Thursday, December 24, 2015

Big Money!

Christmas Eve
With Titus 2:11-14   @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

• You may have seen the announcement about December 2015:
"Five Tuesdays, Five Wednesdays, Five Thursdays is Money Bags – this happens every 823 years. Based on Chinese Feng Shui. Money will arrive within four days. Copy within 11 minutes of reading."
Did you copy and send? I figure it can’t hurt, so I did!

Actually this circumstance happens six times a year, any particular combination every 5-6 years or 11 years depending on Leap year. But people hope!
• Rarer occurrence: Christmas full moon. 1977. 2015. 2034.
Rarer still: Halley’s comet…

• These are not occurrences to put our hope in.
We know rarest and best of hopes:
In Jesus Christ grace and salvation are available to all,
and sanctification!

God’s grace is available to all! 
God cleans us up through Jesus Christ, 
No one is excluded from the offer of salvation, (Ephesians 2:8)
and the offer of salvation is a gift from God. (Romans 6:23)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23)

• The salvation (cleans us up) includes two things:
one, forgiveness, saved from sin and consequences of sin
and two, transforms us, empowers us, enables us, saves us FOR godly (clean) living.

• Saved from sin, saved for godly living, all for the glory of God. It’s what we’re designed for.
We are made and redeemed for God’s glory and pleasure.
We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

• Into our world Jesus comes, to live in our hearts.
And we are nourished and sustained through fellowship with God.
In act of communion...

Titus 2:11-14 New International Version (NIV)

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Good News - Advent4

Fourth Sunday of Advent
with Micah 5:2-5 and Hebrews 10:5-10    @FirstUMCBville     @kerrfunk  

• First message of Advent: don’t forget!
Fourth message of Advent: Are we here already?
• I see in today’s passages two “good news” stories.
Once upon a time a kind Cokesbury bookstore manager wanted to reward my 5-yo daughter for her good behavior in the store, and offered her one of the shiny plastic rings she’d been admiring. We were very thankful. An hour or two later, our daughter was joyfully showing us the rings she’d gotten from the store.  Plural.  The look on her face when we told her she’d stolen… she hid under her blanket in shame.
A sin, and awareness, and shame. And shame is bad news. Self-will.

Good news is there is loving in spite of shame and there is hope of renewal, of sanctification.
• Micah, prophet 700 yrs BC, saw fruit of unfaithfulness to God, self-will, also hope of divine forgiveness hand in hand with righteous living / humility towards God. Speaks into dark time, chaos, of righteous leader to come, bringing strength security and peace.
• Trouble with own self-will, as 5-yo daughter. Trouble with my own will, and back to the beginning. Personal trouble at own will.

Good news: Christ comes to do the will of the Father.

Book of Hebrews compares and contrasts the Law
– in a time and for a purpose --
and the arrival of Christ – for all time, and covering all sin.

• Good news: Jesus Christ came and was and is perfectly sufficient to redeem broken humankind & give the tools to follow (thy will be done… in the garden and in the Lord’s Prayer)

And now, the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.  Amen.

• Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Micah 5:2-5        (CEB)                                          12/20/15
As for you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
    though you are the least significant of Judah’s forces,
       one who is to be a ruler in Israel on my behalf
            will come out from you.

    His origin is from remote times, from ancient days.
Therefore, he will give them up
       until the time when she who is in labor gives birth.
       The rest of his kin will return to the people of Israel.
He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
             in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
        They will dwell secure,
        because he will surely become great throughout the earth;
       he will become one of peace.

Hebrews 10:5-10        (CEB)                                         
Therefore, when Christ comes into the world he says,
You didn’t want a sacrifice or an offering, but you prepared a body for me;
you weren’t pleased with entirely burned offerings or a sin offering.
 So then I said, “Look, I’ve come to do your will, God.
    This has been written about me in your Word.
He says above, You didn’t want and you weren’t pleased with a sacrifice or an offering or with entirely burned offerings or a purification offering, which are offered because the Law requires them. 
Then he said, Look, I’ve come to do your will
He puts an end to the first to establish the second. 

