Sunday, June 30, 2013

"Where Is God?"

Luke 7:1-10 Jesus heals a centurion's servant
Luke 7:11-17 Jesus raises a widow's only son

Did you ever have trouble deciding where you wanted to eat? “I don’t know… you choose, I don’t care…” Likely you can name some places you DON’T want to go, but chances are your goal is more to spend time with a loved one rather than a culinary experience.

• Luke Chapter six comes to the end of Jesus’ sermon on discipleship,  love, Christian community. Chapter seven gets us in action again.

• (sermon title: Where is God?, from verse 16 God has come to help his people.)

Two stories (centurion, widow) back to back here. Pretty common device in Luke, some traits to point out about stories:

A man, a woman

A person with power (centurion), a person without (widow, now without son too)

A Gentile, a Jew

Someone physically present, someone NOT physically present

Both stories: we don’t know the nature of the affliction
   (but ‘inconvenience’ for centurion, livelihood for widow)

Both stories: it is a community of believers responsible for initial contact.
   (one makes request, one is noticed by Jesus)
          sidebar: splegchnizomai to be moved, to have compassion (verse 13)… emotion in gut instead of in heart… I love you with all my intestines… also in Good Sam and in Prod Son, indicative of depth of love for us)

• Good news of God’s kingdom is for all… hope of life and reconciliation for all,
not based on merit but on gift of God in power of Jesus

• Back to verse 16: response: God has come to help his people.

Where is God? God is where there is community and compassion
          (where you want to eat? I want to spend time with you)

James 1:27 This is true religion: look after orphans and widows in their distress & keep self from being polluted by the world.

May this be where we spend our time and resources, making saving power of Jesus known among (categories above), offering hope of life and reconciliation to all.

• Closing Hymn: 604 Savior, Again, in Thy Dear Name We Go

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Christian Community Continued

Luke 6:37-42 Judge not... the log and the splinter...

• Last week picnic and love your enemies and graduates and communion

• What’s it feel like to be judged? What happens inside? (defensive)
What’s it feel like to be condemned?
…to be forgiven? …to receive generous blessing?
What actually happens when we judge? When we condemn?
What do these actions facilitate? What do they do to relationship?

When we judge people, we put them in a cage.  Instead of viewing the human being as a being of infinite potential, we view them as just what we see right then and there.  We confine them to their past, and we don’t see a future, we only see the present.
Judging others is directly tied in with faith, with the possibility for new life, resurrection and reconciliation. Judging looks at where one is now or where one has been and says that’s as good as it gets, there’s no hope.  Judgment sees a narrow slice now. Faith sees bright potential.

The measure you use will be used for you. Parents of twins Jimmy and Johnny who constantly competed for an edge over the other. Sharing a dessert, Jimmy you slice the cake, and Johnny gets to pick the first piece. The measure you use will be used for you.

• In a sense, in the sermon on the plain, Jesus is networking, team building. Wants a team that is of one mind, team members that will work together, understand one another, even though they are fishermen and tax collectors and sinners and students. 
Christian community.

From verse 40: A fully prepared disciple will not merely be filled with knowledge from the teacher but like the teacher will put that knowledge into action.

• From the log in your own eye, self knowledge of sins not only makes it easier to understand another’s POV, but is a step towards both experiencing healing.

• Romans 12:9-11, 16-18
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

• Living at peace, continuing Christian community, these don’t happen by accident. Read out to someone in Christian community this week.

• Closing Hymn: 306 Jesus Saves!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Jesus said "Love"

from Luke 6:27-36
"Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you..."

• Last week beginning of sermon on the plain… Jesus has come down from the mountain, from seeking God and from naming disciples, he has healed and cast out demons, he delivered the blessings and the woes (remember, makarios and oo-eye), and he has been God’s love incarnate, down and dirty among the crowd.

• He’s been demonstrating, this is how you live as a disciple. And he continues with some pointed examples of how disciples are to interact with people. People we know, sure, but especially people we have tough times with… we might say opponents, Jesus says enemies, those who hate you, those who curse you or mistreat you.

• There are some new HS graduates among us, gonna “go out into the world” soon. Just a heads up, along the way you will run into some trying circumstances, some difficult people, and how you respond to those circumstances and people is important, shows the depth and strength of your character. Sometimes your classmates or coworkers will be difficult, maybe get on your nerves, push your buttons, maybe annoy you, maybe much worse. It might be that you have a customer or client who is difficult, or it may be a teacher or supervisor or boss. But rest assured, you will interact with difficult people, sooner or later, and probably sooner. Might’s well get used to it.

You don’t have much control over what people do to you, how they interact with you. But what you DO have control over is how you respond to them, and I would tell you those words of Jesus: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you… 

We all love our friends, and it’s easy to respond in kind to people when they treat us well or when they mistreat us, but we have a higher calling. There is no place in the Christian’s life for vengeance or retaliation(repeat).  

