Sunday, October 28, 2012

Is It Enough?

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost
Hebrews 7:23-28, Mark 10:46-52

• Yesterday Campbelltown UMC had our annual congregational Charge Conference, with District Superintendent Gary Nicholson. He spoke on our UM heritage… the unlikely match of the evangelical church and Mennonite church, combined with out-of-ashes Methodist church… Spoke of the five vows of membership (prayers, presence, gifts, service, witness) and our “call to action” as we as a congregation strive to live out our mission (reach out, make disciples) in measurable ways, including worship attendance, professions of faith, small groups, and missions involvement. Challenge for every member to have personal ministry (service within the church) and personal mission (service beyond the church).

• God has a goal for humankind, a goal of righteousness, a goal that the earthly kingdom would perfectly resemble the heavenly kingdom, that God’s children would perfectly live up to God’s mark. We fail, of course, all fail and all fall short of the glory of God, every human in history except one, Jesus, who lived blameless faultless human life, who measured up to God’s expectations… who offers himself as the gate to the heavenly kingdom.
God’s goal for us is heavenly. The means is out of our hands… the means is Jesus, nothing reliant upon us…

• how do we KNOW? How do we know God’s goal for us, how do we know the means of Jesus? Through witness of scripture. Part of our doctrinal heritage is the belief that All things necessary for salvation are contained in scripture… there is nothing necessary for salvation that is not in scripture…

• And that connects to today’s text from Hebrews (“Jesus can completely save those who are approaching God through him, because he always lives to speak with God for them. 26 It’s appropriate for us to have this kind of high priest: holy, innocent, incorrupt, separate from sinners, and raised high above the heavens. 27 He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices every day like the other high priests, first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people. He did this once for all when he offered himself. “ (Hebrews 7:25-27) : Christ is perfectly sufficient for salvation, perfectly and uniquely able to cover our lives with his one perfect life… Christ is enough… which is a nice thing to know… but a better and harder thing to live and believe…

• … but which carries with it there is nothing in life can overrule Jesus… There is nothing in life is greater than Jesus. Not a storm, a flood, or a power outage, not infidelity or drugs, not divorce, not the loss of job or home or love, not any cancer, not the death of a child, a loved one, … none of these can remove you from God because Christ is sufficient, perfectly sufficient, perfectly sufficient and willing and able to cover you if you’ll let him.

• So what do you do? Approach Jesus with faith, as Bartimaeus (Mark 10). Did you notice in the reading from Mark that the blind man could “see” what the crowd didn’t? Even before Jesus restored his sight, Bartimaeus could see that Jesus was The One, the Son of David, the anointed one of God… He acknowledged his Lordship. In spite of his lack of sight, he saw who Jesus was.
Do you? And without regard for what others may think, Bartimaeus put himself in Jesus’ presence, called out to Jesus. Made known his request. Found Jesus both able and wanting to heal. Go and do likewise. See Jesus. Acknowledge Lordship.

• Know Jesus. Study, love, participate.
Prayer for faith and humility, submission
Who are we? We are ones God has decided to redeem…

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Who Can Be Saved?

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Heb 4:12-16, Mark 10:17-31

"This is a monkey trap. The hollowed-out coconut is filled with some cooked rice through this small hole, chained to the stake which is driven firmly into the ground.
Look at this hole. It's just big enough so that the monkey's hand to go in, but too small for his fist filled with rice to come out.
The monkey reaches in, grabs the rice and is suddenly trapped. Because his greed won't allow him to let go of the rice and extricate his hand, the monkey remains trapped, a victim of his greed, until he is captured.
The monkey cannot see that freedom without the rice is more valuable than capture with it.

• Story of monkey trap. Truthfully I think it’s more of a story than a practice, but it’s a story with power nevertheless. Our desire to have something results in our demise, even though the only thing keeping us trapped is our desire itself. The wealthy have many things, cares, possessions, perhaps responsibilities, so many things that we hang on to, grasp tightly, that we end up trapped (closed hand v. open hand). Jesus is right to say that It will be very hard for the wealthy to enter God’s kingdom (Mark 10:23).

