Archive for category Lent A

John 4:10-14 Spiritual Thirst


Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” [NRSV]

Give me a drink:

Give us this day our daily bread. Our bodies need water each day. The proper amount to remain hydrated is varried, but if the general consensus is that our bodies are 50%-70% based on many factors.

Water serves multiple purposes:

  • Water is the primary building block of cells.
  • It acts as an insulator, regulating internal body temperature. This is partly because water has a high specific heat, plus the body uses perspiration and respiration to regulate temperature.
  • Water is needed to metabolize proteins and carbohydrates used as food. It is the primary component of saliva, used to digest carbohydrates and aid in swallowing food.
  • The compound lubricates joints.
  • Water insulates the brain, spinal cord, organs, and fetus. It acts as a shock absorber.
  • Water is used to flush waste and toxins from the body via urine. ref

I have no bucket

Jesus knows that this woman has no bucket, because of the time of day and the lack of others at the well.

Well of Jacob – promised land: Spiritual water – a promise of eternal home.

Gushing up to eternal lifestyle not still water waiting in a well, but living water moving toward us.

What does it mean to spiritually thirst?

Spiritual thirst is the underlying motive that people have to seek after God, to start and continue their search for God.

It could be guilt over sin, it could be a longing for honest community, it could be guidance and direction, among some ideas.

It could be a stark realization that the person has made a giant mess of their life. Driven hard, past empty and now stuck.

Quenching our Spiritual Thirst

  • Living Water is the Building Block of our spiritual self
  • Living Water protects and insulates us in times of temptation and testing.
  • Living Water helps us digest, understand and apply scripture.
  • Living Water lubricates when we get stuck, dry, worn out, afraid.
  • Living Water flushes sin out of our systems and spirits.
  • Living Water is bottled, distributed and provided by God as a living presence in our lives.

So What?

  • Drink Up! Don’t be spiritually dehydrated
  • Look To Jesus and the church for the Bucket!
  • God desires to reach out to our spirit and make us whole.
  • If you find someone needing access to the well, lead them to Living Water.

 

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John 3:1-17 Spirit Born, Spirit Living

bornanewNow there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.  He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.”  Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”  Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”  Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony.  If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?  No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.  And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [NRSV]

1.   Ticket to Ride

  • Nicodemus is having a rabbi-to-rabbi
  • Talking about faith is not having faith
  • Talking about eternal life is accessing spiritual birth
  • Birth comes as a process of conception, maturity, and birth
  • Spiritual Birth is God’s process of bringing Spirit to become alive in us.

2.   Being Born of the Spirit in No Physical Accomplishment

  • Spiritual Birth is God’s Work, not our work
  • We can’t explain salvation into being, The Jesus’s work
  • We can’t scientifically prove salvation, That is Jesus’s work
  • We can’t hold the Spirit, but it can move us like the wind moves the trees.

3.   Spiritual Awakening vs. Spiritual Birth

  • Jesus makes Spiritual birth possible before our awareness
  • Our waking up the Spirit within us is our awakening
  • Philosophers, poets, musicians, lawyers, teachers and scholars have lead people to spiritual awakening but they cannot create the Spirit of God within us.

4.   Wind Blown, Spirit Lead

  • Jesus helps find Jesus in his being and not just in his head and in the words.
  • More than being people of God or followers of Jesus, you and I are people of the Spirit.
  • We are spiritual beings in a physical body.
  • Awakening comes to us when we realize there is more to us than the sum of our parts.

5.   Jesus brings Us to Spiritual Life

  • The many physical and mental things that divide us in society are not of the Spirit.
  • Racism is a spiritual problem: The misuse of power over people based on the color physical parts
  • Sexism is a spiritual problem: The misuse of power over a gender.
  • Political polarization is a spiritual problem that is not solved by converting the enemy, it is solved by spiritual awakening to follow God.
  • Division in the church is a spiritual problem. The answer is not getting the colors right or the money right nor is it getting the theology right.
  • The answer is being in right relationship with the Spirit

 

6.   God is doing whatever it takes to save us.

  • Hear the Good News: God is working to save us, not condemn us.
  • When you hear someone talk about church, God or the Bible as judgmental, know their perspective is out of right relationship.
  • God’s work in Jesus is to save us.
  • God’s work in Jesus requires that we see what separates are physical things.

