Saturday, December 24, 2016

Peace (Christmas Eve)

• Christmas Eve
with Luke 2:1-20  and  Titus 2:11-14
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• Another Christmas Eve, another retelling of the ancient story, perhaps another gathering with family and loved ones, perhaps painfully aware of an empty place, new or old.
Always glad to be in touch with each other and with God and with life, sacred time or not.
And sacred in some senses is what we make it by being fully present.
• “In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone should be taxed…”
We get a couple, the woman pregnant and likely young and poor, traveling via beast, finding shelter in someone’s garage. We get shepherds – the migrant workers of the day – working the night shift, and we get angels.
      A little bit of everything. A congruence of people that would have nothing to do together normally. Maybe not unlike a church service? Or maybe an AA or NA meeting? Variety of people with different needs, concerns, strengths, worries, abilities, at the same place at the same time.
      Sharing a need for peace. Like us.
      At the sunset of one president, hated and beloved, and on the dawn of a new president, hated and beloved. In a community filled with hope strength and dignity and plagued by addiction violence and poverty. In a nation and in a denomination with great passion and with great division. In a world (((Same)))
• Birth of a baby levels status. Contains hope, necessitates selflessness, cooperation. Kindles heart. Possibility of peace. Birth of Jesus Lord of Lords, Messiah, Savior, Prince of Peace.
• Peace. Biblically shalom. Completeness, soundness. Wholeness of life or body, right relationship. Success. Absence of war.
      Both greeting and farewell. A wish for you from me.
• Celebration of Advent not only preparation of celebration of birth of Jesus but also anticipation of the return of Christ, of the power of God living in our mixedup circumstances, blessing gracing us with his presence, guiding us as we live God’s kingdom as witnesses and heralds.
• 1967 Peace My Friends looks back and forward, through variety of circumstances.

      Peace I leave with you, my friends.                      1. To share his love is why I came.
Shalom, my peace, in all you do.                           To show his kindness to all lives.
Peace I leave with you, my friends;                      Go now, my friends, and do the same
I give to you so you can give to others, too.      Until I come again.
      2. Take my hand and be at peace.                       3. With this love all folks will know
The spirit of our love I send,                                That loneliness is at an end.
And with this love you will be free                    Rejoice, my people, though I go,
Until I come again.                                                For I will come again.
                                                                                         Words and music by Ray Repp, © 1967
For those who are struggling with some sort of personal problem, it is a promise of healing.
For those who don’t believe Jesus Christ is the son of God,
it is a glimpse of God’s love for all God’s children.
For those who feel like the whole world is in the violent throes of chaos and confusion,
it is a moment of respite and reflection.
For those who live in darkness and fear, it casts great light: the pledge that a new day,
a new week, a new year, a new life, is coming for each and every one of us.
For those who imagine that this world isn’t worth saving, it speaks a word of hope.
And for those who on this night find themselves at odds with someone or something,
it offers a promise of peace that passes all understanding, now and forevermore.
• into Communion liturgy

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. X

Luke 2:1-7 Common English Bible (CEB)

In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom. X

Sunday, December 18, 2016

DREAM

• 4th Sunday of Advent
with Matthew 1:18-25
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• We had the children’s musical at the Baptist Church on Wednesday, Fact or Fiction: the Christmas Edition. Game show with Christmas Bible trivia and a message of the changed life of a disciple.
Lyrics: Fact, what is true. Fiction is pretend.
What about dreams?
• 1865 German chemist August Kekul√© dreamed the ring-shaped molecular structure for the compound benzene.
Almost 100 years later American biologist James Watson dreamed of a spiral staircase and figured out the double-helix structure of DNA.
• Humans dream every night, about two hours, maybe half a dozen dreams.
Blood flow to the brain increases during dreams, more so than wakefulness.
It’s like brain exercise!
• Sometimes I think we should ask God to speak to us in dreams.
• Joseph received a message from an angel during a dream.
Chose to follow message, despite circumstances.
A long-lasting decision that had long-lasting effects.
What do you do with a good/bad dream?
Do you tell? What do you do with a message dream?
Joseph chose to act as though dream were real.
Newlyweds: now you’re married, do you feel married?
Doesn’t matter, better behave married!
Joseph lived the rest of his life as though his dream were real. Why?
And how do we live? Not everyone believes…
Live with the conviction that the truth of the story is worth living for.
•So discipleship. So Advent message.
Choose to live in expectation of Christ’s real return.
Choose to live in faith that the stories of Jesus are fact not fiction
and that through the real life of Jesus
there are real effects in my life today.
Forgiven, reconciled, hope
Because he lives…

