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Isaiah 12:1-6 “God Be in Me” 20161113

godbeinmyhead

You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the LORD GOD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. [NRSV]

We have collectively experienced a physical, emotions, spiritual and social wrenching that has come to a crescendo this week.

Some of the most hateful, intolerant and hard-hearted words have been spoken about the election in the past seven days.

  • Some have been riding on a seemingly, unending roller coaster that did not stop where it started.
  • Others are grieving, spiraling, and building a strong case of depression
  • while others have begun acting out of anger, which never leaders to safety, tolerance, and peace.
  • Still others have remained silent and afraid to speak, for fear of ridicule.

It is time for us to HEAR the words of God’s prophet.

  • God is my salvation.
  • I will trust and not be afraid
  • The Lord is my strength
  • With Joy, draw water from the well of salvation.
  • Give Thanks to the Lord, call his name, make his deeds known among the nations.
  • Proclaim and exalt God’s name.
  • Sing Praise to the Lord,
  • Tell the world  how glorious God is,
  • Shout aloud and sing for Joy, God is with us.

It is time for us to SHARE the words of God’s prophet.

  • Salvation is found in God, not our government
  • Trust God and do not be afraid
  • Find your strength in the Lord
  • Draw on God’s joy when yours is missing
  • This is a great time to look for and give witness to God in the world.
  • Sing praises to God to remind us who leads this world
  • Talk of good that God has done for us and the good God will do through us
  • Shout loud and Sing the Good News: God is with us.

It is time for us to LIVE the words of God’s prophet.

  • Our neighbors are divided and God is counting on us to salvation
  • There are people in our workplaces that have lost truth and trust,
  • Don’t ignore fears, but don’t be turned to anger and wrath, Find strength in God, not politics.
  • Make a withdrawal from God’s account when ours is empty or draining.
  • When we are divided is the clearest time to all move toward God.
  • Sing praise to remind ourselves and others the God is speaking through us all.
  • Talk of Good instead of evil. Speak of hope that is to be revealed.
  • Shout, don’t keep quiet, God is with us. God will save us. God will guide us

The Alternative is grim:

  • Continue to hold government higher than God and we will surely fall apart.
  • Count on our political powers to provide for every need and we have no need for God
  • Find our strengths in our efforts, our wealth, our correct thinking, and our feelings and they will all fail
  • Sing praises that are only pleasing and comforting and we will be alone
  • Only talk about our point of view, our goodness, and correct thinking and we will see only ourselves
  • Keep quiet about God and God will speak through someone else who will follow, trust and love.

Lord have mercy on me a sinner.

Lord have mercy on our nation and all the nations, for we are all sinners.

God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at mine end, and at my departing.
  [Sarum Primer, 1558]

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Hebrews 11:(12-16) A Better Country 20160807 RSUMC

  • HeavenBeacons

    Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval.  By faith, we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.  By faith, Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith, he still speaks.  By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and “he was not found because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” And without faith, it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this, he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.  By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going.  By faith, he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.  For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  By faith, he received the power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance, they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth,  for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.  If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had an opportunity to return.  But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. [NRSV]

 

A Better Country

  • What kind of country will our nation have become in forty years? 4 years? 4 months?
    • Are you optimistic or pessimistic about what will be?
  • What kind of church will our congregation be in forty years? 4 years? 4 months?
    • Are you hopeful or filled with doubts?
  • What will your faith look like in forty years, four years? four months?
    • Are you empowered or searching?

A Better Country

We have so entwined religion and politics that we have become polarized and paralyzed in our misappropriated patriotism. It is not a matter of separating church and state conversations, it is about using the freedoms our nation has to most fully express and experience of faith in Jesus Christ. Our freedoms allow for many faiths, but we place our trust in a better country. W

If we were as preoccupied with living as citizen of heaven as we are citizen of the USA, what would it look like??

  • Facebook would be filled with words, pictures, and messages about our faith and church
  • Our conversations would be about news and report of where we see God at work in the world. We would be trying to out-do each other in love and service.
  • We would stay up at night worrying about how many people we had reached, transformed, and welcomed into the fellowship of the church.
  • People would see our commitment to the citizenship we hold highest is in the heart of God.

The OT Case for Building a “more perfect union.”

Creation, Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob, key examples of faith that have shaped the faith we now live. The bottom line of each of these persons witnessed examples of placing themselves and their personal trust in God to lead, protect, save, heal, and bless. The fruit of seeking our ultimate allegiance is in God, is that God uses us to build a better country, a heavenly one.

New Testament Case

In the parable that the lawyer asks Jesus who is my neighbor, we find it is the one who shows grace and loving kindness.

In this faith-history lesson begs the question: What is my home? What is my citizenship? To home and where do I belong?

What is my home? Is it only the building at my address? Is it the sum of my stuff and assets and debts? Is only my family and extended family?

The Call to Live in our Heavenly Citizenship, (On Earth as it is in Heaven)
Is this the story of our nation? Is this the story of our people? Is this the story that bears fruit in our lives?

