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Posts Tagged Praise

Luke 19:28-44

PalmCross  As [Jesus] was going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?’ just say this, “The Lord needs it.’ “ So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.
  As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop. He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
  As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.” [NRSV]
The entrance into the holy city Jerusalem is akin to the presidential motorcade after the inauguration swearing in service. People lined the way, shoulder to shoulder, waving and cheering the confirmation of their new leader. But Jesus did not arrive in the usual way. Neither had he been endorsed by the Sadducees nor Pharisees. He entered riding on the back of a humble work animal instead of a proud steed of power and status. He was praised by the disciples, those who had been healed, fed, blessed and taught along the way of Jesus’s ministry. I make NO contemporary political correlation to candidates running today, only to the stress and strife of a non-establishment figure being ushered into the city by the voice of the people.
We may have more insight into the context of this event that other generations. The Pharisees saying, “If this Jesus becomes our leader, I’m leaving Jerusalem” The Sadducees saying, “If they don’t get a handle on this outsider, we will take steps to bring our own man in.” Do you get the scene and the tensions?
The establishment says, stop your people from this circus. Teacher, we hold you responsible for the chaos. It’s your fault. We will stop you if you don’t stop the unruly crowd. [Again, I am not suggestion that any of our political figures are messianic leaders, but I am listening to the similarities of the crowds and the commentators and voices of the establishments then and now.]
All this sets the stage for Palm Sunday. We would much rather look at the scenes of the children lining the streets waving along the Jesus parade as a sweet image of Palm Sunday and not see the emerging political unrest that blows up in less than a week. I believe it is vitally important to look at the politics that is very much part of the Palm Sunday story.
The sweetest fruit in this passage from Luke’s Gospel is about seeing and not seeing. It is about believing and refusing to believe. It is about choosing to accep or closing our eyes, “sticking our heads in the sand in times of fear”,
instead of proclaiming
  • Jesus Christ is real,
  • Jesus is King, and
  • Jesus is with us.
The secondary witness is about praise that cannot be held back.
  • When we know Jesus is real, this becomes the foundation of our life
  • When we know Jesus is King, this becomease the guide for our living
  • When we know Jesus is with us, nothing can stop us from praising.
So What is “Palm Sunday About?”
  • There story is about preparing for worship
  • The story is about making way/room for Jesus in our public/fears
  • The story is about remaing awake and aleart that it is Jesus that leads us and not anything or anyone esle.
Where does Peace come from? The Prince of Peace:
  • Peace does not come from armies and weapons
  • Peace does not come from governments and policies
  • Peace does not come from acts of kindness and justice
  • Peace comes from God, through Jesus Christ, guided by the Spirit, through the church, through us for for the whole world.
Palm Sunday is about seeking peace from God with us.
If we cant’ see God with us, we will never find Peace.
Peace in Syria?, in Instanbull?, in the media? in the streets of our nation? in our homes? in our hearts?
  • Peace comes when Jesus comes in.
  • Peace comes when Jesus is praised
  • Peaces is possible to see when we see God showing up on our streets.
We life our palm brances as signs of a
  • new life,
  • a new way
  • a new day, made possible thorugh Jesus Chirst, our King.
The Practice response..
Start with what we have: cloaks and branches and pave the way.
Start with our
  • Praise
  • Words
  • Witness of kindness
  • Forgiving first,
Loving even though others have not loved us first
  • Our hearts
  • Our gifts
  • Our time
  • Our presence
  • Our wintess
Use these to pave the way for Christ to enter our
  • hearts,
  • conversations,
  • homes,
  • streets,
  • communities,
  • nation and the world.
That means raise the praise in church but don’t stop there, don’t stop now,
LIft Christ… and let a hurting, hateful, fearful, broken world know Jesus is here.
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Ephesians 5:15-20 Time for Spiritual Songs 20150816 RSUMC

image Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts. giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. [NRSV]

Spiritual feeding:

We have talked about connecting with the Spirit through scripture, communion and today I offer through songs, spiritual songs. success and hard work make our salvation

 

There are many ways to empty our spirit.  

