Archive for category Marriage
Homecoming, by another way Oak Grove 2018
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. [NRSV]
I have such wonderful memories of racing out from Emerson to Euharlee and trying to beat the long coal train heading to-and-from the Bowen. It is so good to be back. I have been here on a cold and snowing morning when it was only two, and no more and we had Good Preaching. So I hope that is the case today. I am proud to see the growth of the ministries and good work at Oak Grove and am honored to be with you today.
I began to think back about the years I was pastor, student and neighbor. The years would have been between 1985 and 1989. Some remarkable things happened while we were in ministry together:
• The infamous “New Coke” was released, The Titanic found, The first report of Mad Cow disease
• and Madonna was holding the place Taylor Swift holds today. Michael Jackson released his “Bad” album and MTV actually played music videos.
• The Kroger in Cartersville and Town Center Mall opened. The news of the Atlanta Olympics was
• The movies out during that time included: Back to the Future, Top Gun and Dirty Dancing
• Some notable songs were: Walk like an Egyptian, The theme from Phantom of the Opera, and We are the World.
• Imagine back to the time of the start of the Internet, the first Game Boy and Nintendo, The first intel processor and MS Office and Windows debuted.
• We were witnesses of Haley’s comet, the Galileo mission to Jupiter and removal of the Berlin Wall with Mr Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan.
• People were watching: “The Cosby Show”, “Cheers”, “Hill Street Blues”, Johnny Carson, Magnum PI and the start of the Simpsons.
We are not the same people today. The world has changed and is changing in a whirlwind of transformation. As our denomination looks ahead to the Winter of 2019 we know that more change is to be expected.
As important it is to look back and remember from where we have come, it is the witness of the magi that call us to look to the present and prepare for the future.
I have always found it remarkable that the Bible contains the story of people of faith who look for God in the movement of the starts, in a distant country with a different culture and perspectives and yet God is self-revealing in all creation.
I had a conversation with young man in his mid-twenties who was convinced that there was no need for God. The wonders and marvels of creation were but the finely tuned change of random variables that brought him more peace and “common sense” to his perspective. I asked him from where did the forces of gravity, fission, fusion, physics, mathematic and love evolve. He uncomfortably had no clear answer except to say they were only explained as observations that followed rather than formed the universe. He left the conversation and went home the same person. I hope that some of the conversation helped change his fears and desire to control rather than to follow and trust.
We live in a divided culture that is more segregated than at any moment in our lifetimes. The struggles leading through Civil Rights Era and the Civil War are not our finest moments. Now more than ever are we needing to make a life-giving, hope-sharing, love-trusting impact on the world around us.
When I was at Oak Grove I was married to Sarah Jane, who search the Cassville Church for a couple of the years. We enjoyed covered dish dinners, singings, and being with you in worship and in your homes. That is no longer the relationship that shapes my life. She loved the idea of being married much more than being married to me. I didn’t share that at the time, as I was immature and unwilling to share what it mean to fully share what it means to be a community of faith. I finally learned that 1) clergy are people who struggle with marriage too, 2) I’d be happier unmarried or married for a few years than to be miserable for 50 pretending a marriage. 3) I have learned that God’s path for us is only as straight and narrow as our willingness to trust. But grace goes before, with and behind us.
Now I have three children: Susanna at Stanford, Luke at 1st Leu in the AF, and Frances a sophomore studying AP Chinese and my wife Wendy is beginning her second career in Insurance. (If you ever seen the Hot-ones sign, a Hardees star, a Georgia Tourism commercial or a magazine in a plastic bag you have seen her work.) The past ten years we have cared for her parents in our home, her mom having Dementia and her father having Kidney failure, was not the road that we had planned, but God has carried us through a different way that blessed and shaped us profoundly.
Why the Wise-men passage on Home Coming?
