Archive for category Thanksgiving
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever! Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.. [ Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me? The Lord is on my side to help me; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in mortals. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. All nations surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! They surrounded me like bees; they blazed like a fire of thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly; the right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.” I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord. The Lord has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death.]
Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
After [Jesus] had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?’ just say this, “The Lord needs it.’ ” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
• The Lord is God
• God has given us light
• Bind the path with branches all the way to the alter
• You are my God
• I will give you Thanks
• I will extoll you
Palm Sunday is the kickoff for welcoming Jesus into a harsh and hardened world
Have you ever wondered why people waves palm branches?
The Sunday school explanation has been that people grabbed the nearest thing as an impromptu banner of party decoration
I suggest that if you had a month to prepare for the return of Christ what would you do to be ready for his appearing in the heavens?
Come join us and let’s find out..
- First, Paul’s instruction to pray for everyone, including kings and high officials.
- Secondly, Paul’s ministry of being a messenger and apostle as a teacher of the Gentiles.
B. Ministry Authority:
- (In readying how Paul was persicuted, jailed, shipwrecked, run out of town, dismissed by others in the Way, in the church: for his earlier persicustion of Jesus, Paul is claiming athority by appointment from God.)
- As Wesleyan Methodist we see God’s preventative, justifying and sanctifying graces at work. As well as an affirmation that some authority is revealed directly in our experience of the Holy Spirit.
- God using someone that was the least likely person to reach the Jewish community and certainly not the Gentile community.
- I believe this is the connection Paul wants to affirm to Timothy because he is conferring this authority Timothy, to the rest of the church and to you and me gathered here today.
Paul’s reminder to Timothy is also a reminder to each of us and to those who believe and trust some other gods, doctrines or principles.
- Externally, When we listen to the civil view of the church’s role it has become one of many voices.
- Internally, When we pray only for whom and what we want, rather than for God’s will and work.
- Communally & Personally, When we listen to fears and hate rather than prayer we attack truth and trust
You and I are the Heralds, Leaders, and Teacher that are called model a life of prayer for this world: teaching, revealing and modeling the grace and power of Christ to save, save us all. Amen.
LinK: I could lie, but I won’t liey to you. God is with us and calls us to tell Christ’s truth. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wherever_I_Go_(song) OneRepublic Lyrics:
I know I could lie, but I won’t lie to you
Wherever I go, you’re the ghost in the room
I don’t even try looking for something new
Cause wherever I go, I’ll be looking for you
Some people try but they can’t find the magic
Others get down on their knees and they pray
I come alive when I’m close to the madness
No easy love could ever make me feel the same
Make me feel the same
Traditional Music : UMBH
- I Exalt Thee
- 399 Take My Life
- 395 Take Time to be Holy
- 402 Lord I Want to be a Christain
Christ Came to Save Sinners
- It’s not new but it remains our hallmark.
- It is opposite of the image we have sold to the unchurch and de-churched.
- It remains our message and work of being the body of Christ for the world.
I am the gold medal Sinner
- The best at choosing poorly.
- The best at being bad.
- The best at placing God’s seal of approval on our blindly seeking what we determine God wants for ourselves and the world.
Sin is the perfect place for Jesus to shine.
- is working in the backwards direction,
- is leading us away from the heart of God,
is our sin.
Sin is not a concrete list of Don’t and Do’s.
The lists help, but the lists are never inclusive enough to cover all the shades of grey.
Practice Application of Shining Christ through our Sin:
- “Lead me not into temptation”
- Practice Piety (Wesley’s Rule #3)
- Membership promises to use the church as a place of faith building/practice
- When we see our on sin, own up and ask for grace/fresh start
- When others see our sins, we confess, make right what can be done and seek grace
- When we think we get away with ‘it’ know this day, God knows and hurts with us.
- Grace over Judgement:
- Jesus looks at our sins and see someone to love and bless
- Calls for our repentance (our desire and willingness to be transformed)
- Call us to go and sin no more, live in the God direction
- Not as a rule but as response to grace
So are you a sinner? Yep!
Does Jesus want to make you new, no matter if we are the best sinner? Yep!
Does God gives us a minds, a spirit and the church for support to grow toward God.