10 We have been made holy by God’s will
through the offering of Jesus Christ’s body once for all.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

What Time Is It? - Advent2

Second Sunday of Advent
with Luke 3:1-6    @FirstUMCBville     @kerrfunk  

• “What time is it?” doesn’t have to mean hours and minutes. Can be more general, like “It’s time to go shopping” or “it’s time for dinner…” It’s time to worship, it’s time to pray, it’s time to rest, it’s time to remember… Deep within the forest a little turtle began to climb a tree. After hours of effort he reached the top, jumped into the air waving his front legs… and crashed to the ground. After recovering, he slowly climbed the tree again, jumped, and fell to the ground. The turtle tried again and again while a couple of birds (turtledoves, what else?) sitting on a branch watched his sad efforts. Finally, the female bird turned to her mate. “Dear,” she chirped, “I think it’s time to tell him he’s adopted.”
Two turtledoves, and a turtle climbing a tree…
• Gospel reading begins with a statement of time from before calendars were standardized the way they are today. You might say that I started at First Church in the second year of Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball’s ministry in West Virginia, or in the fifth year Barack Obama was POTUS. Luke was grounding this story in local contexts, but perhaps what’s most interesting and surprising is that Luke names five political leaders and two religious leaders… and to whom does the word of the Lord come?
John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. A nobody.

Let’s face it. John the Baptist is not the guy you’d want your daughter dating. Unshaven, unkempt, wearing camel hair… going to take her to this nice place in the middle of nowhere and eat bugs and honey. You probly wouldn’t want JtB at your Christmas party – he’d be standing on a couch or table preaching at people, or by the punch bowl inviting folks to be baptized… you don’t see JtB hymns or Christmas cards or ornaments, but God’s word comes to JtB.
What time is it? Time to broaden our horizons, check our prejudice. Time to realize that God is moving among people we may not expect God to be moving among. Time to prepare ourselves for God’s actions in the world.

• The word of God came to John in the wilderness, and he went all around the region, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Preaching “Prepare ye the way”. Context: Babylonian kings would have engineers precede them, making it safe and nice. JtB’s message is a little different, though. Instead of the ground being leveled for the king, God is putting everyone on the same playing field and proclaiming that his salvation is available to all. Man woman adult child, beggar king hero loser. Banker soldier senator janitor, no one has an advantage, no one is better than another. Jew, non-Jew, 1st Century Israeli, 21st Century Christian…
• However that’s not JtB’s literal message: his is a message of repentance, of getting right with God, everybody, by cleaning house on the inside. John was announcing the coming of the one who would tell the Pharisees that they were like “whitewashed tombs” righteous and lovely looking on the outside but full of all manner of unclean stuff and hypocrisy and wickedness on the inside.”

Bring all your sins to the surface, so that you can get rid of them. The things that thrive in darkness, shed God’s light on them.
• What time is it? Time to prepare for the Lord’s coming, readying ourselves in mind and body, in attitude and in action. Jesus makes such a way…
• into Holy Communion

Luke 3:1-6        (CEB)              12/06/15
In the fifteenth year of the rule of the emperor Tiberius—when Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea and Herod was ruler over Galilee, his brother Philip was ruler over Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was ruler over Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas—God’s word came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. John went throughout the region of the Jordan River, calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. This is just as it was written in the scroll of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

A voice crying out in the wilderness:
    “Prepare the way for the Lord;
        make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled,
    and every mountain and hill will be leveled.
The crooked will be made straight
    and the rough places made smooth.
All humanity will see God’s salvation.[Isaiah 40:3-5]

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Getting In the Mood - Advent1

First Sunday of Advent (Year C)
with 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13      @FirstUMCBville     @kerrfunk

