Sunday, December 17, 2017

Here Comes the SUN - Advent3B

• 3rd Sunday of Adventwith John 1:6-9    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of this sermon can be found at

• John 1:7 John was sent from God as a witness concerning the light so that everyone would believe.
Why was John sent? As a witness. So that people would believe. This is my hope as well. & that’s why we have the Bible: people shared witness. Testimony.
• This past week two homicides in Huntington, up to 19 for year.
We're doing a Bible study on gun violence, looking at Micah 4:1-4. Two pronged approach: legislation, transformation. Neither is sufficient.
• Spiritual sickness in world, brokenness. Christ is perfectly sufficient to address/cover/deal with the world's brokenness. It's all over the Bible, Colossians 2:9-10 in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and in him you are filled.
Not only that but perfectly filled, perfectly fit, perfectly covered.
Isaiah 53:5-6 by his wounds we are healed, and the Lord has lain on him the iniquity of us all.
• Went to Alaska this summer with brothers and dad, to get his 50th state. No other state could complete his map, this venture was unique to Alaska.
Regarding the healing of the brokenness, the sin-sickness, Christ is the only one provides healing. None other. Unique. So says Peter in Acts 4:12 Salvation can be found in no one else. Throughout the whole world, no other name has been given among humans through which we must be saved. He has become the cornerstone! 
Unique. Jesus: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
• My daughter turns 15 in 3months. We already have plans to pick her up from school early to go to DMV for permit. Need permit to drive. But absolutely necessary if you hope to drive: a key.
Christ is necessary. 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. (2 Cor 5:21)
• Sufficient: completely perfectly enough covers our sin.
Unique: our brokenness can be addressed perfectly by none other.
Necessary: There is no righteousness apart from Christ.
SUN = sun. It’s advent and here comes the SUNThe true light was coming into the world.
And we are witnesses. So that all may believe. And have transformation.

• Hymn 188 Christ is the World’s Light

John 1:6-9 (CEB)  Third Sunday of Advent
6 A man named John was sent from God. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. 8 He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light. 9 The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. ò

Sunday, November 12, 2017


• 23rd Sunday after Pentecost
with James 5:13-20    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of this sermon can be found at
• Question: How do you evaluate your own work?
Now imagine you’re God. You create world, stuff, critters, people. You enter world for a season to teach, redeem.
How do you evaluate your work?
I won’t say it’s the only or the best measure,
but by one measure, you evaluate your work
by what your disciples do, how they live their lives.
Your work is measured by what your students produce.
• We come to the end of James’ sermon, James’ call to action.
Yes, James says, pray, and Yes, James says, do something.
You cannot separate the two.
Are things going well? Pray! Praise!
Are you sick? Pray! In company! And do something to treat the illness. Don’t just pray. Our response to brokenness in the world must include prayer and it must include action. ENGAGE.
There’s two times to pray: when you feel like it and when you don’t.
Likewise there’s two times to take action…
• Perhaps you’ve seen the cartoon / bumpersticker
“Jesus is coming! Look busy!” And there is something to that...
When you’re at bat, go down swinging.  ENGAGE.
• James says to confess to each other (verse 16). Be honest with yourself and with others. We’ve seen this week when you hide something it can come back and destroy. Confess the secret sins and get clean on the inside.
“We are as sick as our secrets,”
(secrets prevent wholeness) and the goal is wholeness.
“A secret kept in the dark grows and becomes more harmful,
but once it is exposed to light or released, its power is lost.”
• James talks about Elijah. Just a man like us. There is no celebrity. Elijah did not have something special that you don’t have. You are as beloved of God as Elijah.
• James closes with help a brother. Engage.
Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens,
and in this way fulfill the law of Christ.
Luke 15:7 There is much rejoicing in heaven
over one sinner who repents…
• May your life benefit others. The measure of God.

• Let God lead you.

