Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sometimes God Meets Us In Unexpected Ways

• Resurrection Sunday
with John 20    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 4/21/19

• The year was 1969, the nation was in moral decline and it seemed best days were in the past, and a young pregnant couple was apprehensive. Was it right or good to bring child into this world?
Then one spring day like today, Bill’s father George pointed out something extraordinary in an ordinary thing: a blade of grass, poking up from a small crack in the pavement in a parking lot. Pushed aside layers of dirt, rock, and concrete to reach the sunshine of the world above. It had such a strong will to live, it overcame all odds to fulfill its destiny.
Became a beautiful symbol of hope and new life, and the couple found that in that single blade of grass, God had touched them.
Sometimes God meets us in unexpected ways.
• The year was 30, and the events of the past few days left their heads spinning, it had all happened so quickly. For a few years hope had been building up because of the life and teachings of Jesus, who so deftly exposed the false teachings of the religious leaders. Just a week ago they had been on top of the world, but they were still trying to figure out how and when things changed. A couple of nights ago Jesus had been arrested in the dark and tried in secret and illegally sentenced to death. Crucified dead and buried before we could even do it properly. Now that the sabbath was over there was at least the hope that they could properly care for the body.
Mary went early. Sees the stone gone. Runs to tell Peter.
Peter and John run to see. They see the grave clothes lying there.
They see and believe, though they still don’t understand.
Mary looks in again, sees angels.
Jesus appears behind Mary, and speaking her name, she recognizes him. She worships, and she tells the disciples I have seen the Lord.
Sometimes God meets us in unexpected ways.
• The year is now. We’ve all experienced loss. 20th anniversary of a particularly memorable school shooting. 900-yr-old church burned last week. This morning’s news of bombs set off amidst Easter services in Sri Lanka, death count over a hundred forty. Untold abuses and injustices.
And I would venture to say we’ve all had a friend tell us about meeting God in an unexpected way, a way that quickened them, gave them hope where there was none before. I daresay some of us have had God meet us in unexpected ways. God continues to call people and be present.
• If you have experienced the living God, tell.
If you have not, listen. Trust.
God is real, giver of hope and life, of grace and power.
There is no power greater,
and no darkness that can quench God’s light.
• The year was 1970. George pointed out a single blade of grass to Bill and Gloria, and Gloria wrote a poem about her renewed hope.
How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride, and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance,
this child can face uncertain day because He lives…
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
and life is worth the living just because He lives.
- Bill and Gloria Gaither

• Affirmation of Faith 888, then communion liturgy

John 20:11-18 (CEB)
11 Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot. 13 The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” 14 As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus.
15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher).
17 Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her. ò

An Easter letter from Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball
Dear West Virginia Conference, The Lord is Risen!! Christ is Risen!!
What a wonderful blessing. What a wonderful proclamation for this Easter morning!
“I have seen the Lord!”- Mary Magdalene proclaimed on that first Easter morning. (John 20:18) It was unbelievable! It was unexpected! God broke into this world in an unexpected way. It was exciting! It was life-giving, not just for the moment but for generations to come.
Since the time that Mary Magdalene ran to meet the disciples exclaiming these words, Christians have proclaimed this good news: Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed! Hallelujah! – year after year, after year.
Throughout the centuries, across all human barriers, God’s power to bring resurrection—to bring new life, to heal what is broken, to mend what seems irreparably torn, to forgive what seems to be unforgivable, to redeem those whose lives appear to be unredeemable — is unexpected, exciting, powerful, hope-filled and indeed life-giving!
Over and over again, we who follow Jesus proclaim this good news because the story of salvation, of new life through Christ is not over! The Easter message, the Easter sighting, the Easter proclamation needs to be declared again and again for the people who still need to hear, whose lives still can be changed by this good news – In Christ - new life can be ignited, birthed, begun!
We have seen the Lord! We proclaim on this Easter Sunday! Come and see him—he will make all things new!
As Christians gather today and throughout the Easter season, may we carry this hope of Christ to all who need it—in our families, in our schools, our communities, at our jobs, in our work, in our play, and beyond—so that all might come to know the life-changing Easter proclamation of the love of God!
On this Easter Sunday and in this Easter season and beyond, I invite you and your congregation to recommit yourselves to spreading this very good news and Christ’s invitation to salvation and eternal life.
Hallelujah! Christ is risen! May we all be the conduits for others to also see the Lord so that they along with us might receive Christ’s life raising, lifesaving power!
Peace,     Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Cantata: Jesus Saves

First UMC and Barboursville Baptist combined for another community cantata the evening of Palm Sunday.