During my years at Emerson and Oak Grove, Singer, James Taylor, released a song by David Bailey called, Home By Another Way. David Bailey was the son of a Presbyterian minister. As a fellow preacher’s kid the song resonated with me: Here was a famous hippy trippy ballad rocker singing about a bible verse: Not the paths that typically cross. Listen to the lyrics of his song:
Those magic men the Magi, Some people call them wise, Or Oriental, even kings, Well anyway, those guys
They visited with Jesus, They sure enjoyed their stay, Then warned in a dream of King Herod’s scheme
They went home by another way
Steer clear of royal welcomes, Avoid a big to-do, A king who would slaughter the innocents, Will not cut a deal for you, He really, really wants those presents, He’ll comb your camel’s fur
Until his boys announce they’ve found trace amounts, Of your frankincense, gold and myrrh
Time to go home by another way
Home is where they want you now, You can more or less assume that you’ll be welcome in the end
Mustn’t let King Herod haunt you so, Or fantasize his features when you’re looking at a friend
Well it pleasures me to be here, And to sing this song tonight, They tell me that life is a miracle, And I figured that they’re right, But Herod’s always out there, He’s got our cards on file
It’s a lead pipe cinch, if we give an inch, Old Herod likes to take a mile
It’s best to go home by another way
Home by another way
What does it mean to Go Home, by another way?
To God home is hopefully a place of security, grounding and belonging.
Hear the Good News: God’s home, “Oikos”, is with us! With us!
It starts in a garden, it travels in a wilderness, it crosses paths in the crucifixion, it opens through an empty tomb, it blow as the wind around us, and surrounds us.
We are not who were once were:
In Christ we are those who make straight the paths for others
In grasp of the Holy Spirit we are those who open hearts and conversations
In the love of God we are those who God is creating new life and ways of living.
I regret that I must leave without a longer visit but I am leading a class for the district to build our skills in sharing Difficult Conversations as churches and church folks. As I look back on the Roads and Paths that God has lead, carried, and immersed me, I see at:
• Oak Grove taught me that God can take a mustard seed an make something grand and purposeful beyond our dreams.
• Grant Park I learned from one of the most diverse congregations in the Southeast what it means to share love
• In some other congregations I learned what looks like when we live in fear, pride, greed and worship of self.
• At Candler and Gammon I learned how to prepare for God to use me in changing ministry conditions.
• At Rock Spring I am ready to see how God will lead us into being a relevant part of the body of Christ in the 21st century.
The message I have received from much prayer, much prayer, much study, much conversation, much reflection, writing and reading is this:
1. Change is to be assuredly expected. (It is ok to embrace change, WHEN God leads us.)
2. What will be has not yet been revealed.
3. But when it is revealed: Count on seeing Jesus or not seeing at all.
• Therefore it is all important to make our home in God who does not change.
• Therefore it is essential that we find our way through what has been revealed.
• Therefore it is our purpose, passion and path to stick with Jesus, not for our sake but for Christ.
God Lord, we give thanks for these and all other blessing, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
“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.
“It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be “Yes, Yes’ or “No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one. [NRSV]
Core Values of One Made New in Christ
Core Value Number 1 (Murder with Words)
How you communicate affects your relationships and your identity.
Sticks and Stones AND words can kill someone’s spirit, reputation and ability to be included into the community.
Word’s spoken in anger carry poisoned daggers that kill one’s spirit, identity, reputation and relationship to the community.
- “Well I only thought it, I didn’t do anything wrong”
- “What’s in my own head doesn’t hurt anyone.”
- “I was so angry at what I saw on FB I had to teach them a lesson, I didn’t kill anyone.”
Core Value Number 2 (Satisfying Self in a Covenant Relationship)
How we respect one another, affects both them and us.
Sexual sins occur first in the heart and head. Stop the sin there to avoid going further to lessen the effect on others. But best of all see that sin occurs before the action.
- Don’t be looking
- Don’t just love the one you are with
- Don’t invalidate the person by objectifying the person and justifying a behavior that is harmful to God, self AND the other person.
Our society has so twisted the self-satisfaction, self-pleasing and self-affirming our sexual selves has become paramount in movies, songs, and laws and even in the church.
Core Value Number 3 (Don’t Look at the Line, much less cross it)
Marriage is the basis for integrity and of the family unity.
Marriage is a covenant with God, while you can’t change your spouse you can add to their relationship with God or you can pull them away from God by your actions of both fidelity and by infidelity. Everything we do affects our spouse. Don’t get into a marriage covenant if you are not holding God the whole time because marriage is not always easy nor simple.
Core Value Number 4 (Integrity Speaks truth in love)
Speaking as a person of integrity.
Speak the truth.
