Sunday, February 18, 2018

Lent1: Rehab: Wilderness

First Sunday of Lent
with Mark 1:2-9
www.FirstChurchBville.com    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
This sermon was broadcast on Facebook Live 2/18/18 https://www.facebook.com/FUMCWV/
#rehab #wilderness #umcgbod #lent

• Lent is a 40 day season of spiritual preparation before the Easter celebration inspired by Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness we read in Mark 1.
This season we’ll be following the lectionary and the denomination’s suggestion for a sermon series called REHAB. Why REHAB? As a part of our spiritual preparation before the Easter celebration.
• Rehab covers a lot of things. Rehab for addiction to drugs or alcohol. Also rehab after knee replacement or heart attack. Likely a painful time with drastic change of behavior. Not exactly something to look forward to, but something to endure. Rehab begins by going into the wilderness, by following Jesus into the wilderness.
• Wilderness is not a bad thing. It’s a new thing, a thing that involves change.
Some of my wildernesses: moving to Pennsylvania from Iowa.
Having knee surgery. Dealing with grief. Dealing with personal substance abuse.
Wilderness not a bad thing but not a comfortable thing, a place where discipline is necessary, and trust that you’re not alone and that not only is God with you but God is willing and able to work in you to shape you mold you prune you prepare you.
• We do not go into the wilderness alone. And it is in the wilderness that the first steps of reconciliation and healing and wholeness are taken.
• Jesus’ time in the wilderness prepared him for his mission to bring reconciliation and healing and wholeness to humankind. And when his time in the wilderness was complete, he began to preach the good news of the kingdom of God, and of repentance.

Where are you feeling in the wilderness?
Pour yourself into this time with self examination and prayer and fasting and self-denial. These are some of the tools God uses. And come and worship and be made new.

• May God use this time of Lent to shape us into disciples and witnesses to God’s kingdom.

• Hymn 338 Where He Leads Me

Mark 1:9-15 (HCSB)
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. 10 As soon as He came up out of the water, He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending to Him like a dove.
11 And a voice came from heaven:
You are My beloved Son; I take delight in You!
12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.
13 He was in the wilderness 40 days, being tempted by Satan.
He was with the wild animals, and the angels began to serve Him.
14 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of God:
15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near.
Repent and believe in the good news!
ò

1 Peter 3:18-22 (HCSB)
18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm.

19 In that state He also went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison 20 who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while an ark was being prepared. In it a few—that is, eight people—were saved through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 22 Now that He has gone into heaven, He is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him. ò

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Miracles and Maturity

• Transfiguration Sunday
with Mark 9:2-9  and 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
www.FirstChurchBville.com    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of this sermon can be found here: https://youtu.be/cSAFwXBsoMQ

I’m re-reading a favorite book lately, savoring the taste. It’s the 2001 debut novel by Leif Enger Peace Like A River, name from the hymn It Is Well With My Soul, and I think of it every time Transfiguration Sunday comes around.
How is it with your soul, by the way?
Miracles are disturbing. Every miracle requires a witness.
read excerpts:
“Let me say something about that word: miracle. For too long it's been used to characterize things or events that, though pleasant, are entirely normal. Peeping chicks at Easter time, spring generally, a clear sunrise after an overcast week--a miracle, people say, as if they've been educated from greeting cards.” 
“Real miracles bother people, like strange sudden pains unknown in medical literature. It's true: They rebut every rule all we good citizens take comfort in. Lazarus obeying orders and climbing up out of the grave - now there's a miracle, and you can bet it upset a lot of folks who were standing around at the time. When a person dies, the earth is generally unwilling to cough him back up. A miracle contradicts the will of the earth.”
“No miracle happens without a witness. Someone to declare Here’s what I saw. Here’s how it went. Make of it what you will.” 
How then is it that at the transfiguration Jesus says Don’t tell til later?
It was not an opportune time.
Peter wasn’t ready.
Peter had some maturing to do.
Peter was eager, but impulsive and not seasoned.
• Yesterday I participated in a workshop having to do with maturing disciples. From membership to discipleship. In our biblical narrative, Peter goes from eager to Peter empowered. How? By spending time with Jesus & others, by setting self aside, by working and serving.
• What do people want from church as they mature? More relationship with Jesus, more Bible understanding, more challenge, more opportunity to serve (and give!)
Christianity is not something you graduate!
As Christian maturity increases, so humility and hunger for God increase.
• 2 Cor 4:5 We are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ,
and we are your servants because of him.
• To make [maturing] disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
As Peter needed to mature so we do.
Lenten reflection and discipline for spiritual growth: Pray, fast, listen, respond.
• Because of the gift of Jesus, the love of Jesus.
• Hymn 172 My Jesus I Love Thee