Poor, unwise choices

wasting time

fooling ourselves that we make our own rules, success and blessings

numbing ourselves in the drunkenness of wine and ignorance

Focus on what feeds our spirit 

the prescription for drunkenness is spiritual singing.

The script for ignorance is spiritual singing

the medicine for fulling ourselves is spiritual singing

Historically, Methodist have been known as “Those singing Methodist”

Different songs for different courses

Praise

Confession

Strength

Celebration

Thanksgiving

Grief

Healing,

Silence

New songs /old Favorites

Tell the Story, in song

Share Songs with God and Neighbors and yourself

Write your favorites  3×5 cards to turn in and share with others , two copies

write new songs,

sing old songs

Sing sing sing, get your new bucket with no holes

 

 

 

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Mark 16:1-8 “Terrorized and Amazed” RSUMC 20150405 Easter Sunrise

keepquietHeisRISENWhen the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid. [NRSV]

The oldest copies of the book of Mark end the story at this point, at verse 8.

In reading the whole book of Mark there is a series of points where Jesus reveals the news about his identity and he tells the disciples to keep quiet and not tell anyone.

At least six times, Jesus tells folks to keep quiet:

  1. At Jesus Baptism, before anyone could respond to God’s voice, “”You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
  1. The Evil Spirit’s know him 1.24 and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.
  1. And Jesus cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.  1.34
  1. While healing a man with Leprosy 1.41 Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
  1. On the Mountain of Transfiguration 9: 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.
  1. Healing the Blind man 10:46Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!

In reading the whole book of Mark as one story and not verse-by-verse, we would see this is in fact the seventh time Jesus’ true identity is reveal and the young man, dressing a white robe, a heavenly messenger is declaring the news.

So now at the pinnacle of story revealed in the face of the empty tomb. Those who see the empty tomb and hear the first word, first hand..

They are told to GO TELL!

And, they who know the Good News, Trust and Clear: They say nothing because of fear.

The Power of Fear

Terror and Amazement seized them: We live in a time where we hear daily about the unbelievable and amazingly horrific terrorism in the world and we can’t believe it.

Remember the words at Jesus’s birth from the angels to the shepherd, “Be Not Afraid, for here is GOOD NEWS, for the world.”

LEAVE THIS PLACE AND TELL EVERYONE

He is Risen!! He lives in Me and Lives in You!!

Tell seven people today… Jesus lives in me.

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1 Corinthians 15:1-11 “Save A Life” RSUMC 20150405 Easter Sunday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you–unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them–though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe. [NRSV]

My Task is to Remind You about Jesus

  • Jesus wants a relationship with us, brothers and sisters, join heirs.
  • God has been at work before you knew it or even claim it
  • God’s Good News of Jesus Christ is the footings/foundation of our faith
  • God’s Good News concerning our relationship through Jesus is to be shared
  • God’s Good News is the witness of God’s actions of love and saving grace.

You can believe this Good News to be true in your head and miss the power of the relationship.

  • A marriage certificate is not a marriage. I marriage is covenant shared with God.
  • When I hear folks at a funeral say, “At least I hear him say he had given his heart to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. So I don’t have to worry about his salvation.” I begin to worry about the salvation of the person making that statement.
  • Jesus died and came back to life, raised from the dead, not to hear our words but to claim our heart and relationship.
  • (Cartersville Pickup Truck Funeral: [tragic construction related death, two wives and a girl friend meet at the funeral home for the first time.] “At least we thought he was a church going man based on the bulletin in his bible.”)

Paul’s Caution #1 “if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you–unless you have come to believe in vain. 

I want to show you a simple invitation: a 9 volt battery

Did you know in thsmokealarme National Fire Prevention Association reported last year that 47% of wired smoke alarms are non functioning, and 56% of battery only smoke alarms were non functioning.

Nearly 80% of those had missing or worn out batteries.

On average there are 120,000 deaths related to structural fires. The potential for 96,000 fewer deaths if we knew for sure, that the smoke detectors had working batteries.

When they called people and ask them, do you have a working smoke alarm with a new battery, 74% reported yes

When a random sample went to visit the same homes to check the battery charge level, only 45% had working batteries.

What is the difference between knowing the statistics and actually plugging into the power to have device that saves lives?

