Sunday, March 27, 2016

Here We Go Again

• Resurrection Sunday
With Matthew 28:1-10   @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

• Christ is risen, He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Welcome! I’m glad you’re here! Some folks are here because this is their home. They come for spiritual nourishment and fellowship, for a place to give and receive, a place to belong. Some are returning or visiting. There are a host of reasons and motivations. Glad you’re here. Whether this is your familiar place or it’s your first time or something in between, I hope you’ll give us the chance to be your family. Come back next week!

• Some may be thinking Here We Go Again. Same hymns as last time you were here, same crowd. Same story, for sure. 
The resurrection story is foundational to Christianity, even more than Pilgrims to Thanksgiving or “I cannot tell a lie” to George Washington.

Here we go again (HWGA): Jesus in the flesh again.
HWGA: disciples after 3 years, another opportunity to misunderstand.

• I’m not going to go verse by verse through the scripture today (though I do that sometimes)… I’m not going to offer proofs of resurrection or ask you to come forward in an altar call and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, although I do believe in resurrection and it is certainly my hope that you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior as I do…
In fact hear this: I believe Jesus is Lord, that in him is life and love and hope and forgiveness, that somehow he was fully God and fully human, that somehow in his life and death and resurrection salvation is made possible and offered to all.

But today I briefly want to share reflection on something I read on facebook.

A quote from Gus Speth, an internationally known environmental lawyer, worked many years with the govt in DC and held office in UN:

I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that with thirty years of good science we could address those problems. 
But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy… and to deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.
– Gus Speth (James Gustave Speth)

• According to a renowned scientist, the world needs spiritual guidance.
The world needs both science and religion, both play important roles in the world.

Jesus came that we might have life abundant, to reconnect us to original selves as caretakers of planet and stewards of love. 
Where there is brokenness in the human condition, 
Jesus came to address exactly that
And that is exactly what the world needs.

• Quote 2: The advancing climate crisis cannot be addressed as long as we remain fixated on endless growth and consumption, corporate profits, increasing the incomes of the well-to-do, neglecting those just getting by, and helping abroad only modestly.

What the world needs is lives guided by and transformed by Jesus Christ,
who lived his life for humankind, and gave his life for humankind, whom God honored by raising from the dead. He goes before us in life, in death, and in new life. Goes before us and within us today. Live by him. Choose him. Follow him.

• Celebration of Holy Communion

Matthew 28:1-10  (CEB)   Resurrection Sunday  03/27/16
28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the tomb. And there was a great earthquake, for an angel from the Lord came down from heaven. Coming to the stone, he rolled it away and sat on it. Now his face was like lightning and his clothes as white as snow. The guards were so terrified of him that they shook with fear and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He isn’t here, because he’s been raised from the dead, just as he said. Come, see the place where they laid him. Now hurry, go and tell his disciples, ‘He’s been raised from the dead. He’s going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ I’ve given the message to you.”

With great fear and excitement, they hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. But Jesus met them and greeted them. They came and grabbed his feet and worshipped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that I am going into Galilee. They will see me there.”

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Tell the story. Dance.

• Palm Sunday
Matthew 21:1-11
with Psalm 118:19-29  @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

• Everybody loves a parade, amiright? Palm Sunday is a parade.
Psalm 118 is a parade.
(Open the gates, I will enter & will praise the God of my salvation! The rejected cornerstone made by God… Rejoice! Hosanna! Lord, save! Bless and celebrate! Hooray! Grant your people success! Bless the Lord! The Lord is God! You are my God, Lord, and I will give you thanks!”
• If only we had ticker tape… (First ticker tape parade was the dedication of Statue of Liberty, 10/28/1886. Notable ticker tape parades have celebrated generals like Eisenhower or MacArthur.)
We DO have a local war hero, Woody Williams, who earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions in Iwo Jima, 71 years ago last month.
Do you know about his foundation and the Gold Star Families monuments they seek to build? To honor those who died in service – Woody’s heroes – not just soldiers but their families. Each monument is built in negative space: the stone has the outline of a soldier who is not there anymore. Keep telling the story.
• Something of a story in negative space in today’s triumphant entry reading. People are getting ready to celebrate Passover, remembering release from captivity, even while they are in a kind of captivity. Jesus comes in, a king foretold and hoped for, and yet on a donkey, not a warhorse.
I say it’s a story in negative space because remember what Jesus said in this reading? Not a word. I think he knows what he’s headed for. Sure the crowds are singing praises right now but the passion is coming soon. This parade is going to end in pain. In less than a week the praising crowd will be the stirred up mob seeking Jesus’ death.
We knew it was coming. Matthew reminds us in verse ten hearkening back to Jesus’ birth and Herod and Jerusalem (2:3).
The crowd is right in recognizing Jesus as king,
but wrong in what they do with that information.
• And Jesus enters anyway. In silence. In a parade that will end in his pain.
• In the praises, tell the story celebrating Jesus.
In the suffering, tell the story of Jesus who knows suffering.
Though the march be to death, be the voice of hope, even if it means you going silently into chaos. Go into the chaos. Tell the story.
• Hymn 261 Lord of the Dance tells the story. 1962 Londoner Sydney Carter invites not just to hear the story but to dance, to participate.

