Posts Tagged Boldness

Advent 4 20141220 Luke 1:39-55 “It’s That Time of Year” RSUMC

JOY_maryandelizabeth

Mary’s news is to be shared at home and throughout the hill side with leaps of Joy.

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” [NRSV]

Preparing for God With Us:

  • The Big Things God Does through Individual people
  • Exploring What God See in Our Faithfulness
  • Sharing the Joy with Family and Friends

The Bible is a collection of stories about God working through individuals. The individuals may end up leading tribes, bands and nations, but the conversation starts one-on-one.

One like you and me.

One who have been faithful and even those not as faithful.. Mary the faithful and Joseph the doubting, fixer of problems.

Part of understanding, discerning and responding to God’s work in us, is revealed through conversation and relationship with others. Elizabeth and Mary.. not just two women talking about babies, but talking about God at work in all their lives and witnesses.

Small Groups, Bible Studies, Classes, and conversations at home all give us a place and opportunity to question, reflect and experience God at work in each others’ lives.

Barna Group: Friends and family sharing faith is still top evangelism relationship: They have observed Fewer people are sharing with one another.

Q: How many have talked about God’s work in your lives in the past two weeks?

Examples: What is God doing in my life? What is God expecting in my life right now? Where do you touch God’s presence this week ahead.

What we have been journeyiing toward is an incarnational, experiential presence with God, THIS is what CHRISTMAS is for us now.. the story began in Bethlehem, but the story for our time now is where is the living CHRIST revealed now?

Ask you family, neighbors, a stranger.. because it is into relationship that God is revealed.. not just my mind our your mind..

The church is the present body..Are we actually expecting to share God With Us or just familiar stories, songs and comforts?

Jesus came to unwed parents, homeless in a strange place of in laws connections, in the dark of the night, revealed to servants and kings. Revealed in leaps of joy in the womb and praising shepherds and rejoicing magi.

What about you? What is God revealing to you this season? THIS IS WHAT WE ALL WANT AND NEED TO HEAR AND SHARE.

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Advent3 Luke 3:7-18 “Do We Bring Fire?” RSUMC 20141213

FireGiftJohn 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]

What should I bring?

If we knew Jesus were coming to our house for Christmas this year. Everyone would be gathering around a beautifully decorated treat what we wrap under the tree for Jesus?

<story of Sam Bangura spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with our family> The welcomed stranger brings Christmas Joy for lifetime of “Christmas Gift”

In this third week of Advent, our preparing has lead us to be 1) Alert and On Guard, 2) Making room and paving a Way, and today 3) we talk about Gifts and Presents:

Asking: What does Jesus want for Christmas this year? Know the answer will be “what Jesus wants every day.”

John the Witness, John the Baptizer, John the Spiritual Road Pave-er tells us:

Bear fruits of repentance:

  • If we have asked for forgiveness, live as though we have been forgiven.
  • If we have forgiving some one treat that person or relationship with grace like we have forgiven.
  • If we have not forgive then we have some work to do.
  • As long as you have two coats and there is someone who has no coat, we have work to do.
  •  As long as we have food enough to eat and there is someone hungry, we are not done.

How to Bear Fruit when we have things working against us?

It’s one thing when the ground is fertile and serving is easy. It’s hard NOT to bear fruit on a mission trip. People will complain many times about the cost of going on mission trips when there is so much to be done right here at home. But let me ask this: How many mission trips have you heard about that were fruitless? Oh there will be roadblocks, illnesses, and set backs, but have you ever heard of a mission team coming home saying. We did nothing good, we got nothing out of it. It was a total waste of time, money and energy. I’ve never heard it… We invest in having a fruitful, productive, meaningful and powerful experience from the outside expectation.

(We don’t always do this when we are near home. So close to home, we are more likely to say: We will get to it soon and when we get around to it.) Advent is a Round-to-it time of year.

An uncommon audience

The tax collector and soldier are two who have come to hear John’s teachings and ‘good news’ and as how do I do my job that seems be so hated or feared… how to I do my job and serve God?

These two folks the Tax Collector and the Soldier were feared and hated, most because they were the first line of OFFENSE from the government. Interesting advise from the prophet helps us all:

Do you job: Collect what is due. BUT don’t take advantage of folks. (Don’t run a title pawn that keeps folks in poverty.)

You work for the government. Do your job, don’t use your position to take advantage of folks.

It’s ok to make a profit don’t extort, don’t take advantage of folks.

It’s fine to make money: John Wesley’s advise on money: Make All you Can, to Give all you can, to Do all the Good you can. But use money as tool and instrument of Goodness, blessing and grace rather than power, abuse or oppression.

Back to the Gifts: What gifts do we bring to Jesus for HIS birthday?

Side Note:  John the Baptizer were speaking with authority and connecting with people helping the to find their way closer to God and so they thought he might be the Messiah.