"Jesus Saves" by Mauldin and Smith

What Changed?

• Palm / Passion Sunday
with Luke 19 and 23    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 4/14/19

• Whichever gospel we read, we get the story of Jesus, healing, teaching, leading disciples, and heading towards Jerusalem. Always a step or two ahead.
Our district has a lead team to fulfill the duties of district, to encourage and propel ministry, to keep ever before us the mission to make disciples of Jesus.
We discuss discipleship, we pray for one another,
and we intentionally look for “glory sightings.”
• I shared a glory sighting this past week around some conversations I had:
What did Jesus do? What does it mean that Jesus saved us?
Why did he have to die? What changed after his coming?
• How might you address those questions?
How about If God really loves us why doesn’t he just forgive us?
Why sacrifice his son for people who reject God?
Consider Old Testament sacrifice: life for life. It’s easy to reduce the idea of sacrifice to an economic transaction (cost of this sin or that) but to reduce to transaction is not to understand or honor sacrifice. I submit to you:
One, sacrifice never was about appeasing God but about people having some kind of "skin in the game". Sure, God could just forgive, but we humans are fickle and prideful and if something is just given to us, we don't really value it as much as something we worked for. Animal sacrifice has the symbolic meaning of life and value, plus the rules always were that good (flawless, firstborn, prize-winning) animals were used (again, we're prideful... not just any ol' animal will do as a symbolic 'me'.)
So one, sacrifice is more about humankind than about God and
Two: Imagine Jesus, Son of God, saying to God the Father, "I would like to get some skin in the game. People maintain this chasm between [God and humankind] and I would like to bridge it. I would like to demonstrate how much we love them, even if it means my own death. Maybe the sacrifice of a blameless life will be valuable enough that they'll respond."
What changed is where we had no hope of real reconciliation, we now have real hope of reconciliation. Where there wasn't a way before, now there is a way.
• Jesus lived life we could not live, died death we should have died, to gain for us a life we could not gain. Our response: honor. Go with him to the cross this week, so that come next week you may be filled with light and life.

• Hymn 295 In the Cross of Christ I Glory

Luke 19:28-40 (CEB)
28-29 As Jesus was going towards Jerusalem, he came to Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, where he gave two disciples a task: 30 He said, “Go into the village over there. When you enter it, you will find tied up there a colt that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say, ‘Its master needs it.’”
32 Those who had been sent found it exactly as he had said.
33 As they were untying the colt, its owners said to them,
“Why are you untying the colt?”
34 They replied, “Its master needs it.” 35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their clothes on the colt, and lifted Jesus onto it.
36 As Jesus rode along, they spread their clothes on the road.
37 As Jesus approached the road leading down from the Mount of Olives, the whole throng of his disciples began rejoicing. They praised God with a loud voice because of all the mighty things they had seen. 38 They said,
“Blessings on the king who comes in the name of the Lord.
    Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens.”
39 Some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, scold your disciples! Tell them to stop!”
40 But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if they were silent, the stones would shout.” ò

Luke 23:33, 44-49 (CEB) 
33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. …
44 It was now about noon, and darkness covered the whole earth until about three o’clock, 45 while the sun stopped shining. Then the curtain in the sanctuary tore down the middle. 46 Crying out in a loud voice, Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I entrust my life.” After he said this, he breathed for the last time.
47 When the centurion saw what happened, he praised God, saying, “It’s really true: this man was righteous.” 48 All the crowds who had come together to see this event returned to their homes beating their chests after seeing what had happened. 49 And everyone who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance observing these things. ò

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Lent 5: Connect to God in Prayer

• Fifth Sunday of Lent.
with Daniel 9 and Luke 11    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 4/7/19
Sermon number five of five in a series based on the book One Faithful Promise by Magrey deVega.