• Thanksgiving has come and gone,
perhaps you have put Christmas decorations up,
perhaps you have begun to listen to Christmas music.
What gets you in the mood for Christmas?
(Personally: The Carpenters. Sleigh Ride.
It’s The Most Wonderful Time. Etc)
This time of year I am also reminded of another song:
“There’s Only Two Songs In Me” by They Might Be Giants.
We are a people of one story, one great big little story of God creating humankind then entering humankind in order to redeem humankind because humankind messes up. That’s our story.
We tell it at Christmas.
We tell it at Easter.
We tell it throughout the year.
And so:
• The typical First Sunday of Advent message:
Prepare. Get ready. Don’t lose Christ
in the gifts and the trimmings, the hustle and the bustle.
“Keep Christ in Christmas.”
(by the way, First Church is hosting a Blue Christmas service on 12/21 if it’s NOT The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, if your Happy Holidays are not so happy)
• But there’s more.
Today’s reading from 1 Thessalonians, the Lectionary text for 1AdventC,
is not so much about the birth of Christ but more about the return of Christ, which we proclaim at least regularly during communion, and which Paul and companions *eagerly* awaited.
1 Thessalonians is one of Paul’s earliest letters, written 15 ish years after death and resurrection of Christ, from Paul’s second missionary trip. Spent a short time in Thessalonica but ran into troubling times.
Not loss of football games trouble, but more like the violent trouble we see too frequently today, like the weekend’s deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado (3 dead). Friday’s shooting was carried out in the name of stopping violence against unborn. And let’s call it what it is: domestic terrorism.
Paul had been violently run out of town by religious leaders who did not agree with Paul’s teachings.
We see a lot of violence perpetrated over disagreements, too many in the name of God.
Each time it happens, I say “Lord have mercy”
or “Come, Lord Jesus.”
• Paul had been violently run out of town, and 1 Thessalonians was written to check up on the fledgling church community (they were good!) to bless and encourage them and remind them to prepare for / keep faithful until the return of Christ, which was immanent, coming soon!
In a move that surely frustrated his opponents and surely had God’s hand in it, Paul’s being run out of Thessalonica served to spread his gospel, not diminish it!
• My appeal to you (and to myself!)
May your conduct -- the way you live your life, your faith,
the way you interact with people,
especially in the face of trials (health)
and tribulations (opposition, violent or not)
-- result in your reliance on God,
your sharing the good news,
your attractive discipleship
(not like those who ran Paul off).
• Show your life ruled by, saved by, changed by Christ,
and you be found blameless at his return.

• Hymn 206 I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13        (CEB)              11/29/15

How can we thank God enough for you, given all the joy we have because of you before our God? 10 Night and day, we pray more than ever to see all of you in person and to complete whatever you still need for your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus guide us on our way back to you. 12 May the Lord cause you to increase and enrich your love for each other and for everyone in the same way as we also love you. 13 May the love cause your hearts to be strengthened, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his people. Amen.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Christ the King Sunday

Following is an order of worship for Christ the King Sunday
I didn't make it up, but I made it mine, and I've used it for a decade or so. I tweak it every year, varying scriptures and hymns, but the format has been pretty much the same, and I find it worth repeating every year.
This year, as we have been in the midst of a long steady walk through the gospel of Matthew, most readings were taken from Matthew.
Sunday November 22, 2015. 
Christ the King Sunday

*Call to Worship
Leader: We come to worship today
with joy in our hearts and wonder on our minds,
to proclaim the mysteries of heaven and earth.
People: Lead me in your truth and teach  me, O Lord.
Leader: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God,“who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
People: Blessing and honor and glory and might be unto the Lamb!
Leader: Worthy is Christ who has ransomed us by his blood
from every tribe and tongue and nation,
and made his people a kingdom, and priests to our God.
All: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!

*Opening Hymn 158 Come, Christians, Join to Sing

*Opening Prayer
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Today we remember the Christian calendar, the liturgical year, in scripture and song. Each season or holiday has a liturgical color, although many of the holidays are “white or gold.”

ADVENT The Christian year begins with ADVENT, and its color is either purple or blue. We begin with the anticipation of the arrival of God's Messiah, the fulfillment of the promise. We often sing Christmas carols, although some say we should wait until Christmas to sing the Christmas carols, and should instead sing songs of anticipation before Christmas. We light the Advent candles to mark our waiting. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas.

