Archive for category Prophets

Matthew 17:1-9 Can You Keep a Secret?

Church of the Transfiguration

Mt Tabor, Church of the Transfiguration.

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”[NRSV]
  1. A Strange Order to Keep Quiet

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

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

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

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

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

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1 Corinthians 1:10-18 Divided? Power in the Cross

Wooden cross hanging on antique teal blue wallNow I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. [NRSV]

The World is divided

Politics, Religions, Football Teams and Left Twix or Right Twix. Have you tried having a meaningful conversation about the hot topics of the day?

  1. You either talk to no one and TRY to avoid the conversation and grow cynical and isolated?
  2. You surround yourself with like minded people for comfort and protection.
  3. We dare begin the conversation because we think we can change someone’s mind and end up fueling fires we didn’t intend to start or
  4. We love starting arguments because we enjoy bullying, shaming or agitating people.

I suggest we need to show the world an alternative to the division. Hear Paul’s challenge and calling to do just that:

Paul writes at the opening of his letter.

  • His first letter,
  • his first matter,
  • his most important point is about agreement and division.

He urges us to think about how we define ourselves.

  • I’m one of Chloe’s people
  • I belong to Apollos,
  • I belong to Cephas
  • I belong to Paul
  • I belong to the original member core
  • I belong to the newbies
  • I belong to this Preacher or that minister
  • Well, I belong to Christ, with a self-righteous tone of judgment.

Paul’s Letter begins with a Super Nanny Interruption.

You know the Super Nanny, that British nanny that sets up cameras throughout a frustrated parent-child home and observes and then lays down the new laws to correct the dysfunctional and divided family.

Paul’s Letter begins laying the hammer down on what divides us.

  • I will tell you what divides us?
  • It is not Christ that divides us,
  • WE divide ourselves

We are being called to take responsibility for what divides us.

  • It’s not social media
  • It’s not tv and politicians
  • It’s not elections and conversations
  • It is what is cooking in our own hearts, mind and souls.

Paul’s call is #1, first step

  • Stop with the groupings.
  • Stop with the interest groups.
  • Stop with the privileged class, stop being in the victim group.

#2, Second Step: Remember the Goal,

  1. Agreement
  2. Same Mindedness
  3. Same Purpose

As an aside, one of the things I love about this passage is Paul’s (wasteful misuse of paper in writing his rambling thoughts about who he did or did not baptize in the middle of a power challenge and stern instruction.)

Number #3, Step three

Personal Question of Faith and Self-Reflection

What does the cross of Jesus Christ actually mean to you and your life?

We are studying the Apostle’s Creed as a historic listing of points about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the church. But there is a core question that is at the heart of any statement of beliefs:

What does the cross of Jesus Christ personally mean to you and your life?

When we have come clinging to the power of the death and resurrection as our only hope and salvation, then we have a place to reflect on our differences.

Facebook proves verse 18 to be true. “The cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but a power to those being saved.”

When we start talking to another person, we might heart lovely words about Jesus, but sometimes the words are a

  • noisy gong,
  • empty platitudes,
  • self-righteous memes, or
  • “the correct answers, without listening to the questions.”

Let’s be clear about step #3:

  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus died for all your mistakes, sins and failures?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Died for your times of pride and arrogance?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Offers himself in your place in judgment?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Promises to stand with you in the face of fear?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Promises to stand with you in the fiery furnace?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Gives your strength in the face of persecution when you are trying to be faithful to his example?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Encourage and empower you to see the best in others?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Divides us into groups, camps, parties, etc.?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Calls us to bully and shame one another as long as in his name?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Wants us to continue sinning and testing?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Wants us to act nice when we are together, but ponder evil in our hearts?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus excuses us from avoiding evil and confrontation because we are uncomfortable?
  • What power does the cross of Jesus give your daily life?

If you don’t have an answer, then we have found our place to start.

We will not find agreement, one mind, one purpose until we find the POWER of the cross.

Paul calls on Chloe’s people, people of Apollos, Cephas, Paul, Rock Spring, Peavine, D.C., Chattanooga, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, and every nation and tribe.

God offers us the power of true hope, complete salvation, and confidence to see a way out when we have closed our hearts, our minds, and doors.

If you are ready to claim the power of Jesus has for you, for our church, for our country, for a world hurting and divided. We let go of control and commit ourselves newly or renewed, Take my Life and let it be filled your power, your word, your love, your truth,

Your hope, Your Peace

And Jesus leads the way from there.