• A mark of a good conversationalist is the skill of listening, which includes prompting / asking / inviting / encouraging talk.
We know that prayer is conversation with God, but the dialogue part of it feels complicated.
Our reading from Daniel 9 begins with Daniel reading scripture – listening to God, asking, in essence, what’s on God’s mind, what makes God tick, what God’s priorities are.
Daniel’s response follows our OneFaithfulPromise outline.
Confide in God / Confess.
Compose your spirit – be serious about committing self to God.
Claim the covenant. For the sake of your name, petition for mercy.
Choose faithfulness. Daniel laments unfaithfulnes.
And today’s C: Connect to God in Prayer.
Which is also what Daniel did. Wrap it up in prayer.
• In prayer we position ourselves before God. Wesley encourages set aside time and place, and literally position as a means of directing our attention.
But how do we pray?
• Our Luke 11 reading today also begins with seeking God as the disciples request of Jesus teach us to pray.
That in itself is a prayer, a connecting with God.
Ye have not because ye ask not. (James 4:2)
Ask for connection with God. And claim the covenant:
God is good, and because God is good God gives what we need.
Consider the meanings in the phrases of the Lord’s Prayer:
Our (community) Father (relationship) in heaven (confession of elevation)
Hallowed (holy, set apart) be thy name (relationship. I’m not God)
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven
   (May your inherently superior goodness and righteousness infuse our existence)
Give us our daily bread (sustain us. You know better than we do. We rely on you.)
And forgive as we forgive. (relationship with God, relationship with others.)
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil (give us strength to follow your righteous path)
For thine is the kingdom… (praise)
• Connect in prayer. Wrap it up in prayer. Begin middle and end in prayer. And enjoy prayer.
• PRAYER God of grace and love, thank you for your constant presence and power in my life. Help me to serve you with full willingness and obedience, without expectation of blessing in return. Grant me an enjoyment in my prayer life, that I might hear your voice, know your heart, and understand your will. Amen.
• Hymn 618 Let Us Break Bread Together

Luke 11:1-13 (CEB) 
11 Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 Jesus told them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father, uphold the holiness of your name.
Bring in your kingdom.
3 Give us the bread we need for today.
4 Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who has wronged us.
And don’t lead us into temptation.’”
5 He also said to them, “Imagine that one of you has a friend and you go to that friend in the middle of the night. Imagine saying, ‘Friend, loan me three loaves of bread 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has arrived and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7 Imagine further that he answers from within the house, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’ 8 I assure you, even if he wouldn’t get up and help because of his friendship, he will get up and give his friend whatever he needs because of his friend’s brashness. 9 And I tell you: Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 Everyone who asks, receives. Whoever seeks, finds. To everyone who knocks, the door is opened.
11 “Which father among you would give a snake to your child if the child asked for a fish? 12 If a child asked for an egg, what father would give the child a scorpion? 13 If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” ò

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Lent 4: Choose Faithfulness

• Fourth Sunday of Lent.
with 2 Corinthians 5    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 3/31/19
Sermon number four of five in a series based on the book One Faithful Promise by Magrey deVega.