 

Nicodemus is holding on to his own way of thinking, and Jesus is saying the gift of salvation is already available, ONE has to let go of SIN, let go of PRIDE, let go of being CORRECT, Let go of

 

SO WHAT does all that have to do with my life?

  1. Know God is working to love, save and claim us.
  2. Know Jesus makes new birth possible
  3. Know that following Jesus is following the Spirit
  4. Know that following your heart is not the target.
  5. Following the Spirit will let go of selfishness, sin, brokenness, control

 

 

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Matthew 4:1-11 Get Away from Sin

skunkgetaway

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But he answered, “It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”  Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. [NRSV]

There have been an unusually high number of skunks trying to cross the road on Long Hollow and Burning Bush Roads.

The ride smells horrible for days, just when the odor relents there are other carcasses on the road and the stench continues for a few more days.

Sin and Temptation to Sin are equally as persistent

Confession Time: What are you tempted. Gluttony, Pride, Greed, Lust, Fear, Laziness, Apathy, Arrogance start my list. Whats on your list?

Jesus’ temptation covers a wide, wide range.

  • Physical Hunger: strength. It takes more than satisfying the body to eternally satisfied
  • Physical Health: heart and mind. It takes more than a single act of healing or protect to have eternal salvation
  • Self will: mind, you can fool yourself all of time, and that can fool everyone except God.

Lk 10:27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’

  • one does not live by bread alone
  • do not put your Lord God to the test
  • away with you, Worship God and serve only him.

Jesus was tempted and tested.

  • Jesus was tested by the devil in the wilderness.
  • Jesus was tested at the most vulnerable time. (at the end of the fast,
  • Jesus was tested with integrity (at issue is the why of sacrifice, cross, why not just skip the suffering and hard parts.
  • Jesus was tested when the whole world was at stake

Temptation and Testing are Real for us

Jesus responds with scripture, not for the devil’s benefit but for his own reference and strength.

Bear Encounters  [Direct from the National Parks Service website] Ref to Jesus to show similarities are not on the nps site.

Once a bear has noticed you and is paying attention to you, additional strategies can help prevent the situation from escalating.

Identify yourself by talking calmly so the bear knows you are a human and not a prey animal.[Jesus starts the conversation directly leading the situation] Remain still; stand your ground but slowly wave your arms. Help the bear recognize you as a human. It may come closer or stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell. A standing bear is usually curious, not threatening.

Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turning away at the last second. Bears may also react defensively by woofing, yawning, salivating, growling, snapping their jaws, and laying their ears back. Continue to talk to the bear in low tones; this will help you stay calmer, and it won’t be threatening to the bear. A scream or sudden movement may trigger an attack. Never imitate bear sounds or make a high-pitched squeal.

Pick up small children immediately.

Hike and travel in groups. Groups of people are usually noisier and smellier than a single person. Therefore, bears often become aware of groups of people at greater distances, and because of their cumulative size, groups are also intimidating to bears.

Make yourselves look as large as possible [Jesus started relying on scripture] (for example, move to higher ground).

Do NOT allow the bear access to your food. Getting your food will only encourage the bear and make the problem worse for others.

Do NOT drop your pack as it can provide protection for your back and prevent a bear from accessing your food.

If the bear is stationary, move away slowly and sideways; this allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping. Moving sideways is also non-threatening to bears. Do NOT run, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. Bears can run as fast as a racehorse both uphill and down. Like dogs, they will chase fleeing animals. Do NOT climb a tree. Both grizzlies and black bears can climb trees.

Leave the area or take a detour. [Jesus ends the stand-off, and calls for the devil to leave.] If this is impossible, wait until the bear moves away. Always leave the bear an escape route.

