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Posts Tagged encourage

Mark 4:26-34 “The Mighty Mustard” RSUMC 20150614

MustardSeeds_PennyHe also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.[NRSV]

The Penny

There was a time when the penny was made of copper and would buy small items in the store. Now it is simply the fraction of tax that helps us feel better about spending $39.99 instead of wasting 40 bucks. When I ran for the office of President of the United States in 2000 to celebrate my 35th birthday, one of my platform items was to only mint pennies for numismatists and casual coin collectors, so that we could conserve our copper supply, allow accountants to sleep at night and kids at fast food establishments could make change. What good is the penny?

The mighty penny might seem insignificant much like a tiny mustard seed in the text. There was a time where pennies were collected as the first apportionment in our Methodist tradition to build a church for worship. Together, the pennies added up to reach a common goal just as profit margins on gasoline and at grocery stores are volume types of business. But the adage that pennies add up to dollars is a good starting point for reading the parable from  Jesus.

One year at Vacation Bible School we collected nickles to help the United Methodist Committee on Relief effort to respond to the victims of Katrina. Each day the children were invited to bring in nickles which were affixed to long strands of tape that wrapped around the sanctuary several time reflecting a couple hundred dollars of nickles. On the same week, the neighboring Baptist church held their VBS and agreed to pool our resources to the same effort. A great witness of cooperation, ecumenical effort and common sense. At the Baptist church they had asked the children to bring in one dollar bills each day that were taped together, end to end, and also wrapped around their sanctuary a few times. The differences was in the total. Nearly the same effort to give, the difference was their seed was larger.

Garden Progress

Jesus is using a gardening and farming illustration to look at the effectiveness of broadcasting compared to targeted conversations of witness. In summary of the text: We do not know how or where one little seed of faith, grace, compassion, feeding, healing, forgiving, love, trusting, blessing will inspire fruitful faith of someone else. But the mustard bush is more of a weed. The text has a double depth of meaning if we read it hearing how God can make weeds we might cut down and discard something useful and necessary.

A second, and very Methodist part of the text, is Jesus’s description of a process of spiritual growth. We start with someone sowing a seed, but that is followed by power in God’s creation that has nothing to do with us beginning to germinate what one person beings. First the stalk, then the head and then the full grain. The structure or core support system comes first, then the evidence of the maturity and THEN follows the fruit of the whole process.

The nano-second world we fly through is reluctant to hand on for the process. Imagine yourself watching a beautiful large screen television with 4K resolution and super surround sound in a custom contour recliner with refreshment access. Some team of producers, directors, investors, designers, musicians, technicians, actors, marketers, promoters and accountants have spend months and millions of dollars to create a movie experience to entertain you. You hold in your hand the powerful remote control with fresh batteries. How long does it take for you to decide if you want to watch the two hours of drama, action, comedy or information that awaits you? It takes just a about one second for the image to change per remote click, (new remote reducing to .5 seconds). Average view spends ten minutes reviewing 200 channels during an average 2-3 hours of time watching per day. (10 out of 120 minutes surfing), but 80% of the time they revert to ten favorite channels.

Whether we are are overwhelmed by choice, attention defects, devote that kind of time to our decisions, or like the control part facet of operating a remote, I invite you to step back from this common practice and think about the tiny bits of time and information that are involved in this daily exercise. (It is humorous to talk use the word exercise when talking about tv remotes.) Nonetheless, small visual clues based on past experiences, current stimulus signals, small movements of the thumb or finger indicate how we will be informed or entertained, How we spend 2-3 hours of each 24 hours. 10% of that time in devoted to searching and scanning.

Transfer this set of skills and behaviors. If we spend 2-3 hours studying scripture and books of faith and inspiration, how different would our 24 hours be? 2-3 hours of faith driving content, music, videos, ebooks, etc. Imagine how this would shape our own faith identity, our church and the world.

Think back about the process describe in Jesus’ parable teaching: First the seed, time to develop a structure, following the structure produces maturity, maturity produces fruitful witness, life and relationships.

Take a double look and hear the God is at work even in the relationships we might write off as unimportant can become the place others thrive. So take care to grow more than you cut out.

We have the ability to make small actions of shaping our faith and the future of the church. The task is to be intentional.