Pretty Woman was on TV last week. 29th anniversary of its 1990 release. Millionaire business mogul Edward Lewis gets directions from a prostitute on Hollywood Blvd, and invites her back to his room. She disappears into the bathroom for a few moments, and Edward suspects she’s doing drugs and confronts her about it. It’s floss. “I stopped doing drugs when I was 14. This is dental floss. I had all those strawberry seeds. And you shouldn’t neglect your gums.”
Good dental health doesn’t just happen; it’s achieved and maintained.
And if you neglect it it suffers.
Just like you wouldn’t go a day without brushing your teeth, don’t go without attention to spiritual health as well. Something every day to nurture your connection with God. Choose to be faithful.
• One Faithful Promise. Wesley earnestly wants us to take covenant seriously.
Step One, Confide in God. Admit the seriousness of sinfulness.
Step Two, Compose Your Spirit.
Staying focused and serious about committing yourself to God.
Step Three: Claim the Covenant. Receive the freedom and power God gives.
Step Four: Choose to be faithful.
• Wesley outlines the path to breaking faithfulness.
Temptation arises. Spirit warns. Prompts to watch and pray.
Might follow through, or… might bend ear to temptation.
Personal commitment weakens. Spirit warns again.
   Now you know you’re on slippery slope. It becomes difficult to turn around now unless prevented – you’re fully listening to temptation now.
Too often we willfully ignore the Spirit’s warnings and alerts.
• Therefore: Choose to be faithful. renew commitment daily.
For Wesley, formally renewing one’s commitment involves a pledge of regularly choosing to be faithful. Why? Because each day is filled with opportunities to break commitment.
So Wesley encourages Christians to resolve in God’s strength never to go back.
• 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. There is a new creation. We are made reconcilers – active.
We are made ambassadors. Representatives. – active.
So that we through Christ we might become righteousness. Not just passively receive but by the grace of God actively receive and achieve. There is no “graduation” from faithful commitment.
• Daily commitment. Practice means of grace. Communion. Acts of piety. Acts of mercy.
• Hymn 338 Where He Leads Me

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (NRSV)  
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ò

Matthew 7:13-14 (NRSV)                          
13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it. ò

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Lent 3: Claim the Covenant

• Third Sunday of Lent.
with Hebrews 9    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 3/24/19
Sermon number three of five in a series based on the book One Faithful Promise by Magrey deVega.

• I used to work in a carwash. Getting a car clean takes a few steps:
1, show up; 2, select cleaning service; 3, drive into the tunnel.
That’s where we are in this covenant process.
Admit the filth, make the commitment, then put yourself in the position to receive the service. Don’t get clean by making the decision to go to the carwash. Don’t get clean by actually going to the carwash or by selecting the service, but by going through the carwash.
• One Faithful Promise. Wesley earnestly wants us to take covenant seriously. Sin is not a scraped knee in need of a bandaid, it’s something much more serious, in need of professional care.
Step One, Confide in God.
Step Two, Compose Your Spirit.
   Composing your spirit means staying focused
   and serious about committing yourself to God.
Step Three: Claim the Covenant.
• p. 33: Grab hold of God’s covenant and rely upon God’s promise of giving grace and strength, whereby you may be enabled to perform your promise. Trust not your own strength nor the strength of your own resolution, but take hold of God’s strength.
Check out the membership questions on page 34 of our hymnal:
Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you…
• I’ve told you about the monkey trap before… Attach a chain to a coconut, drill a hole just big enough for the monkey’s hand to fit in, and put a treat in the coconut. The monkey grabs the treat but cannot get his hand out as long as he’s holding the treat.
The treat that catches us is us hanging on to the notion that we can fix ourselves, that we don’t need God.
It’s an AA conundrum as well, which is why AA starts out with the premise that if we could quit drinking, we would. By myself I can try a dozen different ways of quitting, but I will always return. But when I let go of the notion that I can do it myself, I can be freed from the trap. When I can trust that there is a power outside of me, I can achieve sobriety.
And we find that God does in us what we could not do for ourselves.
• We are not able to make ourselves right.
We need to let go of the notion that we can so that God can.
• Wesley called this Prevenient Grace. Our ability to let go and let God comes from God.
• Wesley also believed we need regular opportunities to pledge our obedience to God and to remind ourselves of the need to entrust ourselves to God.
Which is why the small groups, holy clubs, societies formed, for regular accountability.
Which is why we gather in worship and specifically in holy communion.
Which is why we have prayer of confession and assurance of pardon, and why we remember baptism and renew covenant.
• This is why Christ came. This is why we gather.
• Hymn 468 Dear Jesus, in Whose Life I See

Hebrews 9:11-15 (NIV)
11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. ò

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Lent 2: Compose Your Spirit

• Second Sunday of Lent.
with Romans 12    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 3/17/19

Sermon number two of five in a series based on the book One Faithful Promise by Magrey deVega.

