Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Great Commission

• 9th Sunday After Pentecost
Matthew 28:11-20, the conclusion of the Gospel of Matthew
and Ephesians 1:3-14, Paul is really excited about the power of God in Christ   @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

• After 2.5 years we come to the conclusion of the Gospel of Matthew series.
We begin with the guards and the chief priests – PRIESTS, mind you – who PAY the guards to spread a lie. The same priests that paid a man to betray Jesus and then manipulated a crowd and a court to have Jesus killed… the same priests that were moral enough not to take "blood money." But we’ll not dwell on that.
• We have gone through somewhere between 80 and 90 sermons on Matthew.
Last week we talked about what was “good news”, and about the Matthean themes I suggested of discipleship and fruit. I’d add forgiveness to that, and the character of Jesus the genuine, Jesus the exposer of false teachers, Jesus the advocate of the abused.
Simply put, Jesus IS the presence of God.
• The Gospel of Matthew opens and closes with the expressed presence of God.
Opens with genealogy of Jesus, beginning with Abraham (because rooted in Jewish identity) and through David and through the Babylonian exile… showing what? Presence of God through good times and bad, through generations.
Then the angel to Joseph that Jesus will save the people from sins, there’s forgiveness in him, and he’ll be called Immanuel, God with us. Oh, and God may do things in unexpected ways. Trust God.
• Ephesians 1:10 God planned to bring all things together in Christ.
And we who place our hope in Jesus are honored by God.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is forgiveness
and God’s presence, presence always
• And Jesus expects and authorizes and commissions us to do as he did.
Not because we’re deserving – we’re selfish rebels – but because of who God is and who God calls us to be.
19 “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”

• Hymn 389 Freely, Freely

Ephesians 1:3-14        (Common English Bible)
3 Bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing that comes from heaven. 4 God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in God’s presence before the creation of the world. 5 God destined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ because of his love. This was according to his goodwill and plan 6 and to honor his glorious grace that he has given to us freely through the Son whom he loves. 7 We have been ransomed through his Son’s blood, and we have forgiveness for our failures based on his overflowing grace, 8 which he poured over us with wisdom and understanding. 9 God revealed his hidden design to us, which is according to his goodwill and the plan that he intended to accomplish through his Son. 10 This is what God planned for the climax of all times: to bring all things together in Christ, the things in heaven along with the things on earth. 11 We have also received an inheritance in Christ. We were destined by the plan of God, who accomplishes everything according to his design. 12 We are called to be an honor to God’s glory because we were the first to hope in Christ. 13 You too heard the word of truth in Christ, which is the good news of your salvation. You were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit because you believed in Christ. 14 The Holy Spirit is the down payment on our inheritance, which is applied toward our redemption as God’s own people, resulting in the honor of God’s glory.  X

*Matthew 28:11-20        (Common English Bible)
11 Now as the women were on their way, some of the guards came into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 They met with the elders and decided to give a large sum of money to the soldiers. 13 They told them, “Say that Jesus’ disciples came at night and stole his body while you were sleeping. 14 And if the governor hears about this, we will take care of it with him so you will have nothing to worry about.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were told. And this report has spread throughout all Judea to this very day.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. 18 Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”  X

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Shattered Expectations

• 8th Sunday after Pentecost
on Matthew 28:1-10 (Jesus’ resurrection)
and Acts 10:34-43 (Peter tells the gospel to Cornelius)   @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
• Today’s reading from Matthew is the resurrection story.
What is the good news?
• Mary & Mary visit the tomb. What is their expectation?
They came to grieve.
Same as why there are crosses along highway, and flowers and candles and gifts and tributes where people have died. 
Innumerable tributes of late.
Mary & Mary’s expectation? Sit. Grieve. Cry. Sing. Pray.
Not even to anoint the body (it’s already done, in Matthew 27).
Not to wonder about moving the stone (which is guarded).
Expectation shattered: angel descends, can’t miss it, guards become like dead men.Do not fear, Jesus isn’t here he’s been raised from the dead – hey, that’s good news, that’s gospel! Our friend isn’t dead – and he’ll see you in Galilee like he said earlier. Go and tell. They go to tell and Jesus meets them. They worship.
Sometimes it’s in our grief that Jesus meets us.
The women showed up, and Jesus met them.
But to really plumb the depths of the good news,
we have to keep reading.
• Acts 10: Peter (a Jew, a disciple, an apostle.
What’s the last we heard from him in the gospel? Denying Jesus). 
Well in Acts he’s had a dream, a vision from God, and a Roman centurion, Cornelius, has a vision from God at the same time. They get together, and Peter explains the good news: there is forgiveness of sins in Jesus, who is Lord, who is Christ, who was empowered by the Holy Spirit, raised from the dead, and given authority over all by God.
Peter, a Jew and an apostle, his expectations are shattered. He didn’t expect God to work among the non-Jews, to invite them into the mighty works that God has been doing.
“I am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people or another.”
God also invites people who are not like me.
God is working beyond the circle of my understanding.
And like Peter, my job is to roll with it.
And God is looking for folks who will worship him and live in righteousness.
• Who can you live in righteousness for? Can you do it for someone else? Nope. For you.
My job is to follow Jesus, who was radically welcoming, who did not cling to rights or pride or ego but poured self out for benefit of others. Follow Jesus who defied borders between peoples and served, loved and served. And because of him we have forgiveness and reconciliation and new life and the hope of the promise that some day we won’t have to grieve. But until that day… we roll with it. We admit that our expectations may be off. We show up and seek God, in good times and bad. We worship and we do and we go and we tell.
• Hymn 304 Easter People Raise Your Voices
written by the Rev. William James, a UM pastor who founded a church in the Bronx in 1944 that grew to 900 in 8 years.
“During that time I learned to minister to gangs and street people.”

Acts 10:34-43        (Common English Bible)
34 Peter said, “I really am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another. 35 Rather, in every nation, whoever worships him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 This is the message of peace he sent to the Israelites by proclaiming the good news through Jesus Christ: He is Lord of all! 37 You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism John preached. 38 You know about Jesus of Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit and endowed with power. Jesus traveled around doing good and healing everyone oppressed by the devil because God was with him. 39 We are witnesses of everything he did, both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him up on the third day and allowed him to be seen, 41 not by everyone but by us. We are witnesses whom God chose beforehand, who ate and drank with him after God raised him from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”  X

Matthew 28:1-10        (Common English Bible)
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, 2 and amazingly 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. 3 Now his face was like lightning and his clothes as white as snow. 4 The guards were so terrified of him that they shook with fear and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He isn’t here, because he’s been raised from the dead, just as he said. Come, see the place where they laid him. 7 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.”

8 With both fear and great excitement, they hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. 9 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.”  X