Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Church: The People of God

• First Sunday after the Epiphany.
with 1 Peter 2:9-12  and  John 1:35-42    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 1/13/19

• We’ve been celebrating Jesus’ birth and baptism, God’s gift of light to the world.
Jesus’ purpose and endgoal: to build a church. To make disciples that make disciples. Disciples that live the gospel, tell the gospel that there is new life there is hope there is light.
To make disciples that go and do. Relief and mission and outreach.
To make disciples that worship and pray.
• The church is not a building or a place.
Today’s reading: the church is a people.
1 Peter, written in the latter third or quarter of the first century to clusters of the faithful scattered throughout Asia Minor, strongly names / identifies those believers as the new Israel, covenant people, heirs of the ancient covenant of
Abraham Isaac Jacob Joseph Moses Ruth Samuel Elijah and the King, David.
• You are a chosen race. Not a compliment but a commission.
1st covenant with Abraham to be a chosen race set aside to be a blessing.
1st Peter written long after great commission and Pentecost power.
We are part of the new chosen race, bearers of the new covenant.
• You are a royal priesthood. Not compliment but commission.
Priests are connector to God, mediators. Offer sacrifices for, offer hope to.
Priesthood of all believers. It’s every disciple’s calling to represent God to others.
• You are a holy nation. Set apart. To be different, to be a light, a leader, a model.
To live by love and to be blameless in honor.
Who is our nation, and who is responsible for us living honorably?
• You are God’s own people. What do you think when you hear “my people”?
Transition period getting to know you. Shared values and vision. Association.
You look good I look good, and vice versa.
• SO THAT we may declare the works. (remember word of mouth).
SO THAT outsiders might be embraced (as we once were).
SO THAT those without mercy might receive mercy.
So that the nations may know.

• Hymn 548 In Christ there is no East and West

1 Peter 2:9-12 (NRSV)   
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
10 Once you were not a people,
    but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
    but now you have received mercy.
11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. 12 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge. ò

John 1:35-42 (NRSV)
35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). ò

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Blessed to be a Blessing

• First Sunday after Christmas.
with Colossians 3:12-17  and  Luke 2:25-35    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
This sermon (along with the entire worship service) was broadcast on Facebook Live 12/30/18

 • Turn to someone and say You are holy. Say You are beloved.
I love you and there is nothing you can do about it.
I like that saying, and I’m honored when other people associate me with it.
How do you feel with it? Do you believe it?
What if you said it to yourself every morning?
How would that affect your life?
• Suppose I made an unannounced visit to your home. After church today.
How would you feel about that? Any anxiety? Rain check? Why?
• For better or worse we are probably at least a little concerned with our image, with what we’re known for, with how we are perceived by others.
You are an emissary. An apostle, a representative.  You are a special agent. 
Do you believe it? How you appear, how you carry yourself matters.
• Paul (author of Colossians) says it matters how you behave especially in public.
Clothe yourself with Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience. Love.
 Compare: Indifference, rudeness, egotism, brashness, impatience. Disdain.
Christ came as light, and sends emissaries into the world as light-bearers.
We are blessed to be a blessing.
Purpose of incarnation: salvation, reconciliation.
What’s the best form of advertising? Word of Mouth. Represent attractively.
Here’s what we want people to see when they see you:
compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience. LOVE.
• Practice it, rehearse it.

