Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Church: The Salt of the Earth

• Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany.
with Acts 13:13-52  and  Matthew 5:1-13    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 2/24/19

• We don’t often do a long reading, but I wanted to today. In part so we could have more time with God’s word, in part more time for prayer, and in part more time in worship and song.
Paul and Barnabas: their history is our history. Their preaching the good news in Antioch was soil preparation for the plant that produced us.
The message of salvation entrusted to them is entrusted to us.
The forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ is proclaimed to us and by us.
The right relationship with God is for us and through us.
Acts is our story, and it is a life-giving story.
• We also spent some time with Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, as we examine the theme of being the church today. The Sermon gives a description of kingdom living, discipleship living that draws forth a response from people.
You can live invisible, or you can live visible,
and that visibility can be attractive or shall we say disagreeable.
And Jesus tells us we’re salt.
• Couple things about salt:
A little goes a long way – you don’t have to be big and fancy to be salt.
Salt enhances flavor. Works with what’s there and boosts it a bit. (
Salt inhibits the growth of the bad stuff – it’s a preserver and an antiseptic.
Salt is valuable: the words salt and salary have the same root.
• And Jesus warns disciples that salt that “loses its saltiness” is useless.
Salt loses its saltiness when it’s isolated from the rest, or when it’s contaminated. We do best in community.
• Live our lives in such flavorful community
that others want to taste and see that God is good,
and that life without us would be bland.

• Hymn 420 Breathe On Me, Breath of God

Acts 13:13-52 (CEB)
13 Paul and his companions sailed from Paphos to Perga in Pamphylia. John deserted them there and returned to Jerusalem. 14 They went on from Perga and arrived at Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath, they entered and found seats in the synagogue there. 15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue leaders invited them, “Brothers, if one of you has a sermon for the people, please speak.”
16 Standing up, Paul gestured with his hand and said, “Fellow Israelites and Gentile God-worshippers, please listen to me. 17 The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors. God made them a great people while they lived as strangers in the land of Egypt. With his great power, he led them out of that country. 18 For about forty years, God put up with them in the wilderness. 19 God conquered seven nations in the land of Canaan and gave the Israelites their land as an inheritance. 20 This happened over a period of about four hundred fifty years.
“After this, he gave them judges until the time of the prophet Samuel. 21 The Israelites requested a king, so God gave them Saul, Kish’s son, from the tribe of Benjamin, and he served as their king for forty years. 22 After God removed him, he raised up David to be their king. God testified concerning him, ‘I have found David, Jesse’s son, a man who shares my desires. Whatever my will is, he will do.’ 23 From this man’s descendants, God brought to Israel a savior, Jesus, just as he promised. 24 Before Jesus’ appearance, John proclaimed to all the Israelites a baptism to show they were changing their hearts and lives. 25 As John was completing his mission, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I’m not the one you think I am, but he is coming after me. I’m not worthy to loosen his sandals.’
26 “Brothers, children of Abraham’s family, and you Gentile God-worshippers, the message about this salvation has been sent to us. 27 The people in Jerusalem and their leaders didn’t recognize Jesus. By condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Even though they didn’t find a single legal basis for the death penalty, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they finished doing everything that had been written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead! 31 He appeared over many days to those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to the people.
32 “We proclaim to you the good news. What God promised to our ancestors, 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it was written in the second psalm, You are my son; today I have become your father.
34 “God raised Jesus from the dead, never again to be subjected to death’s decay. Therefore, God said, I will give to you the holy and firm promises I made to David. 35 In another place it is said, You will not let your holy one experience death’s decay. 36 David served God’s purpose in his own generation, then he died and was buried with his ancestors. He experienced death’s decay, 37 but the one whom God has raised up didn’t experience death’s decay.
38 “Therefore, brothers and sisters, know this: Through Jesus we proclaim forgiveness of sins to you. From all those sins from which you couldn’t be put in right relationship with God through Moses’ Law, 39 through Jesus everyone who believes is put in right relationship with God. 40 Take care that the prophets’ words don’t apply to you:
41 Look, you scoffers,
    marvel and die.
I’m going to do work in your day —
    a work you won’t believe
    even if someone told you.”
42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people urged them to speak about these things again on the next Sabbath. 43 When the people in the synagogue were dismissed, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism accompanied Paul and Barnabas, who urged them to remain faithful to the message of God’s grace.
44 On the next Sabbath, almost everyone in the city gathered to hear the Lord’s word. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were overcome with jealousy. They argued against what Paul was saying by slandering him. 46 Speaking courageously, Paul and Barnabas said, “We had to speak God’s word to you first. Since you reject it and show that you are unworthy to receive eternal life, we will turn to the Gentiles. 47 This is what the Lord commanded us:
I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
so that you could bring salvation to the end of the earth.”
48 When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and honored the Lord’s word. Everyone who was appointed for eternal life believed, 49 and the Lord’s word was broadcast throughout the entire region. 50 However, the Jews provoked the prominent women among the Gentile God-worshippers, as well as the city’s leaders. They instigated others to harass Paul and Barnabas, and threw them out of their district. 51 Paul and Barnabas shook the dust from their feet and went to Iconium. 52 Because of the abundant presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, the disciples were overflowing with happiness. ò

