Posts Tagged faithful

Isaiah 58.1-12 “Repair the Streets” JUMC 20140209

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Acts 16.16-34 JUMC 20130512 Go for the Whole Family

palm-reading-1From the book of Acts:
16 One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. 17 While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” 18 She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. 19 But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. 20 When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews 21 and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23 After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. 34 He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God. [NRSV]

This account of life in the early faith community offers a role model of RADICAL hospitality.

First, Paul and Silas go to a place of prayer. Instead of finding a quiet place of reflection and meditation:

  • In this worshipful place there someone not only praying on the frailty of those who are searching and looking for direction and answers as they come to pray,
  • the are also confronted with  someone oppressed in forced labor being exploited for profit, and  
  • They are confronted with an opportunity to do something good that will break the law, damage ‘property’ and land them in jail if they do the ‘right’ and Godly thing.

Disciples living is not just a collection of thoughts, sayings and ideas.. it is a way that we live as people of the Holy Spirit.

What or whom are we willing to be taken to court? financial fine or even risk jail time? There is a cost of addressing sin and oppression.

  • There has been much debate about immigration issues in our nation. No matter what you might think we should do as a nation. A key part of the problem is the willingness of those to hire people who are not living here legally a wage less than legal workers. We can’t say we don’t want these people in our country and at the same time fund the reasons why they are willing to risk to come here.
  • We want to have the best price and not be foolish with the resources we have, but would we want our family members, of younger and older ages, being paid pennies to do a task that makes it affordable for our great discounted deal?

There is real hands on response made by Paul and Silas and the others to transform as life and a community.

Paul is annoyed that the evil spirit is telling the message of the faithful. 

There are times that  a mother would like for her children to set a good role model and it 

Story, belt, hat, and nose wiper.. Preacher came to eat lunch..

How difficult it is when the tattooed, pierced, beatnik-type shows the grace and acceptance that others might judge or run away.

It frustrating when the voice of truth comes from the oppressed. It brings conviction to us all.

The Disciples free her from spiritual and economic oppression, leave her without a livelihood, and effect her ‘owners’ as well.

Disciples are not protected from evil for doing the Good, Godly thing.

WHAT IS THE MOTIVATION?

The Salvation story comes through an earthquake, a stayed suicide and an invitation to the family table.

Granny’s table: There is room for you and you are seated at the head, as it is round.

It doesn’t sound like a mother’s day passage, but

  • what mother would not want her oppressed daughter to be free.
  • What mother would not welcome a husband filled with faith
  • What mother does not want to see who whole family around God’s table

All of them, let’s step it up and make Mom proud.

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