No matter the season, we are called to respond to needs of those who are hurting around us. Here is the tricky part. We respond, not because it makes us feel better or eases our accountability, we serve Jesus when we do. The centurion works with Jesus as Jesus command.

There is an obsessive amount of ‘worthy’ language in such a short passage. The “I’m not worthy” language.

Here is the point about Jesus:

  • First, Jesus says to us, and to everyone in the scene: I am here because you are worth it to me.
  • Second, Worth is not determined by the government, peers not even the church. God declare we are worthy, because of Jesus.
  • Third, Jesus responds not because what the soldier had earned with the religious leaders. Jesus responded to the trust and authority the centurion acknowledges in Jesus.

Our calling to heal the sick, feed the hungry, visit the lonely, care for the lost is because it gives witness to us and the world that Jesus is at work in us.

The soldier came to Jesus because he knew Jesus could do what no one else could do. Not because he felt bad about his servant. Not because of his desperation. Not because of his business dealing with the elders at the synagogue. The soldier came in faith.

This weekend we honor those who made a worthy choice to serve under another authority, trusting that they were part of a larger force of good. Not every soldier helps for reasons of faith, but this centurion has shown us that even in serving his command, he found a way to connect with Jesus.

We thank those who given their lives in service. We honor their willingness to Go, Come and Do what they were called to do. They are for us an ongoing challenge to do the same for Christ as the church.

quote-jesus-measured-greatness-in-terms-of-service-not-status-god-determines-your-greatness-rick-warren-79-94-17

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John 14.23-29 “Serving up Jesus Helper” 20160501 RSUMC

hamburgerhelper

Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.  And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. [NRSV]

Hamburger helper

When I was in college I roomed my junior with Jonathon Eady. Our go-to meals were the many different flavors of Hamburger Helper(TM). I suppose it is a step above Ramon noodles as the helper recipe call for meet to be added to the dish. I don’t think I had a favorite flavor because they all seem to taste the same. But they sustained us through that year of off-campus living.

My senior year I moved past the Hamburger Helper stepping up to cans of Campbell’s soup to replace my culinary flavors. In the way one can alternate the addition of rice, noodles or some other starch to elevate the senses. Still a quick and easy method. The trouble with Ramon, Helper or Campbell recipes is the elevated level of salt and by-products.

As I child my dad always made spaghetti sauce from scratch. Not only was it cheaper than the pre-made, it tasted better. My grandmother never made vegetable soup from a can, unless she had canned the vegetables herself. My mother never used canned biscuits because she could make the scratch ones as quickly for less money.

Somehow we have grown up with fast food and eating out, that is not very good and questionably not as good for us. So, I have come full circle; now it is much more rewarding, healthy and fiscal to gather the basic fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs to make a sauce that contains the goodness you need and flavors you choose.

The one thing through all these years is food. Every day, every one of us, needs fuel to do all the things we do.

Spiritual Helper

But we are more than the physical body. We are also spiritual people.

Imagine if we took the example of food and focused the energy, time and resources on feeding our spiritual selves.

Oh, the sermon was going so well until now. I was just getting ready for lunch and BAM! we are back on Jesus.

Just as every person is created with a Spiritual self, whether they realize, accept or deny it… we are spiritual people.

So much of the world is broken because it either denies this reality or feeds on a spirit of evil.

  – Do you remember the three rules of being a United Methodist?

  1. Do no harm.
  2. 2. Do all the Good that you can.
  3. 3. Practice your piety.   Do the things that Feed our Spiritual Self.

Those who keep my Word..

  • Know God loves them “
  • Know God will come to them, “The Advocate”
  • Know God’s Peace, “Wholeness”

The part we struggle with, is: How do we Keep Jesus Word?

  • Does that mean to believe certain truths?
  • Does that mean trust scripture?
  • Does that mean follow Jesus’s example?
  • Does that mean follow Jesus’s rules?
  • All of the above? or
  • None of the above?

Jesus is connecting the dots before the dots become holes.

Jesus is introducing an easy way to connect with the Holy Spirit.

  • It is more than keeping rules
  • It is more than saying the correct words
  • It is more than a test or a race or a lifetime.
  • It is love.

We are spiritual people.

  • God loves us.
  • Jesus has shown us that love.
  • so we will continue to love
  • as spiritual people.

John 1: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. [NRSV]

We look around and

  • see a world filled with anger, hatred, fear and doubt.
  • We feel the frustration, mis-trust, separation and animosity.
  • We hear the brokenness, darkness and death.
  • We sense the hold of greed, selfishness and sin.
  • We can even taste it, and it is bitterness and sour.
  • How can the world possible love, forgive,

God will give us a helper, and Advocate, a representative, a spokesperson, a trainer, a coach, a voice, a breath of God’s creative wind. The Holy Spirit.

It is the Spirit of God feeding the Spirit with each of us.

If we do not eat at this banquet, we see what will happen to love

If we do, we find God loves us, died and rose that our spirit can be eternal and that we will continue to help others know to feed and love the spirit.