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Church: God's Lampstand

• Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany.
with 1 Peter 2:9-12  and  John 1:35-42    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 2/17/19

• Fill in the blank: Fish gotta ___, birds gotta ___
Christians gotta ______
(ǝuᴉɥs 'ʎlɟ 'ɯᴉʍs :sɹǝʍsuɐ)
• Sunset last night occurred at 6:08pm. It occurred at 5:19pm on New Year’s Day.
The light is coming into the world!
When do we notice it? When it’s dark. 
We crave the light when it’s dark.
The book of Revelation written in a time of darkness,
and the church is the lampstand, the bearer of light.
• It is said without risk there would be no love, and without pain there would be no joy. And so it is in the world’s darkness that God’s light can truly shine.
What is that darkness? Ignorance, intolerance, prejudice, hatred, death. Hopelessness, failure, confusion, loneliness, despair. I’m not good enough. The problems are too great. I’m a failure. I can’t do anything right. Bad things always happen to me.
But we remember that in Jesus there is a light that the darkness cannot overcome, that in him there is no darkness at all, and that Jesus came to seek and save the lost.
• Advent: the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.
Simeon proclaimed that Jesus came as a light for revelation to the nations.
Jesus later declared I am the light of the world, who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.
As God let our ancestors through the wilderness with pillar of fire,
so Jesus came to lead us by means of divine light.
• Remember that Jesus is the SUN (Sufficient, Unique, Necessary)
and like our sun, comes into the world every day, day after day. Comes not based on human merit, and empowers us to behold and nurture and distribute life, love, hope, beauty.
Christ came that those who dwell in spiritual death and darkness might have eternal life.
Christ came as light of the world to reveal the way to abundant life.
• Christ has no feet or hands but yours.
Individual Christians as well as congregations have the calling and responsibility
to be bearers of the light, like the moon to reflect the light of the brighter source.
“Little children, let us not love with words or speech but with action and truth.”
“Let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.”
• Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. 14 And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 17 Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him.
• Hymn 188 Christ is the World’s Light
1 John 3:18-24 (CEB)                             
18 Little children, let’s not love with words or speech but with action and truth. 19 This is how we will know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts in God’s presence. 20 Even if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knows all things. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we have confidence in relationship to God. 22 We receive whatever we ask from him because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 This is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love each other as he commanded us. 24 Those who keep his commandments dwell in God and God dwells in them. This is how we know that he dwells in us, because of the Spirit he has given us. ò

Matthew 5:13-16 (CEB)                             
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people’s feet. 14 You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven. ò

Revelation 1:20 (CEB)                             
20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands, here is what they mean: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. ò

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Church: The Fellowship of Believers

• Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
with Hebrews 10:19-25  and  1 Corinthians 1:1-9    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 2/10/19

