Sunday, May 29, 2016

Care for the Body of Christ

• Second Sunday after Pentecost
Memorial Day Weekend
Matthew 26:1-16  with  Romans 5:6-11   @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

• The march through Matthew continues and I continue to learn.
Jesus is “done” with teaching, but he continues in how he lives.
Discipleship is heartfelt action
to benefit those with less power
Such action should be done at all times, continually, continuously,
regardless of circumstances or opposition.
Matthew has consistently presented tension/conflict/battle of two kingdomswe always have a choice – and battle lines have been drawn and armies are about to advance.
• There is tension/conflict amidst disciples even still.
Over money (the value of the woman’s gift of anointing oil).
A worthwhile question, but Jesus supports her actions,
at least in this unique circumstance.
• This I know:
the woman worships Jesus and her worship is honored.
As in previous passage (sheep & goats):
be of service. Selflessly. Sacrificially.
As the woman has done.
Care for the body of Christ
And indeed, in Matthew’s gospel,
there is no other burial anointing for Jesus.
• Immediately following example of selflessness
(Kingdom of Heaven value)
Matthew presents us with example of earthly kingdom:
Judas sells Jesus.
Sometimes we do that: we plunge headlong into sin, nurture earthly kingdom, neglect kingdom values.
Pray to do so less.
Examine actions! Examine motives!
Make choice, and act.
Discipleship is heartfelt action
to benefit those with less power.
Selflessness, sacrifice, service
always acceptable to God.
• From Romans:
God acts for the restoration of the world.
All are valuable.
Propagate kingdom values.

• Hymn 385 Let Us Plead For Faith Alone. Faith which by our works is shown…

Matthew 26:1-16     (CEB)          
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.
When Jesus was at Bethany visiting the house of Simon, who had a skin disease, a woman came to him with a vase made of alabaster containing very expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ head while he was sitting at dinner. Now when the disciples saw it they were angry and said, “Why this waste? This perfume could have been sold for a lot of money and given to the poor.”
10 But Jesus knew what they were thinking. He said, “Why do you make trouble for the woman? She’s done a good thing for me. 11 You always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have me. 12 By pouring this perfume over my body she’s prepared me to be buried. 13 I tell you the truth that wherever in the whole world this good news is announced, what she’s done will also be told in memory of her.”
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 betray him.  X

Romans 5:6-11     (CEB)
While we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people. It isn’t often that someone will die for a righteous person, though maybe someone might dare to die for a good person. But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us. So, now that we have been made righteous by his blood, we can be even more certain that we will be saved from God’s wrath through him. 10 If we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son while we were still enemies, now that we have been reconciled, how much more certain is it that we will be saved by his life? 11 And not only that: we even take pride in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, the one through whom we now have a restored relationship with God.     X

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Ultimate Speech of Jesus

• First Sunday after Pentecost / Trinity Sunday
Peace With Justice Sunday
Matthew 25:31-46  with  Isaiah 58   @FirstUMCBville  @kerrfunk

• There’s a picture you can find pretty easily on the internet,             of Sir Patrick Stewart holding an Amnesty International sign:
“Defend rights for women and girls.” 
The picture’s caption: “People won’t listen to you or take you seriously unless you’re an old, white man, and since I’m an old, white man, I’m going to use that to help the people who need it.”
• Our readings from Matthew 24 and 25 have been building up to this one, and indeed, this is the last of the final speeches of Jesus. Remember that discipleship is action. God is looking for folks who will produce, not coast. Inactivity is divinely frowned upon.
The verse that follows this speech:
“When Jesus finished saying these things…”
• Several things to point out from this apocalyptic climax speech:
-      Jesus is the ultimate authority, and this is the ultimate time.
All the nations are gathered before him, and even all the angels.
Jesus is “Son of Man.” “king / throne.” “lord.”
-      Jesus is shepherd and gatekeeper.
Admission to the kingdom is through Jesus.
-      Jesus is ultimately concerned with how you (as an individual) treat others.
Acts of compassion, kindness, justice.
Selflessness is rewarded, selfishness is not. (actually, it’s punished)
Selflessness is original plan.
Friends and strangers, but especially the disadvantaged.
Like Patrick Stewart, go out of way to benefit folks unlike self who have less.
Also, use well what you have.
• Peace With Justice. Imagine using what you have (time, resource, influence, ability) to speak up/out for someone who has not. For whom would you speak/stand?
It is The Way of Jesus, to live and give on behalf of another.
It is the way of life.
• Ultimate speech of Jesus. &Do what the master says.
How will you spend your life your resources?
On whom? In service to others.
Who would you help? Who would you deny?
• Hymn 593 Here I Am, Lord

Matthew 25:31-46     (CEB)
31 “Now when the Son of Man comes in his majesty and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his majestic throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them from each other, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right side. But the goats he will put on his left.
34 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. 35 I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 36 I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
37 “Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you who are cursed. Go into the unending fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. 43 I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ 45 Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’ 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment. But the righteous ones will go into eternal life.”  X

Isaiah 58     (NIV)  Peace With Justice Sunday
58 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.    

