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