We start at the table and leave for the world.

  • Do no harm,
  • Do Good.
  • Eat the gifts of love and grace for the work above.

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John 13:31-35 Love Command. 20160424 RSUMC

loveoneanotherlikeJesus

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.’  I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples. [NRSV]

It has become rather trite to ask: “What Would Jesus Do?” But it is the obvious response to the new commandment given in John 13:34 (Just as I have loved your, you also should love one another.)

The new commandment is a “super commandment.” When we are faithful with this one commandment, we are faithful in all the others.

  • Love welcomes the sinner, and sends them to go and sin no more.
    • Multiple people forgiven and healed, and charged to change their living.
  • Love welcomes the curious, and goes home with them,
  • Love welcomes those who need healing
    • And loves them even if they don’t say thank you or show appreciation. Loving for appreciation is the heart of co-dependency.
    • The Ten lepers, only one returns.
  • Love feeds, clothes and befriends
    • As in the great commission text, MT
  • Love welcomes those who seek forgiveness
    • Forgive me Lord,
    • Thief, today you will be with me in paradise
  • Love cares enough to help the fool not rebuilt on the sand
    • Parable of the house on the rock / sand
  • Love cares enough to:
    • Cry with the grieving
    • Drink with those who marry
    • Guide who work and fail trying
      • Disciples fishing
    • To be humble hear good news
      • Shepherds
    • The wise bring gifts
      • The Magi
    • The proud seek mercy
      • Sermon on the Mount
    • The outcast are made clean
      • Those possessed with evil
    • The busy and distracted are made still
      • Martha
    • The eager to listen and learn are taught and encouraged
      • Mary
    • Those who love as Christ love are sent out to love the neighbor, stranger and enemy
      • The Disciples and the 70
    • Jesus loving listens to fools and childish children, and finds a Love story of God’s heart to reach us.
  • Finally, Jesus shows us the highest gift of love by giving his life and demonstrates that in some occasions we do the same.
    • The Cross
  • And, Jesus shows us that loving God is trusting that our eternal living is God love us, eternally.
    • The Resurrection

Our text: Commands: Therefore, for us to love, as Jesus loves.

I listened to two different clergy friends ask me the same heartfelt question:

How could someone be a conservative and call themselves a Christian.”

The other asked:

How could so someone be a progressive and call themselves a Christian?

As I listen to the news of senseless shootings, political propagandas, and fears in the country and the church. I have been praying for God’s words to respond and lead!

Here is the ‘fruit’ I offer to both and to you. The singular answer is found in Christ’s command to love as we see and hear Jesus love.

Ask God to point to your core,

Your first thought and action,

Q: I’m I loving God, even if it means something different from the world understanding of love?

Q: Is my motivation love God, when I speak out or hide under the rock of in-action?

Q: Is my heart following what pleases the world or what pleases God’s heart?

Q: Am I praying and studying and challenging to know what God’s heart and love looks, sound, taste, feel and are all about?

A: When our love looks like Christ’s love, we will know when to speak out and when to keep quiet.

A: When our love is like Christ’s love we will see when the world or we, ourselves, twist love to be about our agenda instead of God’s.

A: The answer to the questions: Who’s love is most Christ like..

Answer: When Christ’s love leads, there can be different ways of showing love, but God is revealed as the purpose.

Is God Revealed? If God is not revealed

  • then we are either closed to seeing God in only our way or
  • the love of Christ is not present.

The Test: Ask of what you say, think and hear: Show me God’s love. The world is hungry and thirsty for God’s love. Show the world the love Jesus has shown the world, and we cannot go wrong.

If we only have ideologies, theologies and policies, and don’t have love of God at the heart, then they are noisy gongs of distraction.

Wherever you hear noise, is a time to share the love of Jesus Christ. Try it and see the Kingdom of God wherever you go.

Example: Politicians, Wars, Taxes, Shooting, Immigration, Budgets, etc. If you don’t explain how God is working through these to reveal God’s love, the love of Christ, then start our conversations over.

Love is the lens, if the lens is not clear, clean it and start over in love.

If you are not talking about these topics to avoid the drama and noise, then you are withholding vital opportunities to help yourself and others find God’s love where we are hurting most.

Love is the lens, if the lens is not clear, clean it and start over in love.

If you only seem to get angry and polarized in these conversations, then you are lost in the noise and need to turn to Christ and start over.

Love is the lens, if the lens is not clear, clean it and start over in love.

If others are seeing and hearing and experiencing the Love of Jesus Christ through you, then, BAM! you living in the life of Love! Love on in Jesus Christ.

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John 20:19-31 NRS. “Be Believing” RSUMC 20160404

believeWhen it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin ), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. [RSV]

Seeing is Believing

  • Show Me, What Proof is convincing for one is not convincing for all
  • Evidence might be physical, emotional or spiritual
  • Understanding is the starting point

Not Seeing, yet Believing is Faith

  • Faith is based in what we do not control
  • Faith is Trusting what is untrustworthy
  • Faith is Affirming what God provides

Faith is the Core

  • Faith is generally a process
  • Faith is tested as a muscle is strengthen
  • Faith is hardened as steel is heated and cooled.