-It is the same difference between knowing about Jesus, and being plugged into the power of God’s Spirit, through Jesus.

How many people think the words and say the words, but have dead or missing batteries…

How many people know the stories and see the church, but respond negatively or with apathy, just ignore the news?

If you knew that most homes don’t have a working battery would you be willing to knock on someone’s door to offer them the potentially life saving gift of a 9 volt battery, and if they would allow you to plug it in, you would both know you had doubled the chance that no one in that home would die from a fire.

If you knew that most homes don’t have a working relationship with Jesus Christ, would you be willing to knock on someone’s door or heart, to offer them the TRULY eternal life saving gift of the Risen Lord who died for their sins, and if they would allow you to start a relationship of faith with them, you would both know you had a 100% CERTAINLY that their life would not end, even when their body dies.

Paul’s Main Point: Receive and Renew your understanding of what Jesus did on the cross and LIVE in the power of the resurrection starting NOW.

CHRIST died for a purpose: to take the blame for our broken heart with God. jake_Blues_grace.jpg

  • GOD knows us:
  • we forget,
  • mess up,
  • get in a jam,
  • fall off the wagon,
  • the dog eats our homework,
  • the car breaks down,
  • we loose our job,
  • we forget to study,
  • we miss the deadline,
  • we get distracted
  • and tempted…
  • we sin, big ones and little ones,
  • we drift or run..

God says to all that: I AM not focused on the blame.

  • I give you JESUS, my child’s life to cover all the blame and brokenness.
    • I don’t want to hear the excuses. (I want see the relationship)
  • I want you to see the value of the gift and return to the table.
    • I hope you will respond with appreciation/praise for the sacrifice, I your maker, have given  you.
  • God wants us to see the gift and respond because God loves and claims us first.
  • God’s grace is not an after thought…
    • along through the scriptures we see God continues to make covenants and we continue to break them.
  • God is working with workers who don’t show up to work except on pay day.
  • God exchanges the power of death, not just the death of one person, One died for all.
  • God moves us past the death of this body, for a living relationship, not the life of one person, One lives for all.

This is what Easter message is about.  

  • It’s not just about Jesus,
  • its about God’s eternal love and value for your life and relationship.
  • its about God’s eternal love and value for our lives in relationship together.
  • Remember the gift and passion God exchanges for us
  • Re/Claim and know/grow in the power of God’s life for us.

So it’s important to remember: Where I see Jesus… 

  • I see Jesus in the work and pray of quilts
  • I see Jesus going in a paper lunch bags shared with hungry
  • I see Jesus in the support of small groups and classes caring and challenge growth
  • I see Jesus in preventing death from illness like malaria
  • I see Jesus in the middle of family crisis, when families feel they are at deadened/wall and see no hope, God opens lives, hearts and doors to find a way through the crisis into a new life, new relationships and new visions
  • I see Jesus in the hands of working youth who did more than play at the beach, but opened their hearts to care for families who are hurting.
  • I hear Jesus in your music and singing
  • I hear Jesus in your questions, prayers and testimony
  • I feel Jesus in your compassion and hospitality and generosity
  • I taste Jesus around the table when we gather at his table
  • He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today…. Tell the world, show the world, Jesus Christ lives in you and me. Amen.

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Be Strong in Praising God 20150208 Isaiah 40:21-31 RSUMC

bladeofgrass
Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. [NRSV]

WARNING: Don’t forget God in the PROCESS of Leading the People

The prophet Isaiah is warning King Hezekiah to be clear as the leader who is God and for the king to put himself and the people in perspective of God.

The prophet Isaiah is warning King Hezekiah to be certain there will soon be a day when all the wealth and possession will be taken away. Where will the king turn when there is no peace?

The prophet Isaiah is warning King Hezekiah to be aware that they people and his kingdom will be turned over to Babylon and he speaks for God saying: Who is mighty, Who is in control, who is THE king when the kingdom is overthrown due to arrogance, misplaces alliance and a loss of faith?

