Posts Tagged signs

Mark 13.1-8 Nation Building RSUMC 20141109

Wailing Wall

As [Jesus] came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs. [NRSV]

Building Blocks of the Temple

One of the most well known attractions in Jerusalem is the Western wall of the temple known as the Wailing Wall. It is not first named this for the prayers shared by the millions of visitors, rather because of a rare and miraculous occurrence of water weeping from the rocks. The last time this happen was over seventy years ago.

Over 60 feet is visible and above ground, but the larger portion of the wall is under ground and accessible by tunnels. The largest stone found in the wall is between 500-600 tons based on different measurements and estimations. It is considered the fourth largest carved stone in the world. If you cut it into pieces it could take almost 156 RAM Max Chassis Cab trucks at maximum capacity to carry the mass to the work place.

The super cranes of today lift 2000-3000 tons. But keep in mind 13 of the top super cranes around the world have been designed in the last six years. And even at their current designs require a minimum 400 foot boom and are situated 200 feet away from the object.  Large amounts of animal fat (pigs particularly) burns hot and fast and could be tunneled under the foundation and cause the swift destruction from the massive weight collapsing on itself.

The disciples are as amazed of the scope and size of the temple as every visitor to the temple mount is today. As long lasting as buildings appear to be, in one monsoon season, the pyramids would crumble. As a United Methodist Clergy person I have always struggled with forms that ask for my permanent address. I have since given up wondering and now know it is Ringgold, Georgia. Nothing is as solid and eternal I we act like things are.

Jesus gives a basic geology and architecture lesson: look around, all of this will crumble in time, even God’s physical temple. This is why we have a board of Trustee’s to make improvements and repairs to keep this a viable place to worship, fellowship, learn and share Jesus Christ. But as powerful and meaningful as this place it, this is not who we are.

Building Blocks of the Kingdom

Many will come to tear down your spirit.

Many will come to water down your passion.

Many things, people and circumstances will lead folks away from find this house as God’s house.

If you are going to choose what to build up, maintain and nurture: build the kingdom, no matter the temple.

One of the most powerful reports of mission teams that travel to foreign countries or rural parts of our own country is the powerful presence of the Spirit where there appears to be so little, where to physical needs are so great. It seems the Spiritual presence is seen more clearly and with more power and reality.

 

Destruction of the Temple

Think of the things that tear down our places of worship. There are those in churches around the world that have their building torn down because it is simply present in the community of our enemies.

Jesus was clear that war would come in the life time of the church. Just as the Romans came and destroyed the temple in 70 AD, during the lift time of early disciples. Wars surround and threaten us now. Is this the end? Are these the battles of the end of days? The easy thing to say is, “Yes.” I say yes, because it is a clear and present danger that motivates us to action. As compelling case that we might make that this is it, I suppose that folks said the same in on these grounds in the Battle of Chickamauga, World Wars, on the ground in Vietnam, and for forty years or more in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc. There may be 100 years more of wars.

We look back and give thanks for those who have served us through times of war and in the face of war so that we can build back what is hopefully a better world and a better life.

Jesus does not belittle the reality of war, rather saying wars are not the most important sign, instead they are signs that what we treasure will most certainly be threatened and some will crumble. BUT don’t give up on building the relationship that will be eternal.

There will be lean times in the world, but not in the heart of God.

There will be earthquakes and times that very foundations of the earth will shift, crack and fall, but God will never fail.

If our church building were attacked at the hands of terrorist, we sit quietly by and keep the situation to ourselves. (a sarcastic, and foolish thought) We would be up in arms and have every person doing something about it.  We can keep the threat at bay, when it’s over the pond.

Eatonton UMC had the treasured story that their sanctuary was spared because it was used as hospital and barn for Union troops. But a hundred years later one arsonist set fire to that building. But the church was not destroyed. IN FACT, it was the transforming act that forced the congregation out of a rut of safety and protection into growth and a renewal of the mission to make disciples.

Endurance of the Kingdom

Jesus’ promise is the kingdom will endure.

If this is the end time, who has your heart and your back?

If this is only the beginning of years to come, who has your heart and your back?

Don’t worry about the end, Focus on the presence of God right now, right here.

Turn to your neighbor and remind them. This is God’s house, not my house, not your house. This is Jesus’ house. The Spirit is in this house.

Turn to another neighbor and remind them. God has your back just like mine. Jesus has my heart, does he have yours?

Turn to someone in front or behind you and remind them. What is leading you astray? What is crumbing in your spirit? For what do you weep and wail?

This is the conversation Jesus is having with disciples, just like us, just as then, Jesus is now..