Mark 9:2-9 (HCSB) 
2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up on a high mountain by themselves to be alone. He was transformed in front of them, 3 and His clothes became dazzling—extremely white as no launderer on earth could whiten them. 4 Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.
5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it’s good for us to be here! Let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”— 6 because he did not know what he should say, since they were terrified.
7 A cloud appeared, overshadowing them, and a voice came from the cloud:
     This is My beloved Son; listen to Him!
8 Then suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus alone.
9 As they were coming down from the mountain, He ordered them to tell no one what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. ò

2 Corinthians 4:3-6 (HCSB)

3 But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glorious Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus. 6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. ò

Sunday, January 28, 2018

One With Authority

• Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
with Mark 1:21-28
www.FirstChurchBville.com    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of this sermon can be found here: https://youtu.be/p_y0pABTnEU
• Do you remember when email came out? Then the internet. WWW in 1983. It took over 25 years for the internet to reach a zettabyte of information. I never heard of zetta. Kilo mega giga tera peta exa zetta. Twentyone zeroes. For scale: number of seconds since Jesus was born: about 63 billion. Only 9 zeroes. Some estimates age of universe at 13.8 billion years. 435 quadrillion seconds. Only 15 zeroes. 435 quadrillion microseconds, that’s the scale of a zettabyte of data, and it took 25 years to reach that level.
How long to double that? 2 years. Expected 2 zettabytes by end of 2019. That’s just counting to 100,000 in a second, every second of imagined time.
All that information and we still don’t know what to make of a story about demons. 
We’re skeptical and seek to rationalize, put into terms that we can understand, but even if I explain a zettabyte to you do you really understand it? I don’t. I don’t understand internet. Or even electricity. But I approach them with caution and with knowledge of who/whose I am, also speaking in tongues. Can’t explain it, can be faked, but… could be genuine.
• We learn about Jesus: He’s different from the rest. Not like the others. Unique (Before Christmas I shared that Christ was Sufficient, Unique, Necessary, here comes the SUN). Innate authority. Not described, but you just know, that’s the impression.  Jesus has authority, & here’s a mic-drop example.
By the way, recall I will be with you always
that power is not far off but it is near.
There is no situation where we should be saying,
Yeah not even God can handle this one
• We learn about power of evil, & it recognizes good & is afraid. Hollywood scream? Dono. Maybe. But point is spiritual powers acknowledged one another, & knew Jesus was the victor.
• A father said to his child they went to church to make God smaller. God is so big, beyond understanding: go to church, make God smaller, understand God.  The child: I think to make God bigger. What do you mean? Smaller doesn’t make you go Oh!
Experience God, be amazed, be changed & change your life, and tell.
What happened after this? People told This is what happened. It was Jesus.

• Hymn 371 I Stand Amazed at the Presence

Mark 1:21-28 (HCSB)  
21 Jesus and his disciples left the Sea of Galilee and went into the village of Capernaum, and right away they entered the synagogue. It was the Sabbath and Jesus began to teach. 22 Everyone was astonished at His teaching because, unlike the scribes, He was teaching them as one having authority.
23 Just then a man with an unclean spirit was in their synagogue. He cried out, 24 “What do You have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?** Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”
25 But Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit convulsed him, shouted with a loud voice, and came out of him.
27 Then they were all amazed, so they began to argue with one another, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28 News about Him then spread throughout the entire vicinity of Galilee. ò
**Nazareth is about forty miles from Capernaum


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Let's Get Political

• Third Sunday after Epiphany
with Mark 1:14-20  and Jonah 3:1-10
www.FirstChurchBville.com    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of this sermon can be found here: https://youtu.be/t_bJBmHOvRc