Isaiah reminds the king of God’s place in the order of politics:

TO THE PEOPLE

1. FIRST, God’s words are to the people: “Comfort, O comfort my people” The king may be leading you to destruction but that does NOT mean I have forgotten you.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

2. (There are consequences for following a king that leads people away from God)  Nevertheless: God is still with us.

3. FOLLOW GOD FIRST, above all:

A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.

Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

FOLKS WILL SAY

People will say… Folks will shout out… Leaders will talk but let’s look at the basics:

GRASS: Flowers, grass.. When the winds blow, where will you run?

MOUNTAINS: High places don’t make you closer to God.

GOD is a GOOD SHEPHERD: Feed on God’s grace… grazing

OCEANS and SEAS and LAND: God’s handiwork, and it operates by God’s design, not king’s command and laws.

POWER, WISDOM, KNOWLEDGE, JUSTICE, UNDERSTANDING:

God’s heart/spirit is God’s to will.

God is God’s own counselor.

You might explain how a tomato is formed, but who designed and produced the first one.

Who taught your kings what they know and who taught them..

A DROP in the bucket

Add up all the wealth, knowledge, wisdom and talents in the world and no one can make a blade of grass from scratch.

The DEFINITION OF DEPRAVITY

Here is an equation: Take all the fuel in the world, efforts of humanity focused on one task, use all your resources, all the gross national products of all nations combined and who can make a blade of grass.

WE ARE ALL EMPTY and NOTHING without God.

COMPARISON: piss’n contest (forgive the crudeness)

To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?

IS an IDOL greater than God?

A thing, shaped by a workman, guilded by another, and displayed by another with (no rot wood)

Designer’s CHALLENGE

CAN ANYTHING WE MIGHT FORM, DESIGN OR DREAM UP out do what God has already done. Start with a mustard seed, a carrot, a flea, on tick on an fly….

WHAT ABOUT THE ORDER of things?

WHO WAS AT THE BEGINNING? Who created the matter? Who defined gravity, mass and energy? Who started the big bang? Who determined relativity, string theory and quantum mechanics would be the guiding factors?

WHO ARE YOU KIDDING: Who are you king? Who are you president? Who are you Hezikiah? compare yourself to God. God says through ISAIAH: I think, at best, you are a grasshopper.

You didn’t form the earth and all that is in it.

You didn’t form a chicken or an egg.

You didn’t make a blade of grass much less the seasons that both kill the grass and renew it in the spring.

SO WHAT ?

LIFT UP YOUR EYES AND SEE. (KNOW and SPEAK the truth)

WHY DARE do you ask: Where is God? What does it matter? Life is not fair!

HAVE YOU NOT HEARD

  1. God is everlasting.
  2. God is always creating and recreating
  3. God gives power to the fainting and powerless
  4. God does not get tired.
  5. God renew those who are tired.

Therefore, Fly, Run and Walk

The Soar like eagles makes for a good song or placard.. but more significant is the series of perspective.

Can you fly, can you run, can you even walk without using what God has already made for you?

A CASE for reminding the king, the people and the nations of the world:

God, who made heaven and earth, shows grace through his Son, and power, knowledge and wisdom through his Spirit and Counselor is to be trusted with all that we are.

BOTTOM LINE: (Yeah, Preacher, we know all that stuff, so what?)

Isaiah is making a case for us to tell the king, tell each other and tell the world, God is all around. Don’t doubt it. Don’t forget it. Don’t confuse it. Don’t deny it. Don’t take it for granted. PRAISE the LORD.

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Psalm 113 “Passionate Worship” RSUMC 20140713

GiveGodYourHeart.jpg1 Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord; praise the name of the Lord. 2 Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time on and forevermore. 3 From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised. 4 The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, 6 who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? 7 He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap, 8 to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. 9 He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord! [NRSV]

Praise the Lord!

Call to the crowd, now is the time to praise.

Bless the Name, now and always

Start at sun up until you sleep

God is AUTHOR and all authority,

In Heaven and on earth

 

Cheer: Who is like our God, who is at the highest high?

Response: God who is way up there raises the poor from the dust,

Lifts the needy from the ash heap

Makes them sit with princes and kings

He gives life and make our hearts and homes fruitful and meaningful

 

I introduce to you a topic we will study and practice for years to come:

Passionate Worship

Worship too often is twisted around 180 degrees.

