Sunday, November 27, 2011

What are YOU waiting for?

First Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 64:1-9 and Mark 13:24-37

• (a couple in the congregation waiting for the birth of their granddaughter)
(an engaged couple waiting for their wedding day)

We are waiting for Christmas. We prepare with special decorations, presents, meals, vacation/family time.

• Waiting for celebration of birth of Christ
Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness...

• Isaiah text – what are they waiting for? God’s undeniable earth-shaking presence... the people (God’s people) have long felt God’s absence. They’ve wallowed in brokenness and sin and have lost wars and homelands. There’s a clear lack of righteousness in the land.

Perhaps we join them in wondering O God, Where Art Thou?

We look around and it isn’t hard to see fruits of sinful nature.

We look back and say We’ve been anticipating Christ’s return since he was here the first time, what’s up with that?

• We look to Jesus for words of comfort and guidance and are astonished to hear warning and judgment. We hear him tell his disciples they’ll see his return, and we hear him say nobody knows the day or the hour.

• One thing Jesus anticipates is the destruction of the Temple, and I see in there a word of faith in God over faith in man. This Temple, beautiful though it be, will not stand forever. No human edifice will stand forever. Plastic does not degrade, but in no ways will plastic outlast God. God is greater.

Another thing Jesus anticipates is the completion of his purpose: to gather God’s people.

Jesus says we will not know the time, therefore we should always be ready, trusting in the Father’s choice of history

and we shall live expectantly, in some ways like a pregnant woman (labor pains of birth of God’s kingdom)

• Reminded of Paul’s dilemma in Philippians 1: ready to die, eager to be with Christ, but eager to work for Lord in the meanwhile. Not anxious but content and busy.

“Many times when I go to bed at night, I think to myself that before I awaken, Christ may return.” - Billy Graham

• Our prayer is Come, Lord Jesus, bring righteousness into the world.
God is faithful. Jesus is coming.
And until he comes our plan is to bring Christ’s righteousness into the world by the way we live our lives.

The kingdom is coming and it is here. Bless God.

• Hymn insert  hymn of advent Peace In Our Time

Sunday, November 13, 2011

We Belong to God

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost

Judges 4:1-7 and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

• The book of Judges is a history of the transition from the generation after the Exodus to the time of God’s appointed King, first Saul, then David. It tells of a time where there was no central leader of the people of Israel, and the people bounced back and forth between faithfulness to God and doing “what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”  The “Judges” were leaders that God raised up to lead the people, restore faithfulness, get ‘em back on the right track. Depending on how you count ‘em, there were something like a dozen judges over about 300 years.
• “After Ehud had died, the Israelites again did things that the Lord saw as evil.” (4:1)
This was the cycle of the Israelites: faithfulness, leader dies, fall into faithlessness, conquered by enemies, cry out to God, God raises up leader, who brings to faithfulness.
                                                                                                         People do evil things. They always have. No matter when we are in history, there are people doing evil.

“So the Lord gave them over to King Jabin of Canaan...” (4:2)
Seems from time to time God lets people eat the fruit of their evil. The result of people not walking with God is powerplay, abuse, and oppression. It affects evildoers and innocent as well, for it can last for years or generations.

“The Israelites cried out to the Lord because Sisera had 900 iron chariots and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly for 20 years.” (4:3)
This verse indicates for us the strength of Israel’s oppressors. Fast and powerful warriors.  No small foe.  Also we have the people crying out to God...

• “Deborah, a prophet, was a leader of Israel at that time... and the Israelites would come to her to settle disputes.” (4:4-5)
In the midst of oppression and troubled lives, people seek help from Godly people, and Deborah belonged to God. (If you belong to God and live accordingly...)
Deborah belonged to God: She discerned God’s call to Barak (4:6) to face mighty foe,    and she joined in the fray.
The people gained victory over their oppressors because they had leaders who were plugged in to God, and leaders and people stepped out together with God against fearful forces.

• A little fast-forward over to 1 Thessalonians.... Paul calls people to public lives of faithfulness (live as children of the light, wearing faithfulness and love)... dovetails with example of Deborah...
Paul calls us to public lives of faithfulness to equip us during dark times, times of facing powerful foes, to stand as light in the darkness and to bear that light that hope of salvation that healing balm into the fray. We belong to God.

• Hymn insert  God Be With You Till We Meet Again

Sunday, November 6, 2011

See You Again

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
All Saints' Sunday

Hebrews 12:1-2, John 14:1-4

• When moving, family members often interested in prospective new community... we have a few insights of our future community.
• Perpetual light and worship heaven. No Seasonal Affective Disorder, and yes, like a kid in a candy shop, awe-in-action=worship. (Rev. 4:8-11)
They never rest day or night, but keep on saying, “ Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is coming. ”
9Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the one seated on the throne, who lives forever and always, 10the twenty-four elders fall before the one seated on the throne. They worship the one who lives forever and always. They throw down their crowns before the throne and say,
11“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, because you created all things. It is by your will that they existed and were created.”

• Heaven is prepared by Jesus for us (John 14:2)
It is a place of perfect holiness. (Rev. 21:27 Nothing unclean will ever enter [the new Jerusalem], nor anyone who does what is vile and deceitful, but only those who are registered in the Lamb’s scroll of life.) A prepared place for a prepared people.
• No flu shots in heaven. On earth, no perfect health. John (again describing gifted vision) “Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away...” (Rev. 21:4). No colds, fevers, pains, strokes, cancer, heart disease, arthritis, infections, headaches, heartaches, backaches.
No handicap parking in heaven. No need for wheelchairs or canes, no one bowed down with the infirmities of old age.

• Consider reunions in heaven.
        “Goodbye” is a sad word in every language. No one likes to be parted from a loved one. Separation from a loved one is what causes us to be sad when death removes that loved one from us.
        In heaven there shall be no more death to separate us from those we love. We will be reunited with those who have gone before.

• See You Again

Paul B. (11/9/10)
Betty H. (11/17/10)
Gerry H. (11/23/10)
Dale W. (12/25/10)
Wayne M. (6/27/11)
Steve M. (7/12/11)
Deb S. (8/10/11)
Bill W. (8/14/11)
Tish R. (8/31/11)               

We bless your holy name, O God, for all your servants who, having finished their course, now rest from their labors. Give us grace to follow the example of their steadfastness and faithfulness, to your honor and glory; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

• Hymn 452 When We All Get To Heaven