• Hymn 230 O Little Town

Matthew 1:18-25 (CEB)   
18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. 20 As Joseph was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled:
23 Look! A virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
And they will call him, Emmanuel.
(Emmanuel means “God with us.”)

24 When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he didn’t have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. Joseph called him Jesus. X

Sunday, December 11, 2016

O Holy Night

The Third Sunday of Advent we had worship in song with a Christmas cantata called "O Holy Night!" arranged by Russell Mauldin.

We combined our choir with Bville Baptist Church and a community orchestra.

Here's the evening performance at BBC:

Sunday, December 4, 2016

TURN

• 2nd Sunday of Advent
with Matthew 3:1-12
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• Last week: Watch. Be like Bob.
Do what you can with what you have.
• Who’s excited for Christmas? Why?
Emmanuel, God-is-with-us…
Who looks forward to the return of Christ? Why?
There’s something terribly frightening about the return of Christ… he’ll come in like a lion…
• Today’s Gospel reading introduces us to John the Baptist.
What would your reaction be if you saw this guy on the street? Cross the street to avoid him!
And yet, people go out of their way to hear him.
And then they confessed their sins?
I’d rather have my teeth pulled!
What might motivate you to humble yourself,
to confess your sins to a maniac street preacher?
• Consider that feeling when a cop car pulls behind you…
Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, sinking feeling.
Shouldn’t be that way. Need to turn, to rightsize cops.
(And seek to drive right.)
How about meeting God, how about return of Christ?
Both terrific and terrifying. Need to turn, need to rightsize God.
God is more terrifying than we imagine
AND God’s grace is much greater than we imagine.
• Another thing from this passage: Christianity is not something you merely say, but verse 8 produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. They’ll know we are Christians by our love.
Merely being religious is no guarantee of being right with God.
James 1:27 (brother of Jesus): Religion that is pure and faultless is this, to look after the orphan and the widow in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
• AND knowledge that God’s grace is not dependent on my faithfulness.
I want to be closer to God. To be the me God made me to be.
Your words are sweeter than honey. By your teachings I gain understanding.
Psalm 119:103-104

• Hymn 142 If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee

Matthew 3:1-12 (CEB)
3 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judea announcing, 2 “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!” 3 He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said:
The voice of one shouting in the wilderness,
        “Prepare the way for the Lord;
        make his paths straight.”[Isa 40:3]
4 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.

5 People from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and all around the Jordan River came to him. 6 As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 7 Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by John. He said to them, “You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? 8 Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. 9 And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire. 11 I baptize with water those of you who have changed your hearts and lives. The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out.” X

