Sunday, September 29, 2013


From 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 and 3:5-9
• It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about Jesus.
As today’s opening songs testify… (I will call upon the Lord, My life is in You, Holy is the Lord, How great is our God…) It’s not about me or you, it’s about Jesus.
It’s about Jesus and you as a disciple
It’s about Jesus and you as an apostle.
• Took a break from our reading in Luke for today, for a few words from Paul to the church in Corinth.
We read in Acts chapter 18 that Paul had traveled to Corinth and lived there a year and a half, teaching about Jesus the Christ, first to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles. After some time he sailed to Ephesus, where he lived for three years or so, again teaching about Jesus.
It was from Ephesus that Paul wrote letters to the church in Corinth, having heard about conflict within the church.
As long as there have been churches, there has been conflict in the church. Paul wrote to Corinth about twenty years after the resurrection of Jesus.
• Paul appeals to the folks in Corinth to be united in mind and thought and to work together, and that is my appeal to you, CUMC.
The solution to church conflict is not that the loudest group wins
And the solution to church conflict is not that the "losers" leave
Both of those options make the devil happy
and the church and its witness suffer.
My appeal to you is to participate in the life of the church together – to be co-workers in God’s service (1 Cor. 3:9), working together for the glory of God.
It’s hard, and by God, it’s possible.
• I’m reminded of the beginning of the book of Nehemiah. Remember Nehemiah had learned how the walls of Jerusalem still lay in ruins after Nebuchadnezzar had taken the city generations before. Nehemiah went to the ruins and rallied workers together to repair and rebuild the wall. Read chapters 3-6 and you’ll learn how many people worked together, and how they overcame naysayers and attackers and accomplished the mission that couldn’t be done. Took ’em about seven weeks.
• That’s what I’m asking of you, church. To work together to rebuild this church. To come to the table and put in the effort to be the church. To set aside fears and prides and it-can’t-be-dones, to commit to Christ and to the church, and do the work of healing this congregation. What better way to demonstrate the glory of God than to be the church united in mission and ministry to the Campbelltown area.
• It’s not about you, and it’s not about me. It’s about Jesus.

• Oh yeah – why “SDG”?
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer 300 years ago. He wrote these initials at the beginning and end of his church compositions, and some of his secular compositions as well. George Frederic Handel was also known to inscribe his compositions with these initials.
SDG is the abbreviation of the Latin term “Soli Deo Gloria” which means “To God Alone be the Glory.”
It is my hope and prayer that the things I say and do would give glory to God.
It is my hope and prayer that the things this church does would give glory to God.

To God alone be the glory.

Now turn in those commitment cards you took home last week 

• Closing Song: Every Day 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

"What Shall We Do?"