Don’t dodge the difficult conversations, don’t blame anyone or anything. Speak with respect, certainly don’t add God’s name to your ideas, thoughts or excuses. The practice of taking an oath or swearing our testimony assumes that most of the time we are untruthful except on these special circumstances.
- “Don’t lie to me, we are in church.” But if we weren’t at church it might be alright to bend the truth, is the implied false assumption.
- “I’m not under oath” I don’t have to be completely truthful with you because we are not in court. The rules are flexible to benefit me, especially when I might be in the wrong.
- I said, “Yes, your honor, I believe I completely certain that No, I have no recollection of having said what you thought I said or did. That is my honest testimony”
Jesus said: The ten commandments were easy, I’m stepping up the game.
How will we ever measure up? Don’t be Discouraged:
Jesus model’s some real life issues that we twist:
Jesus said: you will need to out behavior the most devout religious leaders. Jesus said this knowing we also say/think things like:
- I want to be right
- Its what they do in the movies/tv, in songs, etc.
- I want there to be an absence of conflict, so it’s ok to keep quiet even if it is not true
- I want to be served and satisfied
- I want to be able to say/do whatever gets me out of this mess in the name of grace and love
- I don’t want accountability; I ask you to continue trusting me in grace.
- It’s my turn
The Remedy starts small:
Jesus begins with the small stuff.
- Start with how you treat the people that are around you every day.
- Be a truthful person of integrity
- Speak with strength, but know your words matter, speak truthfully.
- Speak with integrity
- Be one who respects boundaries
- Don’t objectify people
- Don’t forget marriage is about covenant and not being served
- If you are looking away from God, spouse or good, you are looking at what is evil, broken even in the name caring for ourselves.
- Speak with respect, boundaries, and integrity and you will be trusted, blessed and respected.
Don’t let your words kill someone’s spirit
Don’t objectify people in the name of pleasing yourself
Don’t believe you can buy your way out of sin
Don’t let your body kill your spirit.
Don’t think you are caring for your spirit by pleasing your body
Don’t believe your actions only harm yourself.
Don’t look for excuses, look for Christ.
Community Support: The Role of the Church
It is quick and easy for us to judge, blame and segregate ourselves in the name of protection or ideology.
- Help those who are blaming find Christ
- Help those who are destroying marriage to refocus on Christ/Covenant
- Help those who focus on pleasing themselves to see they sin and model loving them.
- Model speaking the truth instead of swimming in the ocean of blame, regret, fear, etc.
We are people of the New Life in Christ, Protect the heart of God within you and do not trade it for the world.
Book to the Hebrews – A Summary
There for Chapter 13 — The How-To’s of a Life of Grace
Since Jesus is with us,
Posted by myoikos in #2016, #jesus, #loveneverwins, #marriage, #sacrifice, #umc, 5 Practices, Christmas, Extravagant Generosity, Faith, Forgiveness, Generosity, God, holiday, Holy Spirit, Intentional Spiritual Growth, Love, Marriage, Passionate Worship, Prophets, Putting God First, Radical Hospitality, Relationship, Risk Taking Mission and Service, Sacrifice, Service, Sin, Spiritual, Spiritual Growth, Truth, Wisdom, Witness on January 30, 2016
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. [NRSV]
Do I love that dress?
In a world, where we love mashed potatoes, love our sports teams and love or hate the weather, it is important to spend a moment being clear about love.
This past Christmas Eve, I ran a few errands and saw three stores putting out Valentine season products on the shelf. At first, I was frustrated that we had not officially started Christmas and retailers had moved to the next money grab. But if we stop and think what Christmas is about, God loving us so much that our heavenly father sends his only child to bridge the gap of love that we cannot build nor complete. Maybe a giant heart-shaped box of delicious treasures is better Christmas gift.
Love: Nothing Gained
ELOQUENT SPEECH: Genuine Love needs no response. That’s hard.
- If I speak in the tongues of mortals and angels,
- but do not have love,
- I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
- but do not have love,
CHARISMATIC VISION: Genuine Love sees through a show.
- If I have prophetic powers,
- but do not have love,
- I am nothing.
- but do not have love,
INSIGHTFUL COMPREHENSION: Genuine Love is not calculated.
- If I understand all mysteries
- but do not have love,
- I am nothing.