The Purpose of Faith is for our Relationship of Salvation

  • Jesus’s Death pays for our sin
  • Jesus’s Resurrection restores our life
  • Jesus’s presence in the Holy Spirit is to build the relationship

Commitment to the Relationship

  • Starting with the Scriptures, Feed your Faith and Belief
  • Building on the faith you have seen, heard, read, experienced Test
  • Take the Jesus relationship to life: Family, Work, School, Community, etc.
  • Jesus makesFoundation for our Relationship with God Through Christ Jesus
  •  COMMIT to Intentional Spiritual Growth. Bible Study, Sunday school, Daily Devotion, Small Group.
    • Disciples were Gathered, even in fear and doubt, Jesus SHOWS up.
    • Disciples share their faith stories, Jesus Shows up to Confirm
    • Disciples offer questions and challenges, Jesus Shows up for Faith
    • Disciples meet Jesus in the process and their life is filled with Faith and Salvation, through Jesus Christ, living with them.

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Luke 19:28-44

PalmCross  As [Jesus] was going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?’ just say this, “The Lord needs it.’ “ So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.
  As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop. He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
  As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.” [NRSV]
The entrance into the holy city Jerusalem is akin to the presidential motorcade after the inauguration swearing in service. People lined the way, shoulder to shoulder, waving and cheering the confirmation of their new leader. But Jesus did not arrive in the usual way. Neither had he been endorsed by the Sadducees nor Pharisees. He entered riding on the back of a humble work animal instead of a proud steed of power and status. He was praised by the disciples, those who had been healed, fed, blessed and taught along the way of Jesus’s ministry. I make NO contemporary political correlation to candidates running today, only to the stress and strife of a non-establishment figure being ushered into the city by the voice of the people.
We may have more insight into the context of this event that other generations. The Pharisees saying, “If this Jesus becomes our leader, I’m leaving Jerusalem” The Sadducees saying, “If they don’t get a handle on this outsider, we will take steps to bring our own man in.” Do you get the scene and the tensions?
The establishment says, stop your people from this circus. Teacher, we hold you responsible for the chaos. It’s your fault. We will stop you if you don’t stop the unruly crowd. [Again, I am not suggestion that any of our political figures are messianic leaders, but I am listening to the similarities of the crowds and the commentators and voices of the establishments then and now.]
All this sets the stage for Palm Sunday. We would much rather look at the scenes of the children lining the streets waving along the Jesus parade as a sweet image of Palm Sunday and not see the emerging political unrest that blows up in less than a week. I believe it is vitally important to look at the politics that is very much part of the Palm Sunday story.
The sweetest fruit in this passage from Luke’s Gospel is about seeing and not seeing. It is about believing and refusing to believe. It is about choosing to accep or closing our eyes, “sticking our heads in the sand in times of fear”,
instead of proclaiming
  • Jesus Christ is real,
  • Jesus is King, and
  • Jesus is with us.
The secondary witness is about praise that cannot be held back.
  • When we know Jesus is real, this becomes the foundation of our life
  • When we know Jesus is King, this becomease the guide for our living
  • When we know Jesus is with us, nothing can stop us from praising.
So What is “Palm Sunday About?”
  • There story is about preparing for worship
  • The story is about making way/room for Jesus in our public/fears
  • The story is about remaing awake and aleart that it is Jesus that leads us and not anything or anyone esle.
Where does Peace come from? The Prince of Peace:
  • Peace does not come from armies and weapons
  • Peace does not come from governments and policies
  • Peace does not come from acts of kindness and justice
  • Peace comes from God, through Jesus Christ, guided by the Spirit, through the church, through us for for the whole world.
Palm Sunday is about seeking peace from God with us.
If we cant’ see God with us, we will never find Peace.
Peace in Syria?, in Instanbull?, in the media? in the streets of our nation? in our homes? in our hearts?
  • Peace comes when Jesus comes in.
  • Peace comes when Jesus is praised
  • Peaces is possible to see when we see God showing up on our streets.
We life our palm brances as signs of a
  • new life,
  • a new way
  • a new day, made possible thorugh Jesus Chirst, our King.
The Practice response..
Start with what we have: cloaks and branches and pave the way.
Start with our
  • Praise
  • Words
  • Witness of kindness
  • Forgiving first,
Loving even though others have not loved us first
  • Our hearts
  • Our gifts
  • Our time
  • Our presence
  • Our wintess
Use these to pave the way for Christ to enter our
  • hearts,
  • conversations,
  • homes,
  • streets,
  • communities,
  • nation and the world.
That means raise the praise in church but don’t stop there, don’t stop now,
LIft Christ… and let a hurting, hateful, fearful, broken world know Jesus is here.

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