Paul’s call here is for the faithful, the church, not the unbeliever. His task is to make sure the GOSPEL has a POWERFUL hold on our hearts.

Ask your neighbor: Do you know the Power of Jesus Christ

  • IF they say yes, say praise the Lord
  • If that say no or I’m not sure, say, let’s talk
  • If they don’t say anything, then say, Today’s the day to “get of the pot/fence” and live in Christ.
  • When you hear division: Call on Christ to heal, protect and bring solutions.
  • When you see chasms of thought: Think what does the Cross compel me to do or say.
  • When you experience a brother or sister remaining quiet and not backing you up, ask them if they want to know more about Jesus or are in their silence are they choosing someone/thing other than Christ. Now is when the world needs the cross.

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

  • HeavenBeacons

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

 

A Better Country

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

A Better Country

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

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

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

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

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

New Testament Case

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

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

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

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

Call to make disciples:

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

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

 

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

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

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

Sending a famine instead of a fruit basket.

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

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

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

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

Where is the fruit basket?

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Luke 13.31-35 Casting Evil and Curing Relationships 20160221 RSUMC

JesusGang At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”  He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”  [NRSV]
Jesus Agenda: Casting out evil, Curing the broken, and finishing his work on the third day.

      A fore telling of Jesus’ arrest, conviction and crucifixion are addressed by the disciples and Jesus.Jesus is talking back. Calling Herod by his action, a fox, cunning, callus and calculated. Skills of self preservation for the fox. Jesus’ mission, in Luke’s Gospel, requires him to be back in Jerusalem, positioned for the crucifixion.The Agenda cannot be stopped by Herod or any evil. But that will not stop evil things from happening.KEY:

God’s presence cannot be taking away, but neither are we to expect evil to disappear in the world.Prophet’s Job is Seldom Appreciated.

    Jesus points to the difficult task of being a prophet.The Prophet says nothing new. The prophet reminds us of the rails that our collective train should be running.The Prophet reminds us that God desires up to be with God.Jesus is more than any prophet. Jesus is God showing up first hand, the real deal, the actual.Jesus’s lament is how the necessary role of the prophet has never been without attack and often takes one’s life.We have at least two prophetic voices for our capital city:

I would suggest that our two leading political candidates (S&T) have tapped into the telling the people what the want to be reminded of, but their trains are running in opposing directions. Neither of them claim to be God’s prophets, but folks are desperate for a prophet and will follow until the find the prophet’s flaws or the prophet’s message becomes too personal. Mud-Slinging Campaign: (Interesting to hear from Jesus and John the Baptizer) Herod, was the secular leaders and he was a ‘fox’. The Sanhedrin were the religious leaders and they were a brood of vipers.  God desires us to be together.There is a VERY powerful moment of self-disclosure and God’s heart being revealed in these words of Jesus outside of Jerusalem:The Mother Hen and her brood: How I wish my chicks would trust me. (Not just after they are in trouble, not after they are lost to evil, not just when faced with their own mortality, BUT when there was time to “walk together in the garden”) Remember the relationship with Adam and Eve, where God would walk and talk with them face-to-face, and explore the garden along side with them (Gen 3.8)The Prophets role is to remind God’s people of the relationship of Good and Evil. Helping folks remember what side of the fence they are too live.

    Are we people who put God first?Are we a people who put God 2nd or third or last?Are we people who honor our parents and their generation?Are we a people who lie, cheat, steal and murder?Are we people who choose our own agenda or God’s?Are we people who hunger and thirst to be correct or forgivenAre we people who satisfied with God or we want more?Are we people who listen to snakes and foxes?Are we people who will call out what it is evil, broken and diseased?Are we people who will turn to God or Government to define us?

These are the prophet’s questions: What are our answers?The Declaration:Blessed are those who come in the name of the Lord.

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1 Corinthians 13:1-13 Reset: The Power of Love 20160131 RSUMC

Heart_MerryChristmas

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.

CHARISMATIC VISION: Genuine Love sees through a show.

  • If I have prophetic powers,
    • but do not have love,
      • I am nothing.

INSIGHTFUL COMPREHENSION: Genuine Love is not calculated.

  • If I understand all mysteries
    • but do not have love,
      • I am nothing.

MULTIPLE DEGREES IN MULTIPLE DISCIPLINES: Genuine Love has nothing to prove.

