Sunday, July 19, 2020

We're On A Mission From God

Sunday, July 19, 2020
Seventh Sunday After Pentecost
Lakeview UMC (St. Albans WV)
and Humphreys Memorial UMC (Tornado WV)

Scripture Reading    
Romans 8:18-25   CEB
18 I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory
that is going to be revealed to us. 19 The whole creation waits breathless with anticipation for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters. 20 Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice—it was the choice of the one who subjected it—but in the hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 22 We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now. 23 And it’s not only the creation. We ourselves who have the Spirit as the first crop of the harvest also groan inside as we wait to be adopted and for our bodies to be set free. 24 We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see? 25 But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.

Sermon title: “We’re On A Mission From God”
This sermon outline was used for the worship service at each church.
Each church’s worship service was live cast on Facebook:
Lakeview UMC:
Humphrey’s Memorial UMC:

  There were five planets visible this morning!
Three years ago on a visit to my hometown I was having breakfast with my father, who had turned 75 a few months earlier. He told me he’d ridden his bicycle at least twenty miles in every state he’d been in, and he just didn’t think he was ever going to get to Alaska. He had a route planned, though, if he were ever to make the trip: Anchorage’s Coastal Trail.
Well I conspired with my brothers and several months later, we four were riding on Anchorage’s Coastal Trail.
The Coastal Trail also hosts the Anchorage Light Speed Planetary Trail, which mimics a scale model of the solar system, with a leisurely walk being equivalent to the speed of light. It takes 8 min for sunlight to reach earth, therefore the model of earth was an 8 min walk from the model of the sun. Four blocks away.
Jupiter was 45 minutes away. Saturn 80 minutes. Uranus 160 minutes.
At a leisurely light-speed pace, it would take 5½ hrs to walk to Pluto. 10.3 miles. This was our bike ride.
• Interesting but why?
Paul writes the suffering we know now does not compare to the glory to come.
20000 seconds (5 and a half hours) for light to get from sun to Pluto.
• Creation groans, frustrated, awaiting the revelation of God’s kids.
Aspects of our world are broken.
Some things we can fix. Some we can’t.
But God who makes all things new, who made it all to begin with,
CAN fix, WANTS to fix, CHOOSES to fix. And INVITES us to participate.
• 1995 Toy Story Buzz Lightyear. On a secret mission in uncharted space.
defend the galaxy against the evil emperor zurg, sworn enemy of the galactic alliance.
Identified problem, commissioned address.
• Same. Again, we can’t fix, but God can, and God invites us to participate
God is more interested in our response (willingness) than our ability to fix.
• The response that glorifies God: Trust. Hope. Bear.
Scatter the seed.

• Hymn 382 (Lakeview) Have Thine Own Way
Hymn 421 (Humphreys) Make Me A Captive

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Let's EAT

Sunday, July 12, 2020
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Sermon title: “Let’s EAT”

Gospel Reading    Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23     NRSV
The Parable of the Sower
13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”
The Parable of the Sower Explained
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23 But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” ò
                                 The Word of God for the people of God, thanks be to God.

Sermon: Let’s EAT
This sermon outline was used for the worship service at each church.
Each church’s worship service was live cast on Facebook:
Lakeview UMC:
Humphrey’s Memorial UMC:

•  The parable of the sower is a familiar parable.
I need to caution against the natural question
“What’s the meaning of this parable?”
Parables are not so cut-and-dried.
Often something unexpected or disturbing.
Not simply a moral tale.
Understanding a parable requires three things: gift, effort, humility...
And the result of wrestling with Jesus' parables:
you're drawn into relationship with God.
• Nevertheless, let me tell you a few things that the parable of the Sower is “about”

• This is a parable about God. God who wants a harvest and who goes about it the old-fashioned way: scattering seeds. (familiar) (today might be planting a garden or growing a lawn) (not the kind of effort as in Creation when God spoke and it happened)
By the way, in scattering seeds, God is taking risks. God does not carefully choose where to plant... and remembering that the seed is the word, this word is going OUT... on the path, among the rocks, among the weeds, in the good soil... I might be picky about where to plant seeds, I might decide not to scatter seed in a place I don’t think will produce… God is generous.
God is also willing to get God's feet dirty. (different effort than Creation). Which leads to:

• This is a parable about Christ. Literally about the incarnation, God not only sowing the seed but BEING the seed... the seed is the word, and Jesus the Christ is the Word. Interacting with the world in its settings, again, not just the good soil, but a message IN the world to ALL the world.