Last night there was a fundraising dinner for Marshall United Methodist Student Ministry. Sixty or eighty people from a variety of backgrounds and ideologies, yet they shared their common heritage as alumni and Methodists.
• Some things we have in common with each other in body of Christ:
- New birth. Through Christ we’ve been able to walk away from the past.
Christ has done for us what we could not do for ourselves.
- We share the unity of common faith in one Lord.
- The indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
- Shared mission: to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey.
- The hope of the return of Christ:
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
- The final reckoning. We are servants and heirs and will stand before God.
• None of us exist (or thrive) in solitude.
• God calls the church into being as a fellowship
- By the resurrection of Christ: we join Peter in confessing and proclaiming Christ as risen Lord, acknowledging power of Christ in our lives to bring transformation.
- By the message of Christ crucified --
- not by might but by love and sacrifice
- not by wielding power but by earning authority
- We are Christ’s because we were chosen
- By the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and through fellowship.
Anyone in Christ is a new creation.
- By the witness (martyr, testimony) of believers.
• The UMC meets in less than two weeks in Special General Conference. But before then and while it’s happening and after that we are the church, a fellowship of believers.
God calls you today by a resurrected, living Christ, by his precious Holy Spirit, and by the testimony of his children. He calls you today because he needs you to help him reach others. God is honest and faithful. You can show your trust in him by putting your faith in him today.
• Hymn 381 Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us

Hebrews 10:19-25 (CEB)                             
19 Brothers and sisters, we have confidence that we can enter the holy of holies by means of Jesus’ blood, 20 through a new and living way that he opened up for us through the curtain, which is his body, 21 and we have a great high priest over God’s house.
22 Therefore, let’s draw near with a genuine heart with the certainty that our faith gives us, since our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies are washed with pure water.
23 Let’s hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, because the one who made the promises is reliable.
24 And let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds. 25 Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near. ò

1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (CEB)    
1 From Paul, called by God’s will to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, and from Sosthenes our brother. 2 To God’s church that is in Corinth: To those who have been made holy to God in Christ Jesus, who are called to be God’s people.
Together with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place—he’s their Lord and ours!
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I thank my God always for you, because of God’s grace that was given to you in Christ Jesus. 5 That is, you were made rich through him in everything: in all your communication and every kind of knowledge, 6 in the same way that the testimony about Christ was confirmed with you. 7 The result is that you aren’t missing any spiritual gift while you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also confirm your testimony about Christ until the end so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, and you were called by him to partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. ò

Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Church: The Flock of God

• Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany.
with Luke 12:32-34  and  1 Peter 5:1-4    @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk
A video of the worship service was posted on Facebook 2/3/19

The church is the living body of Christ – that’s a familiar point.
The Lord is my shepherd, familiar as well.
Perhaps it’s new to consider the different point of views of shepherd and sheep.
• The flock is not its own, it is the shepherd’s.
The flock is the responsibility of the shepherd.
The flock is not responsible for the shepherd.
God, the chief shepherd, is attentive to the flock.
God wants to know if there are things bothering the flock or the individual members.
God works to provide the basic necessities, and in such a way that will allow the flock and the individual members to thrive.
God wants to provide nutritious food, life-giving water, protection from elements and critters and disease, wants to nurture and heal and protect.
    “Your Father delights in giving you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32
• The flock belongs to the shepherd, and the chief shepherd / owner has undershepherds who care for groups in the flock. These are not the owners, but they are heirs trained in the way of the chief shepherd. As God the chief shepherd cares for, defends, provides for the flock, so the undershepherds do as well.
Christ has no hands but yours.
• In God’s flock none are isolated: each has shepherd caring for them
and none are without duty: each has care to give.

• God leads and feeds. Go and do likewise.
• Hymn: In the Breaking of the Bread

Luke 12:32-34 (CEB) 
32 “Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights in giving you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to those in need. Make for yourselves wallets that don’t wear out—a treasure in heaven that never runs out. No thief comes near there, and no moth destroys. 34 Where your treasure is, there your heart will be too.

Isaiah 40:10-11 (CEB) 
10 Here is the Lord God, coming with strength, with a triumphant arm, bringing his reward with him and his payment before him.
11 Like a shepherd, God will tend the flock; he will gather lambs in his arms and lift them onto his lap. He will gently guide the nursing ewes.ò

1 Peter 5:1-4 (CEB) 
5 Therefore, I have a request for the elders among you.
(I ask this as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings, and as one who shares in the glory that is about to be revealed.) I urge the elders: 2 Like shepherds, tend the flock of God among you. Watch over it. Don’t shepherd because you must, but do it voluntarily for God. Don’t shepherd greedily, but do it eagerly. 3 Don’t shepherd by ruling over those entrusted to your care, but become examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive an unfading crown of glory.