Sunday, January 28, 2018

One With Authority

• Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
with Mark 1:21-28    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of this sermon can be found here:
• Do you remember when email came out? Then the internet. WWW in 1983. It took over 25 years for the internet to reach a zettabyte of information. I never heard of zetta. Kilo mega giga tera peta exa zetta. Twentyone zeroes. For scale: number of seconds since Jesus was born: about 63 billion. Only 9 zeroes. Some estimates age of universe at 13.8 billion years. 435 quadrillion seconds. Only 15 zeroes. 435 quadrillion microseconds, that’s the scale of a zettabyte of data, and it took 25 years to reach that level.
How long to double that? 2 years. Expected 2 zettabytes by end of 2019. That’s just counting to 100,000 in a second, every second of imagined time.
All that information and we still don’t know what to make of a story about demons. 
We’re skeptical and seek to rationalize, put into terms that we can understand, but even if I explain a zettabyte to you do you really understand it? I don’t. I don’t understand internet. Or even electricity. But I approach them with caution and with knowledge of who/whose I am, also speaking in tongues. Can’t explain it, can be faked, but… could be genuine.
• We learn about Jesus: He’s different from the rest. Not like the others. Unique (Before Christmas I shared that Christ was Sufficient, Unique, Necessary, here comes the SUN). Innate authority. Not described, but you just know, that’s the impression.  Jesus has authority, & here’s a mic-drop example.
By the way, recall I will be with you always
that power is not far off but it is near.
There is no situation where we should be saying,
Yeah not even God can handle this one
• We learn about power of evil, & it recognizes good & is afraid. Hollywood scream? Dono. Maybe. But point is spiritual powers acknowledged one another, & knew Jesus was the victor.
• A father said to his child they went to church to make God smaller. God is so big, beyond understanding: go to church, make God smaller, understand God.  The child: I think to make God bigger. What do you mean? Smaller doesn’t make you go Oh!
Experience God, be amazed, be changed & change your life, and tell.
What happened after this? People told This is what happened. It was Jesus.

• Hymn 371 I Stand Amazed at the Presence

Mark 1:21-28 (HCSB)  
21 Jesus and his disciples left the Sea of Galilee and went into the village of Capernaum, and right away they entered the synagogue. It was the Sabbath and Jesus began to teach. 22 Everyone was astonished at His teaching because, unlike the scribes, He was teaching them as one having authority.
23 Just then a man with an unclean spirit was in their synagogue. He cried out, 24 “What do You have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?** Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”
25 But Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit convulsed him, shouted with a loud voice, and came out of him.
27 Then they were all amazed, so they began to argue with one another, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28 News about Him then spread throughout the entire vicinity of Galilee. ò
**Nazareth is about forty miles from Capernaum

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Let's Get Political

• Third Sunday after Epiphany
with Mark 1:14-20  and Jonah 3:1-10    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of this sermon can be found here:

• For the first time I’m going to talk about politics.
Not really. “Political” has to do with government, laws,
how society is ordered.
I am NOT telling anyone how to vote,
or affirming or deriding any individual or party.
I will not change my interaction with you
based on either one of our political affiliations.
Politics are part of our daily landscape, and
to be a follower of Jesus is a political decision.
• A year and a day ago Donald Trump took the oath of POTUS, and it is not partisan to say that it’s been a year with a lot of attention and tension and that political fervor is elevated. It’s not partisan to report that presidential approval polls show President Trump with record low numbers and that our nation is in the historic situation of a govt shutdown with exec, sen, and house in R party.
Why did the gov’t shutdown? Because parties and elected officers stalemate, not budging, and it’s arguable that a good number are not budging not because of principle but because of party.
• We just read from book of Jonah, 3rd chapter.
You remember chaps 1&2, God’s call and Jonah’s response. 
Why did Jonah flee? He was afraid of the people.
He knew how they were going to respond, right?
And rather than go with God, he fled.
Jonah ended up repenting – changing his heart
and mind and action – and we pick up on reading today
And we are surprised to see his message is received immediately and genuinely! There is not a stalemate, there is a turn to the Lord, and there is relief from the Lord!
Following God is a political decision.
It will affect how we relate to society, individuals, events.
• Earlier we read from Gospel of Mark, Jesus preaching the good news that the kingdom of God has come near, preaching repentance, calling Peter and Andrew and James and John to change their lives and follow him.
The kingdom of God has come near. Good news. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. God is now here and our job as disciples is to figure out what has God done in Jesus, and what does it mean that Jesus lived among us 2K years ago?
• One thing is teachings of Jesus. Learn them, follow them, live them, teach them.
(again, this is political. We’re talking about where authority and life influence are, and the political powers of Jesus’ day opposed him because people following Jesus threatened their credibility and power)
I’ve seen the fruit of worldly leadership,
and I want God in Jesus as my leader.
Following God is a political decision.
It will affect how we relate to society, individuals, events.
• The good news is not about a moral code or personal piety or “spirituality”
it’s about discipleship and life transformation,
patterning my life after Jesus, come what may.
The disciples we read about today, Jesus met them in the midst of their business, and they walked away to follow him.
They had something that was worth changing their lives for.
• And by the grace of God we can be disciples too, and have new life.