• For the first time I’m going to talk about politics.
Not really. “Political” has to do with government, laws,
how society is ordered.
I am NOT telling anyone how to vote,
or affirming or deriding any individual or party.
I will not change my interaction with you
based on either one of our political affiliations.
Politics are part of our daily landscape, and
to be a follower of Jesus is a political decision.
• A year and a day ago Donald Trump took the oath of POTUS, and it is not partisan to say that it’s been a year with a lot of attention and tension and that political fervor is elevated. It’s not partisan to report that presidential approval polls show President Trump with record low numbers and that our nation is in the historic situation of a govt shutdown with exec, sen, and house in R party.
Why did the gov’t shutdown? Because parties and elected officers stalemate, not budging, and it’s arguable that a good number are not budging not because of principle but because of party.
• We just read from book of Jonah, 3rd chapter.
You remember chaps 1&2, God’s call and Jonah’s response. 
Why did Jonah flee? He was afraid of the people.
He knew how they were going to respond, right?
And rather than go with God, he fled.
Jonah ended up repenting – changing his heart
and mind and action – and we pick up on reading today
And we are surprised to see his message is received immediately and genuinely! There is not a stalemate, there is a turn to the Lord, and there is relief from the Lord!
Following God is a political decision.
It will affect how we relate to society, individuals, events.
• Earlier we read from Gospel of Mark, Jesus preaching the good news that the kingdom of God has come near, preaching repentance, calling Peter and Andrew and James and John to change their lives and follow him.
The kingdom of God has come near. Good news. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. God is now here and our job as disciples is to figure out what has God done in Jesus, and what does it mean that Jesus lived among us 2K years ago?
• One thing is teachings of Jesus. Learn them, follow them, live them, teach them.
(again, this is political. We’re talking about where authority and life influence are, and the political powers of Jesus’ day opposed him because people following Jesus threatened their credibility and power)
I’ve seen the fruit of worldly leadership,
and I want God in Jesus as my leader.
Following God is a political decision.
It will affect how we relate to society, individuals, events.
• The good news is not about a moral code or personal piety or “spirituality”
it’s about discipleship and life transformation,
patterning my life after Jesus, come what may.
The disciples we read about today, Jesus met them in the midst of their business, and they walked away to follow him.
They had something that was worth changing their lives for.
• And by the grace of God we can be disciples too, and have new life.

• Hymn 365 Grace Greater Than Our Sin

Mark 1:14-20 (HCSB)
14 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of God: 15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!”
16 As He was passing along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen.
17 “Follow Me,” Jesus told them, “and I will make you fish for people!” 18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 19 Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in their boat mending their nets. 20 Immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him. ò

Jonah 3:1-10 (HCSB)
3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time:
2 “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you.”
3 So Jonah got up and went to Nineveh according to the Lord’s command.
Now Nineveh was an extremely large city, a three-day walk. 4 Jonah set out on the first day of his walk in the city and proclaimed, “In 40 days Nineveh will be demolished!” 5 The men of Nineveh believed in God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackcloth—from the greatest of them to the least.
6 When word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 Then he issued a decree in Nineveh:
By order of the king and his nobles: No man or beast, herd or flock, is to taste anything at all. They must not eat or drink water. 8 Furthermore, both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth, and everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from the violence he is doing. 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent; He may turn from His burning anger so that we will not perish.

10 Then God saw their actions—that they had turned from their evil ways—so God relented from the disaster He had threatened to do to them. And He did not do it. ò

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Body and the Gift

• Second Sunday after Epiphany
with John 1:43-51 and 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
www.FirstChurchBville.com    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of this sermon can be found here: https://youtu.be/k7nGdUxhbmc