• Hymn  142 If Thou but Suffer God to Guide Thee

James 5:13-20 (NIV)
13 If any of you are suffering, they should pray. If any of you are happy, they should sing. 14 If any of you are sick, they should call for the elders of the church, and the elders should pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Prayer that comes from faith will heal the sick, for the Lord will restore them to health. And if they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 For this reason, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve. 17 Elijah was a person just like us. When he earnestly prayed that it wouldn’t rain, no rain fell for three and a half years. 18 He prayed again, God sent rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
19 My brothers and sisters, if any of you wander from the truth and someone turns back the wanderer, 20 recognize that whoever brings a sinner back from the wrong path will save them from death and will bring about the forgiveness of many sins.ò
(here ends the book of James)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Everyman and Trust

• 22nd Sunday after Pentecost
All Saints Sunday
Holy Communion

with James 5:1-12 and Rev 7:9-17    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of this sermon can be found at
• Go ahead and complete the sentence “I am a…” a few times for yourself. What are some of your personal descriptors?
(I am a pastor, I am a biker, I am a runner…)
I went to a workshop a few weeks ago, and the presenter was talking about ministry with the aging, and how many of those descriptors get taken away as abilities are lost. (someday I will lose the ability to run, someday I will no longer bike…)
What does that do to a person’s self-esteem and sense of identity? And what is the core of your sense of identity?
• No beating around the bush in the book of James, he lays it on strong: Don’t place your identity your hope in gold, in accoutrements, in lifestyle.
At best, they’ll fail you.
At worst they’ll corrupt you and harm others too.
Instead, says James, be humble and patient,
and in harmony with creation.
• I’m reminded of the ancient morality play Everyman.
Our main character – who is called Everyman – is summoned by Death to reckon for his life. Everyman is distressed, and looks for a companion to accompany him to Death. Asks his faithful companion Friendship, and even Kindred and Cousin, but none will accompany him.
He asks his companion Material Goods (hear from James 5: gold, accoutrements, lifestyle) but Goods will not go. (I’m the “it” in “you can’t take ‘it’ with you)
Lamenting, Everyman finds only one who will accompany him to Death, but it is Good Deeds, and Good Deeds is weak having been long neglected.
Good Deeds is strengthened by Confession, and Good Deeds summons her sisters Beauty and Strength and Discretion and Five Wits and together they all approach Death, although in the end only Good Deeds goes into the grave with Everyman (unlike Goods, who was the ‘it’ in “you can’t take ‘it’ with you”, the play ends with the moral that you can only take your good deeds with you. (see also Rev 14:13, Blessed are the dead that died in the Lord, “Yes,” says the Spirit, “They will rest, for their deeds will follow them.”)

• Who are some of your life companions, and how do you trust them?  For example, I know I can trust my 14-yo daughter for fashion advice. (saints of the congregation named)
Trust is built on honesty, humility, hope, shared experiences.
In today’s reading from Revelation 7, John sees a holy gathering, and humbly and wisely humbles himself. With John we witness the faithful who have been humble and patient and enduring, and they are spending all of themselves in praise of God.
• Let us trust those faithful, who, having finished their course in faith now rest from their labors and they are praising God.
• We remember and we look forward to seeing again in the kingdom: Nancy M, Shirley J, Gae E, Anne T, Ron R, Maryse R, Nancy W, Ann F

• Hymn  insert  In the Breaking of the Bread.

James 5:1-12 (Common English Bible)
5 Pay attention, you wealthy people! Weep and moan over the miseries coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted. Moths have destroyed your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you. It will eat your flesh like fire. Consider the treasure you have hoarded in the last days. 4 Listen! Hear the cries of the wages of your field hands. These are the wages you stole from those who harvested your fields. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of heavenly forces. 5 You have lived a self-satisfying life on this earth, a life of luxury. You have stuffed your hearts in preparation for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who doesn’t oppose you.
7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait for the coming of the Lord. Consider the farmer who waits patiently for the coming of rain in the fall and spring, looking forward to the precious fruit of the earth. 8 You also must wait patiently, strengthening your resolve, because the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Don’t complain about each other, brothers and sisters, so that you won’t be judged. Look! The judge is standing at the door!
10 Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord as an example of patient resolve and steadfastness. 11 Look at how we honor those who have practiced endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job. And you have seen what the Lord has accomplished, for the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
12 Most important, my brothers and sisters, never make a solemn pledge—neither by heaven nor earth, nor by anything else. Instead, speak with a simple “Yes” or “No,” or else you may fall under judgment. ò

Revelation 7:9-17 (CEB)
9 After this I looked, and there was a great crowd that no one could number. They were from every nation, tribe, people, and language. They were standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They wore white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out with a loud voice:
“Victory belongs to our God who sits on the throne,
            and to the Lamb.”
11 All the angels stood in a circle around the throne, and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell facedown before the throne and worshipped God, 12 saying,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving
        and honor and power and might
        be to our God forever and always. Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders said to me, “Who are these people wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”
14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.”