• Hymn 254 We Three Kings

Please make plans to come to
- the Epiphany Game Night (Thursday night, 6:30pm)
(bring a game and a snack, and a gift for a newborn or family)
- the Epiphany Breakfast (Saturday morning, 8:30am)
(bring a friend, and a gift for a newborn or family)
- the Covenant Renewal service, Sunday Jan 6, 11am.
- the Bishop’s address to the Laity, Sunday afternoon, Jan 6, 3pm-6pm
Forrest Burdette UMC

Colossians 3:12-17 (CEB)         
12 Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. 14 And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people. 16 The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him. ò

Luke 2:25-35 (CEB)         
25 A man named Simeon was in Jerusalem. He was righteous and devout. He eagerly anticipated the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 The Holy Spirit revealed to him that he wouldn’t die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 Led by the Spirit, he went into the temple area. Meanwhile, Jesus’ parents brought the child to the temple so that they could do what was customary under the Law. 28 Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God. He said,
29 “Now, master, let your servant go in peace according to your word, 30 because my eyes have seen your salvation.
31 You prepared this salvation in the presence of all peoples.
32 It’s a light for revelation to the Gentiles
    and a glory for your people Israel.”
33 His father and mother were amazed by what was said about him. 34 Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “This boy is assigned to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that generates opposition 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your innermost being too.” ò

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Good News

• TwentySixth Sunday after Pentecost. 
with Mark 13 and Hebrews 10    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
This sermon (along with the entire worship service) was broadcast on Facebook Live 11/18/18

• It’s 5 weeks and 2 days til Christmas. 37 days. And Christmas stuff has been in the mall for two weeks already. And songs. And Adam K’s favorite Hallmark movies.
I am excited that next Sun is Christ the King Sunday
and then Advent, and then we start all over again.
We are people of one story.
John Wesley strived to be a man of one book, homo unius libri,
I love to tell the story of Jesus and his love.
• But how is the story Good News? and why do we keep telling the one story?
What impact does that story have on our lives?
• The Good News provides sustenance, nourishment.
Feeds the soul.
• It provides hope. Not hope of escape, afterlife reward (though that is part of it) but hope of newness of life, reconciliation, release from the guilt and the power of sin.
• Sustenance and hope and joy. My parents have been married 53 years. That brings me joy. Joy in relationships, knowledge not alone and that forces of darkness do not win.
• In the OT God provided system of sacrifice and eventually Temple as means of atonement for sin. Something of most value. And set aside one person (high priest) from group of set aside people (Levites) to make the sacrifice.
Year after year that’s how it went.
• But Jesus delivered a double-punch to the system, making himself the thing of most value, and taking the role of the priest as well.
And instead of it being an insufficient and temporary fix, Jesus’ sacrifice perfectly covers all sin, once and for all. Jesus opens access to God to all, and that is good news that brings sustenance and hope and joy.
New life now and life to come possible
because of the intercession of Jesus
who did what people and the law could not do.

• Hymn 362 Nothing but the Blood

Mark 13:1-8 (HCSB)
13 As He was going out of the temple complex, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, look! What massive stones! What impressive buildings!”
2 Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings?
Not one stone will be left here on another that will not be thrown down!”
3 While He was sitting on the Mount of Olives across from the temple complex, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign when all these things are about to take place?”
5 Then Jesus began by telling them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and they will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don’t be alarmed; these things must take place, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. ò

Hebrews 10:11-25 (HCSB)
11 Every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins. 12 But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. 13 He is now waiting until His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified. 15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. For after He says:
16 This is the covenant I will make with them
after those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws on their hearts
and write them on their minds,
17 He adds:
I will never again remember
their sins and their lawless acts. [Jeremiah 31:33-34]
18 Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way He has opened for us through the curtain (that is, His flesh), 21 and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. 23 Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, 25 not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. ò

Monday, October 8, 2018


I have neglected to post sermons for half a year. I will try to fill in the spaces as I keep up with the current.