If you every hear someone say, “I just didn’t get anything out of worship.”

If you every hear someone say, “ I didn’t care for the music or the sermon.”

If you every hear someone say, “I need to find worship that makes me feel good or even my toes stepped upon.”

 

These are examples that worship has been flipped upside down and backwards.

Worship is not about the preacher, its not about the musicians, it is not about the congregation.

Worship is about God.

 

It is both a time and a place to direct ourselves toward God

It is a time to gather for God’s benefit and not our own.

Worship is putting the REALITY of our hearts into the hands and heart of God.

Sometimes we bring to God our poverty, brokenness and weakness.

Sometimes we bring to God our celebration, love and devotion.

Always it is God’s people coming to connect and give ourselves, our gifts and our futures to God.

 

Passionate Worship

Is placing our hearts, empty or full on the alter of God and becoming a living sacrifice through Jesus Christ.

Passionate Worship

Is coming together as unique individuals with differing depths of relationship to God and sitting together as fellow heirs in the court, together as son and daughters of the God.

Passionate Worship

Is putting our life on the line each time we gather in this place to be both strong and vulnerable. Bringing our faithfulness and our failures. Offering out sweat-equity and in-equities to be used through God’s Spirit in this world.

Now if you come to Sunday school or Bible study or small group and you don’t connect you can say, “I didn’t get anything out of it,” but that is different than worship.

Worship the primary way we show our praise of God 

Passionate Worship

Is putting our hearts on the line, that God and God’s people in trust and with integrity.

Passionate Worship is doing the Spiritual HokyPoky and putting our whole self in God’s hand…

Passionate Worship is not counting the minutes until we are done, rather counting the minutes until we are here again.

 

Is our Worship Passionate?

This is our home work.. Tell one person this week, Name one thing you bring to worship that pleases God, and explain why.

 

 

 

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Matthew 21.1-11 Celebration Time JUMC 20140413

RidingonanDonkey When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” [NRSV]

People like to celebrate. We like something to get excited about.

Look at any sporting venue of your choice. There are more acres and structures devoted to accommodating those who celebrate than those who play the games. Sometime the celebrations get out of hand and crowds rush the playing field, goal posts get torn down, the crowd takes the celebration into the streets and what was apparent joy turns into rage and violence.

Think of Jesus’ entry into the capital city: What would make you take off your coat and cut down the neighbors tree limbs to celebrate.

I lived in Grant Park when the the Freak-Nick celebration began in Atlanta. It was not as crazy in our neighborhood as some but there were a day that we were snowed in with abandoned cars filling the streets around the church. At the time it was very frustrating and unsettling. Looking back it was evidence of what a crowd of people who get lost in the celebration can do.

On one hand they can celebrate their leader because they hear what they want to hear and cheer on one another. In the next moment they choose the murderer Barabbas instead of Jesus.

I received an email a couple of weeks ago from a political action group asking me to join other clergy in the presidents invitation to use our pulpit time to encourage people to sign up of the “Affordable” healthcare plans. The president was crossing the line of church and state to ask us to pray for the poor; he was not asking us to help victims of storms; he was not asking us to care for the sick. He was asking us to promote his political agenda. Is that what we have come to celebrate?

Maybe we are to be quiet and reverent only. Should not Jesus have been shown more respect and people just sat and watch quietly as he entered Jerusalem? Jesus didn’t want to show all the pomp and circumstance. He choose a donkey instead of the emperor’s steed. Maybe celebration has no place in our worship. It would be proper to keep quiet and manorly. Right? Look and around and listen this morning: Where are the palm branches? the coats and crowds… We can be assured that we are behaving as we ought and there will be no need for threat or crucifix going on anywhere around here today. “Am I right?”

This text begs the question: What is the appropriate way to welcome Jesus into our town? Quietly as if it were against the law? Not against the law of the land, but the law of opinion and perception.

Rather the harden, stone-like hearts has been set free, bodies healed, lives transformed and eyes opened and the people were shouting, Hallelujah! Praise the Lord, Hosanna! Glory to God in the Highest!  Blessed is he that comes in the Lord’s name. Hosanna! Glory Hallelujah!