• This is also a parable about the Evil One. Jesus speaks of The Evil One in the world, and this isn't the only place. We learn a few things about TEO, the one opposed to the sower and the harvest. And knowledge of TEO is vital for those who wish to stand against TEO.
1. TEO seeks to snatch the word.
He doesn't want people to receive Jesus.
(path/birds/lack of understanding)
2. TEO seeks to frighten or sap those who do receive the word.
He doesn't want people to be disciples.
(rocky soil, no roots, no strength)
3. TEO seeks to mislead those who receive the word, to distract them, to nurture a false word. (worries and false appeal of wealth)

• When we gain knowledge of TEO, we can learn about resisting and countering TEO, and this is a parable about people. btw, our baptismal vows include resist evil and injustice in whatever forms they present themselves, and I daresay in these times that includes taking a public stand on current issues. Also, you know who likes it when Christians fight with each other? TEO.
Be doers of the word, and not hearers only (James 1:22)
• So the seed on the path with the birds, snatched away?
Let us accompany the hearer.
• The seed on the rocky soil, with no strength?
Let us encourage the hearer.
• The seed among the weeds, choked out by other things?
Let us teach the hearer.
• Remember it by “Let's EAT” (encourage, accompany, teach)... 
because God has a harvest

• How great is God who chooses all of this, who chooses us...

• Hymn 140 Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Who Is This Guy?

Sunday, July 5, 2020

First Sunday at my new appointment
serving Lakeview UMC (St. Albans WV)
and Humphreys Memorial UMC (Tornado WV)

Sermon title: “Who Is This Guy?”

Scripture Reading    Romans 7:15-25a    NRSV
15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! ò

Gospel Reading       Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30    NRSV
16 “But to what will I compare this generation?
It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
17 ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
    we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
25 At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ò

Sermon: Who Is This Guy?
This sermon outline was used for the worship service at each church.
Each church’s worship service was live cast on Facebook:
Lakeview UMC:
Humphrey’s Memorial UMC:

 I am generally lousy with coming up with sermon titles before a bulletin is printed. But sometimes I’ll tell you what it is. “Who Is This Guy?”
• So a church was interviewing for a pastor. This guy’s credentials were very good. Good school, graduated at the top of his class while young even. They call him in.
What’ve you done with your training? Consultant for a while, then I had a fall and stopped what I was doing.
Can you tell us anything about this 14-year gap in your employment history?
No. If it makes you feel better you can say I was ‘figuring out who I am.’
Mmhmm. And now you’re a laborer? – I go from town to town, see what kind of work I can get.
Well. What’s this about your record, you’ve been jailed several times?
Disturbing the peace, but that’s really in the eye of the beholder, know what I mean?
Well your resume looked great, Mr. Saul (You can call me Paul) but I’m afraid we’re looking for someone a little more stable than you.
• The apostle Paul, author of the book of Romans – his magnum opus – never met the man Jesus, at least not before Jesus’ crucifixion resurrection and ascension. But Paul’s fingerprints are all over Christianity as he guided fledgling church communities in “the Way”.
• A little bit about Who Is This Guy (Paul.)
A preacher could talk for weeks about Paul but I’m just going to bring up one thing: Paul, learned teacher and apostle, shared the Gospel by admitting and talking about his own weakness. Who does that? Not culture, not then not now.
“I do not do the thing I want to do but instead I do the very thing I don’t want to do.”
I’m a wreck, Paul says. I’m a mess.
But there’s good news there. Great news. God can do great things with messes. Because God is not a mess. God is more than able to handle any situation and there is no mess we can make that God can’t right. That’s good news. Even better, God WANTS to make things right with us and for us. Not because of our credentials but because of the name on our label. God’s name is on our labels.
• How about a little bit about Who Is This Guy (Jesus).
• Jesus talks about it in Matthew 11, not subtly poking at the religious leaders. What do you want? We played joyful music for you and you said it’s wrong to dance. We played a dirge and you wondered why we weren’t joyful.
Jesus will not be put in a box. They tried putting him in a box, dead, but we all know how that turned out.
Jesus is savior Lord redeemer, SO THAT we might have life to the full.
Healing and wholeness and forgiveness. SO THAT we might know rest.
• Who Is This Guy? PK
• Lover and hoper. Lover of God, life, Melissa, Lexi, you.
Runner, biker, cobbler (do what you can with what you have), transplant (Midwesterner who’s lived in the east for 20 years).
I am not Christian FOR you, but WITH you.
My hope is you will take my words as invitation.

• into the Apostles’ Creed (UMH35)

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Christ the King Sunday

• Christ the King Sunday    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 11/24/19

I have been leading this Christ the King service for close to a dozen years, tweaking the scripture readings and the songs, but keeping the basic format. Every year I wonder, "Should I do this again?" and every year people tell me they appreciate this service. Glory to God!

