Sunday, June 8, 2014

What Do You Do With A Gift?

(alternate title: The Holy Spirit is Unpleasant and Messy)
Pentecost Sunday
with readings from Acts 2 
(God gives the gift of the Holy Spirit)
and 1 Corinthians 12 
(the Holy Spirit gives the church gifts)

What do you do with a gift? Open it!
(explanation of the stole (the thing a pastor wears around their neck) which was a gift at my ordination, which is a mark of a servant, and this particular one is in celebration of the Holy Spirit.)

The gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:4-13)
why? Verse 7: for the common good.
In Greek: sumphero, to benefit, to profit, to collect...

Gifts: Wisdom, knowledge, faith/trust... 
for congregational leadership!
God will not leave congregation without necessary gifts!
Healing, miracles, prophecy/preaching/speaking for God
discernment, communication, translation...

Given to whom? To each. To many.
A stool can't stand on one leg, two legs... 
There is stability in the body of Christ 
when essential gifts are given to many.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is unpleasant. (wait, what?)

Consider a nice day: 
Does it include violent wind? 
Does it include fire? 
Does it include the #1 fear of Public Speaking?... 
The gift of the Holy Spirit is unpleasant.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is messy.
Suddenly many are preaching.
I wear collar for distinction (not elevation). 
Now there's no distinction.
The power of God is not contained in gender or class (Levites).
The power of God is not contained in geography.

Holy Spirit is not contained. Holy Spirit is RELEASED.

& where Holy Spirit goes, there is fire and the breaking down of walls!

Holy Spirit sends disciples into the unknown.
We recall Jesus leading the disciples into the storm, accompanying them into storm...
Holy Spirit accompanies into the storm with gifts.

God will accomplish his purpose through people
not because of the power of the people
but because he will show his power through people

What do you do with a gift? WITNESS.
(Homework: read the rest of Acts 2... Peter preaches, referencing current events as well as scripture and theology (Jesus is Lord) and 3,000 are baptized (Acts 2:41)
and the Lord adds daily to their number (Acts 2:47).

Hymn 2237 As A Fire is Meant for Burning

Sunday, June 1, 2014

What's this about 'new wine'? @FirstUMCBville @kerrfunk

On Matthew 9:9-17
Jesus calls Matthew to follow him,
Jesus is judged on account of his followers,
Jesus weighs the old versus the new...

• Jesus calls Matthew, Matthew stops what he's doing and follows Jesus... and Jesus gets judged because of his followers.
Oftentimes I wish I had Jesus' presence of mind, his wit... (read the book, yo!)
Jesus says: Healthy people don't need a doctor, 
sick people do (verse 12). Brilliant.
God desires mercy, not sacrifice; 
relationship over ritual.
(there's a way God wants you to act & you're not doing it)
Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. 
The church is to be a hospital for sinners, 
not a club for saints.

What business is Jesus about? Verse 12. 
circle it, memorize it, something... 
Jesus came to be about healing people.

What business are the Pharisees about? 
Maintaining tradition.
Jesus expands beyond tradition. 
(for example, tradition says you fast, 
and you fast often... the more you fast 
the more religious you are... 
Jesus says fasting for the sake of fasting is just that... 
Serving tradition is not the same thing as serving God. 
God isn't interested in fasting for fasting's sake, 
God is interested in LIVING MERCY.)

And then Jesus says a few things 
about old and new things.
Jesus talks about old wine and new wine. 
Now some folks have picked this passage apart, 
trying to support or refute one side or the other 
regarding whether there's alcohol in that wine, 
but this is one of those statements I take at face value. 

Wine is mentioned in the bible, quite a bit.
Before there was water treatment?
There was unclean water.
But wine was safe. Beneficial. Enjoyable.

Bible talks about vineyards, 
and Israel being God's vineyard (Isaiah 5).
1, God the gardener enjoys gardening, 
enjoys the garden and its fruit.
2, God the vineyard owner enjoys the fruit of the vine!

Wine (ancient) always in production, 
not once and done like a tattoo or your will, 
but ongoing process. 
Always going to be haircuts, 
always going to be new wine.
And the new may not be identical to the old. 
May look/taste/feel different.

I believe Jesus is acknowledging that 
the new will always be different than the old, 
and that some will prefer the old
(how about that old pair of jeans, nothing like it) 
and some will prefer the new.

One or other is not “better” but certainly different. 
And in verse 17... both are kept safe.

Jesus is saying here that 
God is interested in what we produce
Are we producing good fruit for the kingdom? 
Are people being drawn to God by what we're doing? 
Are people experiencing God, experiencing new life, 
or are they dejected and rejected?

Jesus came to call sinners. 
Not to judge 'em or condemn 'em, 
but to call them to follow. 
To initiate people into the presence of the living God, 
who is interested in what they make of what they have, 
and less interested in serving tradition for tradition's sake.

We come to church, to the table of God, 
to participate in (and receive!) God's healing; 
we're called to go forth to offer and invite others
(without judgment!)
that they may receive life and healing 
as GOD would give to them.

And when we come together, 
when we break bread together,
we know God, and we are known by God...

In the breaking of the bread, 
God is made known, 
God fills our souls.
In the blessing from the cup, 
God lifts us up, 
God makes us whole.

Hymn (insert) In the Breaking of the Bread