Let’s try whispering that together. <in a whisper> Hallelujah! Praise the Lord, Hosanna! Glory to God in the Highest!  Blessed is he that comes in the Lord’s name. Hosanna! Glory Hallelujah!

Even when we all whisper it together our collective voice of praise is louder than one person sitting quietly minding their manors of respectability.

It’s not that God wants to hear certain words coming out of our mouths, but rather than try so hard to be quiet, let us try to respond the what God has done for us.

It might be the case Jesus has not come to our house; he might not have visited our streets; he might not have spoken to our hearts in such a long time that we have forgotten the joy. Is this the case?

Did Jesus want attention?

If you are going to start a parade riding into town. You must expect some attention. If you came riding in a shiny, red convertible Austin Martin, throwing candy and beaded necklaces to the crowd, you would expect some attention.

But if you came into town announcing you were a king, riding on a Murray Lawn mower and had your disciples throwing palm branches like a humble king David, you might not get the same attention from the crowd, but you would incite the eye of your critics. Jesus enters the city with intentional, radical risk and reveals the extravagance of God’s presence.

The text of Palm Sunday is one that asks each of us to identify where we are in the story? Are we paving the way with the coat off our backs? Are we waving whatever is within arms reach to celebrate? Are you shouting praise to God for all to hear?

Or, Are we wishing the parade was over and worried about who is going to clean up the mess? Are we feuding and steaming because of the irreverence of others? Are we resisting challenge and change? Are our dreams and expectation called to expand beyond our control and measure? Are we simply feeling left out?

Every Sunday is a celebration day. This Sunday is the beginning of a holy week of celebration leading us through the cross to the resurrection. Is it a journey you already know too well and will save the trip this year or will you make the pilgrimage again, if not for yourself for those who see your actions and hear your words.

There’s a party in the house… the prodigal has come home will we going in and join the father’s family and friends or will we stay outside?

As for me and my house, we will praise the Lord.

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Luke 17.11-19 “Thank You Jesus” JUMC 20131013

Blues Thank YouOn the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” [NRSV]

We Know about the 9

So often I hear folks beat up the nine who didn’t return to thank Jesus, but fussing at them does not motive you and me to be more appreciative toward Jesus.

Let’s learn from the good example. (Its the different from loving the narrow path toward heaven rather than scaring people through a trail to hell, if you know what i mean.)

Look at the one who comes back to say thank you.

Learn from the one who is Thankful

I’m not as good about thank you notes as I should be but I certainly am blessed when I receive one.

I bring it up not to guilt you nor me into writing notes and sending cards that are due to write

Instead take a moment to think about the amount of time it takes

It takes being ready to say thank you.

Member of one church a woman carried in her purse and backup in her car a mini halmark store of cards.

Most where even home-made or even bulk ordered but she was ready to share appreciation and thoughtfulness.

We need to be ready to say thank you, so here is a song to etch into your heart..

I Thank You Jesus: written by Kenneth Morris)

Verse 1:
(I thank You, Jesus) I thank You, Jesus.
(I thank You, Jesus) I thank You, Jesus.
I thank You, Jesus, I thank You Lord,
oh, You’ve brought, yes you brought me from a mighty,
a mighty long way, a mighty long way.

(I thank You, Jesus) I thank You, Jesus,
(I thank You, Jesus) I thank You, Jesus,
I thank You, Jesus, I thank You Lord;
oh, You’ve brought, yes you brought me from a mighty,
a mighty long way, a mighty long way.

(You’ve been my mother) You’ve been my mother,
(You’ve been my father) You’ve been my father,
You’ve been my sister, my brother too;
oh, You’ve brought, yes you brought me from a mighty,
a mighty long way, a mighty long way.

(You’ve been my doctor) You’ve been my doctor,
(You’ve been my lawyer) You’ve been my lawyer,
You’ve been my teacher, my friend indeed;
oh, You’ve brought me from a mighty,
a mighty long way,
a mighty long way.

(You’ve been my bread) You’ve been my bread,
(You’ve been my water) You’ve been my water,
You’ve been my life, my everything,
oh, You’ve brought, yes you brought me from a mighty,
a mighty long way, a mighty long way.