Following is an order of worship for Christ the King Sunday

• Handbells at 4:20
• Children’s message at 17:50

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Keep Planting

• Keep Planting
with Luke 21:5-19    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 11/17/19

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower,
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief.
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
- Robert Frost, 1923
• An evocative poem about change and decay,
also sin, coming of age, maturity.
Kind of timeless in its beauty,
   like a dusty dried corsage.
Time changes all things.
The Temple was impermanent.
People change.
Life is full of instabilities.
Remember the good ol’ days?
• I thought of this poem after considering Jesus’ response to the disciples
as they marveled at the Temple.
I can see them marveling. I can imagine generations seeking to keep it in tact.
(I remember a hundred-year-old church being tuckpointed just a few years before it closed.)
Jesus is not saying pay attention to the coming of “End Times” –
indeed, saying it’s fruitless to spend yourself there; live now.
Jesus is instead saying don’t put your hope and energy in buildings.
In people. In politics. In good ol’ days.
• Things as you know them won’t last, Jesus says.
Here are some do’s and don’ts:
   Don’t be misled.
   Don’t follow false messiahs.
   Don’t panic!
   Don’t be anxious.
   DO testify. I’ll give you opportunity.
   DO trust in me. I’ll give you words.
   DO trust in me. Not a hair will be lost*
   DO persevere. Hang in there. Reward.
          *puzzling, this one. But Luke 17:33
          who seeks to save life will lose it…
          Your priority should not be self preservation.
• If you are planting a tree, and someone says Messiah is coming,
finish planting the tree, and then get up to greet Messiah.
– Rabbi Johann ben Zakkai, 1st Century
• Cling to the rock that is God. Emmanuel. Treasure in heaven. Gold that stays.

• Hymn 361 Rock of Ages

Luke 21:5-19 (HCSB)
5 As some were talking about the temple complex, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, He said, 6 “These things that you see—the days will come when not one stone will be left on another that will not be thrown down!”
7 “Teacher,” they asked Him, “so when will these things be? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?”
8 Then He said, “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Don’t follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and rebellions, don’t be alarmed. Indeed, these things must take place first, but the end won’t come right away.”
10 Then He told them: “Nation will be raised up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be violent earthquakes, and famines and plagues in various places, and there will be terrifying sights and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you. They will hand you over to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of My name. 13 It will lead to an opportunity for you to witness. 14 Therefore make up your minds not to prepare your defense ahead of time, 15 for I will give you such words and a wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will even be betrayed by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. They will kill some of you. 17 You will be hated by everyone because of My name, 18 but not a hair of your head will be lost. 19 By your endurance gain your lives. ò 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

No Handicap Parking in Heaven

• No Handicap Parking in Heaven
with Luke 20:27-38    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 11/10/19

• 29 years ago my life was changed forever.
I was a freshman in college, I met the woman I would marry, and that’s what we did. 23 years ago she died.
Also 23 years ago my life was changed forever.
I met the woman I’d marry. And that’s what we did.
We’ve been married 20 years now.
The Sadducees’ question has long given me pause.
Who will I be married to in the resurrection?
I don’t even know where I want my body buried!
On the one hand, sounds like a legitimate question.
Luke points out, though, that it’s not: the Sadducees who don’t believe in life after death are asking a question about life after death. Hoping to trick or trap Jesus.
• Levirate marriage idea sounds odd to us, but in patriarchal culture where few women owned property or could honorably sustain themselves, LM offered protection for widows.
Think of it as a kind of life insurance.
A safety net for a woman in the event of her husband’s untimely death.
• One commentator I read said “I have many questions about resurrection, but the details aren’t the point. Or at least they weren’t when Jesus answered the Sadducees in the Temple. The point is, the promise of resurrection and the assurance of that promise have the capacity to guide our life in this age.”
Why aren’t the details the point?
Jesus provides an answer, with a twist.
Levirate marriage, a kind of life insurance, has death at its foundation.
The resurrection, eternal life, the kingdom of heaven, there is no death in the resurrection.
Therefore there is no life insurance and no Levirate marriage.
There are no handicap parking spaces in heaven and no flashlights.
How do our earthly relationships carry over in the kingdom?
I don’t know. Jesus doesn’t say.
But I trust there will be nothing to complain about.
• I think Jesus had another point, though, when he replied to the Sadducees.
Don’t waste your time on these things.
Recall the passage from Isaiah last week:
Live in relationship.
Live in relationship with God and people.
Esteem others.
Ritualistically going through the motions doesn’t honor me, God says. It’s your own mind game.
What I honor: seeking justice – that is, what is right among people. Helping the oppressed. Defending the orphan, pleading for the widow. Using the opportunity, power, influence you have to lift others who lack opportunity, power, influence.
• What if, instead of gatekeeping the Temple,
disciples spent their resources and efforts in outreach and advocacy?
What if instead of deciding who was in or out,
disciples fed the hungry and aided the sick?
What if the people of the church lived their public lives in such a way that others would be drawn to their actions and teachings?
• Churches are intended to be resurrection outposts with the ability to be a site and a people whose resources, words, and being can be a foretaste for the most vulnerable among us.
May we be strengthened by the promise, and worthy of the age to come.
• Hymn 372 How Can We Sinners Know