Revenge and retaliation, those are worldly values, and they produce lousy fruit. What’s the result of an act of revenge? Retaliation. Payback. A nasty cycle, and one that does nothing to point people to God. We want to be about things that point people to God

Love them. They may not receive your love, but love them anyway. Love them regardless of how they treat you.

Love them by listening to them, by taking an interest in them (even if you’re not interested in them). Love them by listening to them, because when you listen to them you understand them more, it’s like you walk in their shoes a little bit, and maybe you learn some of the reasons they are the way they are. Love them by listening to them, because it makes them human, and God loves them, too.

(insert Stephen Covey's story about the paradigm shift on the subway... Google it, you'll find it)

• Some day you’ll meet God face to face. I believe one of the things God is interested in is “how did you treat other people?” Specifically “how did you treat difficult people, how did you treat the people that mistreated you? When people wronged you, did you wrong them right back? Did you live like my Son, did you love like my Son?

If you love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return, you will be acting the way children of the Most High act, for he is kind to ungrateful and wicked people. Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.
Make your Father proud.

• Graduate recognition. Live life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Do your Father proud.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Getting Down With Jesus

Luke 6:17-26, Jesus heals, The Sermon on the Plain

• on Jesus’ beatitudes in Luke, unique parallel format of blessing and woe… the first three blessings are second person (to you, you disciples) now (in the present). Poor, hungry, weeping. You are happy! You are blessed! You are to be congratulated and celebrated is what the Greek word makarios means. Hooray for you. You are in the pole position, you’re the next contestant on the Price Is Right, you've found the golden ticket.
I’ma jump over a few verses to the “how terribles”… which are the opposites of the blessed, the happys. Where the Greek word makarios means blessed or happy or congratulated, the word translated “how terrible” here is ouai (oo-eye). An expression of grief, woe. I think it’s an onomatopoeia, a word that sounds like what it is.  Oy. Unwanted, disagreeable, the noise you make when you find the milk has gone bad or you have a flat tire or you’re going to be audited.
Remember the happys? The poor, the hungry, the weeping? The sads, the terribles are for the rich, the full, and the laughing, the opposites. 
Jesus is saying something here: If you spend your life motivated by money, appetite, or even happiness, you’re missing the boat. It’s worse than that, actually, it’s like you’ve got a cancer of the soul. 
If your main concern is money, then it isn’t God; your God comes after your money. 
If your main concern is satisfying your appetite, then your eyes aren’t on God, and you put God after appetite. 
If your main concern is your own happiness, then once again, you are putting God in second place.

The fact that Jesus makes the statements two different ways back to back shows he takes this stuff seriously, he seriously wants people to know that God must be first, that kingdom work is priority. And in case you need convincing that he’s serious, he gives us two other verses… Happy are you when people hate you, reject you, insult you, and condemn your name as evil because of the Son of Man… that’s what they do to God’s workers.
• That’s what they do to Jesus. And Jesus doesn’t let it stop him from doing God’s work, he gets right in. He gets tired in his line of work, his commitment to his job takes a toll on him, body and spirit, but he gives how much? He gives his all. He doesn’t let big things get in his way, and he doesn’t let little things get in his way.
• There’s a few little things get kind of lost in the shuffle from the beginning of this “sermon on the plain”… Jesus has come down from the mountain where last week we noted that he had spent time in prayer and had chosen his team, named his twelve disciples, called them apostles. He comes down from the mountain and there’s a great crowd of disciples therefrom everywhere. They came to hear him and to be healed from their diseases, and to be made right. The whole crowd wanted to touch him, because power was going out from him and he was healing everyone.

• And we get a beautiful little detail in verse 20, two beautiful little details. One is that he is speaking to his disciples. He delivers the blessings and woes, the happys and the how terribles, to his disciples. He is talking to us here. Would you be my follower, he asks? It isn’t gonna be easy, it isn’t gonna be all fun and games. You won’t have a lot… the things you’ll have a lot of will be questions, hunger, and troubles.
• But the beautiful detail of verse 20? You might not even see it if you’re reading NIV (which says looking at his disciples) but in the Greek it says having lifted up his eyes  to his disciples… he’s below them, somehow. He’s looking up. 
Jesus, the son of God, the Christ, the Messiah, who should be above his disciples, is looking up at them. 
I think maybe because he was healing somebody on the ground, right then and there, and he was saying “this is how you follow me. This is how you give of yourself.” 
If he wasn’t healing someone right then and there, I think he’s looking up to the disciples because he’s exhausted. Again, this is how you do it, you give your all. And when you’ve given your all, when you’re hungry and poor, even crying, you’re doing it right.
• There is great work to be done, great work given by the son of God, who didn’t leave his disciples to do the work without him but commissioned and led by example… great works that require great commitment and for which there is no greater reward.

• May our closing song be a song of encouragement for those who would be called disciples of Christ.
 • Hymn insert Forward Thru the Ages, hymn of Christian unity and purpose, connection to each other and the church in general