Then the elder said to me, “These people have come out of great hardship. They have washed their robes and made them white in the Lamb’s blood. 15 This is the reason they are before God’s throne. They worship him day and night in his temple, and the one seated on the throne will shelter them. 16 They won’t hunger or thirst anymore. No sun or scorching heat will beat down on them, 17 because the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them. He will lead them to the springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” ò

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Measure By God

• Twentyfirst Sunday after Pentecost
with James 4:11-18  @FirstUMCBville  @kerrfunk
This sermon viewable on youtube at

• It is half a mile from my door to the track at the middle school. Then it’s either 400 yards or 400 meters around the football field, I don’t remember. It’s so confusing to have different measures. Is a mile four laps, or four laps plus nine meters, or four laps plus a hundred something yards?
Speaking of which, remember cubits? Genesis 6, the ark, 300 cubits x 50 x 30. According to Bill Cosby* not even God remembers what a cubit is.
*If you have not heard his Noah routine from 1964, I recommend checking it out. You can find it on youtube.
Also, what reason did the Lord give for the flood?
He saw mankind’s great wickedness,
their evil hearts and inclinations.
They were based not on God but on themselves, self-reliant.
And God provides for the saving of Noah and family if they will rely on God. It’s a theme throughout the Old Testament: rely on God, it goes well.  Deviate from God, and it doesn’t.
• A cubit equals about 18 inches, or elbow to fingertips. Not real exact. An inch is about thumb-width, or the middle joint of index finger… 12 inches in a foot, three feet in a yard, six feet in a fathom, 15 1/2 or 16 feet in a rod...
Some 300 years ago a more standard measure was made, the meter. Initially defined as the length of a pendulum that takes one second to swing side to side, the meter was defined in 1793 to be one ten-millionth the distance from the equator to the North Pole. Walk a straight line, divide by ten million… one meter.
I think it’s a good measure because it’s not based on me, my arm/hand/foot.
Based on something bigger and more universal.
Today’s reading from James: self-reliance puts you above God. Don’t slander your brother or set yourself above the law, but instead position yourself in submission to God, to the law, with your brother next to you. Don’t build your life on a foundation of you and your self-assuredness, build your life on a foundation of God.
Measure yourself by God.
• Tuesday is 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses. His goal: examine contemporary practices and see whether they’re built on God’s word or not (he claimed not).
And he sought to realign the practice of faith with God’s word.
Translated the Bible into the common language from the original languages so that discipleship could be in the hands of the people.
Also made the worship service in the language of the people, also educate the people.
• And later that’s what the Wesleys did, seek to draw the Church into better alignment with God, into Bible-based faith practice, seek to measure own life by God.
• I want to know when I’m off track.

• Hymn: (of Charles Wesley): I Want a Principle Within

James 4:11-17 (CEB)
11 Brothers and sisters, don’t say evil things about each other. Whoever insults or criticizes a brother or sister insults and criticizes the Law. If you find fault with the Law, you are not a doer of the Law but a judge over it. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, and he is able to save and to destroy. But you who judge your neighbor, who are you?
13 Pay attention, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such-and-such a town. We will stay there a year, buying and selling, and making a profit.” 14 You don’t really know about tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for only a short while before it vanishes. 15 Here’s what you ought to say: “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast and brag, and all such boasting is evil. 
17 It is a sin when someone knows the right thing to do and doesn’t do it.ò

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 (CEB)

2 As you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, our visit with you wasn’t a waste of time. 2 On the contrary, we had the courage through God to speak God’s good news in spite of a lot of opposition, although we had already suffered and were publicly insulted in Philippi, as you know. 3 Our appeal isn’t based on false information, the wrong motives, or deception. 4 Rather, we have been examined and approved by God to be trusted with the good news, and that’s exactly how we speak. We aren’t trying to please people, but we are trying to please God, who continues to examine our hearts. 5 As you know, we never used flattery, and God is our witness that we didn’t have greedy motives. 6 We didn’t ask for special treatment from people—not from you or from others—7 although we could have thrown our weight around as Christ’s apostles. Instead, we were gentle with you like a nursing mother caring for her own children. 8 We were glad to share not only God’s good news with you but also our very lives because we cared for you so much. ò

Sunday, October 22, 2017

How Do I Get There?

• Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
with James 4:1-10  @FirstUMCBville  @kerrfunk
This sermon viewable on youtube at 
• In my first year of ministry I took a youth group on a ski trip. On the way home, driving the van in the dark, I knew I knew a better way home than the printed ski resort directions. My own inner pride lead to trouble as I turned a 40-minute drive into two hours, inconveniencing awaiting parents as well as a group that needed to be picked up from the airport in the van I was still using.
• On “friendship with the world” (from James 4:4)
Ross King wrote a song called Clear the Stage.
(click here for lyrics) (click here for youtube)
“Anything I want with all my heart is an idol.”
• James 4:7 “Submit yourself to God.”
How shall we submit ourselves to God?
For one, refer to the instructions. Frequently.
And don’t try to go it alone!
The fourth and fifth step of AA include making a list of personal failings AND THEN admitting them to another person.
Why? Because of the power in saying something out loud to another.
• John and Charles Wesley, young in ministry, 1720s, holiness clubs
Imagine living these questions:
1. What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?
2. What temptations have you met with?
3. How were you delivered?
4. What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?
5. Have you nothing you desire to keep secret?
(click here for more: Five small group questions and 21 smallergroup questions)

• Hymn 399 Take My Life and Let It Be

James 4:1-10 (CEB) (formatting by KWB)
4 What is the source of conflict among you? What is the source of your disputes? Don’t they come from your own cravings that are at war in your own lives? 
2 You long for something you don’t have,  so you commit murder. You are jealous for something you can’t get,  so you struggle and fight. You don’t have  because you don’t ask3 And then you ask and don’t have because you ask with evil intentions, to waste on your own cravings. 4 You adulterous, unfaithful people!
Don’t you know that “friendship with the world” means hostility toward God? It means that whoever puts the world before God becomes God's enemy. 5 Or do you suppose that scripture is meaningless? Doesn’t God eagerly long for our faithfulness in the fullness of life he has given to us? 6 But still, God gives us even more grace. This is why it says, God stands against the proud, but favors the humble. [Prov. 3:34] 

7 Therefore, submit yourself humbly to God.
Resist the devil, and he will run away from you.
8 Come near to God, and he will come near to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners.
Purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9 Cry out in sorrow -- mourn, and weep!
Let your laughter become mourning 
and your joy become sadness.
10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
with James 3:13-18  @FirstUMCBville  @kerrfunk

• Sometimes you read something again for the first time,
do you know what I mean?
The list of attributes in James 3:17
has been that way for me for several weeks.
But the wisdom from above is first pure,
   then peaceable and gentle, and willing to yield,
   full of mercy and good fruits,
   and without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.
And I’m not sure I’ll ever “get there” as a disciple – I’ll never get so good as a disciple that I can stop growing,
and where I am now, that’s okay.
• When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When did you know? Did you become that?
PK’s story.  My teaching morphed from classroom and subject  to church and theology and life. Wanting to share with others what I love.
• “Who is wise? Show by your life that your works are done
with gentleness born of wisdom.” (James 3:13)
This passage reminds me of a phrase from the book Alcoholics Anonymous:
If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you’re ready to take certain steps.
What do we want in life?
Wholeness. Belonging. Security.
Wisdom. We want it to go well for our children.
We are willing to order our lives (show by your life) to bring these things about.
We order our lives by Gentleness/humility born of wisdom.
• Wisdom from above is pure, peaceable and gentle…
These have to do with our relationship to others. 
Three points:
1   We are in relationship with others.
2.1     Consideration for others is the highest virtue
2.2     Imposition of self is the lowest.
3.       The fruit/harvest of considering others is peace.
• Well for our kids, but how about for us now?
 Opportunity. Meaning. Connection. Service. Through congregation

• Hymn  600 Wonderful Words of Life

James 3:13-18 (NRSV)
13 Who is wise and understanding among you?
   Show by your good life that your works are done
      with gentleness born of wisdom. 
14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your
   hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 
15 Such wisdom does not come down from above,
   but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 
16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there
   will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 
17 But the wisdom from above is first pure,
   then peaceable and gentle, and willing to yield,
   full of mercy and good fruits,
   and without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 
18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace
   for those who make peace.

