Posts Tagged #grief

Luke 2:41-52 “Finding Jesus Afterwards” 20160104

findJesus

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. [NRSA]

For starters, it’s still Christmas season and its not too late to find Jesus.

My guess is that we have covered in the last 50 years of Peanuts,(TM) Linus rendition of the first part of Luke’s Gospel about the decree from Ceasar Agustus, the baby born in the manger, the shepherds and the heavenly multitude, but have we found Jesus?

One of my favorite lines from the Forrest Gump movie is when Sergeant Dan asks Forrest if he had found Jesus, to which Forrest replies, “I didn’t know he was lost.”

While the passage for today gives us a rare glimpse into the childhood of Jesus, it also gives an opportunity to identify with losing Jesus. And the how quickly we lose what we think we have. Rather than asking have you found Jesus, we need to ask more often: Have you lost him?

The story of the parents, Mary and Joseph, who found favor and blessing to be the parents of Jesus as good and faithful folks, they too lose connection for a variety of reasons in one passage:

After Preoccupation
The parents were busy doing what moms and dads do and in those responsibilities and distractions a door is opened to focus on themselves than on Jesus.

Can we turn off the TV, stop talking about work, stop worrying about the grown-up things to play-teach-listen-and-be present without children and grandchildren? (Not entertaining, distracting or pacifying them, rather being present with them, doing nothing else.)

As important as Parental/Adult/Grownup responsibilities demand, they are not more important than time present with Jesus.

After Assuming
We certainly know what ‘you’ and ‘I’ are when we ASSume. What does one day assuming we have Jesus securely in our lives look like. What’s one day?

The classic Christmas movie, Home Alone, points to the room for evil and fear to take hold when we leave Jesus behind. And it happens most likely unintentionally.

But in the real world, what could be so bad about one day without praying? Without reading? Missing one Sunday? Missing one time of service? Not only are we missed by God and others we never expected, but ‘we’ also make ourselves vulnerable.

It starts the downward spiral if “I can do it by myself.” which we started at age two and somehow favor over “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Don’t assume Jesus is with you, check in daily, hourly, with every breath.

After Anxiety
Mary and Joseph were at the point of fear and anxiousness in dealing with the absence of Jesus. Rather than being in communication in the first place, there is the moment when we see the fear of what life looks like without Jesus leading us.

After Loss
How devastating our perspective becomes when we are grieving. It is a natural process of dealing with loss. It might be the loss of a relationship, a job, a dream, or any other confrontation with separation.

After Searching
Frantically, Mary and Joseph begin to search. The look, they ask, the retrace where they had been. Jesus is right where they left him. Mary and Joseph were distracted, preoccupied, assuming someone else had their relationship for them; they begin to recognize the separation and are each torn by fear, anxiety and grief. From their place separation, they begin to search.

Finding Jesus
The search until they find Jesus. Our journey toward Jesus is the remedy for sin and separation: “We search until we find.”

Some folks are searching for “God’s love in the flesh” and mistaking that for physical things and physical feelings and physical relationships. These physical things are all part of our human experience, but the ‘things’ that gets lost is our spiritual self, our spiritual relationship, our spiritual nature.

As we conclude the Christmas season, let us make sure, for all the gifts given, received, exchanged and returned, that we are certain we start the new year having found Jesus, fresh and new.

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Psalm 126 Bringing in the Sheets 20151025 RSUMC

BringingInTheSheetsWhen 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]

Recently I was listening to one of Frances’s new, favorite Taylor Swift songs, where I once again mis-heard the words of the chorus. Instead of standing in a new dress, I heard, “standing in an ice chest.” I suppose both could be signs of love and devotion depending on the weather and if the ice chest was filled with ice. This familiar passage from Psalm 126 is at the heart of the Knowles Shaw‘s hymn, “Bringing in the Sheaves.”

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.

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John 6.13-21 Why Are You Afraid? 20150726 RSUMC

Woman damaged house and holding her head with both hands

Be not afraid?

So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going. [NRSV]

I love this passage, but it is so much more powerful remembering the setting and context of the storm on the sea.

On the Tail of Miraculous Blessing: 12 Baskets for 12 Disciples

  • Think of the times that God has blessed us in the past.
  • Remembering the witnesses of our past and others.
  • Keeping our current storm in the context of where God has guided us before.
  • If we look only at the storm in the present, we see only the fear, grief and lack of control.

Life in the Storm:  What are our current storms?

  • Politics
  • Racism
  • Terrorism
  • Economic
  • Marriage and Divorce
  • Drugs
  • Grief
  • That is a good starting list..

This is why we start with the context of where God has been revealed in the past.

Time to make a list of 12 examples where God has blessed, loved, forgiven, showed-up in our lives:

  1. God showed up in the backyard of a house church in Monterrey, Mexico and called me to preach.
  2. God showed up in the worship service and fellowship at Camp Glisson in the rock chapel.
  3. God showed up to surround me in love through my father and grandmothers and a dozen churches.
  4. God showed up to broaden my heart and mind in seminary study and worship.
  5. God showed in the lives of children in Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Honduras, Moscow
  6. God shows up nudging me to pray, call, contact within two hours
  7. God showed in ideas that I think are my own but God reveals them to you and when you share them, I am confirmed.
  8. God shows us when someone is looking for God to speak and I have nothing to say and God’s words come rolling out.
  9. God shows us to convict, cleanse and correct when I have messed up.
  10. God shows up when I pray asking for direction
  11. God shows up when I put myself in a place of listening and reflection
  12. God shows up when I lay aside my mind and worries and come to worship and praise.

Making the a List as an act of preparing for my storms and your storms.

The disciples did not ask for faith lesson, they were tired, needed a retreat-vacation and the work interrupted,

and when much needed break was in order, they are overwhelmed by a life-threatening storm.

Jesus is in the storm with them.

When they invite Jesus in, the storm is over.

The Lesson: The sooner we invite Jesus in the boat, the less time fear leads our lives.

To go back to the list of fears:

  1. Politics: We can’t be ostriches, we must be involved leaders and prophets
  2. Racism: What builds our community and what divides us?
  3. Terrorism: We love the person but denounce the behavior
  4. Economic: Discern where our heart/faith clings fast?
  5. Marriage: Are we Godly, not only at the wedding, but throughout the relationship
  6. Divorce: Acknowledge marriage is sometime not repairable, but angry people are hurting all around
  7. Drugs: This is maybe the biggest storm that affects our families
  8. Grief: Loss of loved ones
  9. Death/End times: What is our part in the larger story? Where is our foundation? Where is our love in loss?

This is a time, as disciples, we need to encourage instead of judge, gossip and distance ourselves. 

  • Remember where God shows up, Reminds us we are never alone.
  • Remember we are in this together and need each others support.
  • Remember the storms are coming, but in Christ, we will make it through.

Angels announced: Be Not Afraid, God is here.

Emmanuel: God is with us!

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