Be especially cautious if you see a female with cubs; never place yourself between a mother and her cub, and never attempt to approach them. The chances of an attack escalate greatly if she perceives you as a danger to her cubs.

Ultimately, it is having the strength to say, no, and get away from me.

 

 

Jesus models how to deal with temptation, Go back to the Garden, the same remedy

Address it for what it is, head-on

Rely on the strength of scripture and God’s presence to speak, not our spin or the twisting ideas of others.

Jesus is in charge, calling for the devil/evil to leave and have no power over. [The devil can’t make you do anything]

Choose, this day whom you will serve and follow God and no one else.

Practice: Get away from me.

Name sin and temptation for what it is in your life

Rely on God’s word and strength to be your starting point

Finally, Get away!! You take responsibility for your own choice and choose not to eat from the tree at the center of the garden.

 

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2 Corinthians 5.16-21 LENT: Your Jesus is Showing 20160306 RSUMC

reflect_jesusFrom now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [NRSV]

The One sentence sermon: Because of God’s work of grace in Christ makes our spirit  new, we are charged with a ministry of doing the same with the world through Christ.

Paul Case for the Church:

  1. God has been busy.
    1. God has changed the world, the rules and has changed us.
    2. The rules and boundaries have changed.
    3. We are no longer in control and no longer responsible for our salvation.
    4. Because God lived, died and conquered death, we now know God, in this new resurrection life.
    5. Everything old has passed away.
    6. Everything is being made new
  2. God’s goal is to make things whole.
    1. Reconciliation: God making our relationship whole.
    2. Why would God want to reset the relationship with us? The old ways are not working for us.
    3. What are the old ways?
      1. Choosing to Trust God with the purpose of our living.
      2. Choosing What God would want for us, because we trust God’s love and authority
      3. Choosing not because death is the alternative, rather because trusting God is
        1. Good
  3. God is working through us, just as God worked through Jesus.
    1. Ministry of Reconciliation
    2. Work as Ambassadors
    3. Being whole is God reflects our purpose,
    4. get your Jesus Shine on, show them, Chrost

 

Ambassadors for Jesus Christ. Official spokespersons and witnesses of Jesus.

  • Because
  • In Christ we are a new creation, the old passes away,
  • This is made possible by God, through Jesus, for a ministry of reconciliation.
  • We are entrusted with God’s message of reconciliation,
  • As resident representatives.
  • God appeal is make through us, when we are in Christ.

Ministry of reconciliation:

Be Reconciled, find the common ground, that leads to truce, which gives space for steps toward what is consistent with both parties and for Christians that is when we recognize that we are sinners, made new in Christ, to be witnesses to others sinful, broken, hurting folks toward the whole world accepting the work of Grace God has done through Christ for us all.

  • Be reconciled is be working toward Christ.
  • Be Ambassadors of the Journey
  • Be come the Child of God, through Christ, for the transformation of the world.
  • Key verse for being United Methodist

so what?

Applied to how we relate to sin, shine the light of Christ on our family, neighbor, communion, nation and world.. Show Christ

  • sometimes Jesus says take a sword other times put them away
  • sometimes Jesus says come to me and at the same time go and sin no more
  • sometimes Jesus rides in triumphantly and walks on water, other time he disappears in the crowd
  • sometimes Jesus says feed the hungry and  times he says eat this bread

To reflect Christ is neither conservative nor liberal

To reflect Christ is allow the new creation to thrive and the old self to let go

To reflect Christ is to be close enough to Christ, by faith/trust, that it’s Christ the world sees

Go let God make is so through Christ, Shine on!

 

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Luke 13.1-9 Lent3 Bearing Fruit Let’s Get Figgy 20160228

figs.jpg
At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ “ [NRSV]

Shootings, terror incidences, oppresses and abuses!! It feels as if each day brings terrible news of violence and tragedies. We either struggle to renew our claim to hope or add to the calluses built on the previous tsunamis of chaos and generations of apathy.