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Be Like Bob

• First Sunday of Advent (Year A)
with Matthew 24:36-44
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Advent begins! We are about to re-tell our beloved ancient story.
I’m currently re-reading a favorite book,
The Dog Stars (2012), by Peter Heller.
It’s set in Colorado 9 years after “all hell broke loose” and a flu killed more than 90% of the population. There is no government, no infrastructure. In the whole book we don’t meet more than a dozen people, and they’re all survivalists.
Can you imagine? It could happen.
• Also a fan of The Walking Dead. Hit TV show these last seven years. The main character Rick Grimes is a policeman who was shot in the line of duty, and in the hospital went into a coma. When he comes to, he discovers that the zombie apocalypse has come. People forming tribes for survival, either cooperating with people or, more likely, competing with people for limited resources.
In season 4 our main character leads a group of people and they come across a guy named Bob, who eventually develops a liking for a woman named Sasha. One day Sasha notes that Bob is always smiling, and Bob responds that he is happy to be alive and not alone. She makes up a little game, The Good Out of the Bad: she says something “bad” and he finds the “good” in it: (Season 5, Episode 2)
Wet socks? / Cool feet.  
Mosquito bites? / Itching reminds you you're alive.
Danger around every corner? / Never a dull moment.
The hot sun beating down on you? / Come on, a glorious tan.
No privacy? / Captive audience.
Bob has survived the end of the world, he’s alive and not alone. He knows death could be around the corner but he does what he can with what he has, and seeks to live in a way that uplifts others.
• Matthew 24. Jesus has told the disciples that everything they know will be turned upside down. They want to know when. Could be any time. You can’t make plans for it. The only way to be ready for it is to accept that it could happen at any time and that you have no control over it.
I often write my sermons on Saturday evening. Works for me most of the time ;)  Well one Saturday evening a few years ago Melissa informed me shortly after supper that we had to take Lexi to the ER. Not in twenty minutes, not after you finish what you’re doing, now. Broken arm. We got home after 1AM. And I wrote my sermon then.
John Wesley is said to have said that a preacher ought to be ready to preach, pray, or die at a moment’s notice.
And scripture says Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15) – that includes you, too!
• So how do we get ready for [the end, the apocalypse, the return of Christ]?
1, accept that it could happen at any time and that you have no control over it.
2, take inventory, especially of what you know:
Jesus Loves Me, This I Know,
also belief that Jesus Christ lived & makes new life possible,
calls us into participation, and will come again.
2.1, consider the Apostles’ Creed
3, Be like Bob. Do what you can with what you have.
• 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22
14 And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. 15 See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise the words of prophets, 21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.
• Hymn 117 O God, Our Help in Ages Past

Matthew 24:36-44 (The VOICE)
36 No one knows the hour or the day, not even the messengers in heaven, not even the Son. Only the Father knows. 37 As it was at the time of Noah, so it will be with the coming of the Son of Man. 38 In the days before the flood, people were busy making lives for themselves: they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, making plans and having children and growing old, until the day Noah entered the ark. 39 Those people had no idea what was coming; they knew nothing about the floods until the floods were upon them, sweeping them all away. That is how it will be with the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be plowing a field: one will be taken, and the other will be left in the field41 Two women will be somewhere grinding at a mill: one will be taken, and the other will be left at the mill.

42 So keep watch. You don’t know when your Lord will come. 43 But you should know this: If the owner of a house had known his house was about to be broken into, he would have stayed up all night, vigilantly.  He would have kept watch, and he would have thwarted the thief. 44 So you must be ready because you know the Son of Man will come, but you can’t know precisely when. X

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Wedding of Patrick and Karen

I had the privilege of uniting Patrick and Karen in marriage Sunday afternoon November 20, 2016, at Kuhn Memorial Presbyterian Church, in Barboursville WV.

Matthew 7:24-27
Jesus said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

Meditation
I have been a pastor for 14 years. I’ve done something like forty weddings. One of my first weddings was for a couple that had been living together for 13 years. I asked them why they were getting married – they’d both been married before, both been divorced before, and they’d been together longer than a lot of couples – why marry now, I asked them. Well, they both had kids that were getting of marriage age, and they wanted to get married before any of their kids did.  I did their wedding. Then I did the wedding for the bride’s son. Then I did the wedding for the groom’s daughter. Then I did the wedding for the bride’s daughter and I had to write a whole new wedding sermon so that the family didn’t hear the same one three times!
I had to write a new wedding sermon for Patrick and Karen as well. In part because you’ve already heard me preach today, in part because it’s unusual for me to do a wedding for a friend, but mostly because I’m celebrating the marriage of someone who also celebrates marriages. I don’t know how many weddings Patrick has done, how many couples he has counseled on the way to the altar, but I know that he  perhaps more than many  has given a decent amount of thought to the institution of marriage, and specifically, marriage within the framework of Christianity.