From Luke 9:28-36, the transfiguration of Jesus
• "Blessed Assurance" was composed by two of the most prolific Christian hymn writers in history. The lyrics come from a woman with over 8000 hymns to her credit and the music comes from the organ of a lady with over 500 hymns to her credit. One day, Fanny Crosby was visiting her dear friend, Phoebe Knapp. She played a tune for Fanny and asked her afterwards, "What does it say to you, Fanny?" Her reply was simple: "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine." 
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine.
There’s something of today’s gospel reading in that… a foretaste of glory divine. Jesus glorified, given the divine witness of Moses (the Law) and Elijah (the Prophets) and, if that weren’t enough, the disciples get the divine witness of both the presence of God in the cloud and the voice of God: This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!”
Where we’ve had chapters of signs pointing to Jesus’ identity as greater than a prophet, greater than Moses, even the chosen one of God, here we hear again the claim that was made at his baptism: This is my Son. Jesus is God’s Son.
• The Disciples wanted to preserve the moment. Wanted to build shrines, tents tabernacles, shelters for Jesus and Moses and Elijah, wanted to preserve the divine moment revealing again the identity of Jesus, Son of God.
But it is just a moment. And just as Jesus cannot fulfill his purpose and remain on the mountain, so the disciples cannot fulfill theirs, but they must follow Jesus off the mountain.
They don’t know what awaits them (although they may have picked up some clues that the road won’t be easy). They will follow Jesus. They have a foretaste of glory divine, and perhaps the beginning of the knowledge that they have a divine inheritance of salvation through Jesus the Son of God, and that inheritance cannot perish. Oh, what a foretaste.
• Two weeks ago it was announced that the SPRC requested that the bishop appoint another pastor to Campbelltown, and reappoint me somewhere else. I have witnessed a variety of reactions and responses, and I know there are a lot of different feelings out there, including shock, sadness, and anger. I get that. Don’t leave those feelings in a bottle, and don’t let them be the brakes on your car, stopping you from discipleship. Let those feelings rather be your steering wheel, guiding you. Work through those feelings in connection with each other. Express your sadness or your anger and direct it to your hope for the future.
It is my hope and prayer that no matter what your feelings are in this season of Campbelltown UMC’s life, you would strengthen your resolve to follow Jesus, and that you’d commit yourself to his service and to service to the community through service to this church. Be a part of the healing of Campbelltown UMC.
• In your bulletins you’ll find a 2013-2014 commitment card. I’d like to ask you to take this card home, as you’ve done in other years, and prayerfully consider how you’ll be involved in the life of the church in the year to come. I hope you’ll choose some kind of meaningful involvement that both strengthens you as a disciple and allows you to be involved in mission and ministry with others here at CUMC.
Take the commitment card home, consider how you’ll be a part of the body of Christ at Campbelltown, and bring it back next week, when we’ll receive commitment cards during the worship service.
• I started my message with a tale from Fanny Crosby’s life… Did you know she was blind her whole life? Yet she wrote thousands of hymns, one of the most prolific hymnwriters in history.
She once described how her blindness affected her songs. "I verily believe that God intended that I should live my days in physical darkness so that I might be better prepared to sing His praise and lead others from spiritual darkness into eternal light.  With sight I would have been too distracted to have written thousands of hymns."                                                                    
• Blessed Assurance. Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his spirit, washed in his blood. This is my story.

• Hymn 345 Blessed Assurance

Sunday, September 8, 2013


From Luke 9:18-27... Jesus asks the disciples who the crowds say he is; Jesus talks about his own death and some attributes of discipleship.