Advent scripture: Matthew 1:18-23
Advent Hymn 211 O Come, O Come Emmanuel (verses 1, 2, 7)

A Word for Young People
(this year I spoke about 1 Samuel 8, the people ask for a king)

CHRISTMAS After the four Sundays of Advent, the waiting is over!  CHRISTMAS arrives! More than just a day, Christmas is a 12-day season, going from December 25th to January 6th, and we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. God's promised light has come and continues to come to earth. The color for the season of Christmas is white or gold.

Christmas scripture: Matthew 1:22-25
Christmas Hymn 234 O Come, All Ye Faithful (verses 1, 2, 6)

EPIPHANY The twelve-day season of Christmas ends at EPIPHANY, and again, the colors are white or gold. In Western churches (that's us), Epiphany is when we 'remember' the “wise men” who traveled far to worship the King. God revealed His light to all nations. January 6th is the day of Epiphany, and the season of Epiphany lasts about five weeks, until Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. On a side note, in Eastern churches, Epiphany is when they celebrate Christ coming to the world.

Epiphany scripture: Matthew 2:1-12
Epiphany Hymn 189 Fairest Lord Jesus (verses 1, 3, 4)

LENT The season of Epiphany is followed by LENT, whose color is purple. Lent is the 40-day season (not counting Sundays) of preparation for Easter. Often marked by repentance, prayer, fasting or self-denial, Lent (which means “Spring”) is also a time of Christian instruction. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (46 days before Easter) and goes through Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter.

Lent scripture: Matthew 16:21-28
Lent Hymn 298 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (all verses)

Congregational Prayer
The Lord's Prayer
Worship with our Tithes and Offerings

HOLY WEEK We continue our look at the Christian year with Holy Week. HOLY WEEK is not a season, but the culmination of Lent. It begins with Palm Sunday, and includes Holy Thursday (The Last Supper) and good Friday (The Crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus).

Holy Week scripture: Matthew 26:47-68
Holy Week Hymn 292 What Wondrous Love is This (verses 1, 3)

EASTER Once again, our season of preparation is over: God has raised Jesus from the dead, and we call it EASTER. A high, holy day, its color is white or gold. Easter is the celebration of Jesus' resurrection from the dead, his victory over sin and death. Though the date of Easter changes, it is always the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs after the vernal equinox (March 21). The season of Easter lasts fifty days, including Ascension Day (forty days after Easter) and ending at Pentecost (fifty days after Easter).

Easter scripture: Matthew 28:1-10
Easter Hymn 302 Christ the Lord is Risen Today (verses 1, 3, 5)

PENTECOST Last, but not least, we come to PENTECOST. We use red for the day of Pentecost and green for the season. Pentecost was a Jewish harvest festival (50 days after Passover), and it is now celebrated by Christians as the birth of the church, the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost marks the beginning of “ordinary time,” the season that spans from the end of the Easter season until Advent. In “ordinary time” (also known as “Kingdomtide”) the actions of the early church are remembered.

Pentecost scripture: Acts 2:1-6
Pentecost Hymn 539 O Spirit of the Living God (verses 1, 4)

And finally today is CHRIST THE KING Sunday, the final Sunday of the season of Pentecost, the last Sunday before Advent. Its color is white or gold. The “New Year's Eve” of the liturgical calendar, Christ the King Sunday celebrates, well, Jesus Christ the King of Kings. Thus the Christian year begins, revolves around, and ends in celebration of God's gift to the world in Jesus Christ.

Christ the King scripture: Revelation 1:4b-8
Christ the King Hymn 327 Crown Him with Many Crowns (verses 1, 2)

Sending Forth
Dismissal With Blessing

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Pay Attention to What You Pay Attention To

• 25th Sunday after Pentecost
Matthew 21:23-27 and Hebrews 1:1-4    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