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Go, Effect Recovery*

*(It’s odd to see ‘effect’ as a verb, but it’s correct here, and it means “bring about”)
• Pentecost Sunday
Acts 2:1-21 and Romans 8:14-17  @FirstUMCBville  @kerrfunk

• I went to a workshop yesterday at Huntington First UMC, “Understanding Addiction and Supporting Recovery”. Presented by Sis Wenger (president and CEO of the National Assoc for Children of Alcoholics). Useful, informative, timely.
There is a variety of statistics out there, but safe to say that it’s likely that someone in your family is directly affected by some kind of substance use disorder, be it alcohol or pills or street drugs, and that you know somebody in unacknowledged addiction.
In the event you are unsure whether you know anybody in recovery from a substance use disorder, let me assure you, you do:
(Hi, I’m Kerry!)

One of the first things in the notebook we got had to do with the “Wall of Silence.”
Folks reach out to their faith communities when they’re in distress but they typically don’t find welcome. Sad to say that far too many people in need avoid the church because of judgment and shame, or that church folk are either in denial that substance use disorder is here (not in my backyard! Not church people!) or they simply don’t know about it or what to do about it.
And yet, faith & faith community can significantly and positively impact a person’s recovery, if that wall of silence is broken down and the addict is embraced.
By the way, alcoholism and substance use disorder
are equal opportunity.
It’s not them, it’s us.
Prince died three weeks ago, and signs point to painkilleraddiction. Our response should be care and compassion,
and not chastisement and condemnation.
Addiction is a disease – a treatable one –, not a moral weakness or failing.
We’re not ashamed to say someone died of cancer – a treatable disease – but when addiction comes up, we treat it differently,
and it hurts sick people, and it hurts their families.

• What has this to do with Pentecost? I think much.
Jesus told the apostles on the day he ascended to wait for power to come to them, and that they would be witnesses in the world, testifying, proclaiming, telling about who Jesus was and what he did. And who was he? Son of God, Messiah, Savior. And what did he do? Effected forgiveness. Newness of life. Salvation.
That’s recovery, right there.
There was brokenness in the world. God addressed that brokenness by introducing the repair in Jesus Christ. Jesus led 12 disciples for 3 years, and then entrusted them with his mission, and empowered them with the Holy Spirit. The apostles receive the HS, they witness, and the church is born!
You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back into fear, but a spirit that shows you are adopted. Family. Children of God and heirs. Glory to God.

We are called, entrusted, and empowered to be in recovery and to effect recovery – that’s why the Holy Spirit is given – so that the mighty works of God might be declared to all.

• Hymn 465 Holy Spirit, Truth Divine

Romans 8:14-17     (CEB)       
14 All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters.
15 You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. 17 But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.

Acts 2:1-21     (CEB)
When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.
There were pious Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered. They were mystified because everyone heard them speaking in their native languages. They were surprised and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all the people who are speaking Galileans, every one of them?
How then can each of us hear them speaking in our native language? Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; as well as residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the regions of Libya bordering Cyrene; and visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the mighty works of God in our own languages!” 12 They were all surprised and bewildered. Some asked each other, “What does this mean?” 13 Others jeered at them, saying, “They’re full of new wine!”
14 Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared, “Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! 15 These people aren’t drunk, as you suspect; after all, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning! 16 Rather, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young will see visions. Your elders will dream dreams. 18 Even upon my servants, men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
19 I will cause wonders to occur in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and a cloud of smoke. 20 The sun will be changed into darkness, and the moon will be changed into blood, before the great and spectacular day of the Lord comes.
21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Use the Talents You've Been Given

• Seventh Sunday in Easter
Ascension Sunday
Mother’s Day
Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of the talents   @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