Who needs to know this? Who can you sit down and explain this to? who needs to hear this from you? GO SHOW THEM how far you have come through Christ.
One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and “to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question. [NRSV]
Love is the Core Value and Core Action
Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one;
- you shall love the Lord your God
- with all your heart,
- and with all your soul,
- and with all your mind,
- and with all your strength.’
- The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
- To love God is to love your neighbor and yourself
The five languages…Gary Chapman (not so different a list from the Greatest and 2nd Greatest commandment)
- Words of Affirmation.
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
JESUS EXAMPLES OF “5 love language”
- in this text : Jesus gives the affirmation that the scribe who knows when we show love to others, God’s Kingdom is near to us.
- In the examples of feeding and healing Jesus and the disciples give themselves in service to others.
- From birth, Jesus receives gifts: gold frankincense myrrh, a child’s lunch, the hospitality of supporters. And he gives gifts of healing, food, forgiveness and resurrection.
- Jesus spends concentrated time with the disciples, “leaving nets and follow”, with the little ones, “bring the children to me.”
- Jesus also shows his love through physical touch. The hem of his robe, the touch of his hand, He is not just words in stone, he is a physical example and resources.
All Saints Day
Saints are those who love God because God has first love us
sainthood is not determined by our opinion nor the church’s vote, rather by God.
Those who love God and love neighbor, are themselves love in the world.
Motivation to thank and pray
we have no real reason to love God is God has not loved us first
so we love our neighbor before they love us
- Saints take the first step
- Saints start the conversation
- Saints offer gifts
- Saints make the time
- Saints extend the contact
- loving is a process not a perfection
So on this All Saints Sunday we remember those who have shown us God’s kingdom of Love and we reaffirm ourselves as the Saints who will show God’s love to this world in every way we can.
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb. May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves. [NRSV]
This American Gospel hymn draws us to turn to and trust God to bring us to fruitfulness and to restore what was invested long ago. If you look at the Top 100 popular songs for this week in October, you find these 25 titles that speak of the message of our current culture:
Cant’ Feel my Face, Locked Away, Wildest Dreams, Hotline Bling, Hit the Quan, Ex’s and Oh’s, Same Old Love, Trap Queen, Renegades, My Way, Drag Me Down, Where Ya At, Strip it Down, Love Myself, Worth It, Earned It, Bad Blood, Break Up With Him, Anything Goes, Come Get Her, Nothing But Trouble, Stressed Out, Live From the Gutter, $ave Dat Money, Love Me.
Do these sound like words of joy and fulfillment? Now I’m picking on important genre of the population’s voice and expression. But it is always important to listen to, and to understand the words. The words have meaning and power.
The Pslamist is a song writer: The songs begins by reminded us that God has done GREAT things for us in the past.
The next words, remind us that sometimes all we have left at the moment is the dream of what was. The vital importance of keeping the dream alive.
A call to remember what brought us laughter, joy, comfort, peace and a time where fear, doubt, worry were not our driving realities.
Remember times that you were so happy you and your neighbor could be heard shouting for joy.. (back when the Dawgs could expect to taste sugar at the seasons end.)
Remember when all the other nations would look at our nation and say, God is at work through them in great ways… Not our reputation, but God’s reputation.
The Seasons of emptiness, depression, doubt and loss.
The Negeb water courses…There is a seasonal change, expect the drought, expect the flood, expect the in between conditions. God is present throughout all the seasons.
Exchange program, you bring me tears, I bring you joy. The Rag Man, the Christ
Tears of sadness from the joy. Joy is meaningless without the tears. God is fruitful in both times, all times. Turn toward God in sadness and bring God home in joy.
1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those he redeemed from trouble 3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to an inhabited town; 5 hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. 6 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; 7 he led them by a straight way, until they reached an inhabited town. 8 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 9 For he satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things.
10 Some sat in darkness and in gloom, prisoners in misery and in irons, 11 for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. 12 Their hearts were bowed down with hard labor; they fell down, with no one to help. 13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; 14 he brought them out of darkness and gloom, and broke their bonds asunder. 15 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 16 For he shatters the doors of bronze, and cuts in two the bars of iron.