• Pay attention to what you pay attention to.
- (Starbucks cups with no snowflakes is not a war on Christians.
It is manufactured privileged offense)
- The bombings in Paris (over 120 killed) attracted American attention and sympathy… but not the ones in Beirut or Baghdad… (40+ in Beirut) (20+ in Baghdad)
Pay attention to what you pay attention to.
• Today’s gospel reading: a scuffle between the priests and Jesus.
Priests maybe figure Jesus is making them look bad…
Jesus is undermining their prestige.
They seek to trap Jesus, they seek to enforce a certain behavior, religiosity.
(I think of ISIS seeking a certain and strict system).
• But God is interested in spiritual fruit
(recall last week’s barren fig tree),
a harvest of righteousness,
and they’re producing sour grapes.
• Where do you get your authority, they ask,
from God or from man?
Jesus doesn’t answer, but I daresay the answer is “Yes.”
From God – through the prophets of old and prophets like John the Baptist.
From people – Sermon on the Mount, Matt 7:28-29, the people were amazed at his teaching because he spoke as one with authority. Also Matt 7:16 you will know them by their fruit.
• Authority is given by people by attraction, and not by force.
God does not force, but wants people to choose God,
therefore God pays attention to people, to the heart.
Pay attention to what you pay attention to.
• Steer with your eyes. Look in the direction you want to go.
If you want to look like Jesus, look AT Jesus,
learn from & follow Jesus.
Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31)
Jesus is Lord. Live attractively.

• Hymn 368 My Hope Is Built

Matthew 21:23-27   Common English Bible (CEB)
23 When Jesus entered the temple, the chief priests and elders of the people came to him as he was teaching. They asked, “What kind of authority do you have for doing these things? Who gave you this authority?”
24 Jesus replied, “I have a question for you. If you tell me the answer, I’ll tell you what kind of authority I have to do these things. 25 Where did John get his authority to baptize? Did he get it from heaven or from humans?”
They argued among themselves, “If we say ‘from heaven,’ he’ll say to us, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But we can’t say ‘from humans’ because we’re afraid of the crowd, since everyone thinks John was a prophet.” 27 Then they replied, “We don’t know.”
Jesus also said to them, “Neither will I tell you what kind of authority I have to do these things.

Hebrews 1:1-4   Common English Bible (CEB)

1 In the past, God spoke through the prophets to our ancestors in many times and many ways. In these final days, though, he spoke to us through a Son. God made his Son the heir of everything and created the world through him. The Son is the light of God’s glory and the imprint of God’s being. He maintains everything with his powerful message. After he carried out the cleansing of people from their sins, he sat down at the right side of the highest majesty. And the Son became so much greater than the other messengers, such as angels, that he received a more important title than theirs.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The first commandment

• 24th Sunday after Pentecost
Isaiah 5:1-7 and Matthew 21:18-22   @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

• The church’s exterior was looking dingy and a wedding was coming up, so the pastor hired a painter…Painter set up scaffolding and got all kinds of painter gear out, began to do the task, but he didn’t do the calculations correctly, and he realized he didn’t have quite enough paint to finish the job, and it was getting late in the day. He’d have to take his stuff down, buy more paint, and come back two days later to finish the job. Or he could use a little paint thinner to spread out the paint he had left. So that’s what he did. Well there was a storm that night, and of course the section where he’d used the thin paint washed out. He came back to survey the site, and as he looked at the ruined job he cried out, “O God, what am I going to do?” when a voice from heaven replied, “repaint, and thin no more…”
The end result did not match goal, the painter did not produce the desired outcome.Therefore the pastor will hire someone to do the job right.
• This event with Jesus is not about a fig tree…
Matthew uses “fruit” metaphor 17 times, and never literally.
This event is warning and judgment @empty leadership
Looks productive ("Jesus is coming! Look busy!")
(Like pastor/painter) God has desired goal in mind: righteousness
see reading from Isa 5, also the first commandment:
Be fruitful & multiply… fill the earth and subdue it…
rule over every living thing…
and it was very good. (Gen 1:28)
• (candidates keep talking, my hope that the things they say will reveal to voters who is not qualified to be leader of nation)
• God has goal of righteousness in mind,
selected people to live with & shine righteousness,
Jesus has been teaching about righteousness,
community, against oppression.
The community that does not uphold Jesus’ teachings
will dry up! Removed!
The community that DOES uphold Jesus’ teachings
will produce fruit! Blessed!
• This event is also not @miraculous mountain moving
but again, warning & judgement @empty leadership.
Though the empty leadership may be powerful & pretty,
it is the righteous shall prevail.
Pray for righteous leadership.
• Our goal in mind: all the First Commandments you know…
be fruitful… no other gods… Love God with heart soul mind and strength.
Pray and plan to produce.