• “Offer your ordinary life to God in service.” (from Romans 12)
I’m reminded of one of the first sermons I ever shared. A woman with Down Syndrome talked about serving others through the simple act of giving a cup of water to someone in name of Jesus..
The idea behind today’s theme is that when you focus on God, change can happen. God is the changer, not you. Live in grace.
• Sermon series on the book One Faithful Promise. John Wesley earnestly wants us to take the idea of covenant seriously. Sin is not a scraped knee in need of cleaning maybe and a bandaid, it’s something much more serious, in need of professional care.
Step One (last week) Confide in God. Admit the seriousness of sinfulness.
Step Two, Compose Your Spirit. Composing your spirit means staying focused and serious about committing yourself to God. It is a call to humility.
• Recall Charlotte’s Web: Wilbur the pig was humble: low to the ground. Connected.
Reminded of Moses: at the burning bush, take off your shoes. Connect to the ground.
Even in obedience and humility, though, Moses still clings to *his* way. Thinks too little of self, not enough of God. God asks Moses to trust in God and not in himself. Throw down your staff.
• Compose your spirit. Pray for alignment of behavior. Yield your station.
Paul in Philippians 3, has reason to boast, yet discards it all to embrace grace of Christ. Let it go.
• “Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee. Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.” Not my will but thine.
Recall Namaan (a general with leprosy, 2 Kings 5) told by servant of Elisha to wash in Jordan.
• Recall the attitude of the prophet in Ezekiel 37.
“Can these bones live?” “Lord, you know.” Followed by obedience.
• Loving God, receive my fears and anxieties associated with full trust and surrender. Give me the resolve to turn my actions over to you, as well as my associations. Thank you for giving me the capacity to serve and to make a difference in your kingdom, regardless of the station in life in which I find myself. Amen.

• 357 Just As I Am

Romans 12:1-3 (MSG)
12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
3 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. ò

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Lent 1: Confide in God

• First Sunday of Lent.
with 1 John 1:5-9    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 3/10/19

• I’ve been listening to a lot of Billy Joel lately, and today’s reading reminded me of his 1977 song “The Stranger”
Well we all have a face that we hide away forever and we take them out and show ourselves when everyone has gone… they’re the faces of the stranger but we love to try them on.
Billy Joel says our interactions with other people are based on different masks we wear. He sings about the surprise (and shock!) when we get a glimpse of someone’s hidden self, and confesses at the same time: have you ever let other see your stranger?
• Who does see, by the way? God does. God sees past all our masks. God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. And something that can be seen in the light can be addressed. Mended, healed, made whole.
• When I was a kid, you coulda made me cry by sending me to the principal’s office.
Or by threatening to call my parents. Total and shameful fear of exposure.
I’m using Magrey deVega’s book One Faithful Promise for a Lenten sermon series. The author tells about one day in college when he returned to his dorm room and there was a message on his answering machine: “I saw what you did last night. Don’t think that nobody saw.” The message made him sweat quite a bit, but it turned out he was the innocent “victim” of a friendly prank. But it feels like when you’re driving and a police car pulls behind you – you review your actions to see if you’ve committed any infractions.
• When we are truly vulnerable, exposed, in the light, God can deal with our issues.
Something that can be seen in the light can be addressed. Mended, healed, made whole.
It happened with Adam and Eve in the garden. King David after Bathsheba, and the prophet Nathan (2 Sam 12). Even Jesus in Gethsemane. God is able to meet us in our vulnerability and work in us.
• What is God like? How would you describe God? How do your feelings about exposure line up with your descriptions about God?
God is good, God is just, God is loving and righteous.
God is able and desiring to forgive.
Forgiveness is good for us and even necessary.
God is the source of forgiveness.
Lent is period of self-examination and repentance and renewal.
John Wesley: It’s important to be deeply aware of own sin and guilt so to see the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
• Read from covenant prayer (p. 13 in book).
and this concluding paragraph from Step One (p. 21.)
Wesley’s first step is necessary: Confide in God and confess your sins. Take inventory of the ways that you’ve wronged God and others. Remember how helpless you are against the constant barrage of sinful influences around you, and your ongoing struggles within you. Admit that you can’t defeat these sins on your own. And prepare yourself for an adventure that will lead you to making and keeping a faithful promise in Christ.
And closing prayer p. 22:
Gracious God, thank you for seeing me for who I really am and knowing me better than I even know myself. Teach me to trust in you, that I might not fear the consequence of vulnerability and transparency before you. Forgive me of my sins, and show me the power of your redeeming love. Amen.