But from these witnesses of evil we look and hope for the good. We hear people ask:

  • Is the racism of the systems that cause police to unjustly do their jobs or is it the lawlessness of thug culture to blame? Which is the evil and which is the good?
  • Are we to blame drugs and alcohol, those who produce and traffic them, or those who use them for the death and mayhem associated with their abuse, or those who stand by and watch to only direct blame? Which is the evil and which is the good?
  • Are those killed as victims of holy wars made especially righteous for their martyrdom or are they only casualties of evil. Where is the good? Are we safe? Are we Saved?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Why do bad people seem to get away with anything?
  • Why do the good die young?
  • Did those faithful and innocent folks loose salvation because their deaths were tainted with the evil acts of an oppressive government? This question, like those above are put to Jesus for understanding:

A Question, An Answer. A Warning, and a Parable.

Jesus is asked a question. He gives a straightforward answer. He adds a warning and teaches with a parable.

  • Is the life of a faithful person of more value than the life of a criminal?
  • Is the life of a victim more important than the life of an oppressor?
  • Is the life of an innocent person of more worth than the existence of a thug?
  • Is the life of a politician worth less than a… well you know what I mean.

Jesus gives an answer:

Are you ready? The answer is.. No!

Not complicated, not filtered, not qualified, no need for interpretation. Just, No.

No the life of the innocent, the victim, the faithful one is no less valued to God than the life of the criminal, the oppressor, or the thug.

  • Which leads to Jesus’s warning.
  • Our salvation, value/existence are connected to our relationship with God in this life.
  • WARNING: Worry about repenting more than blaming.
  • Worry about grace instead of rules and laws

Focus on God instead of yourself or anything that leads you away from God.

Crazy Questions: This warning leads us to ask questions:

  • Are the Jews Going to Heaven?
  • Are the Muslim Lost?
  • If someone has not been baptized are they saved?

Answer is not about words and thoughts as much as it is about actions

Jesus answers with a WARNING:

  • Were they trying to live a life that leads to God?
    • Can you look at their lives and see God at work in them?
  • Were they working with the hope of finding God?
    • Were they working to assure themselves an entrance ticket or a relationship with God?
  • Was God an add-on to a host of things they did?
    • Was God the reasons they woke up live and lied down to rest?
  • Are you more worried about what you can’t control
    • or more assured with what God CAN control?

The Warning: Don’t live or die without repenting.

REPENTANCE: Turning one’s life toward God’s heart.

  • Repentance is not about the words we speak and the thoughts we think
  • Repentance is the fruit of a searching heart
  • Repentance is the evidence of our struggle toward God and overcoming evil.
  • Repentance is active, observable and gives at witness to others and encouragement to ourselves.

The Parable: Jesus uses a time of worry, fear and evil as a time for faith and fruitfulness.

The Fig Tree

It should be cut down, but it is not, because the gardener has patience and grace

The prescription is for intentional work, nutritious effort and waiting for fruit.

The Goal is fruit

  • The Process is Grace
  • The Danger is to
  • Not work
  • Not Study, Struggle and Share
  • To end up empty

The Challenge:

  • This is a day to work on the relationship
  • This is a day to study, pray, serve, forgive, love, teach, question, grow
  • This is a day to look for the presence of God bearing fruilt
  • If there is not fruit, the get to work.

BECAUSE: No fruit waists the soil, wastes the trust, wastes the grace, wastes the time.

So What?

  • The question is not about are we saved?
  • The question is God’s presence obvious in my life, thought, words, and actions?
  • The question is what am I waiting for, if not for God?
  • Are the things and thoughts that consume me, bringing God closer to me and closer to God’s people, or not?
  • If you don’t see the fruit, get to work, add some fellowship, worship, study and service and wait for God to work through God’s process.

Begin by the act of spiritual inventory:

Do I need to repent? Do I need God? Want God? Have I got it covered?