17 Some were sick through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities endured affliction; 18 they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. 19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; 20 he sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction. 21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 22 And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices, and tell of his deeds with songs of joy.
23 Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters; 24 they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. 25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. 26 They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity; 27 they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; 29 he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. 31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
33 He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground,
34 a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.
35 He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. 36 And there he lets the hungry live, and they establish a town to live in;
37 they sow fields, and plant vineyards, and get a fruitful yield. 38 By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their cattle decrease.
39 When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, trouble, and sorrow, 40 he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; 41 but he raises up the needy out of distress, and makes their families like flocks.
42 The upright see it and are glad; and all wickedness stops its mouth. 43 Let those who are wise give heed to these things, and consider the steadfast love of the Lord [NRSV]
One thing that strikes me about this psalm is that describes so many thing we recognize in the life and witness of Jesus. So it is important that we keep in context the words of this hymn for worship as images that Jesus later embodies that those who were familiar with the psalm in the Jewish community could see as fulfillment of God’s presence in Jesus.
If on Father’s Day, a dad wanted to see the good works of his son, the psalmist gives a good list that Jesus reveals in his teaching and witness.
- Water for the woman at the well
- The tearing of the curtain at the temple at the crucifixion
- The woman who avoided death because none could cast the first stone
- The calming of the sea
- The healing of the sick at the gate
- Jesus’ parables of sowing
- Jesus’ parable of loosing saltiness
- Jesus multiplying food for the hungry
- The invitation for the prince to sell and follow
This somewhat obscure psalm tells so many of Jesus’s teachings and stories in one and was written a millennium-plus before hand. It is remarkable inclusive of many ways God’s presence and message is revealed across the testaments.
Verse 42 is the response to the stories of God’s work.
When we see the ways God is reveled in the world, we can response in one of two ways:
a. We see God at work and we are glad, energized and joyful to see God at work.
b. We see God at work and shut our mouths.
The admonition (advice) is to
- be wise,
- give heed and
- consider God’s love at work among us.
2015 Shut our Mouths or Proclaim God’s love?
Conference statistician Darris Baker reported the following 2014 statistics compared to 2013: And are we yet alive?
Conference Membership: 361,329 (Down 2054)
Professions of Faith: 5,398 (Down 204)
Average Worship Attendance: 119,976 (Down 3,121)
Average Sunday School Attendance: 48,888 (Down 296)
The mighty North Georgia conference is no longer the leader and we pray it is not on the same track that Mr Wesley’s beloved Church of England was on. But it begs the question: When we see God’s love present in the world do we give God the praise and witness to God’s presence? Are we considering and looking for God’s revelation in the world? Are we following in the witness of Christ in our actions and bolding in our words or have shut our mouths too long?
Homework: Outline this psalm and see at least 10 ways to practice our piety, to grow our spirit and witness God’s love through Christ in our lives, and then act accordingly. For we live in a world and season when people
- long for God and are thirsty. Give them living water.
- feed hungry,
- encourage the prisoners,
- offer thanksgiving and sacrifice,
- sing songs of joy,
- give peace to those at their wits end,
- go to church to support and be supported.
- be salty and bold in the face of evil.
- water a garden to feed the famished.
- open your mouth and share the joy rather than stay quiet and in your own mind.
Now Get to Work!
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. [NRSV]
The car I most often drive has over 271,000 miles registered on the odometer. I wish they were all business miles because Uncle Sam would allow me nearly $150,000. While many are work related, some include trips to the beach, Braves games and a 30 minute glimpse of the Grand canyon. A good many reflect trips to the grocery store, school events and gatherings with friends. But the bottom line is that every miles is part of many journeys with many people where the Love of God, the Grace of Jesus Christ and Power of the Holy Spirit have carried me. My hope and prayer is that I have used those opportunities to share these very gifts with folks along the way. Otherwise I have wasted more than gas and insurance.
As difficult and unsettling as it is to uproot and change churches our appointive system allow me to great opportunity to journey here to share God’s love, Christ’s grace and the power of the Spirit as we share our lives together. For half a century I have been moving and sharing a journey of faith. All those previous miles and experiences have lead me to this very moment.