• (after the reading of the gospel...)
Whaddya suppose happened after this? The next words in Luke are “about eight days after Jesus said this…” (9:28). I know the disciples probly didn’t go to the coffee shop the next morning, but you can imagine getting some unexpected stunning news and, well, talking about it for a few days, trying to figure out what it means, trying to figure out the implications, and what the future means.
“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected—by the elders, chief priests and the legal experts—and be killed and be raised on the third day.” (9:22)
I don’t get it. I mean just a few days ago He fed thousands of people with one guy’s lunch pail. Yeah, and remember He told the storm to stop and it did! Yeah, yeah, and He cast the demons out of that guy in the cemetery, Man, that was a sight! He healed that woman without even trying, he brought a dead girl back to life and He’s telling us He’s going to be killed?! I don’t get it. I didn’t see that coming. I thought you were onto something, Peter, when you said He was the Christ, sent from God, but I just don’t know what to make of what he said. I didn’t expect that.
• Oddly enough, Luke is the only one of the synoptic gospels to remove the disciples’ reactions to Jesus’ prediction of his death. Matthew and Mark include Peter rebuking Jesus – say it isn’t so! and right after calling him Messiah – and Jesus counter-rebuking Peter saying “Get behind me, Satan!” But why doesn’t Luke include Peter’s reaction?
I think he wants us to focus on Jesus’ words. Peter’s confession, Jesus’ words, and Jesus’ speech about discipleship. It’s so easy to get sidetracked by peoples’ words and actions, and we really gotta give our attention to Jesus first. (which is one reason we celebrated communion early in the service today… Jesus first.)
• So the last few chapters have been asking Who is Jesus? We have been witnessing great displays of God’s power working in Jesus, master over storms and demons, disease and death. We’ve witnessed Jesus giving the disciples the power to cast out demons and cure diseases, we’ve witnessed God’s power in Jesus as thousands are miraculously fed, and now we’ve got a 90-degree turn from where we thought we were going – Jesus is the Christ, Jesus is the Redeemer, Jesus will cleanse the land from its foreign occupiers…
Who is Jesus? He is one in the tradition of the prophets – proclaiming and healing – but he’s more. He’s one like John the Baptist, preaching and challenging, but he’s more. And he doesn’t deny being the Christ, sent from God, but he’s more, and he’s not what you expected. His road leads neither to a military sword nor a political crown but a criminal’s death on a cross. Totally different trajectory than expected.
• But, you wanna be on God’s team, you listen to Jesus and you follow Jesus, not your own expectations or hopes, not the expectations or hopes of man, but you follow Jesus.
• What does it look like to follow Jesus? Well right here he gives us five points about discipleship. (And just as an aside, I wanted to talk about stewardship and commitment in September, so think of this as something of a commitment/discipleship message)                                                                    
• Five points about discipleship. First: “All who want to come after Jesus must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow him.” (9:23) Taking up the cross here is a regular, repeated, voluntary yielding of your life to follow Jesus. It is not giving a little here and there when it’s convenient; it is not backing out when it’s tough; and it’s not once-and-done. A disciple daily even hourly yields their life to Christ.
• Second: “All who want to save their lives will lose them, but all who lose their lives because of Jesus will save them.” (9:24) The depth of commitment is reiterated here. When a follower puts their own life over or before Christ’s, they are not living as a disciple. There’s a similar saying told to soldiers before battle: the first to die will be those who turn and run. The one who stays in the battle, even though they may die, their selflessness goes before them.
• Third: “What advantage do people have if they gain the whole world for themselves yet perish or lose their lives?” (9:25) Jesus is talking here about worldly goods, possessions, and the potential our possessions have of possessing us. Hence sending the disciples out with little more than the shirt on their backs, which happened before this episode and is repeated in chapter ten. Rely not on your own strength or your own stuff, rely fully on God, if you would be a disciple.
• Fourth: “Whoever is ashamed of Jesus and his words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person…” (9:26)  What you’ve got as a disciple is your words, your witness, your testimony, your repeated simple belief that Jesus Christ is Lord and your living your life so that others will know that, know that and want to be like that.
• And fifth: the one who lives the life of the disciple will see God’s fruit while they live.

• So. Jesus is the Christ, and more. 
And your presence is required. 
Be there. 
Be here. 
Be a disciple. 
Be the body of Christ. 
Regardless of circumstances. Follow Jesus.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Jesus, Son of God, Savior

Luke 9:10-17, Jesus feeds a multitude
• We’ve been learning about Jesus, who he is, and 2 weeks ago the disciples weText Box: 1 September, 2013    Pentecost15re sent out. They return and they withdraw (IMO, to worship)
• As a few weeks ago, they’re interrupted, and, as a few weeks ago, Jesus is undeterred. Once again Jesus is involved in ministry, teaching and healing the people, and leading the disciples.
• Having given the disciples authority earlier in the chapter he gives them the responsibility to feed the crowds. They respond with “this is what we got”.
• And Jesus uses what they’ve got.
• And where in earlier chapters of Luke the question “who is Jesus” was left unanswered, in this telling we have several answers: 
Jesus is the bread of heaven who gives of his life for the world; 
it is enough for the multitude (John 6:41) (and really, should we be surprised? Jesus has spoken to a storm and calmed it, he’s saved a man from demons who was unsavable, he’s healed untold numbers of people and he’s raised a girl from the dead – should we be surprised that he can feed thousands with five loaves and two fish?)
Jesus foreshadows communion in how he takes the bread, looks to heaven, blesses and breaks and gives. And the fish are there to answer the question who is this? Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. In Greek, (Jesus Christ, theo huio, soter) or ichthus, fish.

• Jesus is not normal or average. 
And Jesus calls disciples to follow and do. 
And we are called to receive Christ and to present Christ , even when it seems impossible.

• Closing Hymn 398 Fill My Cup