Posts Tagged extravagance

Genesis 50:15-21 “Grudge Match” RSUMC 20140921

GrudgeHand 15 Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?” 16 So they approached Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this instruction before he died, 17 “Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.’ Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, “We are here as your slaves.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20 Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. 21 So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them. [NRS]

The Leverage of the Grudge:
This passages is the point of reversal in the Joseph story. Joe, in an act of restitution, at best and getting even, at worst asks his brothers to bring his father to see him.

There is a fine line between teaching a lesson and passive aggressive attempt of getting even. On one hand the hiding of treasures in the food supply bags and asking for the journey of his youngest brother and then father, together are delicate examples of learning from punitive responsibilities. Joseph was captive, rejected, sold into slavery. The brothers are afraid but never in actual danger.

Fear and Avoidance
The power of fear is a great force. Think of those things, people, relationships, and feelings we fear: Name three: (Not: Fear of sharing, fear of talking in church, fear of being to close to someone else)

  • We are afraid of embarrassment, failure, weakness that we avoid the truth, avoid conversations, avoid confrontation.
  • We are afraid of what might happen, and make little allowance for what has actually happen. There is a healthy level of fear that keeps us respecting fire, electricity and causing harm to others.
  • But when fear keeps us from relationship, then we give in to the power of fear and allow it greater strength than God, grace and mercy (forgiveness)

Shared Love, Shared Grief
When the brothers confront Joseph and confess their father’s death, the are joined in their grief. Fear melts in their common loss and common love.

Some funerals remind us of our own frailty, But our grief is shared because we share love for the person who died or we love those who are dealing with the loss.

Do Not Be Afraid
The common words of assurance are “Be Not Afraid.” It is the same encouragement that angels announce to Mary and to shepherd and to Disciples after the resurrection.

When we find the core love that binds our relationship, we have the foundation for what it means to be a Christian.

This is the homework: Last week it was easy to eat, this week we step things back up. Be attentive and alert for someone who is afraid: Starting with the love that unites us in Christ then speak the truth in that love. Because being in that relationship is better than being right.

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Matthew 14:13-21 Its What’s For Dinner RSUMC 20140803

breadedfirshNow when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. [NRSV]

How much can 5000 men eat, besides women and children.

I’ve seen some women and children who could eat.

Five Loaves and Two Fish

More like Five rolls and two tenders.

• Not fried, no tarter or seafood sauce. Grilled or salted.
• The number and menu are not the significant part of the story. It is the simplicity of the lunch that is the contrasting point.
• The feast where all were filled was neither a covered-dish nor a trip to Golden Correl. The example of extravagance of abundance is the contrast.

The Heart of the Meal

The focal point is the contrast of what appears to be what we don’t have to having more than we need when God is at the heart of our worship, meal, studies and fellowship.

The world that preaches new and more.

As we come to the table, the meal prepared by disciples and offered to us, through Christ.. points us to what is left us..

Left overs

The meal does not change, the people are transformed.

Homework

Offer more of what we don’t have to God and see how much we have to share…

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Matthew 2:1-12 Wise Men Bring Gifts to Christ 20140105 JUMC

Are these for Jesus or Me?
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,  asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”  When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him;  and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.  They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:  ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'”  Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared.  Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”  When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.  On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. [NRSV]

Christmas Gifts

If you think about how much time we spend thinking about the perfect gifts to give, looking for the best deal, waiting in lines or for the deliveries to arrive, wrapping and transporting our gifts. There is a great deal of investment in every gift, no matter the monitory value of the gift itself.

Do you ever read about Mary and Joseph giving each other gifts? Did the shepherds draw names and play games to see who gets which gift? Do the Maji just find the best deal along the way or at the last moment?

Gift giving can hold many different meanings.

The obligatory gift is an oxymoron. Gifts ought be given of free will and love and not obligation. But if you don’t give someone a gift there is hell to pay in the not giving. Can you imaging only giving gifts to some of your family and not to all of them. What would be the message if you didn’t explain why.

  • Did you run out of money or just didn’t want to spend your resources.
  • “Its not the gift its the love or thought that counts”  But how do you express your thoughts and love? Is it clear to the recipient?
  • Did you run out of time, ideas, opportunity? Could you not make a home-made card from a used piece of paper that expressed your heart?
  • “We can’t buy everyone something” My great-grandmother in her late nineties still bought a bar of soap for every member of her nearly 100 member extended family. “It is something I know you can use, so use it and think of me.”
  • Did you get everyone something, or many somethings, but you gave them what you wanted them to have or to become?
  • Gifts are a tradition: I bought my father Old-Spice Soap-on-a-rope for years just because he seemed to like them on Christmas morning. I was helping him carry some boxes to donate and found three soaps-on-a-rope from the past three years and I got the message.