Luke 20:27-38 (HCSB)
27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came up and questioned Him: 28 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother has a wife, and dies childless, his brother should take the wife and produce offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife and died without children. 30 Also the second 31 and the third took her. In the same way, all seven died and left no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For all seven had married her.”
34 Jesus told them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are counted worthy to take part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36 For they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are sons of God, since they are sons of the resurrection. 37 Moses even indicated in the passage about the burning bush that the dead are raised, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 He is not God of the dead but of the living, because all are living to Him.” ò

Sunday, November 3, 2019

How You Live Now

• All Saints’ Sunday
with Isaiah 1:10-18    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 11/03/19

• In February 2015 the musical Hamilton opened in New York. In 2016 it won 11 Tony awards, including best musical, and it won a Grammy too for musical theatre album. Tells the story of immigrant and US founding father Alexander Hamilton.
Near the end of the first act, five years in to the Revolutionary War, General George Washington offers Hamilton the military leadership he’s long desired, and Washington counsels Hamilton: Let me tell you what I wish I’d known when I was young and dreamed of glory: you have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story.

Later in the musical, Aaron Burr laments that in spite of all his accomplishments, he himself will only be remembered as the man who shot Alexander Hamilton, and Hamilton’s wife Eliza spends the last fifty years of her life seeing that her husband’s story as one who shaped the nation gets told.

• You have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story, but oftentimes, how you live now affects how you will be remembered.

• Today All Saints’ Sunday, and we read the names of some of our loved ones who have died since last November. Some of them died suddenly, unexpectedly: Dale. Larry. Ryan. Jack. Others more expected: PeeWee. Myrtle. Boogie. All of them loved, all of them leave some kind of hole in life, and it takes an act of faith to trust that they know the peace of God’s eternal kingdom now. And how they lived affected how they are remembered.

• You can obey the law and not be remembered. You pay your taxes? You’re almost invisible. You get negative attention by not paying them. And you get positive attention by living generously.

I think of John Wesley who lived along the lines of earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can, that it would be a sin against the poor if a wealthy man died with a large bank account.
I think of Andrew Carnegie, who lived along the lines of learn all you can, earn all you can, give all you can. Carnegie dictum. One of the wealthiest men in history, and he gave 90% of his earnings away.

• How you live now affects how you will be remembered.

• Prophet Isaiah, God speaks about how you live now.
Don’t live mindlessly. God hates that.

Live in relationship. Live in relationship with God and people. Esteem others.
Ritualistically going through the motions doesn’t honor me, God says. It’s your own mind game.

What I honor: seeking justice – that is, what is right among people. Helping the oppressed. Defending the orphan, pleading for the widow. Using the opportunity, power, influence you have to lift others who lack opportunity, power, influence.

That’s a good way to be remembered. That’s a way to live that honors life, gives glory to God.

That’s kingdom living, living as one who already knows the peace that God will give.

• All Saints’ remembrance, followed by Holy Communion

Celebration of the Saints            All Saints’ Sunday       11/03/19
We remember
and we look forward to seeing again in the kingdom:
PeeWee, Myrtle D, Dale A, Larry S, Arthur B, Ryan T, Jack W, Boogie.

Isaiah 1:10-18 (CEB)
10 Hear the Lord’s word, you leaders of Sodom. Listen to our God’s teaching, people of Gomorrah!
11 What should I think about all your sacrifices? says the Lord. I’m fed up with entirely burned offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts. I don’t want the blood of bulls, lambs, and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who asked this from you, this trampling of my temple’s courts?
13 Stop bringing worthless offerings. Your incense repulses me.
New moon, sabbath, and the calling of an assembly—I can’t stand wickedness with celebration! 14 I hate your new moons and your festivals. They’ve become a burden that I’m tired of bearing.
15 When you extend your hands, I’ll hide my eyes from you.
Even when you pray for a long time, I won’t listen. Your hands are stained with blood.
16 Wash! Be clean! Remove your ugly deeds from my sight. Put an end to such evil; 17 learn to do good. Seek justice: help the oppressed; defend the orphan; plead for the widow.
18 Come now, and let’s settle this, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow. If they are red as crimson, they will become like wool. ò