- but do not have love,
MULTIPLE DEGREES IN MULTIPLE DISCIPLINES: Genuine Love has nothing to prove.
- If I had all knowledge,
- but do not have love,
- I am nothing.
- but do not have love,
UNWAVERING TRUST and BELIEF: Genuine Love is the core of faith.
- If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
- but do not have love,
- I am nothing.
- but do not have love,
EXTRAVAGANT SELFLESSNESS: Genuine Love is Forgetful of the score.
- If I give away all my possessions,
- but do not have love,
- I gain nothing.
- but do not have love,
SACRIFICIAL OFFERING: Genuine Love cannot be faked.
- If I hand over my body so that I may boast,
- but do not have love,
- I gain nothing.
- but do not have love,
IF, THEN STATEMENTS
- Conditional statements about unconditional, foundational core of relationships.
- SuperMan/SuperWoman are meaningless without love. Right Action, Wrong Purpose
- Love is God’s meaning, purpose, and energy, what we have to gain. Love is God’s power plant
- BOTTOM LINE: Without Love all in life is meaningless. Scientific Method can never love. Science is accurate in measuring how, but not why. Love is why. The universe is not so big to make us feel special; it is to show how incredible God is.
The Object of Love NOT loves itself.
LOVE is sacrificial, selfless, extravagant, unwavering, trusting, knowing, insightful, visionary, and charismatic, but the reverse does not necessarily describe love.
The test if Love is love or something else: Does my love stop if Love is not returned?
- You can take one for the team and not love the team at all.
- You can act selflessly, seeking approval for your random act of kindness.
- Your extravagance can become enabling.
- You can be “committed” and support something evil
- You can trust wealth, fame, opinion polls or deeply held principles, but these are based on us, and we inconsistent, fragile and often wrong.
- You can know many facts but not know how to use information
- You can misguide judgement selfishly
- Your visionary work can be selfishly motivated
- Your charisma or charm can fool people
- The Object of God’s Love is you. Hear the Good News..
- God’s love is not if, then. God’s love is. God may not like our behavior,
- God forever loves us.
IS / IS NOT
- Love is patient; tolerant of us and intolerant of our manipulations
- Love is kind; when is the last time we were snippy, rude or down right mean
- love is not envious; I want vs. God wants
- love is not boastful I’m right, you are wrong
- love is not arrogant I know better than you
- Love is not rude. Thoughtless or intentionally vindictive
- Love is not insistent My way or no way.
- Love is not irritable How can I get attention
- love is not resentful How come I’m not getting attention
- love cannot rejoice in wrongdoing, I told you so
- love rejoices in the truth. Admit I am wrong, especially when they are wrong too.
- (sometimes being truthful is not popular or pleasing)
- Love endure and hold up through all things, vs. I will give you one more chance, or no more chances
- Love believes through all things; You crossed my line, your out.
- Love remains hopeful through all things, We can’t do it, That’s impossible.
- Love lasts longer than anything else. I give up
If we are honest, our conversations and actions reveal, while we know what loving is, we are not always loving when it get self-less.
- Love never ends.
- Prophecies end
- language ends
- knowledge ends
- wealth ends
- Love never ends.
The Best is Yet to Come
For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.
We learn to love as children, and it is to mature and grow.
- Speaking.. saying I love you.
- Thinking— Thinking about
- Reasoning Justifying Love
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.
- Adult love, mature love, doesn’t have, to say it. We are not there yet..
- Adult love, doesn’t have to plan it and think it through, it is automatic. We calculate..
- Adult love, doesn’t have to have everything neat. We try to fix, cover up or manage love.
- When we move toward God’s love, we loose ourselves and more fully enter the heart of God.
For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Love is a work in progress.. try letting your guard down and God through.
King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.”
And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her.
Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb. [NRSV]
John the Baptizer
John the Baptizer is best known for pronouncing the arrival of Jesus as the Message and baptizing Jesus in the Jordon river. As a prophet, he is not only preaching to the crowds of ordinary folks. He is also the voice holding the leaders accountable. People throughout the region respected John; some thought he might be the embodiment of the prophet, Elijah, promised from generations ago.
The role of a prophet is to be a messenger reminding people of the things they should already know. Occasionally a prophet will have an apocalyptic message, but it general always followed with, a warning to repent and return to being faithful for God. John the Baptizer is no different.