INTENTIONAL SPIRITUAL GROWTH

  • First the seed
  • Then the stalk
  • Then the head
  • Then the full fruit

I would make  a case that we allow our spiritual seeds to become “genetically modified” by those who use the church, rather than nurtured by the church. We have allowed the power of Christs presence for the shell of a body of tradition or a competitive entertainment . We need to get to the good seeds and scatter them far and near, and often We need to get back to sharing and planting and teaching the seeds of our faith.

  • God loves us, unconditionally
  • God has purpose for us, without doubt
  • God is with us, the presence of God’s spirit
  • God has made a way, Jesus and the cross
  • God is seen, through the intentional fruits of the church
  • God is real
  • God wants our heart, our trust, our love
  • God connects us

These are the seeds that we need to know, encourage and rely on in every day.

The seed is neither mighty nor the end of the story.. it is the continuous flow of starting points, that are repeated in every season.

The Work:

  1. Plant seeds of faith, small ones, every day, every where, every one.
  2. Develop the stalk, don’t tear someone down, build the structure and support
  3. Start with the heart work toward the head, rather than reverse.. roots grow with stalk, not the fruit first
  4. Fruit is for sharing and enjoying and replanting
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John 20:1-18 (9&11) “Name Calling: Whom Do You Seek?” JUMC 20140420 Easter Worship

JUMC Worship 9&11 Easter “Name Calling: Whom Do You Seek?” 20140420

Lectionary Readings from NRSV for Easter 2014 below:

NameCalling

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).   Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”  Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Today we retell the classic story of Easter and the discovery and witness of the risen Lord and the empty tomb.  Glory Hallelujah!

  • There is a progression in John’s Gospel from darkness to light and enlightenment.
  • There is a story unfolding of different people experiencing different parts of the story at different times.
  • This passage is shared as a testimony for belief, for us to believe and to share with others.

The evidence is fully revealed by Jesus’ choosing. Just as Jesus’ death was his choice for our benefit, so is his revealing of the power of the resurrection.

Jesus calls Mary by name. In hearing her name she recognizes her teacher and Savior. 

I want to invite you to share an Easter Prayer: We will pray aloud together, saying the name of Jesus three times together, slowly and then say our own name aloud three times, followed by three affirmations of faith: You are my teacher. You are my friend. You are my Savior.

Practice and pray together..

The turning point in the story is revealed to Mary. The first witness of the risen Christ. Peter and John see clothes and a missing body, but Mary see’s Jesus within her arms reach.

If Eve get’s the blame for being the first to recognize sin, Mary get’s the credit as the first to see and proclaim the resurrection as truth.

Here is the Easter Sunday problem..

We are all dress up. Family, friends and dinner is waiting on us. We know the story and it’s the old, old story we heard so long ago and so many times before.

The catch is: Have we heard Christ calling our name? Have we made a connection between the signs and symbols and the relationship?

For most of us: We answer sure: I have that relationship. I’m connected.

But there is a test when the connection is present: (IT lights lit up on the modem)

When we hear our name, when we hear the truth, when we recognize Jesus in our presence… is our response to tell someone who has not heard?

So I ask you this Easter Morning: Have you heard that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead? Yes

Do you believe it to be the truth?

Have you heard him call your name?

Is he your teacher and Savior?

Here is the essay question: When is the last time you shared this life-changing Good News with someone who does not know, who has forgotten, who has lost sight or meaning or power?

When is the last time you shared the power and witness of the Easter Story… because it’s not about signs and symbols, traditions and remembrances…

Jesus conquered death to be with us, to be in relationship, to be together… not just reverantly remembered.

I would say that this Easter Sunday we have some home work:

When you get home, you and I need to be talking about God’s love with everyone we meet, but most particularly with those who are seeking and search but have not found God’s love and power, God’s hope and direction. God’s blessing and grace.

Eggs and Bunnies are good signs but if we they are not building spiritual relationships: Then we only share the emptiness of the tomb and not the fullness of the living Christ.

It start in the naming. Let us practice this Easter Prayer: 

I want to invite you to share an Easter Prayer: We will pray aloud together, saying the name of Jesus three times together, slowly and then say our own name aloud three times, followed by three affirmations of faith: You are my teacher. You are my friend. You are my Savior.