• Hymn 539 O Spirit of the Living God

Matthew 21:18-22 Common English Bible (CEB)
18 Early in the morning as Jesus was returning to the city, he was hungry. 19 He saw a fig tree along the road, but when he came to it, he found nothing except leaves. Then he said to it, “You’ll never again bear fruit!” The fig tree dried up at once.
20 When the disciples saw it, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree dry up so fast?” they asked.
21 Jesus responded, “I assure you that if you have faith and don’t doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree. You will even say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the lake.’ And it will happen. 22 If you have faith, you will receive whatever you pray for.”

Isaiah 5:1-7   Common English Bible (CEB)

5 Let me sing for my loved one a love song for his vineyard.
       My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside.
He dug it, cleared away its stones, planted it with excellent vines, built a tower inside it, and dug out a wine vat in it. He expected it to grow good grapes—but it grew rotten grapes.
So now, you who live in Jerusalem, you people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard:
What more was there to do for my vineyard that I haven’t done for it?
       When I expected it to grow good grapes, why did it grow rotten grapes?
Now let me tell you what I’m doing to my vineyard.
I’m removing its hedge, so it will be destroyed.
I’m breaking down its walls, so it will be trampled.
I’ll turn it into a ruin; it won’t be pruned or hoed, and thorns and thistles will grow up. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.
The vineyard of the Lord of heavenly forces is the house of Israel,
    and the people of Judah are the plantings in which God delighted.
God expected justice, but there was bloodshed;
    righteousness, but there was a cry of distress!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Promise of God

• All Saints Sunday
Isaiah 25:6-9 and Matthew 9:9-13   @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

Here we sit in a sanctuary, surrounded by stained glass windows with names at the bottom, a veritable “cloud of witnesses.” This is the oldest church I’ve served, but I’m amazed at the living presence of those window people: their names are among us today.
Someone asked me recently – and not maliciously or with judgment – when did I think our local United Methodist Churches would merge? I was somewhat taken aback, but I pondered the thought of three or four UMCs within just a few miles… Combined with the news that a former church of mine elected two weeks ago to discontinue.
Times have changed yet remained the same
back generations and centuries and millennia
Every generation has its glories and its dramas and its innovations.
Charge conference is upon us with its “t”s to cross and its “i”s to dot, budget and leadership to decide upon, what’s next, who leads, how will we fund it…
New but the same.
Hopefully and traditionally we carry on the work and vision of our window people…
…“to share the love of God with people in a hurting world…”
To effectively minister to folks in need in the Bville area,
To provide a spiritual home, a place to grow in faith, a place to belong,
To make disciples, lives transformed by God & reaching out to others.
• It’s easy to get sidetracked by the workings. But Jesus’ goal is people, transformation. Discipleship. Follow.
• God’s promise in Isaiah to give eternal hope
End of suffering, and completion of everything.
Hope of glory, hope that our window people know
freed from the bricks and mortar of life
in glory & salvation.
We look forward to worshiping with them! To that promise of God.

• Into remembrance of saints…
We remember, and we look forward to seeing again in glory,
Jean Allen      Greg Perry      Shirley Waugh 

• and we thank God for the promise of salvation, and the uniting with God’s people
in the sacrament of Holy Communion…

Matthew 9:9-13   Common English Bible (CEB)
As Jesus continued on, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at a kiosk for collecting taxes. He said to him, “Follow me,” and he got up and followed him. 10 As Jesus sat down to eat in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and his disciples at the table.
11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 When Jesus heard it, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. 13 Go and learn what this means: I want mercy and not sacrifice.[Hos 6:6]
I didn’t come to call righteous people, but sinners.”