His message to the king was the same as it was to the people. Repent. Namely John was called out Herod for inappropriate marriage. He married his brother’s wife.
The Herod Family: The Royals, Kardashians and Jerry Springer Meet Billy Graham
Herod’s mother was Jewish, therefore Herod was ½ and Jewish by technicality. He married Herodias after they both divorces their spouses. Herodias, grand-daughter of Alexander the Great, married Phillip who happened to be her uncle. Herodias used her daughter, Salome, to entice and entrap Herod to have John the Baptizer executed for calling the family’s sinful behavior out.
Happy Birthday Dear Herod
The scene is a birthday party: Herod’s birthday party. Herodias uses he brother’s daughter to dance provocatively for her uncle/step-father. Herod is pleased so much that he offers half his kingdom to the child. Salome goes to ask her mother how to best cash-in on the oath of an offer. A pony? A chest of jewels? Her own palace? No, mom has her ask for the head of John the Baptizer. ??Happy birthday to you…Oh dear how dreadful.
So let’s get to the lesson: John the Baptizer calls out the twisted, brokenness on which Herod and Herodias family and relationship are held together. Treachery, murder, divorce, inappropriate re-marriage and abuse of children.
1. No one disputes that John is wrong.
2. Even Herodias knows John is right and holy, she simply does not like what she hears.
3. For calling out the family’s sin, Herodias holds a grudge against John the Baptizer, no forgiveness
4. Herod agrees by his silence and complicit behavior.
5. Herod give his word and will not change his word even when it conflicts with God’s word, (though shall not kill for one.)
6. Herod also listened to John the Baptizer and liked what he heard about repentance, but Herod didn’t hear this for himself and apply the teaching to his own life.
Prophets are ordinary folks who: REMIND people and leaders to be FAITHFUL to God
Being a prophet is risky business.
The People might turn on you, and not listen and follow someone they like better.
The Leader might have you killed.
Question: So who would ever want to be a prophet?
I suggest that God calls each of use to be prophets, at different times. As we study and grow in understanding of God’s laws, guides, grace, love and power in our own lives. When I am selfish, brutish and unforgiving, I experience life without God’s love, power and grace.
We can see the same in others. Because we know the power of God’s word, love and grace we are also entrusted with sharing with other where we see sin, as a warning, not a judge.
- If someone is walking too close to the street from the sidewalk, we say, move to the center before you get hit by that truck.
- If someone is speeding down the highway, we say, hey slow down your might get a ticket and you might kill us if someone stops suddenly in front of us.
- If someone is choose a circular pattern of destructive behavior, habitual abuse, addictions, uncontrolled anger, etc. we say, you need to get some help, you need to see a doctor, you need a counselor, you need to stop and break the cycle. There is better way; you have another choice. God loves you more than you love you. Don’t ever forget it.
When we point out sin with the purpose of sharing a way of repentance, we are not judging, we are affirming that sin power, real and destructive in our lives. We have a way out of sin, Jesus Christ.
We are all guilty of sin. We all have different ways that we put our word, ideas, will and value ahead of God’s. John the Baptizer models a way to get back to God. He is not judging, he his holding up a mirror to see the truth..
We are the mirror people. Why don’t we believe were are all prophets? Because it’s dangerous.
We want hazard pay at best. Ask Jesus. He’s got you covered. Now get out there and call for repentance. They world is going on a hand basket. And Gos is calling us to call out sin, offer repentance and bring people back to God.
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” [NRSV]
The power of process
Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness is very METHODICAL. (He’d make a good Methodist)
Too often I hear the story of people who get upset with the church or church people and especially the preacher/pastor. On one hand, not one of us is closer to God nor is anyone of us loved more than the other. We all make mistakes. We have all offended and rejected people, intentionally and unintentionally. On the other hand Jesus is telling Matthew and the other disciples persistence in dealing with conflict.
First confront the person one-to-one, (Don’t talk about, gossip, imply to those who might say something.) Take responsibility for your part of the conversation.
Second, if that does not work, take witnesses. (This is its own category, we will discuss in a moment)
Third, take the whole matter to the community. The need of the individual is relevant to the larger community.