Ask your neighbor: Where do you see God at work in my life? Tell your neighbor the truth because their salvation weighs in the balance.

Or keep to yourself, mind your own business, assume the best and stay away from your enemies the best you can… that is not what Jesus said.

Jesus said, the harvest is coming, surly. Where’s fruit? (Where’s the beef? dated, ref)

—–Ramblings

-When we gather with one another at the funeral home or around the pews at times of shared grieving, we struggle for comfort and perspective and utter questions

-As each day grows closer to the November election, the shouts and rants of politicians and publicists point rear-view fingers of blame, current insults of shame, and future dreams of promise filled salvation for those on their side. Some are compelled to take sides, while others retreat into the camps of apathy and indifference.

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Good Friday Readings 2011 Jackson UMC

1. Father forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).

2. Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).

3. Woman, behold your son: behold your mother (John 19:26-27).

4. My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?, (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34).

5. I thirst (John 19:28).

6. It is finished (John 19:30).

7. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46).

Sunrise at 7am at Dauset Trails
Easter Worship 9a and 11a

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Matthew 21:1-11 “Jesus Got on His Ass” How about us? JUMC 04172011

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

The Affirmation of Jesus
The new translations make a subtle change on this emphasis of one verse. Modern translations emphasis that Jesus was sitting on people’s coats that were thrown on the back of a donkey on which Jesus road into the city of Jerusalem. The older translations simply say that Jesus sat on his ass. Modern readers are often offended or at least thrown off by hear a phrase in scripture that contains the word ass, and particularly one directly speaking of Jesus.

I suggest that modern readers/hearers need to be thrown off their own donkey so as not to miss the significance of Jesus’ entrance into the city and the hearts of the people.

1) Wisdom from the high school chemistry class: “Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.”
It is with specific intentionality that Jesus chooses a donkey, the foal of an ass to be his means of transportation.

As a matter of transparency in government spending, President Obama had new presidential limousine ordered by the secret service beginning at his inauguration. These cars must have had pentagon toilet seats because each cost $300k and they need fleet of ten or twelve. This no green hybrid fuel econo-commuter coup. But it is the type of vehicle we might expect the leader of the free world to have especially during the era of terrorist attacks. Jesus chooses a different approach, with intent.

The picture of Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem is not behind bulletproof windows and thick armor. He is not on a large bright steed adorned with emblems of gold and encrusted with gem deserving of a king. He is riding in on four wheel drive, untested first year model pickup. No HEMI engine, just basic work horse ride, clade not in steel rather in people’s coats.

2) Moab Mentality

SIDE NOTE: Have you wondered if they followed along to get their coats back at the end?
Bottom line: Jesus was coming into THE city of faith as a king, on purpose, planning to make a statement.

ANOTHER SIDE NOTE: Have you ever wondered about the crowd of followers stopping to cut down the branches off the trees in the city? Who did the tree belong to? If a parade walked down your road/street and the people started taking limbs off your trees would you mind? What would you say?
Bottom line: Jesus was coming into the city and the people give the respect and recognition of Jesus as prophet and king,

STILL ANOTHER SIDE NOTE: but why not trumpets, soldiers and colorful banners?
Bottom line: Jesus was welcomed with respect be the have-nots and masses rather than the few who have.

3) Imagine a Parade with no decorations.

No permits, no approved traffic routes, no advance warning for the merchants, school buses, or out of town travelers.

The whole city was in turmoil over Jesus being present.

This may indeed be the very heart of the Palm Sunday message.

What gets our town all stirred up into a state of turmoil?

• Storm damage.
• High School Playoffs.
• Mileage Rate increases.
• Tragic Deaths.
• Atlanta Traffic in Jackson.

But turmoil is a state or condition of extreme confusion or agitation.

What could Jesus have to do with EXTREEM confusion or
EXTREEM agitation.

It is fascinating to me that one third of the space inside a clothes washing machine is taken up with a hard and ridged piece of plastic called that agitator. It moves around stirring things up and breaking the dirt and oils loose with the detergent.