Matthew 21:1-11  (CEB) Palm Sunday 03/20/16
21 When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus gave two disciples a task. He said to them, “Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter, you will find a donkey tied up and a colt with it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anybody says anything to you, say that the Lord needs it.” He sent them off right away. 
Now this happened to fulfill what the prophet said,
Say to Daughter Zion, “Look, your king is coming to you, humble and riding on a donkey, and on a colt the donkey’s offspring.[Isa 62:11 and Zech 9:9]
The disciples went and did just as Jesus had ordered them. They brought the donkey and the colt and laid their clothes on them. Then he sat on them.
Now a large crowd spread their clothes on the road. Others cut palm branches off the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds in front of him and behind him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest![Ps 118:26] 10 And when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up. “Who is this?” they asked. 11 The crowds answered, “It’s the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Matthew 26:1-5, 14-16 (CEB) Passion Sunday 03/20/16
26 When Jesus finished speaking all these words, he said to his disciples, “You know that the Passover is two days from now. And the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”
Then the chief priests and elders of the people gathered in the courtyard of Caiaphas the high priest. They were plotting to arrest Jesus by cunning tricks and to kill him. But they agreed that it shouldn’t happen during the feast so there wouldn’t be an uproar among the people.

14 Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I turn Jesus over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From that time on he was looking for an opportunity to turn him in.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Doing Good For Others

• Fifth Sunday of Lent
Matthew 23:1-12
With Galatians 6:1-10  @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

• What is the purpose of the church?
First UMC Bville:
to share the love of God with people in a hurting world.
The UMC,
to make disciples of Jesus Christ
for the transformation of the world.
These should be foundational to what we do as a body of believers.
• Okay, Why? Or rather, what happens when we share the love…
What happens in others? What happens in us?
What happens when we make disciples? In others? In us?
An aspect of discipleship, a purpose of the church is to build others up.
And is that not what Jesus lived?
• Jesus speaks ill of Pharisees, church leaders, for their motives. (Matt 23:5 “Everything they do, they do to be noticed by others.”
We had a spring cleaning day yesterday at church. I could give you a long list of how different people worked, that would be fine. But it’d be odd or uncomfortable at best if I gave them reserved seating in the sanctuary because of that. That’s the sort of things Jesus is speaking against.
He speaks against the inwardly focused church leaders
and speaks directly to you: how are YOU going to handle yourselves?
Eight times in four verses, the you. Talking to YOU.
• Story of a time a church member called me by my first name.
I didn’t like that it sounded odd to my ear not to be called “pastor”.
I changed.
• Galatians 6:9 Let us not tire in doing good.
• Hebrews 10:24 Outdo one another in showing honor.
• Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition but value others higher.
• John 13:34 Love one another
(a new command – a mandate
à “Maundy” Thursday 3/24)
• 1 Corinthians 2:16 Have the mind of Christ

• Hymn 581 Lord Whose Love Through Humble Service

Matthew 23:1-12     (Common English Bible)
23 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and his disciples, 2 “The legal experts and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore, you must take care to do everything they say. But don’t do what they do, 4 for they tie together heavy packs that are impossible to carry: they put them on the shoulders of others, but are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. 5 Everything they do, they do to be noticed by others. They make extra-wide prayer bands for their arms and long tassels for their clothes. 6 They love to sit in places of honor at banquets and in the synagogues. 7 They love to be greeted with honor in the markets and to be addressed as ‘Rabbi.’
8 “But you shouldn’t be called Rabbi, because you have one teacher, and all of you are brothers and sisters. 9 Don’t call anybody on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is heavenly. 10 Don’t be called teacher, because Christ is your one teacher. 11 But the one who is greatest among you will be your servant. 12 All who lift themselves up will be brought low. But all who make themselves low will be lifted up.