• We spoke in Men’s Bible Study yesterday about Jesus’ saying, Those who love their lives will lose them, and those who hate their lives in this world will keep them forever (John 12:25). And how there must have been something compelling about Jesus that people DID give up things to follow him

• Who can be saved? (reminder, not saved by anything we do but by act of God. Receive (open hands)) Who can be saved? Whoever hears/receives the good news of Jesus Christ communicated in a meaningful / compelling way. That’s our job, that’s our ministry, that’s our purpose.

• Talked in recent weeks about what is your purpose for being here, what is OUR purpose for being the Methodist Church in Ctown, reminding of our mission to reach out to all people with the love of Christ and to make growing, living disciples of Jesus Christ. That may be OUR purpose, but where mission and action really take flight is where individuals have personal missions and ministries.

                Yesterday a group from CUMC went to a warehouse in Mt Joy to volunteer for the Global Aid Network GAIN. Relief, development, mobilization. Packaged school kits. Processed donated clothing. Made gospel bracelets (story of putting on next person, also of feeding first). Foodpacks and seedpacks.

                Story of A., a teacher who is leaving her teaching job (and her husband leaving his job in architecture) to work fulltime with GAIN.

                Who can be saved? Whoever hears/receives the good news of Jesus Christ communicated in a meaningful / compelling way.  Cannot be saved with closed hand. Cannot participate in kingdom with closed hand.

• This weekend I learned the heartbreaking story of Amanda, a young Canadian teenager who took her own life this past week when she reached bottom in response to bullying she’d received for the last year or two. I wrote online that I cared, that anybody who reads my words, please know that I care. My wife rightfully pointed out that folks like Amanda who are depressed don’t believe my expression of care, and it makes me think Well I want to find a way to communicate it to them (think about it, God found a way to communicate with people in our darkness, and Jesus is that way, if we will let go and take hold of him… choose life, and be an agent of life.

• closing song I Am Free

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Taste of God

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
World Communion Sunday
Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12 

• A favorite bible verse of mine is John 10:10, where Jesus says that where some folks come as thieves in the night, to steal and destroy, he came so that people might have life to the full, life abundant. That you might know you’re alive. One way of celebrating life is to go to the edge of it, hence skydiving or mountainclimbing or scubadiving or exploring, or spelunking.

 Couple weeks ago my 9-year-old daughter and I visited Indian Echo Caverns for the first time. A kind of thrill and awe. Perhaps best b/c tour guide who was experienced and able to educate us about history and features, and enhance with story and with lights out. For me the best thrill was listening to my daughter’s breathing as the lights went out.

• Reading from Hebrews, Jesus is that experienced guide who educated and enhanced. Though higher than the angels he entered into humanity to live human life as God intended, to educate… and in doing so, to enhance our lives both as we know them and as they are to come, to offer salvation. He did that which we could not do (live fully and completely in harmony with God) in order that he might earn for us that which we could never earn – salvation. He tasted suffering and death though he didn’t have to, so that we wouldn’t have to bear the full consequences of suffering and death.

• We would do well to be like Christ, educating and enhancing the lives of others… A brief word on today’s passage from Mark, which has Jesus speaking against divorce and also blessing children… in both episodes looking out for the vulnerable, providing protection for those that need it, women and children (children of course, and women who did not enjoy the freedoms we do today… a woman who was divorced might well have no means of support, therefore, says Jesus, when a man divorces a woman, putting shame and burden upon her, he too is shamed and burdened.

          Prioritize your lives on behalf of the vulnerable.

          Like Jesus did and does for us in his incarnation and sacrifice.

• And we get a taste of who God is, as one who invigorates life and looks out for the vulnerable.

• We join with many (including our women and children who are on different retreats this weekend) to remember, to commit, to celebrate.

• Into communion liturgy