The life of the pastor is an interesting one. We are visioneers and cheerleaders, priests and chaplains, administrators and janitors. We are storytellers wedded to one unchanging ancient story that we seek to tell anew every week. We are followers of a man we say was God in the flesh, who actually died, who actually came back from the dead, who somehow ascended into heaven, and who somehow wraps all of the brokenness of life together in one great big God-sized ball of reconciliation.
The life of a pastor’s spouse is an interesting one as well, and church: if you’re going to pray for just one of these people, pray for Karen. You are here today, blessing your pastor as he vows to put someone else before you. And Karen stands here today on one hand seeking to be part of your group and on another hand fearing that you and she may be in competition with one another. Pray for her. Embrace her. Honor their commitment and their right to privacy and their need for space.
Yes I’ve celebrate fortysomething weddings. You all have heard the 1 Corinthians “love” passage, probably many times at weddings, and I’ve used that a couple times. But this little passage from Matthew is my favorite wedding passage. It says so much, so succinctly. Certainly it can be connected with the message I gave a few moments ago regarding remaining connected to God and to each other, but it also connects to that one unchanging ancient story that we disciples keep alive in our own lives. As Matthew presents it, Jesus has just delivered the “Sermon on the Mount,” containing some of the most famous and central of Jesus’ teachings. And Jesus offers us an option: Go through life with me, and it’ll go better for you. There will be storms, don’t get me wrong, but when your life is founded on me, when you remain in me, we weather the storms together.
Patrick and Karen are building their house together, and doing so in connection with the master builder Jesus. They have been blessed in finding in each other  complementary life qualities and faith and hope and love (I couldn’t resist slipping a little 1 Cor 13 in there) – faith and hope and love that will help them weather the storms of life. It is good to go through life with a partner, especially in connection to God.

It is the perfect love of God that brought us to this sacred space on this day, and it is the perfect love of God that will guide you and sustain you throughout your marriage, throughout your life together.
  
Patrick and Karen, I am thrilled to stand here today before God and your friends and family, witnessing to your commitment to each other, and I claim for you the perfect love of God, who has taken the pieces of your pasts and brought you together, which binds you together today, and which will be over, under, around and inside of you, sustaining you and bringing you to maturity together, I claim that abiding power for you in Jesus’ name. Amen. 


You’ve declared your intent, we’ve heard the word of God and witnessed to it, now let us enter into the sanctuary’s altar area and bless you and pray for you as you make your vows and bless your commitment to one another. 

Remaining Connected

• Christ the King Sunday
with John 15:1-8
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Today I broke from my “Christ the King Sunday” habit of walking through the Christian calendar in scripture and hymn (see November 2015 for that order), in order to celebrate the wedding of a friend, Pastor Patrick. I wanted to share a covenant message with my church and his, and the worship service led directly into the wedding service.
At both churches I shared the following message,
touching on John 15.

• A few years ago my life was forever changed by a man I hope to meet someday, Frank W. He was 77yo when he struck his head and fell unconscious into his backyard pond & died. I never met him but I led his funeral 3 years ago & was amazed to hear from his wife Sandy how he, how they truly lived the greatest commandment to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself”.
Frank and Sandy were married almost 50 years, the love of their lives. And every day they would say to each other, “I love you, but you’re #2 in my life…” Number one in their lives: Jesus Christ. Amazing
As for the love the neighbor part: for the last few years of his life, they’d make two dozen bag lunches (sandwich, fruit, egg, drink) and hand them out along with blessings and invitations.
They were inspirational witnesses. They demonstrated being plugged in, connected. Abide in God and bear fruit.
I hope to meet Frank someday.
• I need to remember people like Frank, if nothing else,
because there are too many disturbing deaths.
Two weeks ago death by suicide of CabMid student Stephen W
This past week 36yo CabCnty woman Nicola G found dead after overdose.
This past week 25yo Kirsten W sudden death.
I didn’t really know these folks, but I gotta think that there must have been some disconnection in their lives
and that disconnection was related to their deaths.
I say this as an addict, as a person in recovery. I’m an alcoholic. Alcoholics and addicts suffer from the illusion of control, and seek to unplug, to disconnect.
God did not design us to be alone. And disconnection is death.
I was an adult Christian for 20 years, a pastor for a dozen years, yet I was still self-reliant, cut off from God and family, cut off by my dependence on alcohol.
And by grace of God and in connection with AA fellowship, let go of the unmanageable, and opened to God.