Galatians 6:1-10     (Common English Bible)
6 Brothers and sisters, if a person is caught doing something wrong, you who are spiritual should restore someone like this with a spirit of gentleness. Watch out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted too. 2 Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.
3 If anyone thinks they are important when they aren’t, they’re fooling themselves. 4 Each person should test their own work and be happy with doing a good job and not compare themselves with others. 5 Each person will have to carry their own load.

6 Those who are taught the word should share all good things with their teacher. 7 Make no mistake, God is not mocked. A person will harvest what they plant. 8 Those who plant only for their own benefit will harvest devastation from their selfishness, but those who plant for the benefit of the Spirit will harvest eternal life from the Spirit. 9 Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up. 10 So then, let’s work for the good of all whenever we have an opportunity, and especially for those in the household of faith.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Q & A

• Fourth Sunday of Lent
Matthew 22:23-33
With 2 Corinthians 5:16-21  @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

• I knew a guy once who said he couldn’t have faith because of Enoch.
Remember Enoch? Genesis 5:24, 4th great-grandson of Adam.
Enoch lived 365 years. He walked with God, and then he was no more, because God took him away. My friend didn’t understand this, and he allowed a question to stop him in his tracks.
• In Matthew 22 the Sadducees ask Jesus a question about marriage and resurrection. I’ve entertained a similar question, since my first wife died after 3 years of marriage. I didn’t understand, but unlike my friend, I did not allow the question to stop me in my tracks.
Instead, I came to believe a few things about questions and God,
and that if I’d embrace humility, serenity would follow.
I came to accept that the answer: “I don’t know” is acceptable.
I came to accept that my answer may change (look at the source of my answer: a young man!). 
I learned / decided to trust in God (look at THAT source!)
•The Sadducees don’t seem humble, genuine.
(confession: it’s tough to maintain humility when you know you’re right.)
Also, Sadducees don’t like change; want to maintain status quo (of power and inequality) (and Jesus threatens power and status quo and pride (opp of humility)
•Jesus’ reply:
You don’t know scriptures, and you don’t know power of God.
Scriptures are living. God is living.  You treat them as inanimate.
EB White (Charlotte’s Web) wrotee of humor, saying
Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the purely scientific mind
So also the Sadducees, who demanded cut and dried answer,
rather than organic messy answer.
•From 2 Corinthians 5: IF anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation.
God doesn’t leave us powerless
but meets us, reconciles us, empowers us, sends us.

• into Communion liturgy

Matthew 22:23-33  (Common English Bible)
23 That same day Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, came to Jesus. 24 They asked, “Teacher, Moses said, If a man who doesn’t have children dies, his brother must marry his wife and produce children for his brother.[Deut 25:5]  25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married, then died. Because he had no children he left his widow to his brother. 26 The same thing happened with the second brother and the third, and in fact with all seven brothers. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 At the resurrection, which of the seven brothers will be her husband? They were all married to her.”
29 Jesus responded, “You are wrong because you don’t know either the scriptures or God’s power. 30 At the resurrection people won’t marry nor will they be given in marriage. Instead, they will be like angels from God. 31 As for the resurrection of the dead, haven’t you read what God told you, 32 I’m the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?[Ex 3:6] He isn’t the God of the dead but of the living.” 33 Now when the crowd heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (Common English Bible)
16 So then, from this point on we won’t recognize people by human standards. Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know him now. 17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!
18 All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation.

20 So we are ambassadors who represent Christ. God is negotiating with you through us. We beg you as Christ’s representatives, “Be reconciled to God!” 21 God caused the one who didn’t know sin to be sin for our sake so that through him we could become the righteousness of God.