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Posts Tagged listen

Matthew 18:15-20 “Tying and Untying Knots” RSUMC 20140907

crossknot.jpg “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” [NRSV]

The power of process

Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness is very METHODICAL. (He’d make a good Methodist)
Too often I hear the story of people who get upset with the church or church people and especially the preacher/pastor. On one hand, not one of us is closer to God nor is anyone of us loved more than the other. We all make mistakes. We have all offended and rejected people, intentionally and unintentionally. On the other hand Jesus is telling Matthew and the other disciples persistence in dealing with conflict.

First confront the person one-to-one, (Don’t talk about, gossip, imply to those who might say something.) Take responsibility for your part of the conversation.
Second, if that does not work, take witnesses. (This is its own category, we will discuss in a moment)
Third, take the whole matter to the community. The need of the individual is relevant to the larger community.

Most folks give up before starting the process. We talk to everyone, except those directly involved and want someone else to confront. The next time conflict arrises. Try talking one-on-one, express your experience and expectation. Give the other person or party the opportunity to respond. If they don’t confront and share the same, take a witness or two. If the few of you can’t resolve it continue to expand the pool of witnesses and perspectives.

The power of a witness

A Witness may not be someone who saw or heard the events in question, but can hear and see the follow-up conversation. Think of the role of a counselor or a referee. Someone who can help us speak the truth, speak our hearts and confront with word rather than rage or worse.

This model of witness is our general role as Christian disciples. We are not witnesses to the events of the first century Jesus, but we ARE witnesses to the Word and Work of Jesus and the church in the 21st century.

The power of binding

In wedding we often refer to a couple “tying the knot.” This is symbolically seen in the double fisherman’s knot. For fly fishing it works well to join a leader line to the main line. The more loops on each knot makes the end resulting knot when tightened together one of the strongest of all knots, because of the equality of pressure.

How we respond as a faith community and church family tell our salvation story. If people see and hear us upset over money, property, shared space in the building, and not see our feeding the hungry, embracing the oppressed and being friends with the sinners then we fail the opportunity entrusted to us. Which in some cases lasts for generations.

Granddaddy said those church folks are cheats and liars” that’s why we don’t go to that church. Half of our work in witnesses is usually untying knots we didn’t tie and never knew were their.

Homework: show someone how to tie a knot, a shoelace, a neck tie, a hair bow, a fishing knot and talk with them about what knots need to be kneaded out, loosen and untied to free up people for the opportunity of grace and love.

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Luke 16:19-31 While You Still Can JUMC 20130929

Glass-of-Water-1
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house– for I have five brothers–that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'” [NRSV]

Reversal of Status:

There was a rich man, his name is not stated.
And, there was a poor man, named Lazarus.

The Lives to Two Dead Men
The rich man had find clothes, food a plenty
Lazarus was clothed with sores, and his only friends were stray dogs.

Despite their differences in wealth and status
Despite whether they had access to affordable healthcare or not
The both died.

They were both born, they both died.
But now, the rich man, He sat in Hell.
And, Lazarus, the poor man, was seated with Father Abraham, sipping cool beverages in heaven.

You can take it with you.

Folks use this phrase to encourage others to use and enjoy their assets. But I suggest to you that they both took something with them of great value.
Both carried the weight of trust in the system, faith and relationship they had know.

Lazarus took his ability to trust and wait upon the grace of God with him.
We see him aligned with the Father of ‘the’ covenant of the old testament.
We see him continuing in the care of God’s protect, patience and providence.

The rich man took his fear and separation with him beyond the grave.
He see he is still looking at Lazarus as a servant and person who was to do his work and bidding.
We see him looking to tell others what to do, fixing the situation by his own plan and his own will and design.

That Chasm is Wide

Lazarus, carried by angels to heaven
The rich fellow, tormented by flames in hell.
Is there no bridge?
Is there no way across?
Is there no work around or way to reach to share a comforting cup of cool water?
Nope.

There is a fundamental difference in the different ways we reach the same goal.
Two roads diverge in a yellow wood..

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost (1874–1963). Mountain Interval. 1920.

The difference is made in the choice of which path we travel.
I Choose the Lazarus Path
Does that mean we must become poor and sick and live as an outcast?
I would say that is one possibility, but not the only reality.

There are plenty of those who have wealth enough and still find themselves in heaven, right? I would say yes, for some that is indeed true.

What is the different path?

The rich man has the idea but would anyone listen to his idea?

Idea: Why don’t you send someone from the dead to tell the living?
Great idea, but who will listen and so change their life and daily walk…

Validation of the Old Testament: the rich man is told, Lazarus found his way through Abraham, let them listen to what they claim to already know.

Bottom Line: We know, we need to act like we know.
Live for God while you have the spark of hope and life to live.
Live for Christ while you have ideas and strength to serve.
Live in the Spirit while you have breathe to breath.

Don’t wait for someone to hand out your food, your work, your healthcare, or your
Take God’s gift of salvation in Christ and unwrap it today.
Take the gift of the Holy Spirit and follow it today.
Take the gift of this fellowship to encourage your walking in faith.
Take the call to share this faith with those who will listen, who will believe and trust.. because they see God at work in you.

I need a drink of cool water, how about you?

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