Sunday, September 30, 2012

Can I Get A "Yes"?

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Commitment Sunday
James 5:7-12

• James, a general epistle, a primer on the practical aspects of Christian living. This is what you do. This is what you do while waiting faithfully and patiently for the coming of the Lord. In the meanwhile live well, being giving and forgiving, being a model for others.
Last week you were given three take home commitment cards to fill out and return, one regarding your financial commitment to the church, one your service commitment, and one asking for extra support for our air-conditioning fund.
Looking for yesses today.

• Fall 1919 young man named George Simmers, at the Lebanon Salem United Brethren asked Pastor Miller about starting a new church. Rev. Miller said yes, and they looked around and the Spirit led them to Ctown. A suitable location in the schoolhouse was found, and in January 1920 Rev. Longenecker of the Palmyra 2nd UB said yes and preached.

• 8 months later 14 members banded together and chartered the congregation, under the leadership of Rev. Rhoads. A little flock became a little church, but as people poured their lives into the church it grew.

• Remarkably it faltered not though it was a teen in the Great Depression, but it continued to be a center of faith in Ctown as people continued to dedicate their lives to Christ through this body the church. People said yes to God and yes to the church over the decades and through the contributions of the faithful, the church’s property and buildings grew.
The denomination grew as UB joined with Evangelical Association to become the EUB, which later merged with the Methodist church to become The UMC.

• May find odd this passage from James that offers “never make solemn pledge” and continues Let your yes be yes, your no be no. Make your word and stick to it. Wait faithfully and patiently for the coming of the Lord. In the meanwhile live well, being giving and forgiving, being a model for others. (repeat our vision to reach out to all people with the love of Christ and to make living growing disciples of Jesus Christ)

• Obviously we’re here today because of the saints before us and their commitments, and one of the things I want to say today is Honor them, support them, carry on their work and their vision. Join hands with George Simmers and Rev. Longenecker through Rev. Truitt. We have commitment to heritage & family as well as to building.

• Not only that, but commitment to community & denomination, and of course commitment to God.

• Your “yes” provides meals and fellowship with folks in Hburg w/o steady resources.  Ronald McDonald House meals for families at HMC.
Your “yes” provides mosquito nets to thousands of children in Africa.
Your “yes” provides food and school materials (and school itself!) in Liberia
Your “yes” responds to hurricanes and floods and other natural disasters.
Independent missionaries around the globe where ppl we know are feeding teaching preaching and people are coming to know Jesus. Join hands.
Our Yes is to this local body, yes, and to the world.
The UMC to make disciples of JC for the transformation of the world.

• Into offering / commitments

Sunday, September 23, 2012

On the Journey

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
James 3-4, Mark 9:30-37

• This past week I hosted my friend Ang for a few days on her journey moving from MA to AK… She had many helpers pack her up, other helpers along the way, and more at her destination. Her cargo is herself, her cats, her belongings, and she has a distinct goal.

• (take out scripture, both – do you bring a Bible?) Jesus and disciples on a journey, heading toward Jerusalem for Passover. Earlier in chapter Jesus told the disciples to pick up their cross…

• We are heading into a season, planning, preparation, time to get ready to commit & renew. (season of commitment, and annual review)

• Jesus is reiterating It’s not about you (what were you arguing about along the way?).

  It’s about rightsizing of yourself. I want to say downsizing of ego and personal ambition but I know that can be abused and twisted, you can’t commit to the church to the neglect of family, so I say rightsizing. Integration of self with mission.

  It’s about the helpless, Jesus says. Take for example these children. They require energy expenditure, they are not selfsustaining or particularly useful. When you welcome them, when you take on responsibility for more than your own skin, when you make a priority of the helpless, you’re doing the work of the kingdom, the work of my Father, you’re welcoming me.

  And you’re not alone… you’re following me, doing what I’m doing, what I’ve been doing as I give of myself, as I align my actions with the will of my Father and for the good of the community.

• We are a voluntary community, with common goal (reach out with love, make disciples)      and with needs to make community run… needs include caregivers and sound techs, trustees and committee servant and chairs alike… needs include financial commitment to cover our needs and mission and ministry

  Voluntary community with goal and needs and wants as well (i.e. air-conditioning) which comes after needs.

  Voluntary community with commitment to JC, to UMC, to world, to town.

• Ang’s car… room in the car for servants, already have a driver JC.

• Take home commitments, bring back next week.

• Closing song If We Are the Body

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Cross to Bear

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Mark 8:27-38

• Visited Dan (nephew of member, 22 yo… hand crushed in construction accident...) Amputation of first two fingers of left hand. Heavy. But there was “that guy” in the waiting room, no arms or legs. I wonder what it’s like to be that guy that everybody compares to? That’s just his cross to bear, I guess.