(You’ve been my bread) You’ve been my bread,
(You’ve been my water) You’ve been my water,
You’ve been my life, my everything,
oh, You’ve brought, yes you brought me from a mighty,
a mighty long way, a mighty long way.

(I thank You, Jesus) I thank You, Jesus.
(I thank You, Jesus) I thank You, Jesus.
I thank You, Jesus, I thank You Lord,
oh, You’ve brought, yes you brought me from a mighty,
a mighty long way, a mighty long way

Now that you are ready, go to your knees

Not that our knees area as strong as they might once have been,

The one who returns, is able to put together a response that is in context..

I thank you for what no one else could do.

This is our response of faith and gratitude.

We are beginning our stewardship journey this week

Begin to think and pray about what God has and is doing in your life and in the world.

More Muslims have become Christians in the past ten years than in the previous 1600 years.

For all the division and stalemate, we will learn to trust God rather than our government for direction and salvation

We are the lepers, we need healing and someone to declares that we are included in the community of faith..

Go and tell how Christ is loving, saving and blessing us and world right now.

Stewardship that is extravagant and generous begins in being thankful.

Thank you, Jesus… my savior God

For you brought me a mighty long way… sing it, live it. show it.

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Mark 10:35-45 “Wishing to be First” JUMC 20121021

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”  But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”  They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” [NRSV]

Greatness

Ringling Bros Circus prides itself in having the greatest show on earth. It’s impressive and big, but is it the greatest? 

Tony the Tiger believes his Frosted Flakes are Great! I think Honey bunches of Oats are even better.

Olympics 1996, member and friend volunteer repairing the hand rail going up to the Olympic Caldron the night of the opening games. The torch arriving and he is duct taping at the last second. Turns around in the shadow, literally inches off camera and facing Mohamed Ali. The Greatest.

Greatness is not something that everyone seeks. In fact we could make a case that most folks want to stay out of the spotlight. Looking at the text, ten disciples are angry with two for raising the bar. If we are being evaluated or compared to our piers we don’t want them to do better than us because that would make us look bad.  We have an unwritten pack to reach for the middle or even the lowest common denominator. 

 Jesus’ word is not to go looking for Greatness. 

 It will follow your trust and service.

 Don’t set out with the intention to beat the system. 

 The life of discipleship (Being a Christian) is not to won or lost, it 

 Is received as part of the relationship with God.

 Got Glory?

We may not all long to be the top of the heap or the head of the pack, but who does not enjoy a long shower of glory and praise?

We like to be recognized, praised and appreciated. 

We like seeing our name in the paper, (as long as its not bad news)

We like it when folks think we are “good people.” No one wants a bad reputation. (Notorious: Famous for being bad)

What would we do to be liked? Children learn at a young age that test and temptation of doing right or wrong to be “in” or “cool.”

Even as adults who say they don’t want attention or credit, we have an uncomfortable knot in the stomach when someone takes credit for good that we, or someone else, has done. 

Looking at the text, Jesus looks to the disciples and says: “You don’t know what you are asking.” 

It is both encouraging and affirming to have others praise what we do, but if we set out to be praised as our goal, then our efforts are empty. 

Glory is the by-product of good that is has been done. This is true of God’s glory or our own.  But if we set out to do good things with the hope and goal of receiving glory.. we find the work empty.

Why? If we go looking for the fruit without caring for the tree we have a meal but not a livelihood. Greatness and Glory comes from service..

A Life of Service, comes first.

Jesus uses the disciples struggle as a teaching point:

First: Don’t worry about being first in line. Work diligently to serve and greatness will follow

And: Don’t do it for the praise, the deduction or the credit and you will find joy, credit and the prize that service builds.

The last shall be first: it is a common theme in the gospels..

Why do we need to hear it repeated?

  • We don’t have to tell people we are not looking for greatness/ glory/ credit/ praise/ approval/ when we actually are doing just that.
  • We don’t have to qualify and apologize for acts of service or humility. They don’t need explaining or defending.
  • As followers, we are disciples, those who are learning and developing what it means to be committed, trusting, disciplined in the path of Jesus.