  • If I had all knowledge,
    • but do not have love,
      • I am nothing.

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.

EXTRAVAGANT SELFLESSNESS: Genuine Love is Forgetful of the score.

  • If I give away all my possessions,
    • but do not have love,
      • I gain nothing.

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.

IF, THEN STATEMENTS

  1. Conditional statements about unconditional, foundational core of relationships.
  2. SuperMan/SuperWoman are meaningless without love. Right Action, Wrong Purpose
  3. Love is God’s meaning, purpose, and energy, what we have to gain. Love is God’s power plant
  4. 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.

Timeless

  • 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.

  1. Speaking.. saying I love you.
  2. Thinking— Thinking about
  3. 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.

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Luke 3:7-18 “So What Do We Do?” 20151213 RSUMC

treeaxe
John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?”  In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?”  He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”  As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,  John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. [NRSV]
On this 3rd Sunday in the liturgical season of Advent we are drawn to the message of hope and love that awaits us in Christ’s birth and moving in with us at Christmas. 
The text comes as words from the prophet John the Baptizer. The text does not sound very loving and hopeful for those who claim to know God’s work and will. Listen through the toughness to see the love.
John’s word to the religious crowd is: “Who told you to come to be baptized, to find Love, Grace, Salvation? ASK You NEIGHBOR..
John is frustrated with the crowd who have been so focused on political correctness, that they have missed God’s presence for all the ‘good’ they have done by appeasing everyone. (Sanhedrin had power-brokered their relationship with the Roman empire at the expense of finding God at work in their presence.)
Remember these are the words of a prophet, not Jesus.
The lesson is about how to prepare for Jesus instead of preparing for ourselves. John instruction on how respond to ‘preventive grace’ to the next step.
It’s not about politically correctness to the law, it is about trusting our hope in God’s relationship in daily lives.
SO HOW DO WE PREPARE to see/experience/welcome God?
If you have a coat to share, then share it.
If you have more food than you can eat today, share it.
John is not establishing a code of organization for church nor community nor society. He is talking about an act of piety, a practice of being the faith community.
We live in a time that is mixed up. Folks who want us to be so pluralistic in our faith and at the same time not claim the faith that calls us to care for the poor. Why is feeding the clothing the poor the “Good Fruit” that God is looking for us to express?
These are signs that we are not working solo in this world. We are interconnected and interdependent on one another.
It is neither a statement that wealth is evil nor that it is acceptable to live off of the wealth of others.
If there are those you can “care for”, then care for them.
If there are those who need grace, then show grace.
You bunch of snakes
John is talking to folks who are snakes, venomous, lethal snakes.
In these days of terrorism and political demonism, who are the snakes?
  • Those who know they are right and willing to kill those who disagree?
  • Those who know they are correct and willing to label and dismiss those who are wrong?
  • Those who know they are right and God cannot do I new thing that is beyond our control?
John’s warning is dramatic and sensational: “The Axe is at the root of the tree.” The time is short and some trees are going to be cut down to make room for the new growth.  (Star Wars, light saber)
— Luke I am your father story at the pool.
I’m I being pruned or am I the clippings that will burned in the fire?
“WHAT AM I TO DO?”
The big “So What?”
If this is the time of preparing for Christ in our hearts and lives,
how do I make certain, that my heart, mind and spirit are open to God’s good news and presence amoung us?
Tax collectors, public servants: Do you job, but don’t take advantage of your authority and responsibilities.
Soilders: Be ready to defend and protect, but don’t mis-use your power and trust.
What ever the work/job: Contribute to the good of the community, work hard, do some type of work. [The unemployed can volunteer until work comes.]
The task for all is to act on our faith in the community
If you see a mess, clean it up.
If you see someone who is voiceless, give them voice
If you find someone who is forgotten, remember them
If you see sin, call it out, name evil for what it is.
If you see the speck in the eyes of others, can you see the log in your own eye. (FB? am I wrong in thinking? open the conversation rather than close the door on relationship)
If you are so certain you don’t want to see the world’s troubled, then we become the snakes.
If you think you are in the God Squad, ask God if you actually are?
If you are ready to kick someone out, make sure you know your are ‘in.’
HOW DO WE HEAR THE GOOD NEWS in the warning of bad news?
1. Ignore the warnings as foolish, fearful, mis-informed or narrow minded folk.
2. Have cake and eat it: Pick and choose what we want to listen to and respond?
3. Here words of prophet and say: What does God want me to hear, and do?
Ding, ding, ding!
The paths becomes straight and our hearts are open when we yeild to God and follow God’s word, in scripture, prophets and spirit.