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John 6:25-35 Bread of Our Ancestors RSUMC 20141102

Communion, All Saints, Signs and Spiritual Satisfaction: A full meal

bread_manna_communion_ancestors_signs_spiritual_satisfaction

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  [NRSV]

First of all: Reminder, there will be no homework during the month of November. Just class work..

It is fitting that we check in with this passage on All Saints Sunday. Each year on the first Sunday in November think back about those who now no longer with us, in the body, but are ever present in Spirit in our hearts and memories and join in worship with us from the stadium seats of heaven.

[the eight people you sit with in heaven: The three in front are three people we have looked for guidance who have gone ahead, they lead us to toward the throne. The three behind are the three folks who have looked over our shoulder, pushed and poke us, and clean up after us all our years. The last two people we think we would want to sit next to for eternity on the left and right. So who would want to go?]

In the passage from John’s Gospel he recounts how the people looking for Jesus remembered their heritage, but they missed the relationship with God of their kin folks.

There is an old preacher story about a student who went to his 25th class reunion and went to the professor and re-introduced himself to the teacher and said, “I am Dan Smith, I was one of your students.” The professor shakes his head and reflects for a time and then replies, “you may have attended my class, but you were never one of my students.”

Do we just go to the church? do we go through the idea or Christianity or is there a relationship in addition to the teachings. I have been reading a remarkable book by the Barna Group that has been studying the church in great detail since the 1970s. There study of Christians in the United States recounts that in the past ten years, the total number of folks who profess to be Christians or believe Christian morals are good has dropped from 49% to 39% (Nearly half to almost a third.) Of that 39% who claim the title and wear the name tag when asked, 8% report having their closes friends in the church. Conclusion: We like what Jesus said, not so much about the people who are talking about him. (RSUMC may not reflect this as drastically, but it does speak of the country as a whole.)

One of the greatest fears of growing old in America, and most everywhere, is that we will be forgotten an alone. Who’s task is it to remember our older generation? Who’s task is it to feed and clothe the poor? Is it the government’s responsibility? (NO!) It is our command, commission and calling!

The Teachers Question and Answer session of teaching

Also in the text, is the first question from the people, after Jesus leaves from feeding the 5000 he goes to pray and rest and the people find him and want to know how he got ahead of them.

Teacher how did you get hear ahead of us? God is not to be figured out..

To the crowds Jesus says, Are you only looking for entrainment? a free meal? something amazing to talk about?

Teaching: Work for what the Son of Man will give you. Feed the hungry and poor so they will know God, Jesus, Spirit, things that are eternal.

Back step 1: How do we do the things that you do? What’s the trick? What’s the power? (We are just like you and we can do what you do if you show us. then we won’t be a bother you any more)

Jesus: First you are not seeing God in Jesus, only a free lunch. Second, I want you all to follow not replicate and replace me….

Back step again: If you want us to know you are God, then give us a sign. We know Our story how Moses and the Israelite tribes ate manna, show us the manna! Show  us the manna. Show us the proof and then we will believe you like our kin believed Moses.

Communion

Jesus: Moses was not responsible for the manna; God sent the manna then, and I am the manna now. I will satisfy your Spiritual hunger.

Q: How often is too often for communion. One of the complaints about communion is 1) Why don’ t we use wine like Jesus did, and not watered down but the good stuff just like Jesus made for the wedding? 2) If we communion too often it will loose it’s meaning. 3) It takes up too much time in the service. 4) It is just a hot-bed of germs and virus waiting to be swapped.

A: 1) Methodist heritage, Wesley didn’t want to promote alcoholism and didn’t want those who struggled with alcohol to be required to taste what was best for them to avoid, just to received the grace,

2) If we eat food too often we will grow tired of eating and will all starve to death because we have taken the meaning out eating food. Doubt it

3) Preparing, serving always take more time and energy than eating. Thank you servers here and every where you are served.

4) More people touched the door handle to get in this building than will touch one of these cups. If you didn’t get germs off the door, your chair or in greeting each other  you are no more nor less likely to get germs from sharing the cup.

Heart of the matter. We are sharing the same menu and same ritual that those who started this church and those who gather in the upper room. It just bigger than we are.

5) Too often is not the question: Is it too often to tell my father that I love and respect and admire him? Now that he has gone to heaven, I think about his most every day. Express you love daily.

Our Class work is to come to the table, with each other.and know we join with those in heaven, and those in this place, and everyone who calls on the name of Jesus to feed and fill and satisfy our hearts today.

Once satisfied, we can do all things in Christ who lives and strengthens us..

 

 

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