We usually work hard to keep the peace.

We don’t want our community to be confused.

We would usually rather have things stay just the way they are, broken or not, than to have MASS CONFUSION.

BUT HERE IS THE HEAT OF PALM SUNDAY>>

Jesus shows up and his very presence turns things upside down and God side up.

Matthew’s Gospel continues by telling the Jesus cleansed the temple. He turned the religious folks upside down and threw them out.

This is not a children’s Sermon Sunday… unless we are teaching our children to take on the establishment when it is complacent, controlling or self-interested.

WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH US? Today?

Look at your hands, your palms.
What is within your influence, control or responsibility?

It is there you have the greatest chance of PRAISING KING JESUS.
DO IT! DO IT NOW. DO IT ANY WAY.

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John 11:1-45 Unbind him, and let him go. Harvest: JUMC 04102011

NOTE: We look forward to Debbie Bell Sharing her own message at the 11am worship service this week. Keep her in your prayers as well. jTB

John 11:1-45
11:1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill.So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep.
Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.
For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.”

11:29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”
11:35 Jesus began to weep.
11:36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

As one of the most amazing of all the miracle stories of Jesus, the restoring of life to his friend Lazarus is the most moving for Jesus himself.

The famous, “Jesus wept” – the shortest verse of scripture, contains a powerful witness of the compassion and heart of Jesus.

There is a possibility that we as the reader of this story mis-read the reasoning of Jesus with “Himself” for the sake of the witness as too calculated. Meaning: He cried on-purpose so the faithless would have faith. When this is likely a later revision to the text in the first place, it is ultimately for faith that Jesus has raised not only his friend, but that Jesus himself is raised for us, and us with him through…faith.

We see both the humanity and the divinity of Jesus in this passage. The two fused together.. knowing with certainty and tears of grief and loss at the same time. This is where many of our friends and neighbors are living. They have the assurance of the resurrection and the promise of heaven’s welcome, but miss those who have gone before.

Hear the command that Jesus gives to the family and bystanders; “unbind him, and let him go.”

This is the heart of the observance of our worshipful practice of this Lenten season. Finding what bind us, letting it go, that we might grow closer to God.

The tradition of giving up food, drink or some activity for Lent is a practicing of letting God of the truly weighty, heavy stuff that bind us in our everyday life.

Imagine a five pound bag of sugar.. how heavy is that? Imagine ten of them. Still further imaging carrying ten, five pound bags of sugar with you where ever you go.. ( I have lost 50 pounds since charge conference this fall, not to brag as I have hit a plateau and it is taking a greater commitment to go further.)

But loosing weight is not the end, in itself. Loosing weight, for me, is increasing health, decreasing blood pressure and risk of stroke, which is increasing time and energy with family, friends and you good people. The weightier issue is being faithful to my relationships rather than to my stressful eating in the name of self preservation. That is eating to live rather than living to eat.

But the body is more than food.. it is also breathe. Jesus breathe inwardly in prayer, outwardly in command and invitation and the spirit of all life fills a body that we dead four days. Laz is revived, restored, and living again.

A side note, one that is not in the text is what is missing in this story. Had Lazarus been tormented in fire and brimstone it seems the text would have contained Lazarus’ appreciation for his return. Had Lazarus been welcomed into the arms of God and he was getting settled in his mansion, not made with hands, he would have been a bit grumpy to come back. In either case the text does to inform us. (Though it is a curiosity of mine.)

The exercise for us today is to identify what Binds our living. For it is proper for one who is not living to be bound or entombed. Is it fear? pride? greed? gluttony? lust? vanity? anger? some combinations?

Anger Management: Jack Nicolson names Adam Sandler’s trouble with anger:

Dr. Buddy Rydell: Dave, there are two kinds of angry people in this world: explosive and implosive. Explosive, which is the most common, is the type of individual you see screaming at a grocery store cashier for not taking his coupon. Implosive, the least common, is the cashier at the store who remains quiet at his job day after day until he then finally loses it and goes after everyone in the store. You’re the cashier.