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Isaiah 58.1-12 “Repair the Streets” JUMC 20140209

watching road repairsShout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God. “Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?” Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.

The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in. [NRSV]

Intro
It strikes me as funny in this teaching by God through the prophet, Isaiah, to envision the people of God as restorers of the streets. You know the jokes and wise cracks about how many DOT workers does it take to dig a hole? Answer: one, but it takes a half dozen or more to watch them do it.

In a nutshell, the prophet is saying that our society as people of faith is so broken that we can’t afford to stand by and watch because there are too many pot-holes for people to fall into as it is.

In this passage we hear God’s steaming temper and over-whelming frustration. God has fired up and has Isaiah on full alert:

The Kitchen Sink Too!
God says to the prophet, Isaiah, Don’t hold back anything. Blast out the news like a trumpet.
Describe in every detail my people’s rebellion and sins.

This makes for a good story. There is a lot of drama and passion in this story. And its good to hear God all fired up at those delinquents way back then in stead of talking about us.. am I right?

The Message Bearer
The prophet has the task of telling the truth, the whole truth.

Isaiah is part of a long tradition of those who are charged with telling folks what is generally bad news. Imagine interviewing for that job! Argg. This time God is calling on Isaiah to let it all hang out! Give them the whole dose of medicine, even if it is bitter and vial.. it would only be compared to their sin.

God’s Frustration is not an absence of Love
If God didn’t care, God would not have prophets to warn and instruct.
God would just blow us away like dust in the desert and start over.

Hear are God’s lines in the sand:
1. They ask for my help in prayers; they study my ways, BUT, they think knowing ABOUT their God replaces a relationship WITH God.

2. The Role of Spiritual Disciplines
they ask of me righteous judgments, they want me close by in times of trouble,
But they ask, “Why do we fast?” Why do we have to go to church? Why do have to give? Serve? Witness?
Why do we humble ourselves?

Fasting as a Spiritual Practice
At the core it is the denial of a basic physical necessity to make time and awareness for the necessity of basic spiritual food.

It is a practice not a contract. We are not due because what we have done. Take care of me because I built your place of worship! No, instead it is the activity of giving up what I want physically for what I need spiritually.

Calling a Sin, a Sin.
Isaiah is not so much teaching about Fasting but what’s going on in the presence of religious practice.
• You talk a good game in the worship house, but you treat people with disrespect.
• You bend the rules to suit your own pleasures and justification.
• You fight with fist and tongue, while you are worshiping and serving.

What Does God Require?
• Do you think I need people to bow down before me like the grass
• Do you think I need to see ashes on your head or your Sunday best?
• Who let you decided what is acceptable to the Lord?

Here what I want to see PRONTO
• Seek what is fair; Change systems and structures that keep people down.
• Free people of to be independent, God created us as free, individuals.
• Set people free to who are addicted, entrapped, alone, afraid, oppressed.
• Break the attitudes that manipulate people.
• Feed the hungry,
• Open your home to the homeless
• Clothe the naked,
• Encourage God’s people instead of cutting them down or holding them back.

How to Get God’s Attention?
Do the Right things and God will reward your righteousness.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Benefits of Righteousness
The LORD will guide you continually,
• satisfy your needs in parched places,
• make your bones strong;
• you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.
• Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
• you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
• you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
• the restorer of streets to live in.

Matthew 5: 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.

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Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 “Oh Little Town of Jackson, GA” JUMC 20130811

JAX
1:1 The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 10 Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah!

1:11 What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who asked this from your hand? Trample my courts no more; 13 bringing offerings is futile; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation– I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity. 14 Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.

1:16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

18 Come now, let us argue it out, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20 but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken. [NRSV]

Our reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah begins with a vision for the people of God. Isaiah is embolden to speak, teach and warn the people. The prophet’s word in phrase, is summed up by Aretha Franklin: “You Better Think!”

People walking around everyday, playing games, taking scores
Trying to make other people lose their minds.
Well be careful, you’re gonna lose yours.