Most folks give up before starting the process. We talk to everyone, except those directly involved and want someone else to confront. The next time conflict arrises. Try talking one-on-one, express your experience and expectation. Give the other person or party the opportunity to respond. If they don’t confront and share the same, take a witness or two. If the few of you can’t resolve it continue to expand the pool of witnesses and perspectives.
The power of a witness
A Witness may not be someone who saw or heard the events in question, but can hear and see the follow-up conversation. Think of the role of a counselor or a referee. Someone who can help us speak the truth, speak our hearts and confront with word rather than rage or worse.
This model of witness is our general role as Christian disciples. We are not witnesses to the events of the first century Jesus, but we ARE witnesses to the Word and Work of Jesus and the church in the 21st century.
The power of binding
In wedding we often refer to a couple “tying the knot.” This is symbolically seen in the double fisherman’s knot. For fly fishing it works well to join a leader line to the main line. The more loops on each knot makes the end resulting knot when tightened together one of the strongest of all knots, because of the equality of pressure.
How we respond as a faith community and church family tell our salvation story. If people see and hear us upset over money, property, shared space in the building, and not see our feeding the hungry, embracing the oppressed and being friends with the sinners then we fail the opportunity entrusted to us. Which in some cases lasts for generations.
“Granddaddy said those church folks are cheats and liars” that’s why we don’t go to that church. Half of our work in witnesses is usually untying knots we didn’t tie and never knew were their.
Homework: show someone how to tie a knot, a shoelace, a neck tie, a hair bow, a fishing knot and talk with them about what knots need to be kneaded out, loosen and untied to free up people for the opportunity of grace and love.
Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. [NRSV]
Two favorite words of many folks who sit in pews on Sunday mornings: “In Closing” This is context of Paul final letter to the church at Corinth.
In Paul’s farewell closing, to a congregation he had shared joys and sorrow as well as challenges and great strides, he makes a final request.
- Put things in order
- Remember the Example and Teaching
- Find common ground
- Live in peace
- Greet one another with a holy kiss.
Then he gives a final blessing: The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Communion with the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Knowing we remember the last thing and the first thing but forget things in the middle of the list, Think intentionally about Paul’s list:
Put things in God’s order.
Value What we have learned.
Let go of pride and control.
Value yourself and your part, but never out of balance with the Common Good.
Make Peace and live in it.
Seal it with a kiss and remind each other with a kiss every time to meet.
One of the good things about a move is that it forces you to put things in order. If there was a box I had not opened in four years I threw it away. There was only one of those this time.
Making a transition of home and work and relationships, banking, doctors, changing addresses, automatic billings, building new trusts, friendship and partnerships helps you grow. Can you image if we did things the opposite way, every several years, the preachers stayed at the churches and the members went to different churches and communities, not of their choice and not of their timing. I think it might true help bring some order and balance to our appointive system.
Get things in order, not for the sake of order, but for Moving Ahead..
Following My Teaching
The greatest compliment is to use what a teacher has taught you. Or better yet, to build up how a teacher has inspired you to become more than you were before. Paul pleads: Don’t forgot what I taught you.
Value Common Ground and you will find Peace for yourself and between each other (He is talking to the church and not the world at this point.) Can you believe there would every be fighting or division or evil or ill-will in the church? (Sarcasm for the Wit-challenged debators)
It is equally a vice and flaw for the church then as it is now, to think the church is ours. At my first church there was another church in the community that drew many members from every church in the county. It was known as “Rev Danny May’s Church.” Somewhere it changed from being known as the body of Christ, and became known as the empire of Danny May. Let’s not pick on Danny. Let’s just remember the church is not ours and it does not exist to serve us.
Make Peace with Each other and Expect God to Show up when we seek God’s will and peace.
Finally… Three points later, the Preacher’s preacher has a final call for action:
Every time you greet one another, seal the relationship with a kiss,
What is a kiss? A kiss can have many different meanings. Paul is calling for a sign of love. If you just can’t stand the thought of sharing germs find another way to show that your CHURCH relationship is one based in love. Paul is not calling for a liturgical kiss, but something with power and meaning. Imaging hearing the preacher say, “You may kiss the bride” and groom just gives the bride a little peck on the top of the hand… we’d be worried the marriage was on the rocks. If you started kissing everyone in line a Ingles or Walmart someone would call the cops. Somewhere in the middle ground is a sign of genuine pledge of love that we begin and end our conversations… Seal the relationship with signs of love.