But let me be clear: as happy and excited as we are to be here in ministry together, I am not here because of what I have done, rather I am here with you because what God has done for me and through me.
In our text today, Cleopas and his wife are walking on the road from Jerusalem toward to village of Emmaus. Three years ago I had the opportunity to walk along that path. I can’t say it was the very spot where Cleo and his wife were talking to Jesus but I was powerful to imaging sharing the same road. The text describes the seven mile walk as one filled with grief and disappointment.
The passage is one of my favorites. It is an Easter passage. The risen Jesus Christ is present but not recognized through the perspective of grief and disappointment. These are emotions and experiences that we all share at different times throughout our lives. Not may of us are shepherd or fisherman or tax collectors. but all of us experience broken hearts, lost dreams and unrealized hopes.
The passage is also about a two of the ordinary folks, not the chosen 12 or main characters of the temple court. Instead we have two family members who found themselves caught up and invested in politics and religion and they are heading home focus on what they lost.
How familiar? How many people within 2o miles of where we sit at this very moment can’t see the forest for the trees, this very morning.
Jesus meets them on the road, in the middle of their journey, sharing the witness and power of the scriptures, using the occasion of their loss and detachment as a time to reach into their hearts and bring them to the table.
At the table.
My grandmother always had a bring round oak table at her house. My maternal grandfather was ousting me from his familiar chair at the declaring he was king of the castle and as such he was at the head of the table and only he was to be seated in the throne. (Halmark never call him to play the part of grandfather of the year) My grandmother called me to the kitchen. She told me about her table, explaining that it was round. And many chairs could fit around the table and that everyone who had a seat at the table was seated at the head, because they had a place they were welcomed to break bread together.
So we could let grandman think he was whatever he wanted to be because the table was for us all. it is in the blessing and breaking of the bread that Cleo and his wife see what they had bee missing all along. The Risen Lord.
This is the work we share now and until Christ return. As long as our bodies hunger and thirst. We are called to share Jesus and the scriptures along the journey and through the meals and prayers. This is what we are saved and charged to do. And so it begins a new chapter of the journey for us together.
We will do many things together in this place for the glory of God and the strengthening of our faith and fellowship, but we do so for work outside these doors. Where our paths cross. Where our ideas and opinions differ and are strained. Where our experiences and perspective intersect and even conflict.
It is in these moments that we help one another and even strangers come to find Jesus lives and reigns for us. The story and scriptures are true and they are lifted up that we might have faith, hope, joy and new life together.
10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments were stationed to praise the Lord with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, according to the directions of King David of Israel; 11 and they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of families, old people who had seen the first house on its foundations, wept with a loud voice when they saw this house, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted so loudly that the sound was heard far away.
The experience of Ezra and the people coming back to Jerusalem from exile comes with the mixed blessing of building something new with the sorrow of what is no longer reality.
John Wesley opposed preaching outside to reach the poor and disconnected, but in doing so transforms the church and the world for Jesus Christ,
The council of Bishops, after great study and prayer is putting the resources in vital congregations. Those left behind linger by their choice to live in the past,
The commitment is to remember and acknowledge the loss of what we once were, while experimenting in building the new church.
The Church of England stayed in the past and is empty. The Russian Orthodox Church has the liturgy but no connection with the people. In our life time, the church will become something new.
Remember when Billy Graham was the iconic central figure of the protestant church. Who is next? One of the TV preachers? One of the book publishing authors? One of the political preachers?
It is scary to not have the map. But if we follow the old ways we will not find the new Church. It is not comfortable to be lost, but its worse to stay where we are and swap familiarity for faith
One of the important questions to ask as a church: What the best day of Jackson United Methodist Church? If you say, some time in the past, you don’t think much of the present and have no hope for the future. If you say, the best day are ahead, then we don’t throw in the towel and we grow closer toward the Light of Jesus Christ.
Looking backward, we are grateful and thankful for those who have paved the way before us, but the work of paving a new way is not over. It continues.
Where do we start? At the table: Jesus promises to meet us at the table as often as we gather in presence and memory. Remember and Eat. Learn from our past, and step out in faith in our future.
Come to the table and let’s eat, weep and shout for joy!