Sunday, October 7, 2018


• Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost. 
World Communion Sunday
with Hebrews 1:1-4 and Hebrews 2:5-12    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
This sermon (along with the entire worship service) was broadcast on Facebook Live 10/7/18

• As of World Communion Sunday I am beginning my sixth year at First UMC. The last five years I’ve had several major life changes, some needful. Three years ago it became clear to me that my alcohol use was squarely in the region of alcohol abuse. I had lost the ability to drink alcohol in moderation.
Blind in my own self-deception, I needed to be retrained with respect to alcohol. By the grace of God, by the support of my family, this congregation, my DS & bishop, and through AA, I learned anew things I thought I knew. This week I celebrate three years' alcohol-free.
I didn’t want to relearn, or get retrained. But I did need it.
My focus was out of whack.
• The book of Hebrews retrains a people with a distorted perception. People were worshiping angels instead of God. Hebrews shows that the Son of God is superior to angels. Hebrews reminds humankind that we are God’s beloved.
• Some things need retrained today. Let me tell you about how The UMC works.
Our church exists in connection. A federation of sorts. We are not an unconnected individual congregation. We are not in competition with other UMCs. We are a global body. Remember Paul’s verses about body parts working together, all necessary.
Our congregation is the charge conference, meets annually with the district superintendent. CC authorizes the Administrative Council to act on behalf of CC.
The Annual Conference is a connection of regional churches united in ministry and service.
• Some things need retrained.
Our church connection means we’re all in ministry together.
And we all foot the bill – called our “fair share” or our apportionments.
And together we accomplish more than we can as separate churches.
We benefit from connection.
• World Communion offering benefits disadvantaged students around the world.
• We participate in Church at the real incarnational invitation of Christ who is in us.

• Hymn in preparation for communion: In the Breaking of the Bread

Hebrews 1:1-4 (HCSB)
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made all things through Him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. So He became higher in rank than the angels, just as the name He inherited is superior to theirs.ò

Hebrews 2:5-12 (NRSV)
What we’re saying is that God did not give authority over the world to angels. But scripture says:
“What are human beings that you are mindful of them,
    or mortals, that you care for them?
You have made them for a little while
        lower than the angels;
    you have crowned them with glory and honor,
    subjecting all things under their feet.”
Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, 12 saying,
“I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters,
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Two Paths

• Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost.
with James 5 and Mark 9    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

• (I was last in this pulpit on Sept 9, before going to Ireland for two weeks. Our guest speakers were Denver Stevens and then Benjamin Wells from Marshall campus ministry.)
• I arrived in WV 5 years ago this week. Oh, the possibilities for exploring the woods and mountains, so close in the Barboursville park! Mostly the exploring I’ve done is worth repeating, but some not. Some marked paths, some un. Some clear, some with all Nature’s gifts (I walked through spiderwebs and spiders, thistles, dew…).
• Read Robert Frost’s Road Not Taken
Frost was describing a path, not a not-path.
He was not going out pathless.
Not even really a value judgment between the two,
like one was more adventurous or one was old and worn out.
He says the paths are pretty much equal.
• Jesus describes two paths that are NOT equal.
One is the path of kingdom things, the other of human things.
Kingdom things: prayer, humility, repentance.
Community. Being ‘in God’.
God is my savior, my defense, my salvation.
Human things: serving self. Not community but me.
• “Where the worm never dies, and the fire never goes out.” Uncomfortable phrases. This is the fruit of the human path, the path that doesn’t need God, the path Peter wanted Jesus to take after Peter in Mark 8 wanted to steer Jesus to safety. Get behind me Satan, you are not setting your mind on divine things but on human things (Mark 8:33).
Where the worm never dies, fire never goes out is Gehenna, a literal wasteland, superstitiously avoided because of its ancient history with human sacrifice, and consequently neglected and abused, full of rubbish and fire. There’s always a fire smoldering there, there’s always worms there.
The path to Gehenna is the human path, the self-sufficient I can do it by myself path. Jesus says it’s better to live with one foot, one hand, one eye than to end up in Gehenna instead of following the divine path.
• Robert Frost enjoys the relationship between hiker and path, and he finds both paths desirable, wants each path to be fulfilled, trod upon.
• We need a guide, and we HAVE a guide, and he does not always do what we want or expect (again, Mark 8) but he does right by us.
Our path is marked by mission (share the love of God, and make disciples).
Let us follow him not our own thinkings.