Conclusions:

Greatness comes from the Greatest.. Seek God not greatness

Glory and Praise are motivators… don’t seek them as the goal

Service: is the ideas and words of our faith in actions.. that shape the type of relationship we have with each other and God.

God comes to save the least, last and lost.. The rest of us know to follow, trust and love shown in Jesus Christ. 

 So lets’ get to the back of the line.

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Matthew 21:1-11 “Jesus Got on His Ass” How about us? JUMC 04172011

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

The Affirmation of Jesus
The new translations make a subtle change on this emphasis of one verse. Modern translations emphasis that Jesus was sitting on people’s coats that were thrown on the back of a donkey on which Jesus road into the city of Jerusalem. The older translations simply say that Jesus sat on his ass. Modern readers are often offended or at least thrown off by hear a phrase in scripture that contains the word ass, and particularly one directly speaking of Jesus.

I suggest that modern readers/hearers need to be thrown off their own donkey so as not to miss the significance of Jesus’ entrance into the city and the hearts of the people.

1) Wisdom from the high school chemistry class: “Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.”
It is with specific intentionality that Jesus chooses a donkey, the foal of an ass to be his means of transportation.

As a matter of transparency in government spending, President Obama had new presidential limousine ordered by the secret service beginning at his inauguration. These cars must have had pentagon toilet seats because each cost $300k and they need fleet of ten or twelve. This no green hybrid fuel econo-commuter coup. But it is the type of vehicle we might expect the leader of the free world to have especially during the era of terrorist attacks. Jesus chooses a different approach, with intent.

The picture of Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem is not behind bulletproof windows and thick armor. He is not on a large bright steed adorned with emblems of gold and encrusted with gem deserving of a king. He is riding in on four wheel drive, untested first year model pickup. No HEMI engine, just basic work horse ride, clade not in steel rather in people’s coats.

2) Moab Mentality

SIDE NOTE: Have you wondered if they followed along to get their coats back at the end?
Bottom line: Jesus was coming into THE city of faith as a king, on purpose, planning to make a statement.

ANOTHER SIDE NOTE: Have you ever wondered about the crowd of followers stopping to cut down the branches off the trees in the city? Who did the tree belong to? If a parade walked down your road/street and the people started taking limbs off your trees would you mind? What would you say?
Bottom line: Jesus was coming into the city and the people give the respect and recognition of Jesus as prophet and king,

STILL ANOTHER SIDE NOTE: but why not trumpets, soldiers and colorful banners?
Bottom line: Jesus was welcomed with respect be the have-nots and masses rather than the few who have.

3) Imagine a Parade with no decorations.

No permits, no approved traffic routes, no advance warning for the merchants, school buses, or out of town travelers.

The whole city was in turmoil over Jesus being present.

This may indeed be the very heart of the Palm Sunday message.

What gets our town all stirred up into a state of turmoil?

• Storm damage.
• High School Playoffs.
• Mileage Rate increases.
• Tragic Deaths.
• Atlanta Traffic in Jackson.

But turmoil is a state or condition of extreme confusion or agitation.

What could Jesus have to do with EXTREEM confusion or
EXTREEM agitation.

It is fascinating to me that one third of the space inside a clothes washing machine is taken up with a hard and ridged piece of plastic called that agitator. It moves around stirring things up and breaking the dirt and oils loose with the detergent.

We usually work hard to keep the peace.

We don’t want our community to be confused.

We would usually rather have things stay just the way they are, broken or not, than to have MASS CONFUSION.

BUT HERE IS THE HEAT OF PALM SUNDAY>>

Jesus shows up and his very presence turns things upside down and God side up.

Matthew’s Gospel continues by telling the Jesus cleansed the temple. He turned the religious folks upside down and threw them out.

This is not a children’s Sermon Sunday… unless we are teaching our children to take on the establishment when it is complacent, controlling or self-interested.

WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH US? Today?

Look at your hands, your palms.
What is within your influence, control or responsibility?

It is there you have the greatest chance of PRAISING KING JESUS.
DO IT! DO IT NOW. DO IT ANY WAY.

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