“Nope, I’m bringing Water, Jesus is bringing Fire.”

“You think I’m fired up for God, God is about to send his very own Firestorm. Look out, be on guard, get ready and keep asking for a status report.

Jesus wants, what I need.

What I need vs What I want.

I want a gift card from Krispy Kreme, what I need is accountable set of scales.

I want to be blessed and loved, what I need to is to be a blessing and love unconditionally.

I want protection and care, what I need to offer support, counsel and keep a watchful eye on someone.

I want freedom and grace, what I need is to let go of leverage, grudges, guilt and shame and model grace.

The gift I give is the gift I receive.

Jesus wants folks fed, clothed, friend-ed and connected in grace.. the John the Baptist Question:

AM I GIVING THAT GIFT as daily witness?

Do I still need to go shopping?

Have I been looking for the wrong deal?

As long as Im asking for the status report, I’m on the right track… Ask you neighbor: Have you gotten Jesus’s gift yet?

What have you got him today?

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Matthew 21:23-32 “Will You or Won’t You?” RSUMC 20140929

JakElwd_BrothersWhen he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things.  Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, “From heaven,’ he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, “Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, “I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him. [New Revised Standard]

Who is invited?

Text: The question is framed by a conversation about authority. Jesus makes the authorized teachers and leaders nervous and uncomfortable at the temple.

Cut the chase: Jesus you don’t belong here, you are not doing things the right way. You are rocking our boat and we don’t like the waves. We want you and and our comfort restored.

Who is doing what it right?

Text: The challenge of authority is rebuffed through a rabbinical challenge of conversation, logical and teaching. Jesus answers question with a question. Was John the Baptist a prophet? If they say yes just as so many in the community believed they are saying John had authority from God that was different from the temple polity and pecking order. If God can work around the temple leaders, why not work through Jesus as well.

If the teachers and leaders said John the Baptist was not a prophet they would challenge the faith and experiences of the community that found awakening and revival through John. They’re only option to save face is to say, “I dun’ know.”

Who is welcome?

Text: Jesus teaches with a parable, which is a teaching style Jesus introduces for the wise and the not so wise. It is an obvious conclusion: Who is the faithful son of the father? The one who says yes but does not go, Or the one who says no but ends up doing what the father expects? Answer: duh! the one who does the work.

Who is at home? Authority, Welcome, Belonging

Text: John spoke the words the teachers and leaders were suppose to be telling and teaching. The people responded to God’s call but not at the direction of the established insiders.

Who is who is in the teaching? Are we the bold prophets proclaiming a call for repentance? Are we going about our travels proclaiming goodness to those who are forgotten, rejected or excluded? Are we those who are comfortable in the cozy familiar safety of the church and hope people will take it upon themselves to be more like us so they can feel safe and cozy too?

Homework: Tell me you won’t go welcome someone to church next Sunday, but then actually go do just that. Say I won’t do, but do the opposite. Tell you neighbor on your pew. I’m not going to do anything bold this week. Safe and mediocre will do, but during this week you see, hear or find someone who needs grace, love and welcome. And you bring them home to the spring.

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Titus 2:11-14 “Zeal for Good” JUMC XmasEve 20131224

stnickgloves

 

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. [NRSV]

Jesus gave himself to save us and to do Good.

1. Grace Appeared.. in Jesus’ birth
2. Bringing Salvation.. to show and sacrifice
3. Training us to
a. renounce Worldly Passions
b. Live self-controlled, godly, upright lives
4. Wait with hope for the Manifestation of Jesus
Titus attempts to give us handles to grab hold of and to comprehend who Jesus is for us and the world.

I am so frustrated by friends and particularly clergy friends who are impassioned with political correctness and the feelings of those who don’t want to hear that Christmas is Christ’s birthday. Why does it matter?

Why Was Jesus Born?

Jesus was not born to bring us good feelings
Jesus was not born so we would all get along
Jesus was not born so promote Santa Shopping
Jesus was not born to keep him to ourselves
Jesus was not born for publicity
Jesus was not born to be only remembered,

Jesus was born for relationship
Jesus was born to save us from ourselves and sin
Jesus was born to love us even when divided
Jesus was born to share with the world
Jesus was born to live and teach us how to live

Christmas is celebrated when we remember

The angel’s message of hope in a fearful world
The gifts are for the Love of Christ and not to attempt to buy love or relationship
Take the Good News and apply it to our daily actions

I learned this year that the Original St Nicholas was instrumental in working on the foundations of faith through the Council of Nicene. He was known for getting into fisticuffs to defend his faith and beliefs and hold off heretics. Now that is an interesting image of Santa fighting for the church.

We tell the story of the Nativity again and again to remind us that the gift lives in us.

If we let the world tell what Christ is upto it becomes clouded with cartoons, gifts, and the weakest failures where the church makes the news.

Be responsible for giving birth to the Nativity story of Christ alive in you this night, this month, and all this next year.

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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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