Dave Buznik: No, no, no. I’m the guy in the frozen food section dialling 911.

Anger about what some one did or what some one didn’t do or didn’t say: How do you deal with anger. It troubles me when couples say, we never fight… someone is not being honest and open with their anger.  (That was the movie’s message)

But it is clear that improperly expressed or avoided anger binds relationships. Jesus comes to unbind us.

Back to the real question: what binds you. Are you the only person in the world or even this room who deals with being bound? Are the things in  your life more binding than the things the bind me? I think not.

SO WHAT are we to do? Here is where the passage comes together. Everyone in the story is bound up in some fashion: Grief, Doubt, Fear, Anger, etc. Jesus is moved

(1) Hears our prayers.. come help us now.

(2) meets us where WE are… Jesus shows up at their points of need.

(3) model following God’s timing rather than our own timing… not always on our schedule, but always on Gods.

(4)  Jesus turns to God’s strength and shares the power of the Spirit… breath on each other blessing, not curse.

What is the best way to address anger? blame? sarcasm? or personal attack? None of the above… that ties the knots tighter.

Speak words the loosen the grip, the roll back the stone, that make room for life.

Let him go. Let him live. Let us Go.. Let us Live.

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John 9.1-41 (vs.14-30) “An Astonishing Thing” JUMC 04032011

9:1 As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.” The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out. Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.  -NRSV

Wow, its a long passage so let’s look at the heart of the message for us today:  Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.”

Jesus reveals his work and mission through this great healing story. I see said the blind man. I don’t understand said his parents, the teachers, and leaders.. Jesus ask us are we blind?

Jesus contrasts the astonishing thing of a man born without sight receiving sight with people doubting and becoming divided over this extravagant act of wholeness.

Have you ever known someone to miss the forest for the trees? Don’t throw your pearls before swine. Waste not, want not. Practical and logical responses get thrown out the window, with the baby and bath water. When looking at the obvious thing, and the case of this text, it is literal ‘seeing’ that is to be understood and seen clearly.

We belittle the miraculous acts of God when explain them away by some other force or explanation. When some one heals someone who is ill we point to medicine and even chance. Who created the elements that made the medicin and who formed the mind and body of the ones who discovered, formulated, prescribed, and administered the medicine in the first place?

Rather than getting hung up in a debate about what is and is not a miracle, the question is: Can you see, hear, experience, find God at work in the world?

In a world filled with war, famine, disease, tsunami, earthquake, poverty, hunger, fallen economies and political unrest around the globe… can you see God’s hand at work in any way?

And when we do find the examples, even if it is in the life of one person… will we be suspicious, blame-seekers, and grump gossip groupies looking for the flaws? Or will we prize that one flower in the mud as the gift and treasure that it is?

Look at this story:  the parents of the blind man, when asked how did their son gain sight, said, we don’t know, ask him.

On one hand, it could be the truth. they didn’t know. But the knife in the heart, is that they don’t believe their child. The are not willing to stand behind his story and witness.  The man, now with sight, has joy to share and can’t share it with his family. (What’s up with that?)

He wants to share it with his faith community and the they are more concerned with blame than with praise.

The man, now with sight, has joy to share and can’t share it with his faith family nor his community. (What’s up with that?)

He is able to share this joy with Jesus.  Do you see? he says, YES, and worships Jesus.

That is what everyone should have been doing in response. but some were blinded by the light…

SO WHAT?

How do we make certain we are in the camp with the seeing believers?

1) keep looking and listening and sharing where the Good News of God at work is found and shared.

2) Keep getting your spiritual eyes checked. read the chart, the Word, ask for study and examination: accountability

3) Speak up with others share doubt and seek blame over worship and faith.

4) Ask Jesus, “Am I looking? Am I seeing? What am I doing about what I have seen?

Do the astonishing thing.. believe, give witness and welcome the Light of the world, Jesus Christ.

The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out. Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.”

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