• Have you ever held a million dollars in your hands?
(that’s about what 5 talents would be worth)  
I have a hard time imagining not only being entrusted with a million dollars but personally doubling it.
Then again, some folks have been entrusted with the raising of a CHILD.
• This parable does its job: grabs attention,
maybe even knocks off balance with shock,
both in the amount of money entrusted
and in the rejection of Servant #3.
• It’s important to keep context in mind: the parable of the talents is sandwiched among several apocalyptic speeches. It speaks about the return of Christ, and the actions of the faithful until then.
Last week: bridesmaids & lamps?
Faithful action is rewarded, inaction is rejected.
Week before: signs of apocalypse, what do we do?
Happy the servant found at work.
That one is rewarded & put in charge..
.” (Matthew 24:46)
Discipleship is action, regardless of circumstances.
The sky is falling? Don’t stop discipleship.
The Christ is re-appearing?
Plant the tree, then go out to greet the Christ.
You’re entrusted with a million dollars?
Be productive, not inactive.
Production is expected & rewarded.
Discipleship is action, and inaction is rejected.
• Which is better in a race: not finish it, or not start it?
DNF>DNS (“did not finish” is better than “did not start”)
Servant #3 doesn’t start the race. That’s no good.
• “Talent” shows up one other place in the gospels.
(A talent, by the way, was a coin worth about 5,000 day’s pay.
A person could get by for 15 years on one talent.
Because of this parable, the word “talent” entered the English language and came to mean “ability”).
Matthew 18:23-35, a servant owed TENTHOUSAND talents (~$3Billion) to master, who jailed him, but then quickly forgave the debt completely. The servant then turned around and jailed a fella who owed him $8,000. Master re-jailed first servant.
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY, it’s about what you do with it. Action over inaction.
• Which is better in a race: come in last, or not start it?
Come in dead last is better than not finish, too.
God is looking for faithful disciples.

• Hymn 408 The Gift of Love

Matthew 25:14-30
14 “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who was leaving on a trip. He called his servants and handed his possessions over to them. 15 To one he gave five valuable coins, and to another he gave two, and to another he gave one. He gave to each servant according to that servant’s ability. Then he left on his journey.
16 “After the man left, the servant who had five valuable coins took them and went to work doing business with them. He gained five more. 17 In the same way, the one who had two valuable coins gained two more. 18 But the servant who had received the one valuable coin dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.
19 “Now after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The one who had received five valuable coins came forward with five additional coins. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Excellent! You are a good and faithful servant! You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’
22 “The second servant also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done! You are a good and faithful servant. You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’
24 “Now the one who had received one valuable coin came and said, ‘Master, I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest grain where you haven’t sown. You gather crops where you haven’t spread seed. 25 So I was afraid. And I hid my valuable coin in the ground. Here, you have what’s yours.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You evil and lazy servant! You knew that I harvest grain where I haven’t sown and that I gather crops where I haven’t spread seed? 27 In that case, you should have turned my money over to the bankers so that when I returned, you could give me what belonged to me with interest. 28 Therefore, take from him the valuable coin and give it to the one who has ten coins. 29 Those who have much will receive more, and they will have more than they need. But as for those who don’t have much, even the little bit they have will be taken away from them. 30 Now take the worthless servant and throw him outside into the darkness. People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

How Do You Eat an Elephant? One Bite At a Time

• Sixth Sunday in Easter
Matthew 25:1-13, ten bridesmaids (five wise, five foolish)    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

Cartoon Patient: Doc, I don’t feel well, and I’m not sure why.
Doctor: I want you to meditate for 20 minutes twice a day, exercise for 30 minutes a day, avoid processed foods, eat plenty of organic fruit and vegetables, limit your alcohol, television and computer use, spend more time outdoors, and stop worrying about things you can’t control. Come back in 3 weeks.

We all know that’s good habits for healthy living. And at the beginning of the year, there are many enthusiasts. You may not be able to tell the enthusiasts from the dedicated ones. But wait a couple months later, and you’ll see the fruit of peoples’ lives and decisions.
• Apocalyptic parable, this story of wise and foolish bridesmaids.
What is theme / design of Matthew? Discipleship.
See sermon on mount.
This parable addresses duration of discipleship.
How long? How long shall I live life of discipleship?
How long shall I be merciful and peacemaker?      
Discipleship is a way of life, not an occasional thing.
Not a Sunday-but-not-weekday thing.
From the New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary:
Being a peacemaker for a day is not as demanding as being a peacemaker year after year when hostility breaks out again and again… Being merciful for an evening can be pleasant. Being merciful for a lifetime requires preparedness.
• The bridesmaids / bridegroom shows us relationship and church community. And like the fitness example, no visible distinction at beginning between wise and foolish, long-term and short-term, who will persevere and who will not.
• Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
• You will know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:16
• So let us not grow weary in doing what is right,
for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

• Hymn 616 Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast

*Matthew 25:1-13        (Common English Bible) 
25 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten young bridesmaids who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. Now five of them were wise, and the other five were foolish. The foolish ones took their lamps but didn’t bring oil for them. But the wise ones took their lamps and also brought containers of oil.
“When the groom was late in coming, they all became drowsy and went to sleep. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Look, the groom! Come out to meet him.’
“Then all those bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. But the foolish bridesmaids said to the wise ones,
‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps have gone out.’
“But the wise bridesmaids replied, ‘No, because if we share with you, there won’t be enough for our lamps and yours. We have a better idea. You go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 But while they were gone to buy oil, the groom came. Those who were ready went with him into the wedding.
Then the door was shut.
11 “Later the other bridesmaids came and said,
‘Lord, lord, open the door for us.’
12 “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore, keep alert, because you don’t know the day or the hour [of the coming of the Son of Man].