Thursday, December 24, 2015

Big Money!

Christmas Eve
With Titus 2:11-14
www.FirstChurchBville.com   @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

• You may have seen the announcement about December 2015:
"Five Tuesdays, Five Wednesdays, Five Thursdays is Money Bags – this happens every 823 years. Based on Chinese Feng Shui. Money will arrive within four days. Copy within 11 minutes of reading."
Did you copy and send? I figure it can’t hurt, so I did!

Actually this circumstance happens six times a year, any particular combination every 5-6 years or 11 years depending on Leap year. But people hope!
• Rarer occurrence: Christmas full moon. 1977. 2015. 2034.
Rarer still: Halley’s comet…

• These are not occurrences to put our hope in.
We know rarest and best of hopes:
In Jesus Christ grace and salvation are available to all,
and sanctification!

God’s grace is available to all! 
God cleans us up through Jesus Christ, 
No one is excluded from the offer of salvation, (Ephesians 2:8)
and the offer of salvation is a gift from God. (Romans 6:23)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23)

• The salvation (cleans us up) includes two things:
one, forgiveness, saved from sin and consequences of sin
and two, transforms us, empowers us, enables us, saves us FOR godly (clean) living.

• Saved from sin, saved for godly living, all for the glory of God. It’s what we’re designed for.
We are made and redeemed for God’s glory and pleasure.
We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

• Into our world Jesus comes, to live in our hearts.
And we are nourished and sustained through fellowship with God.
In act of communion...

Titus 2:11-14 New International Version (NIV)

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Good News - Advent4

Fourth Sunday of Advent
with Micah 5:2-5 and Hebrews 10:5-10
www.FirstChurchBville.com    @FirstUMCBville     @kerrfunk  

• First message of Advent: don’t forget!
Fourth message of Advent: Are we here already?
• I see in today’s passages two “good news” stories.
Once upon a time a kind Cokesbury bookstore manager wanted to reward my 5-yo daughter for her good behavior in the store, and offered her one of the shiny plastic rings she’d been admiring. We were very thankful. An hour or two later, our daughter was joyfully showing us the rings she’d gotten from the store.  Plural.  The look on her face when we told her she’d stolen… she hid under her blanket in shame.
A sin, and awareness, and shame. And shame is bad news. Self-will.

Good news is there is loving in spite of shame and there is hope of renewal, of sanctification.
• Micah, prophet 700 yrs BC, saw fruit of unfaithfulness to God, self-will, also hope of divine forgiveness hand in hand with righteous living / humility towards God. Speaks into dark time, chaos, of righteous leader to come, bringing strength security and peace.
• Trouble with own self-will, as 5-yo daughter. Trouble with my own will, and back to the beginning. Personal trouble at own will.

Good news: Christ comes to do the will of the Father.

Book of Hebrews compares and contrasts the Law
– in a time and for a purpose --
and the arrival of Christ – for all time, and covering all sin.

• Good news: Jesus Christ came and was and is perfectly sufficient to redeem broken humankind & give the tools to follow (thy will be done… in the garden and in the Lord’s Prayer)

And now, the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.  Amen.

• Hark! The Herald Angels Sing


Micah 5:2-5        (CEB)                                          12/20/15
As for you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
    though you are the least significant of Judah’s forces,
       one who is to be a ruler in Israel on my behalf
            will come out from you.

    His origin is from remote times, from ancient days.
Therefore, he will give them up
       until the time when she who is in labor gives birth.
       The rest of his kin will return to the people of Israel.
He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
             in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
        They will dwell secure,
        because he will surely become great throughout the earth;
       he will become one of peace.