Call to make disciples:

  • Love one another in service, AND
  • Inspire others to join the fellowship, AND
  • Worship and Fellowship to strengthen another before God.

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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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Matthew 5.20-30 Marriage, The Law and the Church RSUMC 20150628

MarriageLicenseFor I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder’; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. “You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. [NRSV]

Q: So is marriage a matter for church and preaching?

Marriage is a relationship founded and grounded in God and has been a faith relationship before it ever was a legal conversation.

A: And for that alone, it is forever an appropriate conversation for worship, study and defending.

June 26, 2015, The Right to Marry

The recent court decision, made by the majority of non-elected-legislative-judiciary, have create a new right to marry that includes all adult persons to marry the adult of their mutual choice independent of genders. Five people have changed an institution they did not create.

If you are celebrating or if you are angry about the new definition of marriage, I ask you:

What are you doing strengthening marriage before June 26, 2015?

  • 40% of children live in single parent household. What of marriage, independent of who can marry whom?
  • 33% (Barna) of US marriages end in divorce. [The 50% includes people who have been divorced more than once, which skews the overall numbers.] But if one in three divorce, is that an acceptable number we live with as those who so highly value marriage?
  • 1% of those who marry commit suicide
  • 2% of those who never marry take their life.
  • 9 % of married couples deal with alcoholism.
  • 24% of married couples deal with mental illness
  • 86% of unhappy couples deal with domestic violence

We don’t have a lot of room to talk about marriage, never the less, the court’s decision encroaches on our faith identity of marriage that is thousands of years in the making.

First know this: This is not the end of the church or our country or our society.

  • We are people of God and God remains with us.
  • Things might change, but God will not church.
  • God’s love for us will not change.
  • God’s presence with us is unchanging and
  • God’s call for us to hear and follow Christ will not change.

Secondly, Remember marriage is not a requirement. [A big shift in the court’s action is to name marriage as a right.]

  • 75% of adults do get married. 25% do not marry.
  • It has been the responsibilities of each state to license those who get married.
  • The government cannot force us to marry to nor force us to be single.

Where Are We, What’s Next?

These past two weeks have indeed been a challenge to our faith. And while I am disappointed at Friday’s Supreme Court’s decision to “legally” redefine what Christians, Jews and Muslims, have believed the covenant of marriage to be for millennia, remember that the court’s decision does not change our Biblical and theological worldview nor does it change our denomination’s stance on the issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriage as expressed in the church’s Discipline.

Only the General Conference speaks for the entire United Methodist Church. The General Conference of the United Methodist church will convene in May of next year in Portland, Oregon to discuss this and other issues that face the church. It has the potential to be divisive, but it also holds the opportunity to be a time of faith renewal.

How should we best respond to the court’s decision: Be Not Afraid.

God is Good, All the Time, RSUMC likes to affirm.  Remember that God is still at work redeeming the world to Himself. Trust that even though we do not understand all of God’s ways, God is involved in the events of human history…even as hard and unclear as they may be.

Teach by Loving

Love your neighbor. Let our words, witness and response to all people be loving. A loving response will always be our strongest example of leadership.  You will be drawn into conversations and discussions of “winners and losers.”  Be respectful to those with whom you disagree. Be slow in anger and even slower to speak, email and post.

Its about God, People and Relationships not rules and laws

Know that you are always talking about someone’s child, grandchild or sibling. It is easy for us to objectify a conversation and forget the laws and commandments are for broken and sinful people in a broken and sin filled world.

Be Faithful in your intentional spiritual growth

This is a time for us to step up our faithfulness in the Christian life. Don’t let other people’s words or actions cause you to do harm to others or to compromise your Christian witness. We are accountable to Christ for what we do and say.  We are not responsible for what other people do or say. Trust the Holy Spirit to lead you and do the best you can to express your hope in God’s redeeming grace for us all. (Romans 2.23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.)

The Government is not God

Remember: the Supreme Court, even it follows the constitution properly, does not speak for God and does not speak for the United Methodist Church. The General Conference Speaks for the church and the Discipline guides our practices.  Our stance on these issues and our practices have not changed. The church only allows me to conduct and attend marriage of one man and one woman. The church values every person with equal value from God, who creates us all.

Trust and Follow the Holy Spirit

In conversation with our D.S. and Bishop I was reminded that as our United Methodist Church is a global body, a global church, and not simply a U. S. church, and it is not at all unusual for the legal, moral and spiritual to be in tension in our various countries. We continue to be the church even though we might be in contrast with the laws of many lands.

We are in this together

As your pastor, you are in my prayers, and as your pastor I ask for your prayers in this matter. We might be tempted to allow anger, fear or ignorance to rule the day, but I ask that we constantly seek to help each other live with current reality. Life is not easy at any time, but we must live trusting in the Holy Spirit’s guidance to enable us to minister to all people in the light of

God is with us.

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