Gift Giving Is a Tricky Business

What do we learn for the Wise men? Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh 

Wealth, Extravagant Royal spa treatment and Glade Tomb-fresher

Gold has been a standard of exchange and value, beauty and tender for thousands of years. Frankincense comes for the roots of a small shrub that contains trace amounts of fragrant oil and was burning in the palaces of the king Herod daily and made as offerings to their gods without end. Myrrh, smells like dried prunes and was used in preparing a tomb.

  • Gold is completely practical: A gift card.
  • Frankincense: Extravagant Generosity, acknowledging Jesus as true King.
  • Myrrh: A Preparing for Jesus’ death, even at his birth. Telling the whole story
  • The Star-watching Travelers Journey: You have to leave home, journey in faith and uncertainty, and follow the signs you have.

Reframing our Gift Giving Practice

If you take a painting or photo and removed it from the frame and mat and exchange the boundaries, you will see the image in a new way with new meaning.

So go with the same gifts we have given: What if we connected why we give the gift with the hope we have for the gift.

“I gave you this tie, because I want you to look your best, feel confident and want you to think of our love when you wear it.”

Is that what you meant the gift to be? or did you just need something to go with a shirt.

“I gave you this game, because I want you to know joy and to share time at home playing with me. I want to spend more time being with you.”

Is that what you meant the gift to say? of did you just know they were hinting like crazy for that game.

“I gave you this vacuum cleaner because I am unimaginative but I do like a clean house and I want it to be easier on me to keep the floor and our home clean for you.”

Is that what you meant to gift to do? of did you just know the old one blew out and you needed a new one anyway.

Keep the Magi Model in mind:

Not just with Christmas gift, but all gives, seasonal, birthday and church gifts..

Practical AND Extravagant AND with a Purpose, Explained.

So Now You Tell Me..

So John, why didn’t you tell us this before Christmas. I don’t have a great answer but I will say: It is never to late to explain our gifts.

Don’t assume the message is conveyed that you hoped for the person. Tell them.

Finally. . be known as doing all three parts in your giving

Practical AND Extravagent AND with a Purpose, Explained.

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John 12:1-8 “Extravagance: how to give not what to give” JUMC 10/17/2010

1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” (John 12.1-8 NRSV)

Among the Hebrews, the act of anointing with the Holy anointing oil was significant in consecration to a holy or sacred use: hence the anointing of the high priest (Exodus 29:29; Leviticus 4:3) and of the sacred vessels (Exodus 30:26). Later, Kings and Prophets were given the right to partake in this sacrament as well.

Medicinal: Olive oil was used also for medicinal purposes. It was applied to the sick, and also to wounds (Psalms 109:18; Isaiah 1:6).

Preparation: “Baseball Glove: Neatsfoot oil” : The expression, “anoint the shield” (Isaiah 21:5), refers to the custom of rubbing oil on the leather of the shield so as to make it supple and fit for use in war.

Hospitality: It was the custom of the Jews in like manner to anoint themselves with oil, as a means of refreshing or invigorating their bodies (Deuteronomy 28:40; Ruth 3:3; 2 Samuel 14:2; Psalms 104:15, etc.). The Hellenes had similar customs. This custom is continued among the Arabs to the present day.

Authority: Priests and kings: The High Priest and the king are each sometimes called “the anointed” (Leviticus 4:3-5, 4:16; 6:20; Psalm 132:10). Prophets were also anointed with the Holy anointing oil.(1 Kings 19:16; 1 Chronicles 16:22; Psalm 105:15). Anointing a king was equivalent to crowning him; in fact, in Israel a crown was not required (1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Samuel 2:4, etc.). Thus David was anointed as king by the prophet Samuel: hen Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.—1 Samuel 16:13.

Christian Gospels
The Messiah: distinct from the Jewish view, Christians[who?] believe the “anointed” one referred to in various biblical verses such as Psalm 2:2 and Daniel 9:25-26 is the promised Messiah. According to the Jewish Bible, whenever someone was anointed with the specific Holy anointing oil formula and ceremony described in Exodus 30:22-25, the Spirit of God came upon this person, to qualify him or her for a God-given task. Believing that Jesus was never anointed in this way,[citation needed] some Christians take a spiritual reading of anointed, and believe that Jesus was “anointed” with the Holy Spirit directly According to the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth is this Anointed One, the Messiah (John 1:41; Acts 9:22; 17:2-3; 18:5, 18:28). The Gospels also state that he was physically “anointed” by an anonymous woman who is interpreted by some as Mary Magdalene; however, this anointing was not in the fashion described in Exodus, but rather an anointing done out of affection, which Jesus stated was to prepare him for his burial.