• Christmas is over and we waste no time jumping into beginning of ministry of Jesus. Already called some of JtB’s disciples, Andrew and Simon, now Philip and Nathanael, and Jesus says some odd things (no deceit? Angels ascending and descending?), and Nathanael makes an astounding confession (you are the Son of God, the King of Israel). And we learn about Jesus, but more about that later. Let’s skip back to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.
• “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” Paul is dealing with a church that is maturing, and people that are maturing ask questions and test limits, seeking definition. Yes, freedom in Christ, No, not a burden, and Yes, there are things you can and can’t do.
You need to use judgment, discernment, discipline.
You cannot think only of yourself.
No man is an island. We are one.
You represent me, I represent you, we are part of the same body, we represent GOD, we are not alone, we are not our own.
A part of the body cannot be unconcerned about other parts of the body.
• Vaccinations. Some folks are anti-vaxxers. But in a society, part of the reason to get vaccinated is to protect those who are susceptible, and to eradicate the disease in society. You make a small personal sacrifice for the greater good.
• In at least four places in his letters, Paul writes about taking a collection for the church in Jerusalem. Lifting up the body.
One of the ways we are part of the body is through our offerings. We tend to our local body, of course, and we tend to our regional and global body as well, through apportionment givings and through special offerings like today’s Human Relations offering.
Remember the hurricane damage done in the Caribbean and Florida this past year? We’re there, through our offerings.
But the need of the body is too great! We can’t do it!
Eat an elephant one bite at a time, and many hands make light work.
• You are not your own, I am not my own, we are a part of the body
which carries with it, by the way, God’s redemption of the body. Including us.
• Jesus to Nathanael: Here is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit. Huh?
ISRAEL was formerly known as Jacob. What’d Jacob do? Deceived father Isaac for birthright and blessing. There was guile and deceit in the original Israel.
Here at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry we have a new beginning, a redemption of Israel.
Another thing Jacob was known for? Jacob’s ladder: angels ascending and descending, signifying to him that God was there, with him.
God is here now. God is doing new thing. God is with us.
• I want to be part of that, Jesus making new, redeeming.
I AM part of that, by the grace of God, the gift of God.
• By the way: know what the name Nathanael means? Gift of God.

• Hymn 451 Be Thou My Vision

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 (NIV)
12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” [Gen 2:24] 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. ò

John 1:43-51 (NRSV)

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” ò

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Covenant Renewal Service

I believe I have been celebrating the Wesley Covenant Renewal Service on the first Sunday of the year since 2007. Mostly I alternate scriptures used, and the hymns sometimes change as well, but the bulk of the service remains the same.

In 2018 the scriptures were
2 Chronicles 34:29-33
and
John 15:1-8

The service can be read by clicking --> here


If you have any questions about Christianity, or United Methodism, 
or if you have any confession to make, 
or if you would like to be part of a United Methodist Church, 
or if you would like to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, 
or if you would like to talk about Baptism,
please let me know. 
You can email me at kerrfunk1 at gmail dot com

God bless you

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Here Comes the SUN - Advent3B

• 3rd Sunday of Adventwith John 1:6-9
www.FirstChurchBville.com    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of this sermon can be found at https://youtu.be/_seglqsQnc0

• John 1:7 John was sent from God as a witness concerning the light so that everyone would believe.
Why was John sent? As a witness. So that people would believe. This is my hope as well. & that’s why we have the Bible: people shared witness. Testimony.
• This past week two homicides in Huntington, up to 19 for year.
We're doing a Bible study on gun violence, looking at Micah 4:1-4. Two pronged approach: legislation, transformation. Neither is sufficient.
• Spiritual sickness in world, brokenness. Christ is perfectly sufficient to address/cover/deal with the world's brokenness. It's all over the Bible, Colossians 2:9-10 in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and in him you are filled.
Not only that but perfectly filled, perfectly fit, perfectly covered.
Isaiah 53:5-6 by his wounds we are healed, and the Lord has lain on him the iniquity of us all.
• Went to Alaska this summer with brothers and dad, to get his 50th state. No other state could complete his map, this venture was unique to Alaska.
Regarding the healing of the brokenness, the sin-sickness, Christ is the only one provides healing. None other. Unique. So says Peter in Acts 4:12 Salvation can be found in no one else. Throughout the whole world, no other name has been given among humans through which we must be saved. He has become the cornerstone! 
Unique. Jesus: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
• My daughter turns 15 in 3months. We already have plans to pick her up from school early to go to DMV for permit. Need permit to drive. But absolutely necessary if you hope to drive: a key.
Christ is necessary. God caused the one who didn’t know sin to be sin for our sake so that through him we could become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:21)
• Sufficient: completely perfectly enough covers our sin.
Unique: our brokenness can be addressed perfectly by none other.
Necessary: There is no righteousness apart from Christ.
SUN = sun. It’s advent and here comes the SUNThe true light was coming into the world.
And we are witnesses. So that all may believe. And have transformation.

• Hymn 188 Christ is the World’s Light

John 1:6-9 (CEB)  Third Sunday of Advent
6 A man named John was sent from God. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. 8 He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light. 9 The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. ò