• Hymn 365 Grace Greater Than Our Sin

Mark 1:14-20 (HCSB)
14 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of God: 15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!”
16 As He was passing along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen.
17 “Follow Me,” Jesus told them, “and I will make you fish for people!” 18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 19 Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in their boat mending their nets. 20 Immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him. ò

Jonah 3:1-10 (HCSB)
3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time:
2 “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you.”
3 So Jonah got up and went to Nineveh according to the Lord’s command.
Now Nineveh was an extremely large city, a three-day walk. 4 Jonah set out on the first day of his walk in the city and proclaimed, “In 40 days Nineveh will be demolished!” 5 The men of Nineveh believed in God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackcloth—from the greatest of them to the least.
6 When word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 Then he issued a decree in Nineveh:
By order of the king and his nobles: No man or beast, herd or flock, is to taste anything at all. They must not eat or drink water. 8 Furthermore, both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth, and everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from the violence he is doing. 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent; He may turn from His burning anger so that we will not perish.

10 Then God saw their actions—that they had turned from their evil ways—so God relented from the disaster He had threatened to do to them. And He did not do it. ò

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Body and the Gift

• Second Sunday after Epiphany
with John 1:43-51 and 1 Corinthians 6:12-20    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of this sermon can be found here:

• Christmas is over and we waste no time jumping into beginning of ministry of Jesus. Already called some of JtB’s disciples, Andrew and Simon, now Philip and Nathanael, and Jesus says some odd things (no deceit? Angels ascending and descending?), and Nathanael makes an astounding confession (you are the Son of God, the King of Israel). And we learn about Jesus, but more about that later. Let’s skip back to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.
• “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” Paul is dealing with a church that is maturing, and people that are maturing ask questions and test limits, seeking definition. Yes, freedom in Christ, No, not a burden, and Yes, there are things you can and can’t do.
You need to use judgment, discernment, discipline.
You cannot think only of yourself.
No man is an island. We are one.
You represent me, I represent you, we are part of the same body, we represent GOD, we are not alone, we are not our own.
A part of the body cannot be unconcerned about other parts of the body.
• Vaccinations. Some folks are anti-vaxxers. But in a society, part of the reason to get vaccinated is to protect those who are susceptible, and to eradicate the disease in society. You make a small personal sacrifice for the greater good.
• In at least four places in his letters, Paul writes about taking a collection for the church in Jerusalem. Lifting up the body.
One of the ways we are part of the body is through our offerings. We tend to our local body, of course, and we tend to our regional and global body as well, through apportionment givings and through special offerings like today’s Human Relations offering.
Remember the hurricane damage done in the Caribbean and Florida this past year? We’re there, through our offerings.
But the need of the body is too great! We can’t do it!
Eat an elephant one bite at a time, and many hands make light work.
• You are not your own, I am not my own, we are a part of the body
which carries with it, by the way, God’s redemption of the body. Including us.
• Jesus to Nathanael: Here is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit. Huh?
ISRAEL was formerly known as Jacob. What’d Jacob do? Deceived father Isaac for birthright and blessing. There was guile and deceit in the original Israel.
Here at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry we have a new beginning, a redemption of Israel.
Another thing Jacob was known for? Jacob’s ladder: angels ascending and descending, signifying to him that God was there, with him.
God is here now. God is doing new thing. God is with us.
• I want to be part of that, Jesus making new, redeeming.
I AM part of that, by the grace of God, the gift of God.
• By the way: know what the name Nathanael means? Gift of God.

• Hymn 451 Be Thou My Vision

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 (NIV)
12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” [Gen 2:24] 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. ò

John 1:43-51 (NRSV)

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” ò

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Covenant Renewal Service

I believe I have been celebrating the Wesley Covenant Renewal Service on the first Sunday of the year since 2007. Mostly I alternate scriptures used, and the hymns sometimes change as well, but the bulk of the service remains the same.

In 2018 the scriptures were
2 Chronicles 34:29-33
John 15:1-8

The service can be read by clicking --> here

If you have any questions about Christianity, or United Methodism, 
or if you have any confession to make, 
or if you would like to be part of a United Methodist Church, 
or if you would like to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, 
or if you would like to talk about Baptism,
please let me know. 
You can email me at kerrfunk1 at gmail dot com

God bless you