Yeah, think (think) think about what you’re trying to do to me
Yeah, think (think, think), let your mind go, let yourself be free

You need me (need me) and I need you (don’t you know)
Without each other there ain’t nothing we can do (AF: “Think” 1968)

Imagine the prophet coming to our town and saying, Oh Jackson, under the reign of Wayne, when we Georgia’s hand has a Deal, and the Oval office has an Obama, you are acting like you all live in Vegas or Chicago. You better wake up O little town.

The full activity of the temple worship goes under attack, the whole enterprise of religiosity is put on trial. You have a great number of members, you have special Sundays, dinners and picnics galore. You remember all the holidays and know all you favorite hymns. You look pretty, you sit reverently and call on me when you get into trouble.. Well no more of that!

1:16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

• Stop doing evil.
• Do Good
• Seek Justice
• Recuse the Perishing
• Care for the forgotten and the dying.

Here is how you town this town around.

There is an ultimatum:
You can do it God’s way or your way. You can eat of your own labor or you can be nourished by God work.
God’s way leads to life, your way just ends up empty and dead.

So what is it going to be?

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2 Cor 3.12-4.2 “Act with Great Boldness” A Transfiguration Call to Witness JUMC 20130210

MtTabor_Transfiguration

Mt Tabor: Mount of the Transfiguration of our Lord

NRSV Lectionary Readings for Transfiguration Sunday

Exodus 34:29-35
Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; but whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Psalm 99
The LORD is king; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! The LORD is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise your great and awesome name. Holy is he! Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. Extol the LORD our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he! Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried to the LORD, and he answered them. He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept his decrees, and the statutes that he gave them. O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. Extol the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy.

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.

Luke 9:28-36
Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” — not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

The Veil was a comfort, protection and separation from the people.

You have a surgical mask to wear this morning. I invite you to wear one. In the cold and flu season we need be extra careful, (at 11am: if they seem a little wrinkled its because we used them at 9am as well, NOT serious.) Most often when people wear a mask it is not because they have a germ or illness that they don’t want you to catch. It is more likely they don’t want your germs, bugs, and contagions.

For most folks, when you see someone with a mask like ours on their face, we respond to the unwritten message: STAY AWAY! Is Jesus’ message to the world, stay away? Mind your own business? Suit yourself? Leave us alone? I’m a problem you don’t want to deal with? Certainly not.

But neither are these the messages we are called to witness to the world.

I had a friend in school who’s parents worked at the Center for Disease Control near Emory University. He received so much ridicule and reluctancy of school friends to go to his house because there was a fear that his parents would bring home some horrible agent from work and contaminate everyone who entered. It was unfounded, ignorant and mean.

Think of the people that we might not want to befriend because they are unclean, (physically and/or spiritually) Picture the folks who we don’t want to know about in our community and in the world. We would change the channel on reality and say those problems are not our responsibility. When we pretend that God wants us to only reach out to a few, people like ourselves.. we put a veil, something to separate us.

Paul’s words to the church at Corinth remind us of the opposing message to that of the world’s self-preservation:

When we look to Jesus, we are looking into a mirror that shows us the face, image, witness and work of God. And the reverse is true for the world. God has chosen to use the Holy Spirit to reflect the work, face, image, wintess and power of God through our face.

Be bold, don’t cover up your face.

Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are about removing the barriers between people and God.

Not only are we caution and hesitant about germs and illness. We are more regularly reluctant to allow Christ to shine at home, at work, at school, at Walmart, Tanger and Target.  Are we bold on the field? Are we bold when we are playing with family and friends? Are we bold in reflecting Christ when we meet a stranger or neighbor?

SO WHAT: So what does the transfiguration of our Lord have to do with me today? The event is about revealing. It is a revelation of who Jesus is and what his is about. He is the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets. He is the teacher and leader to the disciples. He is the healer and restorer of the people. He is the correction and wholeness to sin and brokenness, now and for all time.

Moses and Elijah show up to talk about what was about to happen in Jerusalem. A hand full of disciples get to see this thing first hand. The whole, complete image of God revealed. Peter immediatly wants to build something to remember the occasion.

Jesus takes them down the mountain and said, remember me, not where you found me.

KEY: God is more interested in us, than in the state God we find God is with US.

-= God Calls for Boldness in telling this clear and revealed message to the world around us: It’s not where find Jesus is God’s power/grace/life for you. It is that God wants you so much that he would go to Jerusalem and die that you might live.

Do you now someone today that does not know, has heard it but does not believe it? Be Bold And show them the way to Christ.

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