• His cross to bear. Her cross to bear. How is that phrase used?

  Wrongly, I’d say. Google: First thing to come up: “unpleasant situation you must accept because you can’t change it.” Can’t grow fingers or arms or legs back, just have to learn to deal with it. Second thing: non-transferrable. Dan can’t give his burden to somebody else.

  Unpleasant, unavoidable, unchangeable.

  One out of three is correct: unpleasant. But there is something entirely voluntary about the cross that cannot be dismissed. Jesus didn’t deserve the cross, and he wasn’t forced to carry it (c’mon, he was GOD) he CHOSE to carry it, and he coulda chosen to put it down. The cross was, for Jesus, a choice, not an accident that happened to him.

  A choice based on his love for God and for humanity,

  A choice that demonstrated his loyalty

  A choice which demonstrated his priorities, who or what was Lord in his life. He didn’t choose comfort or convenience over the cross

 and when leading his disciples he didn’t have ’em sign a contract or anything, he said anyone who wants to follow me, this is how you do it.

• Kierkegaard (19th century Danish philosopher/theologian) said you can tell Christians by their lives more than by their words. You can tell Christians because they sacrifice, they live for Christ not themselves.

• Denying self, picking up cross, following Christ, involves demonstrating who earns your loyalty, who or what is Lord in your life, who receives priority in your use of resources – time, finances, talents. Perhaps it means sacrificing a hobby or a leisure activity so that you can devote that time to church service (inconvenient, but necessary) or being there as a resource for the working poor, or serving food at a homeless shelter. Perhaps it means using vacation time instead of paying to go on vacation paying to go on a short term mission trip. Perhaps it means instead of a favorite restaurant every week or instead of tickets to that pro football game, moving towards a tithe, or if you’re already there, adopting a child through Compassion international. Optional demonstration of Lordship. Maybe it means giving up an activity or behavior that separates you from God or others.

  Denying self, picking up cross, is not about shouldering an inconvenience (the cross wasn’t “inconvenient” but about commitment and sacrifice. Beyond teaching SS (though important) into lifestyle that points toward X, and prepares, should calling arise…

For some, like Youcef Nadarkhani, a young pastor in Iran, it means being imprisoned for 3 years on death row for preaching the gospel (CNN reported yesterday that Pastor Youcef was released from prison).

• Adam Hamilton, author and founding pastor of UMChurch of Resurrection outside Kansas City MO, largest UMChurch in nation, spoke to our AnnConf last year about his church’s response to problem with KC schools. UMCRessurrection mostly in wealthy suburb, higher paying and desirable jobs. Nobody wanted the jobs in the KCSD for poorer conditions and pay, etc. Teachers gave up their jobs to work in the city. That’s picking up cross.

  Christ calls us to voluntarily follow him, to submit the whole of ourselves to his lordship. To do as he did.

• Read from Philippians 2

• Directly into Communion

Sunday, September 2, 2012

What Makes a Christian?

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
James 1:17-27 and Mark 7 selections

• aside: I like talking about Jesus. I don’t like talking about sin. Last week I talked to youth about porn. Churchgoers not immune. If you’re in it, stop. I can give you confidential help with secret sins. Jesus frees.

• What makes a biker? I have jacket, gloves, helmet, teeshirts, even a hat. I have license, I have bike. I have experience (time and miles). I chat with other bikers, I read bike books, I take bike classes.

  What makes a biker? Stuff, study, action, attitude.

  Also, I’m a biker b/c MY actions, not b/c my birth, not b/c my parents.

  Not all biker images are good, and I have to “retrain” society about its stereotypes. I do so by being me, letting my spirit shine through.

• What do “they” think about Christians? Judgmental, closeminded, hate gays, hypocrites (what is hypocrite? Two faced, does not do as says).

• Tertullian (early church father, 150-200 years after Jesus) before his conversion:               
“See how the Christians love one another”… Christians are made, not born.

• Intentional interactions. Praying, loving, incarnation (being the embodiment)

• Study, ingest, do. (started with saying what I like talking about…) what people remember from this part of James is Doers not Hearers only. How about the last part? True religion is in action, in how we CARE for others

• Evangelism workshop November 3. Jesus wants life & wholeness. (that part is nice) Jesus wants disciples, followers, workers (oh yeah).

If you were on trial for being Christian, would you be found guilty?

May your actions, your lifestyle, your words, your attitudes reflect Christ. NOT so that you may receive attention for piety or works but so that Christ may be illumined.

• Hymn 444 I’ll go where you want me to go