Colossians 2:2-3, 6-7 (NRSV)
2 I want [all] hearts to be encouraged and united in love,
so that [all people] may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself, 3 in whom are hidden
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. …

6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Give Feet to Faith

• Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
with James 2:14-26  @FirstUMCBville  @kerrfunk

This sermon will be on youtube at

• Heartbreaking week in news,
and so much media focus on the wrong things.
Which should motivate people more:
people dying after disasters
or football players kneeling?
Visiting preachers at Marshall University this past week, shouting through megaphones that people are going to hell because of a variety of things.
My friend’s church which was vandalized
after it put up a rainbow flag.
These and other events lead me to ask:
• What is my job? What is our job?
To share the love of God with people in a hurting world.
To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Be witnesses in every aspect. Make disciples (be one first).
Be imitators of God, and walk in love, as Christ first loved us and gave himself up as a sacrifice for us. – Eph 5:1-2
• In a section in James on treating other people well, with dignity and humankindness, you do what you can  to demonstrate your love  by how you treat people.
And how I treat people depends not on their worthiness
OR whether I think they’re doing a good job or not.
How I treat people depends on my view of their humanity,
And my prayer is that my vision is like that of Jesus (be imitators…)
• And that my actions be motivated by my God….
and that when I see suffering, I act for relief.
And when I see injustice, I act for justice. 
And oppression, righteousness.
And abuse of power, I speak truth to it.
• The man asked God Why is there so much suffering in the world?
And God replied I was just going to ask you the same thing.
• Jesus is WYSIWYG.
God demonstrates his love for us in this way,
that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).
Jesus gave of himself completely for us,
became one of us, becomes part of us.

• Hymn  618 Let Us Break Bread Together

James 2:14-26 (CEB)
14 My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it? 15 Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. 16 What if one of you said, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!”? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs? 17 In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity. Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
18 Someone might claim, “You have faith and I have action.” But how can I see your faith apart from your actions? Instead, I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice in faithful action. 19 It’s good that you believe that God is one. Ha! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble with fear. 20 Are you so slow? Do you need to be shown that faith without actions has no value at all? 21 What about Abraham, our father? Wasn’t he shown to be righteous through his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 See, his faith was at work along with his actions. In fact, his faith was made complete by his faithful actions. 23 So the scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and God regarded him as righteous. [Gen 15:6]
What is more, Abraham was called God’s friend. 24 So you see that a person is shown to be righteous through faithful actions and not through faith alone. 25 In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute shown to be righteous when she received the messengers as her guests and then sent them on by another road? 26 As the lifeless body is dead, so faith without actions is dead.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

I Am My Brother's Keeper

• Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
with James 2:1-13  @FirstUMCBville  @kerrfunk

• Although we just read James 2:1-13, let me turn to the story of Cain & Abel, in the 4th chapter of Genesis. Cain is Adam & Eve’s firstborn, and he worked the soil. Abel is Cain’s younger brother, and he kept flocks. Cain “brought some fruits of the soil” as an offering to God, and Abel gave fat portions from his best animals. God accepted Abel’s offering but was not pleased with Cain’s, and Cain slew Abel. (Genesis 4:1-9). Cain’s anemic answer when God asked about Abel’s whereabouts: Am I my brother’s keeper?
• James answers the question: Yes. I am my brother’s keeper.
And my brother is in peril, my sister is in peril.
My brother is in jail and the mother of his children is an addict who sometimes sells herself to get another fix and not only are her children my children she’s my sister.
How shall we treat them when they knock on our door?
My brother receives a disability check although I’m not sure what the disability is. There are five people living in my brother’s home and I’m not sure they have electricity and there is mold.
How shall we treat my brother when they knock on our door?
My sister’s divorce ate up all her money and her ex is bleeding her dry financially and emotionally by taking her to court for made up issues.
How shall we treat my sister when she knocks on our door?
James answers the question: treat her like you’d treat your doctor. Treat her better than that. Have mercy and compassion on her, and be an advocate for her.
My brother is late. My sister has messed up.
It costs me on multiple levels to be gracious to my brother.
Give grace anyway. You have received grace,
a gift paid for willingly by another.
As grace-needy as your brother is, so much are you.
• Receiving the poor, indeed, preferential treatment of the poor
is a way of living grace.
I am poor with respect to God,
and I receive God’s favor by grace not by merit.
I wish to thank God, to pay it forward, to imitate God.
“You will never be asked to forgive someone else
more than God has forgiven you.”
– Rick Warren
“People won’t listen to you or take you seriously unless you’re an old, white man, and since I am an old, white man I’m going to use that to help the people who need it.” Patrick Stewart, advocating for Amnesty International. (I shared this on Oct 27, 2013, my fourth Sunday here).

