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!”