• I told Patrick I’d give a message about covenant for his wedding day.
Covenant has to do with relationship. Unconditional commitment, binding together. Deeply significant.
Today is my wedding anniversary, and the word “grateful” does not describe enough how I feel about Melissa standing by me as I learned what it meant to be an alcoholic. And you can bet that neither of us was thinking of that when we made our vows 17 years ago, but we have stood by one another and we have weathered some storms.
• I have found covenant in the rooms of AA as strangers have become brothers bound together sharing our strength hope and experiences with one another as we seek to recover from alcoholism.
Also I have seen how God has drawn people into new relationship with himas they learn to rely on God instead of their own selves.
We say we’ve received a “daily reprieve based on the maintenance of spiritual condition.”
• That covenant with God, that living with God as #1 (as Frank did and as I seek to do), that proclaiming of Jesus and ruler and king is where fruitful and rewarding life is.
Remain in God, remain in contact with God, take the words and teachings and pattern and promises of God and base your life on them and you will bear good fruit.

• Hymn 280 All Glory Laud & Honor (First UMC)
   Hymn 361 How Firm A Foundation (Kuhn Memorial Presbyterian Church)

John 15:1-8 (The VOICE)   

15 Jesus said: I am the true vine, and My Father is the keeper of the vineyard. 2 My Father examines every branch in Me and cuts away those who do not bear fruit. He leaves those bearing fruit and carefully prunes them so that they will bear more fruit; 3 already you are clean because you have heard My voice. 4 Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. A branch cannot bear fruit if it is disconnected from the vine, and neither will you if you are not connected to Me.
5 I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear great fruit. Without Me, you will accomplish nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is like a branch that is tossed out and shrivels up and is later gathered to be tossed into the fire to burn.7 If you abide in Me and My voice abides in you, anything you ask will come to pass for you. Your abundant growth and your faithfulness as My followers will bring glory to the Father. X

Luke 1:68-79 (The VOICE)           The Song of Zacharias
68 May the Lord God of Israel be blessed indeed! For God’s intervention has begun, and He has moved to rescue us, the people of God. 69 And the Lord has raised up a powerful sign of liberation for us from among the descendants of God’s servant, King David. 70 As was prophesied through the mouths of His holy prophets in ancient times: 71 God will liberate us from our enemies and from the hand of our oppressors!
72-74 God will show mercy promised to our ancestors, upholding the abiding covenant He made with them, Remembering the original vow He swore to Abraham, from whom we are all descended. God will rescue us from the grasp of our enemies so that we may serve Him without fear all our days 75 In holiness and justice, in the presence of the Lord.
76  And you, my son, will be called the prophet of the Most High. For you will be the one to prepare the way for the Lord 77 So that the Lord’s people will receive knowledge of their freedom through the forgiveness of their sins.

78  All this will flow from the kind and compassionate mercy of our God. A new day is dawning: the Sunrise from the heavens will break through in our darkness, 79 And those who huddle in night, those who sit in the shadow of death, Will be able to rise and walk in the light, guided in the pathway of peace. X

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Working God's Kingdom

26th Sunday after Pentecost
Veterans Day Sunday
with Isaiah 65:17-25, Matthew 10, and 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
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You cannot step into the same river twice (Heraclitus, 500 BC)
Is the river the water? Because the water is always moving. The water from yesterday is far downstream today. Stepping into today’s water is not the same as stepping into yesterday’s water.
Is the river its location? Where is the river across the street? Is it the same river ten miles upstream? Ten miles downstream?
You cannot step into the same river twice.
We have only the now. Work God’s kingdom now.
• I learned about the negative positive in today’s Isaiah passage, and let me just say in example: No elections in God’s kingdom. No 18 months of mudslinging campaigns, No riots before, during, after. No fear. No division.
Consider the negative positives in Isaiah 65: no longer will the negative situations define our circumstances. No longer will they even come to mind.
What a needful word of hope.
• In some ways this past week feels like the proverbial last days. Take a look at Matthew 10.
I do not come to bring peace but a sword… I have come to turn a man against his father, … a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household… (34-36)
Do not fear (v.26). Be radically hospitable (cup of cold water v.42)
We’re familiar with some of the deep division that Jesus describes. And Jesus tells us to fear not, and to be hospitable anyway.
Do not be weary in doing good.
• Isaiah 65 speaks a word of hope to a weary people. A new creation.
God is creating (ongoing) and will create (immanent).
Making Jerusalem a city of joy, her people my gladness.
Imagine that. Huntington, a city of joy.
Huntington’s people, God’s delight.
Once again, out of topsyturvey chaos shall come
God’s creation, order.
• About 57% of registered voters participated in 2016. (around 40% of total)
On the higher end, but rare to peek above 60% in last century. For a century or more, “the work” is done by sixty percent of the people.
Paul, in 2 Thessalonians, is aware that some folks are laying their tools down because Messiah is coming.
Imagine 40% of your body not working.
And recall that we are the body together. We are not a social club of a common interest or hobby, we are together the body of Christ, and together we participate in, together we do the body of Christ.
“If you have a sapling in your hand and someone says Come quickly, Messiah is coming! Plant the sapling, and then go and greet Messiah” (Rabbi Johanan ben Zakai, a contemporary of Jesus).
Stay at work in God’s kingdom,
regardless of the circumstances.
Share the love of God with people in a hurting world.
There have been protests and violence from both sides à stand against violence.