Prayer: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, my name, my name, my name. You are my teacher, You are my friend, You are my Savior.

Add to it these words: Send me to those who have not heard, who have forgotten or give up. to those who are afraid and lone. Send me with your name. Amen.

You know the story, Share the savior with those who are still seeking.. Amen. Glory Hallelujah!

Other Lection Reading for this Sunday 

Acts 10:34-43 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ–he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Acts 10:34-43 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ–he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.  We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear,  not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.  He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

 

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MT 4.1-11 “Lead into Temptation” JUMC 20140309

 

Temptation

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

Types of Temptation: My Own, My Circle, Strangers

Stone to Bread

We want to blame the devil but we do a good tempting ourselves. We know our own weaknesses and lust without much struggle.

We live with the assumption that if no one knows, if no one else cares, if no one speaks up, then it’s just not that bad.

Living under the radar is directly about are relationship with God.

Pinnacle Jumping

There are those in our circles of influence: Those in our family, community, in the church or other groups who know our actions and see our deeds, and know what’s going on, but we point out each other’s sin and brokenness and keep each other’s silenced by mutual leverage.

We will mind our business and stay out of yours because we want to be perceived as “good Christian folks”

We don’t want to be tested ourselves so we don’t put each other to the test.

Mountain Maybes

Jesus is taken to a mountain top experience and sees the global perspective of personal choices.

We want to find the lowest price on our clothes, tools and toys but don’t tell us about the people working for pennies to make the prices so low.

We don’t want to connect our little sins with the folks who are certainly guilty of bigger sins. A sin maybe a sin, but the consequences aren’t the same.

What do we learn about Temptation

1. It is a real experience for us all, including Jesus

2. It most often comes when we are at our weakest moments.

3. It reaches every level of our experience.

4. Spiritual Retreat can be a good context for being prepared

5. Scripture is the first defence

6. We can be angels or devils to others, offering nurture and support or torment and pain.

If we pray, “Do not lead us into Temptation..” then we ought not “Lead others into temptation either.”

RETREAT ( a Lenten season of practicing being lead by God instead of ourselves, our friends and fears. )

I have a micro retreat in the next five minutes. Don’t look at your watch, allow me to be the time keeper…

Spend the next five minutes prayer for God to strengthen you in the face of your sin, weakness, struggles, fears and failures.

Spend the next five minutes reading scripture for your support

Spend the next five minutes thinking of ways you might minister to someone who has been torn by sin and separation

Then together we will pray for strength and power and trust.

 

 

 

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Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 Peace to this House JUMC 20130702

Everywhere Missionary

Everywhere Missionary

10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2 He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ 6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ 16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” 18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

[NRSV]

First this passage is an encouragement to the three mission teams we are supporting this month and the team of folks working at CERF and Smart Kids, Smart Lunch.

The number of folks willing to be available to take on a personal mission is limited. This is the heart of our Everywhere Missionary program.

The instruction is given the book-ends of encouragement and inspiration.

  • On one hand there is the encouragement to know that we are going where Christ is preparing to go.
  • Not everyone will be ready nor receptive
  • The measure of successful mission is not in the number of people served, but in the willingness to go out to where the people are rather than wait for them to come to us.
  • And instructions are given for both the open hearts and the closed minds.

I enjoy baseball and one of things I like about the game is that the successful players are celebrated for getting a hit thirty percent of the time.

  • Jesus knows the six dozen folks that are going on this mission will not always see great things.
  • But the reports that return are the success stories.

Think about the Braves, the end of the game wrap up is not how many times Freddy, Simpson, and McCain struck out. They talk about the hits, doubles and home runs.

But with the successes come plenty of strike outs and errors.

We come to the table of Christ, where disciples gather for encouragement and inspiration

Not because we are successful but rather because we have sinned, failed and find ourselves striking out.

 Challenge:

Each of us have the opportunity to be on Christ’s mission..

Will go Go where Christ is preparing to be or sit this one out?

 

Everywhere Missionary EverywhereBrochure_20130501

  • Pray Daily
  • Do at least 1 item from the Mission Calendar* Weekly
  • Read and Write Monthly
  • Give or Volunteer Annually

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