Hospitality: Anointing was also an act of hospitality, as Jesus was anointed in the house of the Pharisee (Luke 7:38-46).
Medicinal: The New Testament records that oil was applied to the sick, and also to wounds Mark 6:13; James 5:14).
Burial: The bodies of the dead were sometimes anointed (Mark 14:8; Luke 23:56).

Mary, anoints Jesus.. oil and frankincense, for king. Olive oil for healing and protection would have been fine.
But Nard…

* classification of Dipsacales (in Dipsacales (plant order): Valerianaceae) …is a perennial herb prized for its spicy, fragrant flowers; it is native in Europe and Western Asia. Its dried rhizome yields valerian, a natural sedative. Nardostachys grandiflora (spikenard) is a perennial herb of the Himalayas that produces an essential oil in its woody rhizomes.

It is from steam distillation of the woody root that the oil is collected.
Nard is most likely a yellows honey like viscosity
It was used to calm or tranquilizing effect
In its pure state it would burn the skin and linger for some time..

I learned through a difficult experience… placing a q-tip in nard and wiping it across the back of the bulletins sent two members to the emergency room when they touched the oil to their eyes.

It smells like a greenhouse filled with gardenias… It has a spicy hint like cardamom. It feels sticky like honey. It’s sent is so strong that it burns the eyes.

Why does Mary anoint Jesus? As an act of worship..
Anointing is generally a small amount of oil, usually olive or olive with frankincense, as a sign.

Poor Costly Nard ( Rev. D.M. Brantley )
Nard applied to his feet, dirty feet, Smelly, dusty feet.

Why waste the costly nard to clean dirty feet?


Why waste the expensive salve


On the crusty and corn infested feet


Of a wandering Galilean rabbi?


Of a better use, Judas imposes,


For the sake of the poor


That precious ointment stuff could be traded


To a proud lady, (Who has no need for body lotions),


So soft, clean and unexposed to the sun and wind


And Palestinian sands.


Pricely nard Is her fragrance of affluence and stature?


Why waste it on common, dirty feet?


Feet that know not the smell of feel


Of softness and gentle caress.


Ask not “Why?” says he;


It is a beautiful thing


That has been done for me,


An act that always will be told


As the anointing for my burial.


Go, Judas, he is ready to be sold.


Waste not the nard,


Waste not the man,


Thirty pieces of silver await


To help you feed the poor.


Poor Jesus’ feet.


Poor costly nard.


Poor traitor, Judas.


Poor poor.

Mary is worshiping Jesus in a way that was RADICAL hospitality.
Mary is pouring out her whole heart in way that showed her PASSIONATE worship
Mary is placing herself at Jesus’ feet with the INTENTIONAL place of spiritual connection
Mary is cross the traditions and expectation of others as a RISK TAKING service to Jesus as the Christ
Mary is acting EXTRAVAGANTLY with her generosity in giving her gift to Christ.

The fruit of Mary’s actions point to the effect Jesus had on her life.

Think of everyone else in the house:
Lazarus, raised from the dead… he had something to shout about, he is silent
Martha, who had been busy cleaning, decoration, preparing and planning… is not near Jesus
11 of the Disciples are silent… they had seen miracles, healing and teachings… they sit there..
Judas, speaks up: She is wasteful.. that $300 could have fed the 5000, she has no business sense.
Any others there: silent, absent, unknown..

Preparing for Christ is not waiting in fear or silence..
Preparing for Christ is GRASPING the moment and living it FULLY for Christ!

WHERE DID MARY GET THE AUTHORITY TO ANOINT JESUS?
From the communion of her spirit and the Holy Spirit.. It was the only thing she could do.

Q: What in your spirit, in your heart, is compelled to do or say or be for Jesus Christ today?

Philippians 3: 13 Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you.

What is the ONE thing that you can do, today,.. toward the goal of Jesus Christ?
What are you doing with what you have, this very day, for Christ…
If Jesus asked you for ten, and you looking in your wallet and found only a twenty… ask for change?
If Jesus asked you give you coat to someone who was cold, would you write him a check?
If Jesus was about to show us and start taking names.. where would you hide?
If Jesus showed you someone who was about to
..take Methamphetamine for the first time… would you knock down the door?
..take their own life, would you stand outside and wait?
..roll over and go back to bed on Easter Sunday morning, would you let them sleep through it?
..hungry and drive past?

Mary and her jar of Nard are a wake-up call for all who sit back following the rules, expectations and routine:
Jesus is with us, here and now.. LIVE LIKE IT! Or don’t complain about those who praise him.

Sit there and do nothing.
Christ will be with us always, Even to the end.
Count the cost.
Wait your turn.
Be polite.
Follow the rules.
Mind your business.
Keep quiet.

I APPEAL TO YOU, Do something EXTRAVAGANT for Christ, Today or step out of the way for those who will.

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