Isaiah 25:6-9   Common English Bible (CEB)

On this mountain, the Lord of heavenly forces will prepare for all peoples a rich feast, a feast of choice wines, of select foods rich in flavor, of choice wines well refined.
He will swallow up on this mountain the veil that is veiling all peoples,
    the shroud enshrouding all nations.
He will swallow up death forever.
The Lord God will wipe tears from every face;
    he will remove his people’s disgrace from off the whole earth, for the Lord has spoken.
They will say on that day, “Look! This is our God, for whom we have waited— and he has saved us! This is the Lord, for whom we have waited; let’s be glad and rejoice in his salvation!”                 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Cleansing the Temple

• 22nd Sunday after Pentecost
Matthew 21:12-17  Jesus “cleanses” the temple   @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

• This passage about Jesus “cleansing the temple” is neither about the temple nor about Jesus cleansing it – in fact, that word is not used by any NT writer.
Also though oft presented as unjust vendors, there is no indication that the vendors in the temple court were corrupt or even greedy; they WERE providing a useful and temple-legal service, but that in itself points to:
This is not about the temple the building but
the temple, the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:15 and 19 (your bodies are members of Christ… your body is a temple of the HS) Sanctify yourselves (2 Cor 6:14++) and be fit for prayer and worship and sanctuary.
Matthew is writing in a time when the Temple has been destroyed… a post-temple period, post-sacrifice.
The faithful have to wonder, Where is worship? 
And Jesus has answered already:
Where two or three gather (Mt18)  
Matthew is about strengthening the Christ community
after the fall of the Temple,
and where the body of Christ is (the church)
there is healing and restoration of sight.
• Matthew is against an improper understanding of The Church (as building not people), and also against improper understanding of The Church as afterlife insurance policy.

The attitude I can sin and then ask forgiveness demonstrates lack of understanding or authenticity: not true worship, not true religion.
 (example from book The Pillars of the Earth pre-forgiveness for burning village!)
 (perhaps we find ourselves planning to sin, too, knowing we can ask for forgiveness)

Rather Church is a place / a people of relationship and sanctuary and support.

There is no solitary salvation; one cannot be saved alone.

Recall our church’s membership vows / community of love and forgiveness, growth, celebration, accountability. Can I get an amen?
• Leads to Hebrews selection: persevere how? In community.
Grab a hand, pursue holiness together, leave no one out.
Abandon comfortable sin (pre-forgiveness) grab a hand and follow Jesus, who gets the community to its perfect finish.
• Grab a hand, leave no one behind, go forward into life in community, seeking holiness and pursuing justice.

• Hymn 581 Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service

Matthew 21:12-17        (CEB)             10/25/15
12 Then Jesus went into the temple and threw out all those who were selling and buying there. He pushed over the tables used for currency exchange and the chairs of those who sold doves. 13 He said to them, “It’s written, My house will be called a house of prayer. [Isa. 56:7]  But you’ve made it a hideout for crooks.”
14 People who were blind and lame came to Jesus in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and legal experts saw the amazing things he was doing and the children shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were angry. 16 They said to Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?”
“Yes,” he answered. “Haven’t you ever read, From the mouths of babies and infants
you’ve arranged praise for yourself?
 [Psalm 8:3]”
Then he left them and went out of the city to Bethany and spent the night there.

Hebrews 12:1-6, 12-15        (CEB)               10/25/15
12 So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.
Think about the one who endured such opposition from sinners so that you won’t be discouraged and you won’t give up. In your struggle against sin, you haven’t resisted yet to the point of shedding blood, and you have forgotten the encouragement that addresses you as sons and daughters:
My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline
    or give up when you are corrected by him,
because the Lord disciplines whomever he loves,
      and he punishes every son or daughter whom he accepts.[Prov 3:11-12]

12 So strengthen your drooping hands and weak knees! 13 Make straight paths for your feet so that if any part is lame, it will be healed rather than injured more seriously. 14 Pursue the goal of peace along with everyone—and holiness as well, because no one will see the Lord without it. 15 Make sure that no one misses out on God’s grace. Make sure that no root of bitterness grows up that might cause trouble and pollute many people.