Hebrews 10:5-10        (CEB)                                         
Therefore, when Christ comes into the world he says,
You didn’t want a sacrifice or an offering, but you prepared a body for me;
you weren’t pleased with entirely burned offerings or a sin offering.
 So then I said, “Look, I’ve come to do your will, God.
    This has been written about me in your Word.
He says above, You didn’t want and you weren’t pleased with a sacrifice or an offering or with entirely burned offerings or a purification offering, which are offered because the Law requires them. 
Then he said, Look, I’ve come to do your will
He puts an end to the first to establish the second. 

10 We have been made holy by God’s will
through the offering of Jesus Christ’s body once for all.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

What Time Is It? - Advent2

Second Sunday of Advent
with Luke 3:1-6
www.FirstChurchBville.com    @FirstUMCBville     @kerrfunk  

• “What time is it?” doesn’t have to mean hours and minutes. Can be more general, like “It’s time to go shopping” or “it’s time for dinner…” It’s time to worship, it’s time to pray, it’s time to rest, it’s time to remember… Deep within the forest a little turtle began to climb a tree. After hours of effort he reached the top, jumped into the air waving his front legs… and crashed to the ground. After recovering, he slowly climbed the tree again, jumped, and fell to the ground. The turtle tried again and again while a couple of birds (turtledoves, what else?) sitting on a branch watched his sad efforts. Finally, the female bird turned to her mate. “Dear,” she chirped, “I think it’s time to tell him he’s adopted.”
Two turtledoves, and a turtle climbing a tree…
• Gospel reading begins with a statement of time from before calendars were standardized the way they are today. You might say that I started at First Church in the second year of Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball’s ministry in West Virginia, or in the fifth year Barack Obama was POTUS. Luke was grounding this story in local contexts, but perhaps what’s most interesting and surprising is that Luke names five political leaders and two religious leaders… and to whom does the word of the Lord come?
John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. A nobody.

Let’s face it. John the Baptist is not the guy you’d want your daughter dating. Unshaven, unkempt, wearing camel hair… going to take her to this nice place in the middle of nowhere and eat bugs and honey. You probly wouldn’t want JtB at your Christmas party – he’d be standing on a couch or table preaching at people, or by the punch bowl inviting folks to be baptized… you don’t see JtB hymns or Christmas cards or ornaments, but God’s word comes to JtB.
What time is it? Time to broaden our horizons, check our prejudice. Time to realize that God is moving among people we may not expect God to be moving among. Time to prepare ourselves for God’s actions in the world.

• The word of God came to John in the wilderness, and he went all around the region, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Preaching “Prepare ye the way”. Context: Babylonian kings would have engineers precede them, making it safe and nice. JtB’s message is a little different, though. Instead of the ground being leveled for the king, God is putting everyone on the same playing field and proclaiming that his salvation is available to all. Man woman adult child, beggar king hero loser. Banker soldier senator janitor, no one has an advantage, no one is better than another. Jew, non-Jew, 1st Century Israeli, 21st Century Christian…
• However that’s not JtB’s literal message: his is a message of repentance, of getting right with God, everybody, by cleaning house on the inside. John was announcing the coming of the one who would tell the Pharisees that they were like “whitewashed tombs” righteous and lovely looking on the outside but full of all manner of unclean stuff and hypocrisy and wickedness on the inside.”

Bring all your sins to the surface, so that you can get rid of them. The things that thrive in darkness, shed God’s light on them.
• What time is it? Time to prepare for the Lord’s coming, readying ourselves in mind and body, in attitude and in action. Jesus makes such a way…
• into Holy Communion

Luke 3:1-6        (CEB)              12/06/15
In the fifteenth year of the rule of the emperor Tiberius—when Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea and Herod was ruler over Galilee, his brother Philip was ruler over Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was ruler over Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas—God’s word came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. John went throughout the region of the Jordan River, calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. This is just as it was written in the scroll of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

A voice crying out in the wilderness:
    “Prepare the way for the Lord;
        make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled,
    and every mountain and hill will be leveled.
The crooked will be made straight
    and the rough places made smooth.
All humanity will see God’s salvation.[Isaiah 40:3-5]