Hear the wisdom of President Lincoln:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations… (from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address)

• In congregation and in nation and in body of Christ, contribute. Work. Be not idle.
Participate in kingdom of God which is ongoing and immanent.

• Hymn 111 How Can We Name a Love

Isaiah 65:17-25 (The VOICE) 
17 This is what Sovereign LORD says:
Now look here! I am creating new heavens and a new earth. The weary and painful past will be as if it never happened. No one will talk or even think about it anymore. 18 So take joy and celebrate with unending gladness on account of what I am creating. Look carefully! I am making this place I’ve chosen, this Jerusalem, a city of joy. I’m making her citizens, My people, a people of gladness. 19 This Jerusalem, My pride and joy, and her people will be a delight to Me. Though you listen at every corner, you will never hear crying, never hear despair or grief.
20 Never again will a person not live a full life, for the young will live to be a hundred, and any who die earlier will be considered cursed. 21 People will confidently build houses and make them their homes; they will plant vineyards and enjoy their fruit for years to come. 22 They won’t worry that someone else will come along, drive them out, and take it all away. For My people will live as long as these age-old trees; My chosen will use up and wear out whatever they make. 23 They will not work hard for what others take away; they will not lose children to sudden terror and death. For they are the offspring of those blessed by the Eternal; they and their descendants will enjoy God’s blessings. 24 I’ll anticipate their prayers and respond before they know it; even as they speak, I will hear. 25 But they’ll all eat together like friends—wolf and lamb, lion and ox, and the biting snake will feed on dust. When that day arrives, there will be no evil, no violence, no hurt or wrong in all My sacred mountain. X

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 (The VOICE)     
6 For the sake of the church, brothers and sisters, we insist in the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed that you withdraw from any brother or sister who is out of order and unwilling to work, who is straying from the line of teaching we passed on to all of you. 7 You know how essential it is to imitate us in the way we live life. We were never undisciplined 8 nor did we take charity from anyone while we were with you. Instead, you saw how we worked very hard day and night so we wouldn’t be a burden to even one person in the community. 9 We had the right to depend on your help and hospitality, as you know; but we wanted to give you a model you could follow, to lay a path of footprints for you to walk in. 10 This is exactly why, while with you, we commanded you: “Anyone not willing to work shouldn’t get to eat!” 11 You see, we are hearing that some folks in the community are out of step with our teaching; they are idle, not working, but really busy doing nothing—and yet still expect to be fed! 12 If this is you or someone else in the community, we insist and urge you in the Lord Jesus the Anointed that you go to work quietly, earn your keep, put food on your own table, and supply your own necessities. 13 And to the rest of you, brothers and sisters, never grow tired of doing good. X

Matthew 10   New International Version (NIV)  
10 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36     a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Connection

25th Sunday after Pentecost
All Saints Sunday
Holy Communion

with Ephesians 1:11-23  and   Luke 6:20-31
www.FirstChurchBville.com    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