• 399 Take My Life and Let it Be

1 John 1:5-9 (HCSB)
5 Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. 6 If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ò

Text Box: One
The Wesleyan
for Renewal

By Magrey R. deVega
Lent Sunday Sermon Series
                         based on the book

March 10     Confide in God - 1 John 1:5-9
March 17     Compose your Spirit - Romans 12:1-3
March 24     Claim the Covenant - Hebrews 9:11-15
March 31     Choose faithfulness - Matthew 7:13-14
April 7         Connect to God in Prayer - Luke 11:1-13

Sunday, March 3, 2019

For the Transformation of the World

• Transfiguration Sunday
with Luke 9  and  2 Corinthians 3    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 3/3/19

• The UMC met in General Conference this past week to discuss the denomination’s positions and policies regarding human sexuality. It was anticipated not without some anxiety, and there was much drama during the conference.
Yesterday, our Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball issued a pastoral letter to our Annual Conference, lamenting and decrying behavior of both sides at the GenConf, pleading for compassion and integrity.
Personally I was very disappointed with the passing of the Traditional Plan.
It feels very much like GenConf does not even want to make room at the table.
Personally I grieve that the 32-member Commission on A Way Forward spent 15 months in prayer study dialogue, experienced spiritual growth and real community and transformation, and their work, affirmed by the bishops, was scarcely discussed, and that poorly.
• One highlight was an impassioned speech by a young ministry candidate, JJ Warren. He longs with all his heart and with plentiful passion to become a United Methodist pastor. He brings people to Jesus through campus ministry, people whom the church has cast out. He is a disciple maker bearing fruit for the church for the transformation of the world. He is going to do so whether The UMC welcomes him or not.
He likened the spiritual pain of unChristlike rejection to nailing The UMC to the cross. The crucifixion of our church. He longs for resurrection, and prays that The UMC doesn’t first have to die.
• Today is Transfiguration Sunday. Our Luke passage begins “after saying these things”… What are these things? The way to the resurrection is through the cross, and the cross must be picked up and carried. And after saying these things, the glory of God was shown.
Then Paul in 2 Corinthians 3 writes that where the Lord’s Spirit is there is freedom, and that we are being transformed into the image of God. This fuels us to proclaim God’s word openly.
• Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball had a word for the clergy yesterday, to be the church, to love God and neighbor, to recognize the hurt done by our churches and to repent, that we might grow in the likeness of God,
sharing the love of God with people in a hurting world,
and making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

• Hymn In the Breaking of the Bread

Luke 9:28-36 (CEB) 
28 About eight days after Jesus said these things, he took Peter, John, and James, and went up on a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes flashed white like lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, were talking with him. 31 They were clothed with heavenly splendor and spoke about Jesus’ departure, which he would achieve in Jerusalem. 32 Peter and those with him were almost overcome by sleep, but they managed to stay awake and saw his glory as well as the two men with him.
33 As the two men were about to leave Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it’s good that we’re here. We should construct three shrines: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—but he didn’t know what he was saying. 34 Peter was still speaking when a cloud overshadowed them. As they entered the cloud, they were overcome with awe.
35 Then a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!” 36 Even as the voice spoke, Jesus was found alone. They were speechless and at the time told no one what they had seen. ò

2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:2 (CEB) 
12 So, since we have such a hope, we act with great confidence. 13 We aren’t like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the Israelites couldn’t watch the end of what was fading away. 14 But their minds were closed. Right up to the present day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. The veil is not removed because it is taken away by Christ. 15 Even today, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But whenever someone turns back to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Lord’s Spirit is, there is freedom. 18 All of us are looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord as if we were looking in a mirror. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
4 This is why we don’t get discouraged, given that we received this ministry in the same way that we received God’s mercy. 2 Instead, we reject secrecy and shameful actions. We don’t use deception, and we don’t tamper with God’s word. Instead, we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God by the public announcement of the truth. ò