• Hymn  434 When the Poor Ones

James 2:1-13 (CEB)
2 My brothers and sisters, when you show favoritism you deny the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been resurrected in glory. 2 Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags. 3 Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, “Here’s an excellent place. Sit here.” But to the poor person you say, “Stand over there”; or, “Here, sit at my feet.” 4 Wouldn’t you have shown favoritism among yourselves and become evil-minded judges?
My dear brothers and sisters, listen! Hasn’t God chosen those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith? Hasn’t God chosen the poor as heirs of the kingdom he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the wealthy make life difficult for you? Aren’t they the ones who drag you into court? 7 Aren’t they the ones who insult the good name spoken over you at your baptism?
8 You do well when you really fulfill the royal law found in scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself. [Lev 19:18] 9 But when you show favoritism, you are committing a sin, and by that same law you are exposed as a lawbreaker. 10 Anyone who tries to keep all of the Law but fails at one point is guilty of failing to keep all of it. 11 The one who said, Don’t commit adultery, also said, Don’t commit murder. [Exod 20:13, 15]  So if you don’t commit adultery but do commit murder, you are a lawbreaker. 12 In every way, then, speak and act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom. 13 There will be no mercy in judgment for anyone who hasn’t shown mercy. Mercy overrules judgment.ò

Isaiah 58:6-9 (NIV)

6 “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?
7 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?
8 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.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

on WV Day of Hope

• Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
with James 1:12-27  @FirstUMCBville  @kerrfunk
A video of this sermon can be viewed at

Today is the 3rd Annual West Virginia Council of Churches Day of Hope, a Celebration of prevention and recovery for substance use disorder in WV. Apportionment offerings are used in our Annual Conference to fund substance recovery ministries throughout WV. When congregations neglect not to pay apportionments in full, actual ministries actually go underfunded.
• Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the oldest recovery programs, and a template for many other recovery programs. Founded 250 miles from Bville in Akron OH in 1935.
One of my previous churches hosted an AA meeting. I didn’t know a thing about AA. No actual knowledge about it and I never asked anybody. I vaguely knew there were 12 steps.
The word “alcohol” is mentioned once in the 12 steps. Also the word alcoholics once. First and twelfth step. I was surprised when I discovered that.
The 12 steps are not about alcohol,
not about not drinking.
AA considers alcoholism a spiritual malady (p. 64), the fruit of resentment and anger and fear. Things happen in life, some people respond with resentment anger or fear, unhealthy ways, and also some people reach out for alcohol to help soothe the resentment and anger and fear.
Also since alcoholism is a spiritual malady,
it is NOT a problem of willpower.
A spiritual problem requires spiritual solution.
• Romans 7:15, 18-21, 24-25 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.  24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
• AA’s solution (or rather suggestion) is to turn life over to God, to turn resentments and anger and fear over to God, who is able and willing to save.
• because God is good, God is giver of good gifts (James 1:17)
And because sin – literally “missing the mark” – comes not from God but from the fruit of our own desires. (James 1:13-15).
• So questions for you:
Who plants seeds in you,
What kinds of seeds,
and who would you have tend your garden?
• Prayer for God to grow in me and be gardener of me.

• Hymn  114 Many Gifts One Spirit

James 1:12-27 (CEB)
12 Those who stand firm during testing are blessed. They are tried and true. They will receive the life God has promised to those who love him as their reward.
13 No one who is tested should say, “God is tempting me!” This is because God is not tempted by any form of evil, nor does he tempt anyone. 14 Everyone is tempted by their own cravings; they are lured away and enticed by them. 15 Once those cravings conceive, they give birth to sin; and when sin grows up, it gives birth to death.
16 Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all. 18 He chose to give us birth by his true word, and here is the result: we are like the first crop from the harvest of everything he created.
19 Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry. 20 This is because an angry person doesn’t produce God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore, with humility, set aside all moral filth and the growth of wickedness, and welcome the word planted deep inside you—the very word that is able to save you.
22 You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves. 23 Those who hear but don’t do the word are like those who look at their faces in a mirror. 24 They look at themselves, walk away, and immediately forget what they were like. 25 But there are those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it. They don’t listen and then forget, but they put it into practice in their lives. They will be blessed in whatever they do.
26 If those who claim devotion to God don’t control what they say, they mislead themselves. Their devotion is worthless. 27 True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us. ò