• The “Sermon on the plain” in Luke chapter six contains some basic soundbyte teachings of Jesus, to shape disciples both now and in life to come.
As in Exodus, Moses ascended the mountain to receive the Law and descended the mountain to tell the people, so did Jesus ascend the mountain to pray and descend the mountain to tell the people. These are God’s expectations for the faithful.
• On this week’s election: I echo Eph 1:17. Pray for wisdom.
We are all in this together. Be kind to one another. We are family.
• The Cubs won the 2016 World Series, their first WS win since 1908, narrowly defeating the Cleveland Indians, who last won the WS in 1948.
I’m a Cubs fan, like my folks, like their folks.
I have no personal connection with Cleveland.
We care about what we’re connected to.
Therefore intentionally remain connected to God.
To the world. To people.
The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the worlds deep hunger meet. – Frederick Buechner
• Today is All Saints Sunday, and we remember seven saints connected to our congregation. Think about those connections. Shared time. Activities. Working together. Many connections are strengthened not by accident but by intent.
ILYATNYCDAI.
• On Saturday 11/5 a CabMid HS student took his life. RIP SW.
I didn’t know him, don’t know what was going on in his life.
But he had a family and a church. He was my brother, as you are.
Imagine if connection was so strong, intentionally,
that no person would take their life.
Imagine making the connection strong.
• Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US.
Greatest risk: elderly white men.
My challenge to you: intentionally connect with 5 people this month.
Write a letter. Go for coffee. Go to a Herd basketball game.
Work together at church. Rake a lawn.Tell your story.

• Hymn 529 How Firm A Foundation (vs 1, 2, 5)

Remembering our saints
We remember, and we look forward to seeing again in the kingdom:
Arley H, Millard K, Delmo R, Everett C, Sheila C, Spence S, Charlotte S, Ron S, Stephen W.

Ephesians 1:11-23        (CEB)      
11 We have also received an inheritance in Christ. We were destined by the plan of God, who accomplishes everything according to his design. 12 We are called to be an honor to God’s glory because we were the first to hope in Christ. 13 You too heard the word of truth in Christ, which is the good news of your salvation. You were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit because you believed in Christ. 14 The Holy Spirit is the down payment on our inheritance, which is applied toward our redemption as God’s own people, resulting in the honor of God’s glory.
15 Since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, this is the reason that 16 I don’t stop giving thanks to God for you when I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, will give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation that makes God known to you. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart will have enough light to see what is the hope of God’s call, what is the richness of God’s glorious inheritance among believers, 19 and what is the overwhelming greatness of God’s power that is working among us believers. This power is conferred by the energy of God’s powerful strength. 20 God’s power was at work in Christ when God raised him from the dead and sat him at God’s right side in the heavens, 21 far above every ruler and authority and power and angelic power, any power that might be named not only now but in the future. 22 God put everything under Christ’s feet and made him head of everything in the church, 23 which is his body. His body, the church, is the fullness of Christ, who fills everything in every way. X

Luke 6:20-31    (The VOICE)        
20 Jesus looked across the faces of His disciples, and spoke:
All you who are poor, you are blessed
        for the kingdom of God belongs to you.
21     All you who are hungry now, you are blessed
        for your hunger will be satisfied.
    All you who weep now, you are blessed
        for you shall laugh!
22     When people hate you, when they exclude you
        and insult you and write you off as evil
        on account of the Son of Man, you are blessed.
23 When these things happen, rejoice! Jump for joy!
        Then you have a great reward in heaven
        For at that moment, you are experiencing what the ancient prophets did when they were similarly treated by the ancestors of your detractors.
24     All you who are rich now, you are in danger
        for you have received your comfort in full.
25     All you who are full now, you are in danger
        for you shall be hungry.
    All you who laugh now, you are in danger
        for you shall grieve and cry.
26     And when everyone speaks well of you, you are in danger
        for their ancestors spoke well of the false prophets too.

27 If you’re listening, here’s My message: Keep loving your enemies no matter what they do. Keep doing good to those who hate you. 28 Keep speaking blessings on those who curse you. Keep praying for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, offer the other cheek too. If someone steals your coat, offer him your shirt too. 30 If someone begs from you, give to him. If someone robs you of your valuables, don’t demand them back. 31 Think of the kindness you wish others would show you; do the same for them. X