• 142 If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee

Mark 9:38-50 (CEB) 
38 John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone throwing demons out in your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.”
39 Jesus replied, “Don’t stop him. No one who does powerful acts in my name can quickly turn around and curse me. 40 Whoever isn’t against us is for us. 41 I assure you that whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will certainly be rewarded.
42 “As for whoever causes these little ones who believe in me to trip and fall into sin, it would be better for them to have a huge stone hung around their necks and to be thrown into the lake. 43 If your hand causes you to fall into sin, chop it off. It’s better for you to enter into life crippled than to go away with two hands into the fire of hell, which can’t be put out. 45 If your foot causes you to fall into sin, chop it off. It’s better for you to enter life lame than to be thrown into hell with two feet. 47 If your eye causes you to fall into sin, tear it out. It’s better for you to enter God’s kingdom with one eye than to be thrown into hell with two. 48 That’s a place where worms don’t die and the fire never goes out.[Isa. 66:24] 49 Everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good; but if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? Maintain salt among yourselves and keep peace with each other.” ò

The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost

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

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

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

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


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Love in Action

• Fourth Sunday of Easter
with John 10:11-16  and  1 John 3:16-24    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
This sermon was broadcast on Facebook Live 4/15/18

• I remember first love: my Super K t-shirt. Would’ve re-entered a burning building to save it.
• Some people love stuffed animals. Some love Blenko glass. Some love books.
My favorite book: The Alchemist (1993). Teen Santiago and a journey of learning about love and following his heart. His journey takes much longer than expected and leads him into danger, but he learns better than silencing his heart.
Conversation with the wind about love. Wind observes. Talks to sun.
I learned how to love. I know that if I came even a little bit closer to the earth, everything there would die, and the Soul of the World would no longer exist. So we contemplate each other, and we want each other, and I give it life and warmth, and it gives me my reason for living.
You are wise, because you observe everything from a distance, but you don’t know about love. It’s not love to be static like the desert, nor is it love to roam the world like the wind. And it’s not love to see everything from a distance, like you do. Love is the force that transforms and improves the Soul of the World. When we love, we always strive to become better than we are.
• 1 John is partly a work of praise to God and partly the encouragement slash command slash instruction to love as Christ loved us: not from a distance, not aimlessly, not staticly as a collection. Love involves knowing, listening, responding, giving.
The story of God’s love for humankind includes God knowing humankind and hearing its cries and responding in Jesus the word made flesh. The story of Jesus and his love for God the Father and for the world includes his pouring himself out for the salvation of the world, giving of himself so that we could live, giving of himself in praise of God. The story of Jesus and his love includes his desire to completely live in alignment with God, to completely live in obedience and humbleness before God, with no separation.
• If we love First UMC… means knowing First UMC. Participating and leading. Listening to its people and responding to its heartbreaks, pouring self into its ministry and its witness.
Earth day: reducing plastic. Reusing bottles, skipping straws…
If we love Bville, Hton… knowing it, participating in it, listening, responding. Leaving nothing between.

• Hymn 373 Nothing Between My Soul and My Savior

John 10:11-18 (HCSB)
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, leaves them and runs away when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches and scatters them. 13 This happens because he is a hired man and doesn’t care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me,15 as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father.” ò

1 John 3:16-24 (HCSB)                                
16 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need—how can God’s love reside in him?
18 Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action. 19 This is how we will know we belong to the truth and will convince our conscience in His presence, 20 even if our conscience condemns us, that God is greater than our conscience, and He knows all things.
21 Dear friends, if our conscience doesn’t condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and can receive whatever we ask from Him because we keep His commands and do what is pleasing in His sight. 23 Now this is His command: that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as He commanded us. 24 The one who keeps His commands remains in Him, and He in him. And the way we know that He remains in us is from the Spirit He has given us. ò