Jesus, Father and Holy Spirit,
May All of God be in All we Do. Amen.
(The Father’s Day model signs of God in grace, love and community.) Not because you have to because you can, not because you are expected to, but because you want to, Not because you need, rather because you are needed.)
So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 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.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’ Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ They left the city and were on their way to him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples said to one another, ‘Surely no one has brought him something to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest”? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.” I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.’ Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.’
Combating Daily Dehydration
Spiritual thirst is daily
Thirst is satisfied with eternal water
It’s not a one sip for life and your inoculated
In the habits of daily bread, needs and chores come the invitation to begin a regiment of spiritual drinking
The Woman says:
I want water I don’t have to work to receive. Not realistic. Invitation is to start drinking
The Woman Sees more than the water and work:
The leap of faith is made with Jesus reveals the truth about her life and relationships.
The Shift comes in being known and being loved.
Jesus speaks the truth and judges with love and grace, this is the transforming power of the Gospel.
The woman stops talking about her work and starts telling about Gods work in her life.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” 19 So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.” 24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed. [NRSV]
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become on flesh.
The covenant of marriage has its foundation in the actions of creation.
In the retelling of the creation story is the formation of the marriage relationship. As for context, it is important that we see that God is the author of marriage. At its formation it is instituted by God.
Marriage is about mutual helping. It is sharing our core, our bodies, and our lives as a covenant of relationship.
1. God is author of marriage, not you or me. Not government nor Brides by Lori.
Marriage is not natural. It is spiritual.
Some might misunderstand this statement and think it is a joke about fidelity or trivial jab at commitment. But if marriage were the product of nature then cows, bears and manatee would get married.
It is rare but there are indeed some pidgins that mate with one partner for life. But mating is not the only, and not even the first purpose of marriage
The covenant of marriage establishes a relationship of mutual help. This is the need that marriage fulfills. The relationship we honor today is built upon celebration the intent of helping one another.
Our take away is that God intended marriage to be a sign of God’s work. And a witness of encouragement and support.
Marriage is a creative process
God works, from the start, to provide a relationship of helping, support and companionship
The teaching about marriage relationship is in context of creation.. We need more than our self , we need some help..
Marriage is about leaving and joining, letting go and holding on.
And then we get to the good part. Leaving: The relationship of marriage is the creation of a new family and requires letting go and than grabbing hold of the new creation.
At a cellular level and at an atomic level, God’s creative order reflects letting go of atoms which react with other compounds to create something new that is totally different from the individual parts on their own.
As important as marriage is in creation, I invite you to spin ahead a few eons to Jesus. His parents, engaged but not married find themselves with child. A child who is the ultimate reflection of God’s love and help. A child who becomes an adult but never marries.
Marriage is not required, but if we enter into it, it is not a business contract, it is a covenant; it is a promise that God is present in holding together. God is there to help, heal, encourage, renew and bless.
We celebrate marriage today.
We honor and bless the covenant of marriage. Out of which come folks like us. We recognize that not every marriage is successful. Even with God’s presence and connection, we can break the bonds. God does not force love upon us. Grace always wins out.
As men and women, we are created for one another. We can find help, support, encouragement and love from our partner and spouse. Some time we find help we don’t want. That might be God speaking to us.
Some times we don’t find the support we hoped for. Some time marriage partners undermine the partnership and the relationship becomes divisive. God gives us room to mess up. That distance gives space for a relationship that is genuine and real and grace-filled, love.
We honor those who entered into convenient that resulted in us being here today!
We honor those who enter into marriage and are faithful
We acknowledge that some marriage relationship become so broken that grace is stretched beyond recognition. We give praise that even in brokenness God can restore us as individuals.
We honor that while marriage is a blessing it is not required to be a whole person as witnessed in Jesus.
We ask God’s bless on all who marry to make that union strong, fruitful and filled with God grace and love.
We offer a witness to one another and to our community through our radical hospitality, that Christain marriage is alive and well.
God’s is with us in this journey of life and marriage is power witness of God’s love, present to help